Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reflections on 2016

It's hard to believe we are teetering on the edge of a new year already. Where did this one go? Or, more relevantly, where did WE go in 2016?

Bob and I started out our year in Williamsburg, NM, as volunteers at Desert Haven Animal Rescue. On March first we left Desert Haven and 69 miles into our journey to Tucson we had a tire blow out so it took an extra day to make it to Arizona. We spent a month with our friends, Mike and Retha in Tucson before moving on to Yuma for a few days and then to California.

In California we stayed in Indio, visited our daughter's in-laws in Bakersfield, and stopped in Gustine,where we detoured by car to visit Jill Sanders of Saori Santa Cruz.  There, we also saw giant Redwoods for the first time at Redwood State Park. We then moved on to Groveland just outside of Yosemite National Park where we spent an exciting 5 days seeing Yosemite's beauty.
From Yosemite we drove southeast to Merced and then Three Rivers, CA where we spent four days in and around Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park.

We stayed a night in Mojave before moving on to Las Vegas for three nights, where we also visited the Hoover Dam.

From Las Vegas we were Utah-bound. We visited Zion National Park and then Bryce Canyon National Park, where we took a tour on horseback.
We stopped in the Lake Powell area in Arizona and Kirtland, NM on our way to Santa Fe, NM, where we stayed for a month, seeing the area and visiting Taos, NM.

Before leaving New Mexico we had to see White Sands National Park so we spent two nights in Alamogordo before moving on to Texas. We were heading for our niece's wedding in San Antonio, and stopped briefly in Van Horn and Sonora, TX on the way there.

We had a great time in San Antonio for six nights, visiting with family. Then we were New Jersey-bound! It took us ten days to get from San Antionio, TX to Cherry Hill, NJ. On the way we stopped in Livingston, TX, Monroe, LA, Cottondale, AL, and Carrollton, GA. Bob and I took a breather and visited with Mike and Retha, before moving on to Ashville, NC, and from there to Bridgewater, VA before making our destination in NJ.

Five lovely weeks later we drove up to Massachusetts for a week to visit family. We returned to NJ and stayed a bit longer before heading west to the Grand Canyon of PA, staying in Cedar Run, PA for about a week.
From Cedar Run we stopped in Beavertown, PA, Falling Waters, WV, and Salem, VA before arriving in Pigeon Forge, TN where we visited Dollywood.

We spent almost a month in Tennessee, spending time in Heiskell, Crossville, and Goodlettesville outside of Nashville. We were able to hang out with Mike and Retha there.
Bob and I went to West Memphis, AR before heading to North Little Rock, AR to visit the William Clinton Presidential Library.

We stayed briefly in Texarkana and Livingston, TX before spending a week with family in Temple, TX. From Temple, we met up with friends Ron and Kathy in Kerrville, TX. Then it was on to Fort Stockton and Van Horn, TX before making a stop in Las Cruces where we hung out with our friends Chuck and Linda for a week and were also able to visit with friends John and Joan.

We spent two weeks in Benson, AZ before stopping in Yuma for the winter.

Whew! We sure did a lot of moving around this year, didn't we? And next year we get to do it all over again, except in some new places! Comparing to last year, we stopped at 54 different sites in 2015 but only 48 in 2016. Our goal is to stay longer on our short hops from one place to another, but we shall see if that is possible for us. We get in "gotta get there" mode and just keep pushing.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Crafting in 2016

Its hard when you set the bar so high. Upon revisiting my end of the year post of last year, I saw that I completed 36 craft projects in 2015. This year? I finished 40, amazing myself (I may be too easily amazed, however.)  Here is my list:

Pirn Scissor Holder Necklace, January
Color Gamp woven on Piccolo, January
Handwoven/Felted Low Slippers for me, February
High-top slippers for Alex, Jillian, Quinn, Eve, Anthony, and me, February
Tape woven on Bob's handcrafted reproduction tape loom, February
Not a Mermaid Scarf on AKL, April
Handwoven Roller Towels (2), May
Hearts Band, both Sunna heddle and double-holed versions, May
Orange/yellow pickup inkle band, May
Band with Words for my friend April, May
Knitted Shawl, June
Pink crocheted dishcloth, June
Weaving project with grandkids on Piccolo, July
Crocheted Cat Necklace for Quinn, July
Sunna Heddle Sampler with gradations of pink, August
White Tencel Scarf woven with 3/1 floats, August
Cat collar sewn from orange/yellow pickup band, August
Lumbar Pillow with handwoven fabric from stash, September
Plaid Cloth woven with 5/2 cotton & 15 dpi heddle, September
1/2" turquoise/brown/black pickup inkle band for Auggie's leash, September
Saori-woven Blue Mobius Cowl on Piccolo, September
Matching 3/4" pickup inkle band for Auggie's collar, September
Japanese Knot Bag sewn using 5/2 plaid, October
Inklette-woven Purple Lanyard, October
Sigga heddle bands, October
Sigga Heddle Band Candle, November
Cream-colored Mobius Cowl, November
Rob's Hat, knitted, December
Christmas Tree card-woven band, December
Knitted Santa Hat, December
Jillian's Fish Scard, December
Snow Fox Scarf knitted for Eve, December
Red Fox Scarf knitted for Quinn, Decembe
Black/White/Red Knitted Hat for Alex, December
Red Knitted Hat for Jillian, December

The only month I didn't work on a project was March, which was very busy with sightseeing and with friends. The majority of items were woven, in addition to sewing, knitting, crochet, and making a pirn scissor holder (what kind of craft would you even call that?)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Fox Scarves Finished

Bob and I have had a lovely Christmas. We enjoyed the park's well-attended Christmas Eve service before settling in for the night. On Christmas Day we had homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast and I roasted a small turkey for our traditional feast. We opted not to participate in the pot-luck even though we were invited by several people as we strolled around outside in the 65 degree weather with Auggie.

I finished the fox scarves for granddaughters Eve and Quinn while watching holiday movies on TV. They were so much fun to make, and really quick to knit.
Here is the link to the free pattern for a werewolf scarf, that I adapted to knit these scarves. 

On Monday I warped up my 12" Ashford Knitters Loom for a krokbragd project, but may not have time to start weaving it until after the New Year. Bob and I have volunteered for the decorating committee again, to help set up for the New Years Eve party Saturday night. We helped on Tuesday to pull decorations out of storage sheds, and will have a meeting this afternoon. We have heard it will be about a six hour task to set up the decorations, and aren't sure when our coordinator will want us to do that.

We have been getting absolutely no sympathy for our chilly temperatures here, which have dropped into the high 50s to low 60s. With wind, which makes it even worse. Stop laughing! It's COLD! Yuma, we've been told, gets chilly weather for the last two weeks in December and the first two weeks in January. After that, it will be nice again. I guess our blood has gotten thinner since our years living in the Northeast. 

Today we are off to Walmart to do a bit of grocery shopping, and to the post office to mail a spindle off to its new home in California. And bake some burger rolls for this evening's hamburgers, attend our decorating committee meeting, and go to choir practice. A busy day!

Friday, December 23, 2016

60% Chance of Crafting

Our week has been busy-busy so far. On Monday night Bob and I went out to dinner at a great Italian restaurant called Da Boyz, located in the historic Kress building in Old Town Yuma.
The building was built in 1926 to be a five and dime store. Later, when Kress went out of business, the building housed a bakery. It is a really neat place for a restaurant, and the food was excellent.

On Tuesday I went to yoga class. Bob was unable to golf because the winds were blowing too hard and the golf course was closed. Some folks were bothered by the chilly 62 degrees. The fellow mowing the lawns got all dressed up, while the woman behind him was comfortable in short sleeves and sandals.
We went to burger night and had a great time socializing with friends over burgers and a beer.

Now, in between all this galivanting, I have been knitting. I made a hat for grandson, Alex. This is a three color version of Rob's Hat. It requires about 1/2 skein of Vanna's Choice worsted weight yarn in white, and about 1/3 skein each of black and red. I eliminated a couple of rows to make the pattern come out right, but this hat is so stretchy that it is no problem to do that. I have quite a large head and it still fits me just fine, so it probably would fit any adult or teen.

Another hat will be for his sister, Jillian
An Arctic Fox scarf for Eve
A Santa hat for me
And a new Christmas bracelet

On Thursday we had a Christmas concert and steak dinner. Bob and I volunteered to help with decorating which was a lot of fun and gave us the opportunity to meet some really nice people. The ballroom looked very nice when we were done, and the food and entertainment were great, too. 
About 75 guests were there to enjoy the steak dinner and watch the show.

Wishing all of you a wonderful Christmas, Hannukah, Kwaanza, Winter Solstice, or other holiday of your choice!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Crafting and Such

We are having a great time here in Yuma! On Wednesday, Bob and I toured a couple of model homes at the park. They were very nice but neither one knocked our socks off. If we ever bought a home at a campground we would most likely purchase a pre-owned unit, anyway. But it's always fun to look and to dream!

After the tour I went to check out the choir practice. I had so much fun in high school chorus oh-so-many-years ago, and I always wanted to join the church choir but it was pretty hard finding a free evening to commit to every week. Now I have the time! The women were super-nice, and very excited to have another person sign up so I felt very welcomed. And I really enjoyed the service here in the park on Sunday so it feels like a great fit.

On Friday I joined the Sit 'n Stitch group, bringing my Seidel Card Loom set up for a Christmas Tree band. It worked up quickly and was a fun weave.
On Saturday, Bob and I went over to a Golf Liquidation store in town, and Bob found a 4 & a 5 iron that he needed, for a total of $25. Such a deal! Afterwards we ate lunch at Wienerschnitzels, a hot dog stand that specializes in chili dogs. I had a Kraut Dog with sauerkraut and it was yummy.

I've been busy crafting in other ways, too.  I found out that my granddaughter, Jillian, wanted a scarf shaped like a fish. No problem! I took a handwoven scarf I had made but never worn, and with a little snipping and a little sewing, made her one. I think it turned out rather cute, don't you?
Sunday evening was the Parade of Golf Carts here in the park. People decorate their golf carts with lots of lights, play music, and dress up to compete for Best Decorated Golf Cart.
Oh, and as they proceed slowly along the parade route (up and down the park roads,) they stop every few houses to have a drink, set out by welcoming park residents. Our neighbors had a fire pit set up and the booze was flowing.
We enjoyed the company and were probably some of the few folks who didn't wake up hungover this morning.

The wind came up in the night, and although temperatures are in the mid-60s, we are staying in today.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ain't Never Had Too Much Fun...

...until yesterday! A new yoga class was starting Tuesday morning, run by a woman from a local yoga studio, so I biked over and joined the group. I enjoyed it, and look forward to becoming more limber. Afterwards, I bicycled back and relaxed for a bit while Bob played 9 holes of golf. He has just joined a 9-hole men's league.

A little later, it was back to the pool for a swim and a soak in the hot tub.  High temperatures this week have been hovering around 77 and the heated pool feels wonderful! We returned to the motorhome on our bikes, changed out of the wet clothes and biked back for Hamburger Night at the Cantina, where we met a delightful couple who regaled us with their travel stories as we enjoyed our burgers. I also found out about an open craft time on Fridays that I'd like to check out. Maybe I'll bring a small loom and weave.

Our neighbors hailed us over for Happy Hour as we rode up to our rig, so being the friendly folk that we are, we joined them.  An hour and a half just flew by, and Bob and I made a gracious exit so we could head over to the Ballroom for a 7:00 class in Western Line Dancing.

It turned out to be a two hour class, and we lasted an hour before returning home. We did learn three dances, though, and it was a lot of fun, so we'll be back next week and hopefully stay the whole class.

Whew! Maybe we DID have too much fun!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Lunch in Mexico

Bob and I have been thinking about running over to Los Algodones, Mexico for lunch, so on Friday we did just that. Yuma is so close to Algodones that we left our campground at 10:45 am, and a half hour later we were passing through the turnstiles and walking onto Mexican soil.
The walkway into Algodones. The flag front left is the American flag and off to the right you can see the Mexican flag.

We decided to look for "The Mines" (las Minas) because our neighbors at the campground, Kay and Steven, recommended that store for a fun jewelry shopping experience. I had been Googling and was unable to find any mention of its location through Internet search. We started off along a side street to the right.

But I got distracted along the way when this poncho caught my eye.
I liked that it was wool, it wasn't too long, that it had a collar, and that the fringe went all along the curved shaping of it. The vendor offered it to me for $36 and I bargained him down to $22, which was a good deal. It would have cost me more than that to buy yarn to weave it. Plus I can use it as a pattern to make a similar one, one day.  If you are on Ravelry, I put construction details here.

After we concluded the sale, I asked the vendor where we could find las Minas. He offered to take us there since the shop owner was a friend of his, and led us over to the shop.

I was glad he did, because we never would have found it otherwise! The sign is small. If you are looking for it, here's how to locate it. When you enter Los Algodones, go straight past the Purple Store, for one block. You'll see this building on the corner. 
 Turn left down this side street and you'll come to The Mine on your left. It's easy to miss.
Inside we were introduced to Señor Ramos, the owner and jewelry designer. We were offered a free drink or two, either beer, or tequila mixed with a lovely liqueur that tastes very yummy. We might have had a couple. American jewelry stores should do this!

Señor Ramos weighed out the earrings I chose, and also showed us some of his special jewelry designs in Australian opals. They were more money than we wanted to spend but I did come home with these lovely little palm trees.

We said goodbye to Señor Ramos after eliciting a recommendation for a place to go for lunch. He was happy to suggest a restaurant right across the alley and up the stairs, called the Alamo Restaurant.
We found the food to be very good and not expensive, and my poncho was the perfect weight to keep me comfortable on the terrace. 

Bob and I finished with lunch and decided to head back to Yuma. The line to pass through Customs was pretty long but we were entertained by men playing accordions and women offering to sell us trinkets. The Customs agents glanced at our passports and bid us a good day with a smile.

We will be back most likely in January, when we have our annual teeth cleaning. Unless we go to San Luis, which is a temptation for me to visit another border town. We shall see!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cocopah Museum & Cultural Center

The Cocopah (Kwapa)--the River people-- have lived in this area for over 3,000 years. On Wednesday Bob and I visited the Cocopah Museum in Yuma, AZ to learn more about these indigenous people.

The museum is set in a beautiful park landscaped with Sonoran Desert cacti, shrubs, and trees.

Outside is a traditional dwelling, open in the front to catch any breeze and built of Cottonwood poles with a straw roof. To the right is a winter home constructed over an excavated pit to provide protection and insulation from the cold nights.
A beautiful mural welcomes visitors to the museum 
Dolls dressed in clothing typical of the era of European goods. Prior to this time, the Cocopah women wore willow bark skirts and feather bundles, while men wore loincloths. Body painting, tattoos, and shell necklaces were common for both men and women.
Elaborately beaded women's capes are displayed here. Just beautiful!
Woman's costume, complete with beaded cape and necklace of jaw harp (also called Jew's harp, mouth harp, or juice harp.) This ancient instrument is held between the teeth and struck with a finger to make musical sounds.

We spent some time in the gift shop talking with a Cocopah man who was happy to share his culture with us. I learned that the Cocopah have no weaving culture except for some very simple and utilitarian baskets used for storing grain. I did also see what appeared to be a finger-woven band, very simply woven without pattern, used to bind a child to a cradle board. It may have been an item taken in trade, however. Our host had no knowledge of this type of band. 

Bob and I ended our outing by picking up a large bag of roasted Spanish Peanuts from the Peanut Patch. We look forward to going here every year to stock up!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Rob's Hat and Photos of our Campground

It only took me six months to knit this hat.
Back in July, my grandson, Rob, asked me to knit him a replacement hat for one I had knitted him years ago. It took me a day to work out the pattern (don't laugh, you experienced knitters!) I wasted a lot of time learning how to knit Portuguese-style, just because I wanted to. Then I lost one of my needles. In the end, I reverted to Continental-style knitting and finished it in a few hours. Here are my directions:

Use a worsted-weight yarn in two colors. I used part of a ball each in two colors of Vanna's Choice yarn, 6 stitch markers, and a US size 9, (5.5 mm) straight needle. Gauge is 16 sts and 28 rows = 4".

Cast on 40 stitches in color A.
Setup row: In color A, k10, p5, k5, p5, k5, p5, k5. PM between each stitch change.
Row 1: Switch to color B, k5, p5, k5, p5, k5, p5, k10.
Row 2: k10, p5, k5, p5, k5, p5, k5. 
Rows 3 & 4: Repeat rows 1 & 2 in color A
Continue rows 1-4 for a total of 34 times, carrying each color rather than cutting and joining.

Stitch up back seam by hand, then gather top edge. Weave in ends. Fold up brim. You can use either side of the knitted fabric for the front, depending on whether you want to see more of the knit side or purl side. Mine here is showing more purl.

This hat will fit a child to an adult. It's quite stretchy.  If you want to see a three color version of this hat, click here.

Yesterday I went to a yoga meet and greet. I'd like to join the Tuesday morning class--we'll see how I like it. In the mean time, I'm taking every opportunity to ride my bike. There's just something about biking that makes me feel 10 years old again!

I took a few photos to show some of the sights in the park.
The pond near the office 
View of the nearby mountains, across the Colorado River
One of the golf courses here
Tennis courts
The heated swimming pool

Last night we went to the Cantina for Burger Night, and met some nice folks from Minnesota and Idaho. I think today we will mail off Rob's hat and do some exploring of the area.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Enjoying the Campground

Bob and I are enjoying some beautiful weather now that the windstorm has ended. High temperatures are in the low 70s with a light breeze and the sun is glorious! Yuma boasts an average of 308 sunny days a year, about 4" of rain a year, and 0" of snowfall. It's a popular place for snowbirds, that's for sure! There are more than 65 campgrounds in Yuma to choose from, plus places to boondock if that's your preference.

Yesterday I took a drive over to the Kofa Ko-op SKP Park in Yuma, where we have our name on a waiting list for a bare lot.  We like Kofa's pool, friendly people, the daily craft group (well, I like that, anyway!) and low cost. We would have stayed there this winter if they could have promised us a site for three months, but since they couldn't, I think we have a good place to be. Afterwards I went to Yuma Palms, which is a shopping area with a lot of big box stores--J. C. Penney, Dillards, Petsmart, Marshalls, Jo-Ann Fabrics, etc. We are learning the area and it's pretty easy to get around here. Bob stayed home to await a propane delivery. They come to your rig, which is very nice. Some other places require you to pack up and drive to a dispensing area to have your tanks filled.

Once a month here the campground offers "Soup Night." People bring either a crockpot full of soup, a salad, or a dessert to share. I love that I can whip up a batch of brownies and my dinner prep is done! We enjoyed a great meal and had fun chatting with some new friends.

Today I'm checking out a yoga class.

This is a great place to ride bikes, too. The campground is quite large so we can ride up and down streets to make a nice long course. I intend to ride daily here.

I'll post photos soon, I promise!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

And the Wind Blew

We arrived safely at our campground in Yuma, AZ, despite a road closure near our destination that resulted in a detour down a dirt road. Not fun! By the time we settled in we were frazzled and tired from our nearly 300 mile trip from Benson, AZ, and all we wanted to do was relax in front of some TV. But what did we discover? The cable that was promised to us when I made the reservation was not available. Instead, we could only access advertisements for the local cable company. I called the campground office and was told that the cable company changed things a couple of months ago and guests now had to rent a box to get cable. And yet on the campground website I saw that they still boasted that cable was included in the monthly rate.

Momma didn't raise no fool.

I told them that this was unacceptable and they needed to come up with a way to provide us with cable at no additional cost to us. The next morning, Bob spoke with the manager and received a loaner cable box at no charge with promise of another one when it became available. We have cable now, which is good because our antenna only brings in six stations and three are in Spanish.

Last night the wind began to blow. And blow. And blow some more. Now, I grew up in New England, where winter storms rage and dump sometimes three feet of snow or more at a time. I had the same feeling with this wind storm. Even though temperatures were in the mid-60s, the wind was biting and felt much colder. Bob and I went out for a walk and agreed we had never been in winds so strong. The motorhome was rocking! We were glad to be in a part of Arizona where there was a lot of grass, because otherwise it would have been a sand storm.

Later today, the wind finally died down and we took a drive to Yuma Palms Mall where there are a lot of big stores. It's going to take a little time to learn our way around here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Chiricahua National Park Monument and The Thing

On Monday, our TV in the living room stopped working, and we went right out and bought a new one to replace it. We were unable to find a 37" model, which was the original size, but found a 43" one that looked good, and since televisions have larger screens now in relation to the border around the screens, the new TV looks fine in that space. Bob spent half the day on Tuesday, McGuyvering the old wall mount to fit the new TV.  We are happy.

So on Wednesday, our last full day here in Benson, AZ, we drove East to Chiricahua National Park Monument, one of the least-visited park in the National Park Parks system. What a treat! Chiricahua is known for its columns, pinnacles, and balanced rocks. I couldn't get over how beautiful this area is, and I don't think I've ever seen the sky so blue.  

We drove up to Massai Point, walked a short trail and then walked part of the Canyon Trail to an area called the Grotto (about a mile each way.) Here are a few of my favorite photos.
 The view from Massai Point. The Dragoon Mountains are in the far distance off to the left.
I'm old enough to remember the Old Man in the Mountain, in the White Mountains of NH. This is Cochise, chief of the Chiricahua Apaches. The rock formation is made of rock formed by volcanic ash.
Harris Mountain may be seen in this photo.
Bob posed in front of one of the amazing rock formations on the Canyon Trail.
Columns and pinnacles seen from the Canyon Trail

After we finally got our fill of the beauty in this area, we headed back towards Benson. But first, I was able to convince Bob to detour so that we could see The Thing. If you have ever traveled Rte 10 in this area, you have seen the many billboards telling you to stop and see The Thing. It was time. I wanted to see it.

We arrived at the tourist trap (for that is truly what it is) and paid our $1 each to get into the "museum" filled with kitchy items such as old vehicles, sculptures, and antique thingamabobs. Near the end of the tour was The Thing, in a concrete block case covered with a glass top.

I asked a staff member about The Thing. According to the salesperson at the jewelry counter, it is an "authenticated" mummified human body, discovered in the bottom of the Grand Canyon over 50 years ago. It has not been carbon-dated so its actual age is not known. Poor "thing," to have come to such a fate.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Chiricahua National Monument, I urge you to do so. It is worth the trip. As for The Thing, I'll leave it up to you whether it is worth a dollar or not.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Tombstone, AZ

We feasted again on Friday, and even were able to bring home some leftovers of turkey, stuffing, and some yams and bread. I have always felt that the leftovers were the best part of a holiday meal.

I was able to complete my annual birthday shopping for the grandchildren, and even managed to snag some Black Friday deals from King Arthur Flour and get the silicone muffin cups that I wanted from Amazon. I have alerted the campground in Yuma that some packages will arrive before we do, and the staff has assured me that the boxes will be held in anticipation of our arrival.

I must admit that we did not do much over the weekend except read and enjoy some peace and quiet. I made some fresh pasta on Sunday, with a marinara sauce from my pressure cooker. I do love Italian food!

After a quiet weekend, Bob and I decided to do some sightseeing, so we headed for Tombstone, AZ. It was a very pretty ride.
 Mountains off in the distance
 The Golden Eagle Brewery and Crystal Palace
Tombstone has a historical district that appears much as it did in 1881, when the Earp brothers had their famous shootout at the OK Corral.
Here are a couple of the Earp brothers. There are reenactors that put on a gunfight several times during the day.
A wooden Indian outside one of the many tourist shops in Tombstone. Besides the usual souvenirs, there is an entire store devoted to period costumes for men and women.
Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park & Museum 
Inside the historic courthouse 
 Boot Hill, where townspeople and desperadoes lie buried 
"Here lies Lester Moore
Four slugs
From a 44
No Les
No more"
The McLaury brothers and Billy Clanton, killed in the shootout at OK Corral, are interned here.

It was a nice day to visit this town, with not a lot of tourists around. We pretty much had the place to ourselves. Worth a trip!