Arizona Monsoon

Monsoon? In Arizona?  Yes. By definition monsoon is a season, not a single storm. It is a large-scale weather pattern that involves a seasonal wind shift over a particular region and is usually accompanied by an increase in atmospheric moisture and precipitation. Our monsoon season here in Arizona started June 15th and runs through September 30th.

Arizona’s monsoon forms when the sun heats the Pacific Ocean and land at different rates. The land warms at a faster rate than the ocean creating a low-pressure zone. As the hot air rises, it forces winds to shift and fill the vacuum that is formed. All of these, in turn, enhance rainfall and thunderstorms.

Arizona’s monsoon is the northern extent of the North American Monsoon, which begins in early June in central and southern Mexico. The dry westerly winds that persist through fall, winter and spring shift to moist southerly winds, bringing thunderstorm activity into Arizona. Humidity levels increase which can lead to thunderstorms, heavy rain, lightning, hail, high winds, flash flooding, dust storms, extreme heat and sometimes tornadoes.

What is the rainiest month in the desert? July. On average rain falls for 4.2 days and typically aggregates up to 1.1″ of precipitation. Doesn’t sound like much does it? It isn’t, however, these rain storms fall fast and furious over ground that resists soaking up the water and instead it runs off into the lower lying areas—the washes and rivers—and this runoff causes the flash floods that are so common here in the Grand Canyon State. They are exceedingly dangerous and can hit without warning.

In 2017 a visiting family of ten was swept away and perished from a storm that dropped rain higher up in the mountains and a flash flood seemly appeared out of nowhere in the river bed where they were enjoying their getaway.

It is wise to be aware of gathering storm clouds and where you are at all times. Put a weather alert app on your phone and heed any warnings you receive. Do not drive into rivers running even a little higher than normal. You have no idea what is under that water. The road could be gone and you would never know it until it’s too late.

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Not My Photo

If it’s posted to turn around do so.  There were four people, three of them children, lost last year during one of September’s storms when they ignored signs to turn around and tried to cross a flooded river. Arizona’s advice:  Turn Around Don’t Drown.

Last September’s furious storm and flash flood watch that we experienced here after our summer spent exploring New Mexico was a nice introduction to what we can expect as we spend a full summer here in 2020.

A nice thunderstorm would be welcome right about now. It’s been HOT. Our first triple digits arrived in late April.  We’d have a week of that then a week of high 80s or 90s then more triple digits.  Now that June is here the high temps are here to stay.  Twenty out of the last 24 days have all been triple digits with several 110 and above.  Yeah, a good thunderstorm to cool things off for a few days would be nice.  We take what we get, but one can wish, right?

I hope you all are well and happy. Check in with a howdy and let me know how you’re doing. I worry about ya! Hugs, Shawna

CURRENT READ: The Price of Paradise by Susana Lopez Rubio  Set in Havana, Cuba in the 50s.  ****

 

Covid-19 and Home Sweet Home

May 2020 for the months of February to May. I am pretty sure somewhere along the line during the trip from AZ to CA and back to say goodbye to my sister I contracted Covid-19. I gassed up 10 different times and there were a lot of people, mostly from out-of-state by the amount of traffic heading south at the end of the day, in the Mammoth Lakes area for the skiing and getting fuel for the return trip.  Or …

Perhaps my sister had it. When I received a copy of her death certificate she had listed what was not a surprise, COPD for “years”. The other three: Acute chronic respiratory failure, bilateral pulmonary emboli (blood clots in her lungs), and unspecified pneumonia, all listed as “days”.  Hmmm.  Just a thought that crossed my mind.  I was at her side holding her hand, stroking her cheek or forehead, leaning over to talk to her for the majority of the ten days I was there.   Anyway, I was sick for three weeks and it seemed like a hybrid of a cold and the flu. Grateful I had gotten back home before it really hit me.

Plans to use up the last months of my New Mexico State Parks pass didn’t come to fruition because of Covid-19 and The Chiweenie Brothers and I settled in on our little piece of Arizona. Once feeling better I got busy with installing snake fencing along the chain link fence on the north side.  Shade cloth was put up along the east side of our cool cover, a cement block wall was put up between the casita and the laundry shed. It works as a chiweenie barrier to keep them in the back and unable to see anyone who happens to pass by, AND it’s snake proof. I planted some rescued cacti out in the front, and  I also had to dig up most of the succulents I planted in the back last fall as the 112 degree heat (triple digits for two weeks beginning in late APRIL!!) was frying them.  Thankfully the evaporative cooler works really well; as long as it’s below about 105 degrees.  Then it is just okay, but certainly better than not having one!

Being an introvert and a homebody the stay-at-home order from Governor Ducey didn’t bother me a bit until I couldn’t get outside. Then I did get a little stir crazy.   For a while it was even too hot/windy in the early mornings to even enjoy my coffee under the patio umbrella. Like the crazy weather a lot of you are having, it has been bouncing back and forth.  Last week we got back down into the 90s, then two days of 80s, and now the temps will begin marching toward triple digits again.

Nothing prettier than cactus flowers

Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel.  We’re mostly staying put for the summer so I can keep the new transplants watered, but hopefully we can take a couple of short trips. I will definitely be researching places to go for next year, and I may publish a few destinations we are thinking about. Next month I  have an interesting person post to share. Hugs, Shawna

Lots of books were read over the months of winter and during the stay-at-home order.

Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey. Fictional novel inspired by a true event. ****

In an Instatnt by Suzanne Redfearn. ***** five stars.  Written from an interesting perspective, this book tells the story of a horrific accident and its aftermath; how each person’s character is revealed as they make life altering decisions during their struggle for survival.

Thief River Falls by Brian Freeman.  I thought this book was just okay (THIS wouldn’t happen! I kept saying to myself.  How stupid) because of an implausible story line until there very end when the story line is explained.  *****

The Other Wife. Another ***** five star read. Well written with lots of surprises.

The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards. **** Well written thriller that bounces back and forth between 1999 and 2015 with, of course, a surprise ending.  Only four star simply because, I think, it wasn’t quite as good as the others I have read so far this year.

The Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent, ****. Full of surprises and a happy ending.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (author of Gone Girl, A MUST READ!). A who-done-it murder mystery about a dysfunctional family with a surprise ending.  Four stars.

Rain Will Come by Thomas Holgate, ****.  Fast-paced thriller abiut a serial killer, but with a twist. Not for the squeamish although it isn’t TOO bad.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rowls.  Re-read this classic which I both love and hate.

Twisted Twenty-Six by Janet Evanovich.  Another light-hearted Stephanie Plum read.  Grandma Mazur marries into the mob!

When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal, ****. Nice coming-of-age story. A nice, but hard to believe, love story. A nice read about forgiveness.

And last-but-not-least Girl Next Door by Willow Rose.  *** three stars.  I found this one just okay.  When the author named a male cat Misty I was instantly put off. The story line about a serial killer and woman who leaves an abusive relationship ending up in the same town with her high school sweetheart who is a detective that speaks like a woman would speak put me off.  Then the cat is miraculously described as a female cat toward the end.  Who edited this???

Catching Up

Hello Friends! With the COVID-19 lurking around and people being asked to self isolate I thought this would be a good time to get  caught up on 2DogsTravel.
Since finding this bugger Snake in my little home this past fall and having it removed by a couple of our wonderful fire department personnel (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!) things pretty much went down hill.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were uneventfull except for the morning lows in the mid-20s for a week between Christmas and New Years. Another reason to be thankful that I have a warm(er) place to hunker down in the Arizona Winter.
Welcoming in 2020 we were delighted with this fabulous sunset

                                                       Gotta love Arizona sunsets.
Late January brought news that my SIL, Karen, had been hospitalized diagnosed with myeloma. That on top of diabetes and Parkinson’s. To her credit she had agreed to the bone marrow testing; she is not one who can handle much pain so this really surprised me. She had lived with her sister in Oregon for the past two years since my brother passed, and Sharon was her primary care giver. I  will be eternally grateful for this.

To make a long agonizing story shorter, she was finally sent home. Weak, discouraged, and with the knowledge that she would be taking chemo for the rest of whatever her life span would be, Karen decided that the treatments, constant doctor’s appointments, and continual tests were too much. She decided to let nature take its course and requested that all her meds to be withheld including her diabetes medications.  That, of course, put her into a diabetic coma and in less than two days she was released from her torment and went home to be with her Lord.
Ten days later I got a call from my niece that it was time to come say goodbye to my sister. Edie had been in rehab, again, to try and get her up and walking after yet another hospitalization in December. She came down with pneumonia on top of her CHF, years with COPD, and several bouts with sepsis. She continued to decline in hospital and come to the point of not being able to swallow amongst other various ailments. The doctors said she would never make it out of hospital and she didn’t.
I made the fastest trip ever to California (Hey, I could still be a truck driver if I wanted to . . . at least for a couple of days!).

One of us was with her 24/7 until she took her last breath at 9:30 a.m. February 27th. I stayed for a couple more days to help as I could and to visit with my sons before making a mad dash for Arizona before an incoming storm arrived.

The Chiweenie Brothers and I didn’t quite make it ahead of the storm and it was a snowy drive higher up on Hwy 44 near Lassen Park, but we came out the other side just fine and didn’t hit snow again until near Mammoth Lakes on Hwy 395 where the worst of this section of the highway was starting, but it wasn’t too bad.

Some shots taken with my phone on the trip back.
Mono Lake March 2020     MONO LAKE
The halfway point in our trip is right about Lone Pine, CA Where we spent a very brutal, cold night in the Alabama Hills. The wind coming off Mt. Whitney and surrounding Sierra Nevada made it feel like my hands were going to fall off and permanent grimace left on my face when we got parked for the night and The Boys needed their evening potty walk. I was so glad to have dug through a couple of my storage bins while in Redding and had brought my sleeping bag back with me.

A cold-but-windless morning presented a beautiful dawn creeping over the horizon.

Alabama Hills March 2020 Dawn is Breaking

Sunrise Alabama Hills March 2020
And this interesting little dinosaur, eh?
Alabama Hills Dinosaur Graffiti
A stop at McD’s for coffee and The Chiweenie Brothers and I head for the barn. I was  feeling a bit off, but was determined to get back to our little desert hideaway.

Back in Arizona The Boys relax after racing around their tiny back yard trying to get some of that pent up energy burned off. DSC_0024

I am totally exhausted and don’t even bother with unpacking the car.

Thank you for stopping by 2DogsTravel. Hugs, Shawna

PSA From the Chiweenie Brothers

We wish you all a  happy and healty 2020.  Worried about dog food and treat recalls?  Please read the article below and consider signing up for alerts.   We don’t want our furry readers getting sick … Or worse!  Hugs, Fries and Carlie

Dog Food Advisor
Saving Good Dogs from Bad Dog Food
http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com

P. O. Box 2363
Naples FL 34106
USA

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It’s Coming to an End

September 5, 2019
Leaving Winslow after our short visit to Standing on the Corner Park, we make a dash for Flagstaff, the air becoming noticeably cooler the closer we get. Taking the exit for Walnut Canyon I look for the same camp we stayed in year before last. There is no one parked there! Yeah! Shade, privacy, and memories—the little juniper tree I backed into then, tearing out the van’s right tail light, is still there, limb hanging down. Dead but still attached to the little tree.
I make camp, feed The Boys, fix dinner, then lie down to read for a little while. I had intended on staying a couple of days, but I am restless. After reading a chapter in my book I get up. I take down the tarp and put away the camp chair. The need, for some reason, to get “home” is pulling at me, so with nothing but a quick morning walk for The Chiweenie Brothers we will be ready to pull out first thing in the morning.
A thunder storm rolls through—nothing like Coyote Creek State Park in NM!!—and we get a bit of rain. It’s much cooler up here at the higher elevation and sleep will be good.
Upon awakening in the morning I haven’t changed my mind, and we drive into Flagstaff where I get supplies at Wally. One more stop, at the Cricket phone store, and we are soon on our way to Williams where we head south, ending up in Prescott.
I drive through town and on the way out locate the White Spar Campground where we spend the night. We were here, too, year before last. I got lost hiking. Haven’t told that story yet. Perhaps before winter is over.
On the morning of the 7th we head out at the crack of dawn. It’s only 120 miles to Quartzsite (Q Town). We wind our way, slowly, down the 15 mile long grade that twists and turns down the narrow mountain road, finally arriving at Yarnell, then on to Congress. Once out onto Hwy 60 we turn right and drive the last leg of our journey. Our adventure is over for this year.
We are back in Q by noon, and the first thing is to get the cooler going. It’s still triple digits here, and our little place is HOT. The floor is hot. The walls are hot. It’s stifling and the sweat runs in rivulets off my brow.

It takes two days, the swamp cooler running around the clock, to get our tiny one room/one bathroom casita cooled off, but we’re “home”. I begin making a list of the many things that I intend to get done this fall and winter. Lots of things to do to make our winter retreat the haven I want it to be.
Here is where I will take my annual hiatus for the holidays. Not sure exactly when in January I will be writing again. It may be February. It may be spring. We may or may not take off in January for a getaway trip while our little town of 3000 is overrun by snowbirds to the tune of 90,000 plus. Or we may stay put and hunker down until the New Year is a little older. Playing it by ear.
Thank you for riding along with us on our New Mexico adventure. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Hugs, Shawna

CURRENT READ:  Voyager (3rd book in the Outlander series) by Diane Galbadon. Checked out from the library for the third time — too much to do for reading!!
The desert tells a different story every time one ventures into it — Robert Edison Fulton
PS Any suggestions for where to go next summer? Someplace you’ve been that’s awesome? Some place you’ve always wanted to see? Would love your suggestions.

Standing on the Corner

September 4, 2019 continued.
By the time we leave the dog park and are once again heading west the day has really warmed up. The drive to Winslow is uneventful. I stop for a quick lunch, head to Family Dollar where I get a bag of ice, some chew toys for The Chiweenie Brothers, and ask the clerk how to get to the library.
Once at the library I make an attempt at getting some blogging done, but even at 9:30 in the morning it is really heating up. We can’t sit here in the sun. Closing the laptop I look at two expectant faces.
What are we going to do? Drive on to Flagstaff or ….. “I know, Boys” I tell them, “Let’s go stand on the corner in Winslow, Arizona!” 2DogsTravel are up for anything as long as the drive is slow enough they can hang their heads out the window. We find the “park” AND a parking space. I leash them up, and we go exploring.
A nice guy and his son agree to take our photo with the bronze statues of Glen Frey and Jackson Browne who wrote the Eagles’ classic song, Take it Easy, which by the way is being blasted out onto the sidewalk, along with other Eagles’ songs. I return the favor and take their photo.

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That’s about all there is to see except for some window shopping which I don’t want to do; it’s too hot to walk around much.

On the way back to the van we find a bench in the shade of the building’s covered sidewalk and we take a little break.

The boys are loving all this people watching.

The Boys eventually get bored with being people watchers, and we are soon back on the road, heading to Flagstaff where we will spend the night at a former campsite near Walnut Canyon.

Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel and HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Hugs, Shawna

Holbrook AZ

September 4th. I packed up last night and we’re ready to roll. It’s a lovely morning; a clear sky and air warm enough to make one understand it will heat up fast today. I give The Chiweenie Brothers their breakfast and while they eat I get dressed. A quick walk for their morning business, and we’re on our way. Goodbye Bluewater. We’ll be back!

Once we are back at I-40 we cross the freeway and catch the on ramp heading west, Gallup NM our destination. It’s only about 30 miles away.

I need to find the library, the post office, and a branch of my bank. Gallup is an old town, and to my dismay all the places I need to be are in the old part of town which was built on uneven terrain. We go up and we go down, circle the library a few times and still cannot find a place to park.

We go up and we go down searching for the bank. Geez, one could easily lose a mirror on these narrow streets! Once I locate it I see a couple of parking spots, but the lot is TINY. I pull in and jockey MissAdventure around, finally getting her parked. Being careful not to hit the car next to me with the door I squeeze out and head for the bank’s doors. They aren’t quite open yet. I get in the line waiting.

In just a few minutes the doors are unlocked. In I go and get my business taken care of, trot back out to the van, and decide once I get out of this parking lot that I will forego the post office and will not even try for the library again. We’re outta here.

Back on I-40 we say goodbye to New Mexico and enter Arizona where we stop in Holbrook and 2DogsTravel get a romp at the town’s lovely dog park.

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Several large hunks of petrified wood line the roadway leading into the town of Holbrook.

The Chiweenie Brothers have a great time at this lovely park.


Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs! Hugs, Shawna

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You Lost What?

2 September 2019

Labor Day is winding down. After our morning walk we head back to the van and I enjoy a second mug of coffee. The boys are napping. A car parks behind the van and I see a gal get out. She comes up to the van saying something on the order of “Youhooo! Hello. Are you there?” I reluctantly put down my current read, Look Alive Twenty-Five by Janet Evanovich, and poke my head through the curtains on the side doors.

Standing way too close to the van is a young woman with a few tattoos and a couple of missing teeth. Other than that she is fairly neat and clean. “Yes?” I reply, unable to keep the suspicion out of my voice.

“Oh, I’m just wondering if you have a plug for an air mattress, she asks. I can’t find mine.” I tell her I do not, and she whirls around and walks to the back of the van and over to her little white car and drives off.

I watch as she drives north toward the upper half of the campground. Odd. She didn’t ask any other campers if they had a plug. I ponder this for a moment and think to myself that perhaps I was just targeted, possibly for a theft, otherwise why would she not ask others if they have a plug? Takes cajones for someone to try something like that in broad daylight, but that’s our world today, no?

DSC_0004Mare and Stallion

It’s time to begin thinking of a plan for the last week or so of our summer adventure. The thought of getting back to Q so early is both daunting and exciting. The temps are still triple digits there, UGH, but I am excited to get settled in and begin the projects I have planned to try and make our winter home beautiful and cozy on a shoe string. And we do have an evaporative cooler. 🙂

Dealing with the temperature is an integral part (or maybe an annoyance) of van life, but you gotta bend with the way the wind blows. It’s been an amazing summer exploring New Mexico State Parks. We’ve been blessed with so many wonderful sights, animals, and interesting people. We’ve stayed engaged and entertained by nature. Can’t beat that!

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Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel.  Hugs, Shawna

Interesting Person, Sylvia Lee

Late afternoon, August 31st, a SUV pulls into the campsite just to the north of us. An older lady gets out and bustles around getting her camp set up. She notices me sitting outside reading while The Chiweenie Brothers play nearby and she walks over.

She very politely asks if I would help her plug her extension cord into the electrical box at her campsite, explaining that her hands are too weak to get the plug pushed in. Of course I’ll help! We walk over to her camp.

Meet Sylvia Lee

Sylvia is from Phoenix and is on her way to Minnesota to visit friends, then she will cross the middle of the US and head eastward to South Carolina to visit family. She travels in her SUV, a Toyota Forerunner she calls 4titude setting up a tent and sleeping on a pad on the ground. Or on a picnic table if conditions aren’t good!

DSC_0084Sylvia Lee, getting ready to leave for MinnesotaShe actually has two tents. A small one for if she gets to her destination too late in the afternoon, and a “mansion” of a tent if she has more time to set up and plans on a longer stay. I begin to ache just thinking about sleeping on the ground, pad or not. I am in awe.

She didn’t even bother with either tent last night, she just slept on the ground. The next day we visit more, and I learn more about this amazing woman.

Sylvia was a nurse. After her children started school she went back to school and got her degree. She is 78 years young (and incredibly tough from my viewpoint!)

She says she has always enjoyed camping and once she retired she began her long trips in earnest. Currently she is cutting back some as she is fostering several cats and must provide care for them while she is gone on her journeys, so she won’t be doing any more long trips. She sounds a bit wistful as she tells me this.

Sylvia is a volunteer at the Boyce-Thompson Aboretum near Superior, Arizona (we toured their beautiful gardens last spring) where she leads a history walk the first weekend of each month. I must say, she is dedicated. That’s a 200 mile round trip … and she’s been doing this since 2005!

DSC_0085Sylvia Lee

Sylvia has her own blog, Lee’s Rambles,  writing about her camping trips, outdoor experiences, tent camping, and light hiking. You can get an invite to her blog by emailing her at sighly@cox.net.

She is also an author having researched and written a book for Boyce-Thompson called The Abundant Arboretum. Talented woman, Sylvia.

I admire this woman so much; she does’t let much of anything slow her down. She is knowledgeable and interesting to talk to. We have tentative plans to do a little camping together next season or maybe sooner. I hope it works out.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hugs, Shawna

Blue Water State Park, Stoneridge

August 25, 2019.  We motor back east on I-40 and take the Bluewater State Park exit for the Stoneridge side.  The road in is narrow and in places winding and then becomes a steep grade down onto the flatter area near the lake.  I stop at the pay station and grab a tag, but don’t fill it out.  I’ll do that once we find a spot to call our own.

ALL the electric sites are taken.  The park is actually pretty full so I haven’t a clue what the ranger thinks all-but-empty means, but we do find a spot. Not ideal but it will do: Squished in between two other long-termers (full two week stay) with no shade.  On the bright side, the Stoneridge side is beautiful.  It’s a big park with lots of spaces and sections.  Vault toilets, gravelled parking spots, picnic tables, fire rings, water spigots strategically located throughout. 

After a couple of days the same ranger I spoke with at Las Tsusa stops by and tells me there will be spaces being vacated at the electrical sites later in the day.  We take a lot of walks scoping it all out and eventually a space opens up and I grab it.  There is a tree we can park beside, but it’s not even close to the table, but that’s okay.  We need electricity.

Jockeying  MissAdventure around to maximize shade, I get her settled in and immediately get my extension cord out and plugged in.  The laptop gets fed, and she sips on that juice for over an hour. In the meantime I am getting potatoes cooking in the IP and digging out every thing that  needs charged: The Kindle, my phone, my tablet, the stun gun, my camera’s battery.  The two small battery packs I carry are lined up in line to have their turn at sustenance.

Amazing how we take our power sources for granted until they aren’t available when we need them.  So thankful to have this electricity (at only $4 per day) I unpack my ac/dc fan and get it whirling the warming air out of the van. Next is a long walk for The Chiweenie Brothers. DSC_0081The Canyon Below the CG at Bluewater

Bluewater, Stoneridge side has paved roads throughout and makes for a good walking surface of considerable length for long, leisurely walks.  The Boys and I indulge.

Lots happens during our almost two week stay here.  One night around 2 a.m. a loud exsplosion jolts us awake.  It’s one of those things you aren’t sure what you have heard or if it even happened until you see vehicles rushing past with lights flashing.  Never did find out what that was.

One afternoon rescue personnel came flying into the park quite near our campsite, and parked near the trail that runs along the canyon in the photo above.  Someone had fallen along the trail (or off the trail!) and had to be rescued.

On a lazy afternoon sitting outside in the shade I spot movement out of the corner of my eye.  It’s been a VERY busy and crowded weekend here, Labor Day, but many have left this morning. This guy becomes bold and is staring intently at a big diesel pusher. He eventually turns around, trotting back the way he came, taking a right at the stop sign, but I fear he has his sights on their dog and will probably come back.

DSC_0005 (2)Wiley Coyote at Bluewater SP

I tell the camp hosts. They say they will tell the ranger. They come back later and tell me there is nothing they can do. I tell them I know that, but maybe they would like to warn the residents so they can keep an eye on their dogs. They don’t. Certainly not like Arizona where coyotes in the neighborhood are a big deal.

We spend the rest of our time here enjoying long, lazy days, cool nights, long walks and enjoy the heck out of having electricity.

The day before we leave, a group of wild horses come into the park.  I was hoping to see them as they have signs posted not to approach or try to pet the wild horses.  A group of four including the stallion, two mares, and foal!

 

DSC_0096Wild Horses at Bluewater DSC_0092Wild Horse. With Colt. Bluewater DSC_0091Wild Horses at BluewaterDSC_0034Filly Nursing Mare

Thanks for stopping by  2DogsTravel. Hugs, Shawna