Saturday, August 19, 2023

Cooling off in Flagstaff!

As the summer heat in the Arizona valley continues to be relentless, Jack and I decided it was time to give ourselves a break, if only for a week, and escape to the local mountains and our favorite campground in Flagstaff.  Months of triple digit heat, no matter how many times you go to the pool, or "play inside", it gets old, and you (or I should say I) need a break...or more accurately, need cool mountain air!  

I love it up in Flagstaff.  It's still unpretentious, yet big enough to have (more than) everything one needs and at 7000 feet have pine trees, cool clean air...and space!  The campground that we have been coming to for a number of years is "basic" - nothing fancy, just full hook-ups - and trees!  We don't need pools, or BBQs, or cabanas, or cable, or any of the other stuff that the other places offer (and charge for), just a nice quiet, clean spot to relax and enjoy the outdoors in.   I like that when we make our reservation and arrive, they remember us and welcome us back, always treating us like we are regulars, even though we probably only get up here once a year.  They must keep good records because they "remembered" where we were camped before and that we liked it and put us in that spot again and commented on that when we arrived.  Nice. 

 The weather has been so nice (one never really knows up here and needs to expect rain at any given time) that we decided to take a short drive and visit Winslow.  We hadn't been there in many years and I was wondering how it looked now, so off we went!  

You can't be a fan of the Eagles band and not heard of Winslow.  They made it popular with their song "Take It Easy" with the lyrics "Standin on the Corner in Winslow Arizona"... and the town has certainly taken advantage of it!  The song was actually written by Jackson Browne who was a good friend of Glenn Frey in the band.  Browne was in Winslow and did stand on a corner and saw a girl in a flat bed Ford look at him - so those lyrics are true to form.  

In 1999, a group of locals got together and formed the Standing On The Corner group (SOTC) to raise funds to create a Park (corner).  They sold "bricks" and raised enough money to hire a renowned sculptor (Ron Adamson) to create a bronze balladeer who now permanently stands on a corner in Winslow Arizona!  Additionally, they also hired artist John Pugh to create an amazing trompe l'oeill style mural that graces the brick wall of the Park.  It makes a fantastic "picture spot" to say the least!  In the middle of the road is a HUGE painted Route 66 as well.  That 4-Corner area is the heart of Winslow.  Across the street a musician was singing and playing his guitar and the two most prominent stores and an ice cream parlor are on those  corners as well.  After that, there wasn't to much else to see, unfortunately.  We spoke to one of the store owners and she said while they had been having a very good summer this year, COVID had really hurt the town and many of the other small businesses just couldn't make it through it.  It was really sad to see.  It used to be a thriving little tourist town before, now we could just about count the number of places on one hand.  We bought a couple of things, stopped in to the ice cream shop (had to help the town out!) and then headed on back.  

Bookstores and antique shops are the other thing we can't pass up we made sure we visited our favorite ones...and sure enough we found some bargains we just needed to bring home!  Don't you just love it when that happens?  ;-)  

Won't my plants look great on these?

Well, the sun has been good to us during our stay.  I was worried that it would rain the whole time, but other than a couple of short, light showers, and one evening with a very loud thunder storm, it's been delightful.  The weather report kept "predicting thunderstorms" but then would revise it the next day to "partly cloudy with a high of 76-77".  Worked for me!  That was "sitting outside" (and reading) weather, and loving every minute!  It's going to be tough to go back down the mountain...but the high temp's can't last forever (can they?) and it IS almost September for goodness sake!  Pretty soon it will be cool enough for me to try and replant all the potted plants and areas that died because of that miserable heat (who says I'm not an optimist?)!  

...kicking back in Arizona,  Marie

Sunday, July 23, 2023

New Adventures in New Mexico!

We've been all through New Mexico...and just when I thought "we'd seen just about every town", our friends informed us that they had moved to one we hadn't been to before!  Well, we couldn't pass that opportunity by!   We gave them a year to get settled in...and this summer when the Arizona heat was just to much, we decided it was time to check out this "new town" and see if they were up for a visit!  

So, off we went to Silver City New Mexico, altitude, 5900, South West corner...a 5 plus hour fairly easy drive.  When we left Surprise it was already pushing past 80 degrees at 7:30 in the morning and it would reach 118 that day.  We were looking forward to much cooler weather for the next two weeks along with some nice visits with our friends that we hadn't seen in a few years.  

It didn't take us long to find out, that like many other parts of the U.S., they too were having "unusually hotter weather"!  Ugh...It had been, and was going to stay, right around 89-90 with mid-humidity.  Cooler than our area, but not as cool as we had hoped...oh well...

Our first stop (as usual) was the Visitor Center.  Even though we were here to see our friends, that didn't stop Jack; that's the one place he goes into and gathers up all the info he can find and chats with people.  ;-)  Their outside was very interesting...beautiful artwork, all done with tiles.  Found out that the town had a history of making tile and still does some.  There was also a replica of Billy the Kid's boyhood home.  Seems Ron Howard filmed a movie in 2003 there called "The Missing" and built this 1870 cabin and gifted it when they were done.

We quickly discovered two things about Silver's very "artsy", with tons of small art shops of all kinds, along with fun thrift shops and book stores to mix it up some.  The second thing was the crazy hours all of them have!  Every store, shop and restaurant opens and closes on different days and on different hours, with no rhyme or reason to it.  So, if you go on a Monday, you might find two places open from 7am-2pm (coffee cafe and someplace else), then if you go on a Wednesday, you might find three different places open, at three different times!  Crazy!  It was a good thing we were there for the full two weeks, because we needed it to get to all the places we wanted to see, with their funny hours!

If you have read my blogs before, you know I love taking pictures of murals.  Well this town has plenty!  They have a special "Youth Mural Program" that they started in 2003 to teach students about the history and culture of their community through the arts, engaging students in beautifying their community.  In addition, students learn problem solving, working collaboratively while creating something that they can be proud of.  I couldn't have agreed with their philosophy more, and as for the "art", they are fantastic!

I read about a wonderful little coffee shop to visit called Tranquilbuzz that we decided to check out.  What an incredible find!  I have to say, it was the most eclectic, "natural", relaxing, fun place I have ever been to.  As you enter, all the outdoor seating is created to look as natural as possible with smoothed limbs of trees as backing to long boards cut from them interspersed around a small pond and fountain with koi.  Paths and bridges lead you to different nooks for tables and seating areas, one with two bent metal swings (for two) with lovely cushions.  Then you go on up inside to more seating that has comfy chairs and a sofa, along with more wooden tables and chairs.  There is where you order your wonderful coffees and goodies.  They have a "music corner" that has every kind of instrument imaginable available, and a calendar of artists who come and perform.  Along the walls and hanging from the ceiling are all sorts of fun pieces of art, etc to catch your eyes and entertain you. Such a magical place.  Our friends had never been, so of course we came back again and brought them!  

When we were there the first time, we engaged in a delightful conversation (while swinging in one of those wonderful swings) with several local ladies and they suggested that we drive out to Pinos Altos to have dinner and listen to the music at the Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House.  We told our friends about it and they agreed it was a "must do", so we set a date for the following Friday night and I made us a reservation. 

What a wonderful evening we had!  The Buckhorn did not disappoint!  Great looking, and the food was wonderful!  At first I was afraid that our table was a bit far from the music, but once they started playing, I was glad it was where it was because we could see them and hear them just fine and still hear each other!  If we would have been any closer, we couldn't have had any conversation at all.  ;-)  

That night, our friends suggested we should take the scenic drive up through the Gila Wilderness Area.  I asked about seeing the Cliff Dwellings and they said it was about a mile hike and with this heat, it might not be a great idea, but to stop at the Visitor Center anyway.  They gave us a route up and back and to do that would be an "all day trip" that sounded perfect, so we planned it for the next day.

We left around 8am to get an early start and headed out.  It didn't take long to start to see the lovely scenery.  We had seen some of it the evening before when we had driven to Pinos Altos, but the trees just got denser as we climbed and entered the Gila National Forest.  By then we were surrounded by ponderosa pine, spruce, fir and oak and about 7000' up. 

At the Visitors Center for the Gila Cliff Dwellings we talked with a ranger about hiking back to see them.  The temperature was already over 90 degrees and the tour wasn't going to start for another 45 min.  She looked at me and gently smiled and said that they had a great film of the cliffs here and artifacts...I took the hint, and watched the film.  They had a nice Geromino Monument outside.  Seems he was born at the headwaters of the Gila River in 1820.  I've seen other cliff dwellings before...

We went on to see Lake Roberts.  Beautiful fishing lake.  Only two other folks were there while we were there, one still out somewhere on the lake, and one bringing in their boat.  So peaceful and quiet, the sky was so vivid, it left wonderful reflections on the water as I watched a mama duck gather up her little ducklings.  

Next stop was a visit to the City of Rocks!  We had no idea what to expect.  All our friends told us was "you have to swing by and go see this place!"  So, we followed the signs and turned when it said to...paid our $5. to the State...and found out it is a picnic and campground!  ;-)  HUGH boulders, the size of buildings (hence "city") in weird shapes that (may?) suggest buildings, chairs, monsters, creatures...who knows?  Let your imagination soar!  They certainly are fun to look at, and I bet camp at and picnic beside (in cooler weather).  There were a couple of campers there, but otherwise, the place was pretty empty.

We did try and stop at a place for a bite to eat, but they were closing, so all we had was some ice cream.  It was ok...but we had a place we really liked in town that makes homemade ice cream, called  Ice Cream Emporium, that we've fallen in love with!   We made it back home around 4pm.  Nice, wonderful day.   

All to soon our two weeks came to a close...wonderful lunches, sweet ice cream treats and dinner visits with our friends, fun excursions and even a great time at the RV park.  Manzano's turned out to be a delightful spot!  Nothing "fancy", which is fine by us, we just need nice hook-ups, clean place, level spot, shade, some breathing room...and it's nice to meet friendly people.  This place had all that and more!  John and Barbara gave you all that and host a complimentary BBQ on Saturday nights with all the "fixings"!  Great way to not only enjoy good food, but to meet super nice people.  If we didn't have appointments and obligations to come back when we did...we would have stayed longer...even if to have another BBQ!


....back in the Arizona heat....Marie

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Life happens...and then you make U Turns!

 It's a good thing I write everything in pencil!  Life is full of surprises, and you just never know when the next one is going to happen, do you?  We were all set to go to the Escapee's Rally in Tucson, packed, paid for, etc. when Jack came down with COVID - big time.  Instead of of fun time camping, he spent a not so fun time in the hospital!  (Much to our surprise, they gave us a full refund they will have my loyalty forever!)  It has taken him quite awhile to bounce back to his "normal" lively self, so no "trips" for him. 

Me, on the other hand, besides my usual "duties" on the Board here, and the fun stuff of line dancing, swimming at the pool, ladies coffee days, bingo, etc. decided it was a good time to fly off to visit family in Washington!  Didn't want to leave the dear one for to long, so only went for a week...but the family managed to pack a whole lot in during that time!

I no sooner arrived and my sister, niece and her friend whisked me away for a two day visit to Westport Beach - a place I had never been before!  I was "forewarned" that this area only gets "sunshine and nice weather 12 days a don't expect much".  I tallied back that I bring it with me!  ...and I did!  It was cool, mostly by the breeze, but the sun shone both days, and it was lovely!  The tide was way, way out, and we even drove onto the beach.  Sand dollars and jellyfish were scattered all across the sand along with a few shells and driftwood. The clouds left beautiful reflections on the waters edge.

Afterward, we went into the small town and walked along the harbor and watched an oyster boat unload his catch of oysters into a truck.  Westport is known for their oysters and crab (of which we saw lots of crab traps stacked up for later use).  We took advantage of their wonderful fresh seafood at every meal!

That night we were able to find a place that had three rooms, each with it's own bathroom along with a small living room and kitchen.  All for a very reasonable price.  The next day, after having a wonderful breakfast, we continued to drive along the coast and spotted Gray's Harbor Lighthouse.  It was closed, but that didn't stop me from walking around and getting a picture! Pretty thing, with a green top.  Never saw one with a green top like that before.  ;-)

The following day my sister and I were meeting up with one of her friends for dinner, so we had the morning to ourselves, which means, we played cards!  She (and I) love to do that, and every time I come to visit, that's what we do every spare minute.  ;-)   I get up earlier than she does tho, and so does my nephew (whom she lives with) and we talk, and when the weather is nice, which it was this trip, and walk his garden.  He's really proud of the work he does in his garden.  Each year it's fun to see what he's added.  I must admit I miss having one like I used to, one with all the roses and flowers and multiple vegetable bins, but I know in my heart that I'm in a different place now and it's "OK".  

That night we ended up going to dinner at Da TiKi Hut for dinner.  At first our friend wasn't very thrilled with it, as the menu was a little confusing.  But once we all understood it, and even got a sample, we enjoyed it.  It was all decorated in Hawaiian and the food and drinks were Hawaiian (on one side of the menu while the other side were burgers).  It was fun and delicious!

Saturday was one of my niece's youngest daughter's graduation from Nursing School celebration party.  She went all out with fun food and cute drinks and decor!  We drank from "specimen cups" and had drink choices of "Blood Draw", Urine Analysis" or "Code Blue" along with "Rescue Meds" in syringes.  What a hoot!  We are all so proud of her as she starts her new career at Kaiser.

Sunday was Father's Day and my nephew did a wonderful job at the BBQ!  It was chilly, but sunny and we enjoyed the day on his lovely patio playing cards, eating and enjoying each other. 

Monday, my last day (where did the week go?) my other sister's three girls took my sister and I out to lunch out along the dock.  The day was beautiful, the sun was shining, the food was fantastic, the company was wonderful.  We sat there and talked and laughed for hours and hours, then we moved to one of their home's and continued for more hours!  The best way to end my week...

The day I left, it started to rain...

Monday, January 9, 2023

Did 2022 even happen? ...and now it's 2023!

 Transitioning from "Full-Time" (12 months traveling on the road) to "Part-Time" (6 months on the road) was one thing...and that took an adjustment, but this last year was what?  "Part-Part-Time" (once in awhile on the road)?  We put more miles in the air than we did in the RV!  I'm not complaining, it's just hard to write a "year-end blog" about a year that hardly happened!  I kept putting it off because I didn't really know what to say, even though I wanted to say something

Do I like it?  I don't know, I'm still adjusting to my age.  Inside I feel like I can and want to do so much more...but when I go to do it, funny how my body doesn't seem to cooperate like it used to!  I'm also finding myself being pulled in a lot of different directions now that we are here in the Resort more.  I'm on the Board of Directors now, liaison to a couple of committees and in several clubs - all of which take time and commitment...and makes it harder to get away for any length of time.  

Belonging to the RV Club has been a wonderful blessing because they really help get us out and about without us having to do much of the pre-planning and work.  They've also introduced us to places that we hadn't heard of before and might not have ever explored.  We hope to do even more with them in 2023.  

Even with barely traveling in the RV this year, we still managed to put over 1000 miles on it with another 6100 miles on our Toyota.  Enough to keep the engine running and serviced and the tags kept up to date anyway!  ;-)  

We have reservations for March on the books (to go to Tucson for the Escapee's 64th Escapades) for a rally and then I will be looking into little jaunts for us here and there to keep us more active this stay tuned!  

Until then we will just be...kicking back in Arizona,  Marie