Get out and get cycling

My husband Rick is a cyclist.  He heads out early every weekend and rides for several hours, many times getting 70+ miles in during the ride. That isn’t exactly my idea of fun, but for him, he loves it.  I am the one with the cruiser.  I am more likely to stop and take a photo along the ride to catch my breath.  Luckily we live in Scottsdale and we are both in great shape for going on a ride.

Scottsdale is being awarded the Gold Designation from The League of American Bicyclists.  There are only 14 Gold Designated cities in the country, and the highest level of Platinum has been given to only 3 cities.

So why is Scottsdale so bike friendly; with 112 miles of bike routes, 124 miles of bike lanes, and my favorite, the 119 miles of paved bike paths as well as 218 miles of unpaved trails, is it any wonder that Scottsdale is a bicyclist’s paradise.  Whatever your preference!

So with cooler weather here, hop on your bike and explore the area!

Desert Botanical Gardens

I love our gardens. Love being a member, even if I don’t get there as often as I would like. Last year the Desert Botanical Gardens had the Dale Chihuly: Nature of Glass exhibition. Because of the exhibit, the gardens increased their revenue last year by 45%.

With so many of the museums, parks and other community facilities facing closure due to the economy and lack of funds, I am glad The Desert Botanical Gardens is doing so well.

Connect with them on Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and Twitter

Summer Resort Fun

With temperatures rising, many of the visitors to our beautiful city have left, not to come back till cooler weather returns. So the resorts are offering great summer play packages.

  • Millennium Resort has offers starting with $100 room, and get $100 in food and beverage, even pool side. For a bit more add in a golf package.
  • Hyatt Regency Scottsdale is offering free meals, kids camp, and with their ‘water playground’ loads of fun for the family
  • Stay at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort and spend the day at the spa or enjoy all of the services they offer.

Call the resort you’re interested in getting away to and find out what specials they are offering.

You don’t have to get out of town to have a vacation – summer fun is waiting in your own back yard.

Wild Kingdom update in McCormick Ranch

Yesterday we had fun with the Badger.  

In the afternoon I got a call back from Critter Control.  They didn’t belive that we had a badger.  And in McCormick Ranch, impossible…

They asked for proof and I sent them to my blog to see the photos.  No doubting us, a badger is what we had.  They were speechless.  In 17+ years of doing critter control in the valley they have never had a confirmed badger report.  They once had a call from someone in Buckeye, but could not confirm it, as they didn’t trap it.  

So a badger is rare in populated areas.  Almost unheard of.  

That is good to know.  Today, someone checked the last known location of our little friend.  He has moved on.  Hopefuly to a more rural area, or out to the desert even better.

A Badger in McCormick Ranch

I get asked about critters, what will people expect to find when they move to Arizona.  When I let them know that even in the heart of Scottsdale’s McCormick Ranch they can still expect to see an occasional coyote, javalina, hawks and owls.  People are surprised!  They were thinking along the lines of bugs, snakes, scorpions.  I haven’t seen any snakes or scorpions in the area,  that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, just that I haven’t seen them.  

Today I got the surprise when a BADGER found it’s way to my front courtyard got trapped and ‘dug in’ literally.  


Badger behind the pot by front door

Badger behind the pot by front door

This ferocious critter dug a hole VERY quickly righ next to our front door.  I believe it felt trapped, and found a spot to defend itself.  

Not sure if it was still there…. we took the hose from the balcony of the upstairs office and flooded it out.  

It was there! and not very happy with us.


Wet badger leaving our front patio

Wet badger leaving our front patio



From the safety of the roof and upper deck, we hosed down the little guy and chased him out the patio and then blocked it off so he wouldn’t return.


Badger headed to the neighbors

Badger headed to the neighbors

He headed off and made another hole in the neighbor’s front courtyard.  They are out of state for the summer.  So that gives us a bit of time to get Animal control to get out here.  

Till then, I am headed out with notices for the neighborhood to be on the lookout for a Badger and do not approach – those are mean buggers!

Adobe homes in the Southwest

St. Francis de Assisi Church in Rancho de Taos 


St. Francis de Assisi Church in Rancho de Taos


When people think of the Southwest and homes, many times they think of Adobe built homes.  I often get asked why all the homes are stucco and why there isn’t much adobe. 

I used to live in New Mexico, and know that real adobe homes are very labor intensive.  Mud bricks stacked together then more mud over the bricks to give the smooth texture we are familiar with. 

Super green, a great insulator, and the thicker the walls the stronger.  The St. Francis de Assisi Church in Rancho de Taos, well known for being photographed by Ansel Adams and painted by Georgia O’Keefe, has walls that are over 6 feet thick at the base.  The whole community comes together every year to re-mud the exterior.  The rain and snow make the natural dirt/clay walls soften and wash away.  Yes, the buildings last a long time, the church was built in 1815, and the Taos Pueblo is over 1000 years old.  Keeping up the mudding can keep the adobe standing indefinitely.

Meanwhile, stucco lasts a lifetime (not sure how many years that is) but with a fresh coat of paint every now and again, the work to maintain it is much less.

I love the look and feel of the real adobe homes, and I have been in many while living in Taos and Santa Fe.  They are a bit challenging to hang a picture on, when remodeling, taking down walls is not an option, making the stucco homes of Arizona much more practical.

Remodeling in McCormick Ranch

All of this talk of construction methods comes from me as I am remodeling my second bedroom in my McCormick Ranch town home.  This room is the west room, upstairs above the garage; so no chance of planting a tree and getting a spot of shade on that wall. 

The room has been HOT in the summer and COLD in the winter.  It boasts a single pane glass window and single pane glass sliding door, and an assumption on our part that the insulation was missing in the walls.

Our plan, remove the wall board, replace the windows with Low-E,  and replace the sliding door with a dual pane French door, and insulate the walls to the max!

Here goes our transformation!

The Basement Phenomena

Basements are rare in Arizona.  You would think that since the earth is cool, that basements would be popular and a pleasure in the summer months. 

Let’s first give some thought to basement construction.  In the great white north, you have to dig down a few feet to get below the freeze line where the water and sewer lines are located, then dig a bit further for footers, then have a few steps up to the front door so there is room for snow to pile up…

Getting the picture?

Our freeze line is only inches below the surface, builders don’t have to go far (18 inches) to hook up water and sewer.  The front door is also at ground level.  Meaning if a builder is going to dig down for a basement, they are doing some serious digging.  Our ground can be a bit on the hard side, making digging a bit of a challenge.

When builders do build a basement home, the basement is rarely the same footprint or square footage of the rest of the home.  The newer communities offering basements have them fully finished, used as game rooms, spare bedrooms, and they even have a bathroom complete with sump pump.

Arizona Construction or “How we do it here”


Arizona Home under construction

Arizona Home under construction

There are different construction standards across the US.  What consists of a standard in one area would be a poor choice in another.


An example:  In the north, the front door of your home opens inward.  This is building code.  The reason is a safety standard.  Just a small amount of snow would block the door trapping people in the home with no way out.  Head down to Florida, and building code has the door opening outward.  Again this is for safety.  Florida and other coastal cities in the south get hit with some mighty big storms and wind (hurricanes).  Having the front door open outward secures the home and keeps the door from blowing in during a storm. 

Arizona construction fits Arizona.  Over the next few posts I am going to explore some of the differences in “How we do it here”.

Spring is in the Air


Spring has Sprung

Spring has Sprung

Spring has arrived to Scottsdale, Arizona.  Our daffodils are showing their pretty faces.  The windows and doors are open during the day.  And my Italian Greyhounds are enjoying running naked.  (Without a sweater)  The trees are starting to grow back their leaves; our grapevine is loaded with new growth buds.  All are signs of spring.  So get out and enjoy the beautiful days.  Go for a walk, run, or bike ride on the Camelback Walk, just get out and enjoy it.