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).

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

February 6 - 12, 2017, AZ

Tuesday, February 8.  Yesterday, Tom picked me up and we drove to Camp Verde to check out the Out of Africa wildlife park.  It wasn't long after getting out of Phoenix that the clouds moved in and the higher in elevation we got, the cooler it was.  When we arrived at the park, we decided to brace the weather and continue on.  

First, was a shuttle ride to where we learned about boa constrictors (an albino example), a bearded dragon (another mutant - this one was smooth), and hedgehogs.  We took the shuttle back to meet up with the safari ride that took us through an open area where the animals roam freely.  The giraffes stuck their heads in the open  car so we could feed them plants - they were the only ones that could be fed, since they have no upper teeth and don't bite.  Our tour guide was very entertaining with lots of jokes about the animals, she gave the zebras and ostriches goodies when they came right up to the vehicle. The water buffalo and some of the others just lounged around wherever they were and we got to see a lion and 2 lionesses getting to know each other - with hopes that they will be able to mate in the future.

After some lunch at the hot dog stand, we walked around to see the animals that we had missed - gray wolves, lions, tigers, reptiles, hyenas (much larger than I thought they would be), and some monkeys.

Before heading back home, we took the scenic route up the mountain on a dirt road to Cherry - it is beautiful up there with dense, green forest and lots of rocks jutting out from the hills.  It was a great day, haven't done anything like this in a long time and it was a fun time hanging out with Tom.

Friday, February 10.  I lost a dear old friend this week. My 25+ year old Oreck XL vacuum bit the dust.  When I was cleaning at Sylvia's house on Wednesday, it started to smell like it was burning, so I assumed it was the belt and replaced it.  Then on Thursday at Carl's house, it seemed to be working just fine, then started making a strange sound.  When I got back home, I asked Tom (a tinkerer) if he wanted to take a look at it. He returned it yesterday with his head bowed and his hands in a praying position - it was dead.

I got on Craig's list, contacted the first ad that I found (the most recent) for a hardly-us, 5-year old XL, complete with 4 new bags. I met the guy at the Walgreen's parking lot and we made the deal. Easy, peasy!

Frisco after dragging himself out of bed this morning.

I went to dinner with Jim and Sue last night to Painted Mountain Golf Club and it turned out to be the worst that I have had there.  Our fish came to us cold, so the waitress ordered fresh, and we waited and waited. Then the Chef came out and apologized and then we waited some more. I was full by the time it got to us and brought it home with me.  Sue ordered a 2nd beer, and it never came.  Not the best experience that I've had there - too bad.

They came in the house with me when we got home, had a beer, and I poured myself a glass of wine, and then my stomach started to feel pretty bad. I took my tried and true cure, some vinegar water but still didn't have much relief. And then right after Jim and Sue left, it hit - an intestinal flu-like episode and I spent the next 2 hours on the toilet with wastebasket on my lap. Grrrrr! It finally settled down so I could go to bed and then I was right back at it at 3 am.  Now, Saturday morning at 11 am, I am drinking tea and trying to feel human again. Frisco got a short walk, and he was lucky to have that.

Sunday, February 12.  Whatever this is, it has knocked me on my ass.  Feeling better, feeling worse, hungry, eat, upset stomach.  Grrrrr!

Friday, February 3, 2017

February 1 - 5, 2017, AZ

Thursday, February 2.  The weather here has been perfect, cool nights down in the 45-50 degree range and warming up to mid-70s during the day and I am loving it.

I pruned the giant Prickly Pear in my back yard and filled the trash can up but still have more  to go in it after it is emptied.  

I got my new phone yesterday and the transfer from AT&T went smoothly. My phone has been acting strange for a long time now and I finally got around to upgrading, and I had been considering switching to Verizon because many times I have been in remote areas, I have had no signal, but someone else has plenty of signal and they had Verizon. Within a half hour, my phone was set up exactly like the old one with all of my settings, photos, and apps already on it.  Amazing!  I switched from AT&T to Credo Mobile, which uses the Verizon signal. Credo is an organization that donates a portion of their revenue to progressive, nonprofit groups working on key issues such as women’s rights, the environment, peace and social justice. Members vote on where the donations should go.  I feel good about my decisions, now I hope I'm not disappointed.

I had dinner tonight for Pat and Roger and my old friends, Jim and Sue who just arrived at Val Vista Village and will be staying through March.  I'm looking forward to doing fun things together and we're already planning a few events.  It was a great night.

Sunday, February 5.  The courtyard at Val Vista Village was a great place to hang out on Friday afternoon and I got to see Harry Mathews twice in a week - he was the entertainer that we saw on Tuesday night and just happened to be scheduled to perform at VVV.  After getting a haircut, I met Pat, Rog, Jim, and Sue there, danced a few with Pat, had a drink and then we headed out to What The Hell bar for fish fry. Once again, I wasn't too thrilled with it (the batter was tough, even hard to cut through it), but everyone else liked it.  Regardless, it was a fun evening.

Yesterday was a stay at home day, except for a short drive to the car wash, and I loved it.  I did do some cleanup in Arlene's yard - she doesn't even see the mess that her tree makes when it drops these huge black pods on the ground. So I cleaned those up, deadheaded some of her flowers, pruned the roses, and cleaned up some weeds - my good deed for the day.

This morning, I picked up the Wisconsin friends around 8:30 and we headed out to the Lower Salt River on Bush Highway to hike the trail along the river near Blue Point.  The hike isn't too long but it is one of my favorites - the last hike I did with Mike before he passed away.  It was a beautiful morning to be out in nature.  On our way back home, we spotted several horses - a great topper for the day.

Back home, I got busy putting a coat of wax on my car - it was really in need.  The repair on the bumper is pretty invisible now that I was able to buff out some of the scratches.  After 2 hours, I am feeling drained.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

January 30 - 31, 2017, AZ

Tuesday, January 31.  Wow! We are through January already. Those in the northern states will certainly be pushing spring, as I did all those years that I lived up there.  I see the countdown on Facebook pretty frequently.

Most of Monday was spent right at home where I wanted to be.  Our weather has turned and the days are getting up in the mid-upper 70s and I'm loving it.  The swing in the back yard got cleaned and the lounge chair was dragged out to a sunny spot to relax under the trees and watch the many birds coming for a drink of water in the birdbath.  At one time, I counted 6 Peach-faced lovebirds chattering away in the treetops or on the TV antenna.  Did I already say that I love it?

I worked this morning and then took my car to Costco to have the tires rotated - a free service that they offer when the tires are purchased from them.  I enjoyed my house and yard in the afternoon.

This evening, Kathy, Jan, Connie, Patty, and I went to Grandview Steakhouse to enjoy and evening of dancing to the music of Harry Mathews, a lively entertainer who sings and plays guitar, keyboards, and sax to line dancing and good old rock and roll dance tunes.  Didn't sit too many out and had a fun evening.