Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Spring Fever...

It's almost the end of March and I'm itching to get on the road and GO!  It's been way to long since we've really "hit the road" for our cross-country trips!   I'm both anxious and nervous about this year's trip.  Having enjoyed so many wonderful years of easy travel, making reservations as we go, changing directions on a whim, staying longer when we wanted to, etc.  Now, I've been reading all kinds of articles about how all that's not possible any longer.  That campgrounds are crowded, reservations are tough to get, cost more, no longer flexible, that the "easy care-free style" is not longer out there.  Wow.  I've made two reservations so far.  One for over the 4th of July because we already know where we are going to be that weekend (wedding plans) and it's a holiday, and the other the first weekend we are traveling.  Both were pretty easy.  We had to take our second choice park for the July date, but that was OK, at least we got it.  I have no idea where we will be over Labor Day, so can't do anything about that!  If things go bad, we may end up early in Washington with family, so it won't be an issue!  ;-)  I just can't worry about it right now...

We did do one FUN THING before heading out the door though!  We were "drivers" for Mecum Car Auctions in Glendale AZ for three days!  What an experience!  They had about 900+ cars of all types and all years, from the early 1900's to brand new, from motorcycles to tractors, to Rolls Royce's!  Our job varied from driving the cars from one lot to another to just driving it to the staging area to driving them over the auction block then off to the sold lot again.  Some of the cars went vroom vroom, some sputtered, some smoked, some died on you and needed to be towed and some just hummed...all were different and all were an experience!  We got to talk to some of the owners, some of the buyers and some very interesting people too!  It all made for a very fun three days...and tiring too.  Each day started at 8:45a.m. and ended sometimes 6:00 p.m., and sometimes 8:15 p.m. 

I learned more and drove more different cars in those three days than I have in my whole life, and am ready to do it again next year!  It was a fun way to end our "Covid seclusion".  

Now it's time to start packing, and tucking things away, making lists and checking them twice!  It is just a couple of weeks and we will be off for this year's adventure...yea!  First "big stop" - Texas!  So, until then...


Thursday, January 7, 2021

2020 The year that went nowhere...

The last blog of the year is always my "year in review"...but wow, not much to "review" this year!  2020 was the year that went nowhere...thanks COVID!  It was also the year that we really experienced being truly Arizonians!  Living through the "historic hottest summer" Arizona ever had, qualified us, I'd say!  

We started out, as we usually do, in January, with great plans to travel up the eastern coastline, with extended visits to the Georgian Gold Coast Islands (something I've wanted to do for years). I was so excited to finally make this trip...

Things continued "as normal" at home.  Our show in the Resort went on as usual, and was a great success and a whole lot of fun.  

Then... news started coming in about this "virus" coming in from China, so we did a "wait and see".  As March turned into April and then May, it started to look like our trip wasn't going to happen at all.  A few of us (6) started to get together for morning coffee & treats, rotating between each other's homes, trying to keep ourselves company while the rest of the Resort buttoned up.  

As the months started passing along, Jack and I got busy working on "home projects", as it was pretty evident that we weren't going anywhere (far) this year.  COVID was here to stay, at least for the better part of the year, it seemed.  News that campgrounds, restaurants, public places like museums, etc. were all closing made travel hopeless.  Some whole states were even closed to "outsiders"!  So, we broke out the paint and wood, and whatever and got creative as best we could.  Turned the air conditioner on full-blast and worked inside during the heat of the day and only came out during the early morning or late afternoon.

By July though, I was getting "stir-crazy" and needed to get away!  So, we booked a week at our Time Share in Sedona AZ.  It was an easy drive and somewhere we've been to before so no need to feel like we had to play tourist.  Enough of a difference to give us a break, swim in a different pool, eat in a different restaurant, etc.  It worked.  

The following week we were able to book 5 days in a campground in Payson AZ, about 4 hours from here.  It hadn't been easy to find any availability around here as just about everybody from the valley was camping in the mountains!  Many own or reserve spots a year in advance because of the summer heat here.  We were lucky to get the 5 days!  

Finally, in August, with diligence, I was able to get another reservation in Flagstaff as well.  Our friends joined us too, which made it even more enjoyable.  We only planned on the one week, but after spending the week, I went to the host and begged her to see if there was any way at all she could find us a spot for another week....and she did!  Yea!  The trees, the peace, the pure loveliness was wonderful.  I had to really stretch our food supply as we hadn't planned on being there that long and hadn't even brought the toad, but there was a little cafe across the street that we ran to for a couple of extra meals ;-)

By mid September I was ready for another break though, so we headed to California to another Time Share room in Dana Point for a week.  A couple of friends joined us for the weekend, which was super nice and then later in the week my nieces and family joined us for dinner one night making our trip that much more special.  The Time Share hosts treated us to a really nice dinner one night too, so all in all it was a great trip.  

After we got back, a few days later, my niece and nephew from Washington came for a quick 2 day visit (they had been visiting Sedona).  It was fun showing them all around our Resort on my new golf cart and then going out to dinner.  I had to laugh at how my nephew complained at how "hot" it was...and it was only around 90!  I just told him he was a wimp....should have come a month ago when it was in the triple digits!! 

In October, we finally got to go "real camping"!  I say "real" because it took more that a couple of hours to get to our destination!  Our RV Club had planned a group camping trip months and months ago to Lone Pine CA.  Originally, 23 rigs were scheduled to go...because of COVID and then the CA fires, only 3 rigs ended up going.  Sad.  BUT, we all had a GREAT time!!  In some ways, maybe a better time than we (I) would have had if everyone would have made it...who knows?

November, our Resort tried to bring back some normalcy...as much as they could.  We held an Arts and Crafts Fair (for residents only) of which I decided to participate, not that I sold much, but it was fun to get out a bit and mingle.  

December, the RV Club had it's winter campout at the Lost Dutchman Campground in AZ.  Once again, it originally had about 23 rigs signed up, but this time we did have 11 rigs come.  Beautiful campground with a great view of the Superstition Mountain.  Nice campfires, with good company and fun outings.  A great way to end the year.  

Although we didn't camp much, or even travel much, it wasn't a bad year, just a different one.  We are lucky, we have our health, a good warm roof over our head, food on our table and our bills are paid.  I pray that the coming year will be better for all of us, that this awful virus will be knocked out and that life as we knew it will go back to some sort of "normal" for all of us.  As I write this, I, once again am planning on that "eastern coastline trip"...as I am, and will always be, an optimist!  

To you, my fellow travelers and friends, stay safe, and hopefully, we shall see you once again on the road!

...kicking back in Arizona, Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Christmas with family, Texas style!

Two and half years without seeing "my grand babies" is just to long, COVID or not!  I just had to fly to Texas this year and be with those two little guys for Christmas before they forgot who their grandma was!  Being only 6 and 3, it doesn't take long for them to forget all the fun times we've had in the past and wonder who this person is that Dad just talks to on the phone!  Besides, I was really missing those wonderful, squishy hugs and mushy kisses and sweet giggles that only little ones can give you!  So, off to Dallas I went...mask and all.  

I sure lucked out with the weather!  Sunshine all the way!  So, wonderful visits to the park to play, lots of fun times outside to break up our "hide-and-seek" games, baking Santa cookies and computer times inside.  While we were outside, we met some new neighbors visiting from China, including a 4 year old boy to play with!  My daughter-in-law made us a delightful picnic one afternoon and we all exchanged American and Chinese food together, what fun that was!  

I actually woke up before the family on Christmas morning (excited, I guess!). Watched the sunrise over the lake, so beautiful, and so peaceful...especially before all the "excitement" that was to follow any minute!  

As you can imagine, Christmas with two small boys was full of chaos and noise...just as it should be!  Lots of "Oh my golly!"  and "wow!"  and "just what I wanted!" was heard...along with the noises of the rat-a-tat-tats of the toys and rumbles of the trucks!  Ahhh...boys' toys!  Memories of my own boys' at that age...

I found out that my son's favorite Christmas movie is Swiss Family Robinson...so, we had a wonderful fire going in the fireplace and rented the movie and sat back and watched, as he explained it to his sons.  We laughed at the various animals and antic that they "discovered" on their island and would my grandsons like to ever live on an island like that (no thanks!).  Afterward, all settled down though for afternoon naps by the warm fire...even the dogs took a break...

Before I knew it the week was over and it was time to fly back to Arizona, though...

I was lucky with the trip, not to crowded coming or going, treated like "royalty" by my family and by the airline staff, can't ask for anything better!  So glad I came!  Wonderful way to end the year and look forward to a much better year ahead...

...kicking back in Arizona,  Marie

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

A few days out with friends...

The last rally of the year for our RV Club was planned for a near by state campground called The Lost Dutchman, in Apache Junction, less than two hours from here.  It was booked for five nights and again, started out with around 25 campers that continued to dwindle down.  We ended up with about 10 rigs, which considering everything, wasn't so bad.  

Our first night in camp was absolutely lovely!  Our RV Club hosts built a lovely campfire and we all gathered around to meet each other, chat for awhile and watch the sunset...and boy did it ever give us a show.  As it began, it lit up the beautiful Superstition Mountains that was our wonderful backdrop at the campground, then continued along to color the sky with yellows, blues and reds.  What a wonderful beginning to a nice outing!

We decided to spend the first day (Friday) going over to the Mesa Market Place Swap Meet thinking that mitmight be less crowded on a Friday than on the weekend.  I think we were right, as it wasn't very busy at all.  We had just a couple of Christmas items to shop for (our "hardest" finds) and was hoping the vendors there might be the answer...and they were!  I much prefer "hand-made" and "local-made" when I can, over buying from the large warehouse stores.  I was even able to find a couple of items for myself, lucky me!

The following day Jack and I decided to take a recommended drive to the nearby town of Tortilla Flat, while several others chose to hike up (at least partway) Superstition Mountain).  The drive itself was really scenic, with a couple of great stops along the way, including a beautiful view of Canyon Lake.  

Being Saturday, Tortilla Flat was hopping!  Live music was playing, and the shops were bustling.  I was even able to find the very last item on my shopping list...so all done for the year!  Yea!  The sun was shining and it was truly and beautiful day.  

On our way back, we made a quick stop at the Superstition Mountain Museum across from the Goldfield Ghost Town in Apache Junction.  Turned out they were having a small Vendor's Fair and had some "gun fights" entertainment going on.  I met a fellow artist and we got to talking about her art and my photography and what it's like selling it vs offering it free, writing a blog, how we market ourselves, etc.  I really enjoyed our talk and time together.  It's one of the joys of travel, you meet some wonderful, interesting people.  

It was a good thing we ventured out when we did, as the next couple of days turned a bit windy and cold.  We all kind of hunkered down and pretty much stayed in.  A coupled of the braver ones still hiked, I think, though.  Sunday night, our friends Kayo and David joined Jack and I in going to Mesa to the Organ Stop Pizza.  We had heard that it was really quite an entertaining adventure...and it sure was!

It's all about the Organ!  Organ Stop’s Wurlitzer theatre organ was built for the Denver Theatre and was installed in 1927 and then after extensive renovations, was installed in this facility in 1975.  The enlargement and improvement of this instrument has been an ongoing project… In 1997, a larger four manual console was added to the instrument. The new console is an exact replica of a “Fox Special” French case, ornamented to match the famous Brooklyn Paramount Wurlitzer. This is the largest console type ever designed and built by Wurlitzer. Through the years, several rare sets of pipes have been added to the organ, including a massive set of 32′ wood diaphones (visible from the front of the building). As of today, the organ has over 6000 pipes. The massive quantities of wind required for operation are provided by four huge turbine blowers (visible from the outside of the building in the blower complex). The resulting instrument boasts 82 ranks, 17 tuned percussions and innumberable traps and effects.  It is not only the largest Wurlitzer theatre organ in the world, it’s the largest Theatre Pipe Organ of any type to ever be assembled!!!

And play it did!  What a wonderful, entertaining evening we had!  Everything from Phantom of the Opera to Christmas music was delightfully played...we were all mesmerized!  The pizza wasn't bad either ;-)

The last night of our campout we hosted the "final campfire", enjoying tales of how everyone spent their time here...hiking, going to see Christmas lights, to Barleen's Dinner Theater and scenic drives.  All in all, everyone seemed to have a great time and talked of when we can"all do it again!"

This will be our final camping trip for 2020...all that is left is to "sum it all up" for the year, of which I will  in my next/last blog (of the year). 

Until then, kicking back in Arizona,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Memories...remembering old ones and making new ones...

 There's the old saying "you can't go home again"...but this week I did, sort of...and it was really special. 

Several months ago our RV Club announced that they were planning a group trip to Lone Pine CA in October.  I was thrilled!  Lone Pine and Inyo County is where my Dad and Grandpa grew up and where I have wonderful memories of!  I haven't been back there in many, many years and to be able to go camping for several days, would be such a gift, so I immediately signed up.  

As the time came closer and closer, so did the Covid Virus and more and more people canceled.  As it turned out, the "group event" pretty much canceled and only three rigs ended up going!  It went from 22 rigs down to just us 3, but we made the best of it anyway!  Driving there we hit headwinds of 16-18 miles an hour, and in the over-night stay in Needles, that night, gusts got up to 30-60 mph.  We were rock'n and roll'n! 

Our stay in Lone Pine was lovely though, sunny and clear.  The first day was a bit windy, but after that it was pretty calm.  Our first outing was a drive into Bishop to check out the "big city" with the first stop at Schat's Bakkery.  They have been around since before I started coming here as a kid!  Family owned for generations...and still wonderful!!  The BEST Sheepherders Bread ever!  Can't go home without a loaf!  


After wandering around the rest of the town, we stopped for lunch then headed out to see the Manzanar National Historical Site.  They have really built this up since I was here, showing examples of of what the housing buildings looked like, outlining the areas of how many they had, rebuilding the basketball court, fire station, and a few other buildings.  They uncovered the garden and pond.  At one time they housed 10,000 people of Japanese ancestry there. 





From there we drove over to the Fish Hatchery and walked around it.  It was closed, but we could still walked around the outside and enjoy the ducks and the beautiful grounds.  When I was a kid, my friend Margie and I used to walk or ride our horses up here all the time and talk with the ranger and visit.  We just loved it up here. 


We then drove over to where my Grandfather's property was and tried to check it out as best we could without trespassing to much.  Gone were all his houses and orchards as well as the creeks.  He used to have one big creek and two smaller ones that ran down from the Fish Hatchery (from Mt. Whitney) right through his property, but they were all dried up now...sad to see.  Looked like the property was split up into individual lots (he had 3 acres) with a few Cottonwood trees left here and there and not much else. 


The following day we spent driving around and hiking back into the Alabama Hills where they made over 400 films.   Growing up, I knew that my Dad had been an extra and had even taught some actors how to ride horses in some films "somewhere" in the hills, but I never knew where, nor paid much attention to it really.  It wasn't until a few years ago when I began hearing about how Lone Pine was famous for a number of films that I put it all together!  Dad used to sing us a lot of the cowboy songs that they did in those old movies and tell us stories of how old Hopalong Cassidy didn't even know how to ride a horse at first and other funny stories with the Indians.  Wonderful old memories.

The next day we went to the Museum of Western Film History in Lone Pine and was really amazed at just how many films, the kind, and who all came here to be in them!  I really had no idea!  It's a great museum too, they really had a ton of exhibits with an extensive collection of real movie costumes, movie cars, props, posters and other memorabilia.  They have a Film Festival every year that is suppose to be quite something that I think our group is going to book for next year, so who knows, maybe we will be back!

You may not "quite" go home again, but after 60 years, this came pretty close, and pretty sweet...thanks for the memories...

...on the road in Lone Pine California,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos

The Campgrounds we stayed at were:  Needles KOA and Boulder Creek RV Resort 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

To hot or to cold?

 Well, I guess I must truly BE an "Arizonian" now...as our trip to California's Dana Point proved that anything cooler than 85 degrees, and I'm cold!  So, here I am, packing my bathing suit, shorts, sleeveless blouses (and one pair of long jeans with two long-sleeve blouses "just in case of cool nights") getting all ready to enjoy days sunning on the beach, swimming in the pool, walking along the harbor, enjoying the wonderful "Southern California weather"!  Right?  Wrong!!  Was I in for a surprise!  Mist, fog, cool wind, haze and damp air is what we had!  I LIVED in those jeans and two long-sleeved blouses...and almost bought a sweatshirt!  Boy, have I changed since my days of living in San Diego!  ha ha  What a wimp I've become!  My friends kept telling me it wouldn't take me very long to "get acclimated to the dessert" and I guess they weren't wrong.  Wow...

Besides the adjustment to the weather, it wasn't to bad...California is still more "controlled or locked down" than Arizona.  Almost all of their restaurants are only serving outside.  They have set up some tenting at some areas, but that really only consists of "tops" with the sides up and the breezes still coming in at you...cold, especially at night!  We did manage to hunt down a couple that did have indoor seating...The Chart House being one, along with Harpoon Henry's.  We lucked out and was treated to a wonderful 4-course dinner and drinks at The Chart House by our hosts at our Time Share. Yum!

We booked a two-bedroom so friends could join us, and our faithful couple, Lupita and Lew took the time to drive up after work and stay Saturday and Sunday with us, bringing all kinds of goodies for us to enjoy as well!  Of course we talked for hours and hours, almost forgetting to go out to eat!  It never fails to surprise us how much time passes since the last time we all got together....how does that happen?

My two nieces and nephew also made the trip up as well, and we met them in Carlsbad.  Love that town.  Always so pretty there.  Used to think we would wind up there to live someday...guess it wasn't in the cards...

We did enjoy lots of nice walks along the Harbor and into San Clemente.  Friday night gave us live music along the harbor while we ate ice cream and enjoyed watching the sunset over the harbor...

We ended our last day with a wonderful lunch visit with some dear friends that we hadn't seen in years and years!  We had some good laughs at how we all have gotten "gray hair" now!  ;-)  So fun having long-time friends!  

So, now it's back to "the homestead"...and, it just doesn't seem so hot anymore!  ha ha  Heck, it's only 103 this week!  Fall is almost here and won't be long before the "outdoor parties" begin, yea!  I'm ready...

...kicking back in Arizona,  Marie

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

A couple of brief "cool" trips...

Deciding to stick close to home this year, have left us pretty much "hiding out" in the air conditioning of our home here in the heat of the Arizona Valley. Not fun. Other than going to the pool in the mornings, doing a few home projects, it's been pretty boring, to say the least! We were starting to get cabin fever! This is the first summer we've NOT traveled, and I can honestly say, I really, really miss it. Reading the various blogs and articles about how crowded campgrounds have been, how much the campground fees have gone up, how difficult it has been to even get a reservation, and then if and when you do, what was there to do and see because so much is closed, made travel seem like a senseless and frustrating expense. Along with everything else going on right now, it wasn't one we decided to take on. So, we asked ourselves, "what can we do to get out of here, yet not go to far?" We own a time-share, and had saved up points that we had intended to use this year, along with my niece and her husband, to take a nice big trip to Spain and Portugal...but, that wasn't going to happen now, so I "banked" what I could, but some, I had to use now. So, we chose a week in Sedona AZ right away, and a week in Dana Pt. CA in Sept. Then we began looking into where we might be able to camp close by, yet "cooler" than here in the valley. The first place we could get a reservation was in Payson AZ, for a week. All the other areas in the local mountains were booked solid.

We've been to Sedona a number of times before, so this was just going to be a relaxing, change of scenery get-away. Luckily, the restaurants and shops were open so it made getting out and about a bit more enjoyable. Their pool was also open, so we enjoyed that as well. The temperatures were only about 15 degrees cooler, but enough to make walking around during the day possible. It was the first time we'd been out walking around in months, and it really felt good1 Sedona is a pretty place, even to just look at. I was glad we went. 

The following week after we got back was our camping trip to Payson. We actually had been to Payson many years before. I remembered the Mongolian Rim and the Natural Bridge and the cute little town. We had stayed in a cute cabin then as it was before we had an RV. Since we were going to be here for only a week, I didn't see any reason to bring out toad, just the RV. The campground was small, and to our disappointment, not as many trees as we had hoped, and not as "cool" either. The temperature here was only about 10-12 degrees cooler than in the valley, which didn't make for sitting outside for more than a few hours in the morning feasible. I regretted not bring the toad after all, since we ended up being inside the RV more than I had anticipated, but, even still, it was better than being in the Valley. 

When we got back I continued to look into other campgrounds in the mountains for reservations. Friends were going to Show Low area, and I kept trying, but I could only get a couple of days at a time, or at another one, they wanted $75 a night and I just won't pay those prices! Our friends here wanted to go with us, but she doesn't like "switch-backs", so I started looking closer, at Flagstaff. Found a campground there that had two sites for a full week at a great price so we booked them for mid August! Crossed my fingers that it was a decent place... Turned out to be a great place and a great time! Our sites were near each other. Our friends had a bit more shade than us, so we ended up playing cards in the afternoon and having dinner at their site each night. Lots of wonderful pine trees and a super nice camp host that we even invited to join us for dinner one night. What a funny campground though...more like a puzzle than any I've ever been to! The camp host, Diane explained that it was built in the 60's when RVs were a lot smaller, so when they started getting bigger and needed bigger sites, they had to start tearing down some of the sites and combining them to make them big enough for some of the larger rigs...this, they are situated every which way! Some are side-by-side, some back-in, pull-through, or pull-in! It looks very confusing, but, I guess it works! We liked it so much that after a week, when our friends were ready to leave, we weren't, so we went to Diane and asked her to work a miracle and see if she could figure out a way to find us a spot for another week! She jiggled this and that and did! We moved and stayed another week...I was just able to stretch out our food supply for the extra 7 days! Yea! Once again, we hadn't brought the toad, as our friends had their truck, so didn't see the need! ha ha 

All that is left now is the trip to Dana Point later in September.  That's along the beach, so that should be different.  We have friends near there who we will be seeing as well, so we are looking forward to that trip as well.  I don't think we have any more camping trips planned until late October with our camping club...but one never knows!  Cabin Fever may strike again...stay tuned!  

Until then, kicking back in Arizona,   Marie