A Visit to Wickenburg, Arizona


After a few days of stressful times, both good and bad, I felt a need to just get away for the day. Jim suggested driving to Wickenburg. The trip should have taken less than two hours, but we were slow to get away and had to stop for lunch. Then after we got back on our way we realized we’d made a wrong turn somewhere. We had to consult the GPS. It did get us to Wickenburg eventually, but we had to back track. As a result, it was 3:30 when we parked in front of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, only to find that it closed at 4:00. When we got inside we knew that we wouldn’t have time to see all that was there, but they didn’t charge us for admission. We did a quick tour, taking lots of pictures, and vowed that we would return another day.

The main floor, in the main building, is divided into art exhibits that are on permanent display on one side, and art exhibits that are on loan on the other. We took in some of this.

Then we went downstairs to see the exhibit that depicts life in Wickenburg during the early 1900s.

Inside Mercantile Store

Inside the Mercantile Store this fellow appeared (by projector) and told us about life in Wickenburg.

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Looking into the local Saloon

Looking into the local Saloon

The museum staff was waiting for us when we climbed back up the stairs. They told us that there is another whole building yet to explore!

All of the buildings that make up Historic Downtown Wickenburg, no matter what business they hold, have been restored to match the original old western town that it was in the early 1800s.

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We strolled around the town, stopping to take pictures and captured the the historic first train to arrive in Wickenburg on January 26, 1895, just as a modern locomotive streaked by on the modern track.

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Jim and traveler

Jim welcomed this pretty train traveler to town.

We stopped to watch some flamingo dancers performing for a gathering in a Mexican church courtyard.

Flamingo Dancers

Dancers at some sort of Spanish Festival in a Church courtyard

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Unfortunately, most of the interesting-looking shops and buildings had also closed at 4:00, but we did get into a few antique/second-hand stores where we saw many things that we wouldn’t see in similar shops back home.

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This guy didn’t talk much either

Prospector

He didn’t notice Jim looking through his pack

One shop in particular had textured tin ceilings and bold ornate wallpaper and plush floral carpet on the stairs to the second floor that contained several small rooms. We were told that the building had originally been a hotel, but it had become in such bad repair that all but the original room walls upstairs, which made up the hotel bedrooms, had been completely gutted and the foundation replaced. The tin ceilings and beautiful old wallpaper was all new! We never would have guessed.

Climbing the velvet staircase

Climbing the velvet staircase

Inside an antique/new to you boutique

Inside an antique/new to you boutique

New "old" tin ceilings and ornate wallpaper

New “old” tin ceilings and ornate wallpaper

There were no crowds. I think we were the only tourists about, which made it very relaxing – just the medicine I needed.

By the time we got back to the car daylight was nearly gone and pretty Christmas lights shone on the lampposts and the train.

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As we were leaving we saw this lit sign indicating an Arizona Cowboy Christmas Town that might have been interesting to explore.

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Next time we go, we will leave home earlier and use the GPS from the start!

Sites of El Paso and the End of the Journey


We’ve been in Mesa Regal for two weeks now, and I’m finally getting this post done. Because of competition for internet connection, I decided the only time I was going to be able to get the photos added was to work during the night. So here I am.

We finally got our windshield replaced on Monday, November 6th and were on the road by early afternoon. Once we got back into New Mexico, Jim searched out a State Trooper, hoping to file an Accident Report, but he told us it was too late. However, after seeing how upset Jim was, he offered to give our “friend” Mark a call and try to mediate a settlement. It turned out that Quality Towing was on the rotation in that part of New Mexico, so Mark was a little worried when he got the call. However, he first said he didn’t remember the accident, then had a great excuse as to why he wasn’t paying – “They wanted me to pay for their accommodations, and food as well as the windshield!” We sat with our mouths hanging open. Sure, he should by rights pay for the extra days at the RV Park, but we’d never mentioned that. The insurance company just might, though. Anyway, he finally agreed to have Jim call him to work out a settlement. Before we stopped for the day, Mark called us and asked Jim for a mailing address. He said he’d have a cheque for the window in the mail the next day. As of the date of this posting, the cheque still has not arrived. Fortunately the insurance company paid for all but our deductible, but we had hoped to get that back and pay the insurance company back. Enough of that saga.

While we were in El Paso, Shawn introduced us to many things that we would never have seen if we hadn’t been stranded in the city. As I mentioned before, he checked on us every day of our twelve day stay, and when he learned that we were not yet leaving, he took us out. One day was spent searching for a windshield wiper without success, followed by lunch and grocery shopping; another was spent trying to find someone to weld a very small spot on our old wiper after Jim had managed to fix it to work. Shawn saved the day when he thought of a friend who works for Job Corps. We took it there and had the job done by a student in no time flat!

On other days we saw the highlights of El Paso:

We drove up the mountain to view the city of 700,000

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We visited the Chamizal National Monument

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Cool Murals on the Outside Walls

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Jim and Shawn

Chamizal National Monument (6)

Interesting that the US and Mexican Gov’ts could come to an agreement

US-Mexico Border

The sculpture in the distance marks the US-Mexico border

We peeked through the gates of Southwest University Park, a fairly new Baseball Field that is seldom used, Shawn told us.

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We toured some of the History Museum

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A moving history lesson on the wall, controlled by the observer

History Museum Digital Wall

We had our picture digitally taken and emailed to our friend in Cincinnati

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A very Antique Fire Engine

We strolled through Concordia Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in El Paso. It was the Week of the Dead, following Halloween, a time when people visit and decorate the graves of their loved ones, and there are often parades through the cemeteries, but this one had few visitors. Except for the Monument to the Buffalo Soldiers, it looked to be abandoned.

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Donators to the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial

Donators to the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial

We spent a good portion of another day enjoying the warm sun while walking through the very modern campus of the University of Texas El Paso (UTEL).

University of Texas El Paso Campus

Beautiful Buildings

Lovely Parks

Lovely Parks

University of Texas El Paso Campus, plants

Interesting Plants. Who knows what this is, at the base of a palm tree?

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By Sunday, Shawn’s wife was home and she and her mother met us downtown in the afternoon at the Art Museum where we found many interesting works of art, especially the Day of the Dead collages created by students from many of the local schools, mostly commemorating deceased music artists.

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We stopped into the Ysleta Mission, located in the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. It is recognized as the oldest continuously operated parish in the State of Texas.

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On the way back to our “home”, at Jim’s suggestion, we stopped into the largest Harley Davidson Store in the country. I think we got Shawn dreaming of riding down the highway with the wind in his hair.

Again we expressed thanks to Shawn. We really did enjoy seeing the city through his eyes, and he said he enjoyed learning a thing or two about Canada. It worked out well. But by Monday we were ready to be on the road again.

Returning to Our Youth with Burton Cummings


 

These Eyes, Star Baby, Clap for the Wolfman – just some of the rock and roll songs from my youth that were belted out by 69 year old Burton Cummings and his band of sixteen years, during a fantastic concert tonight at this, our winter home, Mesa Regal RV Resort!

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Burton Cummings and his Band

Burton Cummings and his Band

The House was full, and I think the majority of the audience might have been Canadian. Burton was excited to learn that and “especially”  for us they performed Running Back to Saskatoon, and the one song that he said was the most often played on the radio in Canada during the days of the original band, The Guess Who – Break It to Them Gently.

Burton played the keyboard and sang non-stop for two hours, mostly doing songs from the huge repertoire of The Guess Who, but during a twenty-minute break that he gave his band, he performed solo, doing some songs of other artists from the era, such as Bobby Darren’s Mac the Knife, Gerry and the Pacemakers’ Ferry Cross the Mersey.

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They brought the show to an end with the popular American Woman and No Time, bringing us all to our feet with roars of applause.

Of course they had to come back out for an Encore, Share the Land.

This was all very exciting for me. I saw The Guess Who perform live in Toronto in 1970, the first and last time that I ever went to see a live Rock Concert until I took my daughter to see Bon Jovi seventeen years later. I guess I lived a sheltered life!

Texas, Oklahoma and Home: Concluding another RV Adventure


After a goodbye breakfast with neighbours, we finished the last minute preparations, and left Mesa, Arizona shortly before noon on April 1st. At 4:30 we were in Winslow, Arizona sitting on the corner eating ice cream, while watching first-time visitors posing for the same pictures we had taken on our first visit.

When we’d finished the ice cream, we decided to call it a day. We found a campground listed in a flyer we’d picked up so called to reserve a spot. The woman implied that it was filling up quickly, and it was a good thing we’d called ahead. We didn’t expect a lot of amenities because the rates were fairly low, but when we arrived at Winslow Pride RV, we had difficulty recognizing it as a campground. It was located behind a convenience store. The gravel driveway was full of many water-filled potholes, and the water and electric hookups looked very doubtful.  We chose to use only the electrical since we still had plenty of water on-board. There were many empty spots.

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Water tap bearably visible, beside sewer connection.

We’d taken the same course, on I-40 through Gallup, and Tucumcari, New Mexico, through a corner of windy Texas, and into Oklahoma before, but this time the weather was warmer and there seemed to be more RV Campsites available.

We made one stop in McLean, Texas for lunch. McLean is one of the many towns that were once vibrant when Route 66 was the main highway crossing the nation and ran through them, bringing lots of business.  Now McLean is practically a ghost town with many boarded up buildings and dilapidated homes. Not one of the three museums was open, but we did find a The Chuck Wagon Diner, where we shared the daily special of cheeseburger meat loaf served with gravy (of course), mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, a fresh dinner roll and a piece of cake! Even shared it was too much food for us to finish, but it was tasty.

Near Oklahoma City we found a familiar RV Campground, Rockwell RV, where we stayed for the night.  The weather, that had been cooler after we left Arizona, had warmed up to 85°F.

Total length of this rig, including truck, trailer and towed vehicle -- 80 feet!

Total length of this rig, including truck, trailer and towed vehicle — 80 feet!

The next morning we drove into downtown Oklahoma City and spent a few hours enjoying the scenery along the River Walk and taking many, many photos of the magnificent, larger-than-life bronze statues depicting the Land Runs of 1889. Be sure to come back to click on the link and all the menu items on it. It’s a wondrous story. I did find the monument that honoured the natives from whom the land had originally been taken, disturbing.

We had lunch at jazmo’z Bourbon Street Cafe on the canal,

before getting onto the I-44 to Joplin, Missouri where we stayed for the night.

The next day we veered away from I-44 and took a scenic drive through the Ozarks on Hwy 265, stopping for lunch at Lambert’s Café (Home of the Tossed Rolls and extra large coffees) before getting back on course.

After that, home was our only goal. We stopped only for food, gas and sleep. Our last morning, in Erie, Pennsylvania, we woke up to find snow on the ground and Jim said, “I wish I’d listened to the GPS when she told us to make a U-turn when safe to do so!”

We were thankful that there was no snow when we arrived home by dinner time on April 7th.

I, for one, was happy to get out of the motor home that was feeling very cramped after seven months of living in it. But it was an excellent adventure!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this adventure. Thanks for joining us. Likes, comments and new followers are appreciated.

Snowbird Extravaganza


The Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA) is a 100,000 member national not-for-profit advocacy organization. It is dedicated to actively defending and improving the rights and privileges of Canadian travellers.

Each winter CSA executives travel to popular locations where Canadian Snowbirds escape the harsh winters of their home provinces, to connect with them, and to bring them up-to-date with what CSA has accomplished and its on-going projects. The month of February, in Arizona, has been declared Canada Month. What better time to present a Snowbird Extravaganza, which not only provides CSA information, but free entertainment, and vendor displays.

On Monday we made the short trip to the Mesa Convention Centre to attend this, our first, Extravaganza.

We were a little later getting to the Centre than we’d planned, and the parking lots were already filling up. When we arrived inside it was apparent that if we wanted to get a seat in the designated “theatre” area we needed to grab them quickly. We discovered, however, that most of the chairs were occupied with the plastic welcome bags given out at the door.  The seats were being saved by people who wanted to insure they had a seat, but still wander around the vendor booths while waiting for the show to begin. We managed to snag two chairs in the very back corner, up against the curtain that acted as a partition. While many people had to stand in the outside aisles, leaning against the walls, most of the “saved” seats remained empty until the last few minutes before the show started.

After the Welcome and a briefing from the Canadian Snowbird Association, the entertainment began with the kilted, guitar playing tenor from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Tom Leadbeater. He kept us clapping, smiling and singing along to the many old familiar songs of the region. He was followed by Irish-born comedian, Sean Emery, who travels across the US, spreading laughter with his jokes, sarcasm and oddball juggling stunts. Unfortunately, from where we sat it was difficult to see some of the stunts, even on the screen that was provided. The final performer of the morning was multi-award winning Country Music Artist, Michelle Wright. Sadly, the volume of chatter coming from behind us drowned out her beautiful voice.  We decided to find our way to the food venue before the rush. Outside the theatre we could hear her much better.

On the outdoor patio we enjoyed the warm sun, and ate our purchased sandwiches before the long lines began to form. We didn’t linger to listen again to Tom Leadbeater, who was setting up on the outdoor stage. We let some others have our seats.

Back inside we checked out the vendors of vacation spots, miracle pain treatments, Las Vegas entertainment and Casinos. We picked up information brochures from CSA and the Canadian Consulate before heading back into the theatre in search of seats for the afternoon show. Again, the plastic bags occupied the majority of seats that were otherwise empty, but we found two empty ones much closer to the stage than before. While we sat waiting, a ruckus started in the row behind us.  It seemed that a couple had come back from lunch and expected to get the same seats they’d occupied all morning, but another couple, not seeing any indication that the seats were saved, had taken them over. An argument ensued. The new occupants refused to leave, and the other fellow left in disgust after throwing out the comment, “Damn Canadians!” I looked around in shock. Why on earth was this man, with an obvious dislike for Canadians, attending a show that was provided and sponsored entirely by Canadians, with the majority of the entertainers hailing from Canada and the majority of attendees as well? The only explanation I could think of was that it was all free, and anyone was welcome.

The afternoon entertainment began with two senior singer/guitar players who claimed to be “the first openly grey performers to appear on stage.” By the time Bowser and Blue left the stage forty-five minutes later, my jaws ached from so much laughter. Their political comments, presented through musical parodies, were brilliantly hilarious. But the laughter didn’t end there.

Next on the stage was Jimmy Flynn, dressed in his plaid flannel shirt, overalls, rubber boots and a bright yellow Newfoundland fisherman hat. He kept us in stitches for another half hour with his “Newfie” style stories about family and friends and life in a fishing village in Eastern Canada.

The show ended with the beautiful tenor voice of a long-time favourite of many Canadians, John McDermott.

If laughter and music are the best medicines, we should be good for at least the rest of the season!

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!

Exploring Canada’s East Coast by Motorcycle


We’ve been sticking pretty close to home since our return from Arizona, but plans are in the works. We will be leaving to return there earlier this year, in September, to include a trip across Central and Western Canada, before crossing into the U.S. on the west coast.

Before that decision was made, I had hoped that we could accept an invitation from friends to visit them at their cottage on Prince Edward Island, on the east coast of Canada, but we can’t do it all at once. We did that trip in 2007, before I started this blog and before we started RVing. That trip was done on our Yamaha Venture, pulling a small cargo trailer containing tent, sleeping bags and all necessary gear for a month long journey.  We were a few years younger then!

This week I thought I’d share that adventure.

July 21, 2007

After stopping for the night in Brockville to spend some time with family, and having a late, leisurely breakfast, we finally got on our way around 11:00 this morning. Jim’s nephew, Dave, joined us on his 650cc V-Star with all his gear strapped to the back. The rain from the day before had cleared and the weather was perfect for riding.

I’d promised my former mother-in-law that we would stop in to see her on our way through Quebec, but my estimated time of arrival was way off. I felt badly when we arrived at 1:45 in the afternoon to find that she’d been saving a big lunch for us since noon. It was 3:00 pm before we felt it appropriate to leave.

Three and a half hours later, we rounded a corner in search of our pre-booked campground near St. Nicolas Quebec and were shocked to see a giant Santa Claus and Snowman bobbing in the wind at the entrance! While we checked in at the office we heard French Christmas Carols blasting from a loud speaker.

Campground Greeters

Campground Greeters

Along the path to our campsite we passed more Christmas decorations, including a miniature Christmas Village and what appeared to be another Santa, sleeping it off in a pup-tent, empty beer cans strewn around him. Apparently the Canadian Snow Birds who summer here celebrate Christmas in July.

Christmas Decorations

Christmas Decorations

IMG_1849We set up our tents before riding further down the road to catch the ferry at Levis, which took us into romantic Old Quebec City.

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Dave and Jim with bikes, on the Ferry

Ferry boat at sunset, Quebec City

Ferry boat at sunset, Quebec City

There we enjoyed some French Cuisine on a patio, and admired the artwork of the street vendors, before heading back to the Christmas celebrations at St. Nicolas. We even joined in on some of the dancing while a family band performed country and folk music. Since no one spoke English, we didn’t get to know anyone. The party lasted until 1:00 am. It was a very long day!