Monday, November 23, 2015

Making a House a Home

Our stay in Arizona flew by as we were busy making this condo, which had been vacant for over 2 years, a home that we could be proud of.  We couldn't of done it without the help of Craig's parents who joined us for some fun painting, changing light/plug receptacles, installing ceiling fans, etc., etc. We also recruited our friends Debbie and Art in on the fun of hauling garbage, tree branches and stumps to the dump.  Oh what fun!  
We painted all the rooms that we wanted to paint; living room, dining room, den, guest bedroom, master and ensuite. We pulled, dug and raked all the weeds and bushes from the front gardens and replaced it all with a desert landscape.  Craig took down the tree in the backyard along with the two bushes - all of which made a mess in the yard by dropping leaves and seed pods. We will tackle the back yard when we return and also make it an easy and clean landscape.  We still have a bit more to do like replacing the garage door, new windows and a new counter top in the kitchen but we will contact the professionals to do those jobs.  During our next visit our work load will be minimal compared to this time, just some odd jobs that need to be done and pictures to hang.
We were going to leave today but decided to stay one more day, Craig and Art are out golfing this morning and I am relaxing in the sun.  The temperatures have been great during our stay and I'm happy that we made the time to visit and explore with Craig's parents and our friends.  Here are a whack of pics of before and after.
The fireplace looked old, dated and tired

It's amazing what a coat of paint can do.  It took mom and I
two days to paint the fireplace but it was so worth the effort

Off white walls everywhere

New paint on the walls, a couch, some accessories and a
Navajo rug that we found at the flea market

We loved the armchair that we purchased in the spring so much
we purchased another one

So much cozier and warmer
My friend Petra will be please to see the bull skull on our fireplace,
we named him Diego

The view looking from the front door through the dining room
kitchen and the back door

Plain looking dining room

Got some personality to it now

The other view


The guest bedroom ready for a coat of paint

Now ready for guests

We didn't paint the bathroom as it didn't need it but
we distressed the cabinets and accessorized.

No before pic of the den - walls were the same throughout the condo
Painted them a sage colour, sleeper sofa and a couple of Shorthairs
Tiny TV to watch some movies or catch the news
Too much to do and explore in Arizona, who needs TV?

Also didn't get before pic of the master but it was the same plain boring colour
Here's the after with a king sized bed us and the dogs

We painted the master a cool grayish blue colour and hung
tone-on-tone drapes on the door to go outside.

The ensuite is a few shades lighter than the master itself

View from the master into the ensuite

We joined Art and Debbie and their Canadian friends one day and headed to Los Algodones, a small Mexican town which is only a short 16kms away from Yuma across the border.  I love Day of the Dead skulls and I knew I would find a couple of perfect ones there.  Had to do some bartering but it was so worth it as I absolutely love the two I purchased.

This one is red in colour and some birds on either side

This one is orange and covered in flowers

Another great find, thanks to Debbie hooking us up with an
amazing local artist Kristie.

I contributed a couple of my prints from the Antelope Canyons

Here is the other canvas - both are in the dining room

Here's a before pic of our front yard taken in the spring
You can see the garden is weed infested

Dug up everything except for the yucca

Prickly pear cactus and succulents planted along
with some roadside finds of large rocks and driftwood

We also did the garden in between the two condos,
I hope our new neighbour approves

Will be interesting to see how much these plants will have grown
when we return

More view of the garden

And another one

This was our view out the front door

Here it is now

Our backyard had this larger tree that dropped it's leaves and seed pods like crazy
We also had a small bush beside it and a massive bush on the other side of the yard

Craig taking down the last of the branches


We will likely hire someone to remove two of the four
slabs of concrete so that we can plant low maintenance plants and river rock

Other view of the back yard

Craig painted the outside ceiling and his dad and him added a ceiling fan
Well that is all the major renos that we accomplished during our stay in our southern home.  Tomorrow we will start our journey back to the Arctic where I think all of us will be in shock and will need time to adjust to the colder temps.
Last night we headed out to catch another Arizona sunset and here is what I captured.
Miss Molly ran around the desert a bit then got tired an laid down
and watched Blitz run like a maniac

Pic of them in front of an ocotillo cactus at sunset

Looking east at sunset with some ocotillo cactus in the foreground

On our way searching for the perfect sunset spot, I yelled
at Craig to stop. My love for old buildings and cool looking trees came together

Here's a closer look at the decaying building at sunset.
The building was a wood structure and the walls looked like
they were made of clay.
Talk soon!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Picacho State Park, California

We had our morning planned to watch the hot air balloons take off from the West Wetlands Park in Yuma with our friends Debbie & Art.  It was an early wake up call for a Saturday morning and we were out the door around 7am.  Upon arriving at the park many vehicles were going the opposite direction...what the heck, are we that late?  It ended up that the winds were too high for them to fly, thankfully they flew over our complex the day before and Craig got some pics.
Up, up and away
So what do you do at 7:30am on a Saturday morning?  Well you head west into California, Picacho State Park to be exact.  It's a beautiful park where 18 miles of the 24 mile road is dirt and it offers a diverse landscape from towering mountains to desert.  It also has wild burros and big horn sheep, both of which we did not see, most likely due to the fact that the temperatures were hitting around 82'f.
Our first stop was the Valley of Names, a vast area of the park where people write their names, names of loved ones and of the deceased with rock that it local to the area.  It's a very cool spot to walk and to read all of the names and dates, Debbie said the earliest she ever saw was from the 1970s.

The Valley of Names

Just a small portion of the valley

Here's Art and Craig - you can see how large the area is
From there we headed over to the camp ground and the picnic area where the mighty Colorado River goes through.  Compared to the area further north, the Colorado is calm in this area and it was very low. No activity on the water except for a couple of ducks.
Park patrol boats

Exposed sand dunes on the water

Here's another one which was much larger.
Off we went to find some burros, there was a lot of evidence of them but unfortunately we did not see any. We parked near the end of the park, I think near lookout point and walked the remaining way as the road was becoming too narrow to be able to turn around. The scenery was magnificent with the Colorado River in the far background.
This was the end of the road for us, from here the
road became too narrow to turn around.

A larger canyon where water washed out some of the earth 

Amazing scenery with the Colorado River in the background

A bit of a closer look
From there we headed back to Yuma and stopped at a few places along the way to take more pics.  It was a great day spent with friends.  We had planned to see the hot air balloons last night also and as our luck we were too late, a look on the bright side, we watched some fireworks from our place.
We saw a couple of cactus that had a bloom or two on them.
Debbie told us we need to come back in March to see the desert blooms.

Old fireplace still standing on the foundation of a small cabin

Love the red earth of the desert
Some interesting rock formations - just to your left it
looks like two eyes protruding from the rock

This one looks like a boney hand coming out of the rock

Sunset over a farmer's field in Yuma
Talk soon!