Year Five of Our Trips to Arizona – Continuing the Journey Part 2


After our stroll around the Camp Washington property, and chatting with our RV neighbours, Lisa and Vicky, and the maintenance guy, it was 10:30 before we left to go back to the Caverns. We spent a couple of hours taking our time and taking pictures on the 1¼ mile walk down to the bottom, doing the self-guided tour. Trying to capture the beauty was difficult without more sophisticated equipment, but we did our best. It’s amazing!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By the time we reached the bottom it was well past lunch time and we’d worked up good appetites, so we took advantage of the sandwiches and drinks that could be purchased in the only area where food was permitted. We wanted to continue touring the 8.2 acre “big room” but decided, since it would take another hour and a half to explore its perimeter, we would have to return another time. We were anxious to get to El Paso so we could touch base with the glass company and the tow truck driver and get the windshield repaired.

When we got back down to the highway and saw a sign telling us that there were no services for the next 138 miles, Jim pulled into the only gas station around to top up our tank. That shouldn’t have taken long, but a while earlier there had been a gas spill there and the pumps had been turned off. We had to wait until the manager returned to reset them!

At last we were headed back south at 2:30 pm. The scenery was boring with nothing but  dry, empty fields for miles and miles. The sun shone bright and hot through the front windows.

Desolate road

Desolate road

The battery on our Bluetooth speaker had died  so we could listen to no music – no radio stations, no cell service, just desolation. By the time we arrived at Mission RV Park in El Paso at 5:00 local time, we were both out of sorts. The sun reflecting on the windshield cracks (which had spread further) made it difficult for Jim to see where he was going to find our spot. I had a major tension headache. When Jim checked in he asked how far it was to the nearest restaurant. Five miles! Across the highways! But they did have take-out menus for a Chinese Restaurant and a Pizza House. After a heated discussion we settled on an order from the Chinese Restaurant. Jim tried to order from his phone; it wouldn’t work. Before that he’d tried to put the slide out; it didn’t work. Hence the “heated discussion” over what to eat for dinner! I called in the order. The menu was very confusing and we ended up with enough food to last us for three meals, which was a good thing, since we were miles away from a grocery store and had no idea how long we’d be here.

The next day Jim called the glass place (Safelite), only to be told that none of their suppliers had our windshield and there was nothing they could do for us. We wondered if that meant the motor home would be written off because the windshield couldn’t be replaced! One reason we chose this RV Park is because it has an RV Repair Shop and the windshield wiper also needed to be replaced. Jim went in to see them but they didn’t have a wiper for us and made no offer to try to track one down. They did, however, have the name of another glass place that might help us. Jim made the call and got good/bad news; they could get it in, but it would take 5 to 7 days! He called the glass place back home that had previously replaced the passenger side glass. They could have one shipped to us in about the same length of time. Jim called Mark Moisa at Quality Towing in Carlsbad to tell him what was happening, since we had not heard anything from him. He didn’t answer his phone, but returned the call right away. He asked Jim to send him the information for the local glass installer that we had, saying he’d call him. Then we waited for his approval to order the glass, because he was going to pay for it. And we waited. Jim called again in the afternoon and was told by whoever answered the phone that Mark was in a meeting and would call back in about an hour. He didn’t. Jim called the glass fellow and learned that Mark had called him to get the quote, saying he’d call him back. He didn’t. Later that evening, Jim blocked his cell phone number and called Mark again. When he answered and found out who it was he gave an incredulous story about being at an accident scene that involved his driver being hit and there were police cars, and ambulances and he had been talking to the police for three hours and had to go talk to them again, but he would take care of us as he’d promised. He’d call back “in a few minutes.” That was the last we heard from him.

Jim tried once more on Friday, but was again told that he was in a meeting. We gave up and called our insurance company with the story. An adjuster called back for more details. Jim gave him a quote from the local glass company, and the one in Canada, but still the adjuster said he’d have to send out an appraiser, and then we’d need to get more quotes. He also wanted quotes for the other damage (windshield wiper, and few dings/cracks in the fiberglass). He said it would be two weeks before the windshield would be fixed or replaced! Jim told him that was unacceptable and reminded him of our circumstances and the extra expense of continuing to stay in this park. He relented, called the local glass company for the quote and then gave permission to order the windshield.  We have to pay the $300 deductible. The insurance company will go after Quality Towing for reimbursement. I hope they have better luck than we did.

Oh, Jim asked the adjuster if the motor home would have been written off had we not been able to find a replacement windshield. His response, “No we’d have a new one manufactured, but it could take up to six months.” Thank goodness we found one and it is now on its way to us! We are still here, waiting.

There have been a few positives since then. Jim figured out what was wrong with his phone, and was able to fix the slide out problem. I did some baking and made a pot of chili. I got caught up on my blog posting and laundry.

We have made a few friends that have made the waiting easier. On Wednesday night we shared drinks and conversation with a couple from New Zealand who were parked next door to us. Sadly, they left the next morning. Friday afternoon another couple came in on the other side of us. They were here for the weekend to watch their son play hockey. They took us with them to the Friday night game (about which I’ve already posted). We stayed mostly in the park on Saturday, venturing only a couple of miles on foot up to the highway interchange where we found a full service center that carried some groceries and a Subway, if we got really in need of food. We bought some bananas and a bottle of wine to carry back. We played some pickleball on the vacant tennis court.

Thanks to Nawton and Peggie, Carol and John for taking our minds off our troubles for a bit.

A friend of Jim who lives in Connecticut happens to have a friend, Shawn, in El Paso. He suggested Jim give him a call. On Sunday Shawn took us out for a tour of the city, lunch, and then to stock up on groceries. He’s recently retired and his wife is away for the week so he was happy to have company and something to do. Yesterday he took us sightseeing again, and drove us around in search of a wiper, to no avail. Today he’d planned to take us downtown to some of the museums, but when Jim showed him how he thought he could repair the wiper if he could find someone to do a tiny bit of welding for him, Shawn thought of places he could take us. Each place was unable to help. We even went to the Ford Dealership to inquire about ordering a new wiper. They had nothing in their catalogue. Then Shawn came up with the idea to check with a former colleague of his who now works for a job training center. What a good call! His friend got one of the students to do the welding.

An enormous thank you goes out to Shawn, who has kept us from going insane. Maybe tomorrow we’ll finally get to tour downtown. 🙂

Now we have everything taken care of except the windshield. We’re hoping it will be done by the end of the week and then we’ll be on a direct route to Mesa, Arizona.

Life is much better now, thanks to these generous people.

In the Blink of an Eye


My plan, last month, was to start writing blog posts about the preparations needed to take a trip to China. On September 25th, one week from today, we were scheduled to join a twelve day tour with friends of ours. We’d booked this trip through the local Chamber of Commerce back in May, and until three weeks ago we were counting the days.

But, life can change in the blink of an eye. On Tuesday, August 23rd, Jim and I walked across the soccer field to the Hastings Field House to play pickleball, something we’d been doing three or four times a week all summer long. I was feeling fit and strong and happy.

july2016

Hastings Field House

Two hours later I was lying on a bed in the emergency room at our closest hospital. At the time I wasn’t clear how it had happened, but somehow I’d thrown myself off balance while trying to hit a ball, and before I could move an arm or leg to catch myself, I landed on the floor with such force that it knocked the wind out of me. My right hip hurt and I couldn’t put any weight on my leg, but I couldn’t believe that it could possibly be broken, because it didn’t hurt all that much. I sat in a chair and watched while someone else stepped into my place and the game was finished, at my insistence.

However, when they tried to get me into a truck to take me home one movement caused me to gasp and suddenly I had no control over my leg or foot.  I had to admit that it was more than just a bruised hip. I was still optimistic, hoping it could be a dislocation that could be easily remedied. Instead of going home, my friend drove me to the hospital while Jim followed in our car. X-rays were taken of my hip and the conclusion wasn’t good – a fracture. They’d hoped to transfer me to Peterborough Hospital for surgery later that day. I had to fast until they learned that it wasn’t going to happen.

It was Thursday morning before I was loaded into a patient transfer wagon for the rough, hour-long trip. At 7:00 that night I met my surgeon outside the Operating Room. I was going to require a whole hip replacement! My optimism went out the door.

off-to-surgery

Off to Surgery

I asked if I’d still be able to go to China in a month’s time. One nurse in the Emergency Room had told me that I’d be up walking the day after surgery, after all.

“Not going to happen,” said Dr. Lever. “You would have to have a load of blood thinners on board because of the risk of blood clots, and your extended health insurance wouldn’t cover you if anything happened as a result of this surgery. Do you have cancellation insurance?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll sign whatever forms you need to get your refund.”

“We usually leave for Arizona the middle of October, in the motor home.”

“Sorry, I don’t recommend that either.  You should stick close to home until your full twelve-week recovery period is up, for the same reasons.”

As they rolled me into the operating room, just before the anesthesiologist did his job, a few tears escaped from my eyes.

ceramic-joint

What my new hip joint looks like

The Emergency Room nurse was right – I was up walking with a walker the next day, but it was obvious that there was no way I’d be ready to do any hiking in China in just four weeks, other risks or not.

img_1019

Third Day: Sitting up in a chair, filling out forms

By Sunday I was out of hospital and on the road to recovery, but instead of completing preparations for our trip to China, I’ve been filling out forms to get a refund for it through our Cancellation Insurance, and cancelling the extended health insurance. We will also have to adjust our insurance and our arrival dates for Arizona, but we will go. And maybe next year we’ll go to China.

San Francisco, Again, From a Different Perspective


As I mentioned in my last post, I was suffering with some major pain in my left back and hip the morning after we did the Shasta Caverns Tour. I really don’t know if that walking had anything to do with it. It could be sciatica; it could be a worn out hip joint. I was hoping that the pain would dissipate before we reached San Francisco.

We arrived at our reserved spot next to the wall overlooking the beach, at the San Francisco RV Resort in Pacifica at 1:00 p.m. on October 21st. This spot is a lot pricier than the one we stayed in the last time we visited, and we had only dry camping (no water, sewer or electrical hook-up), but the view was worth it. The temperature was warm enough for us to don our shorts for the first time. Unfortunately, Pacifica is ten miles away from downtown San Francisco. The plan was to ride the motorcycle to the Rapid Transit Station, and then take that downtown. But the pain in my hip was not letting up. There was no way I could lift my leg over the bike seat. It was all I could do to walk a few blocks to the nearest restaurant for lunch. After ice and pain medication it felt a little better and I could take no more sitting inside on such a gorgeous day, so we decided to try walking down the boardwalk along the beach to the pier that we could see in the distance. It wasn’t so bad going, and we took lots of pictures, but it was much further away than it looked.

Distant Pier

The distant pier along the shore at Pacifica

Shoreline Trail

The shoreline trail where we were camped above the ocean

SanFran (5)ShorelineWe were fascinated with these little birds that scurried in and out from the edge of the waves along the beach’

Birds on Beach

Tiny birds running on the beach

On the pier we watched many different coloured sea gulls that waited for fish or food scraps from the fishermen, and a lone pelican that sat still on the railing.

SanFran (8) Birds on the PierWhen we arrived back at the RV two hours later, I was in agony. From the front of the RV, we watched the beautiful sunset over the ocean, and the moon rising behind us. I was determined to do better the next day.

Sun setting

SunsetMoon RisingI still wasn’t up to climbing onto the bike the following morning, but after sitting on an ice pack, taking more pain meds, and rubbing on some lotions, I was able to walk the few blocks to catch a bus to the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) Station that took us downtown. The first thing we did was purchase transit passes. For $26 each we got three-day passes to ride any city bus, street car or cable car as many times as we needed. Jim really wanted to do the tour of Alcatraz, so we caught a street car to the Piers where the tour began. He was disappointed to discover that it was booked up until Saturday and we had to leave on Friday. He’d read that some of the City Tours included Alcatraz in their packages, but it took us several tries and a couple of hours to find one that did, only to learn that they too were sold out.

Alcatraz

Alcatraz, so near and yet so far

Instead, we purchased a regular tour package, at a discounted price because of the late time of day. We were assured we could use it again the next day too. We took a one and a half hour tour around the downtown, learning some of the history of the different parts of the city. When the tour was done strolled around the Fisherman’s Warf area, and had clam chowder in a bread bowl for dinner before catching the street car back to the BART station.

Seals at Fisherman's Warf

Seals basking in the sun at Fisherman’s Warf

The temperature had taken a plunge once the sun went down, and I hadn’t taken a sweater along. By the time I got off the bus back at the RV Park, I was cold, tired and ready for more Advil.

The next day we did it all again, this time taking the tour through Golden Gate Park and down to the coast for pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. The park is huge, and beautiful. I would like to have explored it more.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

When we got back to the downtown we did get off at the Ashbury and Haight corner to experience what’s left of the” hippy era”. Instead of stepping into the “Glass Gallery” that a friendly, bearded fellow wearing a top hat assured us we’d like, we relaxed with a wonderful Chai Tea at a little café.

Asbury St. Decor

A fine example of some of the interesting decor on Ashbury and Haight Streets

SanFran (16)

Glass Gallery?

We had to take at least a short ride on the cable car before we said goodbye to the city, but I wasn’t up to hanging on the side like we did last time.

Cable Car

Cable Car

It was certainly a different visit than our first, when we took the ferry into the downtown, from the other side, and spent our days walking and hopping on and off streetcars and trolleys. This time we had a new city walking tour app that would have been a great help, had I been able to walk more. Here’s your chance to try it out for free.

Mind Traveler has recently partnered with GPSmyCity to bring you access to one of these detailed apps that will answer all your questions about what to do and where to find it, in whichever city you choose. To get this free app all you need to do is be one of the first 20 Mind Traveler readers to like and comment on this post, telling me what motivates you to travel, and which city you plan to visit next. The codes for the free apps will be sent at the end of two weeks from the date of this post, or shortly after I’ve received 20 responses, whichever comes first. Note: These apps are currently available for only Apple devices. For a list of cities that are covered, visit www.gpsmycity.com

Be sure to follow this blog to get notifications of future posts and opportunities.

Different Kind of Adventure


It’s been several months since I’ve sat down to write a blog. It’s been nearly as long since I’ve written anything except my daily journals. Even those seldom get written daily. What have I been up to?

Well, after we returned home from Arizona, we spent the first month in restless quandary, wanting only to get back into the motor home and return. I had it in my mind that it was time to sell the house and make a major downsizing to a condo, allowing us more time and cash to do more traveling. But it wasn’t until it came time to open the pool that Jim became convinced. Then there was lawn to cut and flower beds to weed, and on and on. He finally decided it was time.

So began a different kind of adventure. We struck out in search of the perfect condo, at the perfect price. That took a while and we had to compromise on location. We will leave the city for a village about a half hour away. There are many advantages to it, the biggest one being a large storage area. Lower taxes and lower heating costs sweetened the deal. The downside is that we are going from a living space of about 2700 square feet to one of 750 square feet.

But before we had to worry about that challenge, we had to get the house in shape to put it on the market. We were fortunate to have a good realtor living right across the street. She offered lots of great advice. We had to de-clutter, or at least hide things out of sight. She suggested that removing the remaining carpet in the living and dining rooms would be worth our time. We knew that we would find more hardwood flooring, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was in a state of having been freshly polished before the carpet was put over it. We only had to pull out the outside stripping and the two million staples. It was time well-spent.

hardwood floor

look at that shine!

While we were at it, we replaced the vinyl flooring at two of the entrances. Painting of some outside doors and trim and some touch ups inside, and we were ready to show it.

Then we spent a month on an emotional roller coaster. There was a great deal of interest right away. No one who viewed it had anything negative to say about it. Many said they’d be back. Some did return, leaving the impression that they would be putting in an offer very shortly. We got excited. It didn’t happen.

We took a break, leaving it all in the good hands of our realtor, and took off to New Liskeard to the Bikers Reunion. I had been given the assignment to cover it for Canadian Biker Magazine, so that gave me something else to think about. It was a fun weekend and I will post more about it later. My story has just come out in the September issue of Canadian Biker, so look for it on the magazine stands.

Biker Pup

This pooch enjoyed the Freedom Ride!

Carol&Audrey

Biker Carol and Cancer Survivor Audrey get to know one another at Freedom Ride

Cool Bikes (2)

One of the Show & Shine Bikes, at the Bikers Reunion

I took another ten days off to visit my daughter, son-in-law and grand-kids, and a very good friend in BC. Before I left we all thought that an offer would come in. It didn’t. I made sure that I had access to a fax machine or scanner so that I could sign an acceptance of an offer while I was away. I needn’t have bothered.

More hours of sitting in the coffee shop while couples trouped through, either with agents or during Open Houses, only led to more euphoria followed by disappointment, until we quit letting ourselves believe “these will be the ones who will fall in love with it.” Finally, that couple arrived. A price was negotiated, dates were set, and papers were signed. Then we waited for conditions to be met. Time was of the essence because our buyer works in the Yukon and was only in town for a few more days before he had to return to work for another three weeks.

The weather had been hot and dry, but the night before the home inspection was to take place the skies opened and the rain poured down until late the next morning. The inspection was set for 8:30 a.m. As I wiped the kitchen counter at 8:10 a.m. I felt water splash onto my hand. It was coming from the ceiling! There was nothing we could do but call our realtor, and place a bowl under the drip. The buyer’s realtor said, “We’ll work something out.” So off we went to contemplate all of the possible scenarios, both good and bad. We did work it out. By the time we met with the realtors that night we had two estimates to present, for replacing the roof. After the inspection we had to call in the air conditioning man to tell us why there was another puddle of water on the floor beside the furnace. The inspector had determined that it was coming from the air conditioner. Fortunately that turned out to be nothing more than a blocked hose and was quickly fixed. The buyer’s realtor presented him with the reports that night, and through texting, an agreement was reached. We waited all evening and the next morning to hear if he’d signed off on the rest of the conditions. But when we hadn’t heard before we knew he would have left for the Yukon, our hearts sank again. Excitement captured us later that day when our realtor arrived at our door with “Sold” stickers to put on the “For Sale” sign.

Sold Sign

Look at those grins.

Since then we’ve been busily culling. Bags of unneeded clothing have been taken to the Diabetes clothing bins (since we’ll be spending our winters in Arizona, we don’t need nearly as many); trips have been made to electronic recycling sites, and hazardous waste sites (no need for all that leftover paint!). Then, there was the attempt to find a buyer for some beautiful antique furniture that I have. Some of it has been in my family for over one hundred years, but there is no family member who wants it now, at least not badly enough to pay for shipping it across the country. I dealt with antique dealers who would offer only a third of what they’d sell for. I let my favourite piece go and wept. I’m still looking to sell the rest.

pressed back chairs

pressed back chairs

antique dining table

antique dining table

Two weeks were spent sorting through things in preparation for a giant yard sale, which we held for two days during Labour Day Weekend. We had much more success with that, taking in more for all the odds and ends of used things than I could get for the antique furniture. Still we took a trailer full of the remains to a local charity, and will make another trip in the next few days. Yesterday the roof was done, just in time for the buyer’s final inspection. That’s a relief. It’s raining again tonight.

The light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer. In ten days we take possession of the condo. We’ll have two weeks to paint and put up shelves and get moved. Two weeks after that, we will be back on the road again, taking a longer route to Arizona and another adventure.

Tonto National Monument Cliff Dwellings


It’s snowing here today, in Ontario, Canada – not the usual weather for this time of year. It’s a perfect day for doing some mind travel, back to the Superstition Mountains of Arizona.

Jim, Karen and I set off in the morning for our final adventure of the season. Our primary destination was to climb to the cliff dwellings in Tonto National Forest, in the Superstition Mountains. It was already noon when we reached the entrance to Monument Park where the caves were located. Unfortunately we hadn’t packed a lunch. We had expected to find a restaurant or at least a snack bar somewhere close by, but there was nothing. The small visitors centre offered only a few types of energy bars at $4.00 a piece and a water fountain. Outside there was a vending machine that provided only pop.

There are two areas of cliff dwellings – the Lower is a half mile hike away, the Upper a mile and a half hike up the mountain. It was the Upper Cliff Dwelling that we wanted to see. Knowing that we would find it difficult to make the climb without some food in our stomachs, we purchased some bars, Jim and Karen got pop and I refilled my water bottle at the fountain before heading to the trail. There is usually a $3.00 fee (good for seven days) requested for the tours and reservations are needed. But, since this day was National Heritage Day, there was a free open house, and self-guided tours were permitted to both the Upper and Lower Dwellings.

At the base of the trail a few native American artisans displayed their craft and demonstrated dance and costumes; some birds and other wildlife were on display.

Native Dance

Native Dance

Young Grey Horned Owl

Elf Owl

Red tailed Hawk

Red tailed Hawk

The day was comfortably warm and breezy. The terrain was rugged. We took our time, stopping often to photograph or just catch our breath. The dwelling looked a very long ways up; however, switchbacks made the climb relatively easy even for those of us who aren’t accustomed to frequent climbing.

Hikers at Tonto Monument

Other hikers up above us

Part way up we were warned by the Park Ranger that it would get very windy the higher we climbed. We made use of the ties on our Tilley hats, and sometimes thought that if the wind had been blowing in the opposite direction, it might have swept us over the edge of the cliff.

enduring the wind

Karen and Jim enduring the wind

It was all worth the effort though.

The views became more and more awesome as we climbed.

4IMG_3537

View of the Valley

Views of the Valley from part way up

The soft melody of a flute could be heard in the distance.

In just over an hour we reached the remains of the 40-room Upper Cliff Dwelling. Situated in the northeastern part of the Sonoran Desert, these well-preserved cliff dwellings were occupied during the 13th, 14th, and early 15th centuries. There are many theories as to why the Salado people began building here. Protection from the elements is one possibility as the cave is dry even during the worst weather, and receives the full benefit of the morning sun in winter and cooling shade in summer.

We spent a half hour wandering through the eight accessible rooms. Some reinforcement restorations have taken place to allow public visits to continue, but a Park Ranger was there to insure that no one sat or walked on the ancient and now delicate walls. The source of the flute music turned out to be a young native playing softly in the highest of rooms. A feeling of amazement and peace encompassed us as we stood there on the side of the cliff.

6IMG_3541

7IMG_3545

8IMG_3551

Looking out through a "window"

Looking out through a “window”

10IMG_3563

Cliff Dwellings

Upper Level Cliff Dwellings

The hike down was a little quicker than going up. Upon our descent we got back into the car and continued on around the mountains. We stopped to look at Roosevelt Dam.

 

14IMG_3584

Roosevelt Dam

Roosevelt Dam

About Roosevelt DamOnce past the dam, the road narrowed, twisted and the pavement disappeared.We held our breath as we hung on the side of cliffs on the now very rough road, and we sighed with relief when we reached pavement once more.

17IMG_3600

Rough and Windy Road

We enjoyed dinner at Tortilla Flat, and indulged in one last Prickly Pear ice cream cone before winding our way back down to Mesa and home.

Tortilla Flat

Karen in front of the wall of money

 

We’d Rather be in Arizona


The motor home is in the driveway; the bike is in the garage. “Will the time until we go back pass as quickly as the time we were there?” Jim asks.

After six days on the road, through cold weather, some rain and very high winds, we arrived back in Peterborough wondering if we would be able to get into our driveway. We’d been kept informed about the terrible winter the area had experienced, and there were still piles of snow when we hit town. Thankfully they were all on the lawns and not in the driveway. Our backyard pool is still a floating ice rink, but today the temperatures are rising. The wind is also howling again, as much as it was when we were “camped” in the parking lot of Sandusky Mall on our last night of our adventure. At least now we are on firm ground and not rocking with the gusts!

As promised, today I begin to fill you in on our last couple of weeks in Arizona.

Two Views of Sedona

During the week of March Break (in Canada) we were thrilled to have Jim’s daughter visit us, but with bicycles and the motorcycle being our only means of transportation, we thought our time would be spent mainly within the resort. However, we gratefully accepted the generous offer of our great neighbour to lend us her car so Karen could accompany us on the completion of a couple more things on our Bucket List. One of these was a drive towards Sedona to see the cliff dwellings in Verde Valley, the most obvious structure being Montezuma’s Castle, part of a larger community. We saw remnants of another eight to ten pueblo rooms. Because of the bountiful resources small farming communities developed in the area between the years 600 to 1100 and the natural formations of the rocky hills lent themselves well to the creation of safe shelter.

Montezuma's Castle

Montezuma’s Castle

P1020324

Pueblo Rooms

Other Pueblo Rooms on this hillside

From Verde Valley we continued on to Sedona and the brilliant red rocks that seemed to be formed into castles and temples and a very large bell.

Bell Rock

Bell Rock

Cathedral Rock is the most impressive and is a popular hiking destination.

Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock

We decided to climb it.

Cathedral Rock

Still only at the base!

I admit that, about a quarter of the way up when we reached a very smoothly rounded mass with not much to hold onto, I called it quits, while Jim and Karen carried on up another quarter of the way.

Hello Up There!

Hello Up There!

My camera was dangling around my neck, and rather than risk bashing it on rock, I took advantage of my lofty-enough position to capture the surroundings.

Lofty Homes

Lofty Homes on a distant rock

P1020400

P1020408

Vistas

Vistas and vegetation

It was starting to get dark and our stomachs were telling us it was time to eat by the time we all returned to the car, so we retraced our path along the highway until we found a quaint little BBQ place to replenish ourselves for the drive back to Mesa.

When we left Mesa Regal on March 30th for our journey home, we took the detour off I-17 to complete the drive through Sedona.

Driving Through Sedona

Driving Through Sedona

Scenic Highway

Scenic Highway

Driving Through SedonaOn the far side of town the wide road became a beautiful tree lined, but narrow road often edged by salmon coloured cliffs that appeared all too close to the side of the motor home!

A narrower road

A narrower road, the winds were picking up

Close encounters

A little too close for comfort, especially with the high winds

To add to the adventure, a small tree branch brushed the side of our vehicle and soon the awning began to rattle. As soon as we came to a pull-off Jim got out to check it. The wind was so strong that it grabbed the door nearly out of Jim’s hand as he attempted to exit the RV. He discovered that the blow from the tree had dislodged the awning lock and part of the canvas had come unrolled and was flapping in the wind. There was no way that we could battle the winds to get the awning down, but with some effort, Jim managed to get it rolled back up and locked into place using the long armed hook. We then wrapped Velcro straps around the arms to make sure they didn’t come loose again. We carried on as the road became more twisty with several switch-backs, until we were back onto I-17 and then I-40, heading towards Flagstaff. It would have been an exciting trip on the motorcycle. It was a little scary in a large vehicle, but well worth it.

Switch-backs

Yes, that’s where we just were!

Trouble in Paradise


Wednesday evening a note was posted throughout the park warning that the water would be turned off on Thursday morning from nine until noon, for needed repairs. Not even the park staff knew that that would be the least of the worries.

Thursday morning everyone was up early getting showers over, coffee made and breakfast dishes done while water was still available, when the power suddenly went off. Of course, because we have battery back-up, our lights only flickered. Almost immediately I heard two people talking on the street:

“Did your power just go off?”

“Yes.”

“The transformer just blew up!”

Blew up was an exaggeration, but the recently newly installed transformer had indeed malfunctioned. Soon, a congregation was assembling on the street corner, and work crews were pulling up to the big transformer located a half block from us.  The rumour mill began. Most people hadn’t yet had their coffee, so there was lots of grumbling. We learned that only half of the park was affected by the power outage. By ten o’clock, when we walked up to the park entrance for a curious look at the new park model homes on display, we found that a large crowd had gathered to take advantage of the free coffee and donuts promised during the Open House. The outage was the topic of conversation. Some were already worried about the food in their fridges and wondering how they’d keep warm if the power wasn’t back on after dark.  We were thankful for our generator, something that fifth-wheels don’t have, unless they carry one in the back of their tow vehicle, and certainly no park model has.

As the sun came out to warm things up, people began to go about their daily business, except if they had something planned for indoors.  There were no lights and no computer or internet access. Some people made use of the pool and hot tub while they were still warm; others gathered on the patio to chat with friends. Somehow they managed lunch, either at home or out at restaurants.

When the sun went down, the temperature dropped quickly, as is usual here. The grumbling began anew. Work crews were still on the scene. The water was turned back on, but it looked like the power would remain off for a while.  The rumour mill said it wouldn’t be back on until Saturday. That night most people were in bed very early because there wasn’t much else to do in the dark and bed was the warmest place to be.  Even though we had heat from the propane tank, and could turn on the generator for electricity, we had to conserve, so we too turned in early.

Friday morning we shared our coffee and toast with our new neighbour and friend, Mary Lee, before going to see if The Country Store (a weekly market of local vendors) was in operation. It was, but only with enough vendors to fill the outdoor lounge. It was too dark inside the hall for the others. At the office there was another notice posted: Power would be restored by 2:00 pm, if not earlier, and there would be free hot dogs given out for lunch on the patio. As we were walking over to get the free lunch, a tractor and trailer pulled in, carrying a new transformer and a huge generator.

Transformers and generators moving in

Transformers and generators moving in

A large crowd enjoyed lunch with friends while sitting in the sun listening to the resident Dixieland players, who had moved their Friday morning jam session outdoors. The atmosphere was far more positive.  Two o’clock came and went; then three and four. The atmosphere changed. Crowds began to form around the work area again. Free pizza delivered in the back of a Cal-Am (the parent company who owns the resort) pickup truck was offered to the spectators. It was a good way to get to know our neighbours, at least. Gradually everyone drifted off to the comfort of their beds when it became apparent that there would be no power again that night. The generator was running, but for some reason it couldn’t be connected to supply power to residences. Again, rumours as to why spread around. Sometime in the early hours it was turned off and the workers went home.

Early Saturday morning our back-up propane tank was empty, so our heat went off. Fortunately there was still enough gas left in our main tank to heat the place up once more.  We called to get the backup tank replaced, and were informed that they could come on Monday! We again shared breakfast with neighbours and Mary Lee later loaned us her car so we could go to Home Depot to purchase a small propane tank that would last us for the weekend.

A new posting appeared in various places around buildings and parking lots of Mesa Regal.

Posting

The line was long, but moved quickly and we appreciated the pulled pork sandwiches, chips and fruit salad.

In the afternoon we gathered down the street for a block party, where we shared a pot luck meal of fruit, raw veggies, crackers, dips, cookies and cupcakes, and lots of laughs. We met most of the new people who had arrived after Christmas.

Block Party

Block Party. No electricity needed!

Best of all, when we got home at 5:30 the power was back on. I wonder how many went next door to Tower Point (another Cal-Am property) for the free dinner.

Everywhere we went during this ordeal people had opinions, stories and criticisms. I heard of one woman telling someone in the grocery store that it had gotten so cold in the night that two people had been taken to hospital by ambulance because of hypothermia! Fortunately another Mesa Regal resident overheard the conversation and set the record straight, but that’s how rumours get started and spread and become more exaggerated.

Yes, the outage was inconvenient and stressful to many people, and yes perhaps there might have been ways to prevent it, but sometimes shit just happens and there is no way to be prepared for everything. What’s more important is how it is handled.  In my opinion Mesa Regal worked hard to fix the situation and to make amends as quickly as possible. These things take time.