Tuesday, January 31, 2006

And They Are!

Your Eyes Should Be Gray

Your eyes reflect: Intensity and drive

What's hidden behind your eyes: A sensitive soul

Monday, January 30, 2006

A Nice Day Goes South

We were having beautiful day in the neighborhood; I had gone to water aerobics, Denny was putting a coat of wax on the rig, we ran out to pick up some fresh strawberries at a road side stand and discovered a geocache while we were out. After a light lunch we decided to take a nap and that's when the day started going downhill.

My mother called to say the skin cancer biopsy indicated a pretty extensive spread of the basal cell carcinoma so she's scheduled for a Mohs procedure in March. The dermotologists there are good, so they're booked pretty far in advance. Having gone through the same procedure myself, I know she'll be okay and I will arrange a network of friends and family to check up on her.

Next we get an e-mail from the wife of Denny's best friend who said he was having bad dizzy spells, which is scary because he's had a tumor pressing on his spinal cord removed twice and has had several balloon angioplasties. The doctors think it may just be an inner ear infection. We'll hope for that.

Then a few minutes after that the phone rings again and it's the wife of a couple we worked for as Workampers; the husband had a heart attack today and probably had several small ones yesterday. He's not even 60 years old yet. But he is stabilized and they'll run tests and decide between stints/open heart/balloon/whatever sometime in the next day or so.

At times we feel guilty being so far from friends and family. We are incredibly grateful for our continuing good health and the ability to live the life we want. We wish everyone could be as lucky.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

House hunting

Before you get excited, no, we're not giving up our traveling lifestyle.

Periodically we check out area homes to see the quality of construction and how much house we could get for "x" amount of dollars because we figure that someday we'll tire of the RVing lifestyle and want to settle into a "real" house again.

So this week we checked out the Estrella development. Nice homes, nice sized lots, but they cost more than they're worth and for some reason Yuma just doesn't appeal to us as a place to settle permanently. Strange, because it's similar in climate to the Phoenix area, is on the river and has mountains but it's just lacking in something. So while it's fine to visit we decided we wouldn't want to live here.

Boy, that was easy. Now there's just a few thousand other towns to check out.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Finding the perfect recreational vehicle

Honestly? There is no such thing.

Every morning, Monday through Friday, three different RV dealers alternate bringing new and used rigs to the parking lot of our campground to show. Of course, the big draw is the free coffee and donuts, but that's beside the point. While walking to the pool Wednesday I noticed a Mountain Aire fifth wheel by NewMar so I told Denny we'd have to head to RV Peddlars to check it out. Full body paint (okay, so only a RVer would understand and appreciate that), Mor-Ryde pin box, dual tires on double axles for better weight support and less canting of tires when backing into a site, lots of interior wood trim around the windows and slideouts; man-o-man! All for only $110,000- a bargain. Heh. Okay, until we win the lottery we'll stick with what we have.

Just for sh*ts and giggles we walked over to the Class A motorhomes. There are times I wish we had a Jeep 4X4 for off-roading/back roads and the only way to do that would be to switch back to a motorhome. So we walked through about ten different models by different manufacturers and my first thought was "no desk for the computer". Okay, "no area for a stacking washer/dryer". Hmm, "no kitchen counter space"-I tend to spread out when I cook. Hmm,hmm, hmm. I guess we have what I want! So it wasn't a complete waste of time.

What do I want/need in a rig? That will be a subject for the RV Vagabonds website. Soon.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Living proof

Angus and Norma lead the water aerobics class here at Yuma Lakes. Every morning, Monday through Friday from 9 to 10, they lead a pool full of men and women through a non-stop hour of movement ranging from stretches to gentle jogging to "sprints" and back again. Okay, big deal, you say. But Norma and Angus are in their mid-eighties and have been married for 64 years and that makes them special. They are living proof of the benefits of the RVing lifestyle if you take advantage of the activities offered at the campgrounds and find ways to keep yourself active. Yes, we are "retired" but retired doesn't mean dead (or lazy).

On a different note, I have a hummingbird feeder that attaches to our window with a suction cup and I carry sunflower seeds for the seed-eating birds as we enjoy birdwatching as a hobby. Since our arrival Monday I've been scattering the sunflower seeds at the rear of the rig which is backed up to a wall surrounding the property. There's a lot of palo verde trees on the other side of the wall so a lot of birds congregate there. While one hummer has been by, I have attracted a verdin which is a tiny little grayish-beige bird with a yellow head and a tiny beak. He sips daintily from the edge of the flower, returning again and again. As I was watching him feed I heard "tap, tap, tap" on the rear window and looked to see who was trying to get our attention. Imagine my surprise to see two purple finches sitting on our ladder on the back of the rig, reaching through the rungs to tap on the window. I had forgotten to put out seed this morning when I went to water aerobics and they were letting me know it! Dumb animals, huh? So I threw them a couple of scoops of seed and they were happy.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Yuma's Lettuce Days

This year we arrived the day after the Lettuce Days festival. Last year I missed getting a picture of the world's largest salad, which provided free salad with ranch dressing to the festival attendees. Where do you imagine all the snowbirds were? Heh. I did get a picture of the Lettuce House and a couple of heats of the Lettuce-Box Derby. The Derby was a lot of fun to watch as there were all kinds of race cars created by the kids and their families (this is no where near as "professional" as the nationally known Soapbox Derby) and they were all having a ball.

The arts and crafts portion of the festival was pretty standard; lots of red-hat ladies clothing/jewelry/hats, silver and turquoise jewelry, candles, wooden signs. There was a bandstand with a good country western group playing as we walked by and down a side street we glimpsed a stage with a group of belly-dancers performing so there was a little bit of everything there. The festival doesn't cover a huge area so you can see it all in one afternoon and of course, you can eat your way down the street with all the food vendors that are there.

Denny was still nursing a pinched nerve in his back at the time we attended the festival, so we cut our time there short before he aggravated his back too much. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon and the derby was the highlight of the day for us as the crowds were really getting into it.

Judging by the festival's date last year and this year, it appears that it is held on the third weekend of January every year. Free salad, anyone?

This young lady won her heat of the Lettuce Box Derby in her dragster-style vehicle. Both sides of the street were lined with spectators who cheered on the youngsters. Posted by Picasa

Denny and the "house" made entirely of lettuce. I'd say it was more of a hut, wouldn't you?  Posted by Picasa

The Lettuce Festival "lettuce-box" Derby has several heats and a wide variety of styles of racing vehicles. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

In the "Too Funny" catagory

Mike, one of the guys we used to work with sent this picture on. He says that he took this picture because he couldn’t believe the man was wearing this shirt when Mike arrested him. The man was stopped for speeding and he had a warrant on him for traffic. The arrestee said his father gave him the shirt and he’ll never wear it again.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Thank Goodness the Sun is Shining

The past two days have been crappy. Denny and I have been standing outside for hours attempting to get our DirecWay internet satellite dish properly aligned to obtain a signal. It seems that DW is currently experimenting with adding VOIP and it is messing up their satellite reception, especially the one we've been assigned. Great. I finally got it close enough to pass on 3 out of 5 tests although I normally go 5 for 5 but I had had enough and was willing to settle for what I could get. I'm online and for the moment that's all that matters.

It's been one of those "when it rains, it pours" weeks. We arrived here in Yuma yesterday only to notice that someone apparently managed to clip the rear end of our fifth wheel as we were towing it through Phoenix, cracking the fiberglass bumper and pulling the screws out that held it to the frame of the rig. How they managed that without us feeling the bump, I don't know, but since we had just washed the rig two days ago and there was no damage and the rig hadn't moved at that point, it had to have happened while we were driving. Gah! Can't claim it on our insurance policy as we have no way of proving it happened in an accident because it could also appear that we backed into something. So this one's going to be an out-of-pocket repair.

Then there's the whole trying-to-get-a-new-insurance-quote-and-they-want-pictures-to-prove-the-truck-is-a-truck -and-not-a-semi thing we're dealing with. They never received the first set of pictures I sent them. I would think that perhaps the insurance company folks were incompetent if it wasn't for the fact that a friend of mine never received a cassette I sent her from the same post office right before we flew back to Ohio. So I'd have to say there's a distinct problem with the local post office branch in Mesa, AZ.

Man, I definitely need some cheese with all this whine.

By the way, the new website is up. It's just in its initial stages, but it's there. See the link in the side column. (Ha! Made ya look!)

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Yesterday afternoon Denny decided to start waxing the front cap of the fifth wheel and to wax the half of the truck that was in the shade. While this is a big job, he does have a six-inch hand-held buffer that he uses to apply the wax and then buff it off. He was outside for about two hours, off and on, and I left him to it as it's a one person job with the buffer. I was busy attempting to make sense of the website creation software used by our web hosting firm and accidentally deleting freshly created pages. Sigh.

When Denny was finished there was much noise and chest-beating about getting jobs done, working hard, yada, yada, yada. One day of effort beats out a week of vacuuming, scrubbing floors, cleaning the bathroom, doing laundry, preparing meals, dealing with insurance companies, yada, yada, yada? I don't think so!

Men. Hmmph.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Random thoughts

Gardening Rule: When weeding, the best way to make sure you are
removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes
out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.

The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy
a replacement.

There are two kinds of pedestrians: the quick and the dead.

The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.

Some people are like Slinkies. Not really good for anything, but
you still can't help but smile when you see one tumble down the stairs.

Have you noticed since everyone has a camcorder these days no one
talks about seeing UFOs like they used to?

In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the
world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it
takes a whole box to start a campfire?

Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, "I think I'll
squeeze these dangly things here, and drink whatever comes out?"

If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from
vegetables, then what is baby oil made from?

Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet Soup?

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets
mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he sticks his head out
the window?

Does pushing the elevator button more than once make it arrive

Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

Maybe I should get back to the website. Sigh.

A Lost Day

"Okay lady, step away from the computer!!"

I think the DirecWay system was telling me something yesterday when it suddenly went offline right before dinner. Up to that point my rear end had been glued to the chair in front of the computer while I explored the webpage creating software for my new website and worked on creating/revising/deleting my "Welcome" and "About Us" pages. Nothing like jumping right in without a plan and without reading instructions to cause you to do things three and four times before you get it right. So I've decided to sit back, take a deep breath and come up with a basic outline of what I want on the site and how to get it there. Fortunately, weekends are our stay-at-home-and-avoid-the working-folks-who-have-to-get-everything-done-in-two-days crowd so I can play around guilt free.

We did try out a new toy yesterday that looks like it will work out well; the Mr. Clean Auto Dry car shampooer. The unit attaches to your garden hose, has a reservoir for their special soap (of course) and a special filter that ionizes the rinse water for a sheeting action that avoids water spotting on the final rinse. Of course, with the size of the rig and our truck, we used the whole bottle of shampoo but the rinsing action did indeed leave the chrome on the truck and the fiberglass sidewalls of the rig spot-free so it works as advertised and is much less messy than using the big bucket of soapy water. So we'll put our stamp of approval on this one. Too bad they can't come up with something similar to put on the shower head in the shower stall for rinsing down the glass door and fiberglass walls there!

Note: Blogger spell check doesn't like fiberglass. It wants to replace it with Fiberglas which must be a brand name like "Kleenex". Merriam-Webster online says I'm right, so nyah-nyah spell check.

I've received a couple of e-mails with restaurant recommendations for the new website. Thanks Norman and Bill! I'm working on it! Buffalo steaks???

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Geocaching at Silly Mountain

The Phoenix area is a geocachers mecca; there are hundreds of caches listed online and while perusing the ones in our immediate area it occurred to me that there may be some on Silly Mountain. Eureka! There are two! Denny was so excited (pause for sarcastic face and rolled eyes).

So yesterday once the sun finally warmed the air (it has been getting down into the 30s at night here) we made a quick trip to the fruit stand for more naval oranges while they are still in season and then headed east to Silly Mountain with my back pack of supplies. You see, a properly outfitted geocacher has to have the proper equipment; pen for signing the log at the cache which notifies the cache owner and other cachers that you found it, small items to trade for those left by others at the cache, camera, tripod, sweat towel for Denny, water, cheese crackers for energy, extra batteries for the camera and GPSr, ID stickers (labels with our geocaching name and basic info which are easy to stick on the log rather than signing it) wet wipe packets and Kleenex since I'm not over my cold. Whew! Climbing over rocks with all that on your back gives you a good aerobic workout!

This time we didn't make the summit as the two caches were off the beaten path. The closest one to the main path was the hardest to locate, but the second cache was around the side of Silly Mountain and was the more adventurous climb. We enjoyed seeing the area from a different perspective and Denny and I each discovered a cache without managing to see any rattlesnakes or other poisonous critters. I think they are all hibernating this time of year but I never take that for granted.

Working our way back down the hillside Denny commented that if we are going to be doing more caches like this we should consider hiking boots-YES! I think he may finally be getting into this geocaching! Whoo-hoo!

Monday, January 16, 2006

A Request for Your Assistance

Those of you who have been following my blog have surely noticed that I mention the names of local restaurants where we have eaten a good meal. The reason I do this is that RVers are often in cities or towns that are new to them and have no clue as to where to go for a nice place to eat or one that is reasonably priced, since so many of us are on rather strict budgets. And while most of us cook in our rigs most of the time, we do enjoy an occasional meal out.

I have decided to bite the bullet and actually spend money on my own web site, which I'll admit will take time to create as I am not trained in web site design or HTML. I started my little web page "RV Vagabonds" on Geocities but have worked up to my alloted web space and haven't logged half of our travels, much less been able to put on the information about campgrounds and RV travel tips that I'd like to do. So once I get signed up with an official domain name and service and get the site up and running I intend to create a page with the names and locations of good restaurants in the areas that we've traveled. What I would like to do, would be to add the personal recommendations of any of you lurkers and commenters spread around the country which would greatly add to my database of nice places to eat. I'm not referring to chains like Red Lobster or Olive Garden but instead those little gems that only the locals know about that serve great food at reasonable prices or even those special places that may be a little more pricey but create a nice night out.

Full credit for the information will be given to you along with a link back to your blog/site. Whaddaya think? You can send the information to me at vagabrauns at hotmail dot com (you know the drill for translating this as spam prevention).

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Superstition Mountains at sunset, seen from the Encore RV Park at Queen Valley, AZ Posted by Picasa

Sunday in Mesa

Sunday is the one day of the week that we're out the door before 8 a.m. to beat the breakfast crowds and it's a good thing we did today when we chose Cobb's Restaurant, 944 W. Apache Trail, Apache Junction and got a booth easily before the snowbird crowd started pouring in. You know you are going to have an inexpensive meal when you look around to find you're the youngest person in the room at age 54. Snowbirds know where to find the cheap eats! The restaurant is not fancy, but the breakfast was good and the prices very reasonable. Last week's breakfast was at the Feed Bag, 300 S. Phelps, AJ, where we had an excellent breakfast with better ambience for just a little more money.

Instead of heading home after picking up the Sunday paper, we drove out to the Mesa Flea Market on Baseline at Signal Butte. Normally we avoid flea markets when we travel since there's not a lot of extra room in the rig for "stuff", but we've visited this one before and know there's lots of goodies to be found once you look past the ubiquitous tee shirt stands. We'll probably go back again next week as we found a carpet we liked for the rig but we have to measure our actual floor space to see if it will fit. Which is precisely why we avoid flea markets. Sigh.

The rest of the afternoon will be given over to football. For the male half of this duo, anyway, as the female half tends to pick her teams by the colors of their uniforms or how well their pants fit. Heh.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Can you tell that Denny did not want to pose on the saddle bar seats for me? Posted by Picasa

The walls of the restaurant at Tortilla Flat, Arizona are totally covered with money from many countries. Posted by Picasa

Beware of Baby Rattlers. Boo-hiss! Posted by Picasa

The Tortilla Flat one-room school house which is now a museum. Posted by Picasa

Denny three years later and twenty pounds lighter. He simply will not smile for photographs. Posted by Picasa

I'm posting this to ensure I never allow myself to look like this again! That's me in the pink being much more ladylike than the gal beside me. Posted by Picasa

Three years later and forty pounds lighter.  Posted by Picasa


My intent yesterday was to post a blog entry about Tortilla Flat, AZ complete with pictures. After pulling up said pictures, I knew we had to drive back out there for "do-overs". The difference in the pictures above should show you why.

Tortilla Flat today is a short row of buildings with a Western motif that caters to the tourist crowd. They serve a menu of hamburgers and killer chili in the main building and a smaller souvenir shop has prickly pear cactus ice cream available for the adventurous soul. The town developed as a staging area for construction workers building the Roosevelt Dam in 1904, although the population has never risen above 100 people. It has burned down twice and been rebuilt so most of the buildings are not original.

Inside the main store/restaurant area you'll find the walls are "papered" with signed dollar bills, with currency from about 67 different countries. The explanation is that a local businessman wanted to put his business card out for display and the owner told him that it would cost him a buck, so the businessman tacked up his card with a dollar bill and a tradition was born. The bar stools are a series of saddles on one side and horses' rear ends carved from stumps on the other. There are the ubiquitous souvenirs, of course, but you can have a nice lunch and a scenic drive by heading out Highway 88 from Apache Junction. You can even make a day trip loop, but that's a post for another day.

Friday, January 13, 2006

We Pause for this Commercial Message

Just before we left Ohio my father-in-law asked us to check to see if his picture was still on the Mantis garden tiller website. Joe (my FIL) has had a garden for many years but at age 92 his large tiller was getting to be too much for him to handle so he invested in the Mantis tiller and was thrilled at its ease of use. Denny's sister, Connie, had taken a picture of Joe on his birthday using the tiller and Joe decided to submit it to the Mantis folks as a testimonial to its lightweight portability while doing the job of a larger tiller. So this is the result. Joe will be 95 this May and he'll be out there planting tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, green peppers and corn as usual. He may have to stop and rest between every row, but he'll be out there!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Silly Mountain, revisited

Since I've managed to pick up an upper respiratory "bug", we won't be climbing Silly Mountain on this visit to the Apache Junction area. Located on Highway 60 just east of Apache Junction, Silly Mountain is more of a hill, but the gravel trail leading up to its peak is rocky-slippery and steep enough to provide a good aerobic workout. When we first arrived in the Apache Junction/Gold Canyon area three winters ago we passed Silly Mountain on every drive into AJ and noted all the cars in the parking area and talked about trying to walk up it, but the first winter passed and we never made the attempt. The next winter we didn't stay as long in the area and were busy with other things so passed up the opportunity to make the climb again. Last winter we finally made the conscious decision to stop and make the trek to the top.

There's nothing like having 80 year-olds pass you while you've stopped to huff and puff to make you realize how out of shape you are. In our defense, we're both ex-smokers and at the time were twenty pounds heavier than we are today, but it was still quite disconcerting to have folks who were obviously quite older than us pass us with ease. Upon chatting with these people after finally arriving at the peak we discovered that many of them make the walk up the mountain on a daily basis for exercise. And believe me, it's good exercise!

We were told that the best times to come were at sunrise and sunset as the view is spectacular then. I would imagine that's true because this area has some of the most beautiful sunsets we've ever experienced. But it's a nice jaunt at any time of day and we left feeling quite proud of ourselves that we had made that local snowbird rite-of-passage by climbing Silly Mountain.

The gravel path leading up Silly Mountain. While not very long, it's deceptively steep. Posted by Picasa

Looking down the gravel path that leads to the peak of Silly Mountain. The parking lot is the line of seven cars parked just below Highway 60 in the middle of the picture. Posted by Picasa

Trying to catch our breath after the last few steep feet of the climb. Posted by Picasa

Denny standing near the peak of Silly Mountain looking down over the town of Gold Canyon, AZ Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Some of the Riverfront Homes in Parker, AZ


See what I mean about us having the best view? Posted by Picasa

An Art Deco Dam and Parker, Arizona

One of our favorite winter-time areas for camping is the Parker, AZ/Earp, CA area along the Colorado River. We were comfortably ensconced in a riverfront site in November before we had to pack up and return home quickly to Ohio to care for my mom, and had been looking forward to spending time with our RVing friends Brian and Judy who arrived four days after us. Since that was not to be, I thought I'd post an entry from the vantage point of previous visits.

The pictures above are of the Parker Dam, built between 1934 and 1938 by the Bureau of Reclamation. It is the deepest dam in the world as about 75 % of its total height of 320 feet is below the original riverbed. The Bureau of Reclamation excavated 235 feet of the riverbed to place the dam's foundation; only about 85 feet of the dam is visible and another 62 feet is the superstructure above the roadway. The Parker Dam was built to store water for the Arizona irrigation canals; Lake Havasu is that reservoir. Visually, it is one of the most attractive dams we've visited, but then again, I'm very partial to the Art Deco school of design.

If you visit the dam and have a RV or a dual-wheeled pick up truck you won't be able to cross the dam. Large concrete barriers are placed between the lanes of travel and are very tight. I don't know if this was done after September of 2001 as a preventative measure or not, as our first visit to the area was in 2002. I do know that the pictures from the rear of the dam where taken from an area off limits to people; the large gates were open so Denny and I wandered in to get pictures and were soon chased off by a security guard that arrived shortly after we did. Oops!

The Parker area is a strange mixture of campgrounds, BLM land, and expensive riverfront homes. There is a casino, a small museum, two grocery stores, several restaurants, shops, a golf course and plenty of area to explore. Lake Havasu City is about 40 miles away for even more recreational, shopping and dining opportunities.

I'm posting a picture of the homes across the Colorado River from our campsite. Can you imagine paying that kind of money to build a home only to have a view of a campground? I think we got the best deal on that one!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Why We RV

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

--Mark Twain

Monday, January 09, 2006

Perseverance Pays

After working on it off and on for four hours, I have our DirecWay Internet service functioning. Having put it on vacation stand-by when we left for Ohio, we discovered on our return that they actually de-commission the service, which means my modem software reverts to its original state which is about four updates back. So I couldn't get my account re-registered until the new software would upload and the modem supposedly was too old to handle that, per tech support. So they are FedExing me a new one. In the meantime, this morning I noticed the proper lights were starting to flash so I checked the system page and discovered the new software update had managed to download itself into the modem. Darn that tech support! I'll still switch out the modems when the new one arrives as it will have the latest software as its default setting, but I hate to mess with something once I have it working. The old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality.

So we're back in business with both computers working so I can pull out the backup disks of digital pictures and do some travel blogs again. But not today; today I've had enough of computer stuff for a while. Check in tomorrow, okay?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Arizona Opry, revisited

Denny and I seem to have started a "tradition" while here in the Apache Junction area of attending the Arizona Opry with RVing friends Rene and Barb. The Arizona Opry is a small venue Branson-type musical show with a dinner served prior to the entertainment. The business is owned and operated by the Barleen twins Brenda and Barbara and Barbara's husband, George Staerkel and brother Ben Barleen.

They have created a family-style show with a group of extremely talented musicians that will have you tapping your toes in no time. There are the obligatory hokey jokes, but several of the entertainers have played across the country and in Europe and their newest "fiddle" played trained at Julliard. Tamara Lee, a two time Arizona state fiddling champion, is currently on maternity leave, but she plays the meanest version of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" that I have ever heard. George Staerkel's claim to fame is singing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" as the lead singer of The Tokens, plus he can play 40 different musical instruments and does a set where he'll play at least 16 of them onstage, including the 13 foot long Swiss Alp horn (you've seen it on the Ricolla throat lozenge commercials). He actually played the Olymic theme song on it, which is pretty impressive.

So for $23 a person (and you can usually find a dollar-off coupon in the Arizona Republic newspaper) you get a decent roast beef dinner and a great show. They do two different shows during the week; one show on even days, one on odd days, and every year they have a new show. To get there, take US 60 east out of Phoenix, get off at the Tomahawk Rd. exit, go north one mile to the Old West Highway, turn right, follow Old West 1/2 mile to the Arizona Opry on your right. And consider buying some of the musicians' CDs available there; we have all three of guitarist Bill West's CDs and look forward to his next one.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Time Zone changes

One of the downsides of traveling can be time zone changes. Right now I'm awakening at 4 a.m. and getting up at 4:30, which would be 6:30 if we were still in Ohio. Crossing the borders between Arizona and California can be confusing due to the fact that Arizona does not follow daylight savings time, so for several months of the year they are on the same time as Pacific time and the rest of the year they are on Mountain Time. Strangely enough, after eight years on the road, my body still seems to think it's on Eastern time, no matter where we are, so I am often awake before the birds. This allows for peaceful surfing on the Internet and some private time, since Denny and I are together 24/7 otherwise. Not that I'm complaining.

For those who are interested, I've updated our location in the "Where we are right now" link. There should be a way to post a smiley face on the page to my way of thinking.

Denny's up; he too is on Eastern time. Yesterday we were out before sunrise walking the campground to get our routine started again. We both have more weight to lose and walking is our favorite manner of exercise. I can't wait until we get to Yuma as our campground there has instructor-led water aerobics. Yay. It's been way too long.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Yee-haw! We're home!

If I had the song/verse-writing capabilities of Lois Lane I'd being singing "Back Home Again in Arizona" to the tune of "Back Home Again in Indiana". Entering our rig we dropped our bags and both of us said, "Gawd, it's good to be home!". Two hours later we were partially unpacked and had exchanged the blue jeans for shorts and that felt wonderful.

We were unable to get the Direcway Internet dish up and running yesterday and still couldn't get it to work today when I noticed a flashing light on the modem which indicates that the system had been decommissioned. Dang. After an hour of dealing with billing and tech support the end result was that DW will send us a new modem as ours is outdated, which is why it wouldn't allow us to reregister and go online. Fortunately I discovered our campground has Wi-Fi, although the signal is very weak, so I won't have to suffer from complete Internet withdrawal for the next week until the arrival of the new modem. It was just one of several things that has gone wrong since we've arrived home, but it's still good to be here.

Tomorrow we're going to the Arizona Opry with friends. Sunday's post will have the review of the show; stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Giving blood

I noticed today that my son, Darby, blogged about donating blood through the American Red Cross. He's right, it's a great thing to do. Denny and I try to donate if a campground has a drive, or if we notice a Community Blood Center in the area. However, I must admit, for me to give blood is a major event. Unlike Darb (who had several traumatic incidents with hospitals and needles as an infant) I'm not afraid of needles, but when I offer my arm and I hear the dreaded words, "oh! you have small veins" I start to hyperventilate. I know for a fact, that I will 1) be poked and prodded and severely bruised and will probably end up walking out without donating blood or 2) have the tech summon another more experienced tech who will find a vein, but then half-way through the drawing of the pint my blood will clot at the needle stopping the whole process or 3) one of our marvelous Vietam vets who was a war-time medic will successfully find my vein the first time, draw the blood so well it will fill the bag in two minutes and I will pass out either on the lounger or sitting on a stool drinking my juice. These scenarios are not random; one of the three choices has happened every single time I attempt to give blood. Denny has learned to watch my face and when I start to go white he warns the crew that I am about to pass out. Sigh. But like my son who gives blood in an attempt to vanquish his demons, I do the same thing in the hope that one day I'll walk into a donation center just like Joe-Blow-the-Rag-picker and slip onto the lounge chair, donate my pint of blood, eat my cookies, drink my juice and walk out proudly displaying my bandaged elbow as a badge of courage all without creating a scene. It could happen, ya know.

And I never got a coupon for Graeter's ice cream, either. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Whoo-hoo, We're RVer's of the Month!

Okay, so I'm not getting published or anything (of course, you have to submit an article for that, right?), but I received an e-mail from the webmaster of the RV Resources web site telling us that Denny and I have been chosen as RVers of the month due to my promotion of the RV lifestyle in my blog. That's kind of nice, because that was my original intent in starting the blog. Of course, I sometimes get side-tracked and sometimes life gets in the way, but I figure that's part of full-timing too. We are currently dealing with the fact that we may someday have to stop traveling to care for my mom. If so, that's what we would do but it doesn't mean that when the time comes we couldn't once again return to exploring this great country. If anything, being retired and having wheels means we can go where we are needed, when we are needed more easily than most folks.

So heck yes, I promote the lifestyle! We're healthy, happy and ornrier than ever so why wouldn't I? So thank 'ee kindly, Mike of RV Resources, we're honored!

P.S. Norman, please no comments about all the "so's" in that last paragraph-I swear it wasn't intentional!

Good news/bad news

My colonoscopy was scheduled for this morning and as a result I have a clean bill of health and won't need another one for ten years. That's the good news.

The bad news is that Denny's favorite uncle, Leo, was diagnosed with lung cancer this summer (he quit smoking 20 years ago) and the oncologist told the family last week that no more chemo would be given. So we are driving down to Cincinnati to take Denny's sister Connie out to lunch and then visit with Uncle Leo and Aunt Helen and any Braun cousins who may be there also. And since Denny's dad just called to say his doctor just told him today that Dad will be his first 100-year-old patient (Dad is currently 94 and still getting around pretty good), I guess it's a good news/bad news/good news day.

Tonight I go over the "things we need to do to leave" lists and start doing some packing. I'm not anxious, much, huh? :)

Monday, January 02, 2006

Lists of lists

I can tell it's getting closer to the time to leave; I've started making lists.

I have lists of things to pack, lists of things to clean out of my mom's refrigerator that we won't have time to eat and she won't eat, list of things to do yet before we leave. The older I get the more lists I have to make to remember what I need to do.

As RVer's, we started with a list of "jobs" that needed to be done to set up and break camp each trip. There were two lists; those things that had to be done inside like putting away all loose items, securing cupboards doors, stowing the TV antennae, turning off the water heater, etc. and those things that needed to be handled outside like stowing all the hoses and electrical lines, taking down the satellite dish, putting away the lawn chairs, etc. After a while, we developed our routine and no longer needed our lists. But one day when we had a small medical emergency Denny and I started discussing the fact that the day might come when we might be hospitalized or injured and one of our sons would have to come pack up the rig and drive it to another location. Neither one of them is an RVer, so we had to create an explicit step-by-step list of instructions on how to pack up and hitch up the rig to relocate it. It was an eye-opening experience as we take our making/breaking camp procedures for granted and can do the whole routine start to finish in about 45 minutes but when broken down the list seems rather daunting. Perhaps when we bring the rig home this summer we'll do a run through of "The List" (which we have stored in the rig and told both sons where to find it, not that they remember) so they have some idea of what we're referring to and won't be totally lost.

Of course, one of the smartest things we've done in this past year was purchase coverage through MASA (Medical Air Services Association)which provides a service where they drive your rig to your home (or location of choice) if they have to air lift you for a medical emergency as well as many other benefits to those who frequently find themselves out in the boonies and then have a medical emergency. It would make it easier on the boys, but I still think they should have an idea of how to get the rig from Point A to Point B.

Hmm, I guess I should think about creating a web page of RVing tips for my RV Vagabonds web site. I'll put that on my list.
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