Friday, November 30, 2012

Mesa, AZ - More Fun Than I Could Have Imagined!!!

What a sweet day. And, when I tell you what we did, you’ll be so terribly jealous, green with envy. Gary had his list and had drawn a small map so we knew the most efficient way to get around town to get our errands done. Here’s ‘our’ list:

        Cliff’s Hitch for a hitch part

        Big O Tire for a question about tires

        Chrysler/Jeep for an oil change

        LaMesa RV for some RV parts and a service question

        Camping World for some silicon spray

        Central AZ Plumbing Supply for a water filter

        Home Depot for a sheet metal screw

Now, isn’t that a list that any man would envy? And, the best part is: We get a do-over:

        We made an appointment at Big O for some service work

        We will stop at Chrysler/Jeep since they were too busy today

        We have an appointment at LaMesa

        We will have to go somewhere else for a water filter since Central didn’t have one


Actually, I’m just kidding for the sake of a story. Gary’s doing his best to get some things done on the RV before we leave this area since there are so many RV parts and service stores around here. Not too many in Des Moines. Many of the things he’s doing are by choice - we bought an ‘as is’ RV and we want to make it better for us and get in things that we like. I didn’t have to go on this errand run but thought I’d go with him since I didn’t want him to get all the fun. I want my share.

I was able to get a Costco stop in and we also made a stop for a single scoop of ice cream (for lunch - gotta have lunch, you know).

Finally, I got a haircut. Yep, finally, after 2 months. That’s probably the longest I’ve gone in a long while. In fact, I was getting so fed up with the shaggy look that I’ve already cut the front of my hair twice. I start at the right ear and cut over my eyebrows to my left ear in a straight line. A ‘straight’ line? I miswrote. Not necessarily straight but close enough that, when I brush it to the right side, no one knows how uneven it is. Think back, did my hair ever look ragged in front when you saw me? (If it did, it would be best if you would please keep silent.) I’ve been doing this for years. In fact, I also used to cut the back. I’d sit on the bathroom counter with my back to the mirror I’d hold my hand mirror in my left hand and cut with my right.

However, recently, I’ve only cut the front and have let the back continue to grow. Hey, I look like I’m trying for a mullet. Well, not really. But, today I got it cut and I can go out in public now.

Some days on the road are just like some days in Des Moines: errands.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mesa, AZ - Nice Caboose

SomeResortActivities-12-2012-11-29-19-25.jpgThis was a resort day where we get to catch up on paperwork and projects. However, ‘catch up’ implies that you are just a tad bit behind and only need a few hours to be where you should be. Ha. Not a chance. Since we got the new RV, we’re just running. We have been pretty busy making a few changes, getting all our paperwork in order (for the Iowa registration, I needed the GVRW and the number of cylinders - not always easy info to find) and buying a few things.

SomeResortActivities-5-2012-11-29-19-25.jpgHowever, I didn’t want to spend the whole day inside at my computer so took a walk around the resort to see what other people do.

They play pickle ball,

they make stained glass pictures,

they play shuffleboard.
These are just 3 of the activities here today at 10:00. You want scrapbooking, you want quiliting, you want tennis, you want line dance classes, you want to play in a pool league - they’ve got them all and many more. There is an amazing number of different classes and activities available to do at different times and on different days.

TheCuteCaboose--2012-11-29-19-25.jpgSo, there I am, on the audience risers taking my pictures and watching the shuffleboard teams slo-o-o-wly using their tangs to slide the biscuit down the deck. (Got that. New language I’ve learned today.) And they were talking about a ‘kitchen.’ I really know nothing about shuffleboard but could pretty well see the strategy as I was taking some pictures. All of a sudden a guy turned to me and said: ‘nice caboose.’ Hmmm - I looked around, figuring he was talking to someone else. Nope, he was talking to me. ‘Nice caboose’ he said louder and pointing in my direction, knowing I hadn’t understood what he said before. What could he mean? Ah - since I was holding my camera, I thought he had a different name for a Canon. Then it occurred to me, here was the shirt I was wearing - from a railroad museum we had visited several years ago.

Here I am in my ‘caboose’ shirt. Shucks - and I thought I had a ‘nice caboose.’

CaulkingRoofforourneighbor-2-2012-11-29-19-25.jpgGary had told our neighbor that he would do some tarring around some vents in our neighbor’s roof since our neighbor is not excited about ladders at the age of 80.

We also got our Christmas lights up. Every year that we have been out in our RV, and that is 4 of them, we’ve looked at other RV’s in our campgrounds all decorated for Christmas and said: ‘let’s bring our lights next time.’ And we’ve been doing this for 4 years. Finally, finally, I got my act together this summer and put the lights out so that we wouldn’t forget them. We brought 5 strings and thought we might have more than enough but RV’s are big, take lots of lights and we used them all.

StringingLightsforHolidays-1-2012-11-29-19-25.jpgNow, we’ve got them draped across the front of the RV in 4 swags from one rearview mirror to the other and, from across the street, they look very like a grinning Cheshire cat sitting on the tree branch waiting for Alice to chance by. Our neighbor suggested we get two wreaths and put them inside to make it look like eyes. A big help he is.

This might be the first time we’ve strung Christmas lights in shorts and t-shirts.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mesa, AZ - Go, Shawn, Go

Do I watch TV? Nah, I’m much more into RV than TV. But, I made an exception tonight when Shawn Johnson from West Des Moines was on. I’ll have to admit that this is the first time I’ve watched her this year since I really don’t keep track of what’s on TV at any time but heard an announcement during the news so thought I’d tune in.

HyVeeTriathalon38-2012-11-26-20-16.jpgThe dancing was great and then we got to vote. Now, I’ve never voted on something like this. I don’t know why they made it so hard - but no one else found it difficult, I’m sure. In the end, I got my 5 votes in. Guess who I voted for? Then - wonder of wonders - I got Gary to vote too. He’s even less interested in TV than I am. But, we both got our votes in. I’m sure that most of Iowa voted too.

Have I ever mentioned that I’ve met Tom Bergeron and actually been on the same TV show as he was? Yeah, right, you say. But, no, it’s all true and happened in a different life for each of us. Taking a trip in the Way Back machine: when I was a history teacher in New Hampshire, I was the coach for the Timberlane HS Granite State Challenge team. Tom Bergeron was the emcee who asked all the questions. Interestingly enough I remember that he wore jeans under his suit jacket and tie - knowing that he was hidden by his lectern. We made it through the first two rounds but were knocked off in the third. It was fun while it lasted and we all had a great time but I remember that it took lots of work and we had lots of practice sessions.

Oh,yeah, here I am with Shawn herself.

Mesa, AZ - Hall of Flame

We can’t always hike (the mind is willing but the body screams bloody murder) and we get tired of working around the RV so every now and then we like to tour the city. Today we chose to visit the Hall of Flame with our good friends, Shirley and Jerry but first - we’ve got to have breakfast. Looks like the Iowa cafe is the choice for us 4 Iowans. Iowa napkins, Iowa coffee mugs, Iowa chairs and Iowa plates and all of those Iowa posters on the walls. I might get the impression that there are lots of Iowans down here over the summer. And, I’d be right. There are lots of Iowa license plates right in the resort where we live, one of them is right across the street from us.

I really didn’t expect much from this museum and, when we got in and I looked into the room in front of us, saw a few old engines and stuff but not much. What I didn’t realize was that there were 3 more rooms that same size with several smaller rooms to the sides. It was much bigger and much more complete than I had thought. We’ve been to museums which had quite a few items and a bit of an explanation by each item. For example we’ve seen lots of airplanes and by the plane is a sign saying: turbo-prop, 2 stroke, 6 cylinder multi-wing-nut 536-ALC engine. And, if you’re a gear head, this means something to you, But, I’m not and this means nothing.

Well, this museum had some signs like that but it also had lots of history which tied the particular item into the scheme of things. I want the history, I want the connections, I was the context. And this museum did this better than many. It answered such questions as:

        why do we have fire hydrants?

        why do we have street numbers on our homes?

        why did the firemen have to pull their equipment, why not a horse?

        why is a fire engine painted red?

Now, come on, admit it - you’ve always wondered about these items too, haven’t you? I’m not thinking that they kept you awake at night but, in your off hours, you’ve probably said to yourself: how do fire hydrants work?

HallofFlameMuseum-53-2012-11-26-08-57.jpgMeanwhile, back at the Museum, which was arranged chronologically, we all wandered around learning all about fire fighting. Here is the earliest fire ‘engine’ that the museum has. Note that it has to be pulled and the pullers were all volunteer firemen since horses cost too much took too much maintenance and usually lasted only 10 years. It’s pretty small and wouldn’t put out a large fire but it was a great start. But, when it was used in 1720’s most houses were quite small and wouldn’t need much water to put the fire out. But this truck didn’t carry any water so where did it come from? From streams, rivers, ponds, horse troughs, or wells near the house. This sure does limit the water supply but then most homes were near a water supply since there were no underground pipes and municipal water supplies.

Obviously prevention was paramount and colonists were required to put their home fires out in the evening so fires couldn’t start overnight. The word ‘covrefeu’ which is French for ‘cover your fire’ became ‘curfew’ in English, the fire and torch dousing time around 8 or 9 pm.

Over time, cities and towns had water supplies and used underground pipes to get the water around. With these pipes underground, firemen had to dig down to the pipe, use an axe to pierce a hole in it and hook their hoses up to the spurt of water coming out of the hole. After the fire they would ‘plug’ this hole in with a wooden plug. Pretty inefficient and how many plugs in a pipe before it gives way? Fire hydrants solved this problem and most American cities had these by 1850.
The modern era of firefighting as we know it really began back in 1666 when the fire insurance industry was born as a response to the Great Fire of London which burned over half of London. The rich wanted to protect their home asset and insurance companies were founded to do this. Only the rich had this type of protection and only those rich who lived close to the insurance company fire department headquarters. Pretty limited.

Back in the late 1600’s when cities had no house numbering system it was difficult for insurance company fire trucks to know where the fire was. People described their home by color, or proximity to another landmark. ‘We’re the blue house, 2 houses down from the brown grocery store on Hill Street.’ Imagine being a fire truck looking for this house, especially if Hill Street was 2 miles long. The first method to designate houses was a ‘mark’ form an insurance company. This ‘mark’ was a metal or wooden logo on each house they insured to ‘mark’ it as one that their firemen could save. By 1870, most cities had paid fire departments so the ‘mark’ was not needed. Here’s the mark for the Green Tree Insurance Company.
HallofFlameMuseum-54-2012-11-26-08-57.jpgWell, that worked for a while but homes were still hard to find so house numbers were developed to help the firemen know where they houses were.

Here’s a Currier and Ives print which shows an early fire truck leaving the station for a fire. When fire spotters stationed throughout the city spotted a fire, they rang bells to indicate where the fire was. When the volunteers heard the bells, they ran to the firehouse to get their equipment and their truck. Latecomers (like Currier, who himself was a volunteer fireman, on the left of the print) joined the group en route. Those firemen who knew the city best, led the teams with a lantern in front. The first group to the fire got bonuses and prestige. Unfortunately, sometimes the firemen fought with each other over the bonus and prestige, forgetting the fire.

HallofFlameMuseum-40-2012-11-26-08-57.jpgThe other thing they fought over was which volunteer department had the brassiest, the brightest, the ‘best’ truck or the local parades. And, here are some of the fire trucks they had, which were probably used only for parades, not for fire fighting. These almost look as if Cinderella could ride on them.
I’ve read three stories about why fire engines are painted red:

        because red was the cheapest paint color and volunteer departments didn’t have much money so they had to use red

        because red was the most expensive color and they wanted to have the best and stand out from the others so they used the most expensive color: red.

        because Henry Ford painted his cars in only one color: black, fire departments wanted their fire trucks to stand out and chose red

You make up your own mind.

HallofFlameMuseum-25-2012-11-26-08-57.jpgInterior sprinkler systems were developed because until the 1850’s there was no way to fight an established interior fire. Factories were burning down as fast as they could be built. In Lowell, MA, the city water engineer developed a perforated pipe system fed by elevated cisterns which could be released in case of a fire.

These insurance companies, to protect their investments, also forced cities to develop building codes, organize city-paid fire departments and encouraged the development of better fire fighting equipment. American cities had paid fire departments by 1880 and smaller towns had volunteer departments. Interestingly enough, even today, 75% of fire departments are volunteer. Back in the 70’s and 80’s we lived in a small town in New Hampshire with a volunteer department. Obviously these volunteers had local jobs.

HallofFlameMuseum-34-2012-11-26-08-57.jpgThe invention of the steam engine changed the nature of fire fighting.They could pump more water over a longer period of time and only took 3 or 4 men to operate. Most cities and towns had steam engines by 1880. Coupled with gas engines which could get the steam pump to the fire much more rapidly than human-or horse-pulled engines.

So, why are fire trucks called hook and ladders? Because they needed long ladders to get to the taller stories and hooks to fit over the sills in the windows.

HallofFlameMuseum-20-2012-11-26-08-57.jpgHere’s a fire sleigh which was used in northern areas in the winter. But, it proved too difficult to turn and maneuver so was replaced.

Hey, remember the circular nets that used to be used by fire departments to ‘catch’ people when they jumped from high stories in buildings? Well, they got rid of them because people kept missing them and suffering injury. Here’s Jerry standing in front of one net. Now, imagine standing on the window sill of a 4 story building and looking down at this blue circle. It must have looked incredibly small and not easy to hit with ones body.
HallofFlameMuseum-23-2012-11-26-08-57.jpgWe also watched a film about fighting forest fires from the air and flying fire fighters to the scene. These firemen not only have to fight the fire which is usually in the most remote mountainous locations but also have to maneuver over the terrain in the forest. Gary and I have hiked over this and I can’t imagine having to fight a fire on a rocky slope wearing heavy clothing and carrying heavy equipment.

HallofFlameMuseum-1-2012-11-26-08-57.jpgHere’s a fire engine tire that has been on Arizona’s hot roads too long.

As we left the Hall of Flame we spotted this road runner in the parking lot. Before I could get a closer, better picture, he had run across the lot.
BosaDonuts%252526IceCreamstop--2012-11-26-08-57.jpgAnd, here we are with our ‘lunch.’ We didn’t leave the museum until about 3:00 and needed some refreshment. This ice cream shop has donuts too. WOW!!! A TWOFER!!!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mesa, AZ - No, it's not a Lemon

After reading the blog about ‘Making a House a Home’ you’ve probably been wondering what kind of lemon we bought for an RV this time. But, it’s the same as newspapers and TV news: they only print the bad stuff because the good stuff is so boring.

Who wants to hear about how accurately our fresh water, grey water and black water tanks read in the Journey compared to the Simba? In the Simba, it was seldom accurate because the sensors are inside the tank and things can get on them and skew the readings. Sometimes, Gary would empty our tanks and the readings on the idiot lights would still say 2/3rds full. Our tank idiot lights in our new Journey are on the outside and work by sonar. Thus, they are accurate: when Gary empties the tanks, the idiot lights say ‘0’ and they can detect subs within a distance of 5’. (Just kidding about subs but isn’t that what sonar was designed to detect?)

Who wants to read about the solidness of the top of the Journey compared to the Simba? When Gary walked on the Simba, there were some ‘dips’ up there. Now, when he walks on the top, it is solid, there are no dips and he feels as if he is walking on a level cement sidewalk.

Who want to read about the pull out shelves in the pantry in the Journey rather than the Simba’s 3’ deep flat shelves that I almost needed a flashlight to see what I had shelved in the back?

The plug-in sockets in the Journey are ever so much more convenient - we both have one on our credenza under the table - whereas in the Simba we had to stretch a long cord from the one socket on Gary’s side of the table. But, who cares besides Gary and I?

I’ve already told you about the ride in the Journey and how much smoother it is than the old Simba. I don’t need to have a steely death grip on the grab bars any more and I can relax as we head on down the road.

But, who wants to hear about these things? Isn’t is more interesting to hear about wires not hooked up and screws that don’t fit?

However, I’d like to show you one picture which illustrates just how complicated an RV is although I could probably take loads of other pictures to show this. Gary took out the bottom drawer under the kitchen counter yesterday to look behind it to see what was there. Here are the wires for stereo, TV, speakers, radio, etc., all hiding behind this bottom kitchen drawer. Now we think that this is the same configuration that is used in a 45’ RV and, in our 35’ RV these wires look more like a rats nest, since they’re all bunched up. But it illustrates how things are hidden in the strangest places but they all help the think work.
WiresBehindPots%252526Pansdrawer-1-2012-11-24-09-18.jpgOur RV is a home: it has all the same systems such as plumbing, electricity, heating/cooling, washer/dryer and others but then it adds electric awnings and steps which all go out and then retract, 3 slides which make the house bigger (imagine sliding your dining room out to fit in the 36 people you’ve invited for dinner) a diesel engine which gets us around almost wherever we want to go (imagine moving your home down the highway for your next 2-week vacation to the Florida Keys). Put this all together into a 35’ x 10’ box and you’ve got a pretty complicated sophisticated piece of machinery. And, then, we stuff it full of our possessions and bounce it down the highway towing a Jeep. Whoo-eee.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mesa, AZ - A Movie? What's That?

And, we can continue to ask that even after today. The plan was to go to the matinee at 12:45 today. We wanted to see Lincoln. I still haven’t gotten the book read but I’m not worried that seeing the movie will spoil the ending for me. I’m pretty sure I know this ending in this case.

Not knowing much about movie going since our last movie was Titanic years ago, I wasn’t sure how to buy tickets on line. I also was hesitant. What if we buy tickets on line, get their later than others and have only two seats: one in the front row and another in the rear? I doubt that I’d get my money back if I didn’t want these two ‘prime’ seats. When you get to the ticket counter, at least you can ask how many seats are left and, if only 10, you don’t have to buy the tickets.

I thought that this was Black Friday and everyone else would be out shopping. Who knew that we’d have a line at the ticket counter when we got there. After 5 minutes of standing in a line which wasn’t moving, a guy came out and yelled to a friend in line that it was sold out. Which one, we all asked. Lincoln, he said and we peeled away from the line to try again another day.

So, at the end of the ‘adventure’ I am still asking: A Movie? What’s That?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Mesa, AZ - Thanksgiving

I’m thinkin’ that I forgot to put in my turkey jokes before Thanksgiving. Well, I’m always a bit behind - that’s how I can prod Gary along. As if he needs prodding.

We certainly miss our families while we travel and think about them a lot. Of course, there is the usual phone call and we have spoken to all in the last few days. But, it’s not the same as being there.

I will say that the resort does a good job of arranging a big Thanksgiving dinner for all and, it’s a potluck so we get to try lots of different foods. We signed up several weeks ago for a table to sit at. The head of the table cooks a turkey furnished by the resort along with the potatoes and gravy. The rest of us at the table bring a dessert, a salad, a hot dish or - well, I brought my usual deviled eggs.

Meanwhile, I’ve got some turkey jokes for all of you to commemorate the day. The Halloween tradition in Des Moines is for each trick-and-treater to give a short joke before being given any candy. There must be a book that everyone passes around for the jokes because if we had 75 kids on a Halloween, we must have heard about 45 jokes. It got to the end that we knew them all. But it was cute and we loved it all.


Why did the turkey cross the road?
(It was the chicken's day off!)

Why did the chewing gum cross the road?
(It was stuck on the turkey's foot!)

Why did the turkey cross the road twice?
(To prove he wasn't chicken!)

What do you get when a turkey lays an egg on top of a barn?
(An eggroll!)

Where do you find a turkey with no legs?
(Exactly where you left it!)

What do you call it when it rains turkeys?
(Foul weather!)

Why did the turkey sit on the tomahawk?
(To hatchet!)

Why did the police arrest the turkey?
(They suspected it of fowl play!)

Which side of a turkey has the most feathers?
(The outside!)

Why do turkeys lay eggs?
(If they dropped them, they'd break!)

What's the most musical part of a turkey?
(The drumstick!)

If fruit comes from a fruit tree, where does turkey come from?
(A poul-tree!)

What happened when the turkey got into a fight?
(He got the stuffing knocked out of him!)

But all joking aside, Gary and I have so much to be thankful for and we know it. There used to be a commercial on TV which had as its main theme:’ when you’ve got your health, you’ve got it all.’ Did I laugh at that when I was younger? You bet. I could think of lots of other things that I would rather have had: a neat car, a big house, lots of money, a cute boyfriend. You know, all the cool things. But, as I grew older, I realized that health determined so much in ones life. And, Gary and I are very thankful for our good health. We are thankful for our families too. And, again, families determine so much in the course of ones life. My parents loved me and taught me so much. And I have a great extended family from Iowa to California. And, by the way, I finally got that cute boyfriend I always wanted: Big Gar.  

I’m also thankful for all those I’ve lived with, worked with, laughed with, eaten with, traveled with, met along the road and especially those I can call close friends.

Gary and I are living our dreams and we know how lucky we are and how much we have to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mesa, AZ - Why are We Hiking Through This?

"You never climb the same mountain twice, not even in memory. Memory rebuilds the mountain, changes the weather, retells the jokes, remakes all the moves."
-- Lito Tejada-Flores

And, today we took a hike we had taken before - but, for variety, we went in a clockwise direction rather than counter-clockwise. Variety is the spice of life, you know. We awoke at 6:00, ate breakfast, stopped for donuts and arrived at the trailhead by 8:15. Wonder of wonders - this trailhead had a bathroom.

Because it was supposed to be in the 80’s, we unzipped the legs on our pants but kept our hiking shirts on. However, as we climbed up to Freemont Saddle we grew warmer, took them off and stowed them in our packs.

Freemont Saddle is about 2.2 miles up (and I mean ‘up’) the trail and is one of the major viewpoints for the Weaver’s Needle. A pretty popular trail and a great stopping point: a rigorous climb, a great view, and a walk back down with views across the valley. Thus we found about 15 cars at the trailhead when we got there. Even at 8:30, as we climbed up, we met several people who had already attained Freemont Saddle and were returning. One guy told us he had started before the sun came up. Now, we like to hike and get an early start but that’s way too early. I”m not even sure that the donuts have been baked by this time. What’s the point?

Have I ever mentioned ‘competitive hiking?’ Well, that’s what I call the desire to not let others pass me on the trail. I hear someone coming up behind me and I speed up. I don’t want to be passed. Of course, at my age, It’s getting more difficult. Today, I got passed. But I comforted myself with saying that I was going to hike 13 miles and they were just going to the saddle and back. I was in it for the long haul and merely conserving my strength. Ha!

Beautiful views across the Superstition Wilderness from the Saddle and Weaver’s Needle dominated the scenery. You can also see the two shadows of the two intrepid (oblivious?) hikers surveying the valley through which they are headed.
We have found that there are ‘mesas’ which are bigger than ‘buttes’ which are bigger than ‘spires’. Weaver’s Needle is a spire and what a magnificent spire dominating the skyline from whatever view.

We chatted a bit with several others at the Saddle and then we began the trek further into the Wilderness. And, is it ever a wilderness: acres and acres and I doubt that we’ll see another soul until we get back to the trailhead. Since this part of the trail is not as popular as the first 2.2 miles, it was overgrown in many spots. In fact, sometimes we felt as if we were clambering through brush and not on any trail at all.

Remember how we had taken our legs and our shirts off? Big Mistake. We were hiking through something that looked like holly (note the pointy edges on each leaf),
And this little thing called mesquite (look at those thorns).

Who in their right mind would hike through this? Well, that’s a question for the ages. We remembered that the trail was a bit overgrown last year but not this overgrown. Has it been a wetter season than usual? Is the forest service facing budget cuts and not maintaining the trails as before? I don’t know the reason but we were finding ourselves fighting off the bushes. Luckily we had our poles. I would use my right pole to hold the brush on the right off while I went through on the left. Other times I used my left pole to hold off brush on that side. And sometimes I had to use both poles to clear a path to walk through. But, I still had mesquite and holly grasping at me.

But, you know: that’s the wilderness, that’s hiking, that’s part of the challenge we’re here for. I’m not complaining, I’m just marveling at the tenacity of nature. And, boy, was it tenacious when it got hold of my knit hiking shirt. And was it ever tenacious when it grabbed at my outstretched arm and my legs. And, I kept hearing Gary muttering, ‘ouch’ too. When I took off my hiking shirt at night, I decided that it could be used only for hiking. No walking through the resort, no walking in Des Moines, only hiking.

Lunch was in the shade of a large cliff. Here’s Gary puzzling over the map.
We continued on the trail and found this ‘cache’ from some other hiker or, more likely, a backpacker. It is a common practice to cache your supplies along the trail for use later. Usually, these caches are a bit more hidden so that other hikers or campers won’t find them. This one was dumped right on the trail. Not only was it not hidden but it wasn’t neatly stacked but, as I said, dumped. There are 5 1-gallon jugs of water and 5 small cokes. This much is pretty heavy and we’re thinking that someone on horseback brought it in and dumped it. The receipt with it was very current. And, to add to the mystery, we saw no one else on the trail during the whole day.

Even though we had taken this same trail last year, and despite the fact that we were circling the opposite direction, I really didn’t remember much about it. Of course the views are much different, just as the descent views on a mountain trail are different than those on the assent. On the way up, you’re facing the trail and looking at the way ahead. On the descent, the trail is below you and you’re engaged by the view out over the valleys.

Today, firstly we noticed that the brush was much heavier than last year. Secondly, this year, we were climbing in places where we had descended before and vice versa. All different views. Finally, because we were hiking clock-wise, we had some shade for part of the hike. Shade is good.

We got back to the trailhead and found the sun shining on the nearby hill. Then as we were driving out on the gravel road, as Gary was watching the road, I looked up at the right moment and found this bull posing. He held this position for enough time for Gary to get the camera out and take its picture - several times.
12.4 3126’

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mesa, AZ - Making a House a Home

‘The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.’ Abraham Lincoln

The movie Lincoln just opened and we plan to see it soon. However, I thought I’d read the book first. Fat chance. Got it downloaded into my I Pad and then realized that it was 1869 pages in my I Pad when I hold it vertically. Now, if I want to hold it horizontally, it’s got 3743 pages. Either way, I’m not going to get it read before we go to the movie.

However in honor of Lincoln, I’ve put one of his pithy sayings at the top of the blog today.

Sherron%252526RonatIkea-1-2012-11-20-11-07.jpgI know that I had some pictures of our new RV in the blog several weeks ago but thought you’d like to see some new pictures. Here Sherron and I are in our new dining room.

Then Gary took a picture of me in our new kitchen. And, you all thought we had a small RV. Silly you.

Well, actually as you can probably guess, we are not in our RV. We are actually in the local IKEA retail showroom. I remember IKEA from our college days and they are still going strong. And their furnishings are still unique. We visited with two high school friends, Sherron and Ron, who were in Phoenix for the day. After breakfast we headed over to IKEA for so window shopping. Well, window shopping for us.

Sherron%252526RonatIkea-3-2012-11-20-11-07.jpgAnd, while we’re speaking of our home, you’ve probably noticed that we haven’t had many adventures this month. And, it’s all because of this new home that we bought. As you all know, any new home needs some tweaks and then there is lots to learn about a new home. Thus we’ve been spending our time on little projects around the house. Most of it has been pretty smooth but there have been some setbacks.

Gary spent some time on his tire pressure system, getting it all in place on our new tires. You all know how important tires are to your safety in a car, well the same holds true in a motor home. Gary has 10 sensors which fit on each tire valve of the motor home and on the Jeep to monitor the pressure in each. Then we have a monitoring panel which keeps us aware of these pressures so no tire gets too flat nor too fat without our knowing. Of course, nothing goes smoothly in any transition and Gary is having trouble fitting these sensors on all of the tires. The sensors are about 1” in diameter, fit on each of the tire valves and sometimes these valves are too close to the holes in the rims to get the sensors on. OOPS.

Then he went to put a soap, shampoo and conditioner dispenser into the shower and found that the silicon glue which holds it to the sides of the shower and came packaged with the dispenser is harder than the rocks we hike on. OOPS.

When we bought the motorhome, the front blind was broken and the dealer ordered a new one which we just picked up. Yesterday Gary tried to screw it onto the screen door but quickly realized that the screws were too long and were punching out little pimples on the other side of the metal screen door. Winnebago must have filed the original screws down before they put them in. OOPS.

Having fixed that problem by filing the screws down he then tried to attach the top of the blind to a latch at the top of the door. He had kept the original Winnebago screws for this which were brown to match the door but they were rounded and, when he pulled up the blind, they rubbed on it and the paint was coming off. He then took out the screws from the manufacturer which were silver flat head screws (not very pretty) but they were too long for the holes and again, were making dimples on the other side of the screen door. Nothing is easy. 2 sets of screws for this latch and neither works. 

Now, even when he puts a bit of oil on a door, he expects the door to fall off in his hands. It’s been that kind of month.

However, he has also had his successes. We didn’t like the shower head and the handles on the faucet so we changed them. The handles for the cold and hot water were round and I didn’t know how to set them for the water temperature I wanted. We bought levers, Gary installed them and now I know that I want the hot water at the 6 on a clock face and the cold water at a 4. Perfect. No guessing in the shower.

He also noticed that the ‘exhaust’ fan in the bathroom was blowing in, not a really efficient use of an exhaust fan. So he took it apart to see what he could do, called the service reps at the manufacturer, learned what had been installed wrong at the factory, reversed the two wires and - VOILA - it works perfectly now.

GaryenjoystheRVlifestyle-2-2012-11-20-11-07.jpgHe’s also found that a wire for the subwoofer speaker for the stereo system was not hooked up and has hooked it up. He’s also strung some wires around so that we can play our music from my computer. The wires were under the kitchen cabinet which he had to disassemble to get to the wires. Here he is under the cabinet - he does get into this work.

So, it’s not always OOPS and he’s had lots of successes. One of his traits is that he is incredibly patient and will work at something until he gets it right. Soon, he’ll have all the OOPS turned into successes.

He’s also been pretty successful in learning about how this RV functions, he’s been trying all the systems (he had great fun with the air horn at midnight last week - that’s a joke), and he’s been reading the mountain of manuals which came with the RV. He’s been a busy boy.

HelpingNeighborsDelores%252526Smitty-2-2012-11-20-11-07.jpgBut he found some time to help our neighbors, Smitty and Dolores, shine up the trim on their new home. They were able to get all the trim within standing height but the roof line required a ladder and they were not so sure about ladders. Gary climbs on our roof all the time so it was no big deal to him. Here he is up on the roof shining up the trim with Armor-All. When he got ready to climb down, Smitty ran over to the ladder in a panic to hold it until Gary got down.

And, me? Well, I just feed the guy and he keeps on working. Put a little food into him and he moves on to the next project. Actually, I do a bit more than that. This RV sat on a dealer lot for a while and lots of people, salespeople, and others walked in and out. Secondly, its Arizona and warm. We keep our windows open which tends to bring in some dust. So, I have been cleaning.

GaryinParisfromC%252526T-2012-11-20-11-07.jpgAre you wondering why we think this is a fun lifestyle? Are you wondering why we aren’t out hiking? Are you wondering why we aren’t lounging around the pool with the other residents here? Don’t ask.

On another topic, Gary’s sister and brother-in-law visited Paris this fall and found this book for Gary. We think it fits the western theme of living in the Southwest.

As an aside here - we were out walking today and walked through the resort to get to the main street. We met an older gentleman and both said ‘hi’ to him. He just kept on walking but we heard him mutter under his breath ‘twins’ as he walked past us. C’mon. We weren’t even dressed alike.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mesa, AZ - Butcher Jones

A trite Arizona joke line is: 'You know you're in Arizona when you no longer associate bridges and rivers with water.' But it's no joke, it's all true: bridges go over 'washes' which might have water in them sometime. And, often, the Salt River which runs through Phoenix is completely dry.

HikingLakeSaquaro-52-2012-11-18-21-42.jpgBut lakes, lakes? In Arizona? Sure enough. Usually people think of deserts with cacti, brush and rattlesnakes. But, Arizona has lots of other ecological and geographical systems. And, today, we’re going to hike around a lake - well, actually it is a reservoir with a marina, marshes, wading birds, fish, picnic and camping areas and - guess what? a neat trail which circles part of the lake and then heads up and over a rocky hill to another part of the lake.

HikingLakeSaquaro-23-2012-11-18-21-42.jpgSaguaro Lake was formed by the Stewart Mountain Dam, which was completed in 1930. It was the last of the 4 reservoirs to be built on the Salt River (which sometimes has water which Phoenix wants to use). Several days ago we traveled down into the Salt River Canyon, today, we’re upriver and hiking around one of its lakes.

It was a Sunday and, as we expected, lots of others were out to enjoy the weather. We began right after a hiking club called the ‘Take a Hike’ club and actually ended up at the same point of land they did, looking out over the reservoir towards the 4 peaks, a landmark on the NE corner of Phoenix. I took a picture of the club with a smart phone and one of them took a picture of us.

6.67 822

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mesa, AZ - Boulders, Boulders Everywhere

BlackMesa%252526BoulderCanyonhike-16-2012-11-13-21-45.jpgTime for another hike and it’s off to the Superstition Mts. where we hiked lots last year. I remembered a nice hike which we had taken and, since it takes us pretty deep into the Superstitions, we can really feel as if we are the only ones around. Of course, when we reached the trailhead, we quickly realized that it was hiking club day for many of the resorts around. We saw about 15 cars at the first trailhead and about 25 at the main trailhead. Ah, well, it’s a big area so maybe we won’t see many. We did pass one large group of about 10 and another group of 8 but that was about it for our hike. I think we started later than the rest of those did and they were way ahead of us.

It was a marvelous day and perfect for hiking in shorts and a t-shirt. The sun was shining, we could hear birds singing from their perches on the rocks, the wind rustled through the brush and the views were simply stupendous. We could see the Weaver’s Needle (below) off in the distance and Battleship Mt. looming ahead of us.

SuperstitionMtnshike-23-2012-11-13-21-45.jpgHalf way around the loop, we decided to diverge from the main trail and take a larger loop, through Boulder Canyon on the Boulder Canyon Trail. Now, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know already that there are lots of boulders on the trail and, in fact, the trail not only crosses the bouldered wash many times, at times we were actually walking right straight down the bouldered wash.

Imagine trying to walk on piles of irregularly sized and irregularly shaped bowling balls, and you’ve got a picture of Gary and me teetering along the wash. Well, I was teetering and tottering but Gary was striding along, leaping from one to the next like a mountain goat. Now, I don’t want you to think that we were surprised by the boulders, we actually walked this trail both ways last year and so we knew there were lots of boulders.
What we had forgotten was that the trail is seldom used and thus the brush had grown up around the trail and, at times, obscured it.
BlackMesa%252526BoulderCanyonhike-12-2012-11-13-21-45.jpgBlackMesa%252526BoulderCanyonhike-6-2012-11-13-21-45.jpgThat’s not so bad since we always found the trail but we were having very up-close and personal encounters with that brush. Remember we are hiking in shorts and t-shirts so our skin is ripe for the scratching. At times I felt like a hula dancer, swaying right to avoid the bush on the right and then left to avoid the cactus. Then, there were the tall bushes under which I had to duck.

Did I make it? Did I escape unscathed? Heck, no, I’ve got scratches all over me. I didn’t think that any of them had broken the skin and had left only white lines where they scraped me. Was I ever wrong. When I got into the shower, I knew where every last scrape was. Yeo - u - ch. Silly me, why didn’t I put on the shirt and pants legs which were in my pack? Huh? and ruin the warmth of the sun on my legs and arms? Sometimes I’m not so smart. But, then, you knew that.

As we wiggled through the bushes trying to avoid the cactus on the right and the prickly bush on the left, oops there’s a cholla right in front of me, my mind was on the Beatles ‘Hippy Hippy Shake.’

Well, now, you wiggle to the left
You wiggle to the right
Do the Hippy Shake Shake
With all of your might

We found a nice flat boulder with a bit of shade for lunch and enjoyed relaxing in the outback.

Further on, we wended our way through the boulders and brush to where we were supposed to turn left to head back to the trailhead. It’s about 2:30 and we met a couple here who were in their early 50’s. They had no map, little water and wanted to know if we knew where the marina was. A marina in the Superstition Mts?In the desert here? But, yes there is a marina on the other side of the mountains - but it was at least 3 miles away. And there are lots of ups and downs in those 3 miles. Believe me, we know, we’ve hiked that trail. But they were already 3 miles out, the marina was 3 more miles and that would mean that they would have 9 miles still ahead of them before they got back to their car and it was already at 2:30.

Not my choice and, they decided it was not their choice either for they turned around and followed us back to the trailhead.

Our reward for the end of the hike was an ice cream cone at a local tourist trap where we got this neat shot of Flatiron (right in the middle), one of the more formidable mountains in the Superstitions which seemingly rise out of nowhere.

11.5 1557’

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mesa, AZ - Thank you, Veterans

Here it is Veterans Day and there’s nothing I like better than a good local parade with all the bands, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and HS ROTC units, historical military equipment, community churches and other organizations and - ta da - a B-17 military flyover. Can you beat all that? Nope. And, that’s why we were in Mesa for the Veterans Day parade last year and why we’re here this year.

But, most of all it’s a chance to honor those veterans who have fought and died for our freedoms. When they say that freedom is not free, they are absolutely correct. Unfortunately we depend upon a small cadre of warriors today who serve 5 and even 6 tours of duty. But, enough of politics.

We came with some friends, Shirley and Jerry, found a place near the curb, set up our chairs and got ready to enjoy, clap in appreciation and stand in honor.

VeteransDayParade-2-2012-11-12-22-09.jpg VeteransDayParade-17-2012-11-12-22-09.jpg

Veterans day began in 1954 when President Eisenhower called upon all of our citizens to observe November 11th as Veterans Day and asked all Americans to will join hands to insure proper and widespread observance of this day. And every President since has honored our Veterans this way.

VeteransDayParade-18-2012-11-12-22-09.jpgThere were the usual dance clubs strutting their stuff, school groups, kids on bikes, third graders who had made ‘thank-you’ cards for vets in the audience (Gary got one) and many other local community groups.

However, the most poignant groups were the local high school ROTC’s with their members marching and carrying a banner with the picture of an Arizonan killed during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Everyone stood as these groups marched by and they marched by for a while, unfortunately.
Fine parade and we’ll come if we’re in the area next year.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mesa, AZ - Grandmothers

Recently I mentioned to a friend of mine that my grandmother wore those sensible sturdy black shoes with laces and heels about 2” in diameter. She laughed and then sent me a picture of her grandmother with the same kind of shoes. And, the same dress, by the way, black, mid-knee length, easy to care for material. Then I found a picture of Gary’s grandmother with his grandfather. There certainly was a look about these women. Sensible, no-nonsense, down-to-earth, practical, hard working, focused. And, look at how my grandmother is carrying her purse - no one is going to steal that baby. (And if anyone were to try, she’d bop them on the head with that self-same purse.) That was grandmothers in the 1950’s and 1960’s when we were growing up. And, they all looked that way. And they were called comfortable traditional names like Grandma and Grandpa.
HortenseSmith1945-2012-11-9-21-43.jpg Grandma%252527sShoesfromSherronKolb-2012-11-9-21-43.jpg 580900Gizella%252526JohnMacek-Version2-2012-11-9-21-43.jpg
77e_ElizabethMacek-2012-11-9-21-43.jpgAnd, did these women ever wear pants or slacks or jeans? Heavens, no. That was not lady-like. Katherine Hepburn might have worn slacks but she was a movie star. These women were hardy women of the heartland. Gary’s grandmother, on the right, who lived into the early 90’s, did finally find the joys of wearing slacks. Her daughters bought her a pair for Christmas. She went upstairs, changed and came down the stairs, standing at the newel post while her family clapped, laughed and told her she looked great.

Now, here’s a picture of my sister- and brother-in-law when we all went for a bike trip down the trails in Lanesboro. They have 2 wonderful grandchildren. How times have changed. Today grandparents wear jeans, sneakers, sweatshirts, shorts. They ride bikes, roller-blade, scuba dive and hike. They are fun-loving, modern and athletic. And they choose edgier names like Poppa and Mimi.
On the other hand, no matter what they look like, what they wear, what they do and what they are called, they are still grandparents and aren’t they wonderful?

I’m wondering what the younger generation will look like when they become grandparents. Tattoos, lots of rings and they’ll call themselves ‘Dude’ and ‘Chick’ or other names that I don’t even want to put into a clean blog, and, quite frankly, I probably don’t even know.

5.61 0 (it’s pretty flat here in Mesa)