Monday, May 28, 2018

May 29 - 31, 2018, MN

Monday, May 28. Happy Memorial Day, an opportunity to spend the weekend with my son and his family, a flurry of activity as expected for those in the working world.  For me, a bit more activity than wha I'm used - not to say that I don't appreciate being pushed or encouraged to be a bit more active than usual.

In conversations with Tom, he has gotten in some good walks and is busy visiting with friends.  I feel pretty bad that I walked out on him and also that we are not experiencing these things together.  Perhaps the time and space apart will make things better when we do join up again in late June.

Yesterday was kind of low key but today, Jill had plans for a bike ride with Camille and Norah this morning, so Ben and I did some prep work for tonight's dinner and then we walked around the lake with Charlotte and had a stop at South Beach for a swim and another for a snack at the bandshell.

Ben grilled baby back ribs, Jill made potato salad, and I made cucumber salad - a yummy summertime dinner menu.  The kids had fun playing in the pool in the back yard and riding bikes.

Thursday, May 31.  This week with the family has been busy, for sure.  I've been walking to school and bus and picking kids up after school, feeding snacks, biking, playing, and all of those other things that come with grandkids.  I've also run errands, grocery shopping, gotten my bike out of storage, looked into some housing options, helped with household chores, groomed Frisco, and managed to stay busy.  Naturally, once the kids are down for the night, I get a short dog walk in and am ready for bed.  There's not a lot of time for adult conversation but once in a while - play is cooperative and quiet - much more than when they were younger.

I got to see the girls in their dance performances on Tuesday night - so darn cute.  Camille is really getting into it, Norah had some darling moves, and Charlotte might have preferred to do something different.

Tom and I will be meeting up in Stoughton next month (as we had originally planned to spend some time there), and he is still exploring Texas and then working his way north.  

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.

Wednesday, May 23.  Tuesday was a work day, as Rita had several projects for the guys to end them with and she and I did yard work, raking up sticks and pulling weeds.  The guys stained a lattice wall, burned some of the crud that we raked, out together a new grill, and did some general repairs.  The work earned us a nice boat ride to Bagnell Dam.  It was so nice that we almost had the lake to ourselves and the weather was perfect.

    Rita, Bob, Randy, and I

Bob brought steaks and salad greens from his garden for dinner and we had red potatoes and asparagus with it - yummy!  The night was much quieter; Randy turned in early, Bob and Denny watched TV, and Rita and I enjoyed talking and watching the lights on the water before retiring.

Bob and Randy got ready to go back home this morning and the day for the rest of us was relaxed and enjoyable.  Rita and I did a bit of shopping in Laurie and then we all had lunch at Frankie and Louie's - a huge restaurant and bar with land and water access, outdoor seating, a beachwear shop, beach volleyball, and a sandy beach for the kids to play on.  Lunch was yummy.

This afternoon while sitting on the deck, Frisco saw a squirrel on the ground and squeezed through the slats and jumped the 12-15 feet to the ground. I was terrified that he might have broken a leg, went running in search of him, calling out for him until I heard his footsteps on the deck. He was just fine and has shown no signs of stiffness or injury since. What a little shit he is.

Saturday, May 27. I arrived at Ben's house yesterday after spending Thursday night st the KOA in Adel, IA, about 15 miles west of Des Moines on I-80. The place is one of the best that I have stayed at and the nights in their cabins is much better than a hotel. I sat on the swing and made phone calls and had a glass of wine.  I ordered chicken wings and had them delivered fresh and hot right to my cabin.  I took my time getting ready in the morning, stopped for a car wash and a breakfast sandwich, and the drive was easy.  I did go through a couple of rainstorms, but not bad.

I pulled up to the house just in time to go and walk home with Norah and Camille after school - they were riding their bikes and were quite proud to show me their skills.  We put bikes in the van and went to Lynnhurst playground so they could burn off some energy and Ben and I shot some hoops - yea, it has been many, many years.  We were heading for the bus stop to meet Charlotte when she ran up to welcome me with a big hug.

    Violet, Norah (not into the photo op), Charlotte, and Camille

Unfortunately, Ben and his family had to say goodbye to the family dog, Ruby, yesterday. She was 14 years old, lived a good life and we will always remember Her Majesty Queen Ruby Quinn Bridge as such a sweet, gentle and loyal pet.

Today was the usual flurry of activity. Jill and Lois took the girls to the children's theater to see "The Lorax", so Ben and I rode bikes around Lakes Calhoun and Harriet, about a 6-mile ride and stopped for a beer at the Bread and Pickle.  It was a beautiful day and there was a flurry of activity at the lakes - biking, running, skating, dog walking, people walking, sailing and the usual summertime stuff.  When the girls got home, Ben ran around the lake while Charlotte rode her bike.

After an evening walkabout (Camille is very interested in walking Frisco), the girls watched a movie and the adult sat on the patio and enjoyed the evening quiet.


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.