Thursday, February 15, 2018

Fun Visits!

We are "wintering" at Happy Trails RV Resort in Surprise Arizona again this year for about three months.  I say "about", because we haven't quite decided if we are staying an extra month not just quite yet or not...we shall see.

In the mean time, as we sit back and relax, we've done a few (very few, actually) fun visits!

The first was to a wonderful Art Fair in Scottsdale.  The artists there put on a great show, displaying some very creative works.  We had a nice long chat with metal artists Jackie and Charles Nipper who make some really incredible statues and wall art from found pieces and weld them together to make flowers, horse heads, hearts, crosses, just all kinds of wondrous things.

Another fun artist was a lady who gathers together candy wrappers along with clock works and other bits and makes super-fun art works!  I was mesmerized by them!  So clever.  Don't you just love it when people come up with new ideas?  It was such a fun-filled day.

We always take a few days and travel to San Diego to have our annual dental check-ups and Jack's heart doc. appointment, along with the Toyota's checked.  We have dear friends who have a lovely guest house at their home in Escondido that often offer it to us, as they did this time as well.  It's pure luxury, especially after living in our RV all the time!

On the day that Jack took the Toyota in for it's check-up, it was going to be an "all-day affair".  He offered me the option of going with him and sitting in the service waiting area & joining him and his friends for lunch, or staying at the Guest House.  I told him I had a better idea...he could drop me off at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park for the day!  When he was done, just come back and pick me up; me and my camera would have a wonderful time just wandering around.  I still have a couple of friends who work there and if I play my cards right, I just might have a lunch date too!  ;-)  

The day was wonderful!  Being on my own at the Park was just lovely.  No one to please or or show something to, I could just wander willy-nilly wherever my feet just led me to.  No agenda, no time restraints.  Nice.  The weather couldn't have been better.  I did manage to meet up with my friends (I worked for the Zoo for over 20 years) and it was great spending a little time with them.  I even got to see a rare "duel" cheetah run that they decided to try, very cool.  Being in the middle of the week, the Park wasn't very busy, so that was nice for me as well, and made picture taking easy.   We ended our day by having a wonderful dinner with some friends at a nearby restaurant.

The following day, we met up with Jack's blacksmith buddy,  They have expanded the Wheelwright shop so they can make more than just wagon wheels.  They completed a full-on 1800's wagon, now they were finishing up an early buggy.   After a nice lunch, and a big bag of fresh oranges, we said our "good-byes" and headed back to pack up to head back to Arizona.

The rest of our time here has been attending wonderful dinners and spending time with friends.  We both caught colds, mine has lasted longer than Jack's, but I'm letting the sun "cook it out of me" while I read one book after another!  I'm not getting done all the projects I had on my "to do" list, but I'm still enjoying myself, and I guess that's what it's really all about anyway!

...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:

Friday, January 5, 2018

That's a Wrap!

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018!  When you camp in an area that doesn't have any WiFi service (or cable) the two pretty much merge together!  ;-)  So this "end of year blog" is a little late getting out...

Looking over our "goals" for 2017, which was pretty much to "complete our US map" and to take things a bit slower, spending more time during our travels, exploring...I think we were successful.  We checked off our last state, which was Ohio! by thoroughly enjoying that state.  We visited 6 cities/towns in Ohio, sampling their food (chili!), their attractions, and their beauty.  We never guessed Ohio could be so much fun!  We ended up spending 19 days there.

After 5 years on the road, and always visiting Texas (because it's there, and because it's where one of my son's lives) it's always a fun challenge to find a new place and/or a new route to take.  This year we managed to do both.  We also checked off another National Park to boot!  Visiting Big Bend in Texas was quite an experience, and like all of Texas, you can only get a taste of it because it's so very large!  Then later, after visiting my son, going through the Piney Woods area of Texas was such a lovely surprise.

Another state we were able to enjoy and spend some time exploring this year was Colorado.  In the past, it has only been for a few days, and only to visit our friends around the Denver area.  This time they met us in Colorado Springs for a week, but we camped several weeks before and after throughout the state as well and really got a great sense of what a beautiful state it is.  Having the opportunity to visit it in August was ideal for us, since their mountains are so high, most of the time one takes a chance of getting hit with snow or ice or road closures...but not so in August!  Yea!

I was also able to knock off a long time item off my "bucket list" this year, and that was to walk into and photograph a slot canyon in Utah.  What a wonderful experience that was!  Oftentimes something you've wished for, for years, doesn't always live up to your expectations, but this time, it exceeded it.  We ended up with a private tour because no one else had signed up for it that day, and the guide knowing my feelings, stayed longer, and took extra time showing me photo shots to take.  It was the highlight of our summer and one I will never forget!

With all that, we still managed to be at the birth of my last grandson, to get in (very) quick trips back east with family, and then the fast trip back to the west for a friend's wedding (phew!).  So no "vacation" out of the RV this year.  A longer than usual family visit in Washington...then to Arizona to "dry out".

Looking over our stats, they aren't to much different than last year actually...

We stayed at 62 campgrounds, for a total of 295 nights
Total campground fees: $10,758.63
(That averages about $36.47 a night, which is a little less than last year...maybe because we didn't stay in California very long this time)

Mileage for the RV: 12,945
Mileage for the toad: 11,823
Gasoline for the RV: $4,800
Gasoline for the toad: $1,130
Propane: $143
Maintenance & Repairs RV: 5,800(4 tires on toad, 6 tires on RV, generator exhaust, etc)

When you have a 10 year old RV, she needs a little TLC once a decade, then she's "good to go" again for awhile.  Now that that is done, we can relax a bit and see what 2018 brings us!

...kicking back in sunny Arizona,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

December Days...

After leaving my family in Washington, we headed south to get out of the cold and the rain as fast as we could!  I love my family and I love spending time with them, but I confess, I'm not a big fan of the cold & rain!  So, being in Washington in the winter is not a big draw for me, and if my family wasn't there...neither would I!  ;-)

 Each year when we leave Washington after Thanksgiving we cross our fingers that the weather doesn't mess us up.  It's always a gamble as to which route to take, and each year we study the weather, read the reports and in the end, it's almost like flipping a coin as to if we are going to face snow & ice on I-5 or flooding & mud slides on 101.  We've had both experiences and had to back-track and move from one to the other because of them!  Fun.  This year, however, we got nothing but sunshine all the way!  Yea!  As we traveled south, the temperatures got warmer and warmer, so nice...

We decided to spend December pretty much along the Colorado River, just sitting back and "doing nothing".  We belong to Colorado River Adventures and almost never use the membership because we are rarely in the area, so decided that the wise and frugal thing to do this year was to spend the last few weeks of the year using it!  

So we parked ourselves just outside of Lake Havasu for the first week, them moved over to Emerald Cove in Earp until the end of December.  The only down-side to all of this was that the WiFi is really hard to get (here it is the last day of December and I just now was able to finally get on!!) and no TV reception at all.  So, it's a good thing we like to read and that we have a great set of movies to watch on our own!  ;-)

Christmas was quiet this year.  At our age, it's pretty much sending presents to grandchildren and getting calls from our children.  I did get a very unexpected present from a dear friend that was such a delight.  She ordered me a lap blanket from Ireland that is from "my Gorman clan".  It came with a tag that explained my family heritage, etc.  Very, very cool. 

We did get invited to join our friends for Christmas in Surprise, so we gave ourselves a Christmas present of a two night stay at a hotel near them and drove over Christmas Eve.  They treated us to a wonderful dinner that night, a Christmas brunch and a Christmas dinner as well.  We felt very spoiled.  The sun came out and the six of us had a lovely time visiting and catching up on all that's been going on in the few months that we've been away.

We will be back at the first of the year to stay again for three months.  This time I'm not going to break anything, so am planning on joining in on several of the activities they have at the resort.  Jack too, has several projects he has in mind to do.

It's been an interesting stay here.  Quiet, yet noisy.  It's quiet in that people really don't mingle much, not like at other campgrounds.  They smile, but they don't stop and chat, not even your next door neighbors, and they are very close.  Odd.  Noisy, because many of the boats are speed boats that just love to rev up their engines and zoom up and down the river.  Wow, they are loud! 

There is one more novelty here too...what I call "the three amigos"'s the wild burros that come to visit.  They seem to just wander in at will, and hang around and then leave again.  We've run into them as we've taken walks around the campground and they are either bunched together in the shade by one of the cottages or wandering around some of the RVs drinking water out of a bucket that was left out.  Kind of cute.  I only had my camera with me once, of course...

All in all, it was a restful stay and a nice way to end our year...

...kicking back in Arizona,  Marie

Thursday, December 7, 2017


As we head south, we decided we would take State Highway 99 for a change of scenery this time.

 We got a nice view of Mt. Shasta as we drove through Weed.  Beautiful mountain...

This has put us through some towns that I haven't seen in many years.  One such town is Modesto.  We decided to camp just outside of Modesto in Patterson for a couple of nights, so we took a day trip over to it.

When I was a teenager, I had an aunt who lived here, and later on, my Dad and step mom lived here for a few years.  I have some fond memories of this town.  My aunt had a huge black walnut tree in her front yard, and for many years, she would send me a big bag of walnuts for Christmas!  It was one of my most favorite Christmas gifts ever.

My Dad worked for one of the large almond growers that supplied almonds to Blue Diamond.  Modesto, and the surrounding valley has hundreds and hundreds of nut orchards, mostly almonds, but I believe, they also grow walnuts and pistachios as well.  This whole areas is the "grocery store of America".  Dairy, citrus, vegetables, fruit, nuts, just about can't go hungry here!  ;-)

My very first trip to San Francisco was when I was spending the summer with my aunt.  I was about 14, and a son of a friend of hers and his friend invited to take me to go see the city since "we were so close".  He had a little MG, and the three of us piled in the way back...good thing I was small then!  What a hoot!  But, when your that young, you don't care, it's all fun!  ;-)

George Lucas probably made Modesto more famous than anybody, since he grew up there and based his movie "American Graffiti" on it.  That happened long after my summers there, so I missed the hubbub, but the town has rewarded him with a cute statue & park in his name as well has the American Graffiti Classic Car Show and Festival every summer.

It was nice to just drive down "main street" and see the changes (and some familiar buildings) and just remember my fun summers here...

...on the road in California,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Fun, Family & Festivities

Every November we head to Tacoma for the month to spend with my family and to get our yearly "human & RV check-ups".  My two sisters and their families live there and our RV is registered there, so it's our "home base" so to speak.

We came early this year (in October) because my middle sister was recently diagnosed with leukemia and I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible.

We certainly had our variety of weather during the six weeks we were there!  Soon after our arrival, it snowed!  That's the first time I've seen it do that while we've visited, especially in October!  It came down all day long in big, fluffy flakes.  It had me really worried because I thought if it was snowing now, then what was the end of November, when we were scheduled to leave, going to be like?  Would we make it through the pass OK?  My worries were wasted, because just a few days later, the sun came out and we had warm, lovely weather that melted not only the snow away, but warmed everything up beautifully!  No sooner did I get used to the sunshine, then the rains came...and came...and came.  Cold, drizzling, gray days..."typical Washington weather".

What did brighten our stay, was a visit by our Canadian friends!  Sherrie & Ken drove down from Calgary for a few days.  They had never been to Tacoma, so we had a chance to share a wee bit of our favorite spots with them.  Top of the list, was Gig Harbor.  Luck was on our side, and the day we had, the sun came out in full force, making a great day along the harbor.  Lunch at Tides Tavern for fresh fish and clam chowder topped it off nicely.  All the trees were still showing off their autumn colors too, so that made a nice impression for our guests!

One of the things we do while "home" (besides all the doctor & RV appointments) is play Wahoo.  A good friend of the family brought a board that his father made, over to my oldest sister's a couple of years ago, and we play it all the time.  Last year, when Jack and I were at the campground in Surprise, he made several more boards (one for us, and a couple to share with family).  It's addicting!  Last year, at Thanksgiving, all the teens went in the back room and played video games.  This year I took one of the marble boards (knowing that one of the teens liked it) and suggested that they give it a try.  It was such a hit, they all played, taking turns, staying in the room with all of us, throughout the whole night...not a video game touched!  Ha!  Score one for "old school" fun!
cards and a marble board game called

Thanksgiving is always the highlight of our stay.  This year was going to be even better because the day before was my middle sister's 81st birthday - and her making it this far, was a double celebration for all of us!  To have all of my nieces, nephews, wives, husbands, their kids, friends, my two sisters and tons of incredible food all in a beautiful warm home for hours and to listen to fun conversation and laughter is pure heaven to me.  The only thing that would have been better would to have had my own children there as well.  We did the next best thing, and "face-timed" them on the phone.  Such a fun thing the new electronics are.  My twin sons and their families were together in New York enjoying full bellies, being three hours earlier.  They were celebrating as well, having a successful hunt the few days prior.  Unfortunately my daughter and grandson were nursing bad colds, so "celebration plans" were not on the agenda at that end.  I did see later that they were enjoying "pie" though...and that being her favorite part of Thanksgiving anyway, I'm thinking she got what she wanted after all! 

We found that we had a "hitch-hiker" that came with us...I think from Oregon on our way north, then had the run of the place while we were tucked in at my sister's for the six weeks.  We discovered the little guy when we checked in on the rig one day and saw his "droppings".  Ugh.  I had Jack go get a couple mouse traps and set them.  It looks as if it was only one, and we caught him, as I've not seen any signs since...but for only one little guy, he sure did leave a mess!  It's reminded me of the movie "Home Alone"!  While we were away, he certainly had the run of the place, and made the most of it!! Wow!  Now I have my work cut out cleaning out every-single-drawer-and-cupboard!  Ugh

We spent a couple more days visiting with my two sisters, eating wonderful leftovers, then it was time to leave and head south.  I don't blog while I'm in Tacoma...for two reasons, one the WiFi connection at my oldest sister's is almost non-existent, and two, I try and spend as much time "with" family as possible, knowing I can catch up on other stuff once I leave.

As I write this, we are "on the road" heading south as fast as we can to get to warmer weather!  Sunshine here we come!!  I've bundled up with Uggs, sweatshirts, coats, etc as much as I care to!  I'm ready to shed this heavy stuff and dig out my shorts again! 

...on the road, Marie

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Enjoying Oregon!

Once we settled into Bend, things seemed to turn around for us.  The sun came out, things warmed up and once again life was good!  Yea!  Our new campground was lovely and a great place to "get things settled".  We needed additional tires, and electrical fixed from the blowout, as well as to just rest up from the experience of it all.  Calls were made, people came out, and things were handled (as best they could, anyway).  There didn't appear to be much to "go and see" in Bend except for Tumalo Falls, so we saved a pretty day for that and took a short drive out to see them (along with hundreds of others, as it turned out!).  They were indeed lovely, but what I enjoyed even more, was the beautiful grove of aspens I found along the way!  Jack was kind enough to pull over to the side of the road for me while I tromped into the woods for a bit and spent about 20 minutes just basking in their beauty while I snapped picture after picture trying to capture it all.  Colorado has nothing on this sweet little grove!  I could have stayed there all afternoon just watching the breeze flicker their cute little leaves so they just sparkled in the sun...

As we drove back to our campsite, the drive picked up several of the trees starting to turn yellow, orange and red...aah, autumn is definitely starting...and even a nice view of Mt. Hood...

We left the following morning for a week in Portland.  Usually we are here for only a couple of day, and usually in the middle of November, so it's nice to come a month early and to be able to spend a little more time actually enjoying the city.  We have friends and a niece here that we visit as well as a couple of "favorite stops".  We tried a new campground this time, right in the city, and it sure was nicer than commuting 45 minutes each time!  Columbia River RV is right by the airport and I was concerned the traffic and the noise would be a problem, but it really hasn't been; we will use this place again!

It wouldn't be Oregon or Washington (your right on the border) if it didn't rain some of the of course it did...but I have to confess, it hasn't been to bad!  We decided to take one of the days and drive out of the city and go see the state capitol, which is in Salem - just an hour and a half away.  Not bad, and we have never been!

When we got there...the sun came out!  ;-)  We missed the tour, so did the "self-guided" one and chatted with the receptionist to learn as much as we could.  It is a pretty simple capitol building without a lot of "fancy" trappings as it was burned down twice before and they decided to use a lot of marble etc. the last time.  I did like the "Woodsman" on the top of the dome (called the drum" because of the shape) though - very different.  And different is what they were after.  They wanted Oregon's Capitol to "stand apart from all the other be "distinctive and different".  Another change they made was having dual staircases, instead of one grand staircase at the entrance.  They felt it was more open and airy adding more natural light to the area.  The drum has 5 windows around it that also enhances this effect on the rotunda and helps shine down on their beautiful murals.

Our last day in Portland we were able to finally enjoy two of their beautiful gardens...the International Rose Test Garden of which Portland is famous for, and the Portland Japanese Garden.  I was surprised to find that the Rose Garden still had so many flowers in bloom.  Being mid October, I expected to see a lot of bare bushes, but was pleasantly pleased to see blooms everywhere!  Nothing like it would be had we been there in April or May...but certainly beautiful for a sun-filled October in Oregon!  Nice!

Portland Japanese Garden was delightful.  I had no idea what to expect.  We lucked out and wandered into a guided tour, thank goodness!  Cheryl spent an hour with us and walked us all around the park and explained each of the 5 areas of the park and shared the philosophy of the design of each area.  It really made a difference knowing the "what and why" we were seeing.  I'll never look at a Japanese Garden the same again!  Absolutely beautiful...

They also had a very interesting exhibit on The Noh Masks of Ohtsuki they are made and their meanings as well as some beautiful silk brocade costumes.

It was a beautiful way to spend the sunniest of days here in Portland!

...on the road to Washington,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Not always according to plan...

How does the saying go..."best laid plans..."?  Well, they don't always go according to how they were laid out!  ;-)  Here was "the plan"...

We had some extra time and the weather was great, so we decided to leave Pahrump Nevada and head to Portland Oregon on a very s l o w lazy route going through eastern Oregon via the state scenic road instead of the Interstate highway.  One we hadn't been on before, so new scenery, less traffic, no billboards or fast foods etc. to stare at etc.  We could just take our time and enjoy the ride.  We also decided since we had the time, to stay at a campground in an off-the-beaten-path, near a wild life refuge and spend a few days enjoying that area.  I had read that it had thousands of acres of marshes, lakes and grasses that attracted hundred of birds, water fowl, deer and other animals.  I thought it would be wonderful to see and photograph.  Afterward, we could head on to Bend and then on in to Portland.  That was the plan. 

Well, the trip started out ok...full of sunshine and promise.  We almost made it out of Nevada...we were about an hour and a half out from the last town (Winnemucca), in the middle of "nowhere", listening to our audio book, watching the endless view of low shrubs, when all of a sudden...BANG! thud-a-da-a-dud-a-dud... the sound only a blown tire can make...and the smell that only a motorhome blown tire can emit!  Dang.  We slowly pulled over to check it out...yup, right rear inside tire, blown...  So much for choosing a nice back road, now what!  At that moment, we looked up and down the road and couldn't see anywhere to even pull off the road!  We slowly drove, and would you believe it, about a quarter of a mile down the road, in the middle of nowhere, there was a gas station?  Do we have an angel on our shoulders, or what?  Nice big wide pull through area that we could pull around in back and just sit and wait.  We called our handy Good Sam Service people and in two hours (told you we were in the middle of nowhere) two young men came out with two new tires and replaced both right tires (you have to do both) and an hour later we were back on the road again!

Now, by this time, the sun was beginning to set and we still had three hours to get to our campground.  The "scenic byway" turned out to be pretty boring actually...mostly sagebrush, some trees here and there and maybe a half dozen farms/ranches with some cattle.  As it got dark, being on the state road, without industry, there were no lights of any kind, so it was very dark...and we saw nothing for a very long time!  It was a good thing the campground had a lighted sign, or we would never have seen it!  Holly, the manager was super nice and walked us to our site with a flashlight because even the campground was pretty dark!

The next day the temperature had dropped by more than 30 degrees with the wind chill!  It was predicted to rain, so we decided to stay in and just settle in (and pull out our winter clothes).  The following day we ventured out to check out the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

We picked up their Auto CD and drove around as much as we could, but soon discovered that we must be "in between" seasons.  The summer fowl have left and the fall/winter fowl and animals haven't arrived yet because we didn't see anything!  Almost all the marshes were dried up and  even the lakes were almost a third the size.  Pretty disappointing.  We did get to see the Pete French Round Barn though, which is quite unusual.

The Narrows Campground was really quite nice, with a cute cafe & fully stocked store.  Each site even had individual fire pots and BBQ stands with patios and tables.  I'm sure during the summer when it's warmer, it's quite nice here.  It was just so windy and cold, it even froze the water pipes our last night.  We were ready to leave and head for Bend.

This was an have them when you full-time like we do.  Just, thank goodness not often! 

...on the road in Oregon,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: