Monday, April 26, 2010

For Fun

This afternoon Patches and I took a walk in an enchanted forest.  Our path was strewn with jewels (okay, shimmering blue glass marbles) and strange creatures inhabited the trees.

I have a feeling that the campground put together some sort of trail for kids over the spring break period or Easter.  I'll have to see what else I can find up there the next time we walk, but tomorrow we have to take the Beast to a RV dealer to see if they can handle the repairs needed.  We'll take Patches with us to Denny's sister's house where Connie will be waiting with the list of house repairs for us to work on. It will be a busy two weeks and I have to factor in a trip to the golf course since Denny's birthday present arrived; a new set of golf clubs.  But work comes before play!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

More Desert Plants

Every time Patches and I would go out for a walk (which could be two to three times a day) I would discover another wildflower or plant that I hadn't seen before.  And don't even get me started on all the different rocks out there--I could have created a beautiful rock garden with all the specimens out there.

I'm clueless to the names of these flowers and plants except for the desert verbena so don't look to me for identification of what you see here today.  And as always, you can click on the picture to enlarge it.

The tiny purple blossom on the plant below was about an eighth of an inch in diameter.

Desert verbena.
Another teeny-tiny plant.

To show you the scale of the teeny-tiny plant.

I don't know if the grapey-looking things here are the blossoms or the seeds, but they were hollow and weightless like tiny balloons.

Nature's perfect symmetry.

I was never able to snap a good picture of the quail here; they are too flighty especially with a cat around.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

Strangers in the Night

About six weeks ago I received a payment through PayPal for three child's necklaces.  I had posted some children's necklaces on my RV Vagabonds/Crystal Cachet web site about a year ago as an attempt to generate interest in  my jewelry that I made as a hobby, but got no response so I thought I had removed the web page from my site.

Lo and behold, here is this order for necklaces that I didn't have made up and no longer had the envelopes for shipping, etc.  I returned the payment with a note that the website should have been removed and that I no longer made jewelry as a business.

The young lady replied that it was a shame, as the necklaces she ordered were meant for the flower girls for a friend's wedding and they would have been perfect for the occasion.

WELL!  Talk about hitting the guilt button!  I emailed the young lady and told her for flower girls I would make the necklaces and so I did.  Today I received another email from the young woman, but this email included a picture of the bride and groom with the two flower girls wearing my necklaces.  How sweet was that?  And that was the reason I originally wanted to sell my jewelry for young girls; because all little girls enjoy a little bit of bling.

It made my day.  Today I make jewelry only for my own pleasure or as gifts for friends.  But it's nice to know that it made someone else's day too.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Meeting Blogging Friends

This afternoon we met Boris and Natasha. This young (younger than us!) couple began their fulltiming lifestyle about nine months ago after studying blogs and RVing websites for months and since they were in our general area today they stopped by for a visit.  Boris tickled me by mentioning that they build in an excuse for leaving when they meet fellow bloggers in case they don't "gell", which was a shame because we really, really enjoyed talking with them today and would have liked to have spent a few more hours with them just b-s-ing about the RVing lifestyle, places they've been and places they want to go.  And after all, who wouldn't want to spend a lot of time with a stranger (me) who has blogged about going into a spiral of depression after her mother's death?  What a way to spend an afternoon, right?  Denny and I did keep them past their time allotment as it was, so that Natasha missed going to her quilt shop as planned, but they still had to hit the local Wally-World so after a couple of hours we said our good-byes-for-now.  We were sad to see them go, but know that if they are ever again within a few miles of us we'll make a point of catching up with them and spending a few hours together because we owe them a Happy Hour--RV Vagabond style (which means lots of food and alcohol).

So Happy Trails, you two.  You know how to find us--in a non-stalkery way, of course.

Too Cold, Too Wet, Too Windy

Once again my best laid plans ganged agley (you figure it out).

Our destination yesterday was Jerome, Arizona, official Ghost Town, located high in the hills.  When we left Cottonwood the sun was shining, there was a breeze and the temperature was in the high 50s.  By the time we negotiated the twists and turns of Hwy. 89A it was raining, the wind was blowing and the temperature was 45 degrees.  Denny had left without a windbreaker, the wind was strong enough at times to turn an umbrella inside out and the state park/museum which we planned to explore was closed with no explanation.  Dang!  We thought about wandering around the shops of town, but stepping outside the truck into that weather changed our minds quickly.

I changed the camera setting to sepia for today's picture, taken from inside the truck as we approached Jerome.  The streets are steep, winding and narrow, which is not a lot of fun in a ton and a half dually truck but the town is well worth visiting on a nice day.  The shops and homes cling precariously to the hillsides, although some of the buildings have slid down over the years.  The town itself is more of an artists' enclave these days and many buildings are closed or abandoned but it's still a funky little place to wander around and people watch.  

On a warm sunny day, that is. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Springtime in the Desert

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Denny and I were out geocaching in the campground, wandering all over the hills.  I took my camera along and took pictures of an amazing variety of wildflowers growing on the rocky terrain.  We're about two weeks too early for the cactus to bloom, which is a shame because they put out tissue paper-delicate flowers that are incredibly beautiful.

I tried to identify these flowers by looking online, but was only  partially successful.  So I'm just enjoying them for what they are, lovely spots of color in the desert.

This flower's petals change to white as it ages and they can be blown apart like the fluff on a dandelion puff.

Desert hyacinth

This flower has the appearance of a small snapdragon.

While blues and yellows are the predominate colors in the desert, this small white chicory-like flower peeked out from under some bushes.

Desert cliff rose.

Globe mallow.

Desert paintbrush.

The vivid glow of desert paintbrush.

I call this one ghost flowers because of the way the fuzzy buds seem to create a sheer, ghost-like blossom along with the brilliant purple and yellow flowers.

The breeze was blowing too strongly for me to get a good picture of these snapdragon-like flowers but I was intrigued by the multiple colors of the blossoms.

This is a close up of the same type of flower as the picture above, taken the next day in a different location.  It doesn't have the same variety of colors on the blooms, possibly because they were more shaded and were newer blossoms.

There are a few more, but that's enough for today.  Who said the desert is dry and barren?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hanging Over

After checking the weather forecast for the Gallup, New Mexico area next week and discovering that it was supposed to thunderstorm and have very cold night time temperatures, Denny and I decided to stick around here in Cottonwood for a few more days.

Today we wandered around some of the nature trails, looking for the Thousand Trails private geocaches on the grounds here.  They are not the standard caches, but finding them gives you a discount at the country store for food or merchandise and we're all about discounts!  There are two separate sets of caches, but I just loaded all nineteen into our GPS at once and we looked for the ones that were closest to our rig to start off.  Wandering up and down the hills we were treated to unusual wild flowers and lovely vistas, although the day was overcast so all the colors were muted.  Of course, with the sun hiding behind the clouds, we also didn't get as hot as we would have on a sunny day, so that worked out for us because there were times we were huffing and puffing climbing up the hillsides here.  We did seven geocaches before we became too tuckered out to continue so we figure we (or I) will get the rest over the next week.  

There are plenty of places to see around the Cottonwood area; there's the Tuzigoot National Monument, Montezuma Castle, Montezuma's Well, the cities of Jerome and Sedona (no blog posts on those, just pictures), the historic part of Cottonwood, a small casino, Fort Verde State Park and just a whole lot of beautiful scenery all around.

But for now, we're just enjoying the weather, crossing our fingers that nothing else goes wrong with the Beast and watching out for those rattlesnakes!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Short Course: Pine Shadows Golf Course

I had those new golf clubs to try out, so yesterday Denny and I drove through Cottonwood to the Pine Shadows Golf Course.  It's a short nine hole course that ends up being very challenging simply due to the fact that the fairways are extremely narrow and the hillsides are full of rattlesnakes.  My first advice about this course is to bring a lot of old golf balls because you certainly won't be looking for any errant shots in the rough due to the vegetation and snakes.

The course is a par 33 course winding up and down through Mescal Gulch.  You'll see rabbits, quail, Green Herons and other critters (fortunately we didn't see any rattlesnakes) and enjoy fabulous views of the surrounding mountains and distant Clarksville, Jerome and Cottonwood.  The course itself is in wonderful condition with lush fairways and tee boxs and greens that are in excellent shape.  The cost to play 18 holes with a cart is currently $27 before 1PM and $22 after 1PM.  

We considered this a practice day since Denny had a very sore ankle and I had a new set up and swing to work on but we had a lot of fun teaming up with Bobbie and Leslie, a mother/daughter twosome on the last few holes.  Pine Shadows is a fun little course at a reasonable price.  A bit further out of town you can play Verde Santa Fe Golf Club in Cornville, AZ, an 18 hole course that's a little more expensive, running a little over $62 in the morning and $52 in the afternoon, or close to those prices.  That's just a tad too stiff for the two of us but it appears to be a beautiful course by the pictures online.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Breaking Our Bed

No, this isn't about a wild night.  This is about another example of poor shoddy workmanship on the part of Heartland RV.

Monday afternoon we were thrilled pulling into our current campground in Cottonwood, AZ; 300 acres in the desert with sweeping vistas of distant mesas and red rock surrounded us.  It took Denny a couple of tries to back up since he had to do it from the right (it's easier to back in from the left because you can see the side of your rig, your navigator and how the tail end is turning from your side mirror) but we finally got backed in and unhitched.  It's at that point that I go inside to open out the slideouts and start putting our possessions back into place.

I noticed that the bedroom slide moved out slowly, but assumed it was because we were running on battery power and that the battery was down a bit.  But the two living room slides went out normally so I went into the bedroom to see what might be wrong and that's when my heart fell into my stomach.  Our bed normally sits at a right angle to the front of the rig; it was now sitting at a 45 degree angle.  I tried moving the slide back in a bit, but had to stop because the bed didn't straighten out and was going to hit the dresser.  Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t.

Naturally, this is the last thing I want to tell Denny since he was still upset about not getting the rig into the campsite on his first try (it's a man thing).  So I waited until he got the two satellite dishes set up and operating (that went easily, yay!)  We had to wrassle (that's an Ohio word) the king sized mattress off the bed platform and out of the bedroom (imagine trying to get a 72 inch mattress off the bed with a 62 inch clearance), and then remove the hinged plywood panel that covers the platform, which is the RVers version of a box spring.  That's when we saw that an electrical junction box fastened to the floor had been poorly secured so that when it worked itself loose, the bed base snagged on it while moving out with the slide which caused the bed to rip itself loose from its moorings.  

The solution was to hammer out and break off the bent screws (which of course, the installers had stripped), run to Home Depot for more long screws, back to reposition the incredibly heavy bed base and drill new holes for the new screws, cut out the carpet and pad underneath the junction box and re-secure the box to the floor, screw the bed frame back into the floor, gingerly test the slide to make sure the bed passed safely over the junction box, remove and reposition the plywood platform and the hydraulic mattress lifts and wrassle that darned mattress back onto the bed.  We once again tested the slide and watched with relief to see the bed move freely and in the proper direction, but discovered that the slideout wall now does not open all the way. Crap!  By then the Heartland factory and our dealer's office back in Indiana was closed, so I had to wait until yesterday morning to call and try to troubleshoot over the phone.  The general consensus is that the stop bar got messed up and that will be a fairly simple matter to adjust once we get to Albuquerque where there is an authorized Heartland dealer.  

So thank goodness for good cell phone reception, a fix up on our part that went well, and finding a dealer close to our next campground and Denny's sister so we can take the cat and visit while they are dealing with whatever repairs we will end up needing. 

But we're not getting much of anything else done while we're here!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Photos from Gold Canyon

Our week didn't go as planned due to my multiple visits to the endodontist, errand runs and Denny's unexplainable sprained/sore ankle.  But we were able to enjoy an evening at the Arizona Opry with friends Rene and Barb before Barb had to fly to Oklahoma so at least we had that.

Elvis and mini-Elvis were in the building that night.  That's guitarist Bill Wells and the grandson of the business owners, the Staerkels.  The little one is four years old.

 There's my mountain to the rear of the Beast.  The gravel campsites aren't attractive, but the scenery around them is!

 While I'm not a particular fan of lizards, this guy has the most gorgeous scales when in the sun; metallic green, gold, bronze and silver.  He's about seven inches long and likes to sun himself on the wall behind our trailer.

We've had a golden fronted woodpecker on our hummingbird feeder here and in Ehrenberg.  I have to chase them off before their weight pulls the feeder off the window.

This little guy was actually at our last campground, but wasn't included in any posts, so here he is.

The moon shot is also from Ehrenberg.   I feel lucky to get a halfway decent picture when I'm taking pictures while Patches is tugging on the leash.  The full moon really called for a tripod and some careful focusing but this is what I got.  The sunsets here in Gold Canyon have been disappointing this week since the sky has been clear and cloud-free.  Maybe next time around.

Next week's campground will be a new one for us, although we've been in the Cottonwood area a couple of times already.  I hope to get out to take a lot more pictures there and maybe even do a little geocaching.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Playing Apache Creek Golf Course

Apache Creek Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona is one of those courses that demand you hit a straight ball or else you'll end up with a ball sitting on hardpan.  While the fairways and greens are grass, the rough is indeed rough being pure desert sand and gravel.  Throw in a few rattlesnakes and you indeed are playing desert golf.  But look at that view of the Superstition Mountains off the first tee!

For men, playing from the black tees means the course is 6785 yards long.  Denny and the twosome we played with played the blue tees for a distance of 6363 yards, with a USGA rating/slope of 69.4/119.  Women get quite a break, with a yardage of 5315 and a USGA rating/slope of 64.4/111.  It is an eighteen hole, par 71 golf course with no houses sitting on the course which is always a bonus in a winter tourist setting. A couple of the holes have water, including the oh-so-fun island green at hole 6.

The one nice thing about that hard desert surface is that the ball will run and run and run.  I even managed a birdie on a par 3, so it's a very playable and enjoyable course.  Just remember, hit it straight and watch for slithery things in the gullies.

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Weirdness Continues

The root canal procedure went well for me and the pain that the endodontist warned of has not occurred.  Instead, Denny ended up with an ankle that feels sprained, despite not twisting it, not stepping into a hole, not banging the ankle bone into a chair, nothing.  Just him waking up and putting weight on the the foot and feeling a great deal of pain.  Could it be he's avoiding hiking up Silly Mountain with me?  Nah!  Of course, that will go on our list of things to do the next time we're in town because he's certainly not up to it now.

Instead, today we did what we do best; we spent money.  I neglected Denny's birthday last year since it fell soon after my mother's death, so this year I'm treating him to a new set of golf clubs.  Actually, I'm treating both of us to a set, so we now have birthdays and Christmas taken care of for the year.  Denny insisted I take a 1/2 hour golf lesson when I couldn't hit the new clubs well when trying to figure out which clubs I liked best and in just a couple of minutes the golf pro showed me what I was doing wrong in my wrist hinge (I had chicken arms--don't ask).  So I'm excited about the new clubs.  Denny has to have his clubs fitted since he's so tall, so his will be shipped to his sister's house in Albuquerque and be waiting for us when we arrive there in three weeks.  Now if Connie's honey-do list isn't too long once we arrive, we may even get to try them out while we're there!

Oh, and in case anyone wondered, we bought the Callaway Diablo Edge irons and woods.  Appropriate, no?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A Response

Rich (Hi Rich! Welcome aboard!) commented on my last post that 1) he wishes I would update more often 2) where are we now? and 3) that we must be rich because we change RVs like shoes.  So in response...

I haven't been posting a lot because we haven't been doing a lot, most recently due to a bad toothache but overall because I've been suffering a bit (okay, quite a bit) of depression over the past year due to my mother's death and having to deal with her estate.  I haven't wanted to go exploring or doing much of anything, honestly.  But I'm working on pulling myself out of that.  Stay tuned.

Currently we're in AJ (Apache Junction, Arizona) which is one of my favorite places simply because of the Superstition Mountains.  They are rugged, distinctive and change appearance with the play of sunlight, the weather, the clouds.  We have friends here and simply like the area and the proximity to shopping, restaurants, theaters, etc.

Are we rich?  Far from it.  We live on Denny's pension which is by no means extravagant.  A fellow RVer/blogger once said that it takes however much money you have to full time.  Which basically means, if you have little money, then you will buy a used truck/car/RV, have it outfitted with a generator and/or solar panels, boondock on BLM land or Walmart parking lots or state parks or wherever you can find economical camping.  Buying a pre-owned campground membership works to keep expenses down too, if you find a deal with low/decent annual fees. You learn that you cook at home instead of eating out a lot, you search for the free places to see or visit attractions in the off season/off times for better rates, you borrow movies from the library or the $1 Red Box and watch them at home instead of going to the movie theater and hitting the concession stand.  In other words, you find a way to live within your means.  That doesn't necessarily mean that you are missing out on anything, it simply means that you learn the little tricks to making your money last longer than the month does.  Fortunately there are tons of RVers who write wonderful blogs, many of whom put their finances or a reasonable estimate out there for others to see and learn from.  And the switching RVs like shoes, yeah okay.  We have owned RVs since 1993. Have we owned more than many people? Yes.  Have other RVers owned more RVs than we have?  Absolutely.  But it doesn't matter what we do or what anyone else does.  You make a list of what you consider vital expenses; campground fees, meals out, playing golf/going to the theater/bowling/increasing your wine collection--whatever, insurance for your rig and tow/towed vehicle, groceries, maintenance for your vehicles, remembering that you no longer have yard maintenance and property taxes and house maintenance.  You research, research, research, you go camping and you find fulltimers and you talk to them and listen and you research some more.  And maybe one day you'll decide that maybe you'll never have enough money to do this.  And that's when you'll have to decide whether or not you want to live the lifestyle badly enough to find a way to make it work or you'll just walk away from the dream.

It's not irreversible once you do it--but you may just find it's the best thing you ever did.

Good luck, Rich.  Happy Trails.  Hope to see you out there someday.  We'll be the ones in the new rig.  Because we're going to be out here a while longer.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Moving On

This week I've been drifting as aimlessly as a piece of flotsam on the river flowing behind us.  I've enjoyed lazing in the sun with the cat, spent most of the day yesterday trying to figure out our route from the Albuquerque, NM area to Seattle, WA this summer and just doing nothing in general.

The problem with the "doing nothing in general" is that it's becoming a habit.  Ennui has set in with a vengeance since I've written the final checks closing out my mother's estate this past week.  It finally occurred to me that I've lost that rudder of responsibility and I don't know what to do with myself, therefore I've been doing nothing.  Not good.

Denny and I have spent hours watching the river this week; there's very little else to do in this part of the world since we've explored the area during past visits.  But now it's time for a little shake-up; a chapter of my life has finished and I need to move on and see what else I can get into.  It will help that Denny and I will be exploring new territory this summer, eventually checking off three more states on our list of areas yet unvisited.  

I'm looking forward to finding Linda again.
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