Monday, May 24, 2010

Tres Rios Wetlands

On Saturday, we went to the Tres Rios Wetlands area. It's been closed most of the spring due to flooding along the river, but it opened up a couple of weeks ago, so we checked it out.

It's an interesting place... not the most spectacular, but only two miles from home & it had some neat stuff. It's actually a wetlands reclamation area next door to a huge water treatment facility. So all the water is reclaimed (creepy) and sometimes you get questionable whiffs. But it was never all-out stinky, so we stayed a while!

One of the first things we saw was this boardwalk/pier that wound through a bunch of trees. There was no water under it, but I could see there had been at some point.

There are two large ponds, which are completely covered with bright green goo. You have to walk around a while before you can actually see the ponds, because the grass is so high. But there are several places where little piers go out onto the ponds, and one leads to a little ramada on the water.

Checking out the "water"... yeah, not a good place to see fish by any means! I guess it's a good place for throwing rocks.

So it's an odd place, but still kind of a nice oasis in some areas. One of the trails led down close to the river, and there were lots of cottonwood trees.

Caterpillars love cottonwood trees. They make these really gross sacs that look like spiderwebs, and when the caterpillars are ready to come out (hatch? whatever) they're all over the place. I can't remember what time of year they usually make their debut, but something was a-brewing here! Most of this path was covered in the stuff... looked like snow:

Conveniently, there's also a butterfly garden there. Here are the kids outside the garden:

Sitting still, watching the butterflies...

You can't tell from the picture, but it was a pretty little garden with lots of flowers. And there were a lot of butterflies and hummingbirds. it's not enclosed, so they come and go as they please. I managed to get a picture of one of the butterflies...
We also saw three bunnies and some bobcat poop. From their website, I see the bobcats like to come feast on the bunnies and the birds. Here are the kids checking out an egg shell:
So there you have it. We'll probably go back sometime. There are lots of picnic tables, and it might be fun to go early in the morning when more animals are out.
It's a strange place - some really pretty areas mixed in with creepy things and occasional views of the huge industrial-looking water treatment facility. We laughed, we cried...
But entertaining nonetheless, and very close to home!

In a Van Down By the River

The other day, the kids and I went down to the Gila River.

Every spring, several people drown there - but it's usually people who are drunk or swimming at night (or both). The current is pretty strong, and it's easy to see how someone could be swept away so quickly. That freaks me out, so we never wade more than a foot or two in.
You can see the Avondale Blvd bridge in the picture above. There are several good places to access the river, but I like to go by the racetrack, since there's a parking lot. I feel better about leaving the car there than along the side of the road; although we've done that a time or two.
I don't know what it is with little girls and shells, but Erin went nuts with the number of mussel shells there! There were places where we were walking on piles of them, just like gravel. Erin was excited when we found a live one with its shell still closed. We opened it up, and I'm not sure what the kids had in mind, but I'm pretty sure the gooey slime of a mussel wasn't quite what they were expecting. They were still really interested, though, and we spent a lot of time raking our fingers through the sand to find mussels & re-bury them.
Here they are under the bridge with Monument Hill in the background. We hiked that a few months ago.
As much as I hate graffiti, the underside of the bridge was kind of pretty, with all the different colors of paint. It was kind of fun to climb up the embankment and get right up under the roadway. The cars souns like thunder when they go over.
Avondale Boulevard...
Here's a little wider spot in the river - if you look REALLY close, you can see the very light purple Camelback Mountian on the horizon in the center of the picture.
The best part is that is only a couple of miles from the house! A good way to get out of the city for an hour or two.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fat Man's Pass

A few weeks ago, the kids and I went hiking on South Mountain. I wanted to hike through Fat Man's Pass, but I apparently chose the more difficult of two ways to get there, and I did it too late in the day. We failed.

Now, I don't like to leave a hike unfinished, but this one might have to wait til fall, unless we go way early in the morning sometime. It's not a difficult hike at all, and it's only about 4 miles round-trip. But it was a LOT warmer than I anticipated, and there's absolutely no shade on that particular trail. We had plenty of water, but the heat was rough. Erin didn't complain one bit, but Robbie started having a hard time. He's usually a trooper, too. I think we were JUST ABOUT there when I decided we'd give up and go back down. So that stunk. But we did take a couple of pictures while it was still enjoyable!

If you've never been up South Mountain, you should go. If you're not a hiker, you can just drive right up to the top! We drove around all the TV & radio antennas not long ago, and Robbie really liked that. Right now, they close the park before sunset because of budget cuts, so you can't see the city lights at night, but it's still pretty neat. I was glad we had Robbie's binoculars so we could see everything pretty well.
After the hike, we went over to my parents' house to visit. On the way there, we saw an old lady on a go-ped. Erin thought it was hilarious, and since I had my camera handy...
That lady was cool. I hope I have a go-ped when I'm old.
My Dad was using a grinder to remove their old broken diving board. It was pretty spectacular, with sparks flying everywhere, and the kids liked seeing him take it apart. He did get the new board on, but not while we were there. But it's hot and I'm ready to use it next time!

We got to visit with my brother Chris and his family for a little bit on their way through town. It's always good to see them.
So now when we pass South Mountain, it mocks me. I'll post some pictures when we finally finish the hike!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


At the beginning of May, I got together with lots of my old roommaes from EAC and drove to Thatcher for a reunion. Yay!

Front: Kandice, Amy, Monica, Megan, Jeannette

Back: Becky, Mitch, Jodi

I had so much fun. We don't get together very often - although hopefully that will change - and boy did we have a good time. Sometimes when you get together with old friends, you run out of stuff to talk about after a while, but not with this group! We talked & talked & talked all day and a lot of the night. I like that we're still friends now, and not just old roommates who only have college in common. Okay, and one of them wasn't technically a roommate, but who cares?

Three of us rode to Globe together and picked up two more on our way to Thatcher, where we picked up two more, and one drove in from Willcox to meet us there. How's that for coordination?

Jeannette's husband volunteered to watch whoever's kids - if he wasn't crazy for volunteering, he certainly is now after watching four kids plus his own four! But we really appreciated that, and Robbie was especially excited that he let them all check out his DPS car and the lights & sirens. That was a big deal!

We ate some good food (...and some questionable food) and told lots of crazy stories. We even squeezed in a tour of the Gila Valley temple while we were there, which was very neat.

Becky, Megan, Jeannette, Amy, Monica, Jodi and Mitch, that was so much fun! What are we doing next?

Honors Night

So this one is all about Erin. She was on Principal's Honor Roll all year, so a few weeks ago she got to go to Honors Night and get a trophy. She did last year, too, but I don't think I posted about that.

We really like Erin's school. It's been really good, and I think she would be bored to tears at another school. Honors Night is nice, because everybody dresses up for it, little brothers and sisters aren't allowed, you need a ticket to get in, and it really is focused on just the kids who are getting their awards. I liked watching the kids mingle & visit with each other before it started... telling each other how nice they look & everything.

Here's Erin with her teacher, Mrs. Petersen. She is such a good teacher! She's very understanding, patient, and funny, and she treats the kids very respectfully. The only drawback is that she's a U of A graduate and very much a Wildcat! BUT that means we've had plenty of fun teasing each other back & forth all year long. Erin doesn't let her get away with any U of A talk in class, either. From what I gather, she pipes right up like a true rival, and now she has a little band of Sun Devil friends who pitch in too, and they dish it all back to Mrs. Petersen. She's a good sport and knows just the right amount to tease the kids.

Erin is a smart kid, and she's always been good at learning stuff. I've always liked that she's logical, and we could reason with her from a very young age, so we never really had to deal with many tantrums & stuff like that. We are lucky parents! We love Erin and we're proud of her.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


The weekend before Easter, my sister and her kids came down to visit my parents and have an Easter egg hunt in the park. She had like 400 eggs that she filled with candy! It was crazy. Most of them were hidden, but with that many eggs, plenty were just out in plain view. The kids had a great time! And since the weather was so nice, we ordred pizza and had lunch in the park.

We had Easter dinner over at Rob's sister Stephanie's house again. It was fun! They have a really nice back yard for the kids to play in, and of course the kids loved hunting for eggs. Even Rett, our 17-year-old nephew got to hunt for eggs. His were camouflage, and they were hidden in places like the eaves and the very tops of the trees. His had a little more incentive to lure him - a few bucks here and there. Gas money, you know. Robbie really liked playing with his cousin Sydnie.

Of course the Easter bunny came to our house that morning, and the kids ate plenty of candy all day long. I think we still have some left...