Welcome to San Tan Valley!
Never heard of it? Neither had we. It’s about 45 minutes southeast of Phoenix, Arizona and is indeed part of a large valley. There seemed to be a few distinct sections of human habitation separated by large agricultural areas for miles and miles. The reason we were here was for our 70th house sit with one male Standard Poodle.
We arrived around 7:30 pm knowing that the hosts wouldn’t be there. They were attending a high school graduation ceremony. We hung out with the dog until they got home at 10:00. Of course, we all stayed up late talking, and they even had friends come over.
Jim smoked a cigar with the ‘guys’ out back by the pool: Host, and friend, another expatriate from Portland, an ex-marine, now a Sheriff Deputy. Talked a lot about gun laws, other laws, and related politics and finally headed for bed.
Our hosts took off mid-morning, heading up towards the Nebraska area. We always struggle packing all our stuff in the car, even in the Suburban. It’s hard to imagine two weeks on the road with only what fits in the saddle bags of a motorcycle, but they did it. Then the sun came up and got things warmed up – we retreated to the shade!
The area of San Tan Valley is all flat, with mountains on all sides, far away. Houses all around and fairly common style in Arizona: rock yards, tile roofs. The neighborhood had little parks here and there, all with lots of grass. Those doubled as retaining ponds for rain runoff during the fall monsoons.
A surprising amount of attention to water drainage for so dry an area. We didn’t see anything looking at all like rain. Apparently, it comes in two flavors here – hot and dry – or warm and wet, and not in equal portions.
The Plant Life
We found lots of colors in the flowers, plants, and trees for such a dry area. We noticed them all primarily while walking the dog which we had to do early in the morning and late in the day because of the heat.
Taking a dog out for a walk at noon would earn you a visit from the Humane Society, or should. My primary objective for tagging along was to take pictures as there were plantings up and down all the streets and many of them were unfamiliar to me.
One plant I was fascinated with, I believe, was called red yucca although it wasn’t red and it’s not technically a Yucca plant, it had, as you can see, these cool seed balls I guess you call them. I just loved them, and I took many more pictures of them than you see here.
They were at almost every house and along the block walls in the neighborhood. Oh, it was good there were colorful flowers because every single house was the same color!
Oh, we heard more birdsong out in the backyard than any other house we’ve stayed in – it was an all-day thing. Doves, hummingbirds, and pigeons were the only ones we recognized. Two pigeons were in a nest next door, up in the eaves, and around all day.
My other favorites were the trees with green bark – I think they’re called Palo Verde. We also saw Mesquite trees with black bark. Those were cool too.
It Was Hot!
During our stay here, we did a lot of writing since we couldn’t go outside between 9:00 am and 8:00 pm! Ah, the simple things made us so happy – like being in a house with a kitchen and shower after so many camping nights.
One day, we made the mistake of a grocery store trip in the afternoon: I thought I’d die. Even with the reflectix up on all the windows, the car was baked. We only went a few blocks, and the car air conditioner was blowing air hotter than an oven. The store was hot too – even in the frozen food aisle! Getting out of the parking took forever – slow and confused drivers, pedestrians, people unloading carts in the middle of the road. It took too long, and I almost lost it. Most others were just walking along like normal – don’t they know this much heat is not normal!
Okay, Here’s the Dog
Such a sweet dog, well behaved, loved physical affection, I mean loved it. He’s a big standard poodle, really big, though he believes he’s a lap dog. Doesn’t fit any lap we’ve ever seen.
One other thing we noticed, he always squinted when out in the yard under the bright sun.
He free-fed as dry food was out all the time, but he was not so interested in eating. He didn’t beg for our food, though he could put his head right up at plate level just standing there. This fellow knew how to take a nap and did all the time. Usually in the hallway on the cool floor tiles.
Morning stretch time: he was always right there trying to “help.”
Our hosts had installed an above ground pool since we visited earlier in the year. Though we’re not water types, we took a few cool late-night dips under a full moon. That was a real treat at the end of those hot days.
While we floated in the water, the dog did laps around the pool the whole time, always counter clock-wise. Dogs can be so funny – he surely was. In the evenings when the neighbors were in their backyard, playing around. That had the dog running around in circles every time. Round and round at his top level of excitement and we even got it on video.
Our Summer Vacation
One of our big chores while at this house was getting ready for about two weeks of camping. It would be “our” summer vacation. Usually, we’re in a house while others are out on vacation: this time we’re doing the traveling to places we’ve long wanted to visit. Been a couple of years since that happened.
That meant packing a different way. Putting what we didn’t need under the mattress and only keeping what we think we would need in light bags on top. Of course, what we needed was all the camping stuff which was quite a pile by now. We had never traveled so long or so far, and yet camping all the way. All that plus the food planning had us scratching our heads to figure out.
But if that’s what it took to get us up to Glacier National Park – well, we were glad to have such a challenge. We were starting off 50 miles from Mexico and would end up about that close to Canada with a lot of zig-zagging on the way. We were so looking forward to the trip that packing and repacking a dozen times seemed worth it, and it was even fun – at least the first few times.
What’s Next – a day trip
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