The Bachelor

About a month ago, as we finished up our trip out west with the camper I started a campaign with my husband to consider a trip to Florida for some sun and fun. His response to my reasoning made me laugh, “I suppose we can’t go home from THIS trip, until you have the next one planned?? he asked”. Right. Knowing that I’m still fuming some about being “trapped” at home in the United States due to covid BS, he agreed to another road trip.

This time, we are traveling light. Quite a difference driving my car vs the truck/camper/2bike program!

Our first day we left @ 5am and drove like crazy. We switched off a couple times, only because I requested it – otherwise Bob would have just kept driving. Our original plan was to get to southern Indiana, but with good roads and weather we rerouted and pushed on to Nashville for the night. 5am in the car – 5pm out of the car. One of those days where you swear your ass will be in the shape of a Ford Explorer bucket seat when you finally dismount!

We did make a “magnet stop” at Mammouth Cave. As we have both been here in the past, we didn’t “tour” – just grabbed “the picutre” , a magnet and some post cards and took back off.

I booked us for the night in Nashville downtown. Our place was within about 8 blocks walking of the famed music row so we set off to get a stretch and see/hear what we could. It was Saturday night – and OMG busy! The streets were packed, people waiting in long lines (30 or more people) outside of the restaurants and bars. I read they had just re opened for business a couple of weeks earlier. The rule we learned was to wear a mask at all times – even outside on the public street. “Security” type people yelled at the mob and tried to hand out masks. Good Luck. The party goers were having none of it. Remodeled school buses lit up and belting out disco music passed by filled with “Girls Gone Wild” type of crowds. I kind of get where that would be a fun time – until the same chick filled bus passes us for the 10th time. Around and around the same block they go. My love is hungry and not digging the crowded streets in any way. He’s not a patient line waiter – and I’m getting frustrated trying to find a spot – and trying to take in just a little bit of Nashville. Just like that the heavens open and we pass a nice looking place without a line. The prices are fairly high (thus no long line) and they don’t have music – but they do have a menu, a bar and big windows to watch the circus outside. We take a seat. The hostess comes with a cheap thermometer and takes our temperatures. I could go into a big rant about covid right now, but I won’t. Do what you must.

We see several groups of young gals. The skirts are short, barely covering their perfect little butts. One girl has a 2 foot stream of toilet paper hanging out of the back of her mini – and I think the girlfriends must be kind of little assholes (or extremely drunk) to not notice and give her a heads up. So pretty.

The food was good and settled my grouchy husband. We take a walk to the Boot Barn across the street. His cowboy boots will need to be replaced soon, and he won’t buy without trying them on – so this is a good opportunity to look at the possibilities. He finds a pair – I record all the details, and later at the hotel order them online to be shipped back home. No sense dragging them along.

We head back to our hotel and get caught in a complete downpour. We run – but it doesn’t matter, we are getting drenched. At the hotel we go up and change clothes then hit the lobby bar for a night cap. The barkeep is a ditzy lady that can’t remember what you want to drink from the time you tell her until she turns around and looks at the booze. She has the lights set on high and every available switch turned on. The bar has a hospital cafeteria feel vs. a hotel lounge.

Hotel Bar ILLUMINATED!

Our next stop is Atlanta, so we decide to sleep in and have a more leisurely drive on day 2. The hotel is noisy. Bob claims that every ambulance and fire truck has passed out window 10 times thru the night. I plugged in my ear plugs earlier and slept like a baby! The drive east on Interstate 40 is a nice one, scenic. We stop at Lodge Foundry – and pick up a few items in the “scrap tub” – factory seconds. They don’t look bad. If you are into cast iron cooking – this is the place to come. Years ago I had the fortune of working on a committee with Henry Lodge, and the HR manager Dave – nice foundry folks. I wonder how many of the items in the store were actually made by Waupaca Foundry (it’s true, we make Lodge stuff for them).

There is a snare on the inbound to Atlanta that reroutes us for about an hour. When we arrive at our hotel we are pleasantly surprised with an upgraded room. Our friends Kim/John ‘s son Jeff is the property manager and mommy/daddy have sprung for the room and surprised us with a bottle of wine! Thanks again Dehnel’s!

We meet up with Jeff, grab a Lyft ride and head out for dinner. It’s interesting to discuss the perils of running a hotel of this size. Covid has struck – but they are on the upswing. Jeff warns that traffic will be bad in the morning, so our plan is to get a move on early to avoid it. He also warns that its very possible it will be noisy, as a little gang of motorcycles likes to congregate on the back side of the hotel and zoom zoom around and around. It’s true! On the otherside of the hotel is a hospital – we listen to zoom zoom, siren, siren …. We both plug in ear plugs and I find an app on my phone called “rain on tent” and use it as a white noise. *Note, – its really a good app – and works well !!! AND sounds like rain on a tent 🙂

Jeff Dehnel and Bob enjoying a beer in Atlanta (PS – Boy does Jeff remind us of his Dad JOHN!)

We get the early morning start and beat not only the traffic, but the rain. Our next stop is for a visit to our friend Andrea in “The Villages”. We arrive early in the afternoon. I’ve visited Andrea over the years several times – but Bob has not had the “Village Experience”. As usual, she welcomes us with open arms.

Andrea and Bob and I all started at the foundry within a year of each other. She worked as the main receptionist. I recall that the person holding the job before her (Marie) did not like young Kim and yelled at me for violations of the “mail policy” and anything else she could grump about on a regular basis. Andrea was an instant friend – (she only yelled when I had it coming!) ha ha. After 16 years “in the chair” (the front desk post) she retired and moved on down to her house in the Villages. Now 82 (I think) she still is active – playing bridge, golfing etc. Bob remarked “she looks better than she did when she worked with us”. Not kidding – she looks great!

There is suppose to be a rocket launch (Space X satellites) that Andrea says we can see from the yard. It ends up getting scrubbed due to weather both nights of our stay. Oh well.

We spend our time giving updates on everyone we can think of from either the foundry and/or Waupaca in general. Were your ears ringing? chances are you were on the list.

I took a nice walk in the morning. Overcast and cool(er) than usual. It feels a little lonely, as previous visits have had girlfriends along to BS with as we walked. Miss you all !!!

Before we arrived I told Andrea – “Get a list” … Bob is handy and he/we can get some chores done for you. On the list was replacing the kitchen faucet. TADA – we both ended up working on it because the space was small – requiring small hands and overhead fiddling.

Just one of the “fancy” golf carts — the picture of course for my firefighter brothers /friends. This model would cost about $20,000 all souped up!

Today we will leave Andrea and head to the rented Condo in Clearwater. We will look forward to seeing Andrea again when she visits Wisconsin in July. What a great person and friend! She is a wonderful hostess and we have enjoyed our stay very much. I almost forgot “The Bachelor” – night one of our stay the TV got tuned in to “The Bachelor”. My husband watched, shaking his head most of the time – I finally went to bed, but he and Andrea stayed up to the end. I heard them say, “this will give her something to blab about – the two of us staying up to watch THIS show!” – so there you go.

I’m anxious for the beach and the next part of the trip. Today will be more of a “work day” – shopping for condo supplies and getting settled in… but then … just sunshine and fun on the schedule – Yahoo!!!! Peace Out my friends.

We worked with Andrea’s grandson “Andy” – and I can’t help but giggle whenever I pass his HS photo in her hallway.

Yezah smotty, yezah Vinty

As we truck along on I-80 East, like horses to the barn working our way home …. I recall this polish “saying”. I’m quite sure it is not spelled correctly, I’m hooked on phonics … Above – it how it sounds. In my brain, I remember hearing my Grandma Sophie (Mom’s mom) shout it as the station wagon driven by my mom, gramma in the front seat, me in the back, and one of the little kids – Katrina or Kenny (toddler size) crawling around the way back of the wagon was about to be hit head on by a oncoming Ford mustang that pulled out to pass, hit the gravel and lost control on Highway 41 somewhere around Oshkosh. Mom’s cat like reflexes wheeled the wagon to the ditch, avoiding a surely fatal (for someone) head on. I think it means, “Holy Mary Mother of God”. A final prayer as your life flashes in front of you. I’ve heard my mom say it as well, in a moment of frustration, or just as an exclamation point. The toddler flew over the back seat and the 2 of us ended up on the floor behind grandma’s seat. Mom brushed herself off and I don’t think was injured despite being nearest to the part of the car that got smashed. Gramma got a banged up arm resulting in an ambulance ride. My first – riding shotgun – I thought it was so cool.

My Grandma Sophie… I think I have inherited her hair

We have traveled over 5000 miles in the past month. Bob has driven every mile – I volunteer, but he would rather drive than be the passenger.

Yesterday morning we left our previous nights Harvest Host in Southern Colorado. Seeking silence, we picked this way out in the country brewery. A great place, friendly host, and good beer. “Drink like a Farmer!” is their slogan, and because I consider myself a farmer after the cabbage/pepper planting – I loved it! Our night was not as silent as we hoped. Across the street was a large beef farm, with moo moo’s that had something to say for a good part of the evening. Once they finally shut the hell up, that farmers dog kept pace with anything that moved outside I guess. A little noisy, but tolerable.

We had about a one hour drive up to Great Sand Dune NP. This was an add on to the original trip schedule. So close in our travels home, we figured we may as well “check the box” as Bob puts it. They advertised a free dump station – something we need at the moment (more later on black water). We enjoyed a quick hike to the dunes, a drive around the park, and located the dump pipe. Under a foot of fresh snow – and locked shut for the season. Dammit. Upon leaving this park, the final one of the trip (#8), we pointed east and set about finding Wild Rose.

If you follow the blab you know that I don’t like the freeway. Going 80 mph with this camper … well it is risk intensive in my opinion. I spent a good part of my life evaluating risk for a living, I can’t shake it… it’s in my blood. So as the navigator, any chance I have to take a more “rural” route, with a lower speed limit – I will suggest it first. As luck would have it, google map agreed with me yesterday and completely kept us off the Interstate. Miles and miles of fields. Flat, boring. An occasional town (they all look the same), wind mills, grain towers…. once in a while another vehicle. It was sunny, dry roads. Perfect. We cruised along all day creeping east and a bit north. I’ve been watching the giant snow storm and selecting a path home based on its aftermath. Our final destination for the day – Kearney, Nebraska. 100 miles away, I have dialed in overnight parking in proximity to a restaurant with good reviews. The wind picks up and Bob is gripping the steering wheel pretty tight. The camper is tall and acts like a sail. We are both getting burned out from the ride. No stops except for gas and a few jumping jacks to restart the circulation in our lower bodies. Dark comes when we are about 50 miles from Kearney. Another risk. More risk than driving in the light. Typically, we are off the road before dark sets in.

The wind is howling straight from the north. Hitting it head on, is not so bad. We turn right and head straight east – the wind sucks. It’s blowing snow from the field across the road. I glance at the temperature outside – 30. Just a bit ago sunny and warm, now freezing on the road. We discuss “how slippery?” After one patch of what appears to be black ice Bob tells me, “I could feel that” and slows down. “Yezza Schmotty… Yezza Vinti” is in my head ….. Oncoming traffic is approaching slowly. I note this outloud. It happens fast. All of a sudden we were turning sideways .. .sliding, then back the other way .. Bob is counter steering and I am chanting quietly “it’s ok, it’s ok ….. ” After a couple more lefty, righties we are off the skating rink. HOLY SHIT.

We are creeping along and we pass a pole shed like building on the edge of town (Axtell, NE). As we enter town, we are both still pretty shook up. We are only about 15 miles from Kearny, but we’ve had it. Driver and Passenger. As luck would have it the pole building is a brewery. Not on the official “Harvest Host” list, I tell Bob – I will go inside and ask permission to park – or we will just park on the street in Axtell, because I’m quite sure nobody will give a shit. Thunderhead Brewery. Great people – understanding of our problem. Others whooping it up at the bar talk about seeing several cars in the ditch up the road (where we were heading). My husband pours himself a full glass of Kesslers in the camper. I praise his driving skills – easily we could have been in a lot more trouble. I take the opportunity – teaching moment? to mention “Risk Reduction” …. driving after dark, too many hours in a row, too fast for conditions, other lousy drivers …. Bob is too exhausted physically and mentally to even respond. We ave dodged a bullet.

After a pizza in the brewery, we agree to agree that we will not rush out in the morning. We will sleep in, have breakfast, and have a late vs. early start to the day. We are 10-11 hours from home. I’m already lobbying to stop, and finish the trip Monday morning. So far the Interstate is in good condition. Say a prayer.

Meanwhile, other worries that danced through my head when I should have been sleeping. Freezing tanks. Campers already know you have 3 things in a camper – FRESH water, Grey Water (sink & shower waste water) and the dreaded Black Water – located beneath the toilet – it is the resting ground for all things toilet related. Our camper is considered (and advertised) as a 4 seasons camper – frozen tanks should not be an issue. I have studied this potential problem in the past, have read others “adventures” on the Arctic Fox facebook group etc. Simple things like leaving the heat on in the camper to keep it about freezing ; leaving drawers & cupboards cracked open at night (tanks below) etc. I think help the situation. We haven’t had much luck finding a dump station since we got north – and well to put it simply…it’s full (of shit). The thought of arriving home with a solid frozen block of crap is not one I want to think about dealing with. I read online of possible prevention and solutions. One titled, “Don’t do what I did” caught my eye. The guy explains he used a tarp and a heater to get the solid block thawed out, only to pull the handle and have nothing come out. Further investigating with a long handled screw driver, he poked up into the main camper pipe, dislodged a chunk of ice and took a bath in shit. Oh my – that handle can be tricky. We just stopped at a Petro that advertised a dump station. I paid the $10, got the key and proceeded to search in the vicinity the lady pointed for the “RV Station”. I found a sign, and about 2 feet of snow completely covering the area. Forget it. I got my $10 back and we are still loaded and searching. To be continued as they say – hopefully without incident.

That’s all for today ….. trucking along, anxious to get home! Peace out.

The dreaded Interstate I-80 ; Nebraska … so boring!

Quiet.

Quiet.  I miss it.

At home things are quiet, especially at night.  We don’t have a furnace that clicks on and off (in floor heat), no fans… just quiet, especially in winter when things are closed up.  Each morning of this trip has started with, “How did you sleep?”  For the most part we both know each others answer.  The small house doesn’t keep many secrets.  Our bed is situated above the cab of the truck, we sleep “heads in”.  Getting up in the middle of the night requires a forceful sit up, followed by a butt crawl to the opening in the center of the foot of the bed.  If while sleeping your foot enters the opening, the person crawling out just gives it a poke to alert you its about to get sat on for the dismount from the bunk.  Move it or lose it.

We also have become accustomed to running a fan all night.  Usually the “super fan” roof vent is used, but its been too cold to suck the heat out of the camper – instead we have a little junk fan from Walgreens ($5) that plugs in the USB and makes just enough noise to drown out the other neighborhood racket.

Middle of the night last night I got up for a pee.  Gave Bob the foot poke and headed to the bathroom/dirty clothes closet/garbage storage/liquor cabinet/water jug storage “room”.  Staying in the parking lot of the Winslow, AZ Chamber of Commerce – nothing is unpacked.  It all stays in so we can just stealth in and out.  It’s crowded.  Blurry eyed I sit on the john.  Then I hear Bob get up.  I’m wondering why?  He knows there is not room for 2 of us up at the same time.  Literally the floor is covered with the fire pit, bagged wood, my new plant collection etc.  I sit quietly and listen, and as I do the bathroom door flies open.  “Boo” I say softly from the throne. 

I wish I had the picture of his face.  I wasn’t in bed.  I’m not sure where my love thought I went, but he genuinely didn’t anticipate seeing me in “the booth”.  After a few swear words, I exited and went back to bed.  Poor Bob.

The cheapo fan had its work cut out last night.  The chamber is located next to the train station.  A busy one.  Not only trains rolling past, but car switching etc.  We were both up at 5am.  This is when my second sabotage of poor Bob happened.  I was digging out clothes up in the bedroom, and he was getting cleaned up and dressed – all of a sudden I heard him holler and choke and raise a commotion.  I scramble down(stairs) – what ???  He’s holding a ½ full water bottle.  Oh shit – I know.  3 or 4 days ago as we reached close to the bottom of the big Tito’s Vodka bottle, I dumped about 1 cup of the remains into a water bottle so I could off load the big glass bottle to a garbage.  I had put it in the fridge, but didn’t mark it.  So my hubs started the day with what he estimated to be 3-4 oz of vodka.  “I was thirsty!!” he tells me, commencing to chug the water before he got a taste of it.  Poor Bob.  Should I let him drive?  I ask him if he wants to go back to bed for a while?  No.  I cook a really big breakfast in hopes of soaking up his morning “medicine”.

It’s noon now and he’s sobered up.  We took a nice ride thru Petrified Forest NP.  Took a few of the shorter hikes.  It’s a cool place.  Red rocks!  My favorite.    I would rate it a 7. 

Backtracking in my writing.  Yesterday morning we left the Hot Springs place in Southern California as the sun was coming up after a fairly peaceful night.  (No hide and seek in the potty). 

Picture of the tubs (they look grungy, but weren’t bad); and the “cooling tower” – running the hot springs water from the ground thru it to cool it down.

Our drive up past the north end of the too salty / dead fish lake was pretty.  Beautiful farm land.  Flat.  1 mile squares.  Oranges, Lemons, Date Palms, lettuce and all sorts of other small vegetable looking stuff.  I saw some migrants riding on a planter and I smiled recalling the cabbage planting program.  Kindred Spirits. 

A nice cruise through a canyon that took us north to Joshua Tree NP.  Honestly, I was a little disappointed in JTNP.  I think it is probably MUCH better when the desert is in bloom – our visit was short and sweet.  We have seen a lot of desert in the past couple of weeks, so are definitely feeling less impressed than when we first started.  After the park we pounded 500 miles out on the freeway, leaving me car sick and head pounding and my driver chanting, “I need a drink”. 

We enjoyed our dinner in Winslow.  Did the obligatory pictures on the corner etc.

Now it’s just past noon.  We will be to Albuquerque NM soon, then heading north for one final National Park.  I have really enjoyed the scenery on Interstate 40 thru Arizona and New Mexico – PRETTY !!! 

I have promised Bob that after a visit to Great Dunes National Park Bob has requested a bee-line to Interstate 80.  Yah – good old boring Nebraska.  Signing off for now.

Peace out. 

PS – Just want to mention that I did not steal a rock (or anything) from Petrified Forest.  I believe in Karma and they promise you will be in big trouble 😊

One month ago…

We left the driveway December 26. It seems like a long time ago! All good here, we are still married and both alive 🙂 We have met so many people that are full time RV’ers and have concluded that we are not. Most have the same story interestingly enough … they didn’t have a big retirement savings, what they did have was a house and stuff – so they sold it all, bought a camper and took off. We wonder what they do all day? Most of the RV places we have stayed at we see very few people. It’s been in the 60’s so they are all freezing to death and that might be why they “don’t come out”.

We spent a chilly weekend in Scottsdale.

Watched the game – enough said on that! We hooked up with our new Iowa friends Mike and Barb and about 50 other Packer Backers. It was fun. Mike won a towel, and Bob won $125 on a pool the bar had – so that helped off set our 6 hour pre game/game bill.

We had a strange dude at the table behind us. He ate non stop throughout the game and doodled. He looked like he was really working on something important! I managed a “stealth like” photo when he wasn’t looking at what he was busy working on. Hmmmm.

The plan is still fairly loose from day to day. When we left Scottsdale – heading west we just hoped to get past Quartzite. The drive on the interstate made me damn GMC for removing the Oh shit handle from this truck – I needed it! We hit rain, that turned to sleet, that turned to hail and traffic for the most part slowed to a crawl. I’m chanting again to my driver … “we are retired” …. “we are not in a hurry”… “lets pull over”.

UGH … hate driving in this stuff!

The weather passes and we make a lunch stop in Quartzite. OMG what a strange little town. Lots of RV’s living in the hills of BLM land. LOTS of homeless “wanderers” in the town. We tried to eat at McDonalds, (My guts already hurt from the day drinking on Sunday – so why not?)… You can’t eat inside. I took the sign to mean you couldn’t order inside either – so we walked through the drive thru… the camper won’t make it (too tall). They wouldn’t answer us on the speaker despite several gyrations by both of us in front of it – waving, clapping, yelling etc. We did catch the eye of one of the bums who suggested we buy a “palm rose” he had handcrafted so that he could buy a cup of coffee. No Thanks. We gave up and went to the gas station Subway instead. Not nearly the grease my hang over needed, but they had a DQ also – and the ice cream was just what the doctor ordered. While chowing down in the truck, we note people walking into McD’s and out with bags of food. Dammit. It was a late lunch tho, so no supper cooking for me 🙂

Our camp for the night is a no frills BLM campground on the Colorado River. Again, several campers – but not many people. It’s windy and cold so we become “camper people” for the afternoon. In the evening and morning I took a couple walks, pretty area –

In the morning we head south toward Yuma. Again, no plan. Enroute I do weather checking …. no sense heading north – the weather sucks. We are pleasantly surprised as we pass “Imperial Sand Dunes”. What a cool place (as good if not better than the National Park sand dunes).

We discuss renting a dune buggy. It costs close to $1000 for the day. That seems a bit extreme, I mean I just want to borrow it, not buy it. We vote no and continue on. Bob has mentioned a couple times that I am not doing very good on finding him “hot springs” … Partially to blame is Covid – I can find them, but they aren’t open. One of the apps on my phone leads us to an RV park with hot springs. I call and they are open. Good.

Before the hubs gets his speedo on I suggest we take the bikes off and go exploring. We have been driving along a really long lake for about 20 miles. Sultan Sea. I ask at the office and the guy tells me we can go about 7 miles to Bombay Beach to get close to the water. The bike ride is good, not much traffic … a few roadside signs advertising “Bombay Beach”. I’m half hoping we will find a beach bar we can hang out at, enjoy the view etc.

The story is a sad one for Bombay Beach. At one time a thriving resort area where the rich and famous of L.A. would come and party … they killed all the fish, the place began to stink, people sold and moved and now it is the wierdest most disgusting little dump. Imagine Breaking Bad meets Burning Man. We rode up and down the streets. Most houses covered in graffiti. Most appeared to have people living in them, even though there were doors and windows missing. Lots of garbage, barking dogs etc.. We passed the Fire Station and I said to Bob, “wow I can’t believe they have this infrastructure”. Bob replies, “They don’t need a fire department – they need a fire!”

Whatever the revival of 2018 was supposed to have been – those people gave up and moved on. There was no sign at all of “art” or anything positive happening here.

Interesting palms near our campground
Our neighbor … the reflection on the camper was cool

We grilled out dinner then enjoyed the campfire. Today ??? Who knows… watching the weather and trying to put together a plan to get back home eventually!

Peace Out.

Well that made me feel old!

I don’t think of myself as old … yet. I think of Bob as kind of old… sometimes. OLD is our parents! right?

We haven’t accomplished much in the past fews days. Stopped / Stayed in a couple of Harvest Host that were golf courses. Took a few bike rides. The city of Chandler has a nice bike trail (not as nice as Tucson’s was) but still fun to ride along on. It was just around the corner from the golf course so the location was easy (and not life threatening traffic to get to it).

We played golf. 9 holes at one course “Bear Creek”. How it got named that we have no idea. It’s in the middle of the city – no bears, and as far as we could tell, no creek. It was next door to a factory that made accoustic panels … seeing, hearing it made us think back to the foundry. The course wasn’t very pretty – golf in the desert, but they did have a pond with some cool birds. There was also a loon, but he wasn’t up for having his photo.

We also stayed 2 nights and golfed at “Long bow”. This was a pretty fancy course, new, nice … It cost $135 per person for 18 holes of golf. YIKES. Our tee time was 8:50 am, practically the first ones out. We arrived ahead of time and tried to figure out where to go. The staff assumed we knew I guess because nobody paid much attention to us. No key in the cart, Bob goes off to find someone and that is when we ask – “should we start?”. The guy growls at us and starts yelling at the people on the practice range – we find out at this point – we have partners. A 4 some. I piss/moan at the guy, “Do we HAVE to have a 4 some?”. You’d think they would ask or at least tell you this is the deal when you book a tee time. It’s not that I don’t like people right? But I truly suck at golf, and I feel sympathy for the people that get stuck with us. I don’t want to follow the rules. I want to drive a ball (or 3 or 4) off the tee. Go pick them up. Watch Bob from the golf cart and then drive to the green to putt one or two balls. No score keeping. No hard shots. It’s my $135 right?

This is not the option today. Today we will meet Barb and Mike from Iowa and those poor souls will be stuck with us. They are nice. They know how to golf but they don’t seem to bothered by our “not golfing”. Bob has a terrible round and gets into the rut of just getting worse as he gets more pissed. After a few holes the timekeeper comes and nicely tells us to move it as we are holding up traffic on the course. This is annoying to me because of two things .. IF someone would have giving us some direction at the start we wouldn’t have been late starting- and I have been skipping at least every other one of my shots – so we are moving pretty quick for a 4 some. I mumble a “screw you” and shake my head. I mean, this cost me $135 !! if I want to stop and smell the roses for a minute I will.

The 4 of us survive the 18 holes and have a few beers together afterwards. Really nice people!

Longbow golf course porch

We chill at the camper for a bit and then take a walk down the street in search of pizza. I have been hungry for a pizza for a few days and have located a pizza place “MOD” within reach. It’s in a strip mall kind of thing so I drop Bob off at a brewery next door and head in to get a pizza to go.

Have you seen the commercials where their is a life coach guy that is training older people to not act like older people? I’m not even sure what the commercials are about – but they make me laugh. Dr. Rick – turning into your parents .. Progressive – it’s coming back to me now.

The first episode of Kim needing Dr. Rick happened at this pizza joint. It is set up like a Subway sandwich shop. One big sign with 50 choices as you stand in line. It’s busy, but they are quick so I barely get a look at the sign before I’m at the order window and 10 people are stacked up behind me. I say, “I’ll take a medium .. um meat lover”. The order girl (age 16) practically rolls her eyes and spits out, “Mad Dog?” I ask, “Is that like a meat lovers?” … HISS … she is getting annoyed (and so am I). Sure. I’ll take that. “What size?” … “Um the medium? I make a hand gesture of the size”. More eyerolling and hissing. Now I think I can hear hissing from the 20 people that have stacked up behind me. She scribbles on a piece of paper and slides it down the line – dismissing me. I say, “can I get another one? the bbq chicken .. small (hand gesture).” “Caspian?” WTF. OK, in my defence I have gone to their website this morning… here are the cutesy names for the MOD pizzas … In addition to Mad Dog, and Caspian … you can order a “Jasper” “Dillon James” “Calexico” “Dominic” “Tristan” or a “Lucy Sunshine”. Who comes up with this stuff? The size options are “Mini” “Mod” “Mega Dough”. Yah.

I follow the 2 sheets of scribbled on paper down the line. 2 young girls recieve the papers and start slopping ingredients onto a crust. One looks at me and asks what I want on my pizza? I thought we went thru this already at the first stop, but …. I say, “Meat” on the big one. More eye rolls. Nothing else – meat and cheese. Same question for the bbq chicken. I try to ask for sun dried tomatoes – but despite having about 60 ingredients to choose from (like subway) they don’t offer SD tomatoes. I am dismissed by girl #2 and #3. Down the line, around the corner I have reached the register to pay. A young man asks, “What do you have?”. OMG – what was the secret code for the 2 pizzas I ordered? I blurt out, “A medium one with meat, and a small one with bbq chicken”. He acts like finding my order on the register with this information is going to require a moon launch. I say, “My name is Kim (they took my name at the start) – does that help?” He actually seems pissed at me that I don’t have the lingo. I say, “I’m sorry this is my first time here, I don’t really get it”. Dr. Rick HELP ME !!! He finds my order and in so many words and gestures lets me know he does not give a shit. I know at this point he will turn around and spit on my pizzas – I look away.

When I arrive back at the beer joint with the pizza boxes Bob gives me a “what took so long?”. Don’t ask – just eat your “Middy moddy jasmine moon sparkle pizza”. PS. The pizza is not very good.

MOD pizza .. blah!
He’s so proud he has aquired a taste for IPA …. YUK! I think it tastes like hair perm solution

The second episode of “we are old” came when we went to the laundromat yesterday. It’s been a while so we have 2 big tubs full of dirty stuff. The place is big, new, clean, nice machines. I commence sorting out the clothes into wash piles and Bob dances around trying to help. Yah. I ask, “can you go get some quarters or whatever we need please?”. Clothes sorted and in the machines, I wait for him to return. And wait. Finally he comes back and is all in a tizz. “They don’t use quarters, you have to buy a card … but you get your dollar back when you are done – and we need to know how much we are going to use and put that much on this card”…. OK. I look – we have 4 loads of wash. The machine charges different amounts depending on what wash cycle you select. Warm water cost more than cold. I select warm. $2.89. Yes, you read that right. Not $2.50 or $3.00 or some other normal even number. I go check the dryers, they will ask for $1.68. Quick math in my head $ 3×4 loads wash, and $ 2×4 loads for the dryer – I say to Bob, load it with $20. He has his phone out with the calculator tee’d up. “You don’t get your money back! he snarls at me”. So we do the exact math and off he goes to load the card. It is as complicated as ordering pizza and he comes back looking about as frazzled. We manage. We survive. We have clean clothes! In the end we have an extra dryer credit. I give the card ($1) and the credit ($1.68) to a lady that has 10 black garbage bags of what appears to be kid clothes. I won’t even tell Bob about that splurge, she looked like she could use it.

As usual, the other folks in the laundry provide entertainment. The big guy that has done all of his months laundry in one load. No sorting. I watch as he carry’s what is about 4 normal size loads from the giant washer and crams them in the dryer (together). It’s stuffed and I doubt they will even be able to tumble. He stares puzzled at the dryer control screen, mumbles to himself, slides his card and starts the empty dryer that is on top of the one he has packed full. He lets out a “FUCK” really loud and I can’t help but laugh. He moves all the clothes into the dryer he has running. Poor guy. PS – HE said it, not me 🙂

Meanwhile as I fold an older guy who is there with his wife wanders over to the bathrooms. I’ve already tried this myself, but they are locked and have a sign that says they are closed – COVID reasons. He tries the door. It’s locked. He goes back and his wife tells him he needs the magic $1 laundry card. This is true, in a non covid world he would use this card to open the door (like a hotel room key reader). He tries the card. Nope. He tries is on the women’s bathroom. Nope. Poor fella has to go and it shows. He looks a little bewildered. He looks my way and I say, I think they are closed (ie: the sign) because of covid. He snarls at ME, “Right, because you don’t have to go to the bathroom when there is covid!!!”. I just smile and nod, “guess not”.

Today we will walk over to the local Packer Bar. Our friends from Iowa are planning to meet us and cheer on Green Bay. We are vacationing from the camper at a nice Hyatt in Scottsdale. Ahhhh unlimited hot water!!! and a hot tub. Tomorrow we will set out again – and we haven’t even decided to where yet.

Peace Out … from “the old people”.

Here comes the rain!

Things that don’t go together

One of the things that happens when we hotel vacation is anything needing substantial power gets dragged in and powered up while we stay. This includes the 10 pound bike batteries (x4). I had brought the tub in, got them all charged and had them on the desk in our hotel room. While looking for something in the tub next to them, one slid off the desk and landed across my bare feet. It was one of those moments where all I could do was sit down, clutch my mangled toes and listen to my husband ask, “Are you alright?”. OUCH. Eventually I was able to test them out and found that in fact I hadn’t broken all 10 toes and several foot bones, but likely just put a good bruise on one or two. I’ve been trying to curb my F word usage (NY resolution- sort of), but this was clearly a case where it was needed. So item 1 and 2 that don’t go together? My toes and those wicked battery packs.

While “small house” living we have routines. Prior to “blasting off”, Bob has a set group of things he worries about on the outside of the camper. Awning and jacks retracted and stowed, bikes etc. On the inside of the camper I make sure the TV is locked, toilet seat down, vents closed and anything that is just laying around on the cupboards and table needs to get put away. Either in a cupboard or on the floor. Since I rarely use the microwave/convection oven contraption that is mounted so high above my head that its an accident waiting to happen when I do – this has become a simple storage cabinet. On this trip its storing the bathroom stuff – vitamins, toothbrushes, eye wash solution. I’d use the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, but it sucks and most of the time despite added velcro it flies open enroute and I find the contents splashed across the floor when we stop. Which leads me to the other 2 things that don’t go together…. an electric Sonicare toothbrush, and the microwave.

Last night I was making supper (one of the first ones I’ve made – total boondocks here!). I was going to warm up some water for instant potatoes so I pulled the vitamins and contact solution out. Again, the stupid thing is mounted so high I can’t see into it without a stool, so assuming I had everything out – I put the pan with water in and fired up the microwave. I could hear a strange buzzing sound, hmmm?? must be the plate isn’t …. oh shit! my toothbrush. Poor little feller – radiated! 10 seconds of microwaving and all it could do is flash. No more vibration, unable to shut off the flashing light. Bob just got a new one about a month ago (mine is 5 years old), and so I mention that I wanted a new one anyway. He claims I “Killed it” on purpose, but thats not true. Guess what? This morning I tried it and it worked! ha ha … Second on the list of things that don’t go together – your sonicare toothbrush and microwaves!

We got going late yesterday from the hotel. Enjoying one last shower, dragging all our stuff back out, hotel breakfast etc. Our first stop was Saguaro NP East. The park is split and sits about an hour apart – east and west on both sides of Tucson. It’s all about the cactus.

We take the 8 mile loop drive which is curvy and hilly and I feel a bit nervous as Bob swerves through it. He runs over a big rock and I am like “What the hell?”. He claims he can’t see the road/obstacles and I offer a short lecture in slowing down. Thus, a quiet 8 mile loop drive. It’s pretty, I’d give it a 7 on the 1-10 scale for NP, but only because the west side is a lot cooler. On the way out I go to the visitor center to collect the magnet – 3 volunteers/rangers on duty outside at a table, but NO, NO, NO …. no gift shop items. This is stupid and I try not to be a beotch to the little lady who breaks the no magnet news to me. I whine a little, but I can see it’s not going to get me anywhere. Back to the truck I explain to Bob that we need to put the hammer down and get to Saguaro NP WEST before 3pm. I know – “go slow! go fast!” … I’m surprised he doesn’t leave me at the roadside some days.

Along the route we pass this crazy “Largest airplane boneyard” in the world place. Miles of airplanes, decommisioned and lined up for storage in the dry, warm desert. It’s the craziest thing to drive past.

https://www.airplaneboneyards.com/davis-monthan-afb-amarg-airplane-boneyard.htm

My google maps takes us on an “adventure route” to the west park, not the easiest way I’m sure in hindsight. When we arrive the lot is full and we are lucky to get a parking spot. Thinking prior that it would be quiet on a Monday – and forgetting it was a holiday MLK day – (free admin). I head to the gift shop and am met at the door with a ticket machine and a young lady who tells me there is a wait. I’m ticket number 93; and she is just calling 72. I commence my whining, “all I need is a magnet – any magnet”… , I turn on the charm, “Gosh I can’t believe how busy you are here … we went to east side – all the way from Wisco, but they don’t have any magnets for sale … I’m happy we came here it’s a lot prettier than east .. blah blah … what a nice shirt you have on (no I didn’t really say this, but I was ready to) .. She says, “I have a box with some different magnets, I could get that and you could pick one. AMEN AMEN !!! Karma? Whining? I don’t care. Yes, THANKS!! “My husband is SO impatient, I really appreciate it!” I tell Bob later I used him as my excuse and he laughs and says, “geez thanks”. She brings a little box and I quickly snatch one out of the selection and hand it to her with a $20. I ask, “any chance you could grab me 10 postcards too? I don’t care what they are..” She replies, “No, I really can’t I’m supposed to be out here” .. OK – not pushing it. But then Karma strikes again and she pops out with a pack of 12 and says, “would this be OK?”. Tada !!! My whole shopping experience takes place outside the gift shop, but I don’t care. Postcard recipients – now you have the rest of this story 🙂

30 miles later we land at Picacho Peak State Park. I know nothing about it and have selected it only for location. It’s in between Tucson/Phoenix. Just off the freeway, it turns out to be a really pleasant surprise. Not too crowded, almost as many Saguaro as the NP had, hiking/biking, power (enough to fry the toothbrush), showers – all good.

The best part? The sunset. It was incredible! The best we have seen on the whole trip. Photo credits to Bob who really has an eye when it comes to this.

Prior to sunset we took a bike ride outside of the park to “Ostrich land” (or whatever it was called) Total tourist trap filled with screaming kids. I took a lap thru the gift shop, contemplated a ostrich feather duster for $15 (I put it back), grabbed some postcards and we got the heck out. Bob says later, “I just knew you were going to have to go there when I saw it from the highway”. The only other buildings at this exit are a gas station/Dairy Queen, and a dirty book store … it was the obvious choice!

This reminded me of my buddies Nicole and Emily!
Picacho Peak (as seen from Ostrich land)

Dinner was Lake Erie Walleye and carrots that have been with us since the start. We like the park so much we are staying a second night, but need to move to the site across the street. I’m going to try out hiking boots today and see how that feels on my crushed toes (ha ha). It seems like that Dairy Queen would be the obvious choice for supper, but who knows I might actually cook a second night.

There is rain in the forecast – the first they’ve had since the beginning of DECEMBER. It sprinkled a little last night, but not much. Clouds will make hiking better today, and looking at the morning sky – I’m doubting much rain.

Two things that DO go together?? Well …we haven’t killed each other yet 🙂 Peace Out!

Pukey Puppy

Monday…Monday. 

Our weekend in Tucson has been enjoyable and today we will continue on and out toward Saguaro National Park (east and west).  I chose the Hilton, not because I wanted to be overcharged for everything – but for its location and proximity to “Franks Sports Bar” and the bike trail.

When we arrived I asked for suggestions regarding parking of the camper and our bikes.  The girl said, “we have parking out back – but everyone parks in front”.  Several spaces open, we park in the front corner of the lot.  I don’t have a great feeling about this as its next to the public sidewalk and busy road – but figure it will be OK.  It’s Hilton right?  I wasn’t surprised yesterday morning to find that someone has been tampering with our stuff.  The cover for the bikes was unzipped and buckles open – just to take a look inside I guess.  Happily my husband had researched for days to get a bike rack that not only held the weight of the bikes, but has 2 bars that lock them to the rack, and the rack to the truck.  We also take the batteries off, so even if you hacksawed the bikes off the rack it would be a PITA to try and ride them.  Little shits!  Apparently they decided after a look it wasn’t doable or worth the effort.  I report the issue to the front desk and all they do is to suggest moving the truck closer.  A little weary on the security here.

My other first night adventure was to walk over to the next door Culvers and get some supper.  It was a ZOO!  Apparently people are hooked on Culvers here like we are hooked on ChickFilet back home.  I went inside, ordered and waited holding a number along with about 10 other people….. and a dog!  A big dog that some guy apparently thought need to be inside the restaurant.  A bull dog? or one of those mean ones?  I can’t tell.  As the dog wanders and sniffs/rubs everyone – and the guy thinks “oh so cute”… I’m thinking “What the F….”  I’m not a dog hater, but its a restaurant!  What if someone was allergic or afraid?  Just as I’m having these thoughts the dog pukes… he pukes a big puddle of pukey smelling barf, right in front of all of us.  At this point 2 of the people working the counter run from behind it and start petting the dog.  “Are you Ok doggie? Awww poor doggie”.  Now I’m really ready to blast off.  My opinion is the correct response would be, “Sir, please take the dog outside and we will bring you your food … and Junior employee, please get the puke clean up kit and take care of this… and 10 people still waiting in line, “I am sorry for this, we will get your food out quickly”.  But no… they continue to worry about fido and why he puked, holding a long conversation with him (dog) and the owner.  I have a pretty strong stomach, but puke is not something I handle well.  I feel the “urp” urge in my throat and wonder if I will also get petted and sympathy when I puke all over the floor….  I don’t know how this ends – my number gets called and I rush the counter to get my food and get out.  Really people?

Do you think the kid changed gloves before scooping ice cream?

We took a Lyft ride downtown on Saturday to watch the foot ball games. It was supremo people watching as well On the campus of Arizona State University. AZ has a new curfew that all bars have to close at 10pm. This is related to Covid, but I’m not sure what or how it is helping. Our Lyft driver just tells us his observation is that people just go out and get drunk earlier in the day. Seems to be true the places are packed. Bob and I are obviously in the minority age wise. I will note that I am overdressed as it seems like a lot of girls stomachs are showing – thankfully mine is covered. The college girls are beautiful. Not an ugly one in the bunch. White white teeth, long lashes, tan bodies … Bob after taking in the sights for a while says, “Why weren’t the girls this pretty when I went to college?” Well Poindexter the engineer, I’m guessing even if they were you wouldn’t have noticed. I have the pleasure of facing a TV that has a hottie college boy sitting under it. He’s a looker and I can’t help staring. Very smiley, he flips his hair back … oh my … cougar girl.

I enjoy this beet salad while my husband makes puke sounds at the thought of it. SO GOOD!

Beet salad … yummo

Yesterday (Sunday) after unleashing the bikes from lock down on the truck and ensuring nothing was messed with we took off on the famous Tucson bike trail. It was AWESOME! I’m going to say, my favorite thing of the trip so far. They have over 100 miles of paved bike/walking trail that circles the city. We rode over 20 miles, through town, the desert. Well Done! It was so fun.

Lots of different plants, smooth riding … Many people of all ages, and sizes are out riding and walking – everyone is smiling!!

After the bike ride we cleaned up and took a ride to the sports bar. It was one of those you see usually down south – a bar inside a strip mall, lots of TV, but dark and dingy. Way to nice out to spend the afternoon in this place. We eat and call the Lyft (get the same driver); and head to the near the hotel Hooters. It’s really nice with outside seating. We watch part of the game and walk back to the hotel.

Today its back to the little house living program. Weather is calling for less than an inch of rain this week – but a day or two with clouds (OH NO!). There are about 5 harvest host golf clubs up around Phoenix so that is our plan to check at least a few out.

Peace out.

Dreamboat college boy in the yellow 🙂

Cop Cars, Walmart, and Rocketships

The title pretty much sums up the last few days of our trip. Leaving Tombstone, AZ we are planning our next stop at a Harvest Host near Nogales, AZ border (w/Mexico) “town”. For some reason I think it will be a quaint little burg, vs. the city it turns out to be. Lousy job on the research I guess. The HH is a golf course about 5 miles out of town, “Kino Springs”. It looks nice in the ad. Sure.

When we arrive we find a golf course with several old and in disrepair buildings. There are cars in the lot, and evidence that some folks are golfing. We go inside the poorly lit pro shop and I pitch my overnight stay request to the kid behind the counter. He gives me a “duh?” response. No clue what HH even is. I explain, I show him the app on my phone, perhaps the contact person listed “Keith Mundy” could help? Well perhaps, except Keith doesn’t work here anymore. Duh Boy tells me he doesn’t think its a problem for us to stay and points in the direction of an empty lot by the road that we could park. Perfect. We set a tee time for the next morning and park and get the bikes unloaded for a ride to town. On the road to town near the golf course (small 2 lane, country road) we meet a cop car…then another passes us. Hmm. We have our “chat enabled” helmets on …mostly I do the chatting (shocking right?). The route requires us to ride on a fairly busy stretch of road that is making me nervous. To swerve to the ditch is going to put you face to face with a large cactus in most of the places. There is plenty of crap on the road (broken glass etc.) and I think back to the flat tire of a couple weeks ago. Lots of garbage hanging from the pricky things (I don’t blame the road side clean up for not trying to retrieve it, but am disgusted by the litter bugs). As we peddle fiercly to get off this busy road my husband let out a sneeze heard around the world – I about shit myself it was so loud in my helmet. It scared the bejeesuz out of me. I turn him off. Usually I like to leave the thing on even when not chatting so I can listen to him huffing and puffing and know he’s still there (he doesn’t talk except to grunt an occasional “Ok”) but after the sneeze scare, I decide the off button is the best. A few semi trucks pass close to me and that’s all I need to be freaked out. We pull over and I suggest a “returno”. Bob says, “we are almost there”, and I wimper – I don’t want to die, I’m turning around. So back we go. No town visit. As we approach Kino Springs GC, and have seen at least another cop car we decide to keep riding the other direction. There are some town houses that look like they were once part of the golf course. Nice in the past, it appears squatters have taken over with junk cars and garbage everywhere. The ride along this country road is pretty and soon we see some nicer houses set off the road behind fences. There actually is a town “Kino Springs” and that is where the road ends. So we turn around and head back to the camper. 20 miles.

It’s early in the afternoon, like 2pm. We set out the chairs and watch the traffic. Cop cars, back and forth. We take a walk around the property. Once a very cool place I’m guessing – it now is in desparate need of some love. Bob suggests this is probably not the safest place to spend the night. “Why all the cop cars?” Agree. We head to town to the local Walmart. The reviews are mixed on if this is a Walmart you can stay at. The parking lot is huge, but covered with signs that specifically say “No RV or semi overnight parking”. I try calling the store, no answer. I don my mask and head inside. The place is over flowing with people, the craziest Walmart I have ever been in. The kid behind the customer service counter is speaking spanish to the customer ahead of me. He listens to my request and says “sometimes ok, sometimes not .. I have to call a manager, please step aside”. I smile and move over. While waiting I notice piles and piles of stuff. Carts full of gallons of milk. Packages of raw chicken piled up, clothing, toys … what the hell? Finally an older lady shows up and he says something in spanish to her and nods at me. She quizzes me on the camper (I think) – I reply, “it’s just a truck with a camper on top – nothing behind”. OK, park far away from the store. We do some grocery shopping, to include a bottle of nice Rum. It’s got a “lock thing” on it to prevent shop lifting. Nobody can get it off. Bob takes the rest of the groceries to the truck, and I find myself back at the messy service counter watching everyone (including a guy that was seeking customer service) take a turn trying to free our bottle of rum. It’s already paid for or I would have just walked away. Finally someone shows up with one from the shelf that didn’t have a lock. What a nutty place. We sleep well along with others who apparently have permission.

Anyone else in line want to try “freeing” our rum bottle?

We never do see anymore of Nogales the border town (city). In the morning we hop on the freeway and head north. We’ve seen several “Border Patrol” stops, but none have actually been stopping traffic. Today there are guards and a big beautiful German Sheppard sniffing truck tires as vehicles pass. It’s hard to tell if people are stopping, or just rolling past slowly. As Bob pulls through he stops and says to the guard, “Do I just keep going?”. The guy laughs and says, “No, STOP”. He asks, “Where are you coming from?”. Bob looks at me????? I said, Walmart in that last town (can’t rembember the name). “Where did you stay last night?”. Bob responds, “At the Walmart in the last town”. The guy laughs – Walmart? Really? “Where are you from?”. Wisconsin!!! Guard laughs again. “Ok, have a nice trip-drive safe”. I guess the combo of cheesehead heritage and the inability to remember the towns name you just left 10 minutes before are good enough for passage. Bet he’d never guess we had a camper full of Mexican’s and cocaine. (JUST KIDDING).

We are adding a stop today based on a conversation with my dad the day before. The Titan Missile site. My review post “tourist trap stop” is that if you are in the area, it is worth the $12.50 and an hour of your time.

It’s amazing to me from a safety perspective that we didn’t blow ourselves and the rest of the world up with this operation. I’m sure it was “best of the best” back in the 60’s/70’s while in operation, but holy shit my risk assessment was that it left a lot of room for error. We have a chirpy little tour leader who is WAY too excited about the missile. We have a person on the tour (older guy) that has WAY too many questions. We sit in the back of the room and whisper to each other. More enjoying the people watching/judging than the missile story. Our leader tells us we are EVEN going to simulate a launch!!! (Look out Russia!). She asks for 2 volunteers and a couple about my folks age throw their hands in the air. The lady will pretend to be the commander, and her husband with his pants fly unzipped with be the assistant. I whisper to Bob, shouldn’t someone with this responsibility have their pants zipped? I’m worried. It the audience was a bunch of 10 year olds I’m guessing this would be fun, but since it’s not I find it stupid. Oh well. We learn a few things about history, take a few pictures and call this experience a “check the box”.

Another activity is stopping at the “desert garden store”. I could have spent the day there. I find a box full of cacti babies and happily shuck out over $100 for my collection. I’m smiling now as I look over at the plastic tubs we are storing them in for the ride.

The little “butt like” plants are called “Living Stones”. Water 2 times per year.

We park at another HH. A golf course in Green Valley, AZ “San Ignacio Golf Club”- 2 nights. We golf both days, enjoy great food at the clubhouse restaurant, ride our bikes on the well laid out bicycle trails, get some sun and enjoy weather in the 70’s. Finally. Yesterday we golfed with Pat and Joe from Ohio. Not our choice, the club guys just paired us up to move things along. They were interesting people. Retired, 2 houses – one here one in Ohio. He was the school psychologist, she taught special ed. They golf as poorly as us so we do sort of a scramble. Pat doesn’t make a swing without a few sentences of coaching from Joe. After the second hole of Joe’s advice I’m rolling my eyes. Little Pat is such a good wife, listening and saying “Thank you Joe” after each command, followed by “Oh, I’m sorry Joe – I pushed that one a little” etc… PUKE. Bob suggests that I take a lesson in subservency from Patty Cakes. I suggest that won’t likely be happening!

Today we head up to Tucson. It’s hotel time again – and GO PACK GO! We also want to ride the cool trail on our bikes that we have been reading about. 2 more parks are on the agenda after that – Saguro and Petrified Forest. We’ve decided to check out the US weather on Sunday and determine if we are going further west or starting the trek back home to shovel with the rest of you. Dad tells me the weather has been nice for January – wanna bet it goes to hell in February when we get home? Whatever – I don’t mind winter. Happy Weekend everyone. Peace Out.

PS – Hint from Heloise. Turns out one lesson from the trip I have learned. The flushable butt wipes from Aldi’s work better than Neutragena wipes for make up removal. Your welcome.

Captain Underpants!

God works in mysterious ways. Karma. Good Luck. All of these could be the reason behind my unexpected surprise while hiking in the Chiricuhua National MONUMENT yesterday. First, regarding this place – it is deserving of the “Park” status. Very pretty and unusual. A little like Bryce Canyon, but many more birds, trees, etc. It’s own look. Instead it is a place not visited by many (nice). We stopped at the visitor center, talked to the ranger about potential hikes and decided to just drive to the top and stop along the way on the trip back down the mountain.

A little trouble getting the “sign” picture dialed in!

Apparently one of the things that doesn’t happen when you aren’t a National PARK is your maintenance crew is slim (or lazy), or non existent. Bob swerved the camper back and forth up the road to avoid low hanging limbs that would quickly remove the antenna, solar panels, a/c etc. from the camper roof. Luckily, not many people on the park road or we would have been playing chicken until someone backed down.

At the top we start down what looks to be just an over look for pictures. SO THE STICKS for walking are in the truck. Instead it turns out to be a trail, and Bob is cruising quickly in front of me. I yell, “we don’t have our sticks!” He keeps going. My knee still is tender especially on stepping down … ouch, step, step .. ouch … you get it. We have some rock scrambling and I’m about to turn back when Bob says, “come look at this”. Along I go, ouch..ouch … reaching the summit I am happy to have come along – a beautiful view!

The hoo doo’s of Chiricahua Mountains

He’s up top of a rock that has a viewing platform/circle so I head that direction. Off to the side is a fellow taking his shirt off and climbing up a rock. It catches my attention. He’s talking to a guy up on the platform with Bob holding a camera.

On the platform they have this funny old time viewing “pipe”. No lens, no magnification. You just point the pipe in one of the 6 directions with slots, look thru the peep hole and wa la …. whatever they are trying to show you is in the scope.

While taking pictures I see that the shirtless boy is wearing a gold banana comb in his hair. Oh my. He and the camera man are discussing poses, and him removing his clothes. Bob rolls his eyes and says, “Come on…lets get out of here”. He starts walking down off the platform and I’m like … “Um , no … I’m staying for the show”. The camera boy looks at me and smiles. Probably thinking – you old lady perve. I shout out to half naked boy, “My mom would not be happy if she saw you standing up there”. He’s kind of a dumb sounding dude (tough to be pretty and smart). and replies, “Why?”. I say, “because if you fall you’ll die” and he replies, “this wouldn’t be a fatal fall”. Sure. He’s kind of dancing around (it was chilly – in the 30’s) and I’m sure waiting for me to move a long… but I didn’t. A free show is a free show. You want privacy? Don’t strip down in a public place.

Finally he takes off his jeans, so I yell out – “Woo hoo – are you a model for playgirl or something?” The camera guy laughs. Captain Underpants is a bit winey, tosses his clothes off the rock and starts doing push ups. “I need to get pumped!”. Now at this point, I am sure in my mind that if I just sit tight, he’s getting completely naked. So I take a seat, snapping pictures and making small talk with the camera boy. C.U. takes out some lotion and starts glistening himself up. Oh boy. I’m patient. My husband in the mean time is back up to the truck. C.U. comenses posing (still in undies) ; body builder type poses. Camera man snaps photos and shouts out commands “face the sun” “put your hands closer together” . Another couple comes hiking down the trail and look at C.U. , then at me. I say, “Bonus today at the park”. After a few poses C.U. is back doing push ups to keep warm. I think he also had some shrinkage issues — but I wasn’t really looking THAT close. Finally I give up and bid them farewell. Be SAFE!

So girls… Enjoy!

After that hike Bob announced that “he’d seen enough” of this park. Ha ha. I was still giggling. It was a very cool place to visit and I’d go back for more, but I sense he wants to get our Oversized (for this park road) camper down the hill before traffic picked up.

Also cool and lots of it in the park was this bright green lichen growing on the rocks. Almost neon in color.

More pictures from the park:

We ride along a nice 2 lane road for a couple hours and make it to the small town of Tombstone, AZ.

Deciding on an RV park (power, water,sewer) vs. boon docking, we stop at Wells Fargo RV just on the edge of town. When I go inside to ask about a site there is a desk that looks about 50 years old, and thru a doorway I can see an older lady half behind a divider curtain. I expect that she heard me come in, but after waiting a bit ding the bell on the desk. I see her shuffling toward the curtain. Out comes this 80 pound (max), 4 foot tall (max), tiny little lady with giant (covering half her face) tinted glasses and a hair do that says, I only combed the front. She’s old. I’ll guess late 70’s. A little hard of hearing, a little confused – she tells me “yes, we can have a site and points out the window, just outside the office”. I finish the paperwork, and Bob parks the camper. She asks where we are from and when I reply Wisco, she says, “I’m from Michigan, we are neighbors!”. Oh, nice …. I ask, “How long have you been in Arizona?”, after thinking a bit she says, “I guess about 80 years!”. Sucked in I say, “You don’t look old enough for that!” and she proudly replies, “I am 93!” I think I came here when I was about 11. God Bless you gramma I don’t know your name, but wish I did. Still working.

We cruise the streets of Tombstone along with a few other tourists. It is not busy. We have lunch at the famous “Big Nose Kate’s” saloon. Previously a brothel. She was girlfriend/wife to Doc Holliday, but according to Wikipedia she also was a “working girl”. It’s a fun place. A lady about my age is our waitress and is dressed up like Miss Kitty. All the workers are in costumn. Out on the street there is a stagecoach you can take a ride in. I have visions of it tearing down the street with gunfire blazing! (That is what I would want for a ride). Later we see people taking a slow tour in the back of the buggy with the driver yapping out historical landmarks. No, not what I had in mind at all.

B O R I N G

Tombstone has a Wisco Dells feel. Most of the campers are old fogies that are staying for months in the RV park. Coming from northern Arizona to warmer weather. After sitting by the camper in the sun for a little bit, we head back to town (a block away). Have a few drinks at a different little place. They have Jack Daniels and Jack Fire ON TAP. My husband just thinks that is the coolest thing and orders one. I laugh, “You know its going to taste the same??” … he makes a face when he drinks it. Yah, told you.

We meet Greg. He is a grandpa who along with another old guy are driving his grandson from AZ to Knoxville. Grandson, Garrett has met a girl online and is ready to move in with her. An only child, Gramps tells us he is “28 and it is time!”. His parents have coddled him his whole life and he needs to grow up. So the two old guys are trailering his stuff to Tennessee, teaching “life lessons” (pick up your own clothes, help around the apartment) along the route. It’s quite comical listening to the grandpa. The ENTIRE time we are talking to him Garrett is on his phone with his new love. I’d love to know how this all turns out. Gramps buys everyone a shot from the Jack on tap tap … He is as amazed by it as Bob.

Grandpa and grandson … Knoxville look out!

Peace out my friends …. onward we go!

So Historic!!!
Tombstone, AZ
One from the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns I just ran across on Bob’s phone

Wild West Starbucko’s

I’ll start today, right where I left off prior to sitting down at the laptop. Making Coffee. If you’ve been to the Rose you know that at home we have the Jura coffee maker, gifted from Marie & Sundar a couple years ago. When it first arrived we shook our heads, WTF ? we didn’t believe we were coffee snobby enough to deal with its needy temperment – water, ground dumping, buttons, random cleaning/spitting sounds etc. Now, we are the first to tell you that if it would go to hell we’d shuck out the $700 and buy another. It stays home on these adventures, leaving the French coffee press to do the morning work. I can live without coffee but my roomate, and driver doesn’t do well until he gets a morning dose – so it is the FIRST thing on the job list every morning. I was really excited to read on the Arctic Fox facebook page that someone had found an answer for the messy clean up of the French press – a giant paper filter. I dialed them up on Amazon and happily ordered a lifetime supply (100). Each day of the past couple of weeks I have struggled to “get it right”. At first I thought I’d somehow plunge the plunger down into the filter with the grounds. No, that didn’t work. Then I read the directions! Filter in, coffee in, water in …. steep … fold down the edges and plunge. In theory this would work, but it’s a struggle to keep from pouring the boiling water on your hand, or the edges/tabs. Each day I have failed, ending up with at least a few grounds still in the pot vs. the filter – but I’m happy to say, today was a 10! Ta Da !!! It’s going to be a great day!!!

The past few days was our “Vacation from Vacation”. We checked into a hotel in El Paso and just let the camper sit. Not much nature to blab about, but I did have some interesting people interactions to share.

While at the hotel I took the opportunity to get a couple of loads of laundry done. Never miss this opportunity while on the road! Thinking Sunday morning would be a good time I head into the laundry area and find both washers in use with about 10 minutes left on the cycle. I sort my stuff and wait for the owners to return and move things to the dryers. And I wait……. tick tock. There is a TV, so I catch up on the news (how disappointing), read the home obits (it’s a habit) and wait. Finally I take action and pull the clothes out of the 2 wash machines and pile them on top, thinking “screw you” – whoever you are. It’s obvious the machines have clothes being done by men. First clue is the jockey underwear, second is the fact that all things are in one load – whites, blacks, reds … I put my stuff in the washers and as I do a young fellow shows up and gives me a look that says?? Where are my clothes? I not at the top of the dryer and explain that I don’t really want to spend all day in the laundry room, and that another person (another guy) has a pile that needs to go in after mine. He’s nice, tells me he is in meetings and just trying to get laundry done in between. Ok. But, he is only one of the washers full. The other pile sits on top of the dryer waiting for its owner to come and put it in to dry. After boy #1 leaves I decide I’ll forfeit the $2 and donate to get this other load drying – otherwise I’ll be waiting for my 2nd load. I start his stuff drying, even donating a bounce sheet to the effort. About 15 minutes later another young guy shows up with the same “where’s my clothes?” look. I explain that I put them in the dryer to keep things moving for myself and #3 guy behind me. He looks puzzled. “Did you pay?” I hold back from saying, “No I just waved my magic wand” and instead say, “Yep”. It takes him longer than it needs to – to process this and finally he digs out $2 of quarters and forks them over with a Thank you. Boys!

Now you would think that knowing a crotchy old inpatient lady is sitting watch on your laundry would make you hyper sensitive to that little number on the machine that tells you exactly when your stuff will be finished – right? Or not. Boy #1 is back and collects his stuff immediately when the drier shuts off. His mother raised him right. Boy #2 – well no. I give him no more than 5 minutes after the drier shuts off and I take the stuff out and dump it on the folding table. Once our clothes are in dry mode, I look at his pile and yes .. I folded it.

Meanwhile guy #3 (my age) comes down and starts his stuff in the washer. He tells me because his wife isn’t here, he’ll be able to put it all in the same load – ha ha.. he laughs. I suggest that if he wants to just leave his $2, when my stuff is done I can put his in the dryer and start it, saving him a trip. He’s hesistant and I almost want to laugh. He counts out 8 quarters and stumbles for his words – “I mean it’s just guy stuff, nothing funny in here” … like pink panties or what? I want to ask. Instead I say, “I have 4 brothers and a husband (and I’ve touched men’s underwear before) … it won’t be a problem”. He hands the quarters over.

About 2 hours later when I come back to the room, Bob says, “Where have you been? I was begininng to wonder”. – so I explain that since I last saw him I have handled the underwear of 3 strange men … he just laughs.

The only other thing we accomplished during this 2 day vaca were long showers and Wild Card game play offs.

Saturday evening we took a Lyft (isn’t that the best thing ever?) for $5 and went to a sportsbar filled with TV’s and ate greasy food and gawked at the televisions.

Sunday (post laundry) we again took a Lyft and went to a nicer steak house place. They had a wait, but were happy to seat us at the bar. We plopped at the end in front of the TV, convinced “Oscar” our young spanish looking (and mostly speaking) friend to at least put on closed caption and enjoyed the game. The bar had about 10 seats, and for the whole 3 hours we were the only customers. Oscar gave us exceptional service. The food was AWESOME as well – I have tenderloin (I’m going to say the best ever) and a baby lobstah , baked potato – oh yum yum. They have XX (dos equis) on tap everywhere – that is a treat. We laughed because we really struggled to understand Oscar’s english – accent plus mask hinderence. But when Taylor Swift came on the dining room music he belted out each word flawlessly. What I wouldn’t have given for the TV remote.

Wheelhouse West #1 – Greasy Sports Bar

Carrolito’s Steakhouse .. Yum.

After dinner, as we finish up watching the game, the “Crew” changes and Oscar is suddenly missing, replaced by 3 people. I want to make sure he gets tipped for spending the day with us – so I request the bill and tell the new fellow “Josh” we want to close out with Oscar. This seems like a strangely foreign idea to Oscar and it takes a quite a while to get the bill, pay and for it to get picked up. I ask, “Is Oscar still here?” He is. Finally he shows back up to pick up his satchel (man purse), and thanks us.

During the personnel swap a lady is part of the new team. She walks behind the bar and starts bitching. “Look at all these dishes!!!!”. “Was HE (Oscar) that busy today???!!!!”. She starts running water. The wash sink is in front of us – in between our seats and the TV (game still on). She is mumbling (bitching), and washing, and washing … Any time Josh or the other guy come within 3 feet she lets out another stream of bitching about all the dishes. I think – hmmm, We have been here going on 3 hours and she’s right – that little shit Oscar never washed a glass! *Note, this is the bar for all of the restaurant, not just Bob and I. She keeps up the good work and we just ignore her complaining. She wants to be heard though!!! She keeps the grumbling going on. She takes a broom and then sweeps. It’s laughable. Josh senses that we don’t really care about her complaints and tries to strike up a conversation with us over the top of the grumbling. Good Luck.

Finally, I can’t take it anymore – so I take the weirdo attraction magnet out of Bob’s pocket, look her straight in the eye and acknowledge her gripes by saying, “Geez, you’ve been washing dishes ever since you got here!”. I can hear my husband moan under his breath. OMG – she let out into a full on rant about how she was raised to do your own dishes, and when she cooks she does dishes as she goes, and she would never leave a mess like this for someone else and and and …… I just nod, smile and let her go. Poor girl. She seems satisfied to have been heard. Then she continues on with her life story, lossed loves etc.. and Bob gives me his “you asked for it!” look. The funniest thing about it? After we sit a while I ask her for a beer – and she has to go and get Josh to serve it – why? BECAUSE SHE IS ONLY THE DISHWASHER!

Monday we start the day with a trip past the post office – POST CARDS!!! from El Paso. A breakfast at Cracker Barrel – Yah! Love that potato hotdish stuff.

We are heading west. 2 routes available – the interstate or the Highway 9 2 lane road. Bob says he doesn’t care, so I choose the 2 lane. Less stress for me (harder driving maybe for him). It’s thru the desert and along the border. Soon we spot “The Wall”. I wondered if we’d see it. If you haven’t, well – it’s something. I made the mistake of posting them on Facebook, for the SOLE PURPOSE of sharing what I thought was interesting if you haven’t seen it before. After a few political shout outs regarding it, I took the post down. If you know me well you know that I am not political, and MY facebook page is not used for that. Write what you want on your own page – but stay off mine. Warning issued. Rant over.

Here’s the pictures for those of you that might have missed them on Facebook. I’m not sure the pictures do it justice. It’s BIG, OBVIOUS, and goes for miles. I think we drove close to 100 miles along side of it. The only other vehicles except for a few farm trucks we met or saw on the border highway were Border Patrol, and a helicopter going up and down the fence.

Our next stop was a Pecan Farm. We had a little tour and slideshow, and packed up 50# of unshelled Pecan’s to keep my Favorite Father In Law busy this winter. They are delicious! The owners are an older retired couple that planted the trees 40 years ago as a pre-retirement project. You could just tell their pride and love in the fruits of their labor. Enjoyed meeting them very much.

Last stop – Birds and Barrels Winery. Our Harvest Host for the night. Chad and Monica – nice folks, good wine and a beautiful sunset.

Today we head to Chiricahua National Monument. I suspect is will get official NPark status some day, and we are very close. We NEED to do some hiking after sitting on our asses for the past weekend. We will probably end up in famous Tombstone AZ for the night – but that is still up for grabs. Unlike most trips where I have almost every moment planned (or at least where we will go for the night) – we are off the spreadsheet on this trip – just playing it by ear. So far that’s working !

Peace out!

The Pecan Tree grove, dormant and recently harvested – they use a machine to shake the nuts off the trees, then a sweeper like thing to pick them up. These trees are 40 years old.