Sunday, May 29, 2016

May 29 - 31, 2016, AZ, NM

Sunday, May 29.  Summer Roadtrip, Day 1, Mesa to Albuquerque, NM.  An easy drive but a little longer than what I usually do in a day, this was exactly 8 hours.  Traffic wasn't bad, considering it is Memorial Day weekend and there were no glitches until I got 2 exits before where I was to get off and they had all lanes of the freeway closed and I had to find an alternate route.  I guess I made good judgement because the route I took got me to the road I was to exit, only a little farther to the north.

Shirley and Clayton, friends who moved here from Brentwood a couple of years ago, can be by for a chat, then took me to the Owl Cafe for dinner, a historic diner on old Route 66.  I had a great burger and some of the best fries I've had in ages - a cool little place.  We had a great visit, then sat at my site and chatted for a while longer.

It's 8:45 and I'm going to turn in - hoping for an early start in the morning.

Tuesday, May 31.  The last 2 days were spent on the road and last night at the KOA in Foss, Oklahoma, about 80 miles west of Oklahoma City.  I had a feeling of DejaVu when I arrived - although I'm not sure when it was - I'll have to go through my journal to spark my memory (it was on my return trip in 2014).  Travels are going well, although long days if 8 hours on the road.  

I arrived at Randy's house about 3:30 after another uneventful day.  I was a little worried about weather today as the news said some activity might be severe but the apps that I use only showed possible rain activity.  It all tracked to the north of me and I didn't get any of it.  It wasn't long after I got here that I decided to kennel Frisco for the next 2 nights.  Randy and Julie have a dog that doesn't tolerate outsiders and they have have 2 cats that Frisco likes to chase and bark at, and there are several frail cats that live nearby.  I would have to keep him in the trailer or tied outside all of the time, and listen to his barking at critters, so he is settled in at the nearby PetSmart Hotel.

I got to meet my niece, Ali's little guy, Jax, who is 7 months old - what a good natured little cutie he is.  He will be spending the day with us again tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May 23 - 29, AZ

Monday, May 23.  The priority today was to get those tires checked, so after my walk and a bike ride, I headed to Costco.  They were quite nice about it, although the 2 guys that I talked to shook their heads in wonder, but they suggested that they balance them first to see how it goes.  They said I bought good tires and that shouldn't be the case.  So they rebalanced the tires and that did the trick.  I drove the freeway, a known rough section near my house, back to the freeway and back home and they are fine. Lesson learned, make sure your tires are balanced properly.

I tucked away a few more things from the yard and got the swing all cleaned up and moved to the patio.  The birds sure love to drop stuff from the sky.  They will miss me, as I give them fresh water in the birdbath every day and they way they all sing and chatter, I swear they are telling me how happy they are - and I love to have them around.

As of today, I am no longer the owner of this house, as I received the signed agreement from the buyers and I signed and had the titles notarized and put them in the mail.  Now, to start to come up with a plan for moving to Minneapolis.

I just had to take this photo from Tom's bush.

Desert Bird of Paradise.

Tuesday, May 24.  I had an appointment for a blood test to check my thyroid levels, only to learn once I was sitting in the doctor's office, that it wasn't necessary.  What a waste of my time and the copay that I had to give them.

From there, I went on a 4-hour shopping spree and came home with nothing once again.  Another waste of my time.

Connie invited me and Loretta for dinner tonight and we had a really nice time together - not a waste of my time.

Saturday, May 28.  After my haircut appointment on Thursday, I hooked up the trailer and got the exterior cleaned, the water heater drained, and the fresh water tank sanitized.  The next morning, I drained it and filled it up to rinse it out.  I forgot to add some fresh water, so had to get the hoses out again this morning and do that.  Little by little I'm getting things loaded up and as I empty cabinets, I'm getting them cleaned too.  So far, everything is fitting that needs to go in there.

I stopped to say goodby to a few friends today; Kathy, Gwenn, and Connie (no answer at her house) and I had lunch with Nan and Dale.  When I got back home, I learned that I missed Connie's hug - she is off to the rim with her niece who is visiting.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

May 16 - 22, 2016, AZ

Tuesday, May 17.  Last Sunday, I was talking to Tom and he invited me to join him on a road trip up to the Mogollon Rim to check out some National Forest campsites northwest of Payson.  There was also one of my membership parks north of Payson that I have been wanting to see and he was willing to go off in that direction too.  We each packed a lunch, put Frisco in the back seat and left here around 8:30 yesterday morning.  First stop was my membership park at Clint's Well.  The directions in my guide were incorrect and we ended up going 5 miles farther, to a residential area but no RV resort in sight, and not finding the place.  Heading back in the direction we had come, there it was, right across the road from a forest service campground, so we could check them both off the list.  I stopped at the office and the staff sure wasn't very friendly, even when I told them I was an affiliate member - they quickly told me they were full for the summer and I wasn't even allowed to drive down the road in either direction to check out their sites.  Apparently, they had some recent break-ins and tightened up the rules.  I asked if I could use the restroom facility and they reluctantly said, yes, so I walked Frisco on the leash and tied him up to a post before going inside and as I walked back to the car, the 2 women were chatting and told me that dogs were not allowed in any of the buildings, assuming that I had taken him inside.  I told them that I knew that was a rule in every campground I've been in and that I had tied him outside.  "OK", was all they said. I really didn't get a good feeling for that being a friendly place that I might consider staying at, certainly not for a leisurely week or so, but maybe as a base camp for exploring the area.

We headed back toward Payson, stopped at a nice city park and had some lunch, gave Frisco a chance to walk and stretch out, and enjoyed watching a kindergarten class from a nearby school playing on the playground.  After lunch, we drove west out of Payson to Young Road and when we found the forest road that led to the campgrounds that Tom was looking for, it was closed for tree removal work.  Darn!  So maybe a stop at the ranger station would give an answer as to when it would open up again, but that was closed too.  I did learn that there were designated campgrounds in the forest where you could camp for $20/night (half price with the senior pass) and those campgrounds probably have a camp host and a bathroom facility, fresh water but no electric or dump station.  You also have the option to pull off in the woods, at least 300 feet from the roadside, and dry camp for free - no services available.  It might just be fun to try that some time - it would be roughing it smoothly, not something I would ever do all by myself.  I'm not sure how long my propane tank and batteries would last, but I'm thinking at least a few days.

We got back home around 5:30, just in time to feed Frisco and get out evening walk in. It was a nice day and good preparation for my upcoming trip and long days in the car.

There was a purchase agreement for my house in my inbox when I got home.  After reading through it, there were a few clarifications that I needed and I sent it off to Denny (my brother-in-law) to read.  I also went to the office to talk with the manager to get a few questions answered.  Things are moving right along.  We have to wait for the buyers to be approved as residents, finalize the agreement, sign over the titles, and then I will get half of the purchase price.  Very doable.

Thursday, May 19.  I got word today from the office that the buyer's application was approved and I also received the amended contract from their lawyer.  I'm ready to sign, we just need to decide on a closing date and give notice to terminate my lease.  We're moving right along.  

I went through my clothes this morning, trying to determine what to take and what to leave behind and what to get ride of, and I recycled of a lot of things that I haven't worn in a while.  I was trying to decide on an outfit for my class reunion.  I think I've got it without having to buy anything new, although I seem to always be on the lookout for something different.  In fact, shopping is what I did after finishing that project and I came home empty handed.

Last night, I finished the jigsaw puzzle that I have been working on for 2 months, one of the toughest ones that I have ever done - Vincent Van Gogh's "Lilies".  On completion, I was missing 4 pieces - how could that happen with a brand new puzzle?  I was ticked off, but after thinking on it for a little while, I went to the closet and looked in the box top where I had been keeping and sorting some of the pieces and, sure enough, tucked under some flaps were all of the missing pieces.  Yay!

Friday, May 20.  Things are moving right along with the house.  I learned that the buyers have been accepted, I signed and sent the purchase agreement to their lawyer, I gave the office a notice to terminate my lease and learned that we can sign over the titles and their lease can be signed as soon as they have homeowners insurance.  I can then change my homeowners to a contents only policy.  Getting close now.

Arlene invited me to join her family, Betty and Jamie at Rustler's Roost for dinner tonight.  We had a nice view of the valley from our booth and dinners were "iffy" - is that a word?  My ribs were great, the family style salad was soggy, the folks that had steak liked it, but the 2 who ordered fried chicken got large servings of almost inedible, dry chicken.  They ended up sending it back and not having to pay for it.  Still, it was an enjoyable evening with a great group of friends, there is always much laughter with these folks.

The view from our booth.

Tom, Arlene, Sharla, Marilyn

Betty, James, Karin

Saturday, May 21.  I tried to find a place for Connie and I to camp this weekend and everything was booked, so we decided to take a road trip to Tucson for a day of exploring.  Today is the anniversary of Connie's partner, Danny's, heart attack that led to his death on the 25th, 5 years ago, so a good day for us widows to be together.  We headed out at 8:30 this morning and went straight to the visitor center, had a nice chat with 2 friendly ladies, then walked about 5 blocks to the shrine of  El Tiradito – known as The Wishing Shrine.  The legend, centers on a love triangle where a man falls in love with his mother-in-law and is murdered by her husband in a jealous rage.  The most common version of the story says that the murdered man was Juan Oliveras – and due to his sin – he was disallowed burial on consecrated ground, left to rot where he fell, Juan was given the nickname “The Castaway.”  His lover felt such remorse for his death that she buried him at the stoop of her house and built a shrine above his grave.

El Tiradito invites anyone wanting to make a petition to Juan’s ghost to bring a candle; it’s said that if one’s candle remains lit throughout the night their wish will come true.  As legends often go, it’s a tough one to substantiate. What is certain, however, is that Juan, Old Jack of the Barrio, has become something of a folk anti-hero, and perhaps the only sinner recognized on the National Historical Register.  The only remaining part of the house is the 2 steps of the front stoop and the wall of the shrine.

From there, we boarded the street car, rode it to the end of the line at Helen Street on the University of Arizona campus, then back west until we got off at 4th Avenue, an area of thrift stores, hippie shops, boutiques, bars and restaurants.  There were a lot of homeless folks loitering and strolling around.  We stopped for a sandwich and a beer and people watched from a table next to the sidewalk.

Back to the car, we headed to Ted DeGrazia's gallery, home and studio.  DeGrazia was the son of Italian immigrants who settled in territorial Arizona.  He was a talented artist; painter, builder, sculpturist and know by everyone in this area.  I have a few of his pieces and picked up a couple of cards to frame.  The grounds and buildings are impressive, nestled on the foothills of the Catalina Mountains, built from local materials and very Spanish in style.  His works of art are everywhere and as we approached the entrance, an elderly relative was talking about how he loved rocks and the colors that streak through them.  When he was near the end of his life in 1982 at the age of 73, he told his family not to bring flowers when he died, as they would also die, but bring him his rocks and they would live on forever.

All the way home, we bounced around in my car like an old jalopy, cracking up laughing because Connie thought her boobies were going to hit her in the face.  The things that I have hanging from my mirror were flying around and hitting the windshield.  I am definitely taking them back to Costco tomorrow to either figure out what's going on or to get different tires.  

And when I got home and looked at my phone, there was a new photo of my darling granddaughters, can't help but share it here.

Charlotte, Norah, Camille

Sunday, May 22.  I was hungry for coleslaw, so made a big bowl this morning, then decided to use up the bananas that I had in the freezer, and that is way too much food for me, so I invited Arlene, Connie, Tom, and Kirk to happy hour and burgers this evening.  Everyone bought something yummy to share, we had lots to talk and laugh about, and we hung around until after 10:00 when Arlene started to fall asleep in her chair.  It's so nice to have good neighbors.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

May 9 - 15, 2016, AZ

Tuesday, May 10.  I made reservations on the Desert Belle for a narrated cruise on Saguaro Lake for me and my guests yesterday. Unfortunately, I had a call from them to say that they had a corporate group of about 80 people scheduled and, did we really want to do that?  After discussing it with Rudy and Sonja, we agreed that it might not be a lot of fun, so we cancelled and took a drive along Bush Highway instead.  We made lots of stops to check out the views of the Salt River and of the lake, had some lunch at the Marina and had a great day anyway.

Now Sonja has a thing about ladybugs. It all started when Christa gave her one and she started to carry it with her wherever she went. She rubs it on the machines in the casinos and his good luck most of the time.  Through the years, friends give her ladybugs as gifts.  Today, as we were looking at the views of the river, she paused and asked Rudy to take a photo of her, and a ladybug showed up on her hand.  They appear in the strangest of places and give her blessings wherever she is - lucky woman!

     The lady and the Ladybug.

     Sonja and I chatting at a stop along the Salt River.

    Saguaro Lake, the Superstition Mountains, The Marina, and a magestic Saguaro in bloom.

    Check out the gnarly roots on this Mesquite tree - there were squirrels foraging for food in there.

My guests were up at 5am this morning and on the road by 6:00.  I just heard that they made it to their destination of Van Horn, TX.  Good friends, good times, stay safe on this journey.

Thursday, May 12.  This week has been about getting my car ready for the trip.  Roger gave me a gift certificate for a free oil change and I had that done yesterday, followed by a trip to the DMV inspection station to have an emissions check done - all is good there.  Today, I went to the DMV to get my tags.  Thanks to Maricopa County for giving me an exempt from personal property tax, my renewal cost me $9.75 and I saved $87 in taxes.

From there, it was Costco for tires and some shopping.  As I drove home from there, I thought the ride was really bumpy, not sure it should feel like that.  I sat in my carport, organizing receipts and paperwork and realized that the gal at DMV did not return my original exemption certificate.  Dang, I headed back there and was allowed to go straight to her desk and get my paper.  Again, the ride feels soft and bumpy, as if I we're riding in an ATV on a bumpy road - I bounced so hard that my boobs were shaking.  I don't think the last tires were like that. I called Costco and they suggested that I drive in them for a week or so and see if it improves.  I also think I will ask my neighbor, Tom, to take it for a drive and give me his opinion - he's a great resource for that kind of question.

After all that, I took a nice nap. Now, I'm sitting on the patio - it's pretty hot - and I'm watching the birds coming to the birdbath and listening to the different sounds that they make.  Right now, a female blackbird is wetting a piece of bread, dips it in the water, then picks it up and pulls it apart and eats it, not willing to share at all.

Sunday, May 15.  Yesterday, I helped Loretta out up wallpaper in her bedroom, a project that w thought would take a few hours ended up taking about 5 hours.  It looks nice - for a couple of gals who haven't done it for 20+ years.  I'm glad I could help and it was fun hanging out together.

I also learned yesterday that the trial for my brother, Ray's killer is scheduled for Msy 32.  That is the day that I had planned to leave Arizona to start my trek to the Midwest.  Now, I am having thoughts about changing my plans in order to be there.  I really don't think I will go, I would prefer to not live through that experience and hear all of the details in person.  It is in the hands of the jury and I cannot influence any decisions that will made by being there.  I only hope that justice is served - nothing Ray could have done or said to that man could justify what he did.  He deserves to be locked up.

Typical Arizona weather arrived this week, bringing temps above 100, but it has cooled down and right now, I'm sitting on the swing in the back yard, a candle burning, a glass of wine on the table, enjoying a nice breeze, and listening to the sounds of the air conditioners coming on and off.  It's a beautiful night in spit of the last item mentioned in the previous sentence.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May 1 - 8, 2016, AZ, Las Vegas, NV

Monday, May 1.  I was up early this morning, the car was loaded and I was on the road by 6:30.  I sailed right through Phoenix with barely a slow down, I expected rush hour to be much worse, I guess.   It was an easy drive with many rest stops along the way, and as my dear friend Sonja would say, "I have to spend a penny" - a British term used by ladies to say they are going to the restroom.

I made a couple of stops to see the views of Lake Mead just before going through Henderson and arriving at Rudy and Sonja's timeshare in Las Vegas - a very nice suite not far from the strip.


Our greeting hugs felt so good and I was so glad that they decided to travel this way, a long, long drive from Florida.  Rudy's vision worsens with time and who knows, this may be the last time he drives here (macular degeneration that they have been treating with injections).  We chatted for a while, I got settled in, and we headed for the MGM grand where I donated my first $20 bill. 

 Back at the condo, we had a roasted chicken and salad for dinner before getting dressed and heading to Fremont Street where we watched the overhead laser show and the zip liners flying down the street. The Four Queens was the place that took my donation tonight.

Tuesday, May 3.  We were up pretty early, had a nice Swiss style breakfast, and then hit the road, heading west to Death Valley where we drove through the Painted Desert and stopped to see the great views along the way; Dante's Viewpoint, the Artist's Drive, the salt flat, and the lowest point in the US - 282 feet below sea level.  At Dante's Viewpoint, Rudy and I walked the path to get a closer view of the valley below and there were lots of wildflowers, evidence of the recent rains.  We stopped at the Death Valley Inn and had some lunch.  We were telling our waiter about how strange it was to see water puddled along the roadside in some areas and he told us that it was a very unusual phenomenon around there, especially at this time of year.

Tonight's donation went to The Hard Rock Casino - not only from me, but the $20 that Jan gave me go gamble too - so sorry, friend.  I was doing well playing video poker when this guy came and sat next to me and lit up a cigarette that came right in my face.  It wasn't long and a headache was coming on and I had to leave the machine.  No other machine was paying off, I finally just quit.  Sonja has been lucky each night - must be her lucky ladybug that is with her all of the time - caressing and talking to every machine that she plays.

Wednesday, May 4.   We considered a drive to see the west side of the Grand Canyon today, near the Skywalk, although none of us were interested in going out there.  The Google map showed no other walking near the rim either. After discussing it, and looking at the map, we decided against another day of long drives and opted to go to the Venetian for a few hours instead. We enjoyed a drink, strolled around, and then had a late lunch before heading back home to rest and get ready for the evening to see The Rat Pack is Back at the Tuscany - should be a good show.

The show was very entertaining, the guys looked a lot like Frank, Dean, and Sammy - good jokes, dance moves, and great singers.

I had more luck tonight than the past 2 days but no big shakes like Rudy who pulled $1600 out of a monopoly machine and Sonja who usually leaves with at least $2-300.  I was ahead today but it didn't make up for the other days - regardless, I played for a long time and had fun doing it.

Thursday, May 5.  I was back on the road this morning by 9:00 and pulled into my carport at 2:30, another easy and quite scenic drive. Kerri (Frisco's dog sitter) came by to see if I was home and also to let me know that he had an encounter with her cat and ended up with a wound on his ear, not bad, she has taken good care of him.  In a way, I'm glad because he is way too aggressive around them.

I had just enough time to take a walk with Frisco, have a short rest, and then get ready to go to the Hale Theater with Arlene and Sharla to see "The Diary of Anne Frank".  That company does such a wonderful job with their productions and this one was so well done too - great actors, stage props and sound effects too.  Before we went to the show, we had dinner at Flancer's, a nice, local restaurant serving fresh, yummy food.

Friday, May 5.  I didn't do much today, certainly didn't leave the house and boy, did that feel good after the last 4 very active days.   I did do some cleanup in the yard, since I had cut some branches off of the Palo Verde trees last week but had no room in my trash can for the refuse.  Little by little, I'm getting the pruning done.  It was a windy and cool day, so perfect for being outdoors.

This evening, Connie and I went and had a drink with Jan and Jim since they are pulling out in the morning to spend the summer at Flaming Gorge, Utah.  Jim went and picked up burgers from Five 
Guys for dinner.

Sunday, May 8.  Mother's Day.  What's better than starting your day with a phone call from Pat and then a FaceTime call from Ben and his family?  They made my day.  I got all emotional about Mom last night, thinking about the years that I haven't had a mother to share my life with - she would be so proud of who I am and happy to be involved in her grandchildren and great grandchildren's lives.  Hopefully, she is looking down from above.

I made a salad for today's BBQ at Monica and Loren's house and a quiche for tomorrow's breakfast with Rudy and Sonja - they are driving here from Las Vegas today, meeting me at Monica's, having a bite to eat, and then following me to my house.  It was a lovely time in their beautiful back yard, complete with new swimming pool.  I met Loren's grandparents, an uncle, and some cousins and their children - it all made for a great day.