Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dancing Through Winter 2015-2016

      This has been an unusual winter for us, as I’ve been busy with that four letter word, “WORK”.  As I mentioned in the last blog, just before we left Show Low, Weight Watchers contacted me to see if I was still interested in being a leader.  I told them I was and we set up an interview for after we got to Casa Grande.  All went well and I was offered a position as a receptionist in Casa Grande, with leader training to follow.
     I started with an online orientation the next week.  That was followed by a once a year class called “Innovations” in Phoenix.  They sent a bus, starting in Tucson and picking up myself and two others in Casa Grande on the way.  This was for all the Weight Watcher employees in Arizona and a few hundred attended.  It was fun and exciting to be a part of.  This was followed by on the job training for the receptionist position at the two Monday evening meetings in Casa Grande. 
    In December, I attended a three day leaders training in Phoenix.  Because of the distance involved they put me in a hotel while attending this.  It was a fun few days with a couple other new leaders.  January brought mentoring in Tuscon.  I visited one orientation and two meetings led by my mentor and then led an orientation and went back to lead another meetings.  They were all fun and my mentor was terrific. 
     Finallly I was able to lead my own meeting and in February, Weight Watchers started a Monday,10am meeting here in Casa Grande.  I have a great group and it’s been a lot of fun.  Because the morning meeting is so popular, I’ve had from 30-45 members each week.  The other leader here in town does the reception work for my meeting and I do the reception work for the two evening meetings that she leads.  That means on Mondays I work from about 9am to 11:00 and from 3pm to 6:15pm.  Its a long day, but its nice having it all done on one day too.  The other leader is also a winter visitor, so the last morning meeting will be April 18th.  We’ll head for Show Low and she’ll head for Minnesota, where they summer. The Weight Watchers office in Phoenix will send someone to cover at least one afternoon meeting during the summer.  
      The leader in Show Low has already contacted me about subbing for her this summer.  As to whether I'll have a meeting of me own, we’ll have to see what the demand is for more meetings. The good part of that is I’m at both places (winter & summer) when they’re the busiest. 
     After I committed to work for WW, we structured all of our other winter activities around my training schedule. Unfortunately, that meant not going to Quartzsite or Yuma this winter.  We managed to stay busy though.  There isn’t any square dancing in Casa Grande, so we drove to Mesa (about 60 miles), for an afternoon dance once a month.  We also attended an evening dance once a month in Florence, (about 45 miles).  The caller in Florence is the sister of our caller in Show Low.  We’re looking forward to only driving 6 miles to dance this summer.
     We went to the Hummingbird Hoedown Square Dance Festival in Sierra Vista, (south of Tucson) the last weekend in January.  We took the Class C and stayed in an RV park not far from the dances.  It was really stepping our of our comfort zone, as the caller was much faster than we were used to, but we caught on and came away feeling more confident about our dancing.  We plan on going again next year.  We plan on taking the Plus dance lessons this summer.  This is the next step up form Mainstream we took last summer.
IMG_2015The park didn’t have an entry this yeear, but we went to enjoy the Electric Light Parade in Casa Grande.  This is a fire truck from Eloy, bringing up the rear of hte parade. 
IMG_2120Santa and I having fun at our Christmas party.  (Note the snazzy pants!)
     Gary’s pool league started up again and he enjoyed that, as well as weekly tournaments.  He usually places in the top third and wins enough to keep him going back. 
     I enjoyed more line dancing at our park, as well as some card playing.  We didn’t get any Mah Jongg in, but play once a week during the summer.  I didn’t get as much quilting done as I usually do, but was was able to squeeze in some small projects.
IMG_2105The sign on their laps reads, “Please tell our wives we’re waiting,” and is located in front of the 3 Dudes Quilt shop.  Here are some small table toppers and table/couch runners I made.
      Our park celebrated Hillbilly Days this year for our annual festival.  We signed up for clans and competed in several events.  Here are some pictures.  I think you’ll agree that Gary was very fetching in the Daisy Duke contest.
IMG_2382     IMG_2389         IMG_2426Gary and friend, Aileen competing in the Almost Amazing Race.  Gary was drinking a not quite cooked egg as they hurried around the course.  It was a hilarious few days and kept us laughing for many days after.
     I walk from 3-5 miles just about every morning here.  It sure helps keep the weight in check and I enjoy the early morning time.  I stay in the park with a flashlight until the sun comes up, and then venture out on some of the dirt roads out here in the country.  Last fall I was getting bored and needed an incentive, so I decided to enter a half-marathon, walking.  I decided on the Lost Dutchman, in Apache Junction, as its fairly flat, well run, & has great shirts/medals.  I walked it on Valentine’s Day.  Hoping to finish the 13.1 miles in 4 hours, I was pleased to finish in 3 hours and 24 minutes.  I averaged 15.37 min/mile, which is good for me.  I was 388 out of 410 females and 11 out of 13 in my age group.  Of course, most of the other competitors were running.
     I also walked a 5K on Apr. 2, at the Scottsdale airport.  It’s called Run the Runway and they actually close the airport and the course is on the runways.  Very smooth and flat of course.  I was aiming for 45 minutes and finished in 40 minutes and 18 seconds, averaging 12:59 min/mile.  This time I finished 2nd out of 10 in my age group. 
Katy Run
    We’re closing out our winter season with a wonderful treat for us, Family!  We love having family visit and Riki, Kevin, and Kai came by for three days after visiting her California family.  We know they really wanted to see us, but it helped that their favorite baseball team, the Chicago Cubs were playing the Arizona Diamondbacks.  As I type this, they’re on their way to the game. 
     We’ll be heading for Show Low in another two weeks, so please don’t mail any thing else here.  Our Show Low address is 1051 N. Central Ave.  Space 272  Show Low, AZ 85901.  A special thanks to my good friend Diane, who taught me to use Live Writer, so I could once again include pictures with the blog. 
     Dancing up to the cool mountain air……………………
Hugs, Katy, Gary, and Bandit

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Dancing in the Fall, 2015

     Once again, time has flown by.  We're came back to Casa Grande and our lot at RoVer's Roost on Oct. 14th.  The first 10 days were very warm with temps in the high 80's and 90's.  We've also had a few rainstorms.  The Fall storms make for good Spring wildflowers and already the projections are for a good wildflower season. 
     Gary's old pool league is no more, but friends of his formed a new league, playing in Maricopa.  Its a little further drive, but he's enjoying the people and competition, so it's worth it.  Other winter visitors are arriving every day, evening card and pool games are starting up.  Hopefully line dancing will start soon as well. 
     We had a great summer in Show Low.  Gary redid our steps to both doors for our park model.  They look great repainted and reinforced.  Our water heater went out and when we replaced it with the same make and model, it is now 2 inches wider.  Since it was in a cabinet under the kitchen sink with the cupboard doors facing the living room, the doors wouldn't close.  Gary extended the cabinet and was able to put the doors back on.  He did a great job with it. 
     We had an Escapee Happy Hour once a month at our place, for any SKP's in the area.  It was fun getting together and hearing what everyone else was doing.  While several were staying in our park, there were also SKPs from other parks in Show Low. 
     I took several quilt classes in free motion quilting, along with  color and design.  I got very involved sewing "Rows."  These are small panels (about 9in by 36in.), that various quilt shops designed and had available at their shop from the middle of June through the  beginning of September.   I was able to get Rows in Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, and even Maryland on our trip there.  A friend got me 3 rows from South Dakota and my cousin just mailed me one from St. Louis, MO.  There were 2500 quilt shops across the country participating.  I'll have about 14 in my quilt and have about half of them done.  They're fun because they're small and all different.
     My friend Kathy and I went to the Hummingbird Festival at SIPE Wildlife Area, in the end of July.  Its such fun watching them examine, weigh, and band the little jewels.  There were 4-6 of us that played Mah-Jongg once a week through most of the Summer.  Several of us gals got together for lunch out, a few times as well.  We also did some geocaching with Kathy, but the time just seemed to fly by and we didn't get as much done as we wanted.  We will remedy that next year and start earlier in the summer.
     I enjoyed the water aerobics and was in the pool most Mon-Fri from 7-9 in the morning.  I challenged myself to take the hardest class, (taught by GI Jan).  I made it through the whole summer!!!  I ordered my own flippers and enjoyed swimming with those.   We often swam lengths holding on to foam weights.  It was tough, but enjoyable too, and I was definitely stronger at the end of the summer.  I'll miss it this winter and am already looking forward to next year.  I even got Gary to meet me there after lessons a few times.  He enjoyed the pool and hot tub.
     I walked from 3-5 miles on the weekends and when I didn't swim.  Now that we're back at the Roost, I'm walking about 3-4 miles most days and I try to get in a 5-6 miler on the weekends.  I still miss the running, but am so grateful to be able to walk pain free, that its OK.
     We finished our Summer square dance lessons and graduated with our Mainstream Certificate the end of August.  We're looking forward to taking plus lessons next summer.  After we graduated, that did a little initiation where we had to dance a song with one leg in a paper bag, then we danced one song blindfolded, and finally they switched the gals and guys so one square was all guys and the other all gals.  It was hilarious watching each other trying to figure it out.  You can tell  it's a really fun group.  Its nice to walk into the country dances and see a lot of people we know from square dancing. 
     We went to two quilt shows outside of Show Low, a Navajo Taco lunch in Pinedale, and of course, we enjoyed the "Run to the Pines" car show the end of September.  Its a show with over 500 old cars and trucks.  They park them on the driving range of one of the Country Clubs in the pine trees, so its a gorgeous backdrop for the cars. 
     I'd been wanting a carved bear from the Burley Bear in Pinetop.  They chainsaw carve them from Aspen trees with some of the bark still on the lower part.  I finally got one during their end of summer sale.  On my way home, I stopped at another art show and watched a chainsaw demonstration.  They always pass out tickets to those watching and draw for the bear he's carved, at the end of the show.  Well that was my lucky day and I came home with two bears. 
     Friends of mine have been attending a Bible Study Fellowship in Chandler, AZ.  This is a group that has groups  meeting all over the world.  This year they're studying the book of Revelations.  It's very interesting and I'm enjoying it.
     Just before we left Show Low, I got a call from a gal in Weight Watchers that  I had talked to last Spring.  She wanted to know if I was still interested in being a group leader in Casa Grande. Two weeks later we set up an interview and I was offered a position.  So far, I've just gone to one orientation that was done online.  I should hear more this week on a training schedule.  I know I have an orientation day next week in Phoenix, but they have a bus coming up from Tucson and stopping in Casa Grande, that I can ride.  Next blog, I should have more information.  I'm really excited about this opportunity and look forward to the chance to pay it forward. Its such a great program and I know it really works.  I love it, because it's real food and nothing's off limits, if you watch your portion sizes.  The other reason I want to work with Weight Watchers, is to help  me keep my weight off.  Since I'm in both Casa Grande and Show Low during their busiest times, when the meetings are the biggest, I may even be able to work both places. 
     I led an abbreviated Laughter Yoga session last week for about 50 gals at a Breast Cancer Awareness luncheon. It was a chance to meet other survivors in this community.  I'm going to be leading monthly sessions at the Senior Center here again, starting in November. 
     Another significant happening this summer, was when we became official Arizona residents.  We gave up our South Dakota mail service and drivers' licenses and changed everything to Arizona.  Our official address is in Show Low, and we put a 6 month forward to Casa Grande for the winter.  Here are our two addresses:
Summer - Apr-Sep,  1051 N. Central Ave.  Space 272,  Show Low, AZ 85901
Winter  -  Oct-Mar,  3241 S. Montgomery Rd.,  Casa Grande, AZ 885193
While its not necessary to put a space number here in Casa Grande, the mail in Show Low will not be delivered without the space number.  Our phone numbers and email address remain the same. 
     I/m having some difficulty getting pictures into this blog, so will send it out without pictures this time.  I think you can tell it's going to be another fun, busy winter.  Before I know it, I'll be writing that we're heading back to  Show Low in April. 
     In the meantime, if any of you get down our way, please give a call and come visit, or we'll meet you somewhere half way. 

Dancing  through the Fall........

Love and hugs,   Katy, Gary, and Bandit


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Square Dancing through the Summer, 2015

     I can't believe we're half way through our time in Show Low.  It's true:  "Life is like a roll of toilet paper.  The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes!"   I don't know how many of you know we used to square dance.  I'm talking about 32+ years ago.  We were in Evanston, WY & Robert & Riki learned too.  We wound up dancing in Fort Bridger & Lyman, & then our group was without a caller.  I've always thought it would be fun to square dance again & this year we had a chance to start mainstream lessons from the beginning.  The lessons are twice a week, run Jun-Aug, and are held in Linden, about 6.5 miles from our home in Show Low.  When we danced before, we were usually in schools with cement floors.  Our club here has its own building with a great wood floor, called the White Mountain Square Dance Club.  It's much easier on the legs.  They also hold community dances there, with country bands.  We've attended several of those in the past.
     Last month they had their Spring Festival and had their "Second Hand Rose" store open.  I was able to find skirts, blouses, and petticoats for $5 apiece.   Interesting that except for one black/white skirt, the rest are all red and/or white.  While we were in Wyoming last month, Riki, Gary, & I dug through their storage shed looking for an old plastic tub with my old square dance clothes.  Found, it contained 3 dresses, 1 blouse, 2 petticoats, & 2 pettie pants, all red and/or white.  Guess red's my color!
     Gary continues to enjoy his pool tournaments.  He's won a couple & had several 2nds.  That's enough to keep him going when he doesn't place that high.  While in Wyoming, he enjoyed playing with his old buddies at the senior center most mornings.
     We left here on June 17, and drove to Orem, UT.  We spent the night there, along with Riki & her husband, Kevin.  The next morning was the  Utah National  Fallen Firefighter Foundation Golf Tournament.  I enjoy helping with the registration, while Gary, Riki, & Kevin played on the Evanston team, along with Rusty.  They did something new this year and recognized a Fallen Firefighter on each hole.  The two other family survivors and I each went out to the hole where our loved one was pictured.  We had a chance to talk to most of the teams as they played that hole and share our firefighter's story.  Hopefully the firefighters enjoyed it as much as we did.  It was great meeting them on a more personal level.  Here's a picture of me with Robert's sign.

There was another hole where the golfers all put on turnout gear for their tee shot. Here's Gary.

     After the tournament, we drove up to Evanston, WY, where we stayed at Riki's.  We had a great week there.  I had a chance to get together with my quilting friends and a couple of very special retired nurses, that I used to work with and remain great friends.

We also saw some of Gary's family in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Here's Gary with his two sisters.

     Friday, Riki, Kevin, and I flew to Baltimore, MD, for the 10th Annual Survivor's Conference.  We were met at the airport by the Tobia's, friends and representatives of the NFFF.  They drove us to our hotel, in Annapolis.  We flew in a two days early to see some of the area.  Riki had made reservations for sailing on a wind schooner out on Chesapeake Bay.  While we had enough wind to make it really exciting, we also had clouds and some rain.  Towards the end of our two hour sail, our Captain made a run for the dock as a squall was fast approaching.  We almost made it, as the heavens opened up and it poured.  None of us melted and despite the weather we had a fun experience.

     We also did some shopping and of course enjoyed the food.  Sunday we were able to get into Chick and Ruth's a local eating establishment that gets rave reviews.  I loved their crab cakes, made from lump crab meat and then they had fresh pies.  Rhubarb was on the menus, so of course I had to have a piece.  Yummy!!!
     This year's conference was a chance to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.  We all belong to the greatest organization that no one wants to join.  We started with a get-together Sunday night.  During the next three days there were numerous workshops we had signed up to attend.  I presented laughter yoga again & had another super turnout.  I also helped Riki & Kevin with a Geocaching Workshop.  We hid 3 temporary caches around the hotel & were able to provide some hands on experience.   At the end, we helped a couple people sign up for their accounts.  It's such a fun experience for kids, we knew it would be well received.
    In the evenings, special activities were held.  Monday night was a crab feast at a local restaurant.  I couldn't begin to guess how many crab we went through.  I know I ate about 7 myself.  These were blue crabs and there is a LOT of work for a LITTLE meat, but what you get is really good.  I would guess I had between 3/4 and a cup of crab meat out of  my  crabs.
 Just one of many, many, many platters of Maryland Blue Crabs.
Tools of the trade to get that meat out of the crab.
     On Tuesday we were bused to Camden Yard in Baltimore for a home gave where the Orioles played the Texas Rangers.  Unfortunately the Orioles lost, but there were around 6 home runs between the two teams so it was exciting.   Here I am getting a hug from their mascot.  That's a BIG bird!

     Wednesday evening was the closing of the conference.  We all went on a dinner cruise on Chesapeake Bay.  Dinner was salmon and rare roast beef with multiple sides and desserts.  After dinner Black-eyed Susans (MD state flower), were passed out.  Brian played his beautiful bagpipes while we honored our loved ones and tossed the flowers over the side.  Needless to say there were a lot of tears, but many, many hugs and special bonds made also.  This is always a very moving part of the Conference and is so special, as we have all been through the greatest loss any of us could imagine.  Sharing this together is an incredible experience that is hard to describe.
     Thursday was an optional day with several choices of activities.  Riki and Kevin went with a group to take the Metro into Washington DC.  I chose to go with a group to Baltimore's Inner Harbor and tour the National Aquarium.  It was fantastic.  As a teenager, I was stung several times by jelly fish when board and body surfing in Southern Calif, and have been fascinated by them ever since.  I spent over an hour in just that exhibit.  They are absolutely beautiful, as you can see.

    The only downer on our trip was my catching a head cold the tirst week we were gone.  Gary then caught it and was sick when we returned.  We stayed in Evanston for the fireworks on July 4th and then headed back to Arizona.  Gary was still pretty sick, so I drove most of the way.  Let's hope we don't have to do that again.  Our friend Diane LeB. had kindly kept Bandit for us, while we were gone, so both Bandit and Gary were VERY glad to see each other, and yes, I missed the little guy too.
    Our good friend, Kathy Reardon, from Jojoba Hills also spent the summer at Country Lane,  our Show Low Park.  When she arrived, she surprised us with a quilted wall hanging made by a quilter at Jojoba.  Its beautiful and I'm sure you'd agree very appropriate.
       I love it!  It reminds me so much of Quartzsite with the various RV's, cactus, and hills in the background.  She even got a dog in there. 
       I continue to learn Mah Jongg this summer.  The Chinese is becoming easier, so I tried the American version.  My oh my, was that an experience.  I'm not sure American is in my future, but I'll  continue to try it.  My motto is try something at least three times before I give it up.
      We've decided to become Arizona residents and give up our mail service.  Of course, that meant changing our address on everything.  We'll get Arizona drivers' licenses next month.  Our permanent address is:  1051 N. Central Ave. Space 272, Show Low, AZ 85901.  We'll do a temporary forward for about 6 months, when we go to Casa Grande for the Fall and then cancel it when we return to the Mountain in the Spring.  Phone numbers all remain the same.
       We're back in our routine, with me doing water aerobics at the aquatic center five mornings a week and Gary playing pool tournaments when they come up, and both of us square dancing three times a week.  Another fun summer.   If any of you are in the White Mountains of Arizona, make sure and look us up.  We'd love to see you.
      Square dancing through Summer 2015 in Show Low,
      Katy, Gary, and Bandit   

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Dancing Through the Winter into 2015

     Our Winter season started off with helping to prepare and then participating in the Electric Light Parade in Casa Grande.  This is a really big deal, as they have upwards of 50,000 people attend this parade each year.  Those interested can view it on You Tube.  Because of our lateness in entering, we were float #94 out of 97.  Our theme was “On the Road Again.”  We all wore Willie Nelson style braids and played his song as we walked the two mile route.  Here’s a few pictures of our group.  Businesses along the route are asked to turn their lights off and all streetlights are turned off, making the floats really stand out.   It was a great way to start the season.

     Adding to our enjoyment of the Christmas Holiday, was Riki’s family coming to see us for Christmas.  We rented the spot across from us and parked our Motor home there.  That way they had their own place for our few down times.  One of the sights we all enjoyed was visiting the LDS Temple in Mesa to see their beautiful light display.  This year we allowed more time for family games and most evenings went to the clubhouse for cards and scheduled parties.  It was great having them here to join our park in the Christmas festivities. 

     We left mid-January for the SKP Co-Op in Yuma and enjoyed their pool and hot tub for a week.  We also took a tour of a Date Farm while there.  It is amazing the  number of times that the date palms have to be individually attended to each season, from picking thorns, to placing wire rings to separate the dates. 

     From there we headed to Quartzsite, AZ for a couple weeks of RV Rallies.  You’ve all heard my descriptions of Quartzsite before, so know that this is a sleepy little town of about 3,000 that swells in the winter to accommodate over 1 million RV visitors at different times.  There are large areas of desert where RV’s are allowed to boondock (no hook ups) for 2 weeks to several months.   The first area we went to is lovingly called Boomerville by a group of fun loving, active RVers.   Daily hikes and activities from crafting to movies, to star parties take place.  I even led a Laughter Yoga  group for  the second year.  Its one of the best groups I lead, because of the enthusiastic participation. 
    One of the days we hiked to the top of Q mountain, about a ½ mile hike with an elevation gain of about 700 feet.  Here we are at the top enjoying the view and trying not to get blown off.  The white in the background are some of the thousands of  RVs parked in the desert.

     We also had  a karaoke night and dance in the desert.  Here’s a picture of us dancing to “YMCA.”

     From there, we moved about 5 miles to another desert area for the Geocaching Rally.  This is a subgroup of Escapees that enjoys geocaching and especially teaching it to others.  While there we found about 75 caches.  Here are a couple pictures of a mine tour we all took to the “Parade of Toilets.”  Obviously there is a geocache there.  Also there are several toilets along a hillside with plastic flowers planted in them.  We had been forewarned and came armed with more flowers to add to the colorful display.  There has been a mine on this site for many years and continues to be the site of an active claim today for mining gold and other minerals.

.     After all this frivolity, we headed back to the Roost  in Casa Grande for more fun activities.  February is a very active time of year for our park with the annual meeting and fund raisers taking place.   Last year it was the Olympics and this year it was a Senior Rodeo.  The participants were divided into Ranches.  We were members of the 6 R Ranch (Red, Rip-Roaring, Rambling Rooster Ranch).  Gary participated with his friend Steve in the team roping.   After placing in the second go-round, I won the finals of the Bull-Riding Championship.  In order to win this title, I had to guide a remote controlled bull with a rider (doll) placed on it, over a mat with pipes laying underneath it, creating bucking hills., without the rider falling off.  Believe me, I never thought I would participate in, let alone win the title of Bull-riding Champion.  

      Another part of our Rodeo week was a Chili Cookoff.  We had 16 entries and  I was thrilled to win third place with my White Chili.  People voted on the chilies, not knowing who cooked each one.   When Gary labeled mine, he said, “The Chili’s Mild, but the Cook’s Hot.”  I think it was the label that did it.   I won a really nice folding Camp Chair.

      Also in February, our friend Kathy visited us.  She was here as a judge for the local Gourd Festival.  She drove here from S. Calif and rented a spot, where we had our Motor home parked.  Kathy is a fantastic gourd artist, so it was fun seeing the gourds from her perspective.   She’s also a geocacher and was with us to snap this picture when we found Geocache #3,000! 

     Escapees have an annual convention with seminars, entertainment, and  all sorts of fun events.  For the first time this  year, it was held in Tucson, AZ.  Each of the 11 Co-Ops, and several chapters are invited to have a table “on the row” to publicize it to those coming by.  We were the Row Representatives for our Co-Op in Gillette, WY in 2013 and again this year.  We had a busy time  as there were 1,952 attendees with 851 rigs parked at the Pima Co Fairgrounds.  I was able to participate in the daily line dance sessions and learned a new Irish line dance to bring back to the Roost.  Bandit participated in their pet parade and enjoyed the chance to visit with his friends in the fairgrounds dog park.

     The other major happening in March was reaching my Weight Watchers goal.   Many of you know that after I was placed on blood pressure medication in Spring, 2013, I decided I needed to once again do something about my weight.  I went back to Weight Watchers on May 20, in Show Low.  While there, I was very active in water aerobics five days a week.  I lost 43 pounds by the time we came back to the Roost.  I continued my meetings, stayed on plan, and started walking when we came back here in October.  Since then I’ve lost another 33 ½ pounds for a total of 76 ½ pounds lost in 10 months & 3 days.  Now I’m walking 3-5 miles almost every morning.  I’m sure looking forward to getting back in the water when we get back to Show Low.   Thanks to all my friends and family who encouraged me along the way.   The really tough part, as I know all too well, is maintaining the weight, but I’m hopeful continued meetings and exercise will do it.  I have several Weight Watcher buddies in both places and that helps a lot!!!

     Besides the events I mentioned above, Gary continued to participate in billiard tournaments and league with mixed success.  We also enjoyed dancing a couple times a month and even found a few other couples to join us.   We took a trip to Butterfly Wonderland and really enjoyed all their beauty.  

Our park also had another wild desert golf tournament where surprisingly I tied Gary for the most holes in one.  Different folks designed the various  holes and we all linked up randomly with others to play the course.  It was a great day ended with a campfire, hot dogs, and s’mores.  

We also attended a couple geocaching events and found this fellow guarding one of the caches.  He was spotted in plenty of time, since he was out sunning.  The ones I see never scare me, it’s the ones I don’t see that worry me. 

     Now we’re getting ready to head for Show Low on April 11th.  Please do not send any more mail to Casa Grande.  Our Show Low address is 1051 N. Central Ave.  Space #272,  Show Low, AZ 85901.  We’re looking forward to another great summer there.

     March 9th, was 10 years since the passing of Chris LeDoux, one of our favorite country singers from Wyoming.  Little did we know then, that a month later we would lose Robert.  It’s hard to believe it will be 10 years in April.  His children have grown so much with the older two boys becoming young college men and his daughter a high school Junior.   Robert also became a grandfather last summer.  Here is a picture of his grandson, William.  I know Robert’s busting his heavenly buttons! 

     We will be making a car trip to Utah and Wyoming mid-June.  Plans have come together for us to be able to attend and help with the Utah National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation, (NFFF) Golf Tournament , in Orem, UT.  We’ll head up to Evanston, WY the next day.  Along with Riki and Kevin, I will be flying to Annapolis, MD the end of June for the annual NFFF Survivor’s Conference.  I am again presenting a seminar on Laughter Yoga, we are presenting a joint session on Geocaching, and  Riki and Kevin are also presenting a session on preparing your kids for college.  We’ll be busy, but  looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones while there.

      We think you'll agree that it's been a fun and eventful winter.  If any of  you are in Arizona this summer, give us a call.   For now, we're dancing on down the road to Summer in Show Low, AZ.

       Hugs, Katy, Gary, and Bandit

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dancing in a Balloon, 2014

     I'm really not sure how to describe the Balloon Fiesta.  There really aren't words.  I'll fill you in on what we did, but then post several pictures to hopefully give you an idea of what it's all about.  We arrived at the Fiesta grounds on Tuesday, Sep 30.  It was about a 4 hour drive from Show Low.  The Boomers were all parked together, facing a very popular balloon landing site, about 1 mile north of the launch field.   The views of the balloons landing were awesome.
Our rig is in the corner.

The first week was mostly getting to know the grounds.   On Thursday, we all walked over to the launch field and attended a crew safety video.  Following that, we all received the coveted crew pass that gained us free access to all the launch field events.  Normally these cost $10 each in the mornings and $8 each for the evening events.    Mornings of course are the launches and competitions.  Evenings are the glows.
Laying the envelope out and starting the fan.
Opening the throat of the envelope for the fan.
Fan blowing cold air into balloon envelope to inflate.
Pilot Mike Liberti checking the balloon envelope.

Friday most of us met and followed the Liberti family to vacant lots in Rio Rancho, (northwest Albuquerque), where they were going to launch their 3 balloons.  This gave us an opportunity for hands on training and more explanations of how to assist in launching and later in landing.
Hands on to keep balloon on the ground.
Letting go!!!
We're Off!!!

The body of the balloon is called an envelope and it lays out flat on the ground.  Ropes connect it to the basket, which is on it's side at this point.  Then a very large fan is positioned by the basket and aimed at the balloon.  One person on either side of the throat, holds it open and the cold air blows into the balloon and starts to inflate it.  One person does nothing but control the fan,  All directions are given by the balloon pilot and crew chief.   One, two, or three people hold the crown line (a rope going from the top of the balloon to the ground.)  The crown is attached to the envelope with velcro strips all around the opening.  The pilot pulls this open when landing.   When the cold inflation is adequate and when given permission by a launch director (Zebra), the propane burners are lit and the balloon "goes hot."  The balloon rises into a vertical position and the basket goes upright as well.  The pilot will usually ask for "weight on" at this point and the crew lean onto the basket with their weight, so it doesn't take off before the pilot is ready.  Final checks are made, any passengers are loaded, and off they go.  Al the evening glows, everything stops here and the propane burners are lit intermittently to show off the balloons.  A regular balloon uses a crew of 5-7, but a large special shape balloon can require 20-25 people for a crew.  Crowd control is always part of crewing, since in Albuquerque, the public is allow right up  next to the balloons.

The following pictures are from Gary's flight.  He flew during one of the mass ascensions, so with over 500 balloons in the air the sights were amazing!!!
Zebra discussing take off with Pilot.

Launch field as they rose up.

Another balloon flying by.

Launch field from higher up.

Lots of other balloons up in the air.
I could print so many pictures, but this is really one instance where seeing is believing.  You can see why this is the most photographed even in the world.  The views are constantly changing as the balloons inflate and take off.  Then the sky is changing as the balloons move around it. 
Stagecoach and Dairy Cow Laid Out to Fly
Crowds and Balloons!
Zebras Getting Ready for Launches.
Dairy Cow taking a bite of Yoda.
Busy Bees
More special shapes inflating.
Dawn Patrol Getting Ready to Fly
Note shield on the firefighter's hat.

More & more balloons!!!
Firefighters flying their flag.

All in all, we  had a marvelous time.  The early mornings rising wasn't bad and the one day we took off from crewing, turned out to be a perfect day for the balloons to be landing all around our rig.   Even if you don't get us, you hear the shuttle bus on its many rounds and the burners on the balloons flying overhead or landing outside.  Then you don't want to be in bed!  For those of you who are you tube fans, check out the 2014 time lapse video.  You can see a two hour mass ascension in about two and a half minutes. 

Another fun adventure happened when friends Kathy and Chuck met us on the field and took us to "Tim's Place" for breakfast.  Tim had Down's Syndrome and has defied the odds, having his own business and serving delicious food and hugs.

We also visited the Petroglyph National Monument while in Albuquerque to get an earthcache on International Earthcache Day
A Geocache of course!
After leaving Albuquerque, we drove back to Show Low and spent one more week packing up for the summer.  Then it was down to Casa Grande, where we will spend  most of the winter.   We're looking forward to our winter friends arriving and all the park activities.  Since swimming is no longer a daily routine, we're doing daily morning walks of 1-3 miles.

We'd love to see anyone traveling in Arizona this winter, so give us a holler if you're close by, say within a couple hundred miles.  We're enjoying the new-to-us rig we got last year and viewing our beautiful desert.

I  hope you enjoyed our Dancing in a Balloon,
Hugs, Katy, Gary, and Bandit