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 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:

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:

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" 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 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

Friday, June 26, 2020


Well, here it is almost the end of June and I'm writing my first blog of the year!  Ugh.  "Normally" we would have been on the road almost 2 months by now and I would have had lots of adventures and a number of things to share...but noooo, we are GROUNDED here in our Arizona home.  ;-(   Like so many others, the "COVID 19 Quarantine" has us sitting around, waiting to see when, where and for how long things will open up to if we can even go anywhere this year!  IF we do, how far?  By the time campgrounds "open up", they will be so crowded, with "limited space" and extra people wanting to travel this way now, will there even be availability?  Everything has been changed because of this virus, so much is closed, that is it even fun to travel?  What will there be to see?  To do?  It's taken all the fun out and left a whole lot of stress in it's wake...not what RV'ing is all about...

In between time, hanging around the house has been a mixed bag.  We are getting some much needed or wanted projects done, but after awhile, I have to admit that is even getting a bit boring...There are only so many books to read, movies to watch, things to paint, sew or glue...  (albeit, some of them fun to do).  We have spent some nice time with some friends that we haven't had the opportunity to before, because they usually don't hang around here either, leaving late spring as well.  A number of folks who even have homes in other states have decided to stay here as it is safer than traveling there.  Many left right away, along with the Canadians, as they had to by order of their health providers!  Many lots are empty, so it's pretty quiet here, but we still get a lot of walkers and people riding their bikes.  They closed all the activity centers right away and just now reopened them, to the resident's glee.
Sewing curtains, Display box for my sand collection, and decoupaged a trunk with our travel maps

Made a fun "Directional Sign" of some of our favorite locations!

The weather has finally gotten "hot", meaning most days are in the triple digits by noon.  Our mornings are still lovely and most the time Jack and I sit out on the back porch with our coffee, but by around 11:30, we are closing up the house and turning the AC on!   What I'm NOT used to, and am trying to brace myself for tho, is the "monsoons" that I've heard so much about, but never have been here for.  They tell me that happens in June-August...high winds and heavy rains - big time!!  Which, when we are gone and all of our outdoor belongings are all tucked away is no big deal, but now, that is not the case, I'm really not looking forward to it!  Yikes!!  I guess we just shall see...

Another "up-side" is that I joined a water-aerobics class six days a week.  It's been a nice refreshing thing to do, people to meet...and I've already lost three pounds without dieting!  Yea!

Well, I guess that's enough whining for one day...truth be told, we are all in the same boat, so to speak.  I just had a bad case of "feeling sorry for myself" while I was looking out the window at the empty street and wishing it was the window of my RV and I was sitting in the front seat while we were driving to somewhere really cool... Here's to dreams to come...for all of us!

...hanging around Arizona,  Marie