Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dancing a Merry 2011 Christmas to All

     Fall started off with  a Verizon class on our new Thunderbolt smartphone.  It helped some, as did the printed manual I finally secured after many phone calls and a lot of begging.  Even though they say there are no such things anymore, we finally got a printed instruction manual!
     My Fall quilt class started up with interesting projects, including a twister pattern.  I was able to make a small wreath wall hanging just perfect for the 5th wheel.  I also finished some UFO's.  & started some new projects as well.
     Quilting took a back seat (I know, it's hard to believe), when See's Candy called and asked me to return to work for them during the Fall Holiday season.  Although I had only wanted to work about 3 days a week, it wound up being 4 days most weeks and a couple of 5 week days.  Fortunately, most of the shifts were only 4 hours.  The other good part for me (& bad for See's), was that they kept our well hidden location at the Casa Grande Mall the same, and because we're hard to find, we were very, very slow most of the season.  That meant I got to sit a lot, which was easier on my ankle, but hard on See's bottom line.   Things really didn't pick up until the last couple weeks & even then, we were much slower than the rest of the mall traffic. 
     Gary's pool team wound up taking fourth in their league.  There have been a few tournaments since then, and Gary continues to play at the Senior Center several mornings each week. 
     Our park, RoVer's Roost, celebrated it's 30th birthday on November 30, 2011.  A catered dinner was held with entertainment by the Bost Family afterward.  We are fortunate to still have a few of the original leaseholders here, so it's always fun to share in their memories of the beginnings.  As most of you know our park is the first Escapee's Co-Op park created.   There are now 11 Co-Ops around the country and Escapee's has since adopted a new method of long term leases, so no new Co-Ops are planned.  We're very grateful to all those who came before us when this park was created, as it's given us a great place for our winter home at an affordable rate, and most of all with awesome SKP friends who share our lifestyle.
     Being a Co-Op, we all contribute to keeping the park running smoothly.  This year Gary has chaired the appraisal committee, and as lots have turned over, he's learned a lot behind the scenes of this facet of the park.  I've been helping with the Election and Mailing Committee, and we've both been running the Friday Sales table, where we sell the RoVer's Roost tshirts, sweatshirts, etc.
      We also attended a couple geocaching events in Chandler, AZ/  One was on 11/11/11 and held to celebrate that occasion.  The other was a Hot Chocolate held by a couple who go all out with their decorating, using about 150,000 lights, all synchronized to music.  Of course they also had a geocache hidden there. 
     Unfortunately it is getting harder for me to dance, but Gary gamely supports me holding on to him.  I'm getting better at  maintaining rhythm while weight bearing on mostly one foot, but it's still a challenge.  coincidentally, renters on our neighboring lot came here especially for him to have an ankle replacement in Phoenix.  It's been just over a month and he is doing fantastic.  I'm keeping a close eye and learning all I can about the "inbone" appliance they used.  We're down to about 10 months til Medicare kicks in and hopefully that will me me next year at this time.
     A local church put on a Bethlehem walk, where everything was done in period costume and settings. It was a walk through the market in Bethlehem and a living nativity scene at the end.  It was beautiful and very well done.
     Sad news touched us this Fall as well, when we received word that Gary's second daughter Tori had passed away at her home in Portland, Oregon.  As of this writing we don't know the details or have the final reports.  There will be a celebration of her life on her birthday next summer.

     Here's a Christmas picture of Gary with 13 year old Rusty and Katy with 8 year old Spicy. We tried for one of the four of us, but getting the two dogs to smile at the same time proved impossible.  

   A Very Merry Christmas and Happy and Healthy New Year to all our friends and family.  We are beyond grateful for your friendship and caring support throughout this year and every year.  May you all receive many blessings in 2012.  We hope to see many of you this  next year.
With Hugs, Love, and still dancing........................
Katy, Gary, Rusty, and Spicy

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dancing in Southeast Arizona

     We've been back at the Roost for almost a month.  Once we vacuumed all the dust and dirt from the haboobs (huge dust storms), this past summer, we were able to settle in and enjoy being back to our winter home.  Gary's back to playing in his pool league and my quilt class started up again last week.  It looks like we'll have some fun projects to work on and it looks like we have good speakers lined up for our guild meetings.
     We decided to take our Class C and go on a mini-trip to explore a few places we haven't seen in southeastern Arizona.   Benson, AZ was our first stop for two nights.  We toured the Throne Room in Kartchner Caverns.  This is a "living cave" that was just discovered in 1974 and opened to the public on a very limited basis in the 1990's.  To enter you go through 2 sets of metal doors to minimize air flow into the cave and a misting process to limit the dust and lint brought in.  The cavern  maintains a 70 degree temperature and has extremely high humidity.
     One of the sights we saw was the tallest, most massive column in an AZ cave, Kubla Khan, at over 58 feet tall.  Soda straws are plentiful with the longest being over 20 feet.  Since these grow at a rate approximating 1/100th of an inch a year, it's really an impressive sight.  Gary and I both were lucky enough to have drops of water fall on us while we were in the cave.   These are called "cave kisses."
     No photographs are permitted in the cave.  This picture of a postcard is the best I could do, but it's really accurate.  They are really working to keep the cave protected and limit the impact.  Because it's been protected from the start, the formations are intact without the damage you see in other caves.  We hope to go back again to tour the other section of the cave.  The Big Room is closed to tours in the spring and summer, when the cave bats come in to roost, give birth to their young, and raise them til they're old enough to migrate further south for the winter.   They estimate as many as 1,000 bats return each year and the young range from 400 this year to as many as 1,400.

     The next day we drove to Bisbee, AZ, about 90 miles southeast of Tucson.  This is an old mining town, founded in 1880 and in the early 1900's was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco.   We took the Queen Mine tour, which we highly recommend if you're in the area.  We donned hard hats, coats, slickers, lanterns, and rode the same rail cars 1500 feet into the mine as the miners.  It was a cool 47 degrees where the miners worked.  We learned where and how they ate, most of the time skipping meals, as this was an opportunity to earn extra money by producing more product.  We even saw the sanitary car, pictured below.  This was introduced in 1916 and used until the mine closed in 1975.  This particular tunnel was also used for mine rescue training before being leased to the City of Bisbee for tours.  Following that we drove around the town, walked through some of the shops, and had lunch in the city park located in Brewery Gulch. 
          We drove through Tombstone on our way to and from Bisbee.  We had visited Tombstone in 2002, but there's always more to see and this time we were able to tour the local newspaper museum.  The paper is called the Epitaph, because, "No Tombstone is complete without its Epitaph."  There you can read original news from the 1880's, including reports of the 1881 gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Tombstone burning, and Geronimo's surrender.  We also went through the very small Wyatt Earp  home.  It consisted of only two small rooms and didn't include a kitchen nor a bathroom.  Historians believe they ate at brother Virgil's house and of course would have had the traditional outhouse.  The house has been restored and is an art gallery today.

      We drove on to the town of Wilcox, AZ. where we stayed at their very nice 28 site Elks Lodge campground.  While there we enjoyed touring the Marty Robbins and Rex Allen museums.  Of course while walking through those museums, their songs were playing in the background, making it hard to leave.  One of the fun exhibits was these pair of golfing boots worn by Rex Allen.
      While Gary doesn't plan on ordering a pair, he did find time to play the Wilcox golf course and was pleased to shoot a 74 on their par 72 course.  (note his score was one UNDER his age!)

     The last place we planned on visiting was Chiricahua National Monument.  Unfortunately the third largest fire in Arizona history burned much of this area last summer.  The visitor center and campground were open and the road up to the campground.  Closed was the eight mile scenic drive beyond that.  The guardrails had melted and the wooden posts burned in the fire.  They were working on replacing them, but the narrow roads didn't allow for traffic along with the heavy equipment needed to do the work.  This gives us a good reason to return to see this "Wonderland of Rocks" up close.

        As usual, we were looking for geocaches as we went and found 27 on this trip to bring our total to 1,952.  The last few caches took us to the town of Cochise, AZ.  The Cochise Hotel was built in 1882 and on the Overland Stage route.  If not for the caches, we would not have detoured to find this gem.

      After five fun filled days, we headed back to the Roost.  It was a great diversion and leaves no doubt there is much more out there for us to discover and learn about.

      We expect to remain in Arizona until next Spring, including our annual trip to Quartzsite and the fun-filled SKP rallies we enjoy attending there.  Our address for the next several months will be the same as the past:  3241 S.  Montgomery Road,  Casa Grande, AZ 82193.  If you find yourself traveling to Phoenix or Tucson, please give us a call.  We're centrally located and can meet you in either location. 
     Hugs, Katy, Gary, Rusty and Spicy  all Dancing on Down the Road..............................

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dancing toward the Roost

     We left Evanston on 9/15, for Nephi, Ut, where we parked outside Gary’s cousins, Doyle and Ann.  We enjoyed visiting with them, as we prepared for our Fall adventure heading south to Arizona.  The next day we drove on to Great Basin National Park, in Nevada.  This is one of America’s least visited National Parks, located in eastern Nevada, just across the border from Utah.  We easily found a nice camp spot, selecting a handicap spot that had a beautiful level patio.  My ankle really appreciated that and Rusty loved the cement.  We found out the campgrounds fill up most nights, so we were glad we had arrived about 1:30 in the afternoon.  The weather also turned nasty right after we arrived and we waited a couple hours for the rain to subside before we set up our satellite. 
     The next day was all sunshine, with a fresh coating of snow on  Wheeler Peak at 13,063 feet.  We drove up to the trailhead at 10,000 feet and although we started for the Bristlecone Pines, Katy only got a short distance before she realized that wasn’t going to happen.  We forced ourselves to be content with the short and level nature trail through the forest, leaving longer more rugged hikes for the future, with a more reliable ankle.  It wasn’t short on beauty though and we enjoyed the snow and glacier through binoculars while also enjoying the sunshine.
         That evening we attended a great star show, put on by one of the  Dark Rangers of the park.  He had a terrific telescope and we viewed several of the more magnificent sights in the amazing dark skies.  We started with  Alberia, a double star (one blue and one gold), located at the tail of the Swan.  Next we saw the Hercules star cluster, with about a half million stars in the viewfinder.  That was followed by a great view of Jupiter rising, where we could see four of her moons and the gas bands around the planet as well.  The Milky Way was extra bright, as we were looking through the galactic core of our galaxy and then viewed the same part of Andromeda, our nearest galaxy neighbor.  About then, the moon rose, a beautiful sight in itself, and the telescope was trained on it.  As we looked at the terminator,  (line where the dark side meets the light side of the moon), we could see many of the craters and seas on the moon.   It was one of the best telescope viewing treats we’ve had.
    Sunday morning we set out to explore the underside of the park by touring the famous Lehman Caves.  We took the long tour and saw all areas open to the public.  Despite the plural name, it’s a single cavern of limestone and marble.  It is one of the region’s most profusely decorated caves.  We saw the usual speleothems, but also saw the shields that Lehman Caves is famous for.  These are two roughly circular plates that are fastened like flattened clam shells, often with stalactites and draperies hanging from their lower plate.   One interesting spot in the cave, was the lodge room, where the Ely Elks lodge used to hold meetings.  Dances were also help there in the 20’s during the speakeasy era.  It was fun to imagine those goings on in so primitive a place.
     In addition to all the sights, we found three geocaches in the park.  Two were earth caches, which focus on significant and/or unusual geologic sites.  We enjoy the learning required in completing those, as we usually have to do a little research to answer the questions they pose.  The other cache was located at an alien bus stop, a sign of  things to come as we head next to the Extraterrestrial Highway to do some serious geocaching.
     We found a great boondocking spot at Ash Springs.  It was mentioned in the SKP’s Days End Directory.   There are developed Hot Springs there and although the fenced area with restrooms and picnic tables is posted no camping or overnight stays, there was a cattle guard that lead through the fence.  There were no signs on that side, and we parked there.  We stayed 3 nights and thoroughly enjoyed swimming in the Springs after each dusty day of caching on the ET trail. 
      Nevada’s highway 375 was officially designated the Extraterrestrial Highway by the state legislature in 1965.  A power trail cache series was placed there with 1000 caches in a 100 mile stretch.  Due to traffic concerns with snowplows this series was disabled last year.  It was replaced with new caches added in August of this year.  There are now about 1500 caches along this stretch of highway.  We never intended to do the whole thing at once and had no idea how many we would wind up with, as this was our first time on a trail of this magnitude.  The first day we cached for 7 ½ hours and got 231 caches on the trail and even found one where we were staying on our return.  The second day we cached for 8 hours and found 327 caches on the ET trail and the Area 51 mailbox caches as well.
     I must mention the “Little Al E Inn”   at Rachel, Nevada;  It’s in the southern third of the trail and has a great menu.  We reached there about 9am the second day.  The two gals working were sitting outside.  When   they saw our dogs, they offered to hold their leashes while we went inside to use the restrooms.  Gary had forgotten his sunglasses that morning and when we asked if they had any for sale, they said no, but one of the gals went to her truck and found a pair for Gary to use.  We returned them about 4 that afternoon when we returned for their famous Alien burgers on our way home to the Springs.  All in all, it was a fun adventure and brought our cache total to 1900.
     Our next stop was at the home of friends in Kingman, AZ.  Gary had been nervous about crossing the new bridge at Hoover Dam, but as he’d been told we were over it almost without realizing it.  We wound up staying in Kingman for 5 nights.  We visited with some friends from Evanston and Gary got a new pool cue while there.  Of course then he had to try it out, so managed to find two tournaments while we were there.  (Placed 6th and 5th out of about 20 in each tournament)
     The last stop we made was at North Ranch, a SKP park just north of Wickenburg, AZ.  We’re still using coupons from our working days with Escapees, so we can stay for free with full hookups.  We spent three nights, and found 10 new geocaches in the area.  We also drove up to go through the Shrine of St. Joseph, in Yarnell, an awesome recreation of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection. 
     We will arrive back at RoVer's Roost tomorrow, 30Sep.  A little early, but Gary is eager to rejoin his pool league.  My quilt class starts on the 18th and I have a couple orders to get done before then.  We'll be glad to be back, although it's still going to be a little warm for the next few weeks.  All in all, our littlest rolling house, the Class C we bought last Fall, worked very well for us this summer.  It was easier setting up and traveling with the Class C and we loved having the car for running around and geocaching.  
     Dancing toward the Roost.............................
     Hugs, Katy, Gary, Rusty and Spicy   

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dancing and Pooling in Evanston, Wyoming

        This was the first summer in nine years that Gary and I haven't worked managing campgrounds.  We enjoyed ourselves attending many things we were unable to, while working.   Evanston, Wyoming is a very active town and there were many local festivals we were able to attend on the weekends.  This included rodeos, Senior Center bar-b-ques at the park, a Brewfest, the Railroad Roundhouse Festival, Uinta County Fair activities, and parades. Of course there were also get-togethers with old friends.
        Most of our summer revolved around pool of some sort.  Gary enjoyed many mornings playing pool at the local Senior Center and several tournaments as well.  He had several 2nds and 3rds, along with a couple 1st places in singles and doubles.  While he was playing pool, I was in the pool most mornings.  The local Rec Center has a wonderful pool and hot tub.  There was a regular Senior Water Aerobics class on Mon, Wed, & Fri mornings and we spent a fun 4 weeks taking Water Yoga on Tue and Thur.  After our teacher left for the summer, we got permission for several of us to continue with self-guided water yoga sessions.  Being a small town, both the Senior Center and the Rec Center are located 1-2 miles from where we were parked at Riki's house.   All that time in the pool was great exercise and wonderful for my ankle.
          We didn't forsake the forest completely, as we met Gary's sister Pam and her family for a week of camping in our old campground both in July and August.  The late winter snows in Wyoming and Utah meant that the flooding in the campgrounds lasted into the middle of July.  Pam always reserves sites along the banks of the Bear River and these sites still had water sitting in them, so we all gathered in one of the great group sites.  By our week in August things were back to normal.  We watched for meteors, tried out new recipes, and just generally enjoyed relaxing in the Forest.  It was so nice with Gary not having to leave to check other campgrounds twice a day, and in case you were wondering, we didn't miss cleaning the restrooms or fire pits one little bit!
      We spent a couple weeks house and dog sitting this summer.  Gary and our daughter Riki's two oldest kids shoveled out and leveled an area on the side of their house, for us to park.  Now we're off the street, but have electricity and water.  We have to move to dump every two weeks, but with the Class C, that's easy to do and the whole moving and dumping process takes us less than an hour.  We've enjoyed being so close to their family with 3 of the grandkids.  The other 3 grandkids and our daughter-in-law, Anna live about three blocks away, so we're close by to both families.
           I was also able to take a Quilt class this summer and was even talked into teaching a class on a spiral table runner.  I also joined a group of quilters who get together and sew on some evenings or afternoons.  It was fun and I sure enjoyed getting to know another great group of gals.  Quilters have to be some of the friendliest people around, along with RVers of course.
           We were able to coordinate a family get-together with four of Gary's kids in Salt Lake this summer.  Our little miracle grandbaby, Bowdie, continues to grow and is a very busy two year old now.  It's hard to believe he was just over one pound when he was born.,  Here he is with a very proud dad.  It was the first time in many years that Gary's, daughter Sharee and her family were able to join us.  They relocated back to Salt Lake this Spring, after living in Alaska for about 20 years.  What fun seeing how all those grandchildren had grown and catching up with the kids.  Riki had a large family bar-b-que over Labor Day weekend (Cowboy Days in Evanston).  Except for Robert's oldest, Cory, being away at college already, it was fun having everyone together.

           Our other wonderful adventure this summer was attending the 51st Escapee Escapade in Gillette, WY.  We had missed the first one in WY, back in 2008, when we were working, so were excited to get to this one.  We stopped on the way to visit friends and spend the night in Bar Nunn, WY and then Gillette before we checked in.  We even got to root for Evanston at an away high school football game.  For those not familiar with Wyoming,  While two towns in the same state sound close, Evanston & Gillette are in opposite corners of the state, about 475 miles apart.  That means we got to see a lot of the state we love, while traveling.  We were on the "Row" for the Wash-Pan chapter (Eastern WA & Panhandle of ID) and promoted them and their upcoming rallies.  I also attended several seminars having to do with Geeky stuff on the internet and a couple craft classes, beading a bracelet and making earrings.  The nightly entertainment was great and of course visiting old friends and making new ones is always the best part.  There were quite a few Roosters there (folks from RoVer's Roost - our winter home), as you can see in this picture.
         Summer in Evanston concluded with Robert's name being added to the Bear River Memorial Grove in Evanston.   This is a serene area designed to memorialize individudals who have enjoyed, been active, or had an interest in outdoor recreation and the Evanston Community.   The Fire Department approached us early in the summer, asking permission to do this and of course, we said yes.  We also helped once again with the Demolition Derby, the major fund raiser for the Evanston Volunteer Fire Department.  We've continued to do this in Robert's name, as a way of carrying his legacy forward.  It's one of those things we know he would want us to do.
        Our plans as we get ready to leave include visiting Great Basin National Park, geocaching a portion of  the Extraterrestrial Highway in Nevada, visiting friends in Kingman, AZ, and a brief stay at North Ranch, outside Wickenburg, AZ .  Our littlest rolling house (Class C), has worked well for us this summer and we've enjoyed having the car for geocaching and day trips. Now as the nights in Wyoming get nippier (a touch of  frost a couple times), and daytime temps cool to the high 60's and low 70's, it's time to head further South.
      One of the things I learned in a Geeks seminar at Escapade was how to add the gadget that will let you sign up to be notified directly by email when I post a new blog.  It's at the top right side of the blog, so feel free to use this.  Eventually, I'll probably do away with separate email notifications.  Take care everyone and we hope to see you on down the road.
     Hugs, Katy and Gary,  (Rusty and Spicy too, of course)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dancing thru CO & UT into Wyoming

      When we left the Show Low area, we headed to Canyon de Chelly.  We'd been there 7 years ago during the winter when it was quite cold, but we fondly remembered the beautiful campground.  It was a pretty as we remembered and still free, although the Navajo Tribe and NPS are working together to make some changes.  We were told the paperwork was on the desk of the tribal president, just waiting for a signature.  The expected charge we were told will be $10/night.  There are no hook ups, but it is a beautiful and peaceful park.  There is free Wifi at the Lodge, only 1/4 mile away.  We didn't have enough phone service to use my Verizon port, so that was handy.  The campground also was a great place for riding my bike and I soon worked out a 4 mile route that I rode each morning for the six days we were there.
      There are two drives to both the South and North Rims, where you can view ruins.  We took those and also attended several ranger lead programs to learn more about the area, people, plants, etc.  It remains a very beautiful and spiritual place.  The photo below  is of Spider Rock, where one legend has it that Spider Woman was born and taught the Navajos to weave. Of course there's also a geocache there.  Another sure thing was enjoying Navajo tacos while there.
     From there we drove to Cortez, Colorado, where we stayed at their  Elks Lodge, conveniently located on the Conquistador Country Club and Golf Course.  Gary managed to get in two rounds there and another round at a city course.  We also visited the Cortez Cultural Center for a program of Indian Dances and a lecture on the history of the Hogan and it's uses today.
     The night we arrived I posted our location there on Facebook and soon we got an email from fellow Roosters (friends who also have a lot at our RV park in AZ), Nora and Dennis Doty, who were in Durango, about 50 miles west.  We communicated and guess who pulled in the next morning?  We also connected in Mesa Verde and it was fun having them as neighbors to for us both to share our adventures with each evening.
     About 15 years ago we took a quick day trip to Mesa Verde and always wanted to return.  This time we thoroughly explored the park and took Ranger led tours through Cliff Palace (pictured below),  and Long House (climbing up the ladders to get in the upper ruins), the two largest cliff dwellings.   It was fun climbing the ladders to explore and be able to walk through the ruins.  We also saw many other cliff dwellings on our drives and on the tram ride on Wetherill Mesa. 

     We took one day to visit old friends, Matt and Lori Volk now living outside Durango.  I even managed to visit a couple quilt shops.  Of course we also went geocaching along the way and found one of the best we'd seen so far.  It was called, "Have you seen the Muffler Man?"  Obviously done by someone with a lot of time on his hands, it was at least an acre of land around a small pond with all sorts of human and animal figures all made of mufflers and painted white.  There were many funny sayings and signs as well as a small herd of goats following us around.  I've put a couple pictures of them in here, but can't possibly convey all the ingenuity and humor they held.

      We made a day tour to Apache Ruins National Monument in Apache, NM.  This was one of the largest sites found, with over 400 rooms (pictured below).  We passed Shiprock, a famous landmark for the pioneers and found several geocaches along the way.  There were about six in a stretch dedicated to all the local firefighters and EMTs.  Of course those had special meaning to us. 

     The last exciting day trip we made was driving the famed San Juan Skyway, rightly called the, "most beautiful drive in America."  It was 236 miles in length, starting in Cortez, and going through Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Ridgway, Telluride, Rico and back to Cortez.  There is one section called the Million Dollar Highway.  We heard many stories about how it got its name, from the cost to build, the amount of ore left in the road fill, or the saying of many when they finished the drive, "I wouldn't do that again for a million dollars."   There are grades up to 8% with 155 curves along this stretch and very few guard rails, mostly because there isn't room for them.  However, contrary to what we'd heard, there is a white line on the the side all the way.  We also saw many 14,000 foot peaks and were high enough (11,000+ feet),  to see snow patches on the ground.  Driving into Telluride, we could see Bridal Veil Falls, the highest falls (365 feet) in CO.
     The temperature started going up into the 90's and we decided to move further north, so we headed for Price, UT, where we stayed at another Elks Lodge.  The main thing we wanted to see there was Nine Mile Canyon, called the world's longest art gallery by some.  The 9 mile is a misnomer, as it is actually about 40 miles long.  It was mapped using a nine mile transect (not sure what that is) and the name stuck.  There are pictographs and petroglyphs galore along the rocks.  Most very old, although some recent folks have attempted to add theirs.  Being a dirt road has helped keep the crowds down.  It was well worth the side trip if you like rock art and we were glad we'd taken the time to do it.

     Once again the 90 degree temps caught up with  us and we knew of one cool place we could go to enjoy days in the 70's and nights in the 40's - EVANSTON, WY!!!  We left a day early (Gary even gave up his golf game there, however I'm sure he'll make it up) and arrived here on June 26th.  We'll spend the next couple months visiting with kids, grandkids, old friends, and maybe even a few great-grandkids.  Make sure and let us know if you're in the neighborhood of southwest Wyoming or Salt Lake City, UT (only 75 miles away).  No, we don't miss the campground hosting and yes, we're having fun!
     Dancing through a Wyoming summer...................
     Hugs, Katy, Gary, Rusty, and Spicy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dancing in the White Mountains of Arizona

         While we always enjoy the Roost, we may have stayed a little long as we got into some triple digit days.  Although those who brave the REAL summer heat kept assuring us this wasn’t bad, “Wait until it’s 120.”  It was plenty warm for us.  Gary did get to finish his pool league.  In his last 3 pool tournaments, he finished 2nd, 1st, and 2nd.           We left Casa Grande on June 1st, heading up into the White Mountains on top of the Mogollion rim.  This is a dramatic 200 mile long uplift that splits Arizona into two separate regions from the mountains of the north to the basins and deserts of the rest of the state.  The low and mid 80’s felt wonderful and night time temps of high 40’s to 50’s  were great. 
         We were going to stay at the Elk’s in Show Low, but found they no longer allow boondocking, so we sent to Scott’s Reservoir, in Pinetop-Lakeside  for  five days.  It was a great spot and free too.  We found it through the Escapee Day’s End listings.  There were two wildfires concerning to us while we were there and we checked with the ranger station a few times, giving them our phone number in case we needed to evacuate.  One was about an hour east of us and the other about two hours west of us.  We could see the smoke rising from the one to the east each day and with strong winds, it was always a concern.

        There is an interesting story as to how Show Low got it’s name.  Two fellows had bought a 100,000 acre ranch together.  After a while it became obvious the ranch could not support two families so they decided to play a game of cards to determine who would get the ranch.  In 1885, they played 7-up all night, with one fellow only needing 1 point to win.  He was sitting with a 3 and told the other fellow to “show low” to win.  He turned up the deuce of clubs and won the ranch.  The main street thru town  is called “Deuce of Clubs” and the town is called “Show Low” today.  Of course there’s a geocache here at this statue telling the history.  

        We drove down to Fort Apache, where Gary could visit scenes from old Western movies.  The Fort was interesting with their museum and the old houses.  The Army Post was established in 1870 and active until 1922.  Since then it has been home to Theodore Roosevelt  Indian Boarding School.  We then drove 4 miles west to Kinishba Indian Ruins.  This site is a National Historic Landmark that was rescued and rebuilt in the 1930’s and has now fallen into ruins again.  It contains the remains of a village built and occupied by ancestors of  the Hopi and Zuni people from 1200 to 1400 AD.  The village was made up of two main room blocks, one of which stood three stories tall.  Kinishba remains a sacred site for Apache and Pueblo people today.

         We were enjoying the area so much, we moved into a Forest Service campground , Lakeside, for a few more days.  Pinetop-Lakeside is located in the largest contiguous stand of Ponderosa Pine in the world, at an elevation of 7,200 feet.  There are over 50  natural lakes and reservoirs.  After a week here, the Wallow fire was about 40 miles east of us and still 0% contained. It is fast growing toward being the largest in AZ history.  Evacuees from the fire area  are coming to centers set up at the schools here and we have several displaced campground hosts and some evacuees at this park. Smoke continues to rise to the east of us.

         One of the best ways to explore a new area is through Geocaching and Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside were no exception.  We found 25 caches while there, including 7 in a city park series that took us to all the city parks.  One of the parks held their Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial, Show Low having also lost a firefighter in 2005.  Another geocache took us past the Senior Center and Gary found their pool schedule, so he could go play one day.  We drove past the Bison Golf  Club looking for a geocache, so of course Gary stopped and set up a golf date.  It was a good course and he was happy to shoot a 76.   
         We visited with friends from the Roost, Frank and Suzanne, that have a summer place here and went to Show Low Days with them.  Around 2002, I met a really neat gal online through the Escapees Handcrafters Bof.  Although we had never met, we kept in touch through emails every since.  Joyce and her husband, Don, have a summer trailer in Show Low and invited us for lunch one afternoon.  It was great getting to meet them and we chatted pretty steadily for several hours. 
         In my earlier blogs, I forgot to mention my acquiring a Nook Color a couple months ago.  I love it and it’s great to be able to check library books out from the Greater Phoenix Digital library while traveling and a lot easier than carrying a lot of books.  I’ve also downloaded several free books and subscribed to a couple magazines.  They also have apps now and I’ve downloaded a few games.  (Beware anyone considering Angry Birds - it’s addicting!!!)   There are others that will be good, but I need to wait until I can trade my Verizon USB Air for a 5spot or mifi card.  Then I’ll have the wifi that they require to run. 
         Next we’ll be dancing toward Canyon de Chelly in the northeastern corner of Arizona………….…
Hugs, Katy, Gary, Rusty and Spicy too!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dancing in the Heat..........

   Yes, the heat is on!  While most of May has been great with temps in the high 70’s and 80’s, we’ve had some 90’s too and the air conditioner is starting to run more.  From the weather reports we hear, I know  most of you would love the heat, but try as we might to send it your way, it doesn’t seem to work.  With the nice weather and high gas prices, we revamped our summer plans and decided to stay at the Roost a little longer. 
    I’d always wanted to stay until May and see the Saguaro’s bloom,.  This was the year!   They are awesome to see, as the buds seem to appear overnight out of nowhere.   They first bloom when they are from 6-12 feet tall, about 35 to 70 years old.  The buds open between 10pm and midnight, only to close by late afternoon and never to open again.  Since I’m riding my bike every morning, it’s always exciting to check them out and see the new blooms from the night before.  Each arm may  have several dozen flowers.   The first one started budding the end of April and there are now 4 large Saguaro’s with blooms in various stages throughout the park.   The prickly pair are also blooming their bright flowers. The rest of the desert hasn’t had many wildflowers this  year.

         April 18th marked 6 years since we lost Robert.  We decided to take flowers to the Hall of Flame in Phoenix to recognize the day.  Besides one of the world‘s largest collection of firefighting vehicles, they have a Hall of Heroes that lists all the firefighter‘s who gave their lives in the line of duty.  Their curator was very nice, coming down to talk with us, assist with pictures, and tell us how honored they were to have Robert included in their Hall..  He really made us feel special and so proud to be there.  It was the perfect thing to do that day. 

\    Afterwards, we  had a picnic lunch at the park and found a few geocaches, all things Robert would appreciate.  While at the park, we noticed a few caches that were too far for me to walk on my ankle and made plans to come back up with our bikes.  We had just ordered  a bike rack to fit over the spare tire on either the motor home or our Honda CRV.  Since I’m no longer able to walk far and running is out of the question, I’ve been riding my bike about 4 miles a day.  We’re looking forward to having our son-in-law go though  it and redo the gears when we get to WY.  Until then, Gary has it locked into the first gear and it rides fine there.  At least it’s exercise and that feels good. 
    We went back to the park with our bikes a couple weeks later to get the caches we had missed.  We also stopped at Tempe Town Lake and rode our bikes along side their waterway, while finding more caches.  I included a picture of Gary sitting on the wall at the lake.  The bike rack worked great, so we’re looking forward to having the bikes with us this summer.

    We’ve talked with folks who will be up at our old campgrounds and right now the concerns are for the flooding everyone is expecting.   The snow is still really deep there, so opening dates are very uncertain.   I’m sure it’s difficult for those trying to plan campground openings, a guessing game this year.

    While my quilting has ended for the year, Gary continues to play pool.  After a dry spell, he's taken a 2nd and 1st in the last two tournaments he played in.  His pool league ends the 31st of May, and as of now, we plan on leaving the next day for Show Low, AZ.  It’s in the mountains and is usually about 20 degrees cooler than our area.  Temps will probably be in the triple digits by then, so it will feel good.  We’ll stay at an Elks lodge there and then go on to Canyon de Chelly, on of our favorite spots from a few years ago.  From there we’ll head through the four corners and into Cortez, CO, to another Elks. We want to revisit Mesa Verde National Park, some of the other National Monuments in Southwestern CO, and the Durango area.  Then we’ll head north thru Utah toward Wyoming.  We’re looking forward to a relaxing summer with family and old friends in UT and WY.    A quick picture of Spicy dreaming of chipmunks in the forest.
     We'll eventually wind up at our daughter's, Riki's so any mail can be sent to us there at:
401 Twin Ridge Ave.
Evanston, WY, 82930

Dancing north toward cooler temps……………………………
Hugs, Katy, Gary, Rusty and Spicy

Monday, April 4, 2011

Superstition Mountains

     We spent the first part of March enjoying the last of the winter activities at our park.  It's always a little sad as people start leaving for the summer, but fun to share plans as well.  A little different for us this year as we decide where we'll be traveling instead of working.  It looks like it will be the Northwest for early summer and then into Wyoming for August and early September. 
     For dancing we went back to Fiesta Grande, a large (800+ sites) RV park in town that has live bands most Friday nights.  Their dances are open to the public, so we try to go at least twice a month.  Besides a really good country one man band and singer the first time we went in March, the second time was a fifties group.  What memories those great songs brought back as we danced to most of them.
     We took a mini trip to our first Boomer's Rally at Lost Dutchman State Park, just outside of Apache Junction, AZ.  The Boomers are a special interest (BOF) group of Escapees that embrace this lifestyle and enjoy a variety of activities such as hiking, biking, birding, geocaching, golfing, dancing, etc. Steve and Pam, from our park, encouraged us to attend. Their gatherings are called Boomerangs and this was a mini-rang with 12 rigs.  The first evening was a Z-circle, basically a get-to-know-each-other gathering in 3 rigs.  Couples went to another rig every 45 minutes and the attendance varied, so you spent time with 3-4 different couples in each rig.  It was a great start and a good way for us to meet the others.
      Pam and Steve volunteer at this State Park every year and really know the area very well.  They led a couple different hikes over the 5 days that we had to pass on (darn arthritis), but we found other things to do.
On our way to a night geocache, Gary drove over a rattlesnake crossing the road.  The next car confirmed it was still moving and it was gone when we drove back.  A good way to see one, is from the car.  We had a closer encounter a couple days later when we were sitting outside our neighbor's rig.  We left to go back to our rig & their small dog started staring under their rig and growling.  When they looked, they spotted a rattler coiled and ready to strike.  Needless to say, they grabbed the dog in a hurry and got out of the way as the snake crawled back to the desert.  From their pictures they estimated it was 4 feet long. 
      A group of us geocached to Tortilla Flats, an old ghost town area that has a fantastic restaurant and a band playing on the patio from noon-4 each day.   Here we are celebrating  geocache find #1200!!!

The scenery there is fantastic as we drove on up to Canyon Lake.  This is a picture I took when we were there 3 years ago. 

     The next day while others were hiking we went to Goldfield Ghost Town, just down the road from the park.  There were several interesting shops and a really good museum about the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine.  A miner by the name of Jacob Waltz had supposedly mined gold in the Superstition Mountains.  When he was dying he told the location and drew a map, but it has  never been found.  Gary was especially interested as his Dad had done some gold  mining.  They  had a wall of pictures of miners who had spent several years looking in the Superstition Mountains for the lost mine, and Gary knew if they had lived in the area, his Dad would have been there.   Even today people come and look and unfortunately some die while searching.
     We bought three small cactus back to plant close to our lot and also some delicious peach salsa.  It was a fun and interesting town with a lot of history.  This is a picture looking up at the church at the end of the street. While the buildings have all been restored, they are built on the foundations of the old town.

      Of course Gary and Steve found a pool tournament for one evening.  They were really glad they entered after placing 1st and 4th respectively.  Unfortunately, they drew each other for their first match.
     Another evening we all went to Organ Stop Pizza for great organ music and good food!   Organ Stop is home of the world's largest Wurlitzer Organ, with nearly 6000 pipes.  The building housing it was built around it with 43 foot ceilings. They have an 8000 lb rotating hydraulic elevator to lift the console and organist. 
     A wonderful pot luck was held the last evening.  Temps warmed up to the 90's the last couple days after 3 great days of 80's.   Evenings were in the 50's so it made for great stargazing and evening fires.  Pam did a super star program and we all learned a little more about the sky at night.  We even spotted a satellite orbiting through the big dipper.   The last evening we all took couple pictures as the sun set on the Superstitions.

     The 1st of April we headed back to RoVer's Roost in Casa Grande.  As of now we plan on leaving sometime in May.  Usually we have to leave before the cacti are blooming or just as they start.  There are lots of buds and we look forward to watching them open.  Hopefully I'll have pictures to send next time.
Dancing on down the road in hotter weather.....................       Hugs, Katy, Gary, Rusty, and Spicy

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Missions and Missiles

     I know these are an unlikely duo, but our continued exploration of Arizona led us to these sites in early March.  A day trip started with a drive to the Titan Missile Museum in Sahuarita, AZ.  The Titan II missile was the largest missile ever built by the US and it was really huge.  We looked down at it from above ground and then walked or took an elevator down to the underground silo.  There we visited the launch control center and experience a simulated launch.  At one time 54 Titan II missiles were in place, but after the last site was deactivated in 1987,  this remains as the only site left.  There are a variety of tours available with many given by former Air Force Missileers.  You can even make reservations to spend the night in the crew's quarters, for $500.00 a person.  The Titan II was a last resort missile and intended only to be used for retalitory strikes.

     Next we headed further south of Tuscon to Tubac and the remains of the mission church San Jose de Tumacacori.  Only a portion remains standing today.  The mission was built by Jesuits in the early 1700's and then after they were expelled from New Spain (as it was called then), Fanciscans were assigned to the mission.  In the early 1770's they redecorated the church and around 1800 started building a larger church, but stopped due to lack of funds.  The occupation of the area was dependent on Indian attacks and the war with Mexico.  Following the Gadsden Purchase in 1853 the site became part of the United States.  Tumacacori was established as a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. 

      Our last stop of the day was north to the beautiful San Xavier Del Bac Mission, built in 1783.  It is known as the White Dove of the Desert and is located in the center of a Papago Indian settlement along the banks of the Santa Cruz River, just 9 miles southwest of Tucson.   It is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona. 

     The church's interior is filled with wonderful original statuary and mural paintings.  

     It was a great day and one that left us filled with awe at the structures we had seen, one capable of such massive destruction and the other two giving such magnificent inspiration.  
     Dancing on down the Arizona roads.......................Katy, Gary, Rusty and Spicy


Friday, March 18, 2011

Dancing in Jan & Feb, 2011

     Gary spent many hours getting the Warrior ready for our first extended trip.  We left for Yuma on 1/12 and spent 6 days in the KOFA C0-Op, enjoying their swimming pool and  hot tub.  There was a pool tournament about an hour after we arrive, so Gary rushed over in time and won it.  The next evening was bingo.  Gary & I each won a pot and then I won blackout.  It wasn't a lot, but paid for our stay there.  Did I mention that at that point, they asked when we were leaving? 
     Of course we had to do some geocaching.  We did a portion of the lightpole series in the desert to test out our Honda's all wheel drive.  We got into some really soft sand and it did great!  We also found 40 caches, our best day ever. 
     On the 18th we headed for Quartzsite to join a  million other RVers.  We parked in our usual area on Plomosa Road, about 5 miles north of town.  We attended two SKP Rallies while there, Chapter 28-Big Sky (WY, MT, & ID) and Chapter 39-Washpan (Eastern WA and the panhandle of ID).  The weather was the best we'd ever had in Quartzsite, with only 2 days of cold and winds.  We also had friends from Wisconsin over to help us root for the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Championship.  (Guess it worked!)  
     On the 29th we moved across the road and a  mile west to the site for the SKP Geocaching Rally.  It was another great even with lots of old friends and some new ones made.  Of course while we were in Quartzsite we had to do some shopping at the Big Tent and other places.  By the time we'd left, we had sure done our part to make Quartzsite green.  Among other things, we got a towbar and base plate for towing the Honda (I drove it, following Gary for this trip.), a fantastic fan for the Warrior, and extra satellite dish for the Warrior.

     We came back to RoVer's Roost, by way of Yuma, to have our solar, inverter, generator system reviewed and brought up to par.  This should really help with getting the most out of our system.  Of course any trip on I-10 between Casa Grande and Yuma involved a stop at Dateland for shakes.  Overall we had a great 3+ weeks and the Warrior worked fine for a smaller home on wheels.  Rusty adapted and didn't cry like he had the first night out.  The dogs were sure glad to see the 5th wheel when we got home.
     SuperBowl Sunday, we had a party at the clubhouse with most of the rooters being for Green Bay.  I brought a bratwurst stew for good luck and once again, it worked. 
     Right after our February Follies, a Texas Hold 'em Tournament was held at the park.  Lessons were available for those who wanted them.  I attended, learned a lot, and even watched some poker on TV for a few nights.  With 22 entries, there were about 8 gals.  Surprisingly, I was the last Gal left (4th overall), and Gary won.  We were each awarded coveted bracelets (bought at the dollar store, I think),  just like the world series of poker.  Don't think we'll take it any further though, I was a nervous wreck!
     I also went to Bear Cabin in Show Low, AZ for a four day Quilt Camp.  It was wonderful with 11 quilters there.  I had some fun projects and it was fun being looking outside at snow while quilting.  Other than the first night, all meals were prepared for us, so it was a real vacation. 

     A reminder that we'll be getting our mail here at the Roost in Casa Grande through at least April.  After that, we'll be traveling and mail will be forwarded to us from our regular South Dakota address.  If you have time, please let me know how you like this new format and the pictures.  I added one of our fantastic Arizona sunsets.  This is the view from our front door, with Tabletop (climbed 2 years ago) in the distance.

     Dancing thru Jan and Feb, toward Spring............................ Hugs, Katy, Gary, Rusty, and Spicy


Dancing thru Winter in the Desert 2010-11

In trying to stay current in the rapidly changing techno world (impossible, i know, but we can try), we're going to try a blog instead of travelogs. I think it will be simpler to send one with short bits of info every couple weeks or so, instead of a long travelog every 3-4 months. At least that's the theory.
We had a really nice holiday season with big potluck dinners in our clubhouse. Over 80 people attended both events. In addition to the usual activities and parties we celebrated New Year's at 10pm (that's Midnight in New York), with a dance and watching the ball drop in Times Square.
We had a chance to get together with two other couples that we had gone through training with at Escapees Headquarters in Livingston, TX. Although we had seen each other separately, we hadn't all been together since 2001, when we trained. It was a fun evening reminiscing and sharing our travels.
I also went to an Alpaca farn for Alpacazona, a celebration of all things alpaca and knitting. They had yarn in all forms, as well as some finished projects. It was fun to see the animals and there were even some babies.

     Alas, Gary is now a "Man without a Truck."  We traded our Dodge truck in on a Honda CRV.  It's light enough to tow easily and can be towed with all four wheels down.  It's also all wheel drive, for off road geocaching.  It even came with a portable card table in the back.  It gets about 26 miles to the gallon and will be super to have along for exploring, once we're set up in an area. 
     That's going to be it for Nov and Dec.  I'll send emails to my travelog list when I post a new blog.  I'll be doing another one soon to cover Jan and Feb.
     Dancing on Down the Road..........................   Hugs, Katy, Gary, Rusty, and Spicy