Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve -- The End of Another Year!

We are now at the end of the first decade of the 2000s. I'm still not sure whether tomorrow is "twenty-eleven" or "two thousand-eleven." It seems like we can't seem to settle on a common way to say it.

In many ways 2010 has been an un-eventful year for us. It's been a year to cherish both family and friendships. We're at an age where we seem to have more of our friends and acquaintances dying -- at what seems like a very young age! We've been fortunate to also meet new friends and to welcome new members to our family -- and to watch that next generation grow up.

I tried to buy Dungeness crab for a traditional (in our family anyway!) crab dinner, but when I called a seafood retailer in the Phoenix area, I was told that they weren't sure they could get any -- and that it would be AT LEAST $8 a pound if they did! So we did the next best thing and went to Joe's Crab Shack for a wonderful Dungeness crab meal (all except for Tom who ate paella...).

We ended up at Tom and Juni's RV toasting in the New Year with raspberries in champagne.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What Happened to the WARM South?

Everyone is bundled up -- it's COLD tonight! After the rain yesterday (.9 of an inch!), it got very windy during the night. Today it's been gusty off and on with lots of clouds blowing by as the last of the storm moves on through. Then a little after noon, a pretty dark cloud came over and we actually had SNOW!

Our friend Leslie had come over to talk for a minute. Those are snowflakes in her hair!

The RVers who are in Florida have been blogging about the unseasonable cold they have been experiencing there. We have been watching the newscasts with their seemingly endless pictures of snowplows and snow drifts across the northern and middle United States. And now the cold has hit Southern California AND Arizona!
I guess we weren't meant to get away from the cold this winter! It's hard to believe that we sat outside and ate Christmas dinner less than a week ago. It's actually 35 degrees outside as I type this.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rain, Rain, RAIN!

It started out as a fairly gentle shower this morning, just a few drops here and there. We were all getting our rigs ready to travel; draining tanks; pulling in slides; taking up the water hoses; disconnecting the electricity; getting the recycling to the shed; and emptying the garbage. It came down a little heavier as we hooked up the toads (I saw Juni out there with an umbrella...).

Then we left for Mesa and the new RV Park, Valle del Oro, and it began to POUR! So glad we got the windshield wipers fixed while we were in Oregon. Leslie and Bill left first, then Juni and Tom. By the time we got there, it was really coming down. We were both drenched and cold by the time we walked to the office; got registered; walked back to the rig; unhitched the toad; drove back to the site; hooked up the electricity and the water; and got the slides out.

Hot coffee sure tasted good! I fixed some mushrooms and scrambled eggs for a late lunch and took a nap, listening to the rain on Auntie Violet's roof.

Bill has not been feeling good. Leslie did all of the getting Serenity ready to go and drove over here. Tonight he once again started spiking a temp so they went to an urgent care center. Sounds like the doc there thinks he's got bronchitis.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Running Around Day

Today was a day for running errands. We had been wanting to go to Triple A for a while now to get some new maps (my California map is literally in pieces, sorta connected at the ends...). Our friend Leslie needed maps for between here and Florida, so she wanted to go as well. We actually ended up going with her in Sunny, the yellow Jeep. We got new planning SW and US maps as well as individual state maps. In addition we got a new set of Tour Books for all of the SW states.

We made stops at the post office; at JC Penny for new bras for me (buy two, get two free today); then at Costco for blueberries and new shirts for Forry and Bill.

I decided to make pork stir-fry for supper. Leslie brought over some of her new garlic olive oil and her wok. Juni and Tom had eaten a very late lunch, so they just came over afterwards for chocolate lava cakes. Juni brought over raspberries to go with the cakes -- um, um good!

We are all going to move over to Mesa, Arizona tomorrow to Valle del Oro RV Park. We had stayed there last year. It's a nice place, but it's a small city -- over 1700 spaces!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Decorations Around the RV Park

Some scenes around the RV Park that we saw when we went for a walk this afternoon.

How about the ice cube snowman?

This must belong to an embroiderer and quilter. Gorgeous wall hangings --
How would you like to be the one to put the hats on all of these cactus spines?

This home is guarded by an angel --

These guys are made out of braided branches --

Here's a creche complete with straw and cacti --

These are some lit up cacti!

And these guys are blow-up characters. The one on the bottom is all one piece!

These are just a sample of the creativity of people here at Desert Shadows. Practically every unit has at least a string of lights or a Merry Christmas sign.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Today we decided we just had to do something besides eat, so we went to Rawhide in Chandler, Arizona with Bill and Leslie. It's located on I-10 on Wild Horse Pass and features an 1880's town. They have wood fires out on the streets (in 1/2 barrels) where the kids were roasting marshmallows and making s'mores. (They actually sold S'more kits that include chocolate, marshmallows, graham crackers AND long sticks to roast them with...!)

So later we had dinner at the Rawhide Steakhouse and Saloon. And what is on the menu, but "Make S'mores at Your Table." So Leslie and I had to try it --

This is the entry way into the saloon area of the restaurant --

Rawhide is kind of a fun place that was really decorated up for Christmas with lots of lights --

The toes on these boots actually tapped --

While this cacti quartet warbled carols --

We even saw the Marshal gun down and apprehend a couple of would-be bank robbers --

This is a place that definitely caters to families with lots of activities. In addition to the gun-fight on the street, they also had a "melo-drama" every hour in their outdoor theatre. There are burro rides, gold panning, rock wall climbing, a mechanical bull, a stage coach, a miniature railroad as well as other attractions.

We had a very good dinner at the Steakhouse. We each split a rib-eye steak which was broiled to perfection along with corn on the cob, baked potatoes, beans, green salads and Texas toast. There was live entertainment during dinner with a dance floor that saw lots little kids -- and their parents -- having a very good time. I must admit though, that a couple of Western singers singing "Margaritaville" just didn't seem quite right.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day 2010

Gosh -- that sun is bright!

Christmas dinner sitting outside --

Definitely short sleeve and shorts weather --

My contributions to the feast: Martha Hardt's Angel Flake Pie --

And a tray full of cups of shrimp cocktail --

I also fixed a five pound beef rib roast. Leslie contributed some scrumptious Kahlua yams while Juni made mashed potatoes, corn and rolls. Tommy contributed a spiral ham and a turkey breast. Do you think maybe we had enough to eat?

After dinner, Tommy took his Dad to the Cowboys and Cardinals football game here in Phoenix. He had gotten him the tickets for his Christmas present! The rest of us retired to our individual coaches for naps until it was time to eat again.

Friday, December 24, 2010


At Bill and Leslie's Serenity, Snoopy is joined by twinkling snowflakes --

And at Tom and Juni's, even the mirrors are wearing Santa hats --

As the sun sets in the west behind the palm trees --

It reminds us of what it must look like in the Holy Land where Jesus was born --

Leslie, Forry and I went to the Christmas Eve service at Trinity Mennonite Church in Glendale this evening. At the end of the service the congregation filed out into the courtyard which was lit with lines of luminaries. Each person was given a candle as they came out the doors; everyone circled the courtyard and then sang Silent Night. Absolutely gorgeous!

When we returned from church, we all joined Tom and Juni and friends for a traditional Southwest dinner -- posole (pork and hominy soup) and tamales. A lovely evening indeed!

To all our friends and family, we wish you a very merry and a VERY BLESSED Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

There are icicles on Auntie Violet --

And she's wishing you all the JOY of the season --

The creche from Peru reminds us of the "reason for the season" --

And my little Christmas tree gives its cheery light to the room --

The Christmas tree was a present from Son Sean's friend Danny many, many years ago for my office when I was the administrator at the Ritzville Memorial Hospital. Danny was a young entrepreneur who had a wonderful florist shop in town when he was barely out of high school.

Late last night we had a taste of the storms that have been battering the state of California. We had huge gusts of wind, thunder, lightening, heavy rain and even some hail. Water was running down the streets of the RV Park. It didn't last long, but it was a bit scary. This morning the sun was shining, but it has been partly overcast most of the day.

A Pedicure and ...

This afternoon Juni and I went a couple of blocks away from the RV Park to a place called King's Nails. Run by a busy Asian couple (never did figure out which country they were from...), the shop had ten pedicure soaking chairs. Kim said that a few years ago they had five people working, but since the economy had gotten so bad, it was now just her and her husband.

Juni got a manicure while I got a pedicure, then she got a pedicure while I had my eyebrows waxed! I've always wanted to do it, but I thought it would hurt too much and always chickened out. Kim suggested doing it and since I didn't have time to think I said "Lets!" It does hurt! But it really wasn't that bad -- and I like the way it looks. Now I wonder how long it will be before it all grows out again.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

So, What Did We Do Today?

I really had to stop and think... What DID we do today? Well, lets see. We slept in. We took showers. Forry drained the grey and black tanks. We hung icicle lights on the front of Auntie Violet along with her "JOY" sign. We went to the grocery store. I bought some stocking stuffers. I did three loads of laundry. I cut my thumb slicing Brother Pat's venison sausage. I fixed appetizers for our friends Tom and Juni -- that ended up being supper. I drank some Three Buck Chuck red wine. I talked to Daughter Mary Mae on the phone. I checked with the USPS website tracking service which said they had delivered the Christmas package which Mary Mae said they did NOT receive. Registered a complaint on USPS website. Checked bank statement online to see if checks in "unreceived" package had been cashed (Not!). Decided I couldn't do anything further until in the morning....

Monday, December 20, 2010

On to Phoenix

This morning we disconnected the water and electricity; pulled in the slides; brought the jacks up; picked up the jack pads; shut off the propane; connected the toad to Auntie Violet; and left 3 Dreamers RV Park, heading for Phoenix.

Interstate 10 goes through some pretty flat desert that is occupied by several VERY large dairies. There are lines and lines of sheds filled with loafing Holstein cows.

We took the 101 Loop around Phoenix using the Garmin GPS instructions to Desert Shadows RV Resort. It did keep us out of the traffic in the city, but we ended up driving several blocks through a residential neighborhood. We might have been better off following the directions on the Resort's website which would have kept us on I-10 the whole way...

As I was walking from the RV holding/arrival area to the office, I heard someone whistling at me -- and sure enough, it was our friend Tom! We had not seen him and his wife Juni since we had stayed with them in Albuquerque over Christmas last year. What a treat to see our good friends again. They are the kind of friends with whom you can pick up conversation from a year ago just as if it was yesterday. Juni and Tom went to get haircuts while Forry and I got Auntie Violet set up once again. After being out in the desert, she badly needed the vacuuming and floor mopping that we gave her!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Desert Sky

We are parked at 3 Dreamers RV Park which is out in the desert about eight miles from Salome on Arizona Highway 60. We went out for a walk along the perimeter fence towards sundown and watched the most incredible sky --

The colors were unreal --

And almost spooky --

Every minute, it was different --

There has been lots of rain over in California. These must be the remnants of the clouds --

Just movin' through --

This will be our last night out in the desert for a while. Tomorrow we will be moving into an RV Park in Phoenix to join our friends Tom and Juni. Leslie and Bill are also planning to meet us there for Christmas.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dem Cotton Fields ....

We went out looking for distilled water for Auntie Violet's batteries today. We took the toad and headed up Highway 60 to Salome. While it has the consolidated schools (two fairly large buildings), Salome itself is a VERY tiny town. There was a gas station that had a bit of a market attached to it -- more like a general store -- that actually did carry gallons of distilled water.

As we came back down the highway, we were trying to figure out what kind of crops were being grown. We drove down a dirt road and realized that this had been a cotton field --

You could see scraps of the cotton bolls left behind on the ground --

From a distance, we had thought these were haystacks --

But they turned out to be tightly packed huge "bales" of cotton all around the edge of the cotton fields:

A lady in this store later told us she had seen these huge bales (the size of a semi-trailer) leaving the area on railroad cars. As we drove further down the road, we saw these large metal sculptures at a metal art and pottery store --

I thought Sister Sherry would like to have these in her yard!

The lady at the store said that there were several Mexican artists who brought their works up to her every winter --

We did end up getting a small road runner to sit outside Auntie Violet's doorstep. But, I didn't take a picture. I'll have to remember to do so tomorrow...

Friday, December 17, 2010

A VERY Lazy Day!

We must have been more tired than I thought because we sure didn't accomplish much of anything today. We slept in this morning, then lounged around for most of the rest of the day. I dug out the Christmas CDs and played some word games on my Kindle while Forry did Suduko. I finally got a bit ambitious and put the new sheets and pillows I had bought at JC Penny's last week on the bed. (I can't decide whether they were vastly over-priced at the original $50 price tag or I got a real deal at the sale price of $19.99?)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Travelin' Day

We were up early again today. We took a quick trip over to a Donut Shop we had noticed yesterday when we went to breakfast at Carolyn's Cafe, and bought a couple of dozen doughnuts to take back to the crew at Redlands Truck and RV before we left. Keith and Karen Shomaker have a batch of employees that truly take pride in their work -- and they certainly know how to treat their customers!

We left Redlands traveling on Interstate Ten across California to Arizona to Quartzite. We followed Highway 60 up to Salome where we are once again staying at 3 Dreamers RV Park. It had rained fairly steadily most of the night last night and sprinkled off and on as we were getting hooked up to leave. We sort of followed the rain showers which seemed to be just ahead of us -- you could see where the pavement was wet along the edges. By the time we got set up at 3 Dreamers, the sky was mostly blue and the sun was shining.

Last February when we were here, this park was half empty. Today we have the only available slot! And it just became free this morning. They've done a lot of work this year -- there are new plantings, an new entire reverse osmosis water system and great free wifi!

We haven't had anything but the bedroom slide out for the last two days while we were parked along the curb in Redlands, so it was nice to be able to spread out this evening. And after eating out for those same days, it was nice to actually cook. We had a big green salad and shared a thick pork chop for supper.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Day in Redlands

This picture was taken late this afternoon as Auntie Violet settled back into her spot alongside the curb at Redlands Truck and RV where we are again spending the night --

But that's the end of the day. There was an awful lot of interesting time during the rest of the day. We started out at near-by Carolyn's Cafe for a scrumptious breakfast -- way more than I could eat. After a stop at the post office and one at Costco, we went to see Mission San Gabriel's San Bernardino Ranch Asistencia. It's a replica of a complex built in 1819 that was restored in 1937 as part of the federal WPA project. Today it's a County Museum Historic Site that is most often used for weddings.

From there we went to take a look at the Lincoln Memorial Shrine. It's housed in an interesting octagonal shaped building built in 1932 by Robert Watchorn as a tribute to Abraham Lincoln and a memorial to his son Emory who died following his injuries in World War I. This is a fascinating place with all kinds of memorabilia about Lincoln and also the Civil War. One of the volunteers told us that Redlands in the 1930s was one of the wealthiest per capita areas in the US. Much like Palm Springs is today, it's where the wealthy built their winter homes. Watchorn was an English coal miner who made a fortune in the US.

Even though it was chillier today (down to the 60s), we have been enjoying the warmth of southern California. It's so nice to see flowers in bloom -- like these Birds of Paradise:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Juniper Berries, Anyone?

The juniper berries I am used to are little things, maybe 1/4 of an inch in size at the most. But this tree at the Sierra Trails RV Park has huge berries --

They are a good 1/2 inch across!
The tree itself is huge -- that's our friend Leslie standing under it --

Leslie and Bill left the park this morning at the same time we did, but they went on to Pahrump, Nevada while we went on down to Redlands, California (just south of San Bernadino). We are here at Redlands Truck and RV to have a steering bracket mounted on Auntie Violet. (There have been some cracks in the steering mechanisms of Alpine Coaches. Engineer Mike developed a bracket that can be bolted to the mechanism prophylactically for additional support to keep this from happening.) We had barely pulled in here when one of the mechanics was under the rig checking the steering -- and cheerfully announced we didn't yet have a problem!
While we are here, we had them change the hydraulic fluid for the steering and brakes and put in new filters. Tomorrow morning early, they will start drilling the necessary holes for the new bracket, then will do a wheel alignment. Sounds like it will take most of the day. In the meantime, we are parked on the street alongside the shop. We've only put out the bedroom slide. They have fifty amp hookups for two rigs. They very carefully put a mat down over the electric cord where it went over the sidewalk and put bumpers on the edges of bedroom slide (which faces the sidewalk) and orange cones out on the street at Auntie Violet's corners.
We've been given a map with directions to Caroline's Cafe, the "best place in Redlands for breakfast!" and directions and brochures for the local museum and area sites to keep us occupied while the rig is being worked on. We found out on iRV2 website that this was the place to have the bracket installed -- and everyone commented on the service orientation of Redlands Truck and RV. So far, we've certainly found it to be true. They even have guest wifi for their customers!