Animals, Health and Wellness, horses, North America, United States, Western States

Covid 19, Locked Down in Arizona

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. The threat of getting sick or getting others sick can make it difficult to enjoy a life with any semblance of normalcy for months.

We are aware of how bad so many in the world suffering through the pandemic, but Bev and I must be blessed because our lives have changed very little. It is among the advantages of being retired and already having a nomadic life.

For four years we have traveled and created our 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 three 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. Next, the plan was for Bev to visit her sister near Baltimore while John went to Boston to visit his daughters and five 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. Finally there was to be a six 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.

We had plans. We had dreams. We had commitments.

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. 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 upmost in our minds.

Eagles Nest

Our first stop was a hike in Eagles Nest, a five 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. We were outdoors, after all. What we did see were vast fields of color.

Fields of Yellow and Green
Cactus on a Spring morning
Flowers among the cactus

Fountain Park in Fountain Hills

A short one 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.

Firesticks framed by Cactus

McDowell Mountain Park

Within a couple of days back in Arizona, we joined the McDowell Mountain Park membership. A ten 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.

Yellow Hedgehog
Clouds Coming In

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.

Wild Mustangs
Fossil Creek Vista

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 people were being masked. The birds we not wearing masks.

Snowy White Egret
Spring Dance
Hiding from the Humans

Thumb Butte, Prescott, Arizona

A relatively short but very steep 2+ mile loop, this hike offers tremendous views and an awesome workout. Thumb Butte

Payson Pet Sit with Patron

Payson, Arizona Pet Sitting for Patron
Payson Owl
Big Eyes
Big Buck Stare Down
New Hat for Elkie
Crane in the morning sun

Hunkapi Farm

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 needs and health concerns. 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.

Terra Schaad, Founder, riding Carinou walking Buddy

Alfie and Bev

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. 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.

John & Gerty, the official Hunkapi Farm Greeter.

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.

Hukabi’s video for volunteers

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.

Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Sharp-Shinned Hawk, Sunflower, Arizona
Arizona, Sunflower, Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Sharp-Shinned Hawk, Sunflower, Arizona

Many people have found the Covid-19 lockdown to be stressful to say the least. For us, it has been a joy. The joy was found in rediscovering our home state and volunteering. Finding ways to reinvent ourselves and serve others was a way out of the darkness of lockdown.

Now that our kids are grown, homeschooling has not been an issue. We are also retired, so our lack of jobs and income has certainly not been an issue. 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 and 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 because it is outside and 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. 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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