Thursday, December 28, 2017

Reflections on 2017, Part 2

After our wonderful visit in NJ ended, we once again headed west, stopping first at the Flight 93 Memorial and then at Fallingwater to tour one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous works.
We stopped in Lancaster, OH before moving on through Crawfordsville, IN and Knoxville, IL. We spent a couple of lovely days in Dubuque, IA with my niece, her husband, and her boys.

We lingered by the Mississippi River for a few days in LaCrosse, WI before traveling to Adrian, MN and then on to South Dakota. We saw the solar eclipse in Rapid City, SD, and visited Mt. Rushmore, Badlands National Park Park, and Custer State Park.

It was time to continue, so we headed north to North Dakota and spent time in both the South Unit and the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park Park, where we saw wild horses, bison, and a nest of baby rattlesnakes. We visited Bismarck and some fine museums there, learning more about the Louis and Clark expedition and Sacagawea.
From North Dakota we turned the motorhome southwest to Miles City, MT and the Terry Badlands, then headed to the Yellowstone area where we lingered for a couple of glorious weeks. We saw loads of elk, bison, a fox, a wolf and bear sanctuary, and the most wonderful views. We visited Old Faithful, the Grand Tetons and crossed the Continental Divide numerous times.
Leaving Yellowstone, we passed through Idaho Falls, ID, stopped into the Idaho State University Library in Pocatello, ID, then moved on to the Salt Lake City area where I was inspired to do a bit of genealogy. We passed through Green River and visited Moab, UT where we saw Arches National Park, Islands in the Sky NP, and Canyonlands NP.
From Utah, we moved on to Arizona, spending a night in Cameron before arriving in Mesa where we fell in love with a park model and decided to purchase a winter home. We spent a couple of weeks in Mesa before visiting friends in Tucson. Then we returned to Mesa for the winter season.
My daughter’s health concerns resulted in me flying to NJ for a few weeks, and I return in two days to my waiting husband and to poor Auggie (who is by now certain that I have abandoned them forever.) I will be returning to help out again when my daughter has surgery in February but until then I look forward to being reunited with Bob and seeing what he has been up to.

It has been a year full of memories, to be sure! And 2018 promises to be an interesting year as well.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Reflections on 2017, Part 1

It’s that time of year, when I gather up all the data and take a look back at where we have been all year. We did spend a lot of time in one place at a time throughout the last 12 months, yet we also saw so many new areas. Join me as I revisit our travels for 2017.

Bob and I started out in Yuma, Arizona in our longest stop to date—4 months in one spot, from December 1, 2016- April 1, 2017. While we were there we spent some time exploring the area, visiting Quartzsite, touring a date farm, getting dental work in Los Algodones, Mexico, and checking out local museums. We lost our beloved kitty, K.C. to old age. But we were ready to be on the road again when April 1st rolled around.

The first place we went was Chino, CA to have some repairs done on the motorhome, and we got to tour the Nixon Library while we were there. We then backtracked to Yuma for a night before heading on to the SKP Benson, AZ for two weeks, where we were planning to become leaseholders when our names came high enough on the list. We visited Bisbee, AZ and decided to return next winter during peak season.
Little did we know how those plans would change!
Leaving Benson, we headed for Canyon de Chelly but never actually got there, stopping in Payson, AZ for a night. Strong winds and threatening weather kept us moving until we hit Albuquerque, NM where we stopped to see friends. And then, a weather forecast predicting a foot of snow caused us to detour south to Roswell, NM where we visited the UFO International Museum & Research Center.
Bob and I continued east to Amarillo and on to Woodward, OK where we saw our first rattlesnake in the wild. Or rather, in our campsite. We dodged spring storms as we stopped in Abilene, KS to see the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Museum & Library. We then stopped for a few days in Lawrence, KS where I got to go to one of the best yarn shops in the country, the Yarn Barn of Kansas. We were in a good spot to visit the Truman Library as well.
 

In Marshall, MO we saw the museum for Jim the Wonder Dog, and had to replace two front car tires following a towing mishap. We moved on to Osage Beach, MO where we saw the Lake of the Ozarks before moving on to St. Louis where we went up inside the St. Louis Gateway Arch. And Auggie joined us at the AKC Museum of the Dog for a look at a lot of canine art. Our campground just west of St. Louis was next to a snake infested pond where we witnessed a water snake swallowing a fish.



In Springfield, IL we toured the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. It was then time to head for Wooster, OH for the Great Lakes Fiber Festival and a trip to Lehman’s, where we had a marvelous time before requiring a tow truck to pull us out of the mud. Thank goodness for our Coachnet towing service. We spent a night at a winery in Somerset, PA before heading to NJ where we stayed for two months visiting the family and holding our annual GrandCamp with the grandchildren.
I needed physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around my knees while we were there, which limited our trips with the RV.

Tomorrow: our year in review continues.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Update

We have had good news about my daughter. Her most recent tests came back with good results, so while she will still have to have surgery, it won’t be until January 29th and it will be more preventative. That means that I can go back to be with Bob and Auggie for a month before I return to help out with Catherine’s recuperation.

In the meantime, I am enjoying being with my grandchildren and visiting with family. Catherine had a cooking lesson with my son in law, Anthony, who makes the best mushroom enchiladas. Even the tortillas and tomatillo salsa were made from scratch. Yum!

My dear friend from Ravelry, Jeen, was kind enough to send me one of her handwoven scarves to keep my neck warm.
Thank you, Jeen, and thank you to all who have lifted up my daughter and me in prayer these last couple of weeks. 

We are getting ready for Christmas, so I wish you all a very happy holiday filled with family, friends, and love.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Back to NJ

Things have been a little crazy around here. I got a call last week from my daughter, Catherine, who needed me in NJ for a bit. She is going through some health issues, and I was happy to be able to fly out and help her. Bob and I didn’t think Auggie would take to air travel well so the two of them stayed back in AZ to hold down the fort. I have a return ticket for December 30, which means that Bob will spend Christmas alone this year. Our neighbors have gone out of their way to invite him to their homes and to support us in prayer; it’s all good. Catherine’s most recent test results are much more promising than originally suspected.

Bob has been working on the house, fixing small things and starting to paint walls. He has offered to save some of the painting for me to do but I told him not to hold back. I’m such a giver, aren’t I?

So now I am experiencing winter in NJ again, and it has been COLD! While Bob enjoys Arizona temperatures in the upper 70s, today’s high here will be 32. Brrrr!!! I think my blood has thinned a bit since we left, over three years ago. We even had snow a few days ago.
I’m not sure how much I will be able to write over the next couple of weeks, dear blog reader, but if I have a chance, I will check in.



Saturday, December 2, 2017

All Moved In

Bob and I started moving into our little house on Sunday afternoon. It has been a long month, waiting for this day to arrive. We started, as most people do, with cleaning everything whether it needed it or not. We set up our new Sleep Number mattress. After four or five hours of work we were already tired!

Oh yeah, now I remember. Moving is hard work.

The next morning we were up bright and early, getting all the food into the refrigerator, clearing out cabinets in the motorhome, and bringing clothes over. I had na├»vely assumed that, since the former owners were leaving all their kitchen stuff, that there wouldn’t be much to move. Au contraire mes amis! It took us nine hours to move most of our stuff over. And we still had more to do on day three. We spent the night in the house on Monday night and every night since, sleeping well.

On Thursday Bob and I moved the motorhome into storage. It was so hard to drive off and leave it behind, but we can go visit it if we need to. My looms, yarn, sewing machine, spinning wheel, and all my accessories are still in the motorhome, to be moved after we have finished painting. The plan is to prep walls, then paint the living room, kitchen, hallway, bathroom, and bedroom. Then we’ll add a cabinet to the kitchen and paint all cabinets. Bob will make some countertops. After which time we will move things out of the Arizona room and that will get painted.

Then I can set up my weaving studio.

We will also be replacing the sinks and maybe the bathroom cabinet, but that will happen later I think. The house needs a bit of updating to bring it into the 21st century, yet we have to restrain ourselves from over-improving it. Yesterday we moved the sofa bed from the living room out of the house, since sitting in it was aggravating Bob’s back. There was an upholstered chair in the AZ room that we brought upstairs for him to sit on instead. Bob had to disassemble the sofabed to get it through the door, and is now cutting it apart so he can dispose of it in various trash cans borrowed from empty RV sites. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and our new neighbors are getting a kick out of watching Bob’s creativity in disposing of the sofa bed. We are on a corner and are near the laundry center, so everyone heading for the washing machines stops in to say hello. We are meeting a lot of people and making new friends.

The weather here has been beautiful and today it is in the 80s with a nice breeze. We took a ride this morning to the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store in Phoenix, coming away with a nice utility light fixture for Bob’s workshop. We also stopped into Home Depot and chose paint colors. We’ll be painting over the original vinyl-covered paneling that covers all the interior walls. I’ll post pictures when it starts to look finished.

So that’s about where we are now. I will update again when I have more news.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

I showed great restraint last Saturday at the park’s yard sale day, only spending 50 cents on this lovely Christmas candleholder.

I’m looking forward to doing a little Christmas decorating this year (“little” being the operative word.)

I also did a bit of knitting, finishing this baby hat for the American Heart Association’s February drive in 2018. I’m sure I’ll do a few more...they are so quick and easy to knit up.

Wednesday was my birthday, and we celebrated by going to Seasons 52 in Phoenix, where I enjoyed the Vegetable Tasting. Yum.


We had a lovely time!

When we returned home, we changed into our bathing suits and went for a swim. I don’t believe I have ever gone swimming on my birthday. Since the temperature here in Mesa was 88 degrees, it was perfect for swimming. And being a dry heat it really just felt comfortable, not sticky-hot like we are used to.

This morning I sang in the choir at our Thanksgiving service, then returned home to start cooking. We had a very traditional dinner, even though it was vegan: tofurkey, homemade stuffing, mushroom gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, and pumpkin pie for dessert. Bob agreed that it tasted like a regular Thanksgiving feast and not at all strange. This was our first tofurkey and it really tasted like turkey. Success!

Wishing all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Our Week in Review

One of the things I worried about when we headed out on this Grand Adventure was that we might pick up fleas from dog parks that Auggie visits. We have traveled 31,000 miles without seeing a single flea. By our luck changed this week when we noticed Auggie scratching and we found a flea on him. He is extremely allergic to flea bites. So we dumped food grade diatomaceous earth all over the carpeted areas in the coach and vacuumed it up 12 hours later. Auggie got a Capstar (nitenpyram) tablet to kill any crawling on him. I guess we’ll have to put him on a monthly Frontline pill, something we stopped giving him because A) we haven’t had problems and because B) I don’t like giving drugs to my dog. I called the office yesterday to ask when they were going to de-flea the dog park and they told me it was done just that morning. I’m glad they are on top of it.

The former house owners told us the other day they’d be leaving a couple of days later because their Thanksgiving guests are staying longer. I was not a happy camper! Bob went over and talked them into just one more day rather than two. Honestly, how hard is it to say to your guests “I’m so sorry but you can’t stay longer—we told the new homeowners we’d be out on the 25th and we are MOVING.”? So our moving date is now a week from Sunday. I’m glad Bob dealt with it because I might have not been diplomatic.

We went to a free class Thursday afternoon on cooking for the holidays at our local Natural Grocers, a national chain. Anyway, the instructor never showed up so Bob and I each got a $5 coupon for any purchase. Definitely a good deal for waiting around for 15 minutes. We’ll try and catch another class soon.

Bob went golfing yesterday and had his best score ever, while I drove over to the local library to check it out. I’ll be able to get a library card as soon as we get our first electric bill and can show them we are here for a few months. I love libraries.

This morning is the park’s monthly yard sale and we will walk around to see what we can’t live without. I suspect that next month we’ll have things to sell, after we see what has been left in our new house. And later today we will visit an RV show, just to look at RVs and to see what free stuff they are giving away. As a matter of fact, we are here in this park today because of a coupon we picked up at an RV show, 2 1/2 years ago. It boggles the mind how life is like that!

Monday, November 13, 2017

This is How RVs Burn Down

We had a busy day today. I went to the fitness center for my workout, Bob went to woodcarving (he’s working on carving a bird,) we went to Walmart, Bob worked on replacing the motorhome’s clearance lights, I worked on a crocheted shawl..we took a walk... the day passed. And we almost had an electrical fire.

I had just finished making my Green Drink for lunch when the CO detector started beeping and there was a burning motor kind of smell mid-coach. At first I thought it was my Vita Mix and that maybe I had burned out the motor. But when I bent down to pick up something off the floor near the detector, I could smell a very strong burning odor down low. Bob unscrewed the detector and removed it from the wall, and finding it hot to the touch, he cut the wires. This was the CO detector Bob had replaced twice this year (the coach’s original one was replaced by one that started giving us a false alarm so the company sent us another new one.) Bob called the company, explained what happened, and they asked us to ship it back so they could test it. We were very glad we were home (and awake) when this happened, otherwise we probably would have had a fire. God is good.

I’m not so sure I want to put this company’s CO detector back in, even if they send us a new one.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

We Meet Again

Bob and I went over to the Sleep Number Store in Mesa today to purchase a new mattress for our winter home. We purchased our first SN mattress in Santa Fe, NM, and have been enjoying it. However, it would be a real pain to move it from the motorhome to the house, then back again, every six months, so we decided to have a mattress for each.

We really liked our sales representative, Nathan, in Santa Fe, but lost track of him after he left that store. So who should we see when we walked into the SN store in Mesa?
Nathan!

How cool is that??! And what are the odds? He remembered us, and helped us buy our second SN mattress. Such a nice young man. We told him to let us know next time he moves, so we will know where to buy our NEXT mattress.

After leaving SN, we walked around the mall a bit. I found a White House/Black Market skirt for church for $12 at T. J. Maxx, and some weaving books at the Book Vault. 

Happy Veterans Day, and a big thank you to all who have served our country.




Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Life in Mesa, AZ

Bob and I are really enjoying life in this park. On Friday, Bob went golfing and had a great time meeting new friends. He’s signed up to be in a league, so he’ll be golfing every Friday.

I went to church on Sunday to the service that is held here in the park. It was very good, and was well attended. And today (Tuesday) I went to choir practice and was welcomed with open arms. It felt good to be singing again. I also attended an open house for the fitness center here, learning how to use the various cardio and weight machines. I’ve gradually increased my daily time on the treadmill and recumbent bike and am up to 30 minutes each, six days a week. The trainer told me it would be beneficial to add some strength training three times a week, so I’ll add that to my program. I’m feeling quite good, although I still have a little knee stiffness. Between going to the fitness center and walking Auggie to the dog park, I am getting my 10,000 daily steps in without any problem.

Today we had our slide toppers replaced on the motorhome. Boy, those fellows went to work and got it done within an hour or so. No more flapping sounds when the wind blows!

The old toppers were pretty grungy.

Tomorrow is the first meeting of the Fiber Crafts group and I’m looking forward to that as well. Life is good!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Visiting Friends

On Saturday, Bob and I took the RV east to Tucson, AZ to spend a few days with our friends, Chuck and Linda. They purchased a park model last year and have been just loving it. We can certainly see why. Their little home is in a park that has similar amenities as the one we are in, in Mesa, and the layout is pretty similar, too. Seeing them in their house has gotten us even more excited to move into ours.


On Sunday, while Bob and Chuck worked on replacing a shed door, Linda and I sat outside on their delightful deck and did some band weaving.

Her loom is so neat! Originally a card loom, she has adapted it to use with a Stoorstalk Sunna heddle for weaving Baltic bands. Afterwards, she gave me a tour of this lovely park. Check out the great Halloween display in the ballroom.

I visited the exercise room on Monday (and Tuesday as well) to use the treadmill and stationary bicycle. I was happy to see that I could continue my exercise program here. Bob and I drove to the SKP park in Benson to pick up our deposit that we had given them, and picked up our mail as well. When we got back I joined Linda at a crocheting group in her park. I showed off my recent shawl and Linda showed her current shawl project—beautiful!

Tuesday morning was the park’s “Howl-o-ween” Pet Parade, so we gathered in the courtyard to be judged. Auggie won “Scariest Costume” while Chuck and Linda’s Tucker won “Greatest Costume.”

Auggie went as “Jaws” while Tucker...

...was a hot dog in a bun. Such fun!

After the parade we all four (minus our fur kids) went to eat at Pita Jungle, a restaurant in Tucson with health-oriented Mediterranean fare. They were able to accommodate a vegan meal for me and I feasted on a Portobello “burger,” which was so yummy. Everyone else enjoyed their meals, too. We also stopped into Grandma’s Spinning Wheel to fondle some yarn, and the West, a needlework store with a lot of really neat items for embroidery, cross stitch, and needlepoint.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to our friends and head back to Mesa. We’ll be in a site that is quite close to our new house, and I don’t know if that’s going to make it easier or harder for us, being so close. With any luck, we’ll be moving in about November 25 when the previous owners move out.













Saturday, October 28, 2017

Homeowners Again

This has been a good week for us. Bob and I went to a Meet & Greet on Wednesday where we had a very nice time talking to new friends and nibbling on a veggie platter. There was an excellent entertainer, too, and even though we didn’t win one of the door prizes we still had lots of fun.

We had our walk-through on the little manufactured home on Thursday and we didn’t see any real problems. The former owners are leaving a lot of stuff for us, some of which will save us a lot of money because we won’t have to buy new. On Friday we had our closing which took about ten minutes. Bob got a mailbox in the park to use temporarily until the former owners leave (right after Thanksgiving is the latest.) The earlier departure date will give us a few days to get all our things into the house before we have to put the RV into storage.

And I called Direct TV to find out about satellite TV.

Oh my goodness. They gave me such a hard sell. All I wanted was to find out cost and after over an hour on the phone with this annoying salesman we were signed up with a satellite TV/internet package. The next morning I cancelled the TV service. We get basic channels over the air, neither of us will watch 150 channels, and we will save $55 by just getting the internet service. And if the former owners leave their router, we’ll save another $10/month.

I’ve spent a few hours this week working on my class sampler for the Susan Foulkes band workshop. This is my favorite portion of the band so far.
Today (Saturday) we are driving a couple of hours to Tucson to spend a few days with our friends, Linda and Chuck, and their dog Tucker. We are looking forward to seeing them again and to seeing their park.



Saturday, October 21, 2017

Catching Up

We have been busy little bees this week. I’ve been going to the fitness center every morning for 30 minutes on the treadmill and another 15 minutes on the stationary bike. Plus a little machine work on my knees and stretching. 

I then bike home and walk with Bob and Auggie to the dog park for a little playtime. Auggie is enjoying some of the agility equipment and is learning them one by one.
We always enjoy house hunting when we are in a nice park. Most of the time the homes are out of our price range, or we just aren’t ready to make any commitment. But this time we found something that seems just right. It’s an older model in good condition...just needs a little cosmetic updating. We made an offer, it was accepted, and we close on it next week. The owners will be staying in it until December 1, when we take possession. We will be visiting Chuck and Linda as planned in Tucson, then will return for November 1 in an RV site for a month. It’s rather amazing how things have fallen into place. Bob found a storage space for the RV for the next few months and the park in Benson, AZ is refunding our deposit and letting us out of our contract. 

For folks interested in this process, it was quite easy. The salesman, Rick, took us around to a variety of units, from real fixer uppers to brand new models. It had to be in the pets-allowed area. We wanted an Arizona room (a bonus room) for my weaving studio. We also wanted some kind of shed space for Bob to putter in. And we hoped to find something that didn’t face into the sun. Our unit has all that. It will need a coat of paint throughout, but that’s no big deal. We are hoping to polish it up without costing us too much. Bob would like to build a deck to sit on, and add a washer/dryer. It comes furnished right down to the pots and pans and silverware. I suspect there’ll be a lot of stuff we’ll want to toss out, though.

So that’s our big news! We plan to be here in the winter, but travel in the RV as usual for the rest of the year, visiting NJ as we have been doing.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Weaving Bands

We are having a very nice time here in Mesa, AZ, swimming in the pool and naming friends. I’ve been going to the fitness center daily and using the treadmill. I’m hoping to rehab my knee so that I can walk with less pain.

I’ve also been weaving a band sampler of designs through an online course thatsbeing given by Susan Foulkes. Susan is a renowned Baltic band weaver and has offered this course through the Yahoo Braids and Bands group. Here are some of the designs I’ve woven so far, using my Seidel Card Loom and Sunna heddle from Stoorstalka.


This is such a relaxing place to be. Tomorrow we may take in a movie. Life is sweet!



Sunday, October 15, 2017

From Moab, UT to Arizona

After Bob and I came back from Canyonlands National Park, I got the urge to check out the local yarn store. So Bob dropped me off for a half hour and I had a delightful time talking weaving with the shop owner (whose name I unfortunately forgot to get.)

 I found some treasures, too—a lovely pendant with wool roving in the center...
... and some yummy yarn to play with.

The last couple of days have been travel days, with quite a few miles behind us.  We stopped for one night in Cameron, AZ at the Cameron Trading Post, where we had no Verizon signal and no wifi. No over the air TV channels, either. How primitive! We watched a movie from our pile of $5 movies from Walmart. I thought you might enjoy seeing the changing scenery between Moab and Cameron.











We have arrived in Mesa, AZ and will be here for the next two weeks. It will be nice to stay put for a little bit. We were in this park 2 1/2 years ago, and our smart little Auggie dog remembered how to get to the dog park this morning. He was happy to be back here, I think. Bob and I took advantage of the beautiful park pool on Saturday night which felt great since the temperatures were in the high 90s. 

So now you are all caught up with our activities! Today Bob and I will be looking for a Halloween costume for Auggie. We'll be visiting our friends, Linda, Chuck, and dog Tucker, after we leave Mesa, and will need a costume for the "Howl-oween" Pet Parade.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Islands in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park

If Arches National Park is about giant sculpture-like rock formations, the northern part of Canyonlands is all about holes in the ground. Immense, gob smacking holes.

There are four sections to Canyonlands National Park. They each have their own entrance and are not connected to one another by any roads. It can take all day to drive around to each of them. So Bob and I chose to go to Islands in the Sky which features beautiful canyons.

In the early morning light, the canyons looked ghostly.
There are rock formations that rise up from the canyon floor.

The Green River flows through this park on its way to meet up with the mighty Colorado River. Remember John Wesley Powell? He was the first white man to see this area.




Words fail me when I try to describe this place, so I'll have to let my photos speak for themselves.

Tomorrow we are on our way to Arizona. We'll be spending two weeks outside of Phoenix.