Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dancing thru Lost Dutchman, California, and Phoenix, 2013

      The temperatures are in the 90’s, the Saguaro’s and hedgehogs are blooming, and graduations are approaching.  All are signs that it’s time to be getting back on the road. 

Saguaro in Bloom
Hedgehog in Bloom

      Our past couple months have been jam packed with activity.  We went to Lost Dutchman State Park, by Apache Junction, for a five day mini-rang, as the Boomers call their rallies.  There were about 10 rigs there, so it was a nice turnout.  Our views were spectacular, as usual, and this year I was able to do some hiking as well, thanks to the new ankle.

Gary and Pam lead the way

Views of Superstition Mountains from our rigs at Rally

     Everyone shared their talents.  Leland set up a terrific telescope for a wonderful star star show,  Ken brought his guitar to enjoy at the camp fire, Steve and Pam led some great hikes, and I even led a short session on Laughter Yoga.  Of course we also visited Tortilla Flat and enjoyed the western atmosphere and great views out there. 

Ken and Joan

       The last day several of us rode Phoenix’s new lite rail system across town to the Old Spaghetti Factory for lunch.  It was a great adventure and the ones who usually do all the driving in city traffic got to really enjoy themselves.   Lunch at the Spaghetti Factory is always good.  I’d forgotten how good their Mizithra cheese is and bought some to bring home.

Lite Rail approaching.

All Aboard!
Boomer Mini-Rang at Lost Dutchman State Park
     The week after we returned I went on a three day Quilter’s bus trip to Eleanor Burn’s studio and store in San Marcos, California.  There were 46 of us on the bus.  We stopped at Cozy Quilts in El Cajon the first day and had a great trunk show by Sandy Thompson, who showed us what great things we can make with selvages.  For the non-sewers out there, selvages are what you rip or cut off the edge of your fabric, before sewing with it.  They are usually discarded.  When I got home, I tried it out and quickly made bags for my I pad and camcorder. 
Bags made from Selvages
Eleanor Burns and I
Classroom at Quilt In a Day Studio
     The second day we went to Eleanor Burn’s.  She greeted us and put on a great show about our country’s First Ladies and quilt blocks named after them.  She also showed us many of her antique quilts.   Eleanor always dresses the part and infuses a great deal of humor into her shows, so it was not only interesting but really funny. 

Eleanor as Eleanor Roosevelt with Antique Quilt
Eleanor with Storm at Sea Quilt
 We had a gourmet box lunch served to us there and then that afternoon she put on another show about some of her new, modern patterns.  Of course we had plenty of time for shopping in between.

    That night we went to dinner and a magic show at the Lawrence Welk  resort.  Then it was off early the next morning to Rosie’s Quilt store in San Diego, before heading back to AZ.   One of the gals had the idea to pass a paper around for everyone to write down how much they had spent in just the 3 quilt stores.  All done anonymously of course.  We totaled it when it came back to us and all together we had spent almost $13,000 at the 3 stores.  With 46 of us  on the bus it was an average of about $282 per person.  Yes, there was room on the bus for all our purchases, but we definitely made California a little greener with our visit.

      In April, Riki and I attended the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation (NFFF) Annual Survivor’s Conference in North Phoenix.  I picked Riki up at the airport on my way to the Hotel on Saturday, we attended Peer Support Training all day Sunday, and the Conference was Mon-Wed, with about 136 attending, plus staff from NFFF.

Peer Support Training Group
       It was really an amazing experience, full of tears and laughter.  We had workshops to choose from each morning and afternoon, plus some special activities.  I had met some of the mothers 8 years ago when we went to Emmitsburg, but like most attendees, that week is still a a bit of a blur.  The NFFF has a special closed group on Facebook, where many of us share our feelings, as we each travel our journey of losing a beloved firefighter in the line of duty.  It was wonderful to finally meet some of these incredible ladies in person.  We hope to be able to attend next year’s conference, close to St. Louis, MO.

NFFF Survivor's
       Monday evening the Hall of Flame in Phoenix opened their doors to us for a private visit though their museum and Hall of Heroes.  After that we were taken to Old Scottsdale for some shopping and dinner on our own.  Somehow I wound up at a Sushi bar with Riki and new friends.  Although I didn’t plan it, I was the one wound up ordering an actually eating some raw fish.  (Who knew “seared” only meant the edges?)  I have to say it was really good.  One more thing I didn’t know I had on my bucket list is crossed off. 

     Tuesday night entertainment was provided by Yellow Bird Family Company, including the 2011 World Champion Hoop Dancer.  They have performed all over the world and were fantastic.  This is an interesting photo I took.  Yes, he was moving that fast.

Yellow Bird Dance Company
      At the closing ceremonies on Wed. afternoon, we all followed the bagpiper to a grassy area where we were given butterflies to release.  It was an incredibly moving experience.   That night Riki drove us and new friend to the Hard Rock Cafe in Phoenix.  She wanted to get her daughter a pin from there.  We were lucky there were no athletic events going on as it’s located by Chase Field and their Events center. 

Hard Rock Cafe, Phoenix, AZ
Bagpiper Brian
Butterfly Ready to Fly 
      The eighth anniversary of Robert’s death was the same day we all went to Sedona and the Grand Canyon on two large buses.  It’s always a hard day, but the tears, laughter, and bonding with new friends sure made it easier this year.  Because it was late, one of the NFFF staff had ordered pizza to be delivered to the hotel that night.  It was a great trip, highlighted by seeing two condors.  Great views brought back memories of our  hikes.

Riki & I at Grand Canyon
Bell Rock at Sedona
     I almost forgot to mention that our rooms were actually suites with separate living rooms, fridges, and microwaves in each room.  We were luck to have our room right outside the swimming pool on the ground floor.  Friday morning Riki and I took one last swim, and hot tub dip before we checked out.  I dropped her off at the airport on my way back to Casa Grande. 

View from our suite!
     Bandit has been going to school the past five weeks and will graduate this Saturday.  He's done great and works so hard to please us.   However it wears him out and he requires a nap when we get home.  At least that's what Gary says, so he can join him.
Worn out Bandit
     Gary was a great sport about my trips and stayed home to care for the dogs.  Of course he also played billiards with his team and entered a few tournaments as well.   Overall, we've had a great Spring and are now looking forward to two more high school graduations (Meghan and Amber), visiting with family and Wyoming friends, Escapade in Gillette, WY, (Row reps for RoVer's Roost this time), travel, and Show Low, AZ.
     We’re going to get the Motor Home Saturday to start packing, and hope to leave on Wed. May 1st.   We’re going up to Show Low for a few days to look around some more, as that may be a  future summer residence.  Then we’ll meet Gary’s sister, Pam and brother-in-law, Jim for a fun few days at Goblin Valley State Park in Utah.  We plan on getting to Evanston, WY around May 15th.  

Dancing on down the road................................
Hugs, Katy , Gary, Rusty and Bandit