Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dancing through a warm winter......

Hi Everyone,  
      I'll start by apologizing for the length of this.  It seemed we were so busy, I just didn't have time to tackle writing this.  I kept saying I'll wait until after _____ and include that too.  It grew and grew.  Our weather has been fantastic this year.  Certainly the nicest of the 12 years we've been coming to Arizona in the winter.  Lots and lots of 70 degree days and  very little wind and rain.  Believe me, we feel very lucky and fortunate to be living this lifestyle.
      We enjoyed our annual visit to Organ Stop Pizza with our park, just before Christmas.  We also had the usual Christmas parties.  Besides our  new rig, we bought each other new recliners for Christmas.  They are designed for smaller spaces and both swivel and rock.  Once we decided that was what we wanted, they brought out a fabric sample ring that must have had over 50 choices.  Thinking this was going to take a while, I watched while Gary went immediately to a dark grey sample that  had beautiful texture.  He said that was his choice and I immediately agreed.  Funny how fast something can go, when you both see what you like right away.  They arrived the week before Christmas and fit beautifully.  The store delivered them and took our old ones as a donation to their church.

     Riki and her children drove down to visit us for a few days the latter part of their Holiday vacation.  Her husband, Kevin had a hip replacement two weeks earlier and elected to stay home recuperating.  While we missed him, we understood.  We brought our Class C motor home over and rented the empty spot across the street from us.  The kids were all able to stay there.
     Kai had spotted the "Domes" on the Sci Fi channel before they came down.  They are supposed to be haunted.  As far as they could tell, they were built in the 80's by a tech firm and  have been vacant for some time.  They're only about five miles from us, so we sought them out.  We weren't able to get close, due to the No Trespassing signs, but didn't see any signs of a haunting.  It was fun though to follow up.

The Domes

    The first thing the kids all wanted to do was go back to the Ostrich Farm.  When we were there several years ago, we didn't do the monster truck ride, so we included that this time.  They all had fun with that, along with feeding the ostriches, goats, deer, prairie dogs, and lorakeets.   The lorakeets are so cute and very clever at removing the lid to their nectar.  They land all over you, from your head to your arms and hands.  They're beautiful besides.

     We also went and watched the sky divers at the Eloy airport, down to Tucson to the San Xavier del Bac Mission and Saguaro National Park.  Another day we went to the old Casa Grande Ruins.

     I wanted to show them St. Anthony's Greek Monastery, as it's one of the prettiest places around here.  It is so green and lush, its hard to believe it's in the desert.   To tour their beautiful grounds, women must wear long skirts, scarves, and long sleeved loose tops.  They have clothes there to help outfit you, if needed.  Men also must wear long pants and long sleeved shirts.  Here are Riki, Meghan, and myself, ready to head out.

      On New Year's Day we drove the Apache Trail and went through Goldfield Ghost Town.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to stop at Tortilla Flats, as hundreds of motorcycles were there and there were no parking places within a mile.  Besides all that we played some cards and we went to the New Year's Dance here at the park, while the kids went to a movie.  It was a fun and very fast five days.

      One of the things I wanted to do this winter was visit the Dale Chihuly Glass Exhibit at the Phoenix Botanical Garden.  He had an exhibition five years ago that we couldn't get to and I didn't want to miss this one.  We went with friends Lucille and Jim from our park.  Reservations are needed because they run out of room in the parking lot.  I had reserved the 4-8pm time slot, since I wanted to see them at night.  Our timing was perfect.  We got there about 3:15 and they let us in.  We were able to see the 22 glass sculptures all in daylight.  Then we went to dinner in one of their restaurants and when we went back out at 5:30, it was dark.  We retraced our steps and saw all 22 sculptures all lit up at night.  It was wonderful.  I've included a few pictures, but they don't really do it justice.

     Bandit and ourselves completed the intermediate course of obedience training.  He continues to do very well.  As with many dogs, his ability is directly proportional to the amount of time we give to his training.  Here he is playing patti-cake with Gary and just generally showing off.

     Mid-January, we loaded up the Class C and took off for Yuma.  Of course Dateland was our first stop with shakes and ice cream for the freezer.  We boondocked at KOFA, the SKP Co-op and enjoyed their activities along with their dog park, swimming pool and hot tub for six days.  While in Yuma, we also visited with friends from both Evanston and Show Low.  I timed it right to see their quilt show and Gary got in a round of golf.  We also made a trip to Algadones, Mexico, for meds, (walking across the border as usual).  We noticed there were fewer people there and even though we stayed until late morning, had no line when we went through customs on our way back. 

     Then it was time to head for Quartzsite,  the winter mecca for snowbirds in Arizona.  We boondocked in the desert with the Boomers in what is referred to as Boomerville.  Just over 100 rigs signed in over the two week period.

Boomerville in Quartzsite
Beautiful Desert Scenery & Mountains
  Activities varied and Gary even got in a couple pool tournaments with his friend Steve.  They each took second in a tournament, so were happy with that.  I led a Laughter Yoga session with about a dozen people.  We had a good time and our laughter could be heard over a good portion of the desert.  Gary and I also managed to find 57 geocaches while there, to hit 2,700 total. 
A Yuma Micro.
     The last day, we went to the Desert Bar, (Nellie E. Saloon).  It's located north of Parker, five miles down a very bumpy dirt road.  It's only open from noon til 6pm on Saturday and Sunday.  It was built on an old hilly mining claim, in 1983.  It's been added on to every year since then.  We had heard about this place from other RVers for several years, so it was fun to finally make it there.  We timed it right and got there about 11:15.  There were only 2 cars in the parking lot, so Gary parked next to a covered walking bridge that led to the bar.  We walked around, bought t-shirts, got drinks, and staked out a table.  It's a good thing we did, because by noon, the place was packed with more coming in droves.  They have live music and dancing and of course we stayed to enjoy a dance.  Friends from our park showed up just before we were leaving and joined our table.  We turned it over to them and headed back to our car.  I wanted to take a picture of the church in the parking lot, so Gary went to move the car.  There were no parking places and he stopped a gal to see if she wanted our spot.  He backed out so she could pull in and then  he pulled behind the car next to him to wait for me.  The gal parked her car, walked over to Garys, threw a 5 dollar bill through the window onto the front seat and said "thanks for the parking place!"   She walked away and Gary didn't have a chance to say anything.  I came back to him laughing and saying it was worth it to wait.  As we left, we saw people parking a 1/2 mile and more away from the bar, so I'm sure the $5 was worth it to that group.

Gary's favorite spot, of course!

     We wound up cutting our trip about a week short and skipped the Geocaching Bof Rally.  The day before we left Casa Grande, we'd had an incident in our new rig.  Gary and I were sitting in the recliners that afternoon, when we heard a thud.  When checking it out, I discovered water pouring out the bottom of the storage area.  A clamp holding two hoses together had popped off and water was pouring up against the roof of the storage area and raining down on the converter.  Gary shut the water off and got it fixed, but a short time later we realized our batteries were no longer charging.  The converter wasn't working.  We used a charger to get them back up that night and emptied what we weren't taking with us from the 5th wheel fridge, into the fridge in our shed.  Then we turned everything off when we left.  Gary kept thinking about it and after two weeks, was anxious to get back and check everything out.  It turned out the water had shorted our the converter and it had be replaced.  Gary was able to do that and by the next afternoon, everything was working in order again.
     After we'd been back a couple weeks we toured the new Gilbert Latter Day Saints (LDS), Temple as guests of friends Dianne and Ray from Wyoming.   It's open to the public until it is dedicated. After that, you have to meet certain criteria of the the Mormon Church to be able to go beyond the waiting rooms on the first floor.
     We had to wear shoe covers, but they had several people sitting in chairs to put them on for you as you went in and take them off for you as you exited.  It was beautiful throughout.  The white marble and colors of a soft seafoam green, gold, and white, made it very serene.   There were incredible crystal chandeliers in some of the area, increasing the amount of light.  An agave plant theme was used throughout from the carpeting to stained glass windows. 

     After we got home that night, we watched Gary's granddaughter, Amber, open her  Mission Call.  She'll be going to the Mission Training Center in Mexico and then is assigned to Richmond, VA, where she'll teach the gospel in Spanish.  It will be an amazing experience for her.  As I've mentioned before, Gary already has a grandson serving a mission in England.
Amber with Mission Call Papers
     We're not  having our annual follies here this winter, but are having Senior Olympics in the Park.  It is a parody, with different members becoming five different countries.  More on this next time.  Roof Raisers is the organization that provides most of the improvements to the park. I was elected Vice-President.  That should help keep me busy for the next couple years.

     I'm also looking forward to attending a two day training to become a certified Laughter Yoga Leader.   Our current leader at the Senior Center in Casa Grande has had her duties reassigned, so I'm slated to take over that group in March.  Riki and I are both flying to St. Louis, MO for this year's National Fallen Firefighters Suvivor's Conference.  I will be presenting two Laughter Yoga sessions there.  It is easier for Gary to take me to the Phoenix airport and pick me up from Casa Grande, rather than Show Low, so we'll wait to go up on the mountain until I return.  Then we have two more high school graduations in Evanston, WY and Salt Lake City, UT.  We're thinking we'll just drive the car up for those and stay with family.  By mid-June, we should be in Show Low, AZ for the summer.

     Take care everyone and let us hear from you too.  We love hearing what you are doing.
Dancing through a Warm Winter...............
Hugs, Katy, Gary, and Bandit too!