Feliz Navidad!

November 30, 2009

Wow, over a week has gone by without any updates! Occasionally time just slips away.

Our RV oven won’t hold a whole turkey so Randy didn’t get to cook a turkey this year for Thanksgiving. The RV Park organized a turkey dinner; they cooked turkeys and everyone signed up to bring a specific side dish for their table. So we met up with several of our friends and had dinner there. Randy made mashed potatoes, and also made a papaya chiffon pie. Dinner was pretty good but nothing can beat the brined and golden-brown turkeys Randy makes. And we don’t have any leftover turkey and dressing!

One of our neighbors had been cooking dinner for an older gentleman in the Park a few days a week, for $4 a plate. But now she has a job and doesn’t always have time to do that, so she asked if I wanted to take it over. I said yes because Randy always cooks enough for about 10 people. John seems pretty happy with his meals, and no wonder – he’s getting a $4 dinner created by an excellent professional chef!

Randy got a new I Pod recently and I inherited his original one. I downloaded some music, so now I can listen to what I like at any time. It's hard to find a radio station that I like - I have a fondness for swingy-jazz such as Stacey Kent, Bette Middler, Ella Mae Morse, and some very early Frank Sinatra. And anyone who sings “Frim Fram Sauce”.

And I have a new job now! Since Randy needs to spend about 50% of his time at the RV Park, we can’t travel all the time. And some extra spending cash would come in handy. So now I am a waitress – excuse me, a “server” – at Cracker Barrel. I went through the training last week, and Tuesday will be my first real day. I figured I could put the experience from Lambert’s Sandwiches and More to good use.

November 21, 2009

Tomorrow is our anniversary but I expect to be busy at my new part-time job tomorrow (more about that later) so we celebrated today. We started with a pancake and sausage breakfast at the RV Park. We didn’t stay too long at that because the guy Randy contacted to fix windshield chips in the Jeep and RV arrived at 8:30. As soon as he was done we intended to go to a local RV show, but on the way out of the Park we met up some friends and ended up talking for over an hour. Eventually we did get to the RV show; there were a couple of nice models but we didn’t see anything that we felt was spectacular. Good thing, because we aren’t really in the market for a new RV. But it’s nice to keep up on what’s available.

Then we went to the movies to see The Blind Side, which was just released. It’s a good show – go see it if you can.

And to finish off the day we went to a dance at the Park, where they had a DJ who played a lot of early rock-and-roll. There were 8 couples at our table and we all get along great, so it was really fun. Everyone brought some wine or beer and we danced almost every dance! As more wine and beer was consumed the dances got a little more ‘creative’ but everyone had a great time.

Tomorrow will be our 34th anniversary. It has gone by so fast . . . Randy, I want at least 34 more years with you!

November 20, 2009

Today an RV dealership brought in free doughnuts, to draw a crowd in to hear their representative. It worked!

Next Randy and I decided to do one of the things we do best - shop! We headed towards the Phoenix Mills, but before we got there we stopped at an IKEA store. We’ve been talking about updating the RV so we went through the whole store, from kitchens to bedrooms. We got some interesting ideas and then had lunch at their restaurant - Swedish meatballs and gravlox. We bought a few things in the kitchen area and food store, but no furniture. Before we do that we need to make some decisions about what we want the RV to look like and how much we want to change. We also found some great walking shoes at Dick’s Sporting Goods and checked out a Total Wine store. And by then it was too late to continue to the Phoenix Mills. Thus ends a pretty good day.

November 19, 2009

Nothing earth-shaking going on the last few days. Evening still comes ridiculously early here. When it feels like it’s 9 pm, it turns out to be only 6:30! Everyone feels the same way; we think it’s because it gets dark so early. Our entertainment lately has been low-key but very sweet. We played pool with some of our neighbors one night, rented some movies another night, and tonight a few of us got together and had an appetizer pot-luck for dinner. All in all, it’s been a good week.

November 18, 2009

There is a very small town nearby called Eloy, which is home to some local skydiving. We heard they are busy every weekend, so yesterday we drove over to watch. There are a few bleachers set up for spectators; this is a common spectator sport around here. While we were there several planeloads went up. The planes are large-bodied and have open backs to make it easier for jumpers to exit.

There was an almost steady stream of skydivers coming down. I was surprised at how fast their landings were. I thought the jumpers would slow down as they get close to the ground, but they continued at high speed until they were about 2 feet off the ground. Then they twisted the canopy a bit and just took a couple of running steps. A couple of guys mis-judged the distance and skidded to a stop on their backs. When a new jumper is diving tandem with an instructor, the student is supposed to raise their feet and let the instructor handle the landing.

The last group we saw was 3 planes that went up together, and they were gone longer than the others. Eventually the people in all 3 planes – about 40 people – jumped together. They stayed very close together for awhile, forming a red, white and blue patch in the sky. Then they broke apart and filled the sky with tiny parachute canopies.

Today we are back to our usual schedule – Randy is doing some maintenance work, and I am supposed to be looking for work, cleaning the RV and getting some miscellaneous tasks done. But the truth is that I am homesick today. I miss the people and places I know. To cheer me up, Randy suggested we meet up with some of our new friends and go out to dinner. We went to The Gym, a local sports bar, for appetizers, and then to Cold Stone Creamery for dessert.

November 15, 2009

I finally found a way to insert some of my pictures, although it's a bit time consuming. I have to edit each one to change its attributes which causes them to lose a bit of clarity. and sometimes they are a little lop-sided. But it's better than nothing! Here's my favorite sunset...

And here's our RV and Jeep -

Friday evening most of the Maintenance crew and a few other friends got together for a potluck dinner. We set up lawn chairs in one of the unused RV sites and set serving tables under the awning of the nearest RV. Someone brought a fire pit and started a nice fire. The theme was German food - the couple hosting the event cooked brats and everyone else brought a German dish. We had cabbabge, potato salad, German chocolate cake, cole slaw, etc. Randy made Nurenberg Soup – we had that when we visited Nurenburg several years ago, and it was so good that Randy recreated it when we got home. As usual, it was great! To our surprise, it rained that evening. That was the first time it rained since we got here. Fortunately it was after everyone had eaten and it didn’t rain very much, so folks just stood under the awning for a few minutes.

And Saturday the RV Park had a “welcome back” lunch for the snow-birds who have arrived. They served hamburgers, baked beans, and some good desserts. It was fortunate that the event was inside because partway thru it, the heavens opened up and it downpoured! For about 10 minutes the rain just roared down. The ground here is so hard that rain can’t soak into it, and there isn’t any grass to hold it long enough for the ground to soften, so it runs off quickly. The park has a large gully along the back fence and the drives are very slightly sloped towards it, so all the rainwater quickly accumulates there. It’s nicknamed the Quail Run Shore.

We are still organizing the RV. I am convinced that is a never-ending project. I had been looking for a tablecloth to fit the small RV table, but I wanted something a bit unusal , instead of going to Walmart to buy one. At the Arizona State Fair one of the vendors was selling Persion cloths. According to him, these cloths were hand-made, stamped with a pattern, hand-painted, and then dried in the sun for 30 days to set the paint. He also said that they used to sell this type of product many years ago, but they haven’t been able to for years because of some rules made by the Muslim government. However, recently they have been allowed to market their products again. I don’t know if any of this is true, but it sounded like a good story to me! So I got one to use as a tablecloth.

I have discovered a little plant called a Lithop (discovered it in Lowe's - they sell it there). It’s nickname is “living stones” because that’s pretty much what it looks like – stones. I love this thing! I looked up some info on the internet, and apparently the main problem people have raising these is overwatering. I think they only need water during the summer season. Although it is not recommended, they have lived up to 2 years without water.

And they bloom!

November 11, 2009

Today Randy gave a cooking class at the RV park, and it went very well! Folks had requested a low-fat class, so he prepared chocolate angel food cake with fresh stawberries, maple-glazed salmon with pineapple salsa, broccoli with horseradish sauce, and fettuccine primavera with alfredo sauce. The class ran about 2 ½ hours long, which is average for Randy’s classes. He covers a lot of material and discusses technicques as well as receipes.

We wanted to an overhead mirror, to help the class members see what Randy was doing. The ceiling in the park kitchen isn’t right for hanging anything, so Randy created a stand from PCV pipe and attached a mirror to it. It worked really well, and it’s easy to take apart to store.

The park had a Veterans Day event today. They honored all branches of the military - Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. And because several Canadians winter in this park, they included the Canadian Armed Forces. Some vetrans read poems, and we sang the official song for each branch of the military. Funny, I didn’t know before that the Navy song is basically a drinking song! Actually, the service was very moving, and I’m glad we attended. I thought of my dad, who was in the Navy. Dad never liked to talk to anyone in the family about his time in the military. But one of his best friends was a man who was survived the Batan Death March, so I imagine they shared some stories. When Dad was 17 or 18, he served on one of the carriers that put men on the beach of Iwo Jima. Dad totally refused to talk about that day.

Cute owls in the ground, and a late night for old folks - November 7, 2009

We’ve become very regular about taking the dogs for a long walk in the morning and short walks throughout the day. And they are getting much better about not barking at everyone.  On one of the walks we found some burrowing owls. These little owls live in burrows in the ground, like gophers. They are so cute! They are sitting at the edge of their burrow almost every morning when we walk the dogs, and they are so well camouflaged in the desert landscape that neither dog has every noticed them.
Recently we went to the newly-opened Wild Horse Pass Casino. We expected loose slots, interesting shops and good food. We were disappointed on all fronts. One person in our party of 6 won $30, but everyone else lost, and lost quick. The only shop we found was a small gift shop at the front of the casino. And a Midwest casino would never open its doors without a “Grand Buffet”, but this place has a couple of small, expensive restaurants and, almost unbelievably, a simple (but overpriced) food court. Needless to say, we will not be back.

Sunday afternoon the RV Park sponsored another get-acquainted pot-luck for the Workkampers. It started at 4pm, which is a little early for dinner and a lot late for lunch. But there was a lot of good food, so we visited with friends and had a good meal – hamburgers with about 20 side dishes to choose from. Afterwards I played a 9 hole game of mini-golf with our neighbors. I surprised myself by not doing too bad – my expectations were low so it wasn’t too hard to exceed them, and it was a lot of fun. After the golf game finished Randy joined us and we played 3 games of pool. And again, I wasn’t embarrassingly bad.  Randy did better than I did – the guys won 2 games, then the ladies won one. By the time we finished the pool games everyone else was long gone so we walked back home, through a totally dark and quiet RV park . . . and realized it was only 6:45!  Dang, they turn in early around here!  So we four sat outside in the cool evening breeze and talked until 8:30, when we could call it a night in good conscience.

November 1 2009

We drove over to check out nearby Picacho Mountain. There is an RV park at the foot of the mountain, so we decided to stop and look it first. This park, like most around here, is for folks age 55 and over. So when we stopped at the gate to get access, the guard asked us if we were over 55. And Randy, with just a tiny smirk, nodded towards me and said “Well, SHE is”. I thought he enjoyed that too much so I punched him in the arm! Of course, I’m old and feeble now so it wasn’t a hard punch.

We looked at several Park Models; we think there might be a Park Model in our future. Park Models combine a condo's freedom from grounds-maintenance with the privacy of a house. The limited size helps avoid the clutter-syndrome, and the low cost makes it feasible to own one in the location of your choice. All these things together make it reasonable to only live there half the year, and travel the rest of the year.

After we were done at the RV park, we checked out Picacho Mountain state park. There are a couple of trails that go to the top (a 2 mile steep trail or an easier 3 mile trail), and there are informational signs up about the kinds of snakes and bats that are found on the mountain. Very interesting. . . We’ll come back here when we have a full day, and brave the snakes and bats to climb to the top.