We left Salt Lake City on Saturday and the weather was improving, and
we were heading South. We had a lazy start after a
nice prolonged breakfast with Dave, Inga and Dave's brother Tony. After
we got off the ugly freeway around Salt Lake City the countryside
improved. We enjoyed watching the scattered junipers and pines go
the terrain we really like.
Later in the afternoon we rolled into a little place called Kanab and
found what we were looking for - sunshine and warmer weather. Kanab was
the site of many western movies
made in the
crested bluffs where the Indians would be silhouetted. Then we crossed
into Arizona crossed over Glen Canyon dam and Lake Powell and the
Bryce Canyon. Hot sunny weather was to come after another long
While filling the car with gas shortly after we entered Arizona the
"musac" playing in the background was suddenly replaced by a seductive
male voice, "You don't have to go to a grocery store to get good wine.
We have an excellent selection of red, white and blush wines. Just step
inside". Boy... we sure know we aren't in Canada any more.
Sunday afternoon we rolled into Peoria (a suburb of Phoenix) and
entered the gated community of Vistancia. A beautiful community built
five years ago around a first class golf course. Temperature is
80F (it went to 90F/33C today). We went cycling
this morning and swimming at the posh club the "Kiva" this afternoon.
Tomorrow we are going hiking south of Phoenix early before it gets too
hot we hope.
Life is good.
John & Eleanor.
Nov 9: Phoenix to Borrego Springs
We were staying with our friends Murray and Nicole who are renting a
the very modern, upscale, gated community called "Trilogy at
Vistancia", which is
actually in Peoria on the North/West side of Phoenix. The community
encloses about 1500 houses, a luxurious recreation centre called the
"Kiva" and the only five star golf
course in Arizona.
The houses are all architecturally the same but each is subtly
different. So the houses all look sort of the same, but they are not...
It is easy to get a little bit lost in this vast community. None of the
houses have lawns but all sport nicely trimmed trees and shrubs. The
main boulevards are beautiful and green, as is the golf course. The end
effect is quite nice.
There is lots to do just within the community. The rec centre has
several swimming pools, gigantic hot tub, superbly equipped weight
lifting room and many organized activities.
It is easy to cycle anywhere inside Vistancia and outside the gates the
"Discovery Trail" is a paved multi-purpose trail that goes farther
afield into the desert. There are chipmunks, geckos, rabbits, road
runners and lots of other bird life. Cacti are everywhere and we were
warned not to go off the trail unless we have very special tires on our
bicycles. We were also warned in no uncertain terms to not touch the
cactus - which apparently will leap out and grab you if you are
To go farther afield a car is required and the distances are vast.
Murray, Nicole and Eleanor went on a nice hike that turned out to be
an hour and a half away (well they got lost
on the way). The view at the top was lovely.
Several days later we had a bike ride in the Scottsdale area. It was a
little over an hour going there early in the morning and less than an
hour coming back in the afternoon heat.
The bicycle ride goes down a manicured drainage canal on a paved multi
On Friday night we enjoyed a night out at the Kiva Club. Saturday
was a community wide "garage sale". Murray and I were invited to a
"Jamming" session with a bunch of other musicians in the afternoon.
Riding around Vistancia the place seems deserted, but people must
indoors, hiding from the heat. It really is quite an active community.
very easy to meet people. Murray and Nicole are already participating
in a local bicycle group and they met some fellow hikers at the Jamming
Alas our time came to an end and early Sunday morning we headed
out for Borrego Springs to sample new delights.
Sunday was a great day to drive. The traffic
was light and the trip was straight forward. The scenery was mostly,
well, desert. Mostly flat, but sometimes the flatness was broken by low
Borrego Springs was a 6 hour drive. About 1pm we had found
the Jeff and Lynnette who were most welcoming and helped us move into
28 foot trailer. We will be here for a week.
Borrego Springs has a "small community" feel to it. The town is small
and the RV park we are staying in is just outside Borrego Springs (an
easy bike ride) and is part of a complex that includes a golf course
and a 300 unit subdivision of permanent manufactured homes. The
is not gated, although we do get a car pass and generally the feeling
is very relaxed - houses and cars are left unlocked much of the time.
The swimming pool and rec centre are right opposite our trailer. It is
not as elegant as Vistancia but is quite adequate.
Last night we went to a dinner with a group of star gazers. There was a
rather excellent speaker whose topic was the Milky Way, followed by a
chance to look through a telescope in a small observatory across the
street. Quite nice.
Borrego Springs through education and community involvement has earned
the title of "International Darksky Community" only the 2nd one in the
world. They try to keep all lights faced downwards at night so the
skies are light free and the stars are brilliant. We saw the moons of
Jupiter, the Pleiads, etc. with a scope.
John & Eleanor.
Nov. 13: Borrego Springs - Fun in the
Here is the view from our Trailer - looking south. On the left is one
of the holes from the golf course. In the centre is the tenting area.
There was a tent trailer there one night and a full- sized RV and
sharing a site on another. Otherwise our view is uninterrupted. In the
distance in the middle is a small white dot - that is the
On the right is the tennis court and out of the view of the picture is
the recreation centre with pool and four small hot tubs.
Behind the Rec. Centre you can see the mountain range on the west side
Borrego Springs is a small town with a population of about 2,500. It is
surrounded by a huge state park. It is easy to cycle from here to
Borrego Springs to go shopping. There are no "big box" stores but most
of the things one needs are available. Here
is a link to a description of Borrego Springs on Wikipedia
first few days were pretty hot with high's into the 80's (30c). Now
high's are down to a much more comfortable mid 70's (22c), although it
still feels hot in the full sun.
There is lots to do. Eleanor had a great game of golf with Jeff today
and is looking forward to her next golf lesson. Eleanor and Lynnette go
for Yoga followed by pool
aerobics several days a week.
Wednesday we drove
with Jeff and
Lynnette high up into the mountains just west
of here to a touristy
place called Julian where they used to mine gold but now there are
ranches and they grow apples and sell delicious apple pies. We had a
slice with cinnamon ice cream. Julian is up at 4000' and is much
damper than Borrego.
The big news is that Jeff and Lynnette have just purchased a house
out on the golf course. That is it on the left. We are going to
celebrate with them in the new house tonight.
They will be moving in on Friday and our stay here in this
trailer ends on Sunday so we will move into their trailer for a few
more days before heading home in the middle of next week.
John & Eleanor
Nov 17: Borrego Springs - sunrise at
Sunrise at Font's Point - Jeff and Lynnette's gift to us
on Tuesday morning. (That is us in the middle of
the picture). We were away at 5:30am for a half hour drive to this
lovely spot accessible only by four wheel drive. I wouldn't want you to
think all is peaches and cream here in Borrego Springs. We had to get
up at 5am. The temperature at 6am was a mere 1c - shiver, colder than
Vancouver (I've been watching the weather)
The picture above is actually a compilation, a panorama, a set of four
overlapping pictures stitched together with a program called Hugin
have been having a lot of fun with this program lately as you can tell.
There is another point in the background - after I took this picture I
hiked around to the other side and got a panorama from the other
Steep cliffs is right!!! You can see Jeff and Lynnette's car on the far
in the picture. About the only thing we didn't get was a decent sunrise
picture - but trust us, it really was quite nice with the Salton sea
Later that evening we enjoyed hot dogs and soup around the campfire
here at our RV park and sang songs.
John & Eleanor.
Breakfast at Goodyear's
How does two (2 - count em)
flat tires sound! Actually it was the same
tire both times but the first repair didn't take properly. First time
about 100 miles south of Portland. On the side of the freeway.... off
came the bikes, off came the bike rack, everything out of the back, ...
etc. and install the wretched little spare tire that obviously hadn't
been used since the car was purchased back in '98. But it worked. We
limped into Albany about 30 miles down the road at 50mph (maximum
recommended for that little tire). We had it fixed (temporarily as it
turns out) at a Sears store in Albany which fortunately was open
Sundays. Then we got all the way past Portland and found it was flat a
second time. Yuck! A couple of nice young men helped us change it this
time in a rest area. We limped to Chehalis, just before Centralia, on
our temporary little spare tire again and crashed at a surprisingly
nice little motel just as the sun was going down.
Monday morning we were up early as usual. A Les Schwab tire centre was
only a minute away so I convinced Eleanor that we could have breakfast
while we waited for the tires to be installed. But alas, it was not to
be that easy. Les Schwab were not willing to install tires on the rear
that didn't match the front ones (snow tires) and they didn't have the
required tire in stock. They called the next nearest Les Schwab dealer
but they didn't either.
So across the street we went to a
smaller tire store operation. They
didn't have a tire that would fit the car either but were willing
fit a used tire which would get us back to Vancouver. But Eleanor
balked at doing all that freeway driving on a used tire. So they
directed us to a Goodyear Tire centre not too far away and off we went
again. Fortunately Goodyear had tires in stock and was willing to
install a couple of all-season tires. But a restaurant where we could
have breakfast was not in sight so we had breakfast at the
Tire Store customer waiting area - peanut butter sandwiches and
reasonably good coffee courtesy Goodyear. At 9am we were back on the
Other than the flat tires our trip
fairly uneventful. We saw some nice sights - of course we had to stop
by the Salton Sea on the way. We had a very nice little place to stay
in Palm Springs called "Casa Cody".
So we are back home on Galiano, safe and sound and catching up on our
We enjoyed the south but we didn't enjoy the driving much. Maybe next
time we will fly.
To finish off here are a couple of hiking pictures of note. The first
shows the end of a lovely 1.5 mile hike to a place called Palm Canyon.
was a visit with the Jeff and Lynnette to a place called Slot Canyon.
Sure wouldn't want to be in this spot during a rainstorm!!!.
Finally a panorama of the hiking area just minutes west of Borrego
The Palm Canyon hike is in the distance on the right hand side of this
We are now looking forward to Christmas.
Best wishes to all.
John & Eleanor.
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Nov 22, 2010