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.

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!

Something New is Coming and It Could Change Our World for the Better -The Green New Deal


Have you heard?  No, I’m not campaigning for the Green Party.  They did not initiate this!

A growing number of people are becoming aware of, and fearful, of the rapidly progressing climate crisis. Calls have gone out in the US and Canada for an initiative called the Green New Deal, defined as a comprehensive shift in our economy and government policy to simultaneously address the climate crisis, economic inequality, and the sweeping economic changes that come with automation and Artificial Intelligence. It’s also a call for inclusiveness. It’s been recognized that the only way we’re going to get through this crisis is together, as in non-partisan.

I heard about this a few weeks ago and, being one of those people who understand that there is a real crisis, I signed up to become involved. Last evening Jim and I drove to a small community a half hour south of us, to the first of several Town Hall Meetings being held throughout our area. As I mentioned, it was held in a small rural town, in a small town hall so I didn’t know what to expect. Would very many people show up? We were a little late arriving, but so were others. By the time the meeting got started, there were forty-five people filling all of the available tables and chairs!

There were some politicians there – the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the Township; the Green Party Candidate for our federal riding,  Jeff  Wheeldon; and the Liberal Candidate for our riding, Kim Ludd (also our current MP) – but none of them were there to campaign. They all were interested in the same thing, to find ways to solve these crises together.

After a Welcome and introductions from the two women who organized it, we were all given a challenge to write down as many things we’d like to see happen to save our country’s environment and general well-being, and create another list of things that we wouldn’t want to see happen as a result of some of the possible efforts. After discussion among us, grouped by table, one person from each group presented a summary of what we agreed were the most important points. It was amazing to hear all of the suggestions. Many had similar ideas, but there were others who had really done a lot of thinking. In fact there were representatives from a chapter of another movement that I hadn’t heard about before, The Blue Dot Movement, who came up with some excellent and in- depth necessities to fight this crisis.

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Summary from Lists (in no particular order) 

  • Reduce/eventually ban single-use plastics (did you know that most dark coloured plastic bottles, such as those used for laundry detergents and rinses are not often recyclable?)
  • Development of more efficient electric vehicles, and wider provision of charging stations for them
  • Banning all dangerous chemicals used in pesticides and weed killers, such as Round-up
  • Encourage composting by providing municipal pick-up
  • EDUCATE about the need for changes and how to make them, through schools, adult workshops, etc.
  • Work toward the end of fossil fuel use, and replace with sustainable energy sources
  • Retraining for those workers whose jobs would be eliminated
  • Reforestation – bring back annual tree-planting days in schools
  • Create more (electric) public transportation
  • Fight for the Carbon Pricing and Tap and Trade legislation to remain in place
  • Fight for clean-energy strategies
  • Stop the continued decline of our natural plant species
  • Create community gardens, and buy locally

On the other list it was agreed that any of these changes needs to be accomplished without causing personal hardships to the public because of job layoffs or unaffordability.

Two Best Quotes of the Night 

  • There is no limit to what we can accomplish (together) if we don’t care about being the “winner”
  • You can’t have a good economy without a good environment

What I Came Away With 

  • It’s time that we started focusing on the first of the Three R’s, REDUCE. Recycling hasn’t been enough for a very long time, but it was the easiest.
  • There are plenty of like-minded people out there with many options for making reducing less stressful
  • We need to talk about the issue; we need to listen to others; we absolutely need to LEARN.
  • If we work together to accomplish these goals, we will All be WINNERS!

Let’s get involved to save our planet for our children and grandchildren! Let me know what you think is important and how you plan to make changes.

The Last Legs Home


After we left Zion National Park, we drove north through Hurricane until we found the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) open area where boon-docking is permitted. It took a bit of time to figure where we were allowed, but we found some other Canadians who assured us it was fine to park across from them. We found the most level spot we could, where we wouldn’t be blocking pathways or encroaching on the privacy of others, then went for a walk to see what was around us before the sun set.

Sun Beginning to Set
Our Site/Our neighbours
Where does this road lead?
A locked gate

A bush beginning to bud
My favourite Shot

The sun went down and we could see millions of stars. We watched a campfire (metal ringed fire-pits were the only amenities) burning up on a hill. We read for a while, and then snuggled under the covers to enjoy the quietest and most peaceful night’s sleep we’d had in years. No noise; no lights.

Salt Lake City

Early the next morning we were on the road heading to Salt Lake City. We could see snow-covered mountains off in the distance, shadows from clouds overhead creating the effect of oil paintings.

These were the only interesting things on the drive.

At 4:00 pm we reached our destination – the KOA in Salt Lake City, after stopping at the local Ford Dealer to get an appointment to have the motorhome issue checked out. Hot showers and great internet connection were much appreciated, but we didn’t have the luxury of quiet darkness for sleeping. There is always a trade-off.

While the motorhome was being thoroughly examined for most of the next day, we toured the mall, had coffee and cinnamon buns, and later lunch, before finding a table in the sun of the courtyard, still waiting to hear from the Ford man.

We arrived at City Creek Centre before the stores opened
Looking down and across the creek from the second floor
The outside Courtyard, with the Mormon Chapel in the background
Mid-morning energy boast
Looking down to the street from the Upper Floor Causeway between the Mall Sections
Children were fascinated with this Infinity Pool
At certain intervals music began to play and the fountains danced

He finally checked in  with the news that they could find nothing wrong other than the flawed spark plug that we’d had replaced in Mesa. With Jim’s permission they would replace all ten spark plugs. We had another couple of hours to kill so we left the mall and walked downtown, ultimately ending up at the IMAX Theatre in the Planetarium, where we watched the 3D movie “Super Dogs.” That was amazing!

At 4:30 the call came: the motorhome was finished and running well. $760 later we were back at the KOA. I have to say that we were impressed with this dealership. They were very courteous; they had an Uber at the door to take us wherever we wanted to go while we waited, at their expense, and another to pick us up downtown to return us to the dealership. They showed us the cracked spark plug, and a few examples of how badly warn and rusted the others were. They explained all the other testing they’d done and how they’d found the problem.

The following day we journeyed to the suburb of Cottonwood to join many other ukulele players, in a small non-denominational church, for a ukulele workshop and concert lead by a master of ukulele, Stuart Fuchs. It was an uplifting and inspiring way to end our stay in Utah.

Stuart Fusch tuning his ukulele
Love is the theme of the Unitarian Universalist Society where the ukulele workshop took place

The next morning we left the KOA.

The Final 1,966 Miles

The last five days were spent just driving, trying to keep ahead of the predicted rain and snow along the way.

Tunnel Through the Mountain near Grand River, Utah

The first night we parked at Western Hills Campground, high on a hill outside Rawlins, Wyoming and were again rocked to sleep by high winds. We had a good breakfast at Cappy’s, a restaurant located part way down the hill.

Western Hills Campground, Rawlins, Wyoming

Back on I-80 the winds were still blowing and the elevation reached 8800 feet. Overhead signs warned that there could be wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph and high profile, light-weight vehicles should turn off. That was us, but where were we to go? We carried on, out of Wyoming and half-way through Nebraska to Lexington, where we found a Walmart that night.

Steep Climb to 8800 feet

At Sleepy Hallow Good Sam Campground, in Oxford Iowa the next night, more high winds, thunder and heavy rain disturbed out sleep. At 6:00 am the roaring winds had me up and dressed, ready to escape what sounded like a tornado, but it settled down enough for us to have breakfast before we left. Getting out of our spot was tricky though. The sites were built along the side of a hill and the narrow, up-hill roads between them were partially washed out in places, requiring a sharp left turn to get onto them. We got stuck in the wet grass beside us. After a couple of tries, Jim managed to get purchase on the gravel and gunned it up the hill. I was so glad to get out of there. It’s a very pretty spot, but the access roads and parking sites need a lot of work. That was our last campground stay.

This will be a pretty Campground in the spring and summer, but the roads need work

We got the rest of the way through Iowa, and all the way through Illinois, still on I-80, and to Elkhart, Indiana the next day. The Cracker Barrel was ours for dinner, the night, and breakfast. We would have gotten further if it hadn’t been for a tanker roll over in Illinois that caused a two-hour delay.

The following day we continued to fight the winds and we decided to turn north at Michigan instead of continuing on to Pennsylvania and New York state, where we usually cross the border at Niagara Falls. We were hoping the winds would be lighter. They weren’t.

Trucks lined up at Border
Flags blowing Straight out at the Enroute Travelers Centre

After we crossed into Canada at Detroit (where we got lost trying to find our way to the bridge) they got even worse! We were ready to stop for the night at Tilbury, west of Toronto, but snowy predictions for the next morning and the continued winds, pushed us on home. We arrived at 9:15 pm. Home was a beautiful sight, even though it was cold!