Monday, October 22, 2018

October 22 - 28, 2018, AZ

Monday, October 22. This morning, after hooking up and heading out, we drove the 90 or so miles to the Valley and to our destination of the Shiprock RV Resort in Apache Junction where we will be planted for the next 5 months.  The manager was not available, so Sid got us settled in our site - a nice one on the back wall of the park and if we walk just a few feet, we can see the Superstition Mountains not too far to the east.

The drive was nice and I watched the thermometer go from 54 degrees at the top of the mountain to 84 when we got down in the Valley. It felt good to see the old familiar landmarks of the Four Peaks, Weaver's Needle, and Red Mountain as we neared Mesa. The last stretch of the drive was along Bush Highway and I hoped to spot some of the Salt River Wild horses along the way, but no such luck.

Thursday, October 25.  We have spent the week getting settled in our new digs, meeting a few people, getting Frisco familiar with the potty areas, and running a few areas.  The park has a very nice dog run that is shaded and clean.

We spent some time at the pool yesterday, the temperature was nice and the hot tub was bubbly and warm.  The pool and clubhouse are a short walk along a pathway just across from our site, in fact we can see it from our site.  More than once, we have said to each other that we have a good feeling about this place - it is small and has all of the amenities that we might want.

I desperately needed a haircut, so got in to see Kelli today and I went short, short, short again.  I'm not 100% satisfied because it is much shorter than what I asked for, but the good thing about hair is that it grows fast.


Sunday, October 28.  The highlights of the last 2 days were the Halloween Party at Highlands and breakfast this morning with Tom's former coworkers.

It was nice to see old friends with Highlands and, in spite of our costume and face masks, we were identified immediately. That was good, because we really didn't want to wear the masks for long.  The band was good and played lots of rocking songs and we danced quite a few. It was a bit strange coming back home having to drive for 12 miles rather than walk 2 blocks. Since we are still members of the social club, we can continue to attend their parties - lots of friends to see.

And, it was nice to see Manuel and Linda and Ron and Mary for breakfast at Biscuits, we had good conversation and good laughs. 

We did a bit of shopping on the way home and are settled in with Tom reading the newspaper and me catching up on phone calls and writing.  I spoke with my brother, Russ for the first time in many, many months.  He has been struggling for several years with homelessness followed by incarceration for an offense in Iowa.  He is no longer incarcerated, recently moved into his own place, has a job that he likes and gets paid well, and most important, he is sober - and I'm hoping that this continues.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

October 15 - 21, 2018, AZ

Monday, October 15.  The alarm went off at 7:30, we got up, got ready to roll, and headed west on I-40 by 9:30. There was some of that ugly white stuff coming out of the sky as we prepared to leave. Predictions were bad if we were heading to the east, but fortunately we were going west and the temps hit above 40 degrees once we got into Arizona.  By the time we got to our destination, Verde River RV Resort in Camp Verde, it was 65 degrees and sunny. Yippee!

We have both wanted to come here, as we had each been here in the past and they have spent the last year and a half doing a major reconstruction from the roads to the sites with new mechanicals,  the new pool, clubhouse, and fitness center, and several rental cottages.  During the reconstruction, they were able to retain almost all of the mature trees in the park.  As I sat outside enjoy not the sunshine, I remembered that it was one of our membership parks when Mike and I were here back in 2008.  

The wifi sucks and I'm not getting much of a cell signal either.

Wednesday, October 17. Yesterday was another rainy day, so we decided to take care of errands. Cottonwood, is about 15 miles away from here and has more amenities. We got groceries at Fry's for the first time in over 6 months and spent enough that Tom can get $.10 off/ gallon of gas at their station.  We also stopped to get a Papa Murphy's pizza for dinner, it's been several weeks and we were both kind of missing it.  The final stop was at CVS for my prescriptions. I was hoping to get a flu and the final shingles vaccines, but the lines were long and they didn't have the shingles shot.

When I got back home, I realized that I filled the wrong prescription, so ordered it and headed there this morning to pick it up. Once again, I thought I might get the flu shot but the lines were long again.  They are recommending that people get it ASAP as there are already more cases reported than at this time last year.

Saturday, October 20. Well. We have gotten 2 nice hikes in this week. On Thursday, we hiked almost 2 miles on a trail on the Copper Canyon Trail, a multi-use area, but we saw only 2 ATVers and 2 hikers while we were there.  The trail was level, a bit rocky, but nice and enjoyable.  

Today's hike was a bit longer and it was in a more scenic area.  We started out at Montezuma's Well - an oasis in the desert, unlike any other on earth. The area receIves less that 13 inches of rainfall a year, yet, the well holds more than 15 million gallons of water. It all started from snow melt more than 10,000 years ago. Every day, the water flows, it is replenished by 1.5 million gallons of new water daily. The water actually contains arsenic, so it supports only rare species of life - a water scorpion and a shrimp-like anthropod and leaches that feed on them. No species of fish can survive there - weird, huh?  Surrounding the well is evidence of ancient people's living quarter in the caves-like dwelling surrounding the well.  Because of the arsenic, it is believed that the people lived much shorter lives, as they weren't aware of the damaging effects of the water.

From there, we headed out on Forest Road 119, then FR 618 to the trailhead for the Bell Trail - that trail roughly followed the Wet Beaver Creek out through a canyon that was quite beautiful with bright red rock outcroppings, evergreen covered hills on one side and prickly pear covered hills on the other.  No wonder I like hiking around her so much, the terrain is endlessly changing and is always a wonder to see.  A couple that we passed told us that there was creek Access about a mile ahead, but we Nevada it that far. We hiked about 2 miles to the point where the White Mesa Trail intersected and then turned back.  We did find a trail that led down to the river and Frisco was able to take a dip and a big drink - good the night because we didn't bring enough water with us. All in all, a 4.4 mile hike in beautiful country.

   We let Frisco have a drink from this pool of rain water on top of the rock and he wanted to lay in it.

The manager of this park recommended La Casita restaurant in town for good Mexican food, so we went there tonight for dinner. We timed it so we would be gone for the park's Trick or Treating event - are we bad? The food was delicious and we both ate too much - imagine that.

Friday was also a very nice day, as we explored the historic mining town (copper, gold, silver,  lead, zinc) of Jerome.  In its heyday, the town had 14,000 residents but today, the population is 450ish.  We browsed some of the art galleries, checked out historic artifacts along the roads, buildings, and had a nice late breakfast at the Mine Cafe.  The scenic drive over the Mingus Mountains on the return trip was beautiful, we looped over to Prescott Valley and back home to Camp Verde.  Another pleasant day exploring this part of Arizona.

Monday, October 8, 2018

October 8 - 14, 2018, CO, NM

Monday, October 8.  On the road again...  We unhooked, hugged our wonderful hosts, and were on the road by 9:30.  The weather was not nice, a cold, misty 33 degrees, although it was no longer foggy.  We headed south on I-25 and once we turned west on US-160, we skirted the southern Rockies and the scenery became quite beautiful, except for a very long stretch of road where a forest fire had destroyed many of the beautiful trees.  The Aspens were in full fall color and contrasted with the evergreens, rocks, rippling rivers, and snow topped mountains, it all provided some beautiful views.

In Alamosa, we turned south on US 285 and then continued south on CO17 to Chama, NM.  Again, the scenery was gorgeous - complete with snow covered hillsides and clinging to the evergreen trees.  As we pulled into Chama at 7,000 feet there was snow hitting our windshields.  We settled in at the Twin Rivers RV Park ($25/night) for the next few days.

Wednesday, October 10.  What an adventure today was for us, starting with an alarm going off at 6:15 this morning. We scurried to have breakfast, walk and feed Frisco, and get to the  Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad station by 8:30.  We boarded a tour bus that took us on the same route to Antonito that we drove on Monday, although in the opposite direction. Only this time, we could enjoy the scenery in comfort with someone else doing the driving.  

The route is about 60 miles and as we went up in elevation, the temperatures went down and the roads started to get covered in snow.  On top of the mountain in the La Monga Pass, we came to a stop, with a bit of fish tailing before the complete stop. Our driver, who had driven in snow, but not since last year, assessed the situation and decided that he needed to put chains on, but he had no experience in doing so.  Several passengers got out to help and we were back on the road in about an hour.  The chains were only needed for about 2 miles, so we stopped again and they were removed.  We arrived in Antonito where there was no snow, an hour late but our train back to Chama was waiting for us.  

The train itself is considered to be America's longest and highest narrow gauge train, is designated as a National and State Registered Historic Site and a National Civil Engineering Landmark.

I don't think we could have gotten much more enjoyment from $100 than we did today. The train chugged, steamed, and tooted as we worked our way through valleys, around curves, over trestles, through tunnels, over gorges, up mountains, and across rivers with gorgeous tree lined hills and valleys to view.  Sometimes it was sunny, other times it was snowing like crazy and the ground and trees were covered in white.  The Aspens were colorful - from greens to yellow to gold and some were brown or naked.  We climbed about 2,000 feet and the highest point we reached was in Cumbres at 10,015 feet.

About half way through the route, we made a stop at Osier for lunch. It was well organized as individual orders were taken when we boarded the train and the options were for Soup and Salad, a complete turkey dinner (Tom's choice), or a complete meatloaf dinner (my choice). Tom and I were the first off our car and the first in line for our meal. It was all made from scratch and included beverages and dessert.  The break was only an hour because of our getting off to a late start.

The last half of the trip was a steep climb into snow covered Rocky Mountains with beautiful views of the Rio de Los Pinos river flowing through the valley below.  Some of the points of interest were:  Tanglefoot Curve, Cumbres, Windy Point, and the Lobato

Trestle before we approached Chama.  There was no longer snow on the ground, the skies were blue and the sun was shining.  It was 5:15 when we landed and we hurried him me to let Frisco out - the poor dog was inside for 10 hours - and there were no surprises when we arrived.  What a great and easy dog he is to have around.

Friday, October 12.  Not much to write about Thursday, as it was a cold, wet, gloomy day - all day long.  We did get a walk in and we went to the High Country Restaurant for dinner. I had a yummy cup of Green Chili Stew and some chicken wings and Tom opted for a burger smothered in green chili sauce.

Friday was the day to move on. The sun was out and the 38 degrees seemed much warmer than it actually was - and we were heading to Gallup, NM where it is expected to be a bit warmer.  We even had to run our cars with the defrost on, as our windshields were frozen.  We were hooked up and on the road by 9:30.

Heading straight west on US-64 to Farmington, the very scenic route took us through parts of the Carson National Forest.  We gassed up and then headed south on NM-371 and there wasn't much 'scenic' about it - a 100 mile stretch of nothing but high desert.  As we came through the town of Thoreau, we were right in the midst of the high school homecoming parade with folks lined up along both sides of the street.  I did get a glimpse of a guy being wrestled into a police car by 2 cops, while another guy was being held down on the ground by a cop.  Who knows what the story behind that was?

We arrived at our destination, the USA RV Park ($35/night) in Gallup, NM where we will stay until Monday - the 3-day hop continues. This park is so nice with spacious, level sites, friendly staff, nice facilities and to top it off - a yummy pulled pork sandwich and bag of chips for $5 - no wonder we keep coming back here.

Saturday, October 13.  Today begins the 2nd year of our relationship - it all started when we were settled in at Joyce and Burrall's Shady Rest a year ago today.  I have to admit that it has been a roller coaster ride at times but we are both willing to hold on and enjoy  and to make it a good life for each other. 

Tom did some research and found a nice hike for us today at Red Rock State Park.  We parked the car and headed out on the Church Rock Trail and it ended up being 2.5 miles out and back. The trail was rugged, sometimes quite narrow, with some steps constructed out of beams and some were carved out right in the rockstar it wound and twisted along a canyon. The final part of the trail that got close to the featured rock formation was a bit sketchy, Frisco was slipping a bit, and we decided not to risk it and turned back.   We took the dry riverbed that paralleled the trail for part of the return trip.  We both imagined how nasty it would be if the ground was wet.

We also went to the Gallup Flea Market and found lots of junk - cheap jewelry, blankets, auto parts, tools, some produce, Native American foods (fry bread, mutton, green chiles, pine nuts), and there was even hay and feed for cattle across the street. 

Tonight, we went out for a Mexican dinner, starting at El Charrito, but we left there when we learned that we couldn't have a Cerveza or Margarita with our dinner. A bit closer to home and 4.1 stars was Virgie Restaurant and Lounge and we were glad that we ended up there.  Early on, we had a bit of reservation about going there because it is located in between an adult book store and a Chinese massage joint.

Our waitress was friendly, drinks were good, and the food was delicious - what more could you ask for?  The only negative was vendors coming to the table to sell their cheap jewelry - it gave me an uncomfortable feeling and I didn't feel it was appropriate to interrupt my dinner experience with a sales pitch.  One little girl (about 8 years old) told us that she wanted to earn some money so she could shop at the new Hobby Lobby store in town.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

October 1 - 7, 2018, KS, CO

Monday, October 1.  Today's drive along US Hwy 40 and CO 94 took us through the barren lands of Kansas and Colorado (about 225 miles), the terrain was nothing like what we had seen in the north eastern part of the state.  There wasn't a gas station along the 70 mile stretch on 94, and not much else either.  We finally found gas at Ellicott, about 20 miles from Joyce and Burrall's house.

We got settled and when Joyce got home, we caught up on lost time, then when Burrell got home, we talked some more and then headed in to Colorado Springs for dinner at Chili's.  I had a yummy sirloin, topped with roasted avocado (never heard of it before) mixed green salad, and roasted tomato and garlic.

Wednesday, October 3.  It's been nice hanging out here, such a beautiful place with views of the Rocky Mountains, Aspen trees fluttering in the wind, Jackrabbits hopping around on the grassy plain, and the temperatures have been decent. In fact, a high of 85 degrees today was welcome.  It's not going to stay though, as it will be pretty cold until we get to AJ.

Yesterday, I got the itch to do some 'me' shopping, so I headed to Colorado Springs to browse Tuesday Morning, Ross, Marshalls, and TJMax. A little shopping therapy is always good for the soul.

Tom, Joyce, and I also did some shopping today, driving 60 miles to the IKEA store in Centennial to get the duvet cover that we had picked out back in August at the Minneapolis store but was out of stock.

The sunset was gorgeous tonight and we stood out  on the taxiway and watched it with Joyce and Burrall.   The dark cloud with lightening streaks that was hanging over us ended up giving us some much needed rain - probably not enough, as the area has been in a 3-year drought.  After our walk, we watched the movie, "Open Range" with Robert Duvall,  Kevin Costner, and Annette Benning with them. We have all seen it before but it was just as good this time around and it sure was nice to sit on a cushy sofa in front of a big screen TV for a change.

Thursday, October 4. Happy Birthday to my sweet brother, Bob!  

Brrrrrr! It is cold and windy outside today and my morning walk with Frisco was not nice. The wind hitting my face was so cold that my eyes were watering.  Later on, when Tom and I walked, it wasn't much better.  It was supposed to hit 65 but that didn't happen until 3:00.  

We spent the day doing house cleaning, airing out the rugs, laundry, and Tom helped Joyce with a gardening project.  When our chores were done, we went grocery shopping and that project took 2 hours, although the list wasn't all that long.  Safeway chicken was our dinner tonight.

After dinner, we joined Joyce and Burrall and watched Big Bang and Little Sheldon with no commercials - very nice!

Sunday, October 7. Happy 5th Birthday to my beautiful twin Granddaughters, Camille and Norah. I regret that I cannot be there to celebrate with them this year. Instead, I will be celebrating with Tom's lovely sister, Joyce.  Also, it's Happy 40th Anniversary to my brother Bob and his lovely wife, Penny. Many good things have happened on this day!

   Camille and her rainbow birthday cake.

   Norah and her unicorn birthday cake

Friday was a beautiful, sunny day and we spent it hanging around, went for a nice walk, and enjoyed the warmth.  It was predicted to make a drastic change later in the afternoon, and it did. It got cold and very, very windy.

We took Joyce and Burrell to Biaggi's Italian restaurant to celebrate their birthdays and we had a lovely dinner, good wine, a dessert to share, and lots of fun conversation.

It was about 40 degrees out when we got up on Saturday morning - BRRRRRRR! The wind wasn't quite as bad as the night before. We were trying to come up with something to do - there were no movies playing that we were interested in seeing, so we decided to bundle up and head out for a hike.  Joyce knew of a place nearby, so we headed to Homestead Ranch Park and had a nice 2+mile hike. The wind was still brisk but it was comfortable once we got moving and were not facing into the wind. The hiking path took us up into some rocky hills that were covered with Pine trees - beautiful Colorado.

    We climbed down this rocky hillside after missing the path that led back to the parking lot.

We mapped out our route to our next stop at Chama, NM where we will spend the next 4 days and take a tour on the Cumbres and Toltec Railway that goes from Chama by tour bus through the mountains to Antonito, CO and back by train with a stop for lunch along the way.  The problem is - weather.  A snow advisory is in effect for the mountaintops and we will be driving through some passes, the highest being around 10,000 feet. Burrall tells us that we should be all right, as these areas are not known for having extreme weather or road conditions.  We will be watching it and can always change our plans, if needed.

After dinner, we played a game of Scrabble and one of Farkel. A very nice day!

It was another cold one this morning, 37 degrees, but the wind was gone and the fog blocked our view of the mountains, but it sure felt a lot warmer.

We had a few items to get in town - I forgot dog food earlier in the week and Tom needed a stocking cap to keep his head warm and I needed some wool socks to keep my feet warm, so we took care of that this morning.