My truth: Blogging for me is very much a “today I feel like it” type of thing. It seems I go “gung-ho” for a short while and then it becomes a chore. I always have ideas, notes, and photos ready. It just needs to be the right day and time before I get going again. 

To carry on from where I left off over a month ago: After hubs retired and had put in his couch time, we headed out on our first ever vacation with no return date in mind. This was a unique experience. Until now, either one or both of us had a vacation end time to return to work. I had always used the bad habit of sadly counting down the days, “Only 10 days left!”, etc. I really didn’t know how to behave now.

We packed up the car and headed south in Mid January, 2016. Our destination was Arizona. Even though we had been there on two previous occasions, those trips were time-limited so we wanted to do more exploring this time around.

We took our time and drove only in daylight hours. I had a conference to attend in Las Vegas en route to AZ. We took 3 days to drive to Las Vegas – a luxury we hadn’t had the time for on previous visits. The few times we didn’t fly there, we drove straight through by changing drivers. This is a 21 hour drive from where we live (driving time without stops). Taking three full days to get to Vegas was wonderful, because we were able to enjoy so much more scenery – one of the many perks of driving vs flying.

After the conference in Las Vegas, we headed out to Arizona. Our first stop was Maricopa County. We have friends from here who own a ranch acreage winter home there, so we decided to stop in for a visit and an overnight. My featured image is of the sunset as we approached Maricopa county. Arizona sunsets are among my favorites. 

Our friends have a great sense of humor. This is the sign that greets you to their property.

DSC_0035

In the morning, while the guys went quad-riding, my girlfriend and I went for a walk along the coulee next to their property. We saw petroglyphs on the hillside, as well as a great variety of cacti and wildflowers.

We found Maricopa County to be pretty laid-back. Many ranchers and cowboy types own property near our friends’ home and they all watch out for each other. Many of them enjoy attending and/or participating in numerous team-roping and rodeo events over the winter.

Harrah’s Ak-Chin is a large casino resort complex within about 10 miles of our friends’ home. In addition to the relatively new casino and hotel, it hosts a large movie theater and entertainment complex along with play areas for kids. We took a quick tour of the complex and enjoyed a great lunch there.

After lunch, we took a drive around the area, as well as to nearby Apache County, where we visited John Wayne’s 26 Bar Ranch. This ranch is located on route 260 at Eagar, AZ – close to Springerville, AZ. John Wayne bought the 50- thousand acre property in 1964 and ran an 80-thousand head Hereford cattle feeding operation. The area takes pride in “The Duke’s” connection and stories abound of his many visits to the area and how sociable he was with the locals.

DSC_0131

We were surprised to find vineyards while out on our afternoon drive. One wouldn’t think the dessert would be conducive to grape growing. Apparently there are a few wineries in the area and some have tasting rooms. 

DSC_0135

After a full day, it was time to head out to our next destination – Buckeye, AZ. The Saguaro Cacti lining the hills en route were spectacular in the sunset. We had learned from our friends that it takes 95 to 100 years for one of these desert giants to start to sprout arms.

DSC_0141

I’m like the trunk of a cactus… I take in a dose of culture and time with friends, then I retreat and go live on it for awhile until I get thirsty again.