Escaping Coronavirus


We’re on our way home, as are many, many other Canadians. But ours is a long journey -2700 miles- in the motor home. At least we don’t have to worry about crowds. We’ve kept ourselves pretty much isolated, avoiding restaurants and site seeing.  And so far the staff at RV Parks have been very understanding when Jim request entering his credit card himself with his gloved hands. We just enjoy the scenery and listen to music or audio books. I keep in touch with family by text if I can. And I try hard not to stress out. Not an easy task.

Hoping all my friends and fellow bloggers are staying safe and well. Who knows when we’ll be able to travel again.

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

A Trip to the Phoenix Zoo


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

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

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

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

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A few more on the Ground

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

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Some of them were animated, like this crocodile.

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

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

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

First Steps into 2020


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

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

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

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

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

A few of the horses that we saw.

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

Christmas Tour to Laughlin, Nevada


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Had to get this shot in KIngman before we left

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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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.

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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!

Memoir Monday – A Taste of Things to Come


For the first time in several weeks, I have free time – no place I need to be, no deadlines, nobody waiting for me to perform a task. So I thought that I’d do some writing. But I’m not sure what I feel like writing about. I promised I’d do another blog post, but do I want to write about the things that have been keeping me so busy (and often stressed) since we arrived in Mesa Regal? Or do I want to re-establish my Memoir Monday theme?

I opened one of my memoir files and found a short piece of writing that could become the introduction to a Memoir. I’ve decided to share it with you, my readers to see what you think.

It started several years ago with an assignment in an online writing course that I was taking. We were to write a story using dialogue only, with an inanimate object in the room where we were writing.

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My Old Oak Desk

I’ve incorporated that concept into this introduction. I hope you’ll let me know how you like the style, and if the introduction makes you want to know more.

Personal Reinventions

Me:  Good morning Desk. Are you ready to inspire me today?

Desk:  Good morning Judy.  Sure, how can I help?

Me:  I need some writing ideas.  I’ve been thinking about how you came to be mine and how we’ve shared many a move.

Desk:  Yes, I remember.  You’ve dismantled me many times and left me wondering if I’d ever be whole again, or if you would finally abandon me like my previous owner.

Me:  You know there have been times when I almost did because you are so big and take up so much room in small places, but that’s one of the things I love about you.  I just had to find room for you.  It’s lucky that you can be disassembled and reassembled quite easily though.  You would never have fit through the doorways! Ha, ha.

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The decision was made.  I could no longer take the emotional abuse.  I’d done my best to become what he seemed to want, but now his sights were set on something completely the opposite.  I’d spent nearly a year giving him his space, trying to figure out what I’d done wrong.  He gave me no answers.  He didn’t want to go for counseling.  He had no desire to save the marriage. There didn’t seem to be any hope left.  So we packed up what belongings I could take with me and piled them onto the back of the truck:  the old white iron bed from the room I’d been sleeping in lately, the one without the brass trim and newer mattress; a small chest of drawers that had been in our son, Brendan’s, room once.  It still had some pencil scribbles on the soft brown finish; the pine drop-leaf table that had been a wedding gift from my sister; four restored wooden kitchen chairs; the divan with the faded, blue-flowered cover, a recent yard-sale purchase.  It would fold out into a bed for Brendan when he came to visit; the old blue metal steamer trunk that held the bed and bathroom linens.  I sighed with regret that I could not take the big old oak desk.  I could sure use it for my studies, but there was no way that it would fit into the one bedroom apartment.  The little laminate one that Mom bought me would have to do.

In the awkward moment after the last box had been removed from the truck, he wished me luck, his eyes avoiding mine, and disappeared up the stairs, leaving Brendan behind to help me with the unpacking and setting up.  That was it then; twenty-two years of struggling through life together and this was how it would end. Well, best get on with it.

Brendan and I spent the next few hours organizing my space.  I wasn’t yet familiar with my new neighbourhood, but we found a convenience store where I picked up a few kitchen staples like bread and milk and juice.  Dinner was a sub from the snack bar.

“So what do you think?  How do you like my new digs?”

“Yeah, it’s cool.”

At fifteen, Brendan was a lad of few words even at the best of times. I wanted so much to reach inside to see how he was taking all of this, but the door was closed tight.  I’d given him the choice of moving with me, but silently agreed that it was for the best when he decided to stay on the farm with his father.  He had only two more years of high school left.  He was somewhat of a loner and giving up the few friends he had to start anew in an unfamiliar city would have been even harder on him.  Still my heart ached for him. The next day we drove the fifty miles back to the farm in near silence.  A quick hug and he was gone.  I sat for a minute and looked at the weathered boards on the addition to the old stone house.  I thought about the warmth and coziness of the fire in the stove, the restored old light fixtures we’d picked out at my father-in-laws antique shop, and the gleaming pine boards on the floor, all just inside the door where Brendan had entered.  All of it was gone from me now.

Brushing the tears from my cheeks, I shifted the car into drive and headed down the lane, beginning my return journey alone.

*******

I soon settled into my studies, and much to my surprise, I enjoyed it.  I’d never before been much of a scholar, barely getting by.  At the end of the first semester I was in the top ten of my class.  I made friends with a group of “mature” students, and we all supported each other. For a time I was even flattered by the attention of one of the male students who followed me around like a puppy dog.

Now, fifteen years later, I look back on those twenty-two years of my life as if I’m looking at someone else, and I recognize that the day I carried the last box down the stairs into that little apartment was the biggest turning point of my life. My Old Oak Desk can vouch for that!