Tuesday, May 22, 2018

May 21 - 27, 2018, MO, IA, MN

Monday, May 21.  I worked my way to the KOA in El Reno, OK and spent the night in one of their cabins at a cost of $45 - very nice accommodation, sitting on the edge of a hill overlooking the Canadian River. It had fast flowing water! I would definitely do this again - a much nicer environment than a motel room.

I made it to Randy's house on Saturday afternoon and spent 2 nights there. I was able see all 3 of his kids, as they all took time out of their busy schedules and stopped by for a visit and it felt good to be with family again.

Today, Randy and I headed north to Sunrise Beach to hang out with Rita and Denny and Bob for a couple of days at Rita's lake house.  I had hoped to stop by to visit Rene on the way there, but she came down with a case of shingles last week and wasn't feeling up to company.  She may still be contagious, so the rest of us were uncomfortable with her even coming to the lake house for a short visit.

I had a good, long talk with Tom this morning and I felt much better after that, although still very emotional about it all.  I'm hoping that we can work through our issues and maybe even connect again later this summer.  

It felt good to be with four my siblings again and we had a nice boat ride, quite quiet around here with few boats out and many of the homes haven't even been opened up for the season. That will probably change this week, as Memorial Day is coming up soon.  Bob and Randy stained the catwalk when we got back from our ride and Rita, Denny, and I got dinner together.  Naturally, we partied on the deck after dinner, listening to music, a dance or two, and having lots of laughter and conversation.  I was the first to retire - no, Frisco was the first to retire - he started bugging me, so I took him out for a short walk and he headed right to his bed in the room we are sharing.


Monday, May 14, 2018

May 14 - 20, 2018, NM, TX, OK, MO

Monday, May 14. Our only activity planned for the day was to visit Artesia, a community about 12 miles to the north.  Folks told us to check out the Main Street where there are several giant bronze statues, so that is what we did, starting with breakfast at the Chaos Cafe.  The coffee was a bit weak and my pancakes were served under-cooked - the first fork full was still batter and I had them sent back and Tom was almost done with his breakfast before I even started on mine.  They were pretty good though, full of yummy blueberries.

    This sign was on the door in the Ladies room at Chaos Cafe

We strolled about 4 blocks of Main Street and read about the various statues depicting early settlers, the cattle drives, railroads, the artesian springs (ruined by the oil industry), and the oil industry.  There was also a nice little courtyard built in the space where a building that burned to the ground once stood, complete with shade trees, murals, water fountains and pools - all constructed from nice, colorful tiles.

We had planned to go to Carlsbad Caverns at sunset to see the bats leave the caverns but nixed that idea because we didn't feel like driving the fifty miles there and back again. Neither of us were that interested in seeing the caves.

Tuesday, May 15. Travel day. I was up early to allow enough time to take care of getting the inside of the trailer ready for travel, walking Frisco, having enough down time with coffee, and being ready to roll by 10:00.  Tom takes care of all of the outside chores.  We were chatting with some folks who stopped by last night, about our destination, and they strongly suggested we take an alternate route, other than US 285 road south to Pecos.  They said the road is very heavily traveled by huge tanker trucks hauling fuel and it was pitted and rough. Many accidents have happened along the stretch and they highly recommended we alter our plans.  We were thankful for the advise and took it serious, going out of our way by 30-40 miles.  The total drive was 330 miles, a bit much for our likes and we pulled into the rather dumpy Study Butte RV Park at about 6:30 (Central Time Zone) for the next few days.  It is the closest RV Park to Big Bend National Park and it doesn't look much different from the others we have seen - and there also are few options.

The roads that we traveled were nice, very lightly traveled, and the scenery was very easy on the eyes.

Wednesday, May 15. Today, we toured Big Bend National Park.  It was a hot one, peaking out at about 106 degrees but we did do a short hike and a large auto tour.  We started out by driving the 26 miles to The Panther Junction Visitor's Center where we checked out the small museum and talked with a friendly guy from Houston - he was definitely in the mood for giving his advice, making suggestions, and talking up Texas.

We headed out to the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive that heads to the southeast to the Santa Elena Canyon Overlook, where the canyon walls separate and the Rio Grande River flows between the United States and Mexico.  We stopped at several places along the way to enjoy the viewpoints.  

From my perspective, my first visit here back in 2009 had me thinking that the area was spectacular, after all, it was the first time that I had seen anything quite like it and it was hard to even imagine a place like this - a midwestern girl that knew green for as far as the eye could see.  A mountain was Timm's Hill in Wisconsin, about 1200 feet.  Today, after living in Arizona and traveling through New Mexico, it was more desert and more incredible rock formations, but I didn't really feel the excitement that I did the first time.

One stop resulted in about a half-mile hike into the Burro Mesa Pourout. We were glad that we hiked it because the views there were spectacular.  The trail led to an area of cliff walls that were formed from water pouring down them. Way at the top, maybe 100 feet straight up, you could visualize the water pouring over the cliff, dropping down to a small pool and dumping from there down a smooth volcanic rock wall. I sat at the base and tried to get a photo and it was difficult to get down low enough to see the sky above it. These photos don't do it justice.

The Santa Elena Canyon could be seen from far away, we both thought it looked like a bite was taken out of the top of the Mesa.  As we got closer, the bite appeared bigger, and we ended up at the canyon where the water flowed through.  We took a path that led to the river and were a bit disappointed that the water was so low, so we followed another and walked the dry bed so we could get our feet or hands wet in the Rio Grande.  It was insignificant and we imagined how it must have been a MIGHTY river in its early days

The drive back to the main highway was along the Old Maverick Trail, an unimproved of road that was pretty rough but we traveled along slowly and saw some different sights along the way.  Luna's Jacal was the homestead of Gilberto Luna, where he raised his large family was raised in a very low-roofed, stone shelter and his crops were grown and watered from the nearby Terlingua Creek.

Saturday, May 19.  After a rather minor disagreement Wednesday night, I spent the night tossing and turning and during that time, I decided to pack up my car in the morning and head north on my own.  Since then, wondering if it was the right thing to do and if I will forever regret it.  My struggle is personal - being single for the last 5 years, I am finding the stress involved in making the relationship work is more than I can handle right now.  My heart is feeling heavy now and I have a lot of decisions to make.

I made a stop in Midland, TX and paid $198 for a room at the La Quinta (price gouging at its worst, for the many oil workers in the area), then west of Oklahoma City at a KOA cabin for $45 (much more to my liking) and then on to Springfield, MO to my brother, Randy's home.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

May 7 - 13, 2018, AZ, NM

Monday, May.  The alarm went off at 7:00 this morning and we got busy with the final preparation for our travels. The air bed that we slept on last night, a couple of lamps, and some last minute items had to go to the storage unit, so Tom did that while I did the final loading of the trailer and walked Frisco.  Arlene came over to say goodbye and she said the nicest thing to me, "you girl, are one of the best things to ever come into my life".  I told her that the feeling was mutual, that I truly do value the friendship that we have developed over the years, and, of course, I cried, and she was pretty close to it.  She also offered for us to stay at her house if we ever got tired of being in the trailer, or just want to come for a visit.

We were on the road by 10:30 (the goal was 10:00) and we traveled US 60 east through Miami and Globe, then headed southeast on US 70 through Safford, until we came to I-10 at Lordsburg, then went east to the LoW-Hi RV Park in Deming, NM, our destination for the next few days. The drive was about 190 miles and took us 6 1/2 hours with 3 stops along the way.

   My little traveler. He still has the very first toy we bought him and looks for it every time he gets in the car.

Day 1 of our summer adventure went well, it was a cloudy day but good for driving and the scenery was nice, with desert views and a backdrop of mountains in most directions.  The only wildlife I saw was a Roadrunner scooting across the road in front of me and a few vultures perched on top of a Yucca plant.  The stretch of US 70 between Safford and I-10 was a great two-way highway and we never had another vehicle behind us until we approached Lordsburg, about a 65 mile stretch.  I led the way since Tom can't see me behind his trailer and we were able to maintain a comfortable distance between us.  It was not ideal, having 2 vehicles but I feel we are going to need the option later in the season.

There was a problem with the water hookup when we got settled into our site.  The pressure at the post was good, but there was no pressure coming into the trailer, the kitchen sink, that is.  Tom checked all of the options he could think of and then found the culprit when he took the screen filter off of the faucet and found a big chunk of black plastic blocking the flow.  Sitting outside and having a beer felt good after a long day on the road.

Tuesday, May 8. After Jerry checked us in last nite that, he invited us to join a few people from the park on a trip to Mexico this morning. Even though it would probably have been a nice time, After considering it, we decided to sleep in this morning and take it easy today, after being so busy the last few days and the long day yesterday. It is a place that we plan to visit one day while we are here.

After a couple of people recommended that we see Adobe Deli, we went there for lunch.  The building was an old school house and is said to have several ghosts; the bottles on the bar jiggle, a girl in the corner crying, a cowboy in the hallway, and a past teacher.  The place is covered with hats, license plates, taxidermy animals, historic signs, a cigar bar, and a wine bar in an old San Francisco street car.  We ordered French dip sandwich to share and were glad that we did - it was huge, and very tasty.

    Dangerous Curves, Soft Shoulders, Old signs in the Ladies Room

We also explore the Luna Mimbres Museum in downtown Deming that touched on just about every phase of history and had very nice collections on display.

Thursday, May 10.  We spent some time exploring Las Cruces yesterday, starting with a late breakfast/lunch at Los Mariachi's Restaurant, recommended by Tom's friend Ron. The waitress was very friendly and the food was delicious. I had to try the Green Chili omelet and was glad that I did - it was a delicious cheesy, peppery, yummy concoction.

We then drove around in search of some of the murals that the town is noted for, saw a few here and there, but not many as we headed to the Visitor Center.  I wrote down 2 addresses as it was real confusing on their website.  The first address was in a part of town that was under construction, there was little parking nearby, and the building was brand new with no signs indicating that it was the visitor center.  The second address was not too far away and the sign on the door said that they had relocation to the first address that we went to, so back we went. It was open, but they didn't have a lot of information and the guy recommended that we visit the plaza at Old Mesilla, so that is where we headed.

The streets of that old part of town were really narrow, many one-way, but we managed to find it and parked right on the square. We walked around, checked out a few shops, took a few photos and headed back 'home'. 

Today was the day to go to Palomas, Mexico, about 30 miles south of here.  It is a very nice little border town, not crowded like Algodones or Nogales and the shops carried much nicer merchandise.  Jerry, the guy that checked us in at Low-Hi RV suggested a stop at the Pink Store for lunch, and it was quite good and enjoyable. A couple of hours there was enough.

A stop at Pancho Villa State Park in the town of Columbus was a learning experience.  Steve, the man attending the museum was quite knowledgeable and knew a lot about the history of the area.  The story goes, as taken from the website:  

"On March 9, 1916, the soldiers of General Francisco "Pancho" Villa attacked the small border town and military camp at Columbus, New Mexico. Pancho Villa State Park contains extensive historical exhibits which depict this raid, the first armed invasion of the continental United States since the War of 1812, and also the last one.  From Camp Furlong, General "Black Jack" Pershing, who would later command the Allied forces of World War I, pursued Pancho Villa into Mexico. This 11 month pursuit led 10,000 American soldiers 400 miles into Mexico, but ended without the capture of Pancho Villa. Several buildings dating from the time of Villa's raid still stand in Columbus, and the U.S. Customs House, built in 1902, serves as the visitor center."

Friday, April 11.  Travel day 2, from Deming to Lakewood, north of Carlsbad, NM.  The route we took was US70/I-10 to Alamogordo, the US 82 east to US 285 south to our destination, the SKP Ranch where we got the first guest visit discount of $50 for a week - not sure if we will stay the entire week, but the price is right.  Our site is very nice and the facility is well maintained with nice roads and gardens here and there. We got settled in, had some dinner, and took a walk around to get the feel of the place. This is one of the Escapee Co-Op parks where folks purchase a long-term leased lot for their RV (long waiting lists), they may or may not add a shed and other improvements, and can come and go as they please.  Some choose to rent out their lot and that is what we are on - they do not have a RV park.  There are plenty of activities and we plan to join them for Happy Hour tomorrow afternoon and will also do some laundry.

The drive was beautiful, through the Lincoln National Forest, up to almost 8,000 feet in elevation near Cloudcroft, a popular ski area.  The hardwood forest was pretty and the temps were down in the low 70's.  We then leveled off and we're back in the Chihuahuan desert.

Sunday, May 13.  Happy Mother's Day to all of my MOM friends out there. I got to see Ben and the family briefly this morning, as they prepared for their first bike ride around Lake Harriet with everyone he pedaling their own bikes and nobody needing training wheels.  The kids were excited!

 I then realized that I had missed a call from Pat while Tom and I were getting ready for the days excursion to Sitting Bull Falls. The falls are located about 42 miles southwest of here, but we missed the road we had intended to take and ended up on Hidalgo Road and Dark Canyon roads, nice, scenic county roads that were lightly traveled. We missed the road completely because I was looking for the road to Brantley Lake State Park and completely missed the sign for the road that went straight out from the park exit.  Oh well, it all worked out just fine,

The drive through the canyon was beautiful! Not another soul on the road, so we were surprised that we got the very last parking spot available.  We talked with a friendly park volunteer and learned that there actually was a waterfall, that 'they turned the water on this morning', he was joking, of course.

We walked to the viewing point and I actually got my feet wet when I slid on a rock into a small water pool.  Frisco enjoyed getting up to his belly in the water and drinking the cool stuff.  It was 10 degrees cooler there in the canyon and the scenery was a feast for the eyes.

    My Guy.

   Incredible erosion in the small cave.

Back home, I had a conversation with Pat and that made my Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

May 1 - 6, 2018, AZ

Thursday, May 3.  Other than my last home use-cleaning job for Karen this week, we have been busy getting things ready for moving out of Tom's house and into the trailer - the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.  There are many 'undecideds' in our future right now and we're hoping that our summer travels helps us to make some decisions.

We met up with Chris and Norm and Gerry and Jeanie for taco Tuesday at Sharkey's. I hadn't seen Gerry and Jeannie for at least a year and for Tom, it has been 4 years (he didn't remember them from a camping trip to Usery Park).  We had a nice visit and talked about how busy we all are during the winter that we don't manage to get together more than just after we get here in the fall and again, just before we leave.

    I pruned Connie's Bougainville for her.

    A pretty surprise on one of our walks.

    The Saguaro are full of blooms this year.

Saturday, May 5. The days have been full. Tom signed the papers and turned over the titles for the mobile on Friday morning.  Yeah, the buyer showed up at our door at 8:45 when he was supposed to be meeting Tom at the office at 9:30. We had just gotten up and we're getting ready for the day when he showed up. Tom wasn't too happy about it but politely told him that he would see him at the office at 9:30 and we went on with our morning routine.  

When that was all done, he headed over to the RV lot and hooked up the trailer and we spent the afternoon organizing, loading, and sanitizing the water tanks.

We joined our friends from Highlands at the clubhouse for TGIF happy hour and a tasty roast beef dinner.  Fred and Mary did a great job and the side dishes were yummy, as usual.  Arlene had us over for cake after dinner and Sharla, Tom, and Jolee joined us.  She has told us several times that we just can't go and tonight she threatened to slash our tires so we couldn't leave.  She is so sweet, I know that we will be missed and I sure will be missing her too.  Many times I have said that I wish I would have known her in her younger days, as she just had to be a lot of fun to be around - at 86 years old, she is still a spitfire.

The Desert Thrift Shop truck was scheduled to pick up the last of the furniture and miscellaneous items this afternoon, but as I was heading out to walk Frisco this morning, the truck was heading to our house.  What is it with people these days - they just show up and expect you to jump?  Tom sent them off because we weren't ready for them - we still had things to dismantle and get out to the patio. Unbelievable.

So we spent the day loading the trailer, hauling stuff to the recycle bins, and getting donation items loaded onto the patio for pickup (they never did show up, so it will be sitting there until they do).  

This afternoon, we took a few things to Chaney's house and then went to CK's Grill for a bite to eat and for a last visit with him. Melissa and Lakin had other things going on, so we're unable to join us.  We had a nice chat, a good dinner, and then said farewell until we meet up again in the fall.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

April 23 - 29, 2018, AZ

Wednesday, April 25.  We took a circle drive today to Camp Verde and then to Payson and back home. We were both admiring the scenery, from the desert areas of the Tonto National Forest to the beauty of the Verde Valley and then to the piney woods of the Rim Country. It felt good to get away for the day and we wanted to check out the Verde River RV resort in Camp Verde before we left. Unfortunately, it is not yet finished being completely revamped, so we were unable to see it. Originally, it was to open in February but the opening has been moved back until late May.  We were unable to even drive through the place, as it is still a major construction zone.

We continue to prepare for the big move out and departure date for our summer travels.  The house is nearly empty, the cupboards hold only what we will take with us in the trailer, and we have been cleaning as we go.

   I started this Prickly Pear with 2 paddles, about 6 years ago. Amazing!

   The Saguaro is in bloom!

Sunday, April 29.  My 70th birthday, on Friday, was a wonderful day, starting with a video of my girls sing happy birthday to me. Tom couldn't wait, so he gave me my birthday gift a week early, a nice pair of silver and pearl dangly earrings - I love them. And this morning, there were cards from him and from friends, put on the clip on the home use, lots of texts, phone calls, a flower delivery from Ben and his family, and Facebook messages throughout the day. I had a FaceTime conversation with Ben and the kids and learned that Norah and Camille can both ride bikes without training wheels now.  

To top off the day, we went to Black Angus for a yummy steak dinner and birthday dessert.  It was a wonderful day and I told Tom as we were settling in for the night that I was feeling loved by many - a very good feeling, for sure!

Yesterday was busy, starting with a burrito breakfast in the clubhouse, hosted by our HCC president, Dave and his wife Debby. The were made to order and turned out delicious, complimented with fried potatoes and coffee.

Kathy hosted a pool party in the evening attended by many of my close friends and her sons, Joey who was visiting from Alaska and Dustin. They smoked a prime rib roast, pork roast, sausages and ribs and everyone else brought sides and snacks. It was a lot of fun and the hot day was perfect for it.

Today has been pretty low key, catching up on phone calls and sorting and cleaning in preparation of our big 'move out and move on' in 8 days.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

April 16 - 22, 2018, AZ

Thursday, April 19.  We drove to Casa Grande today to meet up with a dear friend and classmate of Mike's, Jim and his brother-in-law, Pete.  It's been about 3 years since I have seen either of them and Tom got to meet some more friends of mine.  We met at the Olive Garden and had some great conversation and a good lunch.

While we were in the restaurant, the wind picked up speed and it made for a dusty drive back to Mesa.  My sinuses have been feeling the effects of the high winds and blowing dust a lot lately. I've been feeling very tired and having some respiratory problems.

Tom volunteered to be the designated driver for Connie, Kathy, and I onTuesday night when we went to the annual show featuring Dale Watson and Miss Celine Lee at the Rhythm Room.  The show was excellent, although Dale did get on a rant about a nightmare that he had about his crooked pompadour, and a few people were shouting for him to play music instead of talk.  He played a good variety and a couple of duets with Celine.

Connie gave me a few photos that she took back in 2014 when we went in a road trip from San Francisco to Minneapolis, so I put them in this collage.

Sunday, April 22.  Tom surprised me with an early birthday gift - he couldn't wait for another week.  It is a cute pair of silver and abalone earrings and I was able to wear them when we went on to a birthday party for Veronica, a friend and former co-worker of Tom's.  I didn't know anyone but had a nice conversation with a young couple, met Ron and Mary, and the only other folks that I knew were Manuel and Linda, so we hung out together for a while.  The food was yummy - smoked pork, beans, potato salad, Apple sliced dipped in a cream cheese, nutty spread, and cheesecake with blueberries.  Mmmmmm good!  A piƱata that looked like a space ship hung from a tree in the back yard and provided lots of good laughs when folks took turns whacking it to get it to break. It was filled with goodies including candies, maracas, and little booze bottles.

This morning, we met up with Ron, Manuel, and Linda for breakfast at TC Eggington's and the breakfast was yummy. It's the last time we will see these folks until we get back here in the fall.

We strolled to the pool this afternoon and hung up with Kathy and Jeanne for a while.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

April 9 - 15, 2018, CA, AZ

Wednesday, April 11.  Gypsy is sold.  Sandra, from Yuma called last Friday when we were on our way to Blythe, then we spoke again on Monday and she told me that she definitely wanted it.  She would send me a bank check with a $1,000 deposit and I agreed to hold it for her. Then she called on Tuesday and said that she would like to bring a cashier's check for the entire amount and purchase it on Thursday, unseen.  Thinking back to a few years ago, that is exactly what I did when I bought it. She had a few additional questions and will be coming tomorrow to get it.  I am feeling a bit sad, but then I had my mind made up and I am ready for the next adventure.

We have been busy getting things ready for a garage sale on Saturday and made great progress yesterday. The back bedroom is filling up with stuff that will be taken to the patio and large items are all going in the living room.  It seems like I just went through this - that's because I did - just last spring.

Whenever we are out hiking, or even walking, Tom is always kicking stones and rocks off the path, calling this activity 'trail maintenance.  On one of our last hikes, we were joking around and named him the Official Trail Maintenance Crew.  So, last week I designed a t-shirt for him and had it printed. It arrived in the mail today and he really liked it.


Sunday, April 15.  Sandra came by to get Gypsy on Thursday evening with a handful of cash and it was bittersweet seeing her go down the road behind someone else's truck.  Her plan is to take it to Colorado for the summer and ditch the heat of the valley.  She bought it sight unseen and had no doubts once she saw it.

We prepared for a garage sale and got up early Saturday morning to haul things outdoors.  We had lots of people coming by and sold about $320 worth by noon, then decided to close up. Tom returned the tables to the clubhouse and I delivered miscellaneous leftovers to the thrift store.

It was nap time.  We had to rest up to get ready for the Mexican Fiesta at the clubhouse.

The food, music, dancing, friendly conversation and laughter we just what one would expect from this place.  The band, "Guilty Pleasures" is a husband and wife team that really do a fun variety of tunes and they had the dance floor full most of the night.  I'm going to miss this place.

Today was pretty low key.