Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Our Anniversary Adventure!

Today was my Anniversary!  8 years married to my Perfect Match!  He took the day off work, which was GREAT because we never get a day off together.  My wonderful neighbor agreed to watch our son for us (the girls were in school), so we planned out a bit of an adventure for the day!  With a sunny spring day here in AZ, we decided to go out GeoCaching.... a favorite hobby of ours but something we haven't done together in a long time.

If you don't know what GeoCaching is, it's like treasure hunting.  People go out and hide things and log the longitude/latitude coordinates at the GeoCaching website.  You plug the coordinates into your GPS and go out hunting for the hidden cache!  Sometimes it's just a small tube with paper in it and you sign it to log that you found it.  Sometimes it's a container with small trinkets and the general idea is, take a trinket, leave a trinket.  It's not about what you get, it's about the adventure of finding these cleverly hidden containers.  So anyways, Hubby got online and found the coordinates for 3 hidden Caches out near Estrella Mountain, which is not far from us but we've never been out there.  We dropped the kid off next door, bought some water bottles, and hit the road!

Our first Cache was found in the parking lot at the ballpark where the Dodgers are having their Spring Training.... about a 20 minute drive from our house.  No one was out there but I'm sure the security guard was wondering what we were doing out there overturning rocks at the edge of the parking lot.  Eventually hubby overturned the right rock, which was hollowed out on the bottom with a plastic tube stuck inside.  He took out the paper and signed it and then we put it back and got back on the road.  Let the adventure continue!
 Headed towards the mountains in search of the next cache, about 3 miles down the road.....
 Cross a bridge, caught a nice picture of the birds flying over the river.
 It's nice to be out of the city for awhile, just driving and enjoying each other's company!
 We're getting close to where the next Cache is hidden.... what is that tower up ahead?  Looks interesting!  Our GPS is pointing us in that direction, the next cache must be hidden somewhere in the little park around the tower!
 We found a place to park and walked up the trail.  The GPS says the cache is hidden only about 35 feet from here... where could it be?  We are marvelling that this little park is so nice, and we didn't know that it was even here, not far from our home!  I love how GeoCaching can take you places you never even knew existed!  Anyways, we finally figure out that the cache is somewhere down in the gully on the other side of that little bridge.  So we venture off the sidewalk and down into the gully.....
 GPS in hand, we are looking around this tree.  The GPS coordinates tell us it's within 5 feet of us!
 I found it!!  I also found out hubby wasn't aiming the camera very well... LOL!
 I love to be the one who finds the cache!  It's exciting!
 Looking inside.... signing the log to show we found it and when.  This cache has recipes in it.  We find a recipe that we want, and then tuck our own recipe card into the box for the next person :)  Return the cache to it's hiding place, and make our way back to the trail.  We decide to go on up to the tower and see what it's all about....

Another hiker took a picture for us.  I think we needed at least one "happy couple" picture for our anniversary!
 This is written on a sign by the Tower;
"Welcome to the Star Tower, your place in the Cosmos.  For Thousands of years man has looked to the heavens with mystery and awe.  The Tower To The Sky is a living memorial to the many Native American cultures that have studied the sky from this very location; The Desert Southwest.
The Tower To The Sky depicts the story of the Milky Way Galaxy and your place in it.  The tower is set in a spiral configuration very similar to that of the shape of the Milky Way and it’s many spiral arms.  The form and function of this tower is also reminiscent of the natural spiral found in the Nautilus Seashell.  In the world of Mathematics this is known as The Fibonacci Number Sequence.  Consequently, we see this spiral from the smallest of creatures, up to the largest of galactic systems!
The Star Tower depicts the evolution of our galaxy and helps you understand your place within it.  At the observation plaza you can reflect on your place in the universe and observe nature from this sacred ground of our ancestors, where we reach up and out to the skies."
Steven Kates, “Dr. Sky”
How exiting!  I love Astronomy, Nature, and Native American culture!  What a wonderful adventure this is turning out to be!
On the side of the tower, another inscription;

“Nature offers no greater splendor than the starry sky on a clear, dark night.  Silent and jeweled with the constellations of ancient myth and legend, the night sky has inspired wonder throughout the ages.
A wonder that leads our imaginations far from the confines of Earth and the pace of the present day and out into the distant reaches of space and cosmic time itself.
Astronomy, born in response to that wonder, is built on two of the most basic traits of human nature: The need to explore and the need to understand. 
Through the interplay of curiosity, discovery, and analysis – the keys to exploration and understanding – people have sought answers to questions about the universe since the earliest times. 
Astronomy is the oldest of all the sciences, yet never has it been more exciting than it is today."
~ Chaisson, Astronomy Today
Okay, I LOVE this place!  We've got to come back with the kids sometime!

 Heading up the tower, looking over the edge and taking in the beautiful landscape!

 At the top of the tower, a sunburst design.  Me, contemplating my place in the Universe.  I think I'm EXACTLY where I'm supposed to be!

Eventually we move on.  Our next cache is about 4 miles up the road.  After searching for a place to park we end up about .75 miles from the cache... time for a hike!  Following the compass directions on the GPS we head off into the desert....

 It must be somewhere on the other side of that hill!  The GPS says we have about 7 tenths of a mile to go.
 We walk along, taking in the desert.  I had fun identifying some desert life.... Mesquite Trees, Palo Verde Trees, Saguaro Cactus, Cholla Catctus, lizards, birds, snake holes (but thankfully no snakes in site)... and some droppings of desert creatures like Javelina, Mule Deer and Jackrabbits.  The ground is covered with a variety of rocks, including Quartz, Mica, feldspar, and Pyrite.  My pockets are quickly filling up with pretty little treasures.
 Hubby found this one!  Well hidden in a very prickly location!
 Looking through the cache.  It's full of trinkets and odds and ends.  We grab 3 little plastic McDonalds toys (still in wrappers) to take home to the kids, sign the log, and return the cache to it's hiding place!
 The car is back somewhere on the other side of that hill.... off we go!
 on the way back we took a different route and found this beautiful Palo Verde tree in full bloom!
And of course, once we drive back home, it's time for lunch!  We stop at Claim Jumpers and I am having this delicious Bloody Mary!  A wonderful meal, followed by a trip to the bookstore... we eventually make it back home around 2 pm. 

I have really enjoyed my day, had a new recipe to try out for dinner, found some new places and got to spend some time in nature!  But most importantly, hubby and I had some wonderful quality time together to celebrate our first 8 years together!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Groceries... you HAD to ask!

Just my second week joining in on The Queen's Meme, and she's asking all the right questions!  Because one of the things that I will sometimes blog about will be my grocery shopping adventures and my coupon deals!  So when the Queen asks these seven questions about Grocery Shopping, I have no problem whipping up a blog post to appease Her Highness.

1. Do you make a list when you go grocery shopping?Yes!  I have learned that this saves me time and money.  To be honest, I used to HATE grocery shopping.  But now, as long as I am prepared with my list, I actually enjoy it.  I plan a menu for the week and then base my grocery list on the menu items and the sale items from the store paper.

2. Do you buy more groceries when you're hungry?Of course!  I always end up with a few things in my cart that weren't on my list..... "hmm how did that get there?.... oh well I'm hungry!"
3. Coupons. Use 'em?Not to offend the Queen, but certain underlings in my circle have called me "The Coupon Queen."  On a weekly basis I plan my shopping trips based mostly upon what coupons I have.  I pair coupons with sale items to get great deals and usually save about 50% of my bill.  I also print coupons from http://www.coupons.com/ and I look for deals at http://www.moneysavingmom.com/ to maximize my savings. 

4. Have you ever complained to the manager of your grocery store?I've been known to ask for a rain check on a sale item that was out of stock so that I can still get the sale price when they get the item back in stock again :)  Never hurts... some stores do it and some don't.

5. Do you like to buy groceries at huge chain stores like WalMart? Or do you shop exclusively at food stores?I don't like WalMart, the one near my house is dirty and busy and just not worth it.  I shop at Fresh & Easy, Fry's (Kroger), and Walgreens.

6.  How much time do you spend reading labels in the grocery store?
READ Ingredient labels?  I try not to....

7. Do you push your own grocery cart to the car and return it?Push it to the car, yes.  Return it... depends on how close the cart corral is.  If I have my kids in the car I'm not gonna leave them in the car to walk all the way to the end of the aisle to put my cart in the corral.  Or sometimes I'm just lazy.... but I do return it when I can.

8. What is the one food item you always buy at the grocery store that you can't live without?My children would start a riot if we didn't have Milk, Cereal, Macaroni & Cheese, Apple Juice, and Crackers and/or Chips in the house each week.  As far as myself... I could live off of Coffee and Fresh Vegetables and pasta of any kind... and probably be happy... except for that once a month when I get a glazed look in my eye and need to have chocolate.  I try to keep a secret stash of chocolate on hand for such occasions but the rest of the family hasn't yet learned to stay out of my chocolate stash and I end up at Walgreens in my pajamas at 11 pm buying Kit Kats and Reese's... yeah I'm THAT person.