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Winter Shop Hop

January/February, 2015

By the middle of December I was sick of winter and decided to take a vacation in Arizona in January. Within a few minutes my flight was booked, hotels reserved (at least for the first and last nights) and a car was rented. I decided to fly to Tucson and head out from there. There is a quilt festival in Tombstone I think I need to check out. Good enough excuse for me.
2015 - Winter Shop Hop Photo Album

Monday, January 26, 2015 - Calgary to Tucson
Everything went without a hitch today. Snoopy was in her carrier and on the way to the kennel by 9:30. She seems to be getting used to this. She was rather quiet in the car and went into her kitty condo with only one hiss and spit. One extra stop at Ford to sync my phone to my car, do a bit of laundry, and I was ready to go.
Karen was going to take me to the airport but she is starting work again so wasn't sure if she would be able to pick me up on my return. Rather than worry about it and have to catch a cab to get home, I opted for Park & Jet. I got through security and to the gate in plenty of time so settled in to read my book.
The flights were both on time. I only had a half hour cooling time in Denver and then the flight to Tucson was actually early. I had plenty of time to get to the car rental. Surprise!! It was a 2015 ruby red Ford Escape exactly the same as my new car. By the time I use this one for two weeks, I should be quite comfortable with all the gadgets. They even helped me sync my phone.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 - Tucson, Arizona

Quilter's Market

First stop this morning was The Quilter's Market on E. Speedway Blvd. This is a really great shop with lots of stock and a separate class room. I ended up buying some Kokopelli and Gecko fat quarters. Quilter's Market

Catalina Highway - Sky Island Scenic Byway

I then spent the afternoon driving the 27 mile Catalina Highway - Sky Island Scenic Byway. It has an abundance of vistas along the way and plenty of areas to pull over and take pictures. The views were breathtaking. I stopped at the general store and gift shop at Mount Lemmon before heading back. Google Map

The Catalina Highway, officially the General Hitchcock Highway, also known as the Sky Island Scenic Byway and designated Arizona Forest Road 39, ascends from the desert floor in Tucson to Mount Lemmon Village climbing to an elevation of over 8000 feet.
The road showcases a variety vegetation of ranging from lowland desert cactus to alpine forests. The saguaros quickly give way to tall pines. The name Sky Island comes from the analogy of these mountains being like islands of forest in a sea of desert. Sky Island Scenic Byway
It was dark by the time I got back to Tucson and everything looked different. I managed to get totally twisted around and made more than a few wrong turns before I finally got my bearings and found Speedway Blvd. Thank goodness for the compass in the car or I might still be out there somewhere - probably heading east!! I stopped for dinner at I-Hop then headed back to the hotel for the night.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - Tucson to Sedona, Arizona
Not too much driving today. It was after 10:00 before I checked out of the hotel and hit the road. Highways were I-10, I-17 north and hwy 179 to Sedona - just over 200 miles. Google Map.

3 Dudes Quilting

I stopped at the 3 Dudes Quilting in Phoenix and purchased some more Kokopelli fat quarters. I also met Jeff - one of the Dudes. Most quilt shops have something homey and whimsical to greet shoppers. This store has these 2 skeletons at the door to welcome the guests.

Jeff and Frank took basic quilting classes from Margaret Baker at the Quilter's Bee and got hooked on quilting. From the first class there was talk of opening a Quilt Shop. Jeff and Frank taught the third dude, Ray, how to quilt and the three were on the way to becoming serious, dedicated quilters, and the proud owners of 3 Dudes Quilting.

I arrived in Sedona just before 5:00 pm, booked into the Oak Creek Bell Rock Inn, then went for supper a Pago's. It's a great little restaurant just a couple of blocks south of the hotel. Pago's Pizzeria and Italian Cuisine Restaurant

Thursday, January 29, 2015 - Sedona to Kingman, Arizona
Highways today included hwy 179, hwy 89A, I-17, I-40, Route 66, Boundary Cone Road 153 to Fort Mohave, hwy 95 to Needles and I-40 back to Kingman. I wasn't able to get into the Best Western in Bullhead City so had to back track to Kingman. Google Map

Quilter's Store Sedona

Before leaving Sedona I visited the Quilter's Store. This shop is one of my favorites. I ended up spending way too long there and way too much money. I did manage to complete the southwestern fabric collection that I started in Tucson. It will be interesting to see the quilt I have in mind for it - that is, if I ever complete it. I get so inspired when I see the colourful fabrics that this store always has on display.

I met a couple of ladies from Colorado. They were visiting a friend in Tucson and decided to do a day trip to Quilter's Store Sedona. One lady was buying the same fabric line as me so we exchanged emails so we can send each other pictures of our finished projects. Missie told me she started quilting two years ago and now it has become her life. That sounds very familiar. Apparently I'm not the only one who likes to hop in the car a visit every quilt shop along the way - and a few that aren't along the way! At least I'm not alone with my addiction. I think I would like to join "Quilters Anonymous".

Winter Shop Hop

Since I have no particular place to go on this trip except the Tombstone Quilt Festival, and since I've been hitting every shop along the trail, and since there definitely will be no shortage of shops to visit in the next 10 days, I've decided that I need to change the name of this trip to Winter Shop Hop. So it is done. Next!


I spent so much time at the Sedona quilt shop and then in Williams for lunch that by the time I reached Oatman Brenda had left for the day. Peanut was there to greet me though. It was overcast and quite cool. The girls were still in town so I was able to wander around and check out the new babies. I'm meeting Brenda tomorrow for lunch so I'll get all caught up on the gossip then.


Friday, January 30, 2015 - Kingman to Las Vegas, Nevada
Highways today were hwy 93 north, hwy 68 west, hwy 95 AZ south to Fort Mohave and back to Laughlin, hwy 163 west and hwy 95 NV and I-215 to Las Vegas. Google Map

Rain Rain Go Away

For an area that has mere inches of rain in a year, I'm sure that most of it fell today. It was absolutely pouring in Kingman but by the time I got to Fort Mohave it was just sprinkling. The entire drive today was under heavy dark clouds with on and off rain showers right into Las Vegas. Well, at least it isn't snowing!

Connie's Quilters Hide-A-Way

I stopped at Connie's Quilters Hide-A-Way in Kingman on my way out of town. This shop had a lot of antiiques in it and when I commented on it, the lady told me her husband owned the antique shop right next door. Of course, I had to visit his shop before leaving town.

I missed the opportunity to see a flash flood. For years I've said that I wanted to see one so why I didn't travel as far as the flood plane on Route 66 west of Kingman is beyond me. I certainly wasn't in a hurry and if ever there was a chance to see one that was it. I could have driven just a few extra miles and turned around without any hassel. How many times will I have that opportunity again?

Fort Mohave

I met Brenda for lunch at Hooches. We spent an hour visiting and getting caught up on the Oatman news. Unfortunately, it was mostly bad news. Harley was killed in December. She was hit by a truck in town. Her hoof was cut very badly and she suffered terribly before she died. Heartbreaking. More tragic news. Apparently someone decided to use one of the wild donkeys along the road for target practice. Very distressing.

In Memory of Harley - 2013 with Jackson

Las Vegas

I checked in to the Tahiti Village. My room wasn't ready so I went to the Factory Outlet and bought a new pair of sandals. My old ones are falling apart. Maybe I didn't need to get a new pair. If this weather doesn't improve, I wont be needing sandals anyway. I think it's probably warmer at home. How far south do I need to go?

Quiltique - Day 1

Once my room was organized, I headed to Qultique in Henderson. This is a fabulous shop and one of my favorites. In addition to a huge selection of fabric, notions and kits, they sell machines and furniture. I didn't buy much but spent an enjoyable hour wandering around the store. I'll probably visit them again in May so will be able to buy more when I have my car and don't have to worry about hauling everything home. Quiltique

Saturday, January 31, 2015 - Las Vegas
What a relaxing day I had. I was up early and did some laundry before heading out for the day. The rain has stopped and the sun is shining. There are still some high clouds but nothing like yesterday.

The Christmas Goose

First stop today was the Christmas Goose. I bought a bunch of Buggy Barn books that I don't have. Between books and material, my carry on is going to be quite heavy. I think I might have to ship some things home by FedEx or pay for an extra bag to check in. The Christmas Goose

Quiltique - Day 2

Once I finished at the Christmas Goose and came to the conclusion I might have to ship things, I headed back to Quiltique to pick up the material I saw yesterday. It's from the Moda A La Carte group. I bought some fat quarters, 5" Charms, and enough material for the backing.

It's not hard to get inspired. If ever there was something that could push me to move to Las Vegas (besides the wonderful weather and the general lack of winter) these two quilt shops would be it. Each shop has it's own unique style. The Christmas Goose has a very country primitive feel while Quiltique leans to the modern and bright. The Christmas Goose is small and cozy and Quiltique is wide open and spacious. Both are extremely well stocked. Both have separate classrooms and both provide lots of classes. Who could ask for more?

Sunday, February 1, 2015 - Las Vegas to Blythe, California
I had lots of time today so decided to drive the San Bernardino Route 66 and Joshua Tree National Park instead of going through Lake Havasu. Highways were south on I-215 and hwy 95, west on Route 66 and I-40, south on Kelbaker Road to Route 66 then south on Amboy Road, hwy 62 to Twentynine Palms, south through Joshua Tree National Park and east on I-10 to Blythe. Google Map

Route 66

The road through Essex was still closed. I was tempted to drive it anyway to check out the damage but once again chickened out. I stopped at Amboy for a quick break. It was once a major stop along famous Route 66 before the opening of Interstate 40 in 1973. Amboy is home to the famous Roy's Motel and Café. The town has a total of 10 surviving buildings and a population of 4.

Amboy Salt Ponds - Bristol Dry Lake

The first time we drove by this area, we didn't know what the salt ponds were. Also there were miles of mounds along the road which are just trailings. A little research goes a long way.

While traveling along Amboy Road, the landscape suddenly reveals a snowy white area with crystal blue bodies of water. The white area is calcium chloride (table salt). The Bristol Dry Lake area is noted for chloride mining operations, which have been ongoing since the early part of the century. Trenches are dug out, filled with a brine solution pumped from wells on the lake bed, then allowed to concentrate by evaporation. BLM California

Salt Ponds
Bristol Dry Lake

Joshua Tree National Park

This is the second time I've driven through this park and there still didn't seem to be many Joshua Trees. They are few and far between. Maybe they are on a different road in the park. It was still a very relaxing drive and I stopped at most of the Exhibits along the trail.

The park covers a land area of 1.2 million square miles and includes parts of two deserts, each with an ecosystem whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation: the higher Mojave Desert and lower Colorado Desert. There is no real boundary line between the two deserts, just a gradual change in elevation, with representative plants of each desert beginning to dominate.

Cholla Cactus Garden

I had time to take the walk through the Cholla Garden (pronounced choy-ya). It was like being on another planet. The various stages of the Cholla from sprouts to death give the whole garden an eerie feeling. A little girl on the walk, pointing to a dead cholla, said that it looked like a monster. The dead ones do take on a monster look - all black and twisted.

A do not touch warning at the beginning of the trail says "The slightest touch can cause the cactus spines to penetrate your skin. Removing the embedded spines is difficult and painful." This reminds me of the time I put Willie on top of a Cholla (2010) and he was instantly stuck there. I just about ripped him apart yanking him off the cactus and then put him through the painful experience of extracting the spines!


The Ocotillo is my favourite desert bush and I found out today it is not a cactus at all. It is actually a woody deciduous plant. Unlike other deciduous shrubs though, which normally grow leaves in the spring and drop them in the fall, the ocotillo may grow and drop leaves as often as five times a year.

The ocotillo's leaves aren't season dependent but rain dependent. Following a sufficient rain, the ocotillo puts forth a cluster of leaves. At the same time red blossoms may appear. The leaves go about the business of photosynthesis until the next drought when they turn red or brown and drop.

Monday, February 2, 2015 - Blythe to Tucson, Arizona
Highways today were I-10 east to Tonopah, Salome Hwy and Old US 80 to Gila Bend, hwy 85 to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the Mexico Border and back to Why, then east on hwy 86, west on I-10 and north on hwy 77 to Oro Valley. The Phoenix bypass I took to Gila Bend (Salome Hwy and Old US 80) was a really pretty drive. Speed limit was drastically reduced but well worth getting away from the monotony of I-10. Google Map

Ajo, Arizona

I stopped at Ajo for lunch and wandered around the Historic District. The Spanish Colonial Revival style town square features a park surrounded by retail shops, a post office and restaurants accented with two mission-style churches. The Spanish influence in this town is very evident. It is only 43 miles from the Mexican border. The Ajo Train Depot anchors the town plaza. Built in 1915, the Ajo Depot served the Tucson, Cornelia, Gila Bend railway. It now houses the Ajo District Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center and Gift Shop. Ajo Townsite Historic District was added to the National Register of Historical Places on November 30th, 2001. Ajo Chamber of Commerce

Ajo Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

This church, completed in 1927, was designed by George Washington Smith (1876-1930), an architect well-known for his work around Santa Barbara, California, and for popularizing the Spanish Colonial Revival style in early 20th Century America.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, established April 13, 1937 by President Roosevelt, shares a border with Mexico and is located in Pima County, Arizona about 25 miles south of Ajo. The Park is managed by the National Park Service. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

The park is the only place in the United States where the Organ Pipe Cactus grows wild. Along with Organ Pipe, many other types of cacti, as well as desert flora grow here. It was neat to see the Organ Pipe cactus growing along side Saguaros, Ocotillo and Cholla. There were several mixed gardens along the road showcasing all four.

I drove the 21 mile east side loop. The road was rough and bumpy but passable without difficulty and was actually quite fun. I'm sure it hasn't been graded for quite a while. I wasn't able to drive the west side loop of the park. You need a four wheel drive with high clearance.

Land for the Monument was donated by the Arizona state legislature to the federal government during Prohibition knowing that the north-south road would be improved and make contraband alcohol easier to import from Mexico.

Mexican Border

Before heading back north, I drove south to the Mexican Border - basically just to say I did. I thought I could drive along the south part of the park loop and see the border fence, but the road was closed by the time I got there. I continued on the remaining couple of miles right to the border.

It was a bit intimidating to see so many Border Patrol vehicles. I went through three check stops today and passed several more in the opposite direction. At one stop there was a dog checking the cars. Intimidation aside, there is a realization that you are in a potentially dangerous area and seeing so many police actually helps make you feel safer.

On August 9, 2002, Ranger Kris Eggle was shot and killed by a suspected Mexican drug smuggler during a United States Border Patrol operation. The visitor center has been named in his honor.

From 2003 to September 2014 more than half the Monument was closed to the public due to safety concerns from cross border illegal activity such as human and narcotic smuggling. Recently, the Ajo Station of the U.S. Border Patrol has increased its staff from 25 agents to over 500 in the field. In Lukeville, the Office of Field Operations, Customs and Border Protection has increased the staff at the Point of Entry from 12 to 32 officers. The NPS has increased the Visitor and Resource Protection staff from 5 park rangers to 20.

There is now a 30-mile vehicle barrier fence and a 5.2-mile pedestrian fence. The fences have reduced the illegal access by vehicles through the desert and have almost eliminated high speed pursuits on Hwy 85. Surveillance and radio towers also aid in the tracking and apprehension of illegal smugglers.

National Park Service News Release

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 - Tucson to Sierra Vista, Arizona
Not too many miles today. Hwys were hwy 77 south, I-10 east, hwy 83 south, hwy 82 east, hwy 80 south, and hwy 90 west to Sierra Vista. Google Map


Tombstone is just plain fun. It's nice to arrive expecting everything to be just the same as you left it and surprise, it is. I parked next to the Bird Cage Theatre and walked the length of Allen Street. I stopped at the Longhorn for lunch. The OK Corral show was just starting, but I decided to skip it this time.

Tombstone Quilt Show

The Tombstone Association of the Arts hosts the Quilt Show annually in the Art Gallery at the Visitor's Center. I wandered around the exhibits for nearly an hour marveling at the creativity displayed. Finally ready to head on my way, I purchased raffle tickets. I guess if I win the quilt, I'll just have to do another road trip and visit Tombstone again to pick it up. No problem.

Fort Huachuca, Sierra Vista

I'm staying in Sierra Vista tonight but I made a wrong turn and ended up at the Fort Huachuca Army Base security gate. Unfortunately, once I was on the road there was no turning around. I had no choice but to enter the gates. After scrutinizing my identification, they got me turned around and escorted me back to the highway. Oops!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 - Sierra Vista to Tucson, Arizona
Only four highways today, hwy 92, hwy 90, I-10 and hwy 77 to Oro Valley. I went to the airport to check on my flight then backtracked to Saguaro National Park on Houghton Road. From Saguaro National Park I entered Tucson from the south east on the Old Spanish Trail and connected with Speedway Blvd. Google Map

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Monument was created on March 1, 1933 by President Herbert Hoover. On October 14, 1994, Congress elevated Saguaro to National Park status. The park gets its name from the saguaro, a large cactus which is native to the region. Many other kinds of cactus, including barrel, cholla, ocotillo and prickly pear, are abundant in the park. Saguaro National Park

The Park is split into two sections. The last time I was in Tucson I visited the Tucson Mountain District to the west of Tucson. This time I visited the Rincon Mountain District to the east. The east portion of the park is certainly more impressive than the west. There is an 8 mile loop with several pull outs and photo opportunities. Near the end of the loop there is a very informative interpretive walk called Desert Ecology Trail.

Where Have All the Saguaros Gone?

The view from this hill has changed a lot over the years. In the 1930s this was the most spectacular cactus forest in Arizona. But no one knew that these aging giants were near the end of their lives. Today we speculate that mild weather in the late 1880s may have nurtured this forest of giants. Those who created Saguaro National Monument in 1933 believed the forest would last forever. In February 1937, a cold front brought record low temperatures to Tucson. A few years later saguaros began to die at an alarming rate. For a decade scientists and the public struggled to deal with the "cactus blight".

February 4th, 2015

Following another killing freeze in 1962, researchers realized that temperatures below freezing for more than 20 hours could kill saguaros. Before 1980 almost no young saguaros could be found here. Predictions of doom were made: "the last saguaro will die in the 1990s." In 1979 the National Park Service acquired all grazing rights in the Cactus Forest. After decades of trampling by cattle, young saguaros began to sprout under palo verde and mesquite "nurse trees." The trend toward renewal continues today.

Nurse Trees

A nurse tree is a larger, faster-growing tree that shelters a smaller, slower-growing tree or plant. The nurse tree can provide shade, shelter from wind, or protection from animals who would feed on the smaller plant.

In the Sonoran desert, Palo Verde, Ironwood or Mesquite trees serve as nurse trees for young saguaro cacti. As the Saguaro grows and becomes more acclimated to the desert sun, the older tree may die, leaving the saguaro alone. In fact, as the Saguaro grows larger it may compete for resources with its nurse tree, hastening its death. Consequently, young saguaros are often seen near trees, but old saguaros are not.

King of the Garden
Wash along the Ecology Trail

Thursday, February 5, 2015 - Tucson to Calgary

I needed to get to the Airport about 6:00 am so I asked for a wake up call for 5:00. When I opened my eyes, the clock said 4:57 so I got up. A half hour later on the way to the Airport, I found out the clock in the room was wrong and it was only 4:25 am. Duh! I guess that explains why I didn't get a wake up call at what I "thought" was 5:00. I guess it also explained why there was no traffic to speak of.

I returned the rental car (after waiting for 6:30 to arrive), got my bags checked in and settled in to kill over a hour before it was time to head to the gate. The flight went to San Francisco first and I had to change planes. There was a delay leaving Tucson and there was a point I wondered if I would miss my San Francisco flight. All went well with the touch down and I actually had about 15 minutes to spare.


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