January 2012, Apache Junction, AZ

We started January by having to take Camille to the vet as a growth on her back had doubled in size and was starting to get infected.  It was a benign mass and we ended up having 3 of them removed.  Her stitches were in for two weeks so she had to wear the Elizabethan Collar (We called it her “torture collar”) for two weeks.  Everything went fine and she recovered very quickly.




We went to Fountain Hills with two other couples from our park.  Fountain Hills is about 30 minutes northeast of us and is famous for its beautiful fountain.  The fountain was installed as a tourist attraction and was listed as the tallest fountain in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records from 1971 to the late 1990’s.  The fountain operates every hour on the hour and reaches a height of 330 feet using two pumps.  On special occasions a third pump is used and the fountain reaches 560 feet.  If winds exceed 10 mph the fountain will not operate.  It is beautiful to see and there is a walking path all the way around the lake.

 








Our good friends from Colorado, Bob & Jean visited us in January for a week.  We kept busy taking them to see some of the sights.

 
We led a group on a short hike to collect Apache Tears at an abandoned perlite mine.  Apache Tears are obsidian that is found embedded in perlite.  We found a lot of Apache Tears and Jean and Bob took some home for their grandkids.


We took Bob and Jean to the Mesa Marketplace, a large indoor flea market that has four rows that are each about a half mile long.  We did a lot of looking and bought a few things.




We also took them to see the fountain at Fountain Hills.  It was a little windier this day and the spray was really blowing.

 






We found this very interesting horse sculpture in a parking lot by the fountain.  It is composed of junk parts.  There are parts from a washing machine, sewing machine, stove, toaster, car parts, toys, kitchen utensils, license plates and much more.   It was very impressive and every time we looked at it we saw something new.







We also took a cruise on the Dolly Steamboat while Rex was working.  It was a cool day but we had a great time and got to see a Desert Bighorn ewe and her lamb.


  








We had lunch one day at Organ Stop Pizza.  They have a Wurlitzer theatre that was built for the Denver Theatre in 1927.  The organ was used regularly until the early 1930’s.  Organ stop purchased the organ in the early 1970’s and restored the instrument, enlarging and improving it.  The organ now has nearly 6000 pipes and takes up an entire wall of the building.  We enjoyed pizza and great music.


 
We also went to Barleen’s Arizona Opry Dinner Theatre where we enjoyed a great dinner and a wonderful variety show.   The Barleen family also has a summer dinner theatre in Estes Park, CO.




We visited the Commemorative Air Force Museum in Mesa where we saw the B17 Sentimental Journey among other World War II planes.

 









We were able to go inside the Sentimental Journey where Jean and Nancy manned the waist guns.
 
We also took a scenic drive to Roosevelt Lake and stopped at one of our favorite restaurants, Tortilla Flats.  Bob and Jean were amazed at the beautiful scenery we have in this part of Arizona.

We had a great visit with our friends and packed a lot of activities into one week.  A week after they returned to Colorado they sent us a picture of the truck with a foot of snow on top - they were wishing they were still in warm and sunny Arizona!

The last weekend in January we went to the Bluegrass Jamboree and Car Show at the Pinal County Fairgrounds with Nancy’s parents.  We enjoyed great bluegrass music and saw some really cool vintage cars.  There was also a quilt show with beautiful handmade quilts.  We even got to visit our favorite kettle corn vendor for some wonderful kettle corn.  It was a great day.

We enjoyed a park bus trip to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.  The garden sits on 145 acres and has more than 50,000 plants.  There are five thematic trails that exhibit cactus and succulent species from around the world.  We enjoyed walking along the paths and seeing all the different types of cactus and succulent plants.  The Butterfly Pavilion was not open yet so we will come back in March to watch them release butterflies.

Nancy went on a bus trip to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.  This is a wonderful museum and was a dream of the CEO of Target Stores.  The upper level of the museum has geographical galleries presenting instruments by regions of the world and included audio and video recordings of the instruments being played.  The lower level included the Mechanical Music Gallery with featured instruments designed to play on their own – such as player pianos and organs.  The Experience Gallery is a hands-on opportunity to play many types of instruments seen elsewhere in the museum.  Nancy had a great time experimenting with different types of bells, gongs and drums.  Every week there is a concert by a group from Arizona State University.  We attended a short concert by the ASU African Drum Ensemble which was entertaining and educational.  There is also a gourmet restaurant at the museum which features local foods and products.  It was a great museum and we need to go back to see the displays we missed this time.

We enjoyed hiking with our Tuesday Smell the Roses hiking group and Rex’s Friday Hiking group.  Here are pictures from a few of the hikes.  



This stone circle was on top of Black Cross Butte in the Superstition Mts. above Canyon Lake.  We aren’t sure if it was left by ancient Native American’s or hippies in the 60’s.



 



We hiked on the Bluff Spring Trail in another part of the Superstition Mts. to this rock formation that looks like a vulture.

 





Rex and his friend, Mike, did a nine and one half mile hike around Picket Post Mountain and got this great shot of the back side of the mountain.  They were scouting out a trail for the Friday hiking group but found that the trail ended about halfway around the mountain and had to bushwhack the rest of the way getting a lot of cuts and scrapes along the way – consequently the hiking group will not be taking this hike.


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