Kings of the Castle

Well I am sure everyone is wondering what lame excuse the Captain will come up with this time for being so tardy in getting a new blog posted. Wonder no more cause here it is. Ever since returning from Tucson after Christmas the internet signal here in the LTVA has been dismal at best. Sure its fine between 6 and 7 in the morning and after 10 at night but any other time of the day it is sloth-like to nonexistent. Additionally, CC has been testing out 3 different laptops for the job and has finally decided on a Dell 13.3 inch 2 in 1 model. So no more excuses, here is the latest and greatest from the sunny south.

With the exception of about 10 days around Christmas the weather has been 10 degrees (F) above normal (today 85) with below average winds so no complaints on the weather front given the cold and snow the folks at home have been getting. Finding some shade to relax in is sometimes the toughest part of the day. Ha Ha.

sunrise and


a rare rainbow

and rarer eclipse of the moon

Another unusual happening here is the level of the reservoir. For the past few weeks the water level has been the lowest we can remember ever seeing. It is so low, it is below the outtake pump level. No one seems to know for sure why but it could be related to work being done on the dam power plant.

The second half of the Desert Domino Challenge has surprisingly seen the girls jump out to a 5 – 2 lead. To avoid a collapse and more losses before the end of the 2nd half the girls have suggested they may simply not play any more games to ensure victory. The old “quit while your ahead strategy” while effective, is hardly sportsmanlike and any defaulting would result in the boys being handed the Cup.

Ellie joins the Girls Team

GG and EE take a break from the game to play on the couch

Miss EE has had a challenging month with another visit to the groomer for a real close shave. She has also become a full time walker on our Sunday morning lake hikes and has successfully managed the full route 5 weeks in a row.

EE’s new doo

and scarecrow ears

Happy New Years

Our first event of the New Year was a hike up Telegraph Pass Mountain at 7:30 am on January 1st. We were joined this year for the 2.5 mile hike up the mountain by our friends from Campbell River Pat and Bill Koss. EE beat GGs first attempt record by make the complete assent unaided. Of course GG was only 2 months old at the time and EE was 8 months but hey they were still both in the under 1 Year Old category. Just joking GG.

EE and the Captain with different modes of prep for the hike

starting the climb

time for a short break – Pat, Bill, BBB, LLL and GG

at the summit

GG too tired to stand on her own, not EE

views from the top

The Captain started the New Year by extending the distance of his weekly around the lake runs by 1, 2 and then 3 miles and has gasped his way to 3 – 8 milers, 1 – 9 miler and finally a 10 miler. It has been about 40 years since the Captain was crazy enough to attempt this kind of stuff and one never knows if the insanity will last??

Weekly Hikes

DD and CC continue to alternate in partaking of the weekly group hikes with the exception of our last hike (February 1st) when EE was deemed fit enough to join us. On 1 of the hikes, the Captain of course, forgot the camera therefore I can provide no photographic verification of this outing. On all of our hikes in January over 25 stalwarts were somehow convinced to go along despite the unorthodox leadership of Slippery Steve aka Steverino. The hikes were as follows:

Fish Camp

DD represented the Cowells on this hike (5 miles return) which runs across a few ridges to an alleged fish camp on the shores of the Colorado River.

DD looking for her shadowy friends

and found a few

on the trail out

the Lost Canuck at the Fish Camp

heading home

Rebecca poses for her hike verification photo

the old face in the rocks rock

Little Grand Canyon

This 6 mile hike was the one for which the Captain forgot the camera. It probably made no difference however as the group foolishly followed the Captain off in the wrong direction and we never did find the little Grand Canyon.

Painted Desert

CC was on this hike just outside of Martinez Lake, an hour’s drive from the LTVA.  Although CC did remember to bring the camera, remembering to use it is another matter. By the time CC remembered it was his job to take pictures, the 4.5 mile was just about over. I did get some nice pictures of a few rocks though, so there.

the Captains art deco rocks collection

LLL is just enthralled with the hike as you can clearly see

a small arch at the end of the hike

Dated Rock

Finally CC, DD and EE set out as a family for the Dated Rock hike. By now the weather was getting notably hotter and by the time the hike ended at noon everyone was glad to see the end of it. Unfortunately for this hike neither of our two esteemed leaders (Steverino and Lost Canuck) were in attendance so leadership was co-opted by the Captain and his sidekick Billy Goat. Despite losing one hiker and getting just a bit off track we jointly declared the hike a success. Even EE managed the trek with only a few lifts across washes.

EE definitely not the lead dog on this hike

aw look the whole family at the dated rock

Backcountry Bikes

Steverino and the Captain continued their Tuesday morning bicycle assaults on the backcountry however this month the backcountry seemed to win. We did have several really good rides but on 3 occasions flat tires cut them short. And of course, the flat tires were on CC’s bike. CC insists on riding on crappy old tires but has finally pried open the wallet and splurged on some new rubber.

One of CC’s flats came at a fairly remote location after we had ridden about 14 miles to a communications tower high above the LTVA. Steverino went ahead for help and CC slogged along for 5 miles with bike in tow until help in the form of DD in the truck arrived to save the day.

Dog Burn

As Slobber Jaws didn’t make it south this winter there is no Official LTVA Dog Burn. Our Missouri friends Dirty Dog Dave and Jezebel Jeannine took it upon themselves to rectify this and put on their own Dog Burn for our “neighborhood”. In all about 40 locals showed up to enjoy their hospitality and enjoy the get together. Despite JJ’s assurances that no real dogs would be sacrificed to the god Canine we felt it best to leave EE at home for this “ceremony”.

JJ had no idea who half of these people were

JJ (left) preparing the dogs for the fire while LLL, BBB, RRR, AA and the Captain leave her to it

Amorous Arlette and Roland the Rockin Raconteur

Really girls

Kings of the Castle Dome Climb

Now to the piece de resistance! The now, world renowned, Former Feckless Five (CC, Lucky Lonesome Larry, Billy Goat, Jake the Snake and Steverino) in search of a worthy challenge, got together and plotted to conquer the majestic but imposing Castle Dome. This would be a new adventure for Billy Goat and Jake the Snake, who would undoubtedly rely on the experience and bravery of the former conquerers of the Dome to ensure their safety and success.

The FFF headed out before daylight for the hour plus drive to the trailhead. Forty five minutes later the FFF left the wash and began tackling the 1600 foot ascent. In surely what will be recorded as a herculean effort the FFF in an astonishing short (105 minutes not including rest stops) time perched upon the summit. The total hike one way is 3 miles with a vertical from the trailhead of just over 2000 feet. The more dangerous climb, down because of the loose scree, was accomplished in the same time as the hike in. Fortunately, the winds were light and it wasn’t overly hot which made the trek all that more enjoyable. We all enjoyed the fantastic views from the summit.

the distant Dome

heading up out of the wash

looking back away from the Dome trail

Steverino and LLL share a Kodak moment

Billy Goat leading the charge

getting higher

and a little bit closer

and steeper

Steverino still seems fresh at the halfway point

but wait til he meets this skree field

looking out from the base of the thumb

start of the final few hundred feet above the thumb

looking back and down at the thumb

and still going up

to the summit

Steverino sitting on top of the world (sort of)

Jake phones wife Vicky and waves like she really can see him, not a chance Jake

looking down at an active gold mine (center of picture)

one hell of a view

heading back down to the thumb

imperative to step carefully here boys

All in all the FFF were thrilled with their accomplishment and are now looking for further challenges before things get too hot.

The End is Near

For this year anyway. In less than 3 weeks (February 21st) we will be packing up and heading east to Tucson to visit DDs sister Jeenen and hubby Pat for a week before once again heading north to the GWN.

By stubbs99

Ellie’s White Christmas??

The Captain is sad to report that his long serving laptop (10 years) has translated its last ones and zeros into computer code. Despite CC completely disassembling and valiantly performing CPR (Computer Pixel Resuscitation) the old HP was beyond salvation and passed away peacefully just before Christmas. This blog post is being written and produced on a new Acer 14” Chromebook, however, given its annoying limitations it will most likely be CCs first “product return” of 2018.

On a much happier note the boys (LLL and CC) are pleased to have finished off the first half of the Desert Dominoes Challenge with a significant 6 to 3 lead. Its extremely rare that a team has been able to recover from this large a deficit in half a season and we expect DD and BBB will be up to the challenge.

For Christmas this year DD, CC and EE headed to Tucson to spend a few days with DDs sister Jeneen and hubby Pat. More on the trip below.

Prior to going to Tucson DD with help from BBB hosted her annual Christmas Eve bonfire in the desert. Because of travel plans the bonfire was held on the evening of the 23rd and about 18 of our friends and neighbours dropped by. The weather, while reasonably warm saw a nasty cool breeze start up around five which sent folks home earlier than expected but everyone had a good time and enjoyed the huge box of chocolates and Danielle’s homemade sugar pies.

the BIG box of chocolates

around the fire

BBB and LLL huddled up like its cold outside (not)

DD and the Desert Pickers put on another virtuoso performance at the LTVA Christmas Cantata with DD in a starring role as Alvin of chipmunk fame. See video below.

We were also treated to another desert Parade of Lights through the LTVA. See video below.

Weekly Hikes and Bikes

CC and DD continue to alternate going on our weekly hikes with DD making one trek out to the Box Canyon and Beyond. This hike was led of course by Steverino and his new trusty sidekick “the General”.

the “General”

This hike became somewhat extended as the group had to backtrack over a mile to search for a cell phone left behind at a rest stop.

the only picture DD was able to get of herself

Steverino ponders his next step

desert flower power

DDs Art Deco pic of the week

Steverino as Walmart Canyon greeter

it’s only a little tarantula, it won’t hurt you!!!!!!!!

CC hiked with the group on the what now seems to be the requisite Colorado Outlook hike.  CCs 2nd hike (an unofficial affair)as Steverino had left to go to Idaho for Christmas saw 4 diehard hikers head out to the Turquoise Mines on a very blustery day.

CC is only a small shadow of his former self

heading up to the outlook

finally made it

heading home

must be the Lost Canuck

With Steverino being away and unable to make the big weekly back country bike ride the Captain decided on a road ride out to the big guns which is a 20 mile return trip. Before leaving CC knowing better gulped down a 3rd cup of coffee which resulted in a mildly amusing encounter with the police. At about 3/4s of the ride out CC was in dire need of a bathroom break. Spying a cluster of bushes just off the road CC quickly dismounted and dropped the bike on the shoulder of the road and scrambled down the slope to the sanctuary of the bushes. No sooner had CC unzipped than a vehicle pulled off the road behind him. A quick glance behind confirmed that a police officer was exiting his vehicle and heading to the scene of the crime. Before approaching too close the officer called out and asked if everything was okay. CC in an inspired moment responded with “I’m fine, still shakin the bush boss”. Fortunately the officer instantly recalled this memorable line from that old Paul Newman classic Hud and with a shake of his own (his head folks) and a bit of a grin he left me to pee in peace.

Christmas in Tucson

We arrived at Pat and Jeneen’s late afternoon on Christmas Eve. Once settled into their rental house EE was delighted to discover that she had plenty of room to race up and down the halls and around the living room kitchen circuit at full speed, something not possible in our humble trailer abode and this mad racing occurred at irregular intervals during our 4 day visit. EE also was also treated to a bath by the Captain to get rid of her desert beige hue while here.

EE really likes her bath

or does she

EE and her new friend

look at how tall I am

DD and her fellow Oggorfian??

Christmas Day was spent for the most part gabbing and visiting and was topped off with a pot luck dinner at the recreation center. The dinner, for Canadians only, was well attended as could be expected where most of the residents are from the Great White North.

the sisters preparing spuds for the dinner

look at all the happy Canadians

Jeneen and Pat

CC has gone through the “change” a clue – see name tag

On Boxing Day (not a holiday here) the Captain tagged along with a group of 16 other folks on a hike to the top of the Golden Gate Mountain. This hike was about 2 and ¼ miles one way with a vertical climb of 1900 feet. About 1500 of this was in the last ¾ mile up a borderline path. It was great hike with fantastic views from the top. In the evening we reintroduced Pat and Jeneen to dominos and it goes without saying that the boys were triumphant. Jeneen will probably try to claim her very bad cold affected their game but folks just don’t you believe it.

Golden Gate Mountain

views for the top

archery range below

On Wednesday Pat drove us on the very scenic drive up to Mt. Lemmon. It was amazing to see the large number of cyclists making the 25 mile climb to the peak. Don’t think this is something I would be chomping at the bit to try. Well maybe if DD bought me a new $5000 road bike sometime soon, as we will be going back to Tucson in late February for another visit with Pat and Jeneen before heading home to Canada.

pictures at a rest stop on the way up

DD on the rocks

must be cold as CC is wearing a jacket

no way man

EE not sure what this white stuff is

now there’s a cookie

yummy yummy in the tummy

on the way back down

Later on Wednesday we went out to dinner with several of Pat’s family at a very unique eatery called Fred’s Arena. The restaurant is located in the barn of an actual working farm. The thin crust pizza here was just about the best we have ever had.

Pat checks out the authentic stage coach inside the restaurant

DD and CC don’t always deliver

this guy may be dinner some day

DD manages to capture all the right pictures

one of the new additions to the farm

and another

Being away for Christmas meant that we missed our annual Christmas morning hike up Telegraph Pass so we have rescheduled it to January 1st. Happy New Year to all.


By stubbs99

Dogs, Frogs but Fortunately No Bogs

It is starting to get a bit more crowded out here in the LTVA.  A goodly number of folks (mostly U.S.A.ers) don’t head south until after the U.S. Thanksgiving which this year fell on November 23rd. This group includes our good friends Dirty Dog Dave and Jezebel Jeannine whom we expect to see in the next few days. BBB and LLL said their goodbyes to Mom and Dad and are now part timing (75%) in the LTVA just across the road from us. This handy location means EE and GG get to have almost regular playtimes together which for the most part involves rolling around in the dirt. Might be time to invest in a portable doggy shower for these two critters.

Given the copious amounts of dust and dirt around and EEs ability to absorb about twice her weight in grime in her coat she was thrilled to spend several hours at a local Puppy Spa and came out  looking like a showgirl. Alas this look is not likely to last beyond a few play times with GG.


and after

GG and EE are now full time members of the Sunday morning “Round the Lake Hiking Club”. The 2 young canines have now made 3 trips with old guys/girls although EE has hitched a ride with CC for short stretches in order to complete the course on the same day. EE usually signals her need for a ride by laying down on the roadside and refusing to move. EE is not one for subtlety for sure.

Round the Lake Hike

and EE getting a ride

And as was bound to happen temperatures have dipped below 80 degrees and mid 70s are predicted for the next couple of weeks. The downside (there’s always a downside isn’t there??) is with falling temperatures stronger winds have also made an appearance, which is no big deal if you just have short stubby hair like CC but is a big deal if you are a very small dog like EE.

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Ramada (close to 100 attended)

what the hell is CC eating!!!


and DD was there as well

LLL and CC were challenged by the girls to continue on with our Desert Dominoes challenge and the early results have the boys taking a huge 3 -2 game lead. We expect this lead to increase substantially once the girls become disheartened with the futility of trying to best us.

Dominoes under the Big Top at night

Weekly Hikes/Bikes and Runs

Great to be back in the saddle with CCs regular weekly (Tuesday morning) outback bike rides with Steverino and unless one of us brings a camera we will be unable to provide any visual verification of these outings. Suffice to say we have been out on 3 runs so far of over 10 miles and despite the rugged terrain the only injuries other than to our egos have been some minor scratches and bruises.

the BAD BOY Bikers after a ride

Steverino also leads our weekly group hikes.  The first one of the season was a fairly casual walk over and around some small local ridges and perhaps it doesn’t rate a full mention given its brevity and also as only CC went there were no pictures to provide verification. As of right now DD and CC are alternating on the hikes in that EE isn’t ready to be left on her own for the 3 hours necessary to do the hike.  She still YIPS a bit when left alone in her kennel and we are not quite ready to trust her with the run of the place on her own. Don’t be fooled by her innocent look folks this dog can be a terror!!

CC is making a gallant attempt to get back into shape after a lazy summer and is out early every Friday morning for the 7 mile lake run. Two runs in so far and still gasping for breath on some of the hills but will keep plodding away.

Split Canyons Hike (DD)

DD got her first hike in when the group headed out to the Split Canyons in Senators Wash. About a dozen hikers were led by Psychedelic Steverino on this nice little hike that follows two canyons that split off from the main wash. DD has not included a narrative for the hike but has provided some excellent photographs.

where are we hiking to Steve. Like far out man!!!

at the split



water swirls in the rock

the Lost Canuck spies something on the ground

its a lttle oggorfian (froggie). now why didn’t DD see that first

Gold Mines Hike

CCs turn this past week. The hike to the Gold Mines is a regular winter hike for the group and has been reported in the Blog for the past few years it is hard to find something new to say about it. Suffice to say that every year we take a slightly different route to the mines and regardless the hike is always an enjoyable way to spend the morning. One major difference this year is that not only was CC hiking but had been given the heavy responsibility of being the hike “blog-tographer “ It also gives our readers an opportunity  to compare the quality of the pictures (above) taken by DD who comes in with years of experience with the ones below taken by CC who  comes to the task with virtually nothing relative on his CV (resume dudes). If you feel you must vote please do so by secret ballot at

the Lucky 13 hikers

plus GG and

Izzy as the guide dogs

out on the trail

and up a ridge

break time after a climb

GG lapping up the hike

an old mine entrance

the main mine area

Squaw Lake in the background

the old “swimming pool”

Izzy on patrol

Squaw Lake Campground

oooooo so scary

on the return trip

an old quartz mine

The Happy Baby

DD claims the above moniker (click on ling above) as she is now going to Yoga 3 times per week at the gravel pit ramada. DD has also resumed her weekly Uke classes and is once again preparing for her yearly stage show at the Christmas Concert. DDs solo performance will not be disclosed in advance but stay tuned for the video in late December.

DDs Art Deco of the Week



By stubbs99