Covid-19, for us it could be a lot worse.
People all across America, heck, all over the world, have been stuck in their homes, hiding from the Coronavirus, unable or unwilling to enjoy a life with any semblance of normalcy for months.
Bev and I must be blessed because our lives have changed very little.
For four years we have traveled and created lives rich with new experiences, new people, new languages, new cuisine, and new sites, smells, and textures. That is until March 14, 2020, when we returned to the US following 3 glorious and completely safe months in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Our plan was to do a three week house and pet sit in Fairfax Station, Virginia, then Bev would visit her sister near Baltimore while John went to Boston to visit his daughters and 5 grandchildren. After which we’d go back to Arizona to prepare for 2-3 months of pet sitting in Spain, a side trip to Croatia and finally a 6 week pet sit in Cape Town, South Africa topped of by a Safari in Zimbabwe and Botswana, led by our friends Henie and Pet from Henstridge, England.
The thing about plans is that they are changeable. First, due to Covid-19, Fairfax Station the pet sit cancelled. Then the whole US locked down, some places more than others. And, John’s trip to Boston got put on indefinite hold. Since DC was locked down we decided to head to Arizona and enjoy our home for a bit.
We promised ourselves that we’d explore all the places in Arizona that we hadn’t explored in the previous 20 years. Hiking, road trips, photography, and food were uppermost in our minds.
Our first stop was a hike in Eagles Nest, a 5 minute drive from our home, where the wild flowers were supposed to be spectacular in March. We were a bit surprised by the number of people on the trail. So much for the lockdown! And, as for face masks, we didn’t see any. What we did see were vast fields of color.
Fountain Park in Fountain Hills
A short 1 mile walk from our home is the showcase of Fountain Hills — Fountain Park. This time of year the color is usually bursting. We were not disappointed with the color but there were very few people and no masks that we recall.
McDowell Mountain Park
Within a couple of days we joined the McDowell Mountain Park membership. A 10 minute car ride from our home this 22,000 acre park was full of trails for hiking, walking, and mountain biking, wild flowers, sunrises and sunsets (Arizona has the best sunsets). Yet, over the 20 + years we had lived in Fountain Hills we have visited it very rarely. For such a popular and active park there were very few people. We began to get that people were taking this shutdown seriously. And, still no masks.
Payson, Arizona Day Hike
We knew it would be a great day when on the way out of Fountain Hills we cut through the Yavapi Nation Reservation just in time to see a small heard of wild mustangs crossing the road. By many, just seeing these beloved Mustangs is a sign of good fortune.
The open space in Arizona is so vast and extraordinary and the best part, it is nearby.
Arizona Bird Riparian
If you want to photography birds in Arizona and not spend loads of time searching for them, this is the place. As this is also a very active walking park, we began to see more people and more “masked people”. The birds we not wearing masks.
Thumb Butte, Prescott, Arizona
Payson Pet Sit with Patron
Hunkapi Farms is a magical place. The name itself, taken from the Lakota Native American tribe, it means “we are all related.” With 24 horses they provide equine therapy for kids and adults with various disorders. The love and caring for the horses, goats, chickens, pig, dogs, as well as the clients and volunteers is like nothing we have ever experienced. We have wanted to volunteer there for years. Now we had the time and we were nearby.
The picture above followed an exercise that Terra took Alfie and Bev through to build trust, respect, and love between them. It began with a firm, defiant stand-off between the two of them. Alfie was not going to do what Bev ask of him. And Bev would stand strong until he did. About twenty minutes later, the exercise complete, Alfie walked to the side of the arena. Bev walked over to him and then turned and walked away. Alfie followed her. Without any prompting by Bev. Amazing!
To say that Alfie and Bev are Pals now would be a gross understatement.
On Sunday evening, May 31, Terra put out a call for help on Instagram. The Hunkapi Farm would be receiving up to 20 horses due to the Ocotilla fire in Cave Creek, Arizona. We went over Monday morning to help and again on Tuesday. The place was buzzing with horses and volunteers trying to make the new arrivals as comfortable as possible. See the video below.https://www.youtube.com/embed/etLVkt6pRSw?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparentHunkapi Volunteers Help Horses from Fires
Birding in Sunflower, Arizona
A friend invited us to go “birding” recently. John is not that “into” birding but he tolerates our outings because it challenges his photography skills. He says, “if the little buggers would just stand still …”.
On this day they, Sharp-shinned Hawks, not all that common to see, stood somewhat still.
Many people have found the Covid-19 lockdown to be stressful to say the least. For us, it has been a joy.
Now, our kids are grown so homeschooling has not been an issue. We are also retired, so our lack of jobs and income has certainly not been an issue. And, finally, although we took social distancing and the wearing of face masks seriously, we have been serious in a relaxed way. We have actually invited friends who we know well into our home.
We enjoy each others company and get tremendous pleasure out of walking together as well as hiking. For the most part, we do this with each other, not with a gaggle of friends. Volunteering at Hunkapi Farms has indeed put us in contact with a few people and a bunch of horses. We figured we were safe around the horses and haven’t even worn masks other than to keep from swallowing dust. As for the people, we believed we would be of greater service to others by shoveling horse poop for 2-3 hours, 2-3 days a week than we would by staying home watching TV or playing yet another game of scrabble.
In the process we got to know ourselves, each other, our town, and our state better just by getting outdoors a few hours a week. And by not allowing ourselves to fall victim to the fear mongering, the chicken-little-oh-my-God-the-sky-is-falling thinking, and by not participating in the ever popular finger pointing blame game that has been prevalent for the past few months, we are personally much healthier and happier.
For the past four years we have traveled outside the US for all but nine weeks. During this time we have learned a valuable lesson; within 30 miles of wherever we happen to be there are people, sites, activities, and educational opportunities to keep us busy and interested for a very long time. A benefit of Covid-19 for us is that we’ve had a chance to prove our theory.
Thanks for following us On The Road,
Bev & John
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