Monday, May 14, 2012

Quail Creek and a Jeep Adventure (Green Valley, Az)

I concluded our last posting with a thought about being nicely settled.  So let me tell you a little about our life in Quail Creek.

It's a 55+ community with, I think, about 2800 homes.  As the years pass that number will increase.  It's situated outside of mainstream Green Valley, kind of off in the desert, so it's very very quiet with little traffic.  An interesting note; there are no streetlights anywhere in Green Valley because of a huge telescope on nearby Mt. Hopkins.  The objective is to minimize light pollution..  The result is that it is VERY dark around here at night (as opposed to during the daytime hours - duh!).  I love the darkness coupled with the quiet!  Our home is not large, around 1450sf with a bright, open floor plan.

Debbie and I have said to each other repeatedly that we have finally purchased, after many years,  the home best suited for our taste and lifestyle.  It has a 2 car garage and, generally speaking, all the yards are quite small.

By all standards the houses are close together but somehow we don't feel like we're on top of our neighbors.  A bonus of our particular lot is that we back up to an open wash or arroyo resulting in far greater privacy and additional wildlife.

The wildlife thus far includes rabbits, coyotes, a bobcat and lots of birds. The snakes are waiting to appear.  The best of the birds include Hummingbirds, very cute Road Runners

and of course Quail (you know, Quail Creek).  The community has (3) 9-hole golf courses.  Even though we don't golf, I view their presence as a plus because they create greater green space and habitat for the wildlife.  Quail Creek also has a first class fitness center open from 4:00am to 10:00pm,

two large pools that are heated as necessary and open 24 hours a day,

a beautiful clubhouse home to a library (no need to sign out books, just take what you want and return it when you're finished) many many activities, a bar and grill, tennis courts, craft facilities and endless golf cart paths.  Sorry if we sound like the new marketing team! Actually, I could go on a bit more but I'm sure it's clear that we love our new home.  Hopefully our friends and family will be enticed  to come visit us.  We'd love to see you!

Another attraction for us here is the sense of community and related social life.  Debbie and I have almost always lived out in the country and, during our working years, worked way more then 40 hour weeks.  It provided a nice lifestyle with ample cash but we had minimal social life.  Oh has that changed!  I think up to this point I've neglected to mention the house we bought is right next door to our very good friends Bill and Rena, who we met while volunteering in Spearfish, SD last summer. You will find them mentioned often in our blog.  They have introduced us to so many wonderful people.  We have been so busy since moving here that there are still many activities and opportunities in the community that we haven't once sampled.  The plus side is that we're meeting lots of very nice people and having a great time! 

OK, now a little travel talk.   April 29, we drove to Moab, UT to meet friends from Maine, Dave and Ardie.  Our mission was to drive the White Rim Trail in the Canyonlands National Park.  Depending on how you do it, it's about 100 miles that REQUIRES a 4-wheel drive vehicle.  Our plan was to take 3 days that includes camping (you know like in a tent) for two nights.  I was surprised Debbie went for the idea but we're mighty glad she did.  We arrived in Moab, Utah on Sunday evening, met Dave and Ardie for dinner and spent the night at a hotel.  Monday morning we met at the jeep rental place.  The jeep was a 4-door and cost about $175 a day.  The first concern was whether or not we could get all of our stuff and 4 people in the jeep.  You know we had all the camping gear (provided by Dave and Ardie) lots of water, food, ice and one change of underwear.  Success!

Off we go.

View from Visitor's Center   .

The road is an old mining road that was created back in the 1950s to facilitate mining for uranium. 

The mining only lasted a few years and the road was never closed or improved.  The result is a wilderness paradise. 

Much of the road can be negotiated without 4-wheel drive but then there are sections where there is no substitute for 4-wheel drive. 

Dave has some experience with 4x4 so he did all the driving.

Dave and Ardie kept us on course.

Debbie and I in the back were tossed around a good bit but it was all part of the adventure.  There are only 19 campsites along the road and our first night was spent at White Crack campground at mile marker 38.

Our campsite was perfect over looking a massive canyon area.

Late afternoon sun in the canyon
Some early evening clouds

The next morning - just awakening

A beautiful sunrise

The only facility at the campsites is a pit toilet .  No potable water anywhere along the trail.

Dave and Ardie did a great job of assembling our rations (we split all costs). We eventually went to bed well fed and content.  Conceptionally, Debbie had no problem with the idea of sleeping in the tent but as it turned out she was not all that comfortable sleeping on the ground. We did spring for sleeping pads at Walmart to take on the trip but they were mighty thin and offered little to no comfort. Debbie did mention that the ground was hard, there was no way she could sleep,  and I think she spoke of crying.  I love her! 

Day two included about a 25 mile drive to our next campsite.  We were up at 6 and on the road by 8.  We probably averaged 5-10 mph.  We arrived at our second campsite early afternoon. The focus of the drive is the awesomely rugged beauty of the terrain.  It's wonderfully quiet and at will you simply stop and get out to absorb the views.  The views include lots of red rock formations, occasional sightings of either the Colorado or Green River some colorful flowers and OMG the canyons. Cleverly named place. 

The great thrill was that you could walk right up to the edge of these enormous canyons that were everywhere.  The only safeguard was your own common sense.  I may have struggled with that some but I live to tell about it! 

Ardie and Duane decided they just had to walk across this "plank" high above the canyon

First Duane crossed

Then Ardie

So we spend our second night in the Potato Bottom campground.  It didn't have the dramatic views of our first site, but was special in its own way.  The large cottonwood tree gave us ample shade to sit and enjoy the afternoon. 

That night  Debbie decided she was sleeping in the jeep.  I said I would join her so she wouldn't be alone. We didn't even put up our tent.  I didn't last an hour before I pulled out my sleeping bag and moved to the ground.  The night weather was perfect!  I enjoyed my own little adventure under the stars and Debbie slept well in the jeep. The next morning we were again up at 6, had pancakes and bacon and on down the road by 8.  Dave did all the cooking on the trip and what a great job he did!

Dave's Kitchen

We completed our last day of the journey by noonish.  After turning in the jeep, we left Dave and Ardie, checked into a motel, showered  (that was nice) and headed for Arches National Park.  Canyonlands included terrific canyons and Arches NP guessed it, Arches.

Our visit to Arches was short and mostly just a " drive-thru" event.  We hope to return and spend more time before too long. Afterwards we met Dave and Ardie at their campsite (they're on a 4 month outing) for dinner and then bid them "Adieu."  It was a great trip!  Very exciting and very unique, especially for us primarily RVers.  I deliberately skipped lots of narrative about the beauty hoping the pictures will better tell that part of our story. 

See Ya!