No, We Never Get Bored in Mesa, Arizona


We thought we had a good internet solution with our T-Mobile hot spot, and for the first few weeks it was. But we soon ran out of data when we started sharing pictures and looking at videos. It became impossibly slow so I had to give up on trying to post on my blog. Now we are hooked up with Century Link and hoping that it will continue to serve us well.

Contrary to the impression we have given of always having warm sunny weather here, today is rainy and cold. In fact yesterday morning it was colder here than it was back home in Ontario! So it’s a good day to catch up on all the things that have been keeping us busy the last few weeks.

When I was talking to my sister at Christmas time last year, she thought we would have been home already. I told her we wouldn’t be “home” until the middle of April. She said, ”Aren’t you bored?”

I replied, “If you get bored down here, it’s your own fault!” Here are some reasons why:

Besides enjoying good food and music and dancing on the patio with our many friends at Mesa Regal, we’ve enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast with our American friends;

We celebrated the birthday of one of those friends, with an evening at the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas display;

We’ve spent a good part of a day touring area roads on the motorcycle, with other Mesa Regal enthusiasts;

We’ve played pickle ball and bocce ball, and for three days last week cheered on good friends who were in the Pickle Ball Tournament, held right here at Mesa Regal RV Resort.

Jim makes a good shot at Bocce Ball

Jim makes a good shot at Bocce Ball

Patti and Mark Earned a Silver Medal

Patti and Mark Earned a Silver Medal

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We participated in the Tree Lighting Ceremony and caroling on the west-end patio;

We rounded out the last week with a ride on the light rail train to Tempe with two of our neighbours for dinner, followed by a stroll to the Salt River to watch the annual Lighted Boat Parade and Fireworks on Saturday evening,

And a drive to Glendale on Sunday with friends and neighbours to view these marvelous Sand Sculptures that were still being finished off near the end of the three-day competition.

So, no, we are never bored down here. But we might be when we return to our Ontario home!

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Five Things to Do in Kaslo, British Columbia


I’ve just booked my annual trip to British Columbia to leave in a few weeks. This time I will spend my time in Kaslo relaxing with family and enjoying the Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival, which has become a much bigger event than it was the previous time that I was there for it, ten years ago. I’m looking forward to it and hope to have some new stories to share.

In the meantime, I’m posting this blog that I drafted some time ago, giving you a little more insight into Kaslo, my favourite little town in the Kootneys.

In 1899 the City of Kaslo was branded “The Lucerne of North America.” This small mountain town, just west of Canada’s Rocky Mountains, lies between the peaks of the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges, offering serenity for those who seek it, and lots of activity for those who prefer to be on the move.

  1. Camping: There is a good sized Campground right by the shore of Kootney Lake.When we stayed there a couple of years ago we had plenty of room for our motor home. The lot wasn’t quite deep enough to accommodate the bike trailer, but we were able to unhook and leave it at a convenient spot nearby, at no extra cost. The price included electric, water and WiFi, and use of the dump station. The owner was very helpful in finding us what we needed.

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  1. Dining, Shopping, Entertainment: Within a short distance from the campsite is the main street where several restaurants, coffee shops, a hardware store, a grocery store, a pharmacy, clothing stores, and a Credit Union are located. Much of the food is organically, locally grown when in season. One of our favourite eateries is the Blue Belle.

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Patio at Blue Belle

  1. Accommodations: If you aren’t into camping, there is a very nice, fairly new hotel, aptly named The Kaslo Hotel, on the main street, and several Bed & Breakfasts throughout the residential streets.Hotel (2)
  1. Historical Attractions: Also situated on the main street, moored at the dock, is the SS Moyie Stern-wheeler, an historical, restored paddle boat that used to transport passengers, up Kootney Lake, the only way to get into the small communities along its banks at the time. During the summer and fall seasons there are open tours, and often there are shows in the lounge. On one trip we enjoyed an excellent performance by two young, accomplished violin players. Like most things in Kaslo, it is operated by volunteers and maintained through donations.

 

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SS Moyie

A short walk up A Avenue (Hwy 31), the volunteer-restored Langham Cultural Centre has an Art Gallery on the first floor where the many local artists have the opportunity to exhibit their work. On the second floor is a history of various buildings in Kaslo, and the story of the lives of the numerous Japanese people who were interned in Kaslo during the 2nd World War.

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  1. Biking, hiking, paddling: Throughout the hills of the Kaslo area there are great roads for motorcycling.

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And along the shores of the lake and the Kaslo River are many trails for hiking
and biking. Another volunteer group, The Trail Blazers, has worked tirelessly
over the years to create and maintain the trails along the river bank, including
the building of two wooden bridges across the river to allow access to both
sides.

Look for more details about this in my next post.

Kootney Lake is a popular place for kayaking and canoeing, too.

A Visit with Dorothy in Kansas, The Old Town Museum, and The Indy 500


We’ve been home for over a week now and I’ve taken no time to write! Time to catch up!

As when we headed south, it was our plan to spend more time exploring on our way back home too, but somehow that doesn’t last too long. I don’t know if it’s the poor weather that we encounter, or just the anxiety of getting home. This year our “summer” home is all new to us, since we moved into it just two weeks before we left for Arizona. There is still a lot of unpacking and organizing to do. We did make a couple of stops though.

The wind blew us into Liberty, Kansas and we had to take a look at Dorothy’s House.

Dorothy's House

Dorothy’s House

The storm shelter

The storm (root) cellar

Dorothy and Toto

Dorothy and Toto

After we looked at things outside, we tried to get into the Museum. We were greeted by a live Dorothy, who informed us that the Museum was just closing. We told them that we’ d come all the way from Ontario, so we were allowed a quick look around the main floor and the gift shop, while Dorothy filled us in on some of the history of this Dorothy Memorial.

Not far down the highway, at a truck stop near Greensburg, Kansas we camped in the “RV Park” that a sign advertised as newly opened. It had hookups, but construction debris and other garbage still littered the area. We went into the restaurant for dinner and were entertained by the conversation that flowed around the small room between the truckers.

We were the only ones there!

We were the only ones there!

By noon the next day we were in Wichita, where we spent some time touring Old Town Museum. blog4Old Town, Wichita, Kansas

blog9 Old TownOld TownWe lunched on Brats and Sarsaparilla in Fritz Snitzlers Saloon.

Fritz Snitzlers Saloon

Fritz Snitzlers Saloon

barber chair

Barber chair

Interesting story about whistles and time.

Interesting story about whistles and time.

Funeral Parlour

Funeral Parlour

Couch in the office of the local newspaper.

Couch in the office of the local newspaper.

Then we watched the Kansas Twisters Motorcycle Drill Team practice in the parking lot next to where we were parked.

Drill Team

Precision DrillFor more action, check out this video, courtesy of Jim Victor. https://youtu.be/3xwjI5FKhv4

By the time we left it was time to find a place to stay for the night. We looked up an RV Park listed in El Dorado, a half-hour drive off the highway. On the way we stopped for dinner at an Italian Restaurant. Despite its tired look, the food was good and the owners friendly. The RV Park, however, had to be the worst spot we’d ever seen. I was surprised that it was endorsed by Good Sam. There were very few sites that could accommodate large rigs, as they’d advertised, and all but one spot was filled. There was no one in the office to even tell us that, so we had to drive down the two rows in search of something. It was near the end of the final row that we spotted the empty site, which was barely big enough for us to turn around in, and turn around we had to because there was no exit! Twenty minutes later we were back at the Walmart parking lot for the night, listening to the rain and being rocked by the wind.

Easter Sunday we stopped into visit friends from Mesa Regal who were now home in St. Louis, Missouri. Dave and Nancy were gracious hosts, treating us to a wonderful late meal of their Easter dinner left-overs. That night we found what would be our last good KOA campground of the trip, at Granite City. The further north you get this early in the season, the scarcer they become. Most don’t open until Memorial Day.

By the time we arrived in Indiana the next day the dreary weather and heavy clouds were weighing me down, but one stop on our schedule was the Indy 500 Speedway, so we took a camping site for the night at the State Fair Grounds in Indianapolis. It was not an easy place to find as only one gate was open and the GPS didn’t know that. It was even harder to find out way back out the next morning because the exit signs all led to closed gates, until we eventually found ourselves back where we’d entered. It was after noon when we finally drove into the parking lot at the Indy 500 Speedway. I have to admit that by that time I was feeling a tad hungry and grumpy. We paid the $8.00 each to walk through the very small museum. It would have cost another $30.00 each to have the tour behind the scenes of the track, so we passed on that.

Indy 500 Museum

Indy 500 Museum

Former Championship Cars on display

Former Championship Cars on display

1969 winnerWe did hand over $8.00 each to take the twenty minute mini-bus tour around the track.

blog6 blog5Indy 500 TrackThat night we were at a private campground at Enon, Ohio, next to the freeway and a train track where freight trains frequently rumbled past, and airplanes heading into Columbus flew above us. I didn’t expect to get much sleep, but I guess I was tired enough to tune them all out. Our last night on the road, after driving through Pennsylvania, we ended up where we’d started our trek across the US, at a Walmart in Ferdonia, NY.

Football Fever in Arizona


While Hockey Fever is often rampant back home in Canada this time of year, in the United States ‘tis the season for football. Here in Arizona it is especially contagious this year because the Super Bowl is coming to Phoenix next month.

We have never been followers of football, but if you are on the patio during the days or evenings that the Arizona Cardinals are playing, and a crowd is watching it on the TVs, it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement. It’s even more so when the Cardinal’s opponents are the Seattle Seahawks because they have a very large following among snowbirds from Washington State. Many of those live on our block and are our winter friends, so if we’re cheering we too cheer for the Seahawks.

It is also apparent that many western Canadians support the “Hawks” as well, since Seattle is just across the border and not too far to travel for a game. My daughter and her fiancé are among them. The weekend before Christmas they even flew into Phoenix for the final game between the Cardinals and the Seahawks, which pleased me for the opportunity to spend some time with them.

On the Saturday we drove to Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix, to join them for the day. The first item on the agenda was a tour of the University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals and venue for all major games, including the Super Bowl. It was an awesome experience.

Where does all that turf go when the Bike Show is on?

Where does all that turf go when the Bike Show is on?

It's rolled out the back door, intact, on rails, to this usually empty lot.

It’s rolled out the back door, intact, on rails, to this usually empty lot.

The media moving in, setting up for the big game.

The media moving in, setting up for the big game.

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Who’s that in the Press Box?

Most of the people on the tour were from out-of-town, and were there to root for the Hawks the next day. I think we were the only ones without tickets. Although we thought it would be fun to join Ann and Frank, by that time the only tickets left were $7,000! Imagine what they will be for the Super Bowl! We’ve heard rumours that park models and RVs as far away as Mesa can fetch upwards of $5,000 for the week of the big game. Hmm, maybe we should take the car or bike to California for the week. We’d like to see Disney Land. Anyone want to rent a motor home?

San Antonio, Texas


When we left New Orleans we headed in the direction of San Antonio, Texas. Traveling along Hwy 90 was the worst road we’ve ever been on. It is made of concrete slabs and they have all heaved just enough to cause the RV to thump over the uneven seams with each set of axles. Dishes rattled, doors and drawers that we thought were secured banged open and closed. My body began to ache and my head began to pound. At one point we turned off it to take the much smoother service road that ran alongside it, until that took a turn north before meeting up with 90 several miles later. It was 4:45 pm when we crossed the border into Texas and were back on I-10.

Jim takes a break under the Texas Star

Jim takes a break under the Texas Star

At 6:30 we stopped for dinner at a Cracker Barrel near Houston and called it a day. Most Cracker Barrel Restaurants have parking spots at the back just for RVs and as long as there is space, they are welcome to stay for the night. Of course it’s good for business because we always return for breakfast.

By 2:00 pm the next day we were entrenched in the San Antonio KOA. We unloaded the bike and rode downtown. After finding a spot in a nearby parking lot, we walked to The Alamo and did the tour with headsets that told us the history. It’s an interesting story.

Alamo Alamo5And the gardens around it are beautiful.

Alamo Gardens

Alamo Gardens

Alamo GardensThe sun was hot, so the cooler air that enveloped us after we descended  the stairs to the River Walk was a welcome relief. We strolled on the walkway beside the river banks, and checked out the many restaurants before settling on an outdoor café that featured polish sausages, sauerkraut (or potato salad) and fresh baked pretzels.

Yummy Sausage, pretzel and German Potato Salad

Yummy Sausage, pretzel and German Potato Salad

While we ate we were entertained by two fellows dressed in German-style knickers, vests and hats. One played an accordion, the other a lap drum kit; both sang and told jokes. They quit about the time we were finished eating.

Enertainers

Sign on bucket: “All Donations Benefit the Home for One-armed Accordion Players”

We climbed back up the stairs to the hot pavement, returned to the bike and attempted to find our way back to the campground. We needed a little help from a traffic cop who allowed us to make a U-turn after he told us we were going in the wrong direction. Following his directions we found a much easier route back than the one we’d taken to get there, one that we would use again the next day.

After breakfast we returned to the same parking lot and made our way back to the River Walk. This time we took the hour long boat cruise through all the branches of the river while our captain told us of the history of the building of the River Walk, its main purpose being to prevent flooding. Over time the building of a multitude of restaurants, a shopping plaza, convention centre and two towering hotels has turned it into a major tourist attraction. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the atmosphere, listening to the music being played on the terrace of the plaza, and ending our visit with a fine dinner at The County Line BBQ, after waiting in line for twenty minutes. We were disappointed to see that not all of the lights along the walk had been turned on, but it was a lovely evening just the same.

River Walk

River Walk

River Walk

River Walk Tour Boat

Five & Dime

A good place to purchase t-shirts and other souvenirs

River Walk

The birds found a good place to eat, but we couldn’t get a seat here.

The next morning we were on our way again.

Rocking With The King


That’s all right, Mamma, that’s all right with me…Elvis music played in my head for the next two days after our arrival in Memphis on Monday. We were able to snag a campsite at Graceland RV Park, situated right behind Heart Break Hotel, at the end of Lonely Street. The start of the Graceland Tour is just a short walk through the parking lot next door. Because of that, the RV Park is well secured 24/7 and everything is very well organized. Since it was mid-afternoon when we arrived, we opted to take the Boulevard into downtown Memphis, just twenty-minutes away, to check out the action and have dinner.

Downtown

Downtown

Being a Monday night, things were rather quiet. Some of the restaurants had entertainment, and staff on the street urging us in. We decided on the Jerry Lee Lewis Cafe where we stuffed ourselves with southern-style BBQ ribs, baked potatoes, coleslaw, and beans while enjoying the performance of an Elvis impersonator. He was one of the best we’d ever seen, sounding very much like the King. He switched gears for one song and brought Johnny Cash to life.

Jerry Lee Lewis Grill

Jerry Lee Lewis Cafe

Yummy Ribs

Yummy Ribs

 

"Elvis"

“Elvis”

At intermission we wandered down the street and poked into a couple of shops then headed back to camp. I wanted to take advantage of the good WiFi connection to get some blogging done.

Tuesday morning was devoted to the mundane domestic tasks that we could put off no longer, such as laundry, but the afternoon was spent doing the Graceland Tour. It’s pricey, and the last part of it, the little museums on a strip across the road from Graceland, all led us through gift shops, but Graceland itself was far from the tacky display that I’d envisioned. The house is grand, but not huge. It displays a simpler side of Elvis than the flashy one that appeared on stage. The main floor is tastefully decorated in the era of Elvis’s life and death, including dark wooden cupboards and harvest gold appliances in the kitchen. The lower level is, well, maybe a little eclectic.

Graceland

Graceland

Media Room

Lower level Media Room

Pool Room Ceiling

Pool Room Ceiling, folded fabric

Some things I learned about Elvis that I didn’t know before:

  1. He loved horses as much as he loved his cars. A couple of horses still graze in the pasture.
  2. He had quietly donated several million dollars to a large number of charities over the years, many of which helped improve the lives of his friends and family in his home town of Tupelo, Mississippi.
  3. He loved to play racquet ball.
  4. He had a beautiful Meditation Garden built at Graceland in 1960. It has since become the burial site for his mother, father, grandmother and himself, and a memorial for his twin brother who died at birth.
Meditation Garden

Meditation Garden

We walked away without souvenirs, not being Elvis fanatics, but we enjoyed the visit. It’s worth seeing once.

More excellent ribs for dinner at Marlowe’s down Elvis Presley Drive brought our stay in Tennessee to an end. The next morning we were back on I-55 in the direction of New Orleans.

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.