Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March 20 - 26, 2017, AZ

Monday, March 20.  Happy first day of spring! Here in AZ, we have beat the record and reached 96 degrees - pretty early for that.  And - not too welcome when you are camping for a few days.  We got packed up and headed out for Picacho Peak State Park where we met up with Chris and Norm, Gerry and Jeanie, and Mike and Judy (the same group that camped together over New Years weekend). So we have gone from one extreme to another - cold and rainy then and hot, hot, hot now.  There is a really nice breeze most of the time and if you can find a shady spot, life is good.

I was hoping to see lots of wild flowers, but they seem to have dried up - more so than I expected.  Some of the cactus are in bloom now, though.

I took another fall, tripping over a rock that was holding down my rug. My left knee has a few scrapes, one is pretty deep, and the palm of my right hand landed on a good sized pebble, so that's a pretty deep one too. It hurt like hell - but not for too long.  I cleaned them up good, smothered them with triple antibiotic cream and carried on.  I'm beginning to question the stumbles - is something going on?

     My hiking buddies; Roger, Chris, Norm, and Pat
     Mama Cactus Wren was busy feeding her chattering brood in this unique nest.
     The inside of a dried out Prickly Pear pod.

     The Cactus bloom has started.

Friday, March 24.  I camped until Wednesday morning and then headed back home. Pat and Roger started their trek back to Wisconsin that morning after we had a nice walk around the park with the dogs.  I had a lot less to pack up, since it has been so windy that the awning had to come down after the first night of flopping around in the wind - it sounded and felt like I might just fly away.  The wind was a blessing though, as the days have been hot - as long as you could find a spot of shade to sit in.

Frisco had his checkup at the vet this week and all is good with him - he got an updated Bordatella shot in case I have to board him and we refilled his heart worm medication too.  There is a new bacteria in the area (spread by infected dog's urine) that is causing dogs to get an extreme intestinal illness, so we got the vaccination for that also.

I had my annual eye exam today and all checked out there - a very minor change to my prescription, so all is good.

I had a nice chat with Ben the other night and he said the kids are all excited about my moving there.  I also learned from Randy that he and Julie will be squeezing in a visit starting on April 2nd. That news led me to move up the date for the U-BOX to April 6 - and they will be helping me to get it loaded and it will now be ready for pickup in Minneapolis by May 1. 

I've been packing and cleaning and the pile is getting bigger and bigger.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

March 13 - 19, 2016, AZ

Friday, March 17. I got visitors again on Wednesday. Pat and Rog have settled in until Sunday, as they were scheduled to leave Val Vista Village that day but could not get a reservation elsewhere until Sunday when we head to Picacho Peak for a couple of days.  Chris and Norm will already be there and we will all hang out together for a few days of camping.  I'm looking forward to it, although the temps around here have been in the 90s this week.  We have been hanging out at the pool and enjoying our time together.  Roger has a bad cold - I sure hope it bypasses me.

I invited Jim and Sue, Arlene, Tom, and Connie for corned beef and cabbage dinner tonight.  We sure had a good time, with lots of laughter, conversation, and good food. A fun St. Patrick's Day with good friends.

Ben and Jill shared some photos of Charlotte this morning, as she was chosen Artist of the Week.  She is quite skilled for a 5-year old.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

March 6 - 12, 2016, AZ

You Sunday, March 12. Here it is, Sunday morning, and I realize that I haven't written a thing all week.  It's been a good one, a busy one, and here's what's been happening:

     Packing - the dining room cabinets, clothing, extras donated, disassembled patio swing
     My job - only one this week
     A hike - around the Gilbert Riparian Preserve
     Highlands events - meeting, distributed directory update sheets, collected them,
          Omelette breakfast
     Dinner with Chandlers and Hooveys
     FaceTime with the grandkids

And today, it is another hike - the Old Jeep Trail at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve with Jim and Sue and Tom.  Pat has a sinus infection and can't go.

Our hike was very enjoyable, but we all agreed that we should have started out a bit earlier.  It was close to noon when we finished the 4.6 mile trek and it was getting pretty warm by then.  Needless to say, I got right in the shower to wash the grime and sweat off my body and then relaxed and took a little nap.

Firecracker Penstemon all through the wash.

This cluster around a fallen fish-hook cactus had yellow, white, orange, purple, blue, and red.

My hiking buddies, Tom, Jim, and Sue.

This gnarly old Saguaro was only 2 inches thick near the bottom right side.

I had a nice conversation with Rita and then Jill called to talk about their summer calendar so we could coordinate and I can help them with some child care relief and schedule my outings when they have vacation.  

Camille was supposed to be napping, but was sitting next to Jill instead and she wanted to talk and boy, did she talk.  She told me she was excited about my moving there and she would help me do some painting if I needed it and she would help me decorate.  She wanted to know when I was coming, so I told her it would be close to my birthday and maybe we could celebrate together.  She asked what kind of cake I wanted and I told her coconut - she said she liked chocolate and was trying to persuade me that chocolate would be better.  Our work-around was chocolate cake with some coconut on it.  What a doll! Her speaking skills have really improved since I left there last October.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

March 1 - 5, 2017, AZ

Friday, March 3. We have been busy with house stuff this week. We met up with Pat and Rog this morning for breakfast at Sassy's and then took a drive out Bush Highway so Karen could get a feel for what the desert looks like around here.  It is such a beautiful drive and we lucked out and saw several of the wild horses and even a couple of the newborn foals.  The wildflowers along the roadside are starting to open, but I know there will be lots more.

Tonight, we went to TGIF here in the park and sat with a group of women who I thought would be a good group for her to get to know.  As we walked back to the house, she thanked me again and told me that she was really feeling good about her decision to move here and is excited about all of the cultural and social options that she will have here.  That feeling was reinforced when we met up with an old friend hers, Lois, on Wednesday evening and she was also telling her about the many cultural opportunities that we have in the area.  She was excited to learn that Karen is relocating here.

After dinner, I drove her to a hotel near the airport and she will take a shuttle to catch her early morning flight tomorrow.

Sunday, March 5.  Parties, Parties, Parties.  This weekend, I have been invited to 2 parties with Arlene's family (she says that I am her adopted family) and I have come to know her family pretty well.  Her brother, Larry and his wife, Diane, are here visiting from Nebraska and they are getting together for lots of food and talking.  Arlene is happy as can be when she can prepare food and have people around her.  Good times.

I actually got organized this afternoon and marked off an area of my bedroom that is the size of the U-BOX that I will use for moving.  I cleaned out part of my closet and boxed up some of Mike's clothes that I can't part with. I did get rid of some pants that I know won't fit my sons, but that is about it.  I also went through my clothes and got rid of 2 large bags of things that I haven't worn or can't wear any more and I took them to the textile recycling here in our park - our social club gets money for those donations.  

February 27 - 29, 2017, AZ

Tuesday, February 29.  Karen came in for a visit on the 28th and was delighted to see how nice her house is - freshly painted from floor to ceiling, including the 70s olive green bathtubs and the nice, oak laminate flooring throughout the entire house. Kevin did a wonderful job on the project.  He just happened to stop by on Tuesday, shortly after she arrived and it was nice that they could finally meet.

We returned to the house on Wednesday to take more measurements so she can determine what furniture to bring and what to leave behind.  Now, she will return to her home in SC and prepare for the actual move some time this summer.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February 20 - 26, 2017, AZ

Tuesday, February 21.  After getting up at 4:30 am and getting Leslie off to the airport, I stopped for gas and a few groceries before heading home to get loaded up to go camping for the next 3 days with Tom. No other friends were available to go camping this week and it was a week of no cleaning jobs for me, so I was going regardless.  We headed out around 11:30 and were set up by 1:30 at Picacho Peak State Park.  What a beautiful place this is.  My site has a beautiful view of the Peak itself, to the south and then another mountain range to the north.

Tom fixed dinner the first night and I leaked out and went back to my camper shortly after dinner.  It was a long day for me.

Today, we took a hike down to the visitor center, about a mile away from the campground and then out to see some memorials from a battle that was fought here during the civil war - imagine that.  There were actually several skirmishes that took place nearby.  The east-west route through here was established by Juan Batista deAnza from Mexico to San Francisco, and was used as a mail delivery route by the Butterfield Overland Mail Trail.  We then hiked up to the lookout point on the Calloway Trail - the lookout is over the freeway and the mountains off in the distance.  There were actually better views along the trail.  The ground is covered with Mexican Poppies and Lupine - gorgeous!

A river of Mexican Poppy

My selfies need improvement - Tom looks pretty good.

Damn that Victor - it could be 100 year old graffiti - who knows?

I made dinner tonight - told Tom to come over around 5:15 and when he wasn't here at 5:45 - I ate by  myself and then he texted me that that he had fallen asleep and didn't wake up in time for dinner - too bad, cold food for him.  We sat around a campfire and watched the stars and the lights from I-10 off in the distance. The stars were incredible.

Wednesday, February 22.  Today's plan was to drive to the west parking lot and get on the Sunset Trail that goes along the south side of the mountains that we are facing, connects with the Hunter Trail that crosses over the saddle and back down the north side.  After 2.6 miles of trekking over mostly level Trail but some rough spots, we made it to the base but were both feeling like we wouldn't make it - especially since it is rated difficult and was a steep enough climb that they have cables installed to help you stay stable and on the trail.  The Peak is about 3,200 feet in elevation.  So back down we trekked and I was very glad to see the car and ready to get my hiking boots off my tired feet.  We were both glad that our our old people bodies let us do what we did, a 5-mile trek through the desert.

    Another "WOW"
   Tired hiker, that car seat sure felt good!
   A perfect end to a very nice day!

Thursday, February 22.  A front moved in during the night and the wind had the awning flopping around like crazy - it woke me up a few times but when I looked out the window it seemed like it was anchored down ok and wouldn't go anywhere, so I just went back to sleep. And sleep I did until 6:30 this morning.  It was nippy when I took Frisco for his walk.

Tom and I hooked up around 9:00 and went to explore this road we had discovered that headed north from the C Loop of the campground and led in the direction of the huge black hill that we could see from our campsites, occasionally there would be a person perched up on top of it.  As we got closer to the hill, I spotted a hole in the rock, so we headed in that direction and were able to climb up pretty close to it - at least Tom got pretty close to it but not close enough to stick his head through the hole.

As we walked along the base of the hill, we came to 2 other holes in the rocks but didn't try to get any closer.  We came upon a fence and crawled under it in a couple of places so we could keep going around the hill and back to our campsites - all in all, it was a 2-mile trek on mostly flat ground.

Then I had to pack up and leave. I got home, unpacked the trailer, parked it in the storage lot, took a shower, and headed for Connie's house where Jan, Jim, and Shirley picked us up to go to Casa Ramos for happy hour and a yummy chicken fajita dinner with about 30 other friends from Brentwood.  Good times!

   Connie, Lois, Debby, Dave, Vicky, Flo, Kathy

Saturday, February 25. Pat got us tickets to the Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo in Apache Junction yesterday and none of us dressed for the occasion.  62 degrees feels pretty nice in the sunshine, but it was cold sitting on those metal bleachers in the shade with a cold breeze coming on your back.  About half way through, we went to the far western edge of the bleachers where it was slightly warmer, as long as you had someone sitting behind you.  The Rodeo was entertaining with the standard events; bull riding, Bronc riding, saddle bronc, calf roping, ladie's synchronized riding and barrel racing.  The clown was quite entertaining and there was a 40-time champion gun slinger, whip cracker, and lasso thrower.  All in all a good time.  We stopped at the Dog Run Saloon for dinner and had a very good fish fry.

When I got back home, I was afraid to sit down and relax or I would never get up again - then headed to the clubhouse for an evening of karaoke.  There were a bunch of folks who follow the DJ around so they did most of the (pretty bad) singing. At the end of the night, our President, Dave, told him not to come back again, since he never worked our people into the lineup so they could have a chance to sing.

And then I couldn't sleep - not asleep at midnight, not asleep at 2 am, asleep some time between 2 and 5 am when I woke up, tossed and turned until 7. I hate it when that happens.

I was on the phone for a while this morning talking with Rita and Pat. I helped Arlene, as her phone, tv, and wifi were all out.  After 2 separate calls to Cox and we were told that there was an outage in the area, they agreed to send a technician out to check her system tomorrow.  I did manage to tidy up all of the cables and cords that were looking like a bunch of spaghetti.

Sunday, February 26.  Ben and Jill went to see an apartment for me in Minneapolis today, the result of an inquiry that Jill made on NextDoor.  She took lots of pictures and gave me a very detailed description over the phone and I decided to jump on it.  It is a 900 sf 1-bedroom basement apartment (well lit because of egress windows) in Linden Hills, about 5-minutes from their house.  I'm excited now!  The homeowner, a single woman sounded very nice and we agreed to a 3-month lease followed by a month-to-month lease with a 30-day notice when a senior apartment opens up for me.  The total rent and all utilities are included and the cost turns out to be about $120 less than my current cost of living,  so a little saving there.

Monday, February 13, 2017

February 13 - 19, 2017, AZ

Monday, February 13.  Today marks 4 years since Mike passed away from us.  He sure is still in my heart and on my mind every day.  I live my life and enjoy it, but he is never far from my thoughts. Every event I was involved in since I was 18 years old included him by my side and he accepted me and all the baggage that came with me - mainly a large, disfunctional family. He became a brother to my siblings, another son to my father (although he wasn't treated real well), a father to my sons, and a loyal, loving companion to me.  I sure do miss our adventures.

The crud still lingers. Pat, Roger, Jim, and Sue were all going to come over and share memories of Mike, cook bratwurst for dinner and have an old fashioned to toast him, but I had to call it off.  I got up, showered, had a tiny bit of coffee, walked around the entire park, had some toast, went to the grocery store and decided I just needed more time to rest and recover. I feel better, then worse, and the roller coaster ride continues.

Friday, February 17.  I started feeling much better on Tuesday, got through one of my cleaning jobs, but still took it pretty easy on the stomach. Come, Wednesday I was back to normal eating and feeling good.

 Leslie's flight arrived this afternoon around 2:30 and that was the start of some non-stop talking sessions.  Pat and Roger joined us for dinner and a tasty Wisconsin Old Fashioned. 

Thursday was Ben's 40th Birthday and doesn't that make a mother feel old.  I bombarded him with hourly quotes about turning 40 - like "40 isn't old if you're a tree" and "40 is the new 20 - twice" and "the Roman numeral for 40 is XL", etc. I'm proud to have raised such a great guy - he is polite, respectful, a great husband and father, silly like his Dad at times, but kinds of serious like me too.

After my cleaning job in the morning, Leslie and I headed out on the Apache Trail with our first stop at Tortilla Flat for lunch.  She was amazed at how green and beautiful the desert and mountains are and we stopped many times along the way to take photos and just enjoy the beauty.  Two and a half hours of driving on the dirt road and we reached Roosevelt Dam - a huge surprise after seeing nothing but natural areas the entire thirteen-mile stretch.  We wanted to stop at the Cliff dwellings but got there just as the gate was closed - something that she really wanted to see and we may have to go back there another day.

Today, we took it easy and just went into Mesa to the Contemporary Art Museum and store for a while before meeting up with the Hooveys and Chandlers for happy hour at Val Vista Village, so Leslie could get a feel for the snowbirds and their resort lifestyle. We then came back to my house for dinner, the dinner we had planned for Monday when I was ill.  Good time!

Sunday, February 19. The weekend was busy and full of rain.  Yesterday, we headed back to the Cliff Dwellings because that was one of the primary things that Leslie wanted to see when she was here.  It was worth it because it is such an impressive site.  We eased our way up the half-mile climb, stopping along the way to admire the spectacular views.  When we reached the actual cliff dwellings, the docent that told us all about them was so good at what he does. We had the place to ourselves for at least 10 minutes and able to have a great conversation with him.

Before heading back to Mesa, we stopped in historic downtown Globe and couldn't find a restaurant that was open - imagine that in a Saturday afternoon.  Crazy.  So...we stopped at a bar and had a beer and a delicious burger before heading back home.  Back there, it rained and rained all night long.

Today, we hit the antique mall before going out to dinner - She said it was her husband, Tom's (who passed away a year ago) Valentine's Day treat (from his Social Security check).  I thought Rustler's Rooste would be a good place where we could have a good steak and the gorgeous views of the Phoenix valley.  It was so darned crowded and loud and full of kids that we decided to go to quiet little Vitos close to my house instead.  That was very busy too, but we had a nice dinner and more conversation (we do a great job at that).