Sunday, May 30, 2010

McDowell Mountain Hike on May 30 2010

The McDowell Mountain Regional Park is 20 miles east of our house and offers many miles of hiking, riding, and biking trails from beginner to expert. It contains several competition level off road biking courses for the advanced rider. It is a pretty cool place but we rarely go there. So today we thought it would be a good time to check out one of the hiking trails. There is a brand new welcome center inside the main gate with very helpful volunteers staffing the gift shop. At the volunteer's recommendation we hiked the easy 3.7 mile "Scenic Trail" that gave views to the 4 Peaks mountain range, the Superstition Mountain range with "Flatiron" and "Weavers Needle" as well as the McDowell Mountains. We also saw many beautiful Saguaro cactus plants that must have been up to 30 feet tall.

Picture 1: Fran with 30 foot Saguaro. There were many flowering cacti in the preserve.

Picture 2: Huge Saguaro with six symmetrical arms and retirement community of Rio Verde in the background

Picture 3: "4 Peaks" in the distance at about 50 miles. Roosevelt Dam is behind 4 Peaks and provides water to Phoenix.

Picture 4: Superstition Mountain at about 30 miles showing Weaver's Needle on the left and "Flatiron" on the right. Charlie Adams and I climbed to the top of Flatiron a couple years ago and had lunch at the top of the 5,000 foot mountain at the edge of the 1,000 foot cliff.

Picture 5" Fran with McDowell Mountains behind her

Picture 6: Fran with parking lot and trailhead behind her

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nicaragua Vacation May 9-18 2010 Itinerary

We had a wonderful week long vacation in Nicaragua to visit our daughter Julie this year. She is in the Peace Corp serving in a little village called Le Paz Centro ... LPC for short. LPC is about 30 miles south of Leon the next major city. I won't put a lot of photos or details on the posting and will use it to outline our trip and put several photos that highlight some of the more meaningful parts of our visit. Fran and I will do a few more postings, in addition to his one, to show more photos and tell about a few of our more interesting happenings like when Fran was about to throw herself out of the taxi ...

May 9: Sunday
  • We left Phoenix on a 7:30AM American Airlines flight, had a four hour layover in Miami and arrived in Managua around 7:20PM local time. All together about 13 hours travel time. Julie picked us up at the airport and we stayed the night at the Best Western (BW) across the street.
May 10: Monday
  • We took a BW taxi from the BW to LPC and arrived in LPC around 10:30AM Monday morning. We had lunch at Julie's apartment and travelled by Moto-Taxi and school bus to a nearby Laguna. This is a very peaceful place that Julie loves and serves as her place to get away.
  • That evening we met "Oneida" Julie's teacher counterpart in the local LPC school and her duania "Marvin" who is a grandmother figure to a number of people in the village as well as being Julie's landlord.
ay 11: Tuesday
  • Julie and I got in a run around the local baseball field from 7-8AM
  • We travelled to Leon by Taxi and wandered Leon's open air market before having lunch at the "Convento" a beautiful converted seminary that now serves as a hotel and restaurant
  • After lunch we had desert at Julie's favorite "Skype" and internet location ... a cute little cafe called "Las Rosita"
  • We took a taxi back to LPC with a driver who loved practicing his english with us and then went to a German class that Julie attends taught by a young German guy serving at a women's support facility. The facility is supported by German volunteers and donations.
May 12: Wednesday
  • We attended Julie's school in LPC from 7-11AM seeing Julie and Oneida in action with a 7th grade class and an 8th grade class.
  • In the PM Fran and Julie ran errands for the party that evening
  • From 4-7PM we had a wonderful party with Julie's youth group and capped the evening with a Pinata
May 13: Thursday
  • We took a taxi from LPC to Managua and rented a car for the next five days
  • Took a ferry to the island of Ometepe
  • Checked in at Finca Venicia ... coincidently the same room Julie stayed in during a Peace Corp outing there earlier in the year
May 14: Friday
  • Walked to Charco Verde next to hotel Finca and spent time at their Laguna
  • We drove out out to a beautiful restaurant hotel called Villa Paraiso and had a great lunch overlooking a sandy beach
  • After lunch we went to Ajo del Agua a fresh water swimming pool fed by mountain streams. The upper pool was about 25 meters and the lower pool about 25 meters long
  • That evening we had dinner at the Charco Verde restaurant and walked on the beach to look at the stars
May 15: Saturday
  • Breakfast at Finca Venicia
  • Tour to Vulcan Maderas where we climbed to the "La Cascada" a 500 foot waterfall coming off the volcano and then on the return stopped at the Hotel Central an ecologically themed park "Albergue Ecologico El Porvenir" to look at petroglyphs left by ancient civilizations from over 1000 years ago
  • A mid-afternoon lunch - dinner at Hotel Villa Paraiso ... our tour guide Eric Henriquez (very good tour guide with excellent self-taught english) gets comped for lunch if he brings his tours there.
  • Evening dinner at Finca
May 16: Sunday
  • Left Finca Venecia amd the island of Ometepe after breakfast and drove to the beautiful beaches of San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast
  • Had lunch overlooking SJDS beach and cove
  • Visited Carla ... one of Julie's best friends in the Peace Corp at the home of her host family
  • Visited Julie's first host family in St Teresa. Julie spent three months with this family from Oct-Dec 2009 during PCV training
  • Drove to Posada Ecologica reserve to a most beautiful Laguna and stayed at the "La Abuela"
May 17: Monday
  • After a great breakfast overlooking the Laguna Julie and I jumped off the dock went swimming for over an hour in the crystal clear waters
  • After lunch and saying our goodbye's to the very sweet woman that owned the hotel we left the Abuela and travelled to Vulcan Masaya the most active volcano in Central America
  • Then back to the Best Western for our final night in Nicaragua
May 18: Tuesday
  • Our 7:20AM flight was delayed by a couple hours so we were able to check in to the airport and then cross back to the BW for a great breakfast buffet with Julie before heading out back to Phoenix arriving home around 7:30PM