Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April 24 - 30, 2017, CO, KS, MO, IA, MN

Wednesday, April 26.  Happy Birthday to my first brother-in-law, Dennis! And we got to celebrate together.  He has always been there for me, he gave my sister a good life, and I'm glad to have him in my life. We just don't agree on politics.

Yesterday, Tom and I were on the road by our 9:00 am take off time on Monday morning. We said goodby to Joyce and Burrall and headed down the road, mostly on US highways for the first 200 miles, then back on I-70 heading east.  We found our sites for the night at a nice little city park in Ellis, KS for $20.00 - arriving a little later than expected because of entering into another time zone.  It is Central Time for me now until the fall.  The park is nice, kind of reminded me of Stoughton and the Yahara River - tall, mature trees, green grass, people fishing from the shore, and Canada Geese.  After getting setup and registered, we relaxed on the bank of the river and had a drink before having some dinner.

We drove together as far as Salina, KS where we stopped for gas, said goodbye and then Tom headed south toward Wichita and I went East to Blue Springs. It was sure nice to have company for most of trip and we had fun together. I'm going to miss hanging out together until we both get back to AZ in the fall. Happy Trails, Tom.

I arrived at Rita's by 2:30 and felt right at home and got settled in, in no time. We met Bob and Penny for dinner at Jack Stacks BBQ for dinner.  They head out on a vacation, so this is it for our visit on this time through KC. Bob hopes to make it to MN for some fishing this summer and I hope it works out.

We ran a few errands today but took it easy. It felt good not to have to hit the road again this morning and I got some much needed laundry done.  It stormed over night and the temps dropped down in the 40s with a frost warning for tonight. It isn't expected to get much better, especially farther north, in the next few days.  I'm glad I have some warm clothes with me.

Thursday, April 27.  Happy 69th Birthday to me! I heard from Pat, first thing this morning and that definitely got me off to a good start of the day. Throughout the day, I got lots of calls, texts, e-mails, and Facebook notes - a good feeling, for sure.

I took my time getting ready for the road this morning but was still gassed up and heading north by 9:00 am. The cold, wintry temps continued to drop as I headed north, starting out around 53 degrees and it was only 37 when I arrived at Clear Lake State Park.  The full hookup sites were all taken but all I really needed was electric - the heater will be running nonstop tonight.  I will need to use the dump station in the morning before I leave and I'm not looking forward to it.  I've decided to pack everything (clothes, food, bedding, etc.) into the car before I leave in the morning because the trailer will be stored in an RV storage lot while it isn't being used. 

Clear Lake State Park is huge and the sites are all nice ($11/night for an electric only site during the off season) and grassy with lots of tall (still leafless) trees around.  It isn't nearly as spring-like as it was 300 miles to the south and there is snow in the forecast for Minneapolis on Sunday - yuck!

Sunday, April 30. The last day of this month, what a whirlwind it has been!

I packed up everything from the camper that will be going into the apartment this morning and loaded it into the car. I didn't clean or empty the holding tanks because it was so darned cold, about 38 degrees and a strong wind. Then, before going to Ben's house on Friday, I stopped and dropped the camper off at the storage place ($45/month) in Inver Grove Heights. As soon as the weather breaks, I will pull it out and give it a good cleaning and rinse out the tanks. Getting ready for a trip in the future will be a bit of a hassle until I come up with a new process.

Jill stopped by to pick me up before going to pick up the girls from school and it was great to see their happy faces when they saw me. And then they stuck to me like glue through the evening, wanting to show me all of their new things and telling me lots of stories.  Naturally, they all want sleepovers with me in the guest room, - 3 nights, 3 little granddaughters.

Yesterday, Ben, Camille and I went to my apartment to check it out and to unload the stuff that is stored in my car.  My first impression is good and I think it will all work out just fine, although some of the storage areas that I saw in the pictures are actually full of the landlord's stuff. That is kind of strange and I will have to talk to her about that.

Ben cooked a great dinner and baked a carrot cake with Maple Cream Cheese frosting and Lois and Dennis joined us for a birthday celebration for me this evening. It feels good to be back with family again.

Two thumbs up high for cake and frosting samples.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April 17 -23, 2017, AZ, NM, CO

Monday, April 17.  The reality of this move is starting to hit home. The house is nearly empty except for what I'm taking and what I'm leaving behind. Just about everything has been cleaned and readied for the new owners. The fridge is nearly empty and cleaned. I had period of boredom today because I'm trying to pace my self since I have more time than things to do at this point.

I had planned to bring the trailer over to the house on Tuesday, but got bored today and went and took care of that; topped off the LP tank, gave it a bath, and put air in the tires. Ready to roll.

Wednesday, April 19. How can it take almost an entire day to load up that little trailer that I have? Well, yesterday it did, and I had only about an hour to rest a bit before going over to Jan and Jim's for happy hour and pizza with Bruce and Carmen, Connie and Kathy for a little while (Chuck was under the weather after having a chemo treatment in the morning). As usual, we had a great visit and lots of laughs before saying farewell until the fall. 

And then again today, after a couple of errands in the morning, I got busy loading the car with everything that was left behind that I needed to live with for the last week and a half. I was just ready to load up my bike on the rack when I realized that my lock is in the UBOX in Minneapolis, so I had to go get a lock for it. I got the bike loaded and the car hooked up - ready to roll in the morning.

And speaking of the UBOX - it has already arrived in Minneapolis.

Connie, Loretta, and I went to see Dale Watson at the Rhythm Room tonight, arriving early enough that we were about the 6th in line to get in.  The show was great - quite different from last year when he was there with his band, the Lone Stars.  Tonight it was Rosie Flores (recently won Female Rockabilly Performer of the Year), then Dale performing solo - he played 2 of my requests, "I Lie When I Drink" and "Country My Ass" and he also gave the 3 of us some grief when we bought him a shot of Jack. I guess he thought we should have each bought him one. A tequila showed up right after the Jack and he mixed them together and called it Whisquila.  What a character.  And then came Jim Heath (aka The Reverend Horton Heat) and he played a great rockabilly Gretch guitar and there is some real talent there.  At the end, they all played together.  

Thursday, April 20.  Tom and I both pulled out around 9:00 as planned and I watched my familiar favorite landscapes drop behind me; Highlands at Brentwood, Red Mountain, Four Peaks, Bush Highway, Saguaro Cactus, and we started the climb up to Rim Country.  We topped off our gas tanks in Payson and Holbrook, stopped at the first rest stop in New Mexico and filled up again in Grants before stopping for the night.  It was a good day but a long one too.

Friday, April 21. Happy Birthday to my sweet sister-in-law, Penny - you are a one-of-a kind, sweet gal and I'm so glad that you chose my brother to spend your life with.  Love you!

Tom and I started out right on time this morning, we both had a full tank of gas and intended to stop for gas again at exit 194 or 196 in Moriarty which is east of Albuquerque, but we turned north on I-25 at about exit 159 heading toward Santa Fe.  I was in the lead, had plenty of gas and expected to stop somewhere north or Santa Fe to gas up.  No gas stations.  So, that's ok, we will stop in Las Vegas, NM - but when we got to Las Vegas, none of the info signs along the interstate showed any exits for gas stations, so we thought maybe further on down the road. Twice, I pulled over to see what Tom was thinking, and we decided that we had to keep going.

The scenery between Santa Fe and Las Vegas is gorgeous.

My gas gauge was well below a quarter of a tank and I was starting to panic, when Tom calls to tell me that he thought he saw my license plate go flying off the back of the Gypsy, he had pulled over and thought he knew where it landed and would go fetch it.  I pulled of the road, went back and checked, and sure enough, the plastic mounting bracket had broken he there was no license plate.  I waited for a few minutes and it wasn't long before he called to verify that he had found a New Mexico plate - was that mine?  What a joker!  He had it and headed back towards me and then it was only another 60 miles before we were at our destination at Raton.

I did see some wildlife today - a few mile deer grazing back in a meadow.

I'm not sure I would come back to this KOA, but then I'm also not sure of the other options around here - they might all be the same.  I would hate to see what this place is like after a good rain.  I got to see the grandkids and Ben on FaceTime tonight - they could tell that I was in the camper and were wondering if they could go camping with me again.  Of course, and I am looking forward to it.

Saturday, April 22.  We only had about 3 hours of driving to do today, so we took our time getting ready to go. Unfortunately, it was only 36 degrees, so not like we felt like hanging out outside.  We were only 40 miles north of the New Mexico/Colorado border when traffic stopped along the highway and someone was walking in between the 2 lanes and directing people to move to both sides in order to keep the center open for emergency vehicles.  It wasn't long and we saw an ambulance go across the median and down the highway to the south.  And then we learned that there was a fatality and it was going to be a long wait.  A car was flipped on the passenger side on the side of a small hill, from where we were, it looked like it took a nose dive into the side of the hill.

Soon it was an hour, then they started diverting cars and trucks without trailers through the median, and driving south to the next exit to a road running parallel.  There was no way that we would attempt it because of the steepness of the edges of the median.  A fire truck was angled in the road ahead of us and emergency vehicles kept coming.  A State Trooper came along and told us that the traffic would not clear until the coroner got there and the body could be moved. We could see investigators taking measurements and photos. Two hours had passed.

When they finally started to clear the left lane, we learned what happened. The guy in the Chevy Tahoe went off the road and when he corrected, he hit a bicyclist (the person who died) then went off again and his car flipped around and landed on its side.  Three hours passed, and then we were allowed to go again, passing the debris from the accident.  So sad, I'm glad that I couldn't see any of it.

We arrived at Tom's sister, Joyce and her husband Burrall's house around 4:00. We talked and talked, I got a tour of their property - 7 acres in an area of homes with attached airplane hangars. The build planes! How cool is that?  Frisco had the time of his life running with Lily and chasing jackrabbits around. Joyce served a delicious dinner and we talked and talked and talked some more.

Sunday, April 23.  I woke up this morning to the sound of an airplane taxiing toward the runway - quite a pleasant way to wake up.  I had my coffee and then took Frisco for a walk and then Joyce was up and moving around so we talked a bit.  We hung out in the yard, waiting for Burrell and 3 of his friends to take off in their planes and after a while, they flew by in formation - that was pretty cool - not something I get to see every day.

When he got back, we drove to Garden of the Gods park and walked along the paths through the gorgeous rock formations.  I really did not expect to see the red rocks here. It was a lot like Sedona, AZ with giant boulders balancing on top of others, tall spires reaching toward the sky.  Unfortunately, there were lots of other folks enjoying the park today too.  Regardless, I enjoyed it and think the others did too.

And then tonight, we had another delicious meal - ribs, coleslaw, veggie salad, dinner rolls, and beans. Mmmmmmm!

After dinner, Joyce, Tom and I took the dogs and walked around the hangars - a huge place that can house about 400 planes. I certainly understand why they like living here - gorgeous views and wide open spaces and the ability to take off and fly whenever they want to.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

April 10 - 16, 2017, AZ

LTuesday, April 11.  The calendar is full of activities this week in preparation for my upcoming trip to MN, cleaning jobs - my last for the season, a medical appointment, haircut, and getting together with friends before I leave.

Yesterday, I cleaned Carl's house and then the closet in the guest room and cabinets in the bathrooms and cleaned up the dried up stems in the Aloe Vera in the yard.  I fell sleep on the couch after that and when I woke up again, I just couldn't completely wake up - I felt like a wet noodle the rest of the afternoon - guess I just needed a few hours of down time.

I cleaned Jim and Shirley's house today, got home and took a shower and headed to my very first ever appointment with a dermatologist to check on a little raised bump that I have on my right cheek.  That bump is nothing to worry about, but he applied liquid nitrogen to freeze several other spots that I consider to be age spots - actually pre-cancerous spots. Considering what my body is like, I will probably have to follow-up with other visits.

Several of my close friends (Jan and Jim and their daughters Jodie and Jeannie, Connie, Bruce and Carmen, and Chuck and Kathy) went to Garcia's this afternoon to celebrate Jan's birthday and then she told our waitress that we were celebrating Kathy's and my birthday too, so they all sang for us and brought out some fried ice cream for us.  There was great conversation and lots of laughter, as usual. It was great to have Chuck and Kathy join us, as he has been undergoing a year of radiation and treatment for brain tumors - I haven't seen him as often as I should have.

  Kathy, Chuck, Carmen, Jan, Connie, Bruce, .Me, and Jim

Friday, April 14.  My days are filled with cleaning for clients, cleaning cabinets that are emptied, and sorting through the last of the objects left in the house, deciding whether to haul them in my car, pass them on to someone, or trash them.  I learned on Wednesday that my UBOX has left Mesa and is headed for Minneapolis. Wow, this chapter of my life is coming to a close, but it's just time to turn the page and start the next one.  Getting to this point has taken 3 years since I first came up with the plan and I'm still feeling like it is the right choice for my future.  Onward and forward.

Tom treated me to dinner at Olive Garden on Wednesday night and it was a really nice time.  We always have lots to talk about and a lots of good laughs too.  We decided to road trip together next week since we are both heading in the same direction, going through KC, and are flexible with routes and timing.  He is heading east to explore the D.C. area, with a stopover in Northeast Kansas, and I will be stopping in KC for a few days with Rita and Bob before heading north to Minneapolis.  It will be nice not to have to travel alone this time.

Chris and Norm took me out for fish fry at Tom's BBQ tonight, I think they have the best fish I've had around here.  We had a nice visit and will probably hook up for a camping trip when we all get back up north.

Our final Community Club board meeting for the season was held on Thursday afternoon and we won't meet again until November.  I am passing on my Secretary notebook full of minutes and bylaws to the President for the summer.  Yay! I'm hoping to find a replacement for next year.

Sunday, April 16.  I had a delicious Easter dinner with Nan, Dale, Monica and Mike and Menchu today.  I'm so glad that it worked out that I could see them one more time before I leave for the summer.  We always have great conversation and good times together.

Arlene had several friends and family over for dinner Saturday evening and it always amazes me how well she does with a meal in spite of her visual impairment.  They surprised me with a gift of a coffee mug for my birthday and going away.  At one point, the decibel level in the room was getting so loud from all of the animated talk and laughter that someone pointed it out.  Another delightful evening with good friend. I will be missing them for a few months.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April 3 - 9, 2017, AZ

UTuesday, April 4, 2017.  Happy Birthday to my brother, Ray, who would have turned 58 yesterday. I'm so sorry that his life ended so brutally and hope that he is at peace.

Randy and Julie arrived late yesterday afternoon and I got some much needed hugs and we had a great time catching up and visiting.  This morning, Julie headed to her Aunt Jean's as she wasn't feeling good and was going to the doctor. Randy and I headed off for an impromptu visit to his old classmate, Diane, was worked just around the corner from me.  Well, she changed jobs last summer and wasn't there.  We did hear from her later on and she and her husband, John met up with us at the "What The Hell" bar and grill for a burger and a visit.

We also got new windshield wipers for my car, more packing tape at Home Depot, and a car wash.

Saturday, April 8.  What a week!  Randy, Julie and I took Aunt Jean to Organ Stop Pizza for dinner on Wednesday night - she loved it and just couldn't believe that she had never been there before.  Now she said she's going to take her friends and family there.

I picked up the UBOX and 24 packing blankets on Thursday morning and we proceeded to load it up.  Randy already had all of the boxes stacked out on the patio so we could sort things and distribute the weight.  Tom helped and we all worked for about 2.5 hours and got 90% of it done that day.  Then it sat in front of the house until we could box up the rest of the kitchen, bathroom, and wash bedding and towels to pack the last of the items.  That was done on Saturday and I returned it to U-haul where it will be loaded on a semi and hauled to Minneapolis.  Whew! And then it has be done again in a few weeks.

On Friday morning, we took a drive through the National Forest in hopes of seeing some wild horses, but no such luck on this trip.  We did see cardinals along the river and got a little hike in.

I had a follow-up appointment with my cardiologist and got nothing but good news there - my arteries are clean and the mess that I take for high blood pressure and keeping that under control.  All of this is to keep my heart from overworking because of the damage caused at some time in my past - who knows when or how that happened.

Tonight was the Mexican Fiesta dinner and dance at the clubhouse (the last event until November when the snowbirds return) and we all had a fun time goofing off and dancing. I love the parties here and it's even better when there is family around.

Me, Randy, Loretta, Tom, Connie, and Julie

Sunday, April 9.  Well, the week with Randy and Julie has come to an end. They left at about 11 this morning. I sure appreciate all that they have done for me - what a job that would have been without them and Tom.

I had nice conversations with both sons today and got to see the grandkids on video.

Connie stopped by this evening and while we were sitting here talking and having ice cream, she caught Tom leaving something tucked under the windshield wiper on her car.  She caught him at it, gave him some crap, and found that it was a "joke" summons for parking illegally and blocking my driveway.  What a nut.

Monday, April 3, 2017

April 1 - 2, 2017, AZ

Sunday, April 2.  Back to yesterday, Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary to my dear sister, Rita and her husband, Dennis. They were married in St. Ann's Chapel in Stoughton. I remember it well, well, sort of - that was a long time ago.

I remember telling Sue how I was looking forward to a "do nothing" Saturday. Well, that didn't happen because right after I said this, my phone rang and it was Arlene asking if we were still planning to go to the Commemorative Air Force Museum on Saturday. Guess I forgot all about it.  We did go and it was very interesting.  Our docent, Bill, had good stories to tell and it made me think of how much Mike loved World War II history and airplanes and his experiences in the Navy.  After that, we met Marilyn and Karin at Tom's BBQ for lunch - and then I had a "do nothing" part of the day.

   F-4 Hornet, the plane that Mike landed on an aircraft carrier during his Navy days.

The B-17, Sentimental Journey, that flies around here. I love the sound of it. My favorite mountain, Red Mountain, in the background.

And today, I had told Connie that I would help her prune her lemon tree - what a job that was.  There were some dead branches that had to come off and they were 3 inches in diameter. We both took turns sawing and got it.  Then came the hauling part - and wouldn't you know - the trash dumpsters were jammed full and we could hardly get our stuff in there. We managed, but had to leave about 2 more trips to haul at a later date.

Back home, I got busy with more packing. Tom brought the newspaper over and we got to talking and talking. I was getting sleepy, so excused myself and when I looked at the clock, I couldn't believe the time - it was almost 4:00 and I was guessing around 2:30.  There was no taking a nap at that point, so I busied myself getting the house cleaned up and ready for tomorrow's company - Randy and Julie.  Yay!