Sunday, November 26, 2017

November 20 - 26, 2017, AZ

Saturday, November 25.  Happy Birthday to my daughter-in-law, Tracey!  I had a nice conversation with her this morning.  Unfortunately, she is still suffering from migraines that never let up.

Backtracking on the week - there isn't much to say.  We went to Sharkey's Tacos and Tequila Tuesday night with Pat and Roger.  I had conversations with all of my siblings during the week, wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving.

Yesterday, we drove back to AJ to check out 6 Tricon RV Parks - all under new management and their ads said "recently remodeled", so we wanted to see what they had to offer.  One of the 6 could meet our requirements, but now we know.  They are all old parks, mostly park models crammed into small spaces, with few RV sites scattered here and there, most have updated clubhouses and pools - probably a work in progress.  We have had a lot of discussion lately about selling his mobile home and where to stay after that happens.

Thanksgiving started with phone conversations with both of my sons and FaceTime with the grandkids back in Minnesota.  Tom and I made a huge batch of mashed potatoes for dinner at his son, Chaney's house.  I got to meet his daughter, Trina, too.  Dinner was delicious - Chaney deep fried the turkey, and it was moist and tender.  Another guest, Sue, brought an English Trifle for dessert that was delicious!  It was a beautiful day d temperatures hit all-time highs in many areas - I think it was almost 90 degrees.

Back row:  Tom's ex-wife Kathy, their son Chaney, his wife Melissa, Me, Tom, Melissa's sons and their friends.

Middle row: Friends of Chaney and Melissa

Front row: Kathy's husband John, Tom's grandsons Lakin, Hunter, Colton, and his daughter Trina.

Friday, November 17, 2017

November 13 - 19, 2017, AZ

Friday, November 17.  Here it is, another Friday and I haven't written a thing in my journal.  It has been a busy week.

Monday - I cleaned for Karen and was wiped out when I got back home, so took a nice nap.  Tom and I went to Zur Kate German restaurant for a nice dinner. The special was roast pork and it was so tender and flavorful - served with German potato salad and red cabbage.  We will definitely go back there.  There are actually 2 German restaurants in the same little strip mall at Main and Higley and we walked into the Bavarian Inn first, just to check it out because of some negative reviews that I had read.  The reviews were right - mostly of a bad odor - and we walked in and right back out again.  The right choice was made, our dinner and experience was very nice.

Tuesday - I cleaned for Jim and Shirley and spent the rest of the day around home.  Arlene had to go to the hospital on Monday night due to some intestinal problems, so she and Sharla gave us their tickets to see "Kiss and Tell" at the Hale Theater. 

From the Hale website:  "Hugh Herbert’s 1940’s riotous romp entangles a family feud, a secret marriage, and a madcap dose of mistaken identity! Two teenage girls, Corliss Archer and Mildred Pringle, cause their respective parents much concern when they start to become interested in boys. The parent’s bickering about which girl is the worse influence causes more problems than it solves after both girls sell kisses for charity at the USO bazaar. It’s a “fresh, funny, and completely beguiling comedy about a small town Junior Miss." 

Connie joined us for the great comedy production.  It was lively and full of laughs.  They do such a nice job on their shows.

  My $10 bike.

Wednesday - no work this morning, so I slept in - until 9:00 when my phone was ringing.  It was Rita with an update on Rick's condition, but actually there was no update because he refused to go for his scheduled PET scan that would show where the cancer is in his body.  He was stubborn and obnoxious when Randy got there to pick him  and he refused to go.  Later that day, he ended up calling 911 and Randy spent 3 hours with him at the hospital and again, he got irritated and took a cab home.  This is not going to have a good outcome, I just have a bad feeling about it.

We met up with some friends at the pool in the afternoon for a happy hour.  Another good time of sipping and yakking.

Thursday - we took off at 9:00 with a list of RV parks to explore at Casa Grande, about 50 miles to the south of here.  Of the eleven parks that we stopped at, there were 3 that we both liked and would consider for a long-term winter stay in the future.  There are a few others in the Apache Junction area that we learned about and would like to see.

As we were heading back to Mesa, we got an email from our HCC President notifying us that the board meeting scheduled for 5:00 this afternoon has been pushed back to 4:00.  We were both a bit irritated by this, so I tested back that I wasn't sure if we would be back in town on time.  We did make it on time and even stopped at Waldo's BBQ for some take out pulled pork and brisket for dinner.

Today - we both had appointments this morning at 10:30, so we headed our separate ways.  Tom picked up his trailer that was in the shop for new brakes and I was off to get a haircut.  After my appointment, I went to Turnstyle and found some good bargains and then to Trader Joe's for a few things.

Tonight, we picked Pat and Roger up and went to The Dog Run in AJ for fish fry - and a very good one it was.

Sunday, November 19.  Today was the day to meet some of Tom's friends.  We met Manuel and Linda at the Hen House for breakfast this morning.  They are a nice couple who met up with Tom on his travels out east this past summer and have been long-time friends and co-workers.  It was a nice time.

I had a nice FaceTime conversation with Charlotte this afternoon, as she was down and out, not feeling well, and snuggling on the couch.  

This evening, we were off to Duane and Debbi's new house in Queen Creek.  Again, a very nice couple, long-time friends of Tom and his ex-wife Kathy.  Their house is beautiful - complete with an RV garage where Duane is rebuilding/restoring a 1963 Corvette.  We had a drink on the patio before having a very nice steak dinner, then visiting until time to go home.

Saturday's hope highlight was the Homecoming Dinner and dance at the clubhouse.  Ninety people signed up and attended dinner but the crowd thinned a bit after that.  Rick Jones provided the entertainment, an excellent singer and guitar player backed by music on his iPad.  It was a fun night of dancing and socializing.

The news coming from Springfield regarding Rick, is not pleasant.  They have found several spots of cancer on his lung, taken an MRI of his brain, a CT scan and surgical biopsies, but no results have been passed on to Randy yet.  I don't have a good feeling about this at all.

Friday, November 10, 2017

November 6 - 12, 2017, AZ

Friday, November 10.  It's been another week that is just flying by.  The days are full with the usual activities like dog walking, running errands, happy hours, hanging with Tom and hanging with friends.  I've also had opportunities to talk with family members; Pat, Rita, Randy, and Bob.

Randy didn't have good news - my brother Rick who has been doctoring an open wound on his abdomen (suspected to be a spider bite) learned that it is cancerous.  It all started with a blister that he scratched off and then the surrounding skin became infected and was treated with antibiotics that didn't clear it up.  So now we wait for further test results and treatment options.  I don't have a good feeling about this, primarily because of his lifetime of chronic alcoholism and rough living.

On Wednesday, I opened up and cleaned Sylvia's condo at Fountain of the Sun.  Tom came along to help with the outside work of sweeping and hosing down the patio and carport and moving her outdoor furniture from inside.  I got the refrigerator and ice maker going, ran the dishwasher, and wiped down surfaced and vacuumed.  It looked sparkly clean when we left.  Next week, I will be cleaning for Shirley and JoAnne and that cycle will be starting up for the winter.

Also, on Wednesday evening, we met Tom's son Chaney, his daughter-in-law Melissa, grandson Lakin, and ex-wife Kathy at the Harkins Theater in north Scottsdale to see the screening of the IFP Filmmaker Challenge.  It was a completion of local filmmakers and their short films.  Lakin played a role in the movie called "Pause", one of 20 films that met the challenge - a 6-minute movie that met the assigned challenge of a specific prop and a phrase.  Each film was viewed and judged by a panel of 7 professionals and also by audience voting.

We viewed all of the movies and then awards were passed out.  "Pause" took several awards; 3rd place in the Top Film category, then Best Photo to granddaughter Photography, Best Trailer, and the Audience Awards.  I'm glad that I was able to meet some of Tom's family and to be part of this great event, quite exciting!

Connie came over for a drink one evening and we went to Pat and Roger's for a drink last night.  Good friends and good conversation.

Yesterday's highlight was a FaceTime conversation with Camille and Norah - I was asked if we could have another sleepover - hopefully that will happen over Christmas.  Norah was proud to tell me that she was told that she was doing good work on the violin at school and Camille was proud of her swimming accomplishments.

Today was grocery shopping day, as we have emptied lots of stuff in the refrigerator and I would like to have supplies on hand so I can do some baking one of these days.  Tom is a coupon shopper, so it's his job to save us some money on groceries.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

October 30 - 31, 2017, AZ

Tuesday, October 31.  HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  

I cleaned Karen's house for her yesterday and boy, was I beat when I finished.  It's not that it was that big of a job - I'm just out of shape for doing that kind of a job.  It is now added to my calendar as a regular every other week job.

Also, on Monday, we took an ELS bus to San Tan Flats with 22 residents and friends from Highlands and a few folks from Monte Vista (they were complaining that the bus left 4 minutes late -not a good way to start out).  The food, company, and beverages were very good.  Naturally, the Highlands folks were having lots of fun and not quite ready to leave when the Monte Vista folks were already on the bus.  And then, we were a bit rowdy on the ride back too - they probably won't want to go with us again.

   Jan is enjoying her S'More at San Tan Flats

This morning, I cleaned Jacki's patio for her - a 3-hour job and one that she can't do herself.  

I went with Tom to his Holistic chiropractor appointment this afternoon to see if I might be interested in his treatment - a very different approach that focuses on total. Mind, body health. Tom has been going for years, but for me, it would be an entirely new process to introduce with possible recommendations for different supplements. At this point, I don't think I want to upset the apple cart that is my body and change to a new and different regiment at this stage of my life, although it all makes sense.

We met Pat and Rog (they just got here yesterday) for Taco Tuesday at Simpletons for dinner.  Great to see them again - looking forward to many good times over the winter.

   My 3 little trick or treaters in Minnesota - Camille, Charlotte, and Norah

Saturday, November 4. We've got wifi again!  The technician had  to come by and check connections and he did find some cables and connections that were damaged, so he fixed them and we are now connected. We might buy a new router since Tom's is pretty old, but for now, it is working.  Having wifi led the getting the Roku setup on the TV but that led to another issue - Tom was unable to adjust the screen size on the TV because the remote wouldn't let him access that setting - the picture is too large for the screen.  So, he has a replacement remote control ordered.

We both had lists of things to do on the internet, so that took a lot of time on Wednesday.

Since Tom is considering selling his house, we have been discussing options for where to live after that. I definitely want to spend time in the Midwest during the summer and we both want to be in Arizona in the winter.  Over the next few months, we plan to check out the Camp Verde, Sierra Vista, and Apache Junction areas for rental and RV options.

So, on Thursday, we took a drive up to Camp Verde and checked out several RV parks and decided that our first choice in that area was the Verde River RV resort, a place that we have both stayed at in the past, but is now under renovation and will be a beautiful park and facility when they reopen in February of 2018.  We stopped at the Rock Springs Cafe for some Jalapeño Poppers and a piece of cherry pie before getting back to Mesa.  It was a productive and enjoyable day.

An old relic at LoLo Mai Park

Friday's highlight was to meet up with Chris and Norm and Pat and Roger for fish fry at Simpletons.  We had a good dinner and great conversation and lots of laughter.

Today was another day to explore RV and mobile home parks in Apache Junction.  This trip resulted in a few parks that we would consider - all of which would be a savings on housing expenses and nice places to live.  After dinner, Tom discovered a few others that have been recently renovated that we should check out in the future.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

October 23 - 29, 2017, NM, AZ

EThursday, October 26.  Back on Monday, we were looking at a 6-7 hour drive back to Mesa - a bit much when you are towing a trailer. So we decided to only go as far as Overgaard, just east of Payton. The RV park only had one site, so we parked mine and I stayed with Tom in his because he had the water/electric hookups.  

So on Tuesday morning, we only had a 3-hour drive back to Mesa - a beautiful drive that took us through the White Mountains, the Mogollon Rim country, Matzatzal mountains, several canyons, the Tonto National Forest and back to where Four Peaks and Red Mountain were in sight. Beautiful country and I enjoyed every mile of this part of the drive.

Back in Mesa, we parked at Tom's and began unloading. Yes, I am going to be staying with him and not with Arlene.  Over the past 2 months, we both realize that we really enjoy being together and we are going to see how things go for our relationship over the winter.  

Tom turned on water, plugged in the fridge and did all of that opening kind of stuff and I started to unload and haul stuff inside.  After a while, we checked the fridge and it was not getting cold, we checked later- same thing, guess it is dead.  Also, there is no hot water because the gas company has to turn it on and check for leaks.  So, we left his trailer parked in front and used that shower.  I took mine to the storage lot but left the food in the fridge, running on propane.  And we proceeded to clean and get the house in order.

Yesterday, after having coffee and good conversation with Arlene and Sharla, we went to Mesa TV and Appliance and Tom bought a new fridge (after a repair person told us that it couldn't be repaired - the condenser was shot.  This morning, we were up and about by 7:00, the new fridge was delivered by 8:30 and a  Mesa Gas employee showed up shortly after that.  Yay, there were no gas leaks, so there will be good, hot, showers tonight!

Saturday, October 28.  We're starting to feel a bit more settled, getting things sorted and put away, finding out our differences, preferences, and making Tom's house a home for the two of us.  We are making progress.


The Highlands Halloween Party was last night and we started off with pizza at Jan and Jim's with Connie, Kathy, and Jackie.  The party was lots of fun and I never did get around to getting a costume together.  Karens offered me a long skirt and hippie vest but it felt way too hot when I tried it on.  The band, The RVees was great, playing lots of fun dance tunes and I think I danced every one.  It was quite nice to have a guy to dance the slow ones with (smiley face).

Our HCC President, Dave, and his bride

   ??? And his dog, Boner, Loretta, Tom, Lois, Diane, ???, Marian

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

October 16 - 22, 2017, NM

Wednesday, October 18.  Monday was our day to get propane, fuel up the cars, take a trip to the Capulin Volcano National Monument, and go to the Colfax Tavern at Cold Beer, NM.

I spotted this guy as we were leaving the campsite.

The Capulin Volcano is about twenty miles east of Raton and was it cool!  We took the mile-long drive to the summit of the volcano, then hiked around the rim.  The views from up there were incredible!  

The Capulin Volcano began well over a million years ago, but its human history has been much more recent. Capulin has traditionally been a crossroads of human activity as diverse people and cultures traversed to and from the Great Plains. There is archaeological evidence that Paleoindians roamed this area in search of Pleistocene Bison as early as ten thousand years ago. Also, groups of Native Americans, such as the Jicarilla Apache and the Ute, used this region as hunting grounds until the arrival of the Spanish in 1541. Early explorers, in search of riches and regions to conquer paved the way for a greater influx of Europeans over the next 350 years.  In September 1821, William Becknell of Missouri blazed the Santa Fe Trail which was followed by countless others in search of profit.

The base of the volcano.

When we checked into the campground, the Colfax Tavern was highly recommended, so we headed there after touring the volcano, it is out in the middle of nowhere between Raton and Cimarron.  The sign on the back of the bar said, "not much happens here, but when it does, you wanna be here".  We talked with a friendly couple, had a beer and a good burger before heading back to our campsites - a few deer freaked me out along the edge of the road on the way back.

This place is so nice that we decided to add another day - to hang out and see more of the area.  So, on Tuesday, we stopped at a statue commemorating Charlton Heston (the head of the NRA for many years) and marking the place where the Santa Fe 

Trail crosses through the property.  As we were there, a friendly gentleman in a pickup truck stopped by and offered to take a photo of us and told us a bit of the history of the area.

The museum had a very nice collection of guns throughout our history.  I was fascinated by the story and exhibit of Ben Lilly, the last mountain man in the southwest.  He was known to fight off bear and cougar with a knife (the Lilly knife, made by himself).  While we were there, Tom bought some ammo and targets, and after seeing the museum, we headed out to the range and shot a few rounds, something I have not done for many, many years.  One of us got a bullseye but we didn't check in between shots - I like to think it was me, although I only got one other hit on the target.

Today, we headed out for a very scenic drive to Albuquerque, through the Cimmaron Canyon to Taos, then along the Rio Grande River toward Santa Fe and then got settled for the next two nights at one of my member parks, Hidden Valley Resort, east of Albuquerque.

Thursday, October 19.  Today was the day to visit the Georgia O'Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, an item that has been on my bucket list for a long time.  It seems that every time I go through here, I am heading to somewhere and don't ever stop. I'm happy that Tom was interested in seeing it and that we had the time to go there.  Originally, the plan was to stay closer to Santa Fe, but the prices were high and availability near there was low.

The museum exhibits were a chronological history of her life and career as an artist.  My takeaway was that she was a strong, independent, and talented woman and that art was part of her life from back in her youth.  In many periods of her life, she painted the same object at different times and under different lighting conditions, they all looked different.

After seeing the museum, we both decided we want to go visit Ghost Ranch some day, it's another hour to the north and would be a bit much for this trip.

We walked to the Plaza and looked at all of the Native American jewelry and trinkets.  I was hoping to see the woman, Rose, whom I purchased a pair of earrings from back in about 1995.  At one time, several years after that, I lost one of those earrings.  I still had her business card, so I wrote and sent the remaining earring back to her, asking if she could make a replacement.  A couple of months later, I received a tp roll in the mail, complete with 2 earrings and a note - thanking me for my business and no charge.  Unfortunately, I didn't see her there, after all, that was close to 30 years ago - time flies!

The route back to Hidden Valley RV was along the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway, a 50-mile route through the Sandia Mountains and the small towns of Cerrillos and Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid).  We stopped at the Mine Shaft Tavern for a beer and a bite to eat. I had a salad with roasted red peppers and onions, green chiles, feta cheese, and topped with the local version of Kobe Beef - it was Delicious!

Friday, October 20.  Hookup and move on day, with a destination of the USA RV Park in 

Gallup, NM - a very clean and neat park where we will stay and explore for the next couple of days.  After doing some laundry, we went to the office where they were selling pulled pork sandwiches and a bag of chips for $5.00 - they turned out to be very generous portions and quite tasty too.

Sunday, October 22.  Yesterday, we went for a drive on Historic Route 66 toward Grants and checked out Red Rock Park and Campground that was right in town near the convention center, about 4.5 miles east of Gallup.  It was a nice park, kind of dusty, with several RV sites and facilities.

We had considered a stop at Blue Water Lake State Park but at the last minute decided not to chance it because sites were available on a walk-in basis only, and there were only 2 full hookup sites and 8 water/electric sites.  Also, when Tom called yesterday, he was told that the dump station may not be available as they were having some water issues.  Still, we wanted to see what it was like and it is very pretty.  It was quite remote - 6 miles if you took the east entrance and 12 miles from the west entrance.  On the west side of the lake, there were rutted dirt roads and very primitive campsites.  The boat landing hasn't been used in years because the water was so low -he shore was probably 50 yards from where it should have been.

Back at our campsites, we sat at the picnic table and had a beer, then made chili cheese dogs for dinner.  It was predicted to go down to 21 degrees overnight, so we disconnected our water hoses, but then it only got down to 29 degrees.

Today was the day to clean, empty tanks, and organize to get ready for putting the trailers in storage.  It was a beautiful day for it.  Tom wanted to go into town to fill his truck up with gas, so I rode along and we stopped for a piece of apple pie at Cracker Barrel. It was tasty, but a bit under baked.

Another change in plans, we will only go as far as Overgaard tomorrow rather than drive the entire way back to Mesa - probably a 6-7 hour trek.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October 9 - 15, 2017, NE, KS, CO, NM

Tuesday, October 10.  I got ready for the day and hit the road with a destination of Grand Island, NE and the local KOA.  Before I got to the KOA, I did a search for hair salons, read a few reviews and walked into Linda's Salon.  I was so desperate for a haircut, I just couldn't wait any longer.  Jill had planned to give me a cut before I left their house, but kid stuff and work stuff just kept getting in the way.  So Kim gave me a decent haircut and I left there feeling much better.

I checked into the KOA and they put me in a tiny little site with a beautiful tree at the end of a road, right next to a corn field, all by myself.  It wasn't total seclusion because there were other RVs coming in through the day that were not far away.  The bath house was new and sparkling clean and the hot shower felt really good.  I had some dinner, walked Frisco and got ready for bed, then watched an episode of The Ranch before turning in.  The temps were supposed to drop to the mid thirties overnight but my little heater kept me toasty warm all night long.  It was 38 degrees when I woke up.  Brrrrr!

It was a slow start to the day and it was after 10:00 before I was on the road, but I had only 200 miles to get to Goodland, KS.  I'm glad that I didn't make a reservation because I got to thinking that my final destination (to meet up with Tom at his sister's house in Peyton, CO) was only another 150 miles from there.  Maybe I should just push on.  The deciding factor was arriving at Goodland before 1:30 in the afternoon and I was only looking at another 3 hours.  I texted Tom and he said I would be great if I arrived early and that there would be a parade waiting for me.  Whaaaat? And there he was, as I turned the corner, broomstick in hand, marching as if he was a baton twirler leading a parade.  I could do nothing but pull over, clap my hands and laugh, and offer him a ride.  What a goofball!

So here I am, parked and hooked up at Joyce and Burrall's Shady Acres, next to Tom's RV for the next few days.  We have full hookups and a view of the airport hangers and a sky full of planes taking off and flying over throughout the day.  We went to Colorado Springs to Rock Bottom Restaurant for dinner and I had a delicious burger and fries.

That's Lily in the photo, Frisco's new best friend.

Saturday, October 14. It was nice to wake up on Wednesday morning and not have to drive on again.  We didn't have much planned for the day, so took a couple of nice walks, hung out with Joyce, took a nap, and had a nice relaxing day.

Thursday was different.  We were headed for the Pike's Peak Cog Railway station in Manitou Springs by 10:00 so we could catch the noon train.  Got there a little early so we had some time to walk and window shop the main drag - it's a quaint little old downtown with several mineral spring fountains scattered along the main drag.

The train ride was very pleasant, it was a beautiful day and warm when we started out at the station at an elevation of about 6,000 feet but it got colder and colder as we went up the mountain to the summit at 14,100 feet.  There, it was 30 degrees with a chill factor of 15.  Needless to say, we didn't spend much time checking out the views, instead going indoors to shop and have a hot cup of coffee and a donut.  When we got back to Manitou Springs, we found a place to park and headed out for a bite to eat before going back to Joyce's.

Friday was spent just hanging around, going for walks, doing some car and camper cleanup, and making some plans for the next few days.

Today was grocery shopping day, as we needed supplies to make dinner for Joyce and Burrell tonight and to stock up on a few things that we might need for the next few days of travel before getting back to Mesa.  I decided to make Ben and Jill's pasta, Italian sausage, bread and wine.  Dinner was fun - we sat and talked the whole night, had lots of laughs, then went for a nice, long walk.

Sunday, October 15.  Its hookup and departure day but it was after 11:00 before we pulled out. We both wanted to flush out our tanks good and clean up before pulling out. We said our goodbyes and headed south on I-25 to the NRA Whittington Center just south of Raton, NM.

What a beautiful place this is - 33,000 acres, covers 52 square miles with elevations 6,300 - 8,400 feet.  The road to the campground passes several different shooting ranges (skeet, several types of rifle, high power, black powder, and several others) - all face a northern exposure so shooters never have the sun in their eyes.  The campgrounds and cabins are on the opposite side of the road.  The campsites are all full hookup pull-through sites with at least one Piñon Pine tree on it.  Us and a few other RVs are the only ones here.