Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Changes...

After over six years of being on the road full time, and fending off the constant question of "have you found a place to call home yet?"  We can now answer with a resounding "yes, we have!"

We have camped in all the lower 48 states and visited in the other 2, so we have more that accomplished what we set out to do.  Are we done traveling?  No!  It's just time for a change...time to slow it down a bit.  Driving and moving from campground to campground every week or two, for a whole year has gotten a little less appealing.  I found that I was beginning to miss doing other things. 

Three years ago we started visiting our friends living in Happy Trails RV Resort in Surprise Arizona.  The first year we stayed the month of January.  It seemed nice and we met some of their friends.  The next year we decided to come back and stay 3 months.  During that time we got to know the place and the people.  Involved ourselves with the activities, Jack with the wood shop and I was going to do some sewing, until I broke my wrist while bicycling.  We met a lot of people and enjoyed all the neighborhood parties. 

When we came back this year, again for 3 months, we decided that after seeing the country and checking out so many other places, this place was really the best one for us to have as a "home base".  It really has all that one could ask for as far as activities, location and style of homes.  I wanted a "real home" to put our stuff into (out of storage) along with an RV pad and some sort of a yard, and this has it.  The HOA is very reasonable and with a gated security we feel safe leaving here for 5-6 months at a time.  Additionally, our friends live here full-time and would keep an eye on the place (and on us when we are here too!). 

People are another factor...you couldn't ask for a nicer,  friendlier group of folks than the ones who live here.  At each location that we've stayed here, the neighbors have always welcomed us and chatted.  When I fell and broke my wrist one came running to my rescue and has since stayed our friend.  Several brought food over while I was recovering, always checking on us.  The other day, my friends gave me a surprise birthday party and so many came (all that hadn't left for the summer!).  Since we moved into our new home, tons of people have stopped by and welcomed us to the neighborhood.  Many still come by and stop and chat with us while we are outside working on the boxes. 

Having our things finally out of storage is a blessing and a curse.  It's nice not having to worry about them or to pay the storage fee any longer.  When we put our things into storage we thought we would only be on the road about a year or so, then possibly move into a small (2 bedroom/2 bath?) home with a small yard...maybe in Oregon?  That was the idea, anyway.  Well, here we are, in a very tiny 1 bedroom/1 bath, almost no yard home.  So, to say the least, we have more "things" than space!  Ugh.  Trying to sort through it all, while surrounded by lots & lots of boxes is not an easy task!  Good thing our shed is a 2-story and can hold a lot of storage upstairs!  ;-)  We will be at this for awhile...

We had planned out being out of here by now, coming back in the fall and continuing the unpacking then...but...I broke one of my molars.  Darn.  So, now I'm off to see an oral surgeon.  Not sure how long all this will take.  The "heat of the summer has started" and as soon as we can, we are out of here...boxes or no boxes! 



...unpacking in Arizona,  Marie

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Parties, parties, parties...


Our winter stay here at Happy Trails is slowly coming to an end.  Looking back over the last three months, it seems like it’s been “one party after another”!  Here I thought I would have an opportunity to loose a couple of pounds…ha!  With all the potlucks, I’m lucky to still fit in my cloths! 

The friendliness of everyone here is one of the reasons I like this place so much.  It only takes an evening’s chatting with someone to get to know them well enough to get an invite to the next party!  Next thing you know, your headed down the street to another happy hour, or game night and meeting even more people! 

We’ve had Birthday Parties, Holiday Parties, Fish Fries, Mardi Gras, Happy Hours, Game Nights, Jazz Bash Block Parties, Rib Fest and Ice Cream Socials.  All this on top of what the Happy Trails Social Clubs offer…Bingo Nights and the best yet, the Theater Group’s Musical Show! 


Throughout all that, I did manage to get a couple of crafts done, phew!  I joined the Stained Glass Class and made my son a kaleidoscope.  It turned out pretty good, and a whole lot of fun too.  I’ll do another one next year for one of my grandsons.  Jack and I did a dual project of making hand mirrors for all of my granddaughters.  He cut the wood out for me, and I painted them and lacquered them.  My painting wasn’t perfect, but all in all, I’m happy with them.  They will make nice Christmas presents I think.  That was a fun project too, for both of us.  We also managed to read a ton of books…our favorite thing!  ;-) 



One of the big things I did this year…was to commit to the Theater Group for next year!  Yep, I’m going to “go on stage”!  After seeing how much fun they were having, and “lip-singing” all my favorite songs, the ones I sing to all the time anyway, I thought I just had to join them!  So, I did!  What a great group!  When my daughter was growing up, she went to the school of performing arts and we always had a house full of kids singing and dancing.  I loved it and miss that wonderful energy.  “These are my kind of people!”  I’m really looking forward to spending time with them, getting to know them, rehearsing together, and partying together!  They keep reminding me it’s also “hard work”, but, it’s also my kind of work, so, I’m looking forward to it…

I’ve also been looking at a few churches.  I’ve been in Science of Mind for many years, so that’s where I started.  There is one about 40 minutes from here.  We also went to a Unity of Surprise that is only about 15 minutes from here that I really liked.  The minister looked (and her name sounded) very familiar.  She said the same thing to me when we met…but neither of us could place each other…odd, huh?  Anyway, it was nice to “be back in church”, it’s been a long time.  Being on the road full time hasn’t lent itself to making it easy for that.  Nice people, nice place.  They had a wonderful Easter Service that included a 15 piece jazz orchestra that really added to the service too!  That, and a full pot luck buffet afterward, what more can a person want?  ;-) 





The temperatures are still hovering around the mid 80's for the most part, so it's still lovely here, while many states are still suffering cold, rain and snow, so the folks are slow to exit this year.  Many that normally leave by the first of April and now pushing it back to almost May...so, a "few more parties yet"?  We shall see...




...kicking back in Arizona,  Marie

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:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

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:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/




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"...it'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