April 11, 2020 – Mind Travelling – Journaling through the COVID-19 Pandemic


Remembering Europe

Several days ago, I was thinking about how dire the situation is in Italy, and my thoughts travelled to my very first long-distant adventure, to Europe. So I dug out my photo book, and scrap book of postcards, and took a stroll down Memory Lane.

I was just twenty-two years old and working in a temporary job back in my hometown when I suddenly decided I wanted to go on an adventure after my job was to finish at the end of the summer. I had money saved up. I went to see a local travel agent and came away with information about a twenty-one day tour of Europe through Fourways Travel. I called my friend, Carol, and convinced her to take time off work and go with me.

On October 4th, 1972 I left home by train to meet Carol in Toronto, where she lived.

On October 5th we embarked on our adventure! We somehow got to the airport, probably by taxi, to catch our flight to London. I had a little journal to record our trip, but somewhere during a series of moves that I made after my return, it got lost, so all that I have to tell this story is my now vague memory, my postcards with a few notes beside them, and some photos.

In retrospect, it’s obvious I knew nothing about photography at the time, and I realize that I didn’t pay too much attention to the history and geography lessons that I could have learned. I took a several (poor quality) pictures, but I’m stumped to know what many of them are. If any of my European travellers recognize anything, I’d love to hear from you!

According to my Boarding Pass, we left at 7:00 pm that night. My ticket receipt says that I paid for a round trip ticket between Toronto and London for $210 Canadian! I also have a Menu that indicates a dinner was provided and a Continental Breakfast was to be served at 6:45, so presumably we arrived in London sometime on the morning of October 6th. We were booked into the Regent Palace Hotel Piccadilly. We were on our own to explore London for the rest of that day and most of the next.

London

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Later in the day of October 7th we met up with our Tour Group and took a train to Harwich, where we boarded an overnight steamer “Queen Juliana” to The Hook of Holland. Upon our arrival, our Fourways motor coach, with our driver and guide were waiting for us and our tour began.

London postcard

October 8th – We spent this day travelling toward Brussels, Belgium, through Amsterdam, Breda and Antwerp, with a side trip to the colourful tourist town of Volendam, where I picked up a few postcards. In Amsterdam, I took pictures. Some I recognize; most I don’t.

Holland

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From there the bus continued on to Brussels, Belgium, where we did a walking tour through the old cobblestone streets and enjoyed dinner and camaraderie with our fellow passengers before settling down in our rooms at the Hotel Bedford. It’s funny how some things stick in our memories. The Manneken-pis Fountain was one of them.

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October 9th – Germany

On driving out the Belgian capital, toward Heidelberg, my Itinerary tells me that we saw many other principal sights of Brussels, including the Royal Palace, before continuing the route through forests and several towns, including Luxembourg, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

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In Heidelberg, we toured Heidelberg Castle. The Heidelberg Tun is an extremely large wine vat contained within a separate building of the castle.

We ate dinner at The Red Ox Pub, and we stayed the night at a (not-noted) hotel.

So… five countries in five days!

October 10th and 11th – Lucerne, Switzerland

After breakfast, presumably in the hotel, we drove on through Freiburg, situated in the southern part of the Black Forest, and onto Basle, Switzerland, through Olten and Sursee until we reached Lucerne, where we spent two nights in the luxurious Grand Hotel Europe and had the chance to enjoy more history, culture and cuisine. We saw the Alps up-close from a cable car from Mt. Pilate (7000 ft)

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Beautiful Hotel

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Enjoying dinner out with our fellow travellers

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On our first morning there, I was surprised by this delivery of red roses, from my love back home! Unfortunately, when we left, I had to leave them behind.

October 12th – Austria

This morning we drove on through Kussnacht and Nafels, and made a brief stop in the Principality of Liechenstein where I recall the Prince greeted us before we took a tour of a Perfume Factory, before entering Austria. We climbed the Arlberg Pass (5,910 ft.) and soon reached Innsbruck, a beautiful city. We spent the night at the Clima Hotel. Unfortunately, even the Itinerary tells me nothing about the city so I’m thinking we arrived late and left early the next morning. (Sigh) I do have a postcard.

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October 13th – Italy

This day was spent on the motor coach, travelling from Innsbruck to Venice. We had to go through Customs formalities at the small village of Brenner before crossing the border between Austria and Italy. Because we would have no time to do any touring ourselves, I suppose, the Itinerary includes some history of all the seven cities we passed through. Brenner, for instance is on the watershed between the Black Sea and the Adriatic. In this village several conferences were held between Hitler and Mussolini.

On the Italian side of the border, we entered Vipiteno in the Italian Tyrol, which was formerly Austrian territory until 1918.

It was afternoon by the time we reached Venice. The coach was left at the terminus of the motor bridge, a mammoth, multi-storied garage, and we were transferred to our hotel. I remember it looked onto the canals and the gondolas. I remember feeding the birds and looking at the monuments of Piazza San Marco. I remember that I wasn’t feeling very well, a cold was coming on. I was offered an evening ride by a canal gondola operator and it was tempting, but now I know that it was a good thing I was sick. I was rather naïve back then.

October 14th I was really sick and that was one of our busiest touring days. Most of it is a blur. I remember sitting on a bench in the Palazzo Ducale Great Council Room looking at the amazing art work on the ceiling through watery eyes, my whole body feeling weak, and finally asking our Guide and Interpreter to take me to the pharmacy for some cold remedies. I don’t remember if I did the rest of the Tour. If anyone took the recommended “lift to the top of the Campanile for the magnificent panorama of the Lagoon and the 117 islands that comprise Venice,” after the Tour, I know I couldn’t have been among them.

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Palazzo Ducale

After lunch we left for Florence. I’m sure that I slept all the way. We spent the night at the Hotel Ambasciatori in Florence.

The next morning, October 15th, we were taken on a sightseeing tour with a local guide and saw The Medici Chapel “the most important of Florence’s architectural and artistic treasures, with its façade of white, green and red marble,” the Gothic Cathedral and the Chapel of the Princes. Again, I now wish that I’d been more in the present and captured more of the memory. I have a cut glass ring that is very similar to the engagement ring of Princess Diana, which I’m quite sure I purchased at a glass factory in Florence.

After lunch we drove through Tuscany, Umbria and Campania before reaching Naples. We were on our own to explore until we were ready to crash in our rooms at the Parker’s Hotel.

October 16th  After breakfast in our hotel, we boarded a steamer for the short trip across the blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea to the romantic island of Capri. A local tour guide was supposedly in charge, but he spent the whole trip over flirting with Carol and me, and he disappeared into a bar after lunch. We never saw him again. We had a beautiful time without him.

We took the steamer back to Naples, through Bay of Naples, and once more boarded the coach to drive through the Campania region toward Rome. That evening we checked into the Caesar Augustus Hotel.

October 17th and 18th we were again on our own to tour Rome, with all of its Cathedrals, Museums and Ancient Ruins. As the Itinerary says “To see everything in detail would certainly take many weeks.” For that reason, I wish we’d had some guidance as to how to best plan our day.

The last evening we all got together for dinner at Risorante Tempio Di Giove for Pizza and Champagne.

October 19th found us once more on the Autostrade heading toward Rapallo, with a side trip into Pisa to see the leaning tower.

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We passed through Viareggio, La Spezia and Sestri. That evening we checked into the Grand Hotel & Europa in Rapallo, which is a beautiful seaside resort at the head of the Tigullio Gulf.

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It’s too bad we didn’t have more time there, but then most of us wouldn’t want to leave! But then, our next stop was Monte Carlo.

October 20th was spent travelling through several other towns and cities along the eastern Riviera, such as Nervi, Genoa, Finale Ligure Marina, San Remo and Mentone until we reached Monte Carlo, where we would spend two nights, giving us one full day to enjoy the beauty and excitement of this famous resort, and capital of the Principality of Monaco. We stayed at Hotel Balmoral and visited the Casino. Beside a souvenir stub in my scrap book is the note: “Cost six francs to get in and lost two francs playing machines. That’s hilarious! It was the first time we’d ever been in a casino or tried slot machines. I remember being very nervous, not understanding how it all worked, so I didn’t play very long for fear of losing more than I could afford.

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October 22nd we continued our drive along the French Riviera coastline. I’m sure we stopped in Nice, France, although I have no mention of it in my Scrap Book. We went through Cannes, Aix En Provence, Avignon, Montelimar, and Valence and Vienne, which are situated on the banks of River Rhone. We stopped for the night at Hotel Bristol in Lyon France.

We arrived in Paris late in the afternoon of October 23rd. The next day a guided tour was provided. We visited the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and the Place de Bastille, From the coach we saw The Palace of the Louvre and Tuileries, which comprise the former royal residence, the Champs Elysees and the Arc de  Triomphe, and of course the Eiffel Tower.

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That evening the tour culminated with an excursion to the Moulin Rouge to see a fantastic show.

October 25th we travelled to Calais where we caught a steamer to Dover and the train back to London, where it had all begun.

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The next afternoon October 27th, we were on a plane taking us to Toronto.

Wow, that was a whirlwind trip! No wonder I can’t remember many details.

While going through Customs, I was questioned about the leather coat that I was wearing. I’d bought it in Toronto. They made me take it off, so they could check the label I guess. They searched all through my luggage and then shoved it aside and told me I could repack it and carry on. What a warm welcome home! Carol was ahead of me and wondered what was taking me so long.

I always thought that I’d go back to my favourite places someday and take the time to really see them, but it never happened. Life took another turn.

Thanks for the Memories.

Escaping the COVID-19 – The Full Story


On March 11, 2020 we were still in Arizona and had several things on our calendar for the next week. But disturbing glimpses of what could be coming were appearing in all our online news feeds. I wanted to pack up and head for home then. But we did seem to be isolated in our little community and I was convinced to hang on. In my head I prayed that they would all be cancelled.

That night we were in a crowded restaurant for the Sandwich Islands Ukulele Band final rehearsal for the upcoming Aloha Festival, but before we left we’d made up our minds that we wouldn’t attend the huge Festival that usually attracted thousands of visitors – my first sigh of relief. The next day our park management decided to cancel all large-group events, which included the Theme Day, in which our Mesa Regal Ukulele Band was supposed to play – my second sigh of relief. Some of our Canadian band members had already decided to head for home so wouldn’t be there to play anyway.

A Facebook comment from my son, who lives with his wife in Poland, told me to “pack up the RV and get out of there. You don’t want to be caught in a country that didn’t prepare for the threat of COVID-19 earlier.” He was speaking from firsthand knowledge. We decided to heed his advice, but it took us a few days to make it happen.

Since we wouldn’t be back anytime soon, we had a couple of big items to get rid of, like our car and patio furniture. It was probably risky, but I signed us up for the Patio Sales the next day (Saturday), and Jim put an ad online to sell the car. We were successful! While the sale was on we started packing things up. I had the inside of the motorhome mostly ready by that night, but Jim had to unload and reload outside bins in order to get everything he’d taken out, plus a few more new items, in. We weren’t ready to leave on Sunday. Jim wasn’t ready in time, so we accepted the offer of friends to go to their home, outside our park, for dinner. It was a nice evening of chatting, laughing and playing ukuleles, forgetting for just a while about the trouble brewing in the world. Small group gatherings were not yet frowned upon, but we were all conscious about frequent hand-washing.

Monday morning, March 16th, we managed to get the rest of our things into place, give our forwarding address to our Post Office, and check-out. But even that took a while as we stopped to say goodbye to our friends and neighbours along the street. No hugs, handshakes or kisses this time! Everyone was feeling the stress. There had already been 400 or more Canadians pull their rigs out during the last two days and more would follow us soon.

After a quick stop at the bank, we said goodbye to Mesa, possibly for good, and began our 2700 mile trip home. Our fridge, freezer and pantry were filled with food so we had no need to stop at restaurants or stores all the way home. When Jim had to get out to pump gas, or to hook up at a Camp Site, he wore disposable gloves. He had contact with no-one. In the six days it took us to get home, I left the motorhome only once, for about ten minutes to walk along a deserted path at one of the rest stops.

Jim with his gloves on

Jim with his gloves on waiting to pay for gas at the only full-service station we saw.

We put in long days after the first one, and covered hundreds of miles. Most days were uneventful. We listen to music and started an audio book, but found there was too much noise to hear it, even with an external speaker. Transports made up the bulk of traffic on the highways, roads were rough, and wind did blow.

Thursday morning was an exception. I was awakened by the sound of heavy rain on the roof and loud rumbling. I couldn’t decide whether it was thunder or just the roar of the many  trucks on the highway, until one big clap of thunder and the roar of wind got us both out of bed and dressed in a flash! The motorhome was rocking like we’d never felt before. We thought we were in the midst of a hurricane! We were in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so that was a good possibility. We were in a mostly empty Walmart parking lot, with no service of any sort, so I dug out the weather radio that we carried with us, but had seldom used in all of our years on the road. Relieved to learn that there were no Hurricane warnings in the area, but there was a flash flooding warning (2 inches of rain had already fallen and the drain ditch beside us was nearly full).  We decided to just try to relax and have some breakfast. The rain and wind stopped as quickly as it had begun. By the time we had eaten and secured everything inside again, it seemed safe to leave. It was only 8:15. We were both a little testy after that early morning scare. No flooding impeded our way, but we noticed spots where it probably had been up on the road. Fields were flooded. It rained off and on during the day, but Jim kept on pushing. A little nap after lunch revived him enough to keep going until 6:00 that evening. Needless to say, we were in bed and asleep early again that night.

Flooded Fields Close to Road

Flooded Fields Close to Road

We’d heard that the Canadian Border would be closed at midnight on Friday, to all visitors and anyone without a good reason to be crossing into Canada. It wasn’t looking good. On Friday morning Jim decided we should try to make it to the Detroit crossing instead of carrying on to Buffalo as earlier planned. We had 500 miles to go!

We hit the road at 7:45 a.m. We made short stops for gas and to have meals in our “home”.

While driving through Ohio, we passed these strange looking items being moved along the highway on flatbed transports. The first time we saw two different parts, which Jim determined were some parts of an airplane. One definitely looked like a wing. Hours later we passed another two. At first we thought they were the same ones we’d passed earlier, that they’d gotten ahead of us while we stopped to eat or gas up. But then we noticed that these parts were a little different. One looked like the opposite wing from the first one. Because of road construction at that part of the highway, which involved construction cones along the right hand shoulder, the entire convoy was blocking both lanes of traffic in order to accommodate the right side overhang. We patiently followed along and it wasn’t too long before the construction zone came to an end and the left passing lane was freed up once more.

We made it across the border without any problems at 6:00 pm! That Welcome to Canada sign brought us great relief and joy.

That night we shared parking with several other RVs and transport trucks at the first Onroute Travel Centre that we came to, near Windsor, Ontario, too tired to go another mile. It was noisy with all the traffic in and out, but surprisingly we did get some sleep.

We were up at five and on the road before the sun came up, so anxious to be in our home town, in our small condo. Traffic was light. We got through Toronto in record time and arrived home shortly after noon, to nearly empty streets and cold weather, but it never looked so good! Thanks to Jim’s daughter, we had food in our fridge and pantry that, along with what we had left over in the motorhome, should do us for a couple of weeks.

We’ve been in self-quarantine ever since. It’s been difficult – not wanting to watch the news, but needing to know. I’ve shed many tears, not for fear of us getting the virus, but for our families and friends all over the country and beyond; for the front-line workers everywhere who are risking their own lives to try to save many; for those who have lost loved ones, and those who are stranded in foreign countries where the epidemic is far worse than here; and for the stories that are emerging of the amazing people who are doing so many self-less things to help those who are suffering.

I’m grateful for the phone calls, texts, video chats from family and friends. We even had our Book Club meeting yesterday, by video!

It’s a time for reconnecting with people and appreciating what we have. Soon, tomorrow will be a better day. For now, stay inside, stay safe and keep in touch.

So Much to Do; So little Time! Scottsdale Indian Festival


It was a very busy month! Jim had his 80th birthday and on the day his daughters were flying in to surprise him, he decided we should go to Scottsdale to the parade and festival in the park – The Indian Festival! It was a lovely day, and I could give him no reason why we shouldn’t go. I just had to make sure that we didn’t stay too long.

I’m glad we went; I’m sorry that his daughters weren’t able to go with us. The parade was long, but one of the most interesting parades I’ve ever witnessed – colourful costumes representing the many tribes of Arizona; many school bands and cheerleaders; local representatives in various vehicles from the past and the present. And horses! Lots of horses! And dogs! I won’t tell you how many pictures I took, but I knew that I couldn’t capture it all in words, so I hope you like the shots I’ve chosen to share and take you along.

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It was well past lunch time when the parade came to an end and the streets were crowded. We finally found the restaurant we’d visited the last time we were in Scottsdale name but there was an hour wait! We settled on a bench and chatted with other patient customers until a table was at last cleared for us. We invited another couple to join us and during another half hour of waiting to be served, we shared stories of our life experiences.

It was 2:00 pm when we left the restaurant. Jim wanted to listen to the Mariachi Band that was playing on the street and check out other performers along the way back to the park, where there was a ring of vendors’ tents set up, and more entertainment along the walking paths. But I knew his daughters would soon be arriving at Mesa Regal, so I made an excuse why we had to get home.

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We were just getting into our car when I got the text that they’d arrived. They were happy to enjoy the sun while waiting for our return, and Jim’s annoyance with having to leave too soon vanished when he realized it was them, sitting on the couch when he walked into the RV.

A Trip to the Phoenix Zoo


Over the last seven years we’ve visited many, many places of interest within our local area, but there are still a few on our Bucket List. One was the Phoenix Zoo. On Saturday evening, we went. As you will see, it was a different kind of Zoo that we saw that night!

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There was a long line up at the gate when we arrived, just before 5:30 pm. We got into it and all the way to the entrance before we realized that, since we hadn’t purchased our tickets online as most people had, we had to go back to the ticket booth and then to the end of the line! Fortunately, it didn’t take too long, before we were following the crowd through the brightly lit canopy of lights, above a wooden bridge over a stream.

The lit-up giraffe was just a hint of things to come.

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An elephant on top of one of the many Food Stands on the grounds

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A few more on the Ground

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Take a look at more of these lighted, moulded animal sculptures in  this slide show. They are amazing!

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Some of them were animated, like this crocodile.

While most of the live animals were stabled for the night, we did see a few – a huge Porcupine that was hidden in the shadows and on the move too much to capture by camera, a few Reindeer and a few Camels.

And then there were the lights! Lots of lights around trees, and globes, reflecting in the pond, and forming outlines of more animals and bugs! Not as easy to capture, but here’s the best we could do with the equipment we had.

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After nearly two hours of wandering, we were tired and hungry. We made our way back to the Savannah Grill that we’d seen near the entrance. There we enjoyed the delicious Aldo burgers and fries, before walking back to the car. Needless to say, we were asleep early that night.

First Steps into 2020


Happy New Year! Hope you all are enjoying a happy, healthy start to 2020!

How did you ring it in? Were you at home, or travelling?

Ours was quiet. On the morning of New Year’s Eve, I played pickleball with some of my women friends. Then the rain started again, so we took shelter at the movie theatre, seeing Knives Out. It wasn’t anything like what we’d expected, but we really enjoyed it. Later, we walked to the excellent BBQ restaurant located in front of our park and mowed down on tender and delicious pork riblets (the small, flat tips of the ribs), baked potatoes and coleslaw. Back in our motorhome we watched TV and after the Ball dropped in New York City (two hours earlier than here in Arizona) we went to bed to read while fireworks somewhere in our area banged for hours. We could have done more had we chosen. Mesa Regal hosts a big New Year’s Eve Dance every year. We went once.

New Year’s Day we took a couple of friends for a drive to Scottsdale for lunch and a once-a-year only tour of the stable where the Arabian Horses are housed.

We arrived just a little too late to catch outside introduction of some of the award-winning horses, but seeing the inside of the stable blew us away! It was beautiful, with not a hint of odour. Each horse had its own stall, wood panelled on the outside and a note on each, below the black iron bars, indicated what they were to be fed, and when, along with their name. Most of the horses were very friendly and leaned up to the stall bars to receive some loving petting from the crowd of people viewing them.

A few of the horses that we saw.

These horses put on what attendees deem to be an amazing show, The Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, every February. We have not gone to it. This might be the year! I’d love to do a story about it.

Christmas Tour to Laughlin, Nevada


It was raining when we woke up at 5:30 on Christmas Eve morning. We were planning to walk the short distance to our pick-up spot for the Worldspan Christmas in Laughlin Tour. We thought it better to leave the car at home, rather than in an empty parking lot for three days, but we could think of no one who would be up that early and willing to give us a ride! Fortunately the rain had stopped by the time we were ready to leave a half hour later.

The bus trip was pretty much uneventful. The rain started again just as we were boarding, and stayed with us all the way. We made a short stop at a fast food restaurant in Wickenburg for breakfast. We wished it could have been at the Cowboy Restaurant we’d visited before, but it wasn’t open anyway. When we got back onto the bus, a movie was cued and ready for our enjoyment – The Christmas Gift. It helped to pass the time, until our next brief rest stop in Kingman. At 11:00 a.m. we arrived at our Hotel – The Edgewater.

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We wouldn’t be given our room keys until 3:00 pm, although our luggage would be taken to our room at some time before that. We were given our Casino playing cards though, but not our promised food vouchers. So what was there for us to do for four hours? Within an hour, Jim and I had lost the meagre allotment that we allowed ourselves ($15.00 between us) on the slot machines. We’d checked our carry-on baggage and coats at the Valet desk, but Jim thought we should go for a walk along the Board Walk that spanned the distance between the Edgewater Hotel and the Colorado Belle. The rain had nearly stopped, but a cold wind still blew. I wrapped my scarf around my arms and dashed out. It was worth it.

On our way back through our lobby we looked into one of the gift shops and ended up buying a new weekender bag to replace the patched one that I’d brought with me. By then the rain had stopped and we retrieved our coats to walk across the street to the Outlet Mall, where we managed to do window shopping without spending much. We were tempted by all the bargains.

Back at our hotel lobby we enjoyed the complimentary hot chocolate and Christmas cookies that were offered, and commiserated with fellow tour passengers about the long wait, and the fact that the Christmas Eve Buffet that we’d been promised had been cancelled. One woman, who was on her own, had been looking forward to it.

At 3:00 we were given our room keys. We picked up our other things from the Valet desk and made our way to the eleventh floor. The elevators smelled of stale smoke and the halls were very cold, but our room was large and comfortable. There was no mini-fridge for the bottles of juice and coffee that I’d taken with us. I was exhausted and laid down, hoping to have a nap, but it was of no use. We’d planned to meet our friends (who had gotten on a different tour and were at a different hotel) for dinner. We walked to the Riverside Hotel and got to compare it with the Edgewater. It was bigger and had more amenities, like a movie theatre, a bowling alley and a ballroom for evening dancing, but our friends weren’t very pleased with their room. Both hotels are some of the older ones on the strip.

On our walk back to our hotel, we toured through The Aquarius, where we saw the first sign of Christmas lights, and took some pictures of the other nearby hotels that were lit up.

We were in bed early, too tired to keep our eyes open any longer.

Christmas Day was the day we looked forward to. Jim was up early, ready to meet the fellow from Second to None 220 Tours, who would take him to pick up the Polaris Slingshot that he’d reserved. He was so excited that he forgot what day it was until I wished him a Merry Christmas upon his return!

The rain had returned during the night, so we got showered and dressed and found the Breakfast Buffet to fill our bellies, hoping that by the time we got back to our rooms the clouds would be lifted. They weren’t. At 10:30 the sun began to peek through the clouds so we bundled up because we knew it would be cold, and climbed into the Slingshot and headed across the bridge, back into Arizona, with big smiles on our faces.

The sun soon disappeared and rain splashed on our helmet visors. I made use of the cloths that had been left in the glove box just for such purposes. We also made use of the woven blankets that were tucked behind the seats, to help keep us warm.

We arrived in Kingman in time for lunch and warmth. When we left, the sun was shining again and accompanied us the rest of the way up the mountain on a narrow, winding section of Route 66.

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Had to get this shot in KIngman before we left

There were signs of recent flooding, parts of the shoulder crumbled, and at one spot we had to drive slowly through a small patch of running water that was flooding the road. Fortunately, it was only a few inches deep. We were on our way to Oatman, which turned out to be on the other side of the mountain. I was grateful that Jim is a careful, mature driver.

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About half way to Oatman we came across this little museum, and some beautiful vistas.

Soon we were descending into Oatman. I think the photos will tell the story.

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We were back at our hotel in time to chat with family on the phone, and enjoy the complimentary Christmas Day Buffet, before Jim took the Slingshot back to Second to None 220 Tours, where the owner met him and drove him back to the hotel. Needless to say, it was another early night.

Boxing Day was a lazy day. The rain was back. We got bagels and cream cheese and coffee from the lobby donut shop to eat in our room. There were no tables or comfortable chairs anywhere in the lobby. There was nothing else to do, it seemed, but gamble. We stayed in our room until we had to be out at 11:00 a.m., but we were told not to board the bus until 1:00. We claimed our complimentary pieces of pizza from one of the restaurants. Jim did things on his iPad. I’d run out of data on my phone, and my tablet was just about dead, so I put another five dollars into one of the slot machines and played for twenty minutes to pass the time. I left with $4.97.

Other than a different movie, the trip back to Mesa was just the opposite of the one to Laughlin, including the rain.

Would we do that trip again? Probably not. But the Slingshot ride to Oatman made it all worthwhile!

Quick Summary of Our First Two Months at Mesa Regal, 2019/20


When we arrived in Mesa Regal on October 23rd we had a few things to take care of, mostly mundane like catching up with laundry, getting the levelling jacks down, figuring out what was wrong with the furnace and putting the awning out and the gazebo up.

The day we first put the awning out, we noticed that it was beginning to crack and wear.

“We’ll probably need to get a new one this year,” Jim commented. “I’ll just put some tape on it for now, when we get back.” We were on our way to stock up on groceries.

While we were gone, a micro burst of wind passed through our park and upon our return we found all but a few inches of the awning fabric had torn from the frame and was hanging on the ground!

Awning down

Awning down

Jim had already been to the Parts Department of Worldwide RV, which is located just at the entrance to our park, for parts for the furnace. On his next trip to pick up an ordered part, he asked about the price of a new awning.

“$1200 to $1500.” Not what we were hoping for!

“Do you care about the colour?” the staffer asked.

“No,” said Jim.

“Well I have one that’s been in stock for a few years because no one liked the colour,” she said. “You can have it for $100. You’ll have to check with the Installation Department for costs.”

The next day I went back with him to look at it. I didn’t figure the colour could be too outrageous, but thought I should just make sure. It looked fine – neutral colours. But upon checking, we discovered that that particular one was two inches too long for our frame. However, they did have another one that she gave us for a really good price and it was just the right size. We went to Installations and were told that it would take three hours to install at the rate of $130 per hour!

Jim got on the internet to find out what it took to install it ourselves. It didn’t look so difficult and we had two younger neighbours who were quite willing to help, so after we got the motorhome professionally washed, the four of us spent about an hour total, including figuring out the best way to complete the operation, putting it up. It was perfect and only cost the price of providing our helpers and their spouses with a home cooked meal (not that they wanted anything).

In the meantime, Jim gave up on fixing the furnace himself and called in a professional. He was frustrated to learn that if he’d taken out just two more screws, he would have seen the problem and been able to complete the task himself! Oh well.

By the time we got all of those tasks taken care of, and finished setting up the patio, I was deeply involved in Pickleball. I’m doing my second, and final, year on the Club Board as Vice-President and Webmaster of the website. We have a big annual three-day Tournament in December which raises enough funds to insure that we can provide court time and many programs to our members without a membership fee. But it is a lot of work for those that are willing to volunteer. I could find no one available to help with photography, so I spent seven hour days running from court to court to capture some of the action and waiting for the end results to take pictures of the winners. It was fun, but exhausting! Poor WiFi reception from our motorhome didn’t help. I had to take my computer to the Computer Lab to plug in directly to the internet on many days.

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Some Mixed Doubles Pickleball Action

December has been a much easier, more relaxing month. We’ve had time to take in a couple of movies on some of the many rainy days that flooded our pickleball courts and meant sending out mass emails when help was needed to clean them after the water was pumped out.

We found more time to visit with friends and play pickleball and ukulele.

The last week has been filled with Christmas Parties and one Celebration of Life for one of our residents.

Playing Ukulele Christmas

A few of our Ukulele Class Members Performing on Stage at Thursday Morning Coffee and Donuts

Next week, I’ll have a much more interesting post. We are taking a bus tour to Laughlin for Christmas with an exciting side trip.

Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas, or Best of the Holiday Season, whichever you prefer!