Get Inspired…Watch the Sunset

I have long enjoyed the magical spell the sunset casts and having recently retired, I finally have time to enjoy the evening magic more often. It doesn’t hurt that we are in the part of the country that actually has clear skies where sunsets can be seen!
We all know just how romantic, inspiring and utterly captivating the sunset can be, but most of us only make time for sunsets when we’re on vacation, as if that calming, beautiful moment can only occur when we’re in an exotic place, free from everyday obligations.
But — newsflash — the sun sets every single day, no matter where you are and you don’t have to be retired to enjoy them. The sunset is an easy, free way to infuse some wonder and awe into your regular routine.
Here’s why you should consider making time to watch the sun set:
1. It can slow down time.

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Seriously. By witnessing the beauty and awe of the sunset, you can slow down your perception of time. According to 2012 research, participants who felt awe — defined as “the emotion that arises when one encounters something so strikingly vast that it provokes a need to update one’s mental schemas” — felt like they had more time available and were less impatient. “Experiences of awe bring people into the present moment,” researchers wrote in the paper, “which underlies awe’s capacity to adjust time perception, influence decisions, and make life feel more satisfying than it would otherwise.”
Feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Amazingly, by taking the time to gaze out into the vast, color-soaked sky, we’re actually empowering ourselves to regain control of the clock.

2. & 3. It doesn’t take long and it forces you outside.

img_0646No matter what you have to get back to after you watch that last sliver disappear below the skyline, taking a few minutes out of your day to experience some of the golden hour will be worth it. Just a 20-minute dose of fresh air promotes a sense of vitality, according to a series of studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. “Nature is fuel for the soul,“ Richard Ryan, Ph.D., lead author of the studies, said in a statement. “Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature.”

4. It allows you to multitask in a healthy way.

img_0022You can take in the sunset in a variety of ways: while running, walking, biking or simply observing. The mental benefits of the former three are well known — exercise, after all, has been shown to ease symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress — but simply sitting and observing the sunset also gives you a health boost: the opportunity to practice mindfulness. Personally, I like simply sitting with a nice glass of wine!
Mindfulness, according to a Perspectives on Psychological Science study, is “the nonjudgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment” and has been proven to have significant psychological and physical benefits, including stress reduction and improved cognitive functioning. What better way to practice being aware of the present moment than by watching the literal passing of time as the sun sinks below the horizon?
5. It will force you to put your phone down.

img_0151When we relegate the experience of sunsets to vacations and special occasions, we feel the urge to document, capture and save them — as if hoarding photos of their majesty will help us remember that wondrous feeling. But if you experience the sunset more regularly, you’ll no longer feel compelled to see it through a screen. By watching the sunset and not your screens, you’ll give your brain the chance to recharge and recover.

6. It will help you appreciate life’s gifts.

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People around the world are drawn to sunsets, but a few special places have really embraced the sunset as a daily opportunity to give thanks. In places like Santorini, Greece, and Maui, Hawaii, the sunset is regarded as a nightly celebration. Crowds gather to cheer and applaud it, reinforcing the idea that we should celebrate and be thankful for each day.
Being mindful of all the things you have to be thankful for can boost your well-being, research suggests. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude is associated with a sense of overall gladness, improved sleep and even increased patience.

7. It will inspire you.

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There’s a reason sunsets are timeless and constant standbys of poets, writers and romantics — they’re inspiring.

“It is almost impossible to watch a sunset and not dream”.
Bern Williams

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Life on the road with Bentley and Sucia

We love having our pets on the coach with us and for the most part they are traveling fairly well. They are both adjusting to life on the road and while travel days are not their favorite times, we have a routine down now. They definitely sense when we start prepping the coach to hit the road.

Bentley needs a good walk, a couple of natural stress tabs before we hit the road and he prefers that his bed be right between us while we are under way so he can ride shotgun!

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Sucia has always been a good traveler in the car and only really cries when she has to go potty. So she is now traveling in style in her large travel crate complete with litter pan and a towel to cover the sides when the coach is on the road. Rescue Remedy in the wet food has really helped settle her anxiety so we always give it to her on travel days.

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They are both much less jumpy about noises now but Sucia still really hates the process of leveling the coach as the hydraulic levels are pressurized by the onboard air compressor, which can be a bit noisy. Poor Bentley used to shake like a leaf and Sucia just went comatose, poor buddies. We have found that by leaving Sucia in the travel crate until all the arriving chores are done, she is no longer as stressed.

The coach has two slides which open up the bedroom and living area and also operate on a hydraulic system so Sucia has to be safely contained when ever we let them out or put them in as she could easily be crushed if she got behind the bedroom slide, and we all know how tempting it is for kitties to squeezed back under something.

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With Bentley and Sucia on board the Roadhouse, pet hair and dander are a constant battle. I purchased a really great hepa air cleaner. It is a Winix FresHome with plasma wave which runs 24/7 in the coach. It is really quiet so we don’t even notice it most of the time. What’s really cool about it is that it senses when the air needs more cleaning and will automatically ramp up to scrub the air, then ramp down to the low mode when it is happy with the air quality. The dust in the desert is also a constant so the air cleaner has its work cut out for it. Good news is, it really works and I was impressed (and slight appalled) when I opened up the filter area after a month of constant use. The main filter was full of particulates and yes…cat hair! I vacuumed out the filter and put the unit back to work, easy peasy.

Speaking of vacuuming, that is also a regular occurrence onboard, no surprise. Pet hair, and especially, cat litter that gets tracked around the coach drive me crazy, so I do a quick clean up every morning and a big “clean sweep” once a week. Road House has a built in vacuum system which I love, so life is good!

Before we hit the road, Bentley and Sucia had their favorite places in the house. Sucia has always owned the bedroom and that is no different on the coach. She sleeps the day away, like only a cat can, curled up on the bed, tucked in between a pillow or two. When she is awake, her favorite place to sit is on the passenger club chair where she can look out the window and sniff the fresh air coming in the nearby screen door. Her other place is under the dining table, by her unused kitty sphere. What a waste of money that was, it looks really cool but she has never sat inside the big round basket on the top. She does use the scratching post on the leg of it so now we can’t really get rid of it!!! Seriously, she will sit by it, behind it, but no, of course not inside it. Sucia does not give the groovy sphere a 4 paw rating.

Cool cat sphere huh? Notice that’s not MY CAT…cause she won’t go in there! I am only slightly bitter!!!

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We haven’t found the perfect place on the coach for the poo palace and are toying with the idea of building it into a spot under the bed. Knowing what happens when the Princess of the Poo Palace has her space messed with, I am reluctant to upset the karma in the kingdom. I am trying to introduce a wood pellet litter as it doesn’t track as bad and is is less dusty than her current clumping litter. That was going remarkably well until I got crazy and switched out the Poo Place for a open air model with a sifting tray. BAD IDEA… Bentley’s bed was the recipient of the Princess’s outrage.

Bentley owns the front of the coach where his big, boy bed resides in front of the big screen TV lift cabinet. We retrofitted that area specifically for his bed and the TV. Luckily, he likes his bed and actually uses it…to sleep on (he was incredibly disgusted with the outrage of the Princess). He would prefer to sneak up on the new leather couch if no one is around to stop him, so we have to use a big piece of foam core to subvert his sneaky attempts. His toy basket was significantly reduced but he does have a small one by his bed. I kept a bag of his favorites and rotate them in and out of the basket but really he still loves nothing better than a game of fetch or a wrestling match with his man.

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For the most part, the two critters coexist nicely and don’t seem to much worse for wear after 2 months of living the mobile lifestyle, Well, sans the litter box incident which I think Bentley has forgiven Sucia for or at least forgotten about.

Cave Creek, AZ

We really enjoyed our stay at Cave Creek Regional Park, so much so I am behind in writing anything about the area. Who’d thunk I would get behind on things after being retired – well, news flash…I am such a slacker!

Like most of the west, Arizona was home to many tribes of Native Americans and Cave Creek is no exception. The Hohokam Native Americans who have been traced back to this area arrived in 700 A.D. They developed extensive irrigation systems, trade routes and generally lived a peacefully existence. These ancient tribes evolved into engineers and craftmen and their history is a fascinating read. Just east of Cave Creek, the Sears-Kay Ruin offers a peek into the lifestyles of ancient Hohokam Indians, ancestors of today’s Pima Indians and the Valley’s first residents.

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Well, fast forward, there are ruins and remnants of the Hohokam Indians but in general Cave Creek is a outpost of Scottsdale but still has a rural, western feel. We found the area to be charming, with a quiet pace but enough amenities, oh like an amazing, totally local coffee roaster and a killer meat market featuring Arizona grass fed beef and pork. All this but still close enough to Scottsdale to take in a movie and sushi on a rainy day ( yes, it rains in Arizona) or a vistit to the MIM (Musical Instrument Musuem).

The Cave Creek Regional Park where we stayed was a quiet oasis with lots of wildlife like javelinas, deer, rabbits, quail, doves and a plethora of other birds. I got some action on the hummingbird feeder too, Black Chinned and Anna’s hummers were frequent visitors. We frequently saw the “three amigos”, a local coyote gang, both out hiking and right in the campground.

See if you can find the one amigo in this picture:

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Bentley gave the 2 week stay in Cave Creek a 4 paw rating and the only complaint he had was having to wear the silly hiking boots on the trails. He was content to lay outside all day in the sun, watching the critters and taking the occasional short hike.

While the area hiking was way more extensive that Bentley wanted to explore, Wally did get out and explore the numerous old mines that dot the hillsides while I kept to my bike. The trails at Cave Creek were too technical for me so I stayed on the side roads and ATV trails.

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Evening sunsets were spectacular and our southwest facing site was the perfect place to watch the sun dip down on the horizon and fill the skies with a blaze of color. Early mornings, as the sun came up we would see hot air balloons floating lazily over the Sonoran desert.

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Cave Creek was our second regional park stay and I agree totally with Bentley, it deserves a 4 paw rating!