Friday, October 30, 2020

Sunday, November 1, 2020

I guess I’m on a weekly writing routine. There were actually two highlights this week - I met up with Connie last Monday at Gilbert Riparian and we walked and talked for two and a half hours. It was so good to see her again - I sure miss our road trips, local adventures, and friendship, but we caught up on the last couple of years. It was great!

Tom bought a shed from Millie this week. We had looked at several that were for sale and there was a lot of shed activity going on in this park this week. We were offered one that sat next door to us in site 50 ($50) but it was old and rough and would need some paint and repairs, so the offer was turned down and management hauled it away. Then the wheeling and dealing started when we learned that Willie and Ed were buying Mike and Dallas’s 8x10 ($700-complete with AC) so their 8x8 would be for sale ($200). Millie bought Willie and Ed’s, so her 6x8 came up for sale and we bought it for $100. 

Tom enlisted Bruce to help him get it to our site and the process was pretty cool.  The required tools were concrete blocks, a long pry bar, and an old single bed frame with heavy duty wheels, a rope for pulling, and a golf cart. One guy makes a fulcrum and pries the base of the shed to raise it and the other guy places concrete blocks under the corners until it is high enough to get the bed frame underneath. Then, the corners are raised to remove the concrete blocks so the shed sits on the bed frame. The rope is attached to the golf cart and it is rolled to its next home and the process is repeated. It only took an hour until it was positioned and 

The Halloween Street Dance that was scheduled for Saturday night was canceled because there weren’t enough people who signed up. They were hoping to have a distanced event but people are still being cautious. This Halloween was also a Blue Moon and the end of daylight savings time. 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Saturday, October 24, 2020

I spent 2.5 hours on the phone yesterday, comparing Medicare Advantage plans. It’s not like I was on hold a lot but the process took a long time. They go through the entire process with you, even though I had already done the comparisons and had decided on two options. After the selection process, you are transferred to an enrollment specialist and that took a long time to get through.  But it is done and I don’t have to do it again until next year if I decide to make a change. I am saving $30/month.

We haven’t done much this week other than hanging out here at the park, some chores, and the pool.

We have made some friends here in the park - Dan and Gail from North Dakota who live in one of the Villas behind us. We have had conversations while walking in the evening and ended up sitting on their patio talking into the night last night. It turns out that we are in a sea of Trump lovers and they feel the same as we do that the Dems can turn things around in November.

Gail told me about a shed that might be for sale, so we walked by Millie’s lot and talked with her and we claimed first dibs on her shed - a 6-8 for $100. The park manager has a single bed frame that has wheels mounted on it that is used for moving them.  After prying each corner with a steel bar to raise it and putting blocks under to get it above the frame, it is pushed onto the frame and rolled to wherever it needs to go and the process if reversed when it gets to its destination. We watched the operation and he and the work camper moved one that was next to us - it worked pretty slick. It will probably happen next week some time. It will be nice to get some of our excess stuff stored in there and will seem like we have so much more space in the trailer.

We ended up washing the trailer this afternoon after Tom borrowed a ladder and checked out the roof and learned that it was covered in a layer of dust - imagine that. Since he had the hose set up, I decided to wipe down the sides - he did the upper part that I couldn’t reach. It sure smells a lot cleaner.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Today is a sad day. My longtime friend and classmate, Susan, from Stoughton lost her husband, Dean today. They had been married for 52 years. I was shocked by the news this morning, although I knew that he was in serious condition and had been in the hospital the last ten days. He was hospitalized after experiencing severe back pain, then had some surgery to repair a vertebra, then was diagnosed with cancer and started having congestive heart failure.  

Susan and Dean met at Rusty’s bar in Middleton, WI the summer after our senior year of high school - the same place where Mike and I met. They have two sons. We haven’t always been close to each other distance-wise but have stayed in contact through the years and visited whenever were nearby. Class reunions are always fun. My heart is feeling heavy after this news. The photos are from the last time we were together when they visited Arizona in January of 2018.

The last week has been spent getting settled into our spot here at Shiprock. We have made it to the pool and hot tub a few times and have done quite a bit of shopping - online and in person.

Ben and his family have a new addition - Yoshi - 12 weeks old and unknown breeds, a Heinz-57.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

We were fed and loaded and checked out of our room by 9:00. Tom went down to start the truck and - nothing. We had left the plug-in cooler in the truck and it drained the battery. He hasn’t had good experiences with his roadside assistance, so I checked my policy - no roadside assistance. Of course, I just changed my policy to cover me for comprehensive only, since it is in storage. So he headed to the office to get a recommendation for someone to call and the friendly gal behind the desk said “I can do that for you”. She pulled her car next to Tom’s and a few minutes later it was a done deal and we were on the road.

An hour-and-a-half later, we pulled up to our site at Shiprock RV.  This is the route we took - we even saw a couple of wild horses in the river along Bush Highway.

Then we proceeded to set up and take inventory of all working components. Everything was working well and in good order, except for the layer of dust coating all surfaces. Fortunately, Tom and covered the couch and bed to protect them. We spent the afternoon unloading the truck, cleaning and getting organized. By dinner time, we were both too tired to do much of anything, so I ordered Chinese for delivery. With Door Dash, all went smoothly.

We did some grocery shopping today and walked out of Walmart with a $200 bill, quite a bit was beer, wine, booze and groceries. Leftover Chinese was out dinner and we are now sitting out on the patio watching the reflection of the sunset on the Superstition Mountains. What a view - we will enjoy it until some rigs move in there and block our nice view.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Sunday, October 11, 2020

I was awake at 6:30, got ready for the day, took Frisco for a walk, and Tom was up when I came back in. That led to us being on the road by 9am.  Today’s route started with beautiful views as we drove through Wildcat Canyon just south of Durango but the landscape leveled out as we went through a lot of Native American land in the Navajo and Zuni Pueblo’s. 

As we approached our destination of Payson, traffic picked up and we were bumper to bumper moving slowly for close to three miles - there was no construction or accident, only a narrowing from two lanes to one. We decided that it had to be weekend traffic heading back to the valley. When we checked into the motel, the clerk said it was like this ever Friday through Sunday.

Tomorrow, we get back to Apache Junction and see how the trailer stood up through the summer heat. Fingers crossed that all is well.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Saturday, October 10, 2020

We had breakfast, went for a short walk and packed up the car and headed for Durango. I had made a reservation for two nights but we are having second thoughts about that. This is the route we took. Although the distance was only 171 miles, it took us over five hours, as we reached the summit of at least four mountain peaks (Coalbank Pass, Molas Pass and Red Mountain Pass) along the way, stopped to explore a bit and at a couple of scenic overlooks.

The stretch of road between Ouray and Durango is called the Million Dollar Highway and is considered the most beautiful drive in the US, although it is quite treacherous in some areas. The uphills and downhills are steep, the are pullouts everywhere with access to trails, some curves have no guardrails day at places the road is quite narrow.  Tom did an excellent job of maneuvering the road and got us to our destination in time.

Yes, the dots are bugs on the windshield.

We arrived at the Caboose Motel and both had regrets almost immediately.  We were told our room wouldn’t be ready until 3:00 because the the disinfectant had to dry before it could be occupied.  So we drove around the town a bit and returned about 3:15.  The lady got a bit huffy with me and said the cleaning staff wouldn’t be done until 4:00, so we wandered around and then sat in a little fenced are of the property until she came out and told us to take a different room that was complete.  It is OLD and DATED, has few electric outlets, but it is clean and it’s only for one night.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Friday, October 8, 2020

We were so glad to observe people following CDC guidelines and to learn that this town has had only one new case in the last three weeks. Everyone is wearing masks. 

Our motel has a hot breakfast but their safe way of handling is that you call the front desk, place your order, and they box it up - you pick up in the lobby.  Although it was pre-prepared, it was tasty.

After breakfast, we took Frisco to the dog park (a couple of blocks from our motel) to romp around - his idea of rolling around is strolling with his head down, catching all of the different scents.  We then took a drive to explore the Gunnison River Canyon and Curicanti National Recreation Area and stopped at a couple of places along the way to walk the trails along the river. Again, Frisco got to dip his toes and tummy and slurp the cold, fast moving water.

The Gunnison River

                                                                           A cool sculpture along the river trail.

After taking short naps, we decided to explore a little more of Gunnison, so we headed to Hartman Rocks on County 38, then off on a gravel road and found it to be endless zigzagging trails through the hills and rocks, open to hikers, bikers, campers, cross country skiing in winter, and ATVs and Jeeps.  We went back to the county road and headed south again until it turned to gravel, then turned around and headed back to town. Along the way, I spotted this cloud in the sky and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The cloud is a lenticular (cap) cloud that indicates there is a strong wind flow down the slope on the side of the mountain without wind.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

We packed up and cleaned up the motor home, had breakfast, thanked our host and hostess for their wonderful hospitality, and said our goodbyes - until we meet again. 

This is the route we took to get to Gunnison although we made a few stops along the way. The drive through several canyons; Royal Gorge, Texas Creek, Monarch, and up to the summit of Monarch Mountain.  The golden yellow clumps of Aspens and the rippling water along the roadsides were gorgeous, although my photos don’t really do it justice.

Royal Gorge ($25, so we didn’t go to the bridge)


The Arkansas River, Frisco got to wet his feet and slurp up some cold, cold water.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Happy 7th Birthday to my sweet granddaughters Camille and Norah and 70th to Joyce.  This was what I saw on my first walk of the morning, about 7am. The dark line under the sun is smoke from forest fires, although there are none on the eastern plains.

For Joyce’s Birthday, we headed west on US24 to hike the trails of Grouse Mountain at Mueller State Park.  The trail took us uphill for about half a mile and we were all feeling the breathing changes at that elevation, all except Burrall who is a local boy and grew up in the mountains.  The best thing about going uphill is going back down.

Burrall made Hemingway Daquiri’s for all of us, followed by a yummy dinner of steak, potato, mushrooms, and bread to celebrate Joyce’s birthday.  She wore the t-shirt that her mother wore on her 70th birthday, it was signed by family and friends.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Joyce had some errands to run this morning, so Tom and I walked around the neighborhood. When she got back home we headed to Homestead Ranch Park at the edge of Black Forest with rolling tree-covered bluffs and a spring-fed pond. We walked and the dogs explored and it was a beautiful day.

Burrell cooked chicken wings and legs for dinner and Joyce made a yummy macaroni salad and we watched Cowboys and Aliens.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Monday, October 5, 2020

Tom, Joyce, and I went to the Calhan Paint Mines today and explored another of America’s beautiful wonders.  The park consists of 4 miles of trails that rise over 500 feet in elevation. It covers 750 acres, containing grassland and geological formations of hoodoos, colored clay and sandstone-capped spires. The site is protected by law because of the fragile environment, as well as the geological and archaeological significance of the artifacts, rocks, animals and plants.

We are here to celebrate Joyce’s 70th birthday with her and had considered going to a nice, Italian restaurant for dinner but the latest CDC reports suggesting that we avoid indoor environments with others due to the high rate of  COVID airborne transmissions, we reconsidered and had dinner at home again.  I made spicy baked shrimp for dinner, Joyce added a salad and cheesy broccoli, potatoes, and cauliflower.  Yummy stuff.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Back on Friday, we loaded up and were on the road by 9am after having a nice breakfast here at the hotel. We decided to take the route that the guy we talked with at the park suggested - a more scenic route than what we would find on the interstates.  So we followed this route and it took us about 45 minutes longer than the interstate route, but we did see more of Nebraska and Colorado:

It sure was nice to see Joyce and Burrell again and they are putting us up in their 40’ motor home that probably has as much room in it as the last hotel rooms we stayed in. Very nice, safe, and distanced accommodations for the next few days.

Home, Sweet Home

Lily, one of our delightful hosts.

Yesterday, Joyce, Tom and I and the dogs went for a nice long walk around the neighborhood that consists of nice homes on lots of 2.5 to 7 acres.  We have been lucky to see some wildlife here: large flocks of Sandhill Cranes flying at a high elevation on their southern migration, jackrabbits, and Bluebirds. Last night after dinner, Burrell spotted something flying straight toward the house and thought it was a hawk, but it was a Great Horned Owl that perched on a post at the edge of the yard. What a great sighting!  

Burrell fixed us a delicious chicken dinner and we had lots of good conversation and discussion about the latest news topic; our President has been hospitalized with COVID-19 after continuously refusing to wear masks, having huge rallies with his followers not wearing masks or keeping distance, and toting that the virus is nothing more than the flu. Several staffers and his wife have also tested positive. The outcome of this is going to be interesting.

This morning as I was walking Frisco, I spotted what I thought was a Coyote and it ended up being a large Red Fox walking through the grassy field.  Too bad I didn’t have a camera with me.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Thursday, October 1, 2020

It felt so good to not have an agenda today and I got a great night’s sleep. The continental breakfast here was very nice with an assortment of breakfast foods and fruits, although nothing hot. They even offered homemade banana bread that was yummy. We decided to stay one more night and see some of the local sights.

Our first stop for a walk with Frisco today was Cody Park that has some resident bison, deer, and elk.  Just as we started out on our walk, a beat up old pickup pulled over and we started a long conversation with Dick Peterson. He gave us some great trips for a scenic route to Joyce and Burrall’s home near Falcon, CO and he told us some great stories about the area. He was quite the talker.

We walked around the park, heading for a display of historic train cars and depot, although that was closed for the season. It was a nice park along the Platte River.

Our next stop was to learn about trains and we headed to the Golden Spike Tower that overlooks Bailey Yard, the world’s largest train yard that covers 2,850 acres, reaching a total length of eight miles. The yard is located in the midst of key east-west and north-south corridors, on the busiest freight rail line in America. Each day, Bailey Yard manages 10,000 railroad cars. Of those, 3,000 are sorted to make sure the cargo reaches its final destination.

Bailey Yard has 17 receiving and 16 departure tracks, handling 14,000 rail cars every 24 hours.  Around 3,000 cars are sorted each day in the yard’s eastward and westward classification yards, also known as “hump” yards. Using a mound cresting 34 feet for eastbound trains and 20 feet for those heading west, the hump yards allow four cars per minute to roll gently into any of 114 “bowl” tracks. Here they become part of trains headed for destinations in the East, West and Gulf Coasts of America, as well as the Canadian and Mexican borders. An average of 139 trains per day are largely comprised of raw and finished goods, such as automobiles, coal, grain, corn, sugar, chemicals, and steel along with consumer goods, including electronics, apparel and other retail products.

North Platte became a division point for the Union Pacific Railroad. Bailey Yard is where cars are sorted, railroad crews are exchanged, and maintenance or repairs is performed on equipment.

We stood at the top of the tower watching for quite a while. I was fascinated by the “hump”, watching locomotives push cars up to the top of the hump, and watching as 1 or more cars coasted down the hump onto a specific track when it would join other cars heading for the same destination. Most of what we saw were eastbound, but one train was all loaded up and headed west. It was amazing.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

We watched the first Presidential debate last night and it caused me lots of anxiety as our current President Trump was so rude - interrupting constantly and talking over Joe Biden, making false statements and taking credit where credit is not due him. He even went so far as to tell supremist groups to stand ready, as he will not accept the results of an election if he doesn’t win. Our country is really sad right now.

Our bags were loaded and we were on the road by 9 am. We both have an interest in seeing more of the area, so we headed west on US 30 (the loneliest road) that took us through lots of small towns, giving us a taste of rural Iowa and Nebraska.  The Historical Village and Visitor Center in Missouri Valley drew us in and we spent an hour walking the trail and checking out the historic village. It is located in the Loess (pronounced like ‘bus’) Hills geographic area that runs north and south through western Iowa, along the eastern edge of the Missouri River.   The landscape was interesting with prairie and forest covered bluffs, narrow ridges, and rolling hills. 

We settled in North Platte for the night or maybe two. The America’s Best Value Inn was our choice based on their raving reviews for a small, retro, $55 room with no additional fee for the dog. Although it is a little dated, it is spotless.

We walked to a nearby tavern, Dave’s Pub, for dinner and we were a little stressed as nobody was wearing masks and there was no distancing going on. I asked my friend Google for help and learned that this county has had 425 cases and only 4 deaths - so I felt a little less uncomfortable, had a beer and taco salad.