Monday, February 20, 2012

Searching for a Place to Settle

I mentioned in yesterday's post that Denny and I looked at a housing development in Wellton, Arizona as a potential place to live.  A commenter asked if we were truly going to settle down.  The immediate answer is "no", but Denny wants me to start considering where I might want to live permanently when we tire of traveling or if something would happen to him.  He is, at age 72 soon to be 73, twelve years older than me.

Thus this winter we have been looking at houses or local housing developments; not to the point of going inside homes with a realtor but driving through neighborhoods after searching for houses for sale online.  What I have come to discover is that I shudder at cookie-cutter houses set shoulder to shoulder on miniature lots.  This from a person who lives in a tin can on wheels in gravel parking lots in the winter, I know.  But when I do settle I don't want to be able to reach out my arm from my house and touch my neighbor's house.  

We have looked at homes in Mesa, Gold Canyon and Apache Junction as well as in Wellton and a little here in Yuma.  We have inquired about a gated community in Arkansas in the Hot Springs area; there are golf courses and swimming pools and there would be a lot of activities and folks available to play with but we'd also have some space.  There's also a lot of summer heat and humidity there, which neither of us care for.  When we were in Flagler Beach, Florida last year I priced beach front property there and keep an eye on homes that are more inland, but recent hurricanes make buying hurricane insurance in Florida difficult.  The same for the area of Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama which is another area we favor.  We are taking into consideration bugs, tornadoes, hurricanes, humidity, cost of living, cost/availability of property insurance, locale amenities, mountains/lakes/oceans.  When we find an affordable area it doesn't always have one of my requirements; the above mentioned mountains or lakes or oceans.  Because my permanent place will have to have one of the three, I'm afraid.  When I'm at the beach, that's my favorite place but when I'm in the desert surrounding by craggy mountains in the wintertime then that's my favorite place too.

And so we look and discuss locales and drive away undecided.  When a single lady drove into our campground the other day I mentioned how much easier it was to back in a motorhome (they have back up cameras installed) than a fifth wheel and Denny said that perhaps that's what I should do instead of having a house.  I told him that if I went that way, I'd actually go smaller with a Class C as those would be less expensive to maintain with smaller engines, smaller tires, better fuel economy, blah, blah, blah. I'd tow a small car to run around in, of course.  Certainly it would be an option.  

But are we seriously considering buying a house at this moment and stopping our travels?  Not a chance.  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Home Bodies

I've been doing my earth mother imitation this week: baking, sewing, looking around Yuma for homes.  Yeah, that ain't happening.  The living in Yuma part.  Yuma is one of those areas that just doesn't really appeal to me.  We stay here because we have a membership campground here which means we can stay for two weeks at a time for free.  Frankly, two weeks of smelling cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage is enough for me.  You see, we're surrounded by lettuce and all sorts of green veggies at the eastern end of Yuma where the fields are cycled endlessly; harvest, till, lay irrigation pipe, seed, water, harvest, till, lay pipe.....

We finally drove east to Wellton, Arizona to play golf at the Links of Coyote Wash after driving by the golf course for several years.  Denny and I absolutely fell in love with the Santa Fe style homes there but the five hour round of golf for such a short golf course was irritating to us.  The owners of the complex are creating a whole section of RV lots to be sold around the development which means there would be even more competition for tee times on the golf course so we'll pass on this area.

A daytrip to Los Algodones was scheduled so the two of us could enjoy the fish tacos and tamales at our favorite little stand in the middle of town.  Of course a couple of things found their way into bags and I now have yet another yard toy to haul around.  I just couldn't resist a rocking roadrunner.

Beyond that Denny and I didn't do a lot; I've developed arthritic like pain in both knees over the last week and we're trying to figure out what's up with that.  Today we ventured out for breakfast and while topping off our gas tank prior to leaving Yuma tomorrow I met up with this darling lady.
What I noticed first was the "Mad Dog and Gramma" sign on the back of her three wheeler.  Seems her husband was a police officer in California who patrolled a Latino area where the local baddies gave him the name of "Mad Dog".  I didn't really want to know why ;)  But this cheerful widow who has been riding bikes for the last 35 years has now taken over her husband's three wheeler and rides with a group twice a week which was why she was gassing up this morning.  She says she makes a point of getting out and about to stay young.  Yay for her!

And finally, tonight's sunset; the clouds seemed more like lava flowing across the sky.
Tomorrow the view out of our windows will change after a not-so-very long drive.  I'm ready.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Making It Ours

I've made it clear in the past that the fifth wheel we ordered from Heartland Mfg was not the fifth wheel we received in December of 2009.  Because we had already sold our Palisades fifth wheel to a friend and had arrived in Indiana in the dead of winter we were kind of between a rock and a hard place so we went ahead with the deal and took possession of what I immediately named "The Beast."  At the time, the name came from the fact that the unit was two feet longer than our old fiver, but it soon became appropriate due to the number of construction and warranty issues we had to deal with to be able to stay on the road.

Over the last two years in addition to the repairs, Denny and I have been making a variety of modifications to the rig, the most recent being cosmetic.  Our project for the last week has been removing the unbelievably cheaply made window toppers and building new wooden valances which I then upholstered.  I also ripped off all the gawd-awful black and tan border trim on the walls.  

The before and after photos:
The bathroom.  Before:
New border. After:
The crappy window treatments.  Before:

This shot shows the sleeper sofa that came with the unit.  I couldn't stand the upholstery nor the hard cushions so it was replaced with a recliner and glider rocker.

Patches' claws were rough on the leather recliners; she doesn't claw the furniture but she does race around the rig pushing off from the chairs which made pin point pricks in the upholstery.  They were given away also and replaced with upholstered arm chairs with a microfiber fabric.
You will note that Patches had to be part of the photo showing the new chairs and the new window treatments.

While I will always be angry at the changes and cheapening of the product that Heartland made to our rig in the month between the time we ordered it and the time we received it, at least we have made it more homey and more "ours".

The expense involved one package of wallpaper border for the bath--$8.00.  A 4x8 sheet of 1/4 inch plywood and a 2x4 sheet of 1/4 inch plywood to make the window valances, around $20.  3 yards of fabric at $4.87 a yard, a bag of quilt batting and a new stapler which also uses brads for $19.99.  The satisfaction involved in finishing the job and how it turned out?  Priceless. 

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Cold, Colds and Mundane Tasks

I was surprised when I realized it had been two weeks since I lasted posted something here.  We've moved from St. David, Arizona to Gold Canyon and will move to Mesa on Monday and we've done very little during that time.  Denny and I have both been fighting colds or allergies of some sort--our symptoms come and go over a period of days.  Thus we've stayed home a lot, or simply taken long drives as we look in different areas of southern Arizona for any place we'd eventually like to call home.  I've come to find I'm not a fan of cookie-cutter zero lot line plats of homes although in this economy we could certainly pick one up at a really good price.  Our current campground is expanding their offerings with a new section of manufactured one bedroom/one bath adobe style homes with roof top decks that have a great view of the Superstition Mountains but also the propane tank sales and service business in front of the houses.  The homes have been beautifully decorated and landscaped but in size are only 780 square feet to our current 400 square feet so I don't see the point of purchasing something like that.  It's pretty obvious I'm really not ready to settle down yet once I start listing all the bad things about an area or plat of homes instead of the benefits and attributes.

We have played golf a couple of times and this week when we finally felt up to it we started our remodeling project; removing the original window treatments in the main living area and building new valances/lambrequins/window toppers.

The old: charcoal gray material with beige paisley pattern gathered over a piece of wood with side panels in beige.  All the curtain rods at the bottoms of the windows have snapped off due to poor placement (they are all at a height where the chairs bump into them which meant that most of them were broken one month after we took possession of The Beast.)

When we took the original valances down, we discovered the six inch tall valance was made by stapling six inches of material into gathers around a 2 1/2 inch wide piece of 1/8 inch plywood.  The black velcro is for holding the side curtains to the valance.  Wonderful workmanship, no?

A trip to the local big box hardware store netted us a small piece of plywood to create a new topper, the local senior citizens' playground (aka W*lmart) in Benson had a great piece of material in colors that reminded me of the desert and a second trip out to a different big box hardware store had me walking out with a new staple gun that not only was more comfortable for me to work but it could also shoot brads--bonus!  Denny cut the forms, I found a suitable jar lid to create a rounded edge to the corners of the side pieces (hey, Denny gave up his jig saw and other handy-dandy fancy saws when we sold the house) and we used the truck bed as a work bench for cutting the wood.  Because the day was lovely and Patches decided for the first time to actually sit quietly outside (while usurping my chair) I took advantage of the sunshine and covered the wooden topper with quilt batting and the new material.  Win/win.

The result? A more finished look, I think.  The colors have been heightened by my use of the flash; they are much more muted and blended in the natural lightOne (small) window down, seven more windows to go, including one that is six feet wide.  That will be fun!  We'll wait until next week to buy a large sheet of plywood once we're in the new campground since we have no room to store it until we're ready to start work on the next window.  After all, tomorrow is the Superbowl and there won't be any work getting done then!
Needless to say, I have to add the totally gratuitous photograph of a sunset before closing this post. Hope whichever team you are rooting for wins tomorrow; me, I just watch it for the commercials.  ;)
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