Winter is Over: Heading Home through Northern Arizona, Utah and Then …


Sedona Arizona

We had a busy winter; we had a sad winter. We got to know some new friends better; we lost a few old ones. I played a lot of pickle ball and a little ukulele; Jim played a lot of ukulele and a little pickleball. At the end of last week, that all came to an end, and we said our goodbyes.

Monday was our planned day to be back on the road, hoping to reach Page Arizona before nightfall, but our time was uncertain because we had an early morning appointment to have a spark plug replaced on the motor home and we had no idea how long it would take or how much it would cost. We dropped it off at 8:00 a.m, walked the short distance back to our park, stopping at the little restaurant to have some breakfast. By the time we’d gone to the park office to check out and pay any remaining fees, and chatted with a number of friends and neighbours that we ran into along the way, Jim got a call that the motorhome was done and the cost was only $96! We were off to a good start.

That soon changed when we found ourselves sitting on Highway 17 with many others, including several motorhomes, waiting for an accident way up the road to be cleared. An hour and a half later, we were moving again. We’d taken advantage of the stop to grab some food out of the fridge and cupboard for a light lunch.

It was smooth sailing from then until we were making our way into downtown Sedona where we were in awe of the different view of the red mountains from our previous trips through from another direction.

Suddenly traffic was stopped because of another traffic accident, but that interruption lasted only ten or fifteen minutes. We decided to walk around the upper part of town, joining the many other tourists. We’d never done that before.  It took a while to find a place to park the motor home, and we ended up taking a chance by parking in a fifteen minute parking zone.

We walked both sides of the street and took many pictures before finding a casual little place to have something more to eat before striking out again. It had some humorous signs on the walls.

Outlaw Grill

Curvy Roads

The idea of reaching Page was long gone. We settled in a KOA in Flagstaff instead. We were both tired.

Jim spent some time trying to find us a spot at a campsite near Zion National Park for Tuesday night, the first major stop on our bucket list. He went to bed disappointed. I was disappointed too, not only for that reason, but because the hinge on the kitchen drawer broke completely and now the silver-ware drawer rides on the floor under the table. 🙂

In the morning he had better luck. By 9:30 we were on the road once more, our destination St. George, Utah, just a short drive away from Zion.

We had a good trip and were amazed at the colours and formations of the rocky terrain we witness as we travelled up Hwy 89 and 89A through Arizona and into Utah.

We saw several signs telling of Cliff Dwellers, but this is all we saw:

We stopped for lunch at this quaint little place that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, in the desert, but it was popular and served us a delicious lunch of homemade soup and chicken wings.

This sign told the truth


And the further north we went, the more interesting the landscape became, right into Utah.

Bridges over Colorado River at Glenn Canyon site of historical Lees Ferry, now gone
People travelling along the river in inflatable boats

Then we were climbing up, up to 8,000 feet or more and began to see the leftover snow on the sides of the tree covered hills.

It was all very exhilarating.

We bypassed Page and went straight into St. George to find the RV Park. Driving through the city was the most tiring part of the day, probably because it had already been a long day. We were happy to find that it was a good spot, although we got the only remaining site and had to choose between being fairly level or being able to connect the sewer hose. We decided we could live without the sewer hose for one more night and chose to be level, unlike the night before when it was very difficult to walk without tipping backwards or sideways.

The next morning we were up early and on the road to Zion National Park.

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Rounding out January with Some More Adventure


The problem with getting some blogging done these last two weeks hasn’t been lack of adventure, but finding the time to write about them. Our weekdays are always busy with ukulele, pickleball, bocce ball and just socializing with our neighbours and friends. We’ve had two adventures during the last two weekends, which produced lots of pictures.

The first adventure started with a last minute decision to take a drive up Superstition Mountain, a place I’ve written about many times before. Our plan was just to go as far as Tortilla Flat for some lunch and to listen to the band. But, after enjoying a huge hamburger at the outdoor grill and tapping our feet to the great music, we opted to continue driving to Roosevelt Dam, a distance of only about thirty miles. It was a fairly warm and sunny day, so of course the top was down on the convertible.

The last time that we’d travelled that part of the “highway” was the first year we were in Arizona and our neighbour had loaned us her car (we only had our bike here that year) so that we could take Jim’s daughter, Karen, sightseeing when she visited in March. We’d forgotten that after only a few miles past Tortilla Flat the paved road suddenly ended, tossing us into a mixture of hard ruts, gravel and sand. Or maybe we had hoped that the newly widened and paved section to Tortilla Flat had been extended beyond there. Anyway, there isn’t too much traffic on it at that point, but the vehicles we met were mostly 4x4s, and none were open convertibles. We got some amused looks.

We chose the paved highway to the left and made our way back to the city before darkness engulfed us.

Hope you enjoyed the ride! Watch for our next adventure, coming soon.

Settled into Life at Mesa Regal Again


We’ve been in our winter destination for nearly two weeks now. It’s about time I got caught up on posting the rest of our trip!

The day we left Nashville, we drove until time to quit for the night, stopping only for lunch in Jackson at the Catfish Gallery. The catfish wasn’t anything special, but we smiled all through our meal while listening to the wonderful southern accent of our very chatty and bubbly waitress. We made it to Brinkley, Arkansas and after much searching, found an RV parking area behind the Super 8 hotel.

By 3:00 pm the next day we had reached Texas. That was the beginning of a long drive. We stopped for the night at the lovely KOA Mt. Pleasant RV Park.

We broke the next day up with a  stop in Dallas to do a tour of the 6th Floor Museum, dedicated to the story of the Assassination of J F Kennedy and located in the 6th floor room of the former Texas School Book Depository Building where the assassin fired the shots.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures. We bought a couple of postcards.

Find out more by clicking the link above.

It was very interesting, but the stress of finding a place to park the motor home (it took about an hour) left me anxious to get out of the city and settled in for the night. We stayed at the Wetherford/Fortworth West KOA.

The following day was another long driving day, across Texas. The landscape was littered with oil wells, and distant flames spewing from the refineries stacks.

Very long box-car trains stretched along the tracks running beside the highway, and trucks carrying oil or machinery for often times crowded the highway and parking lots.

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There were also a number of small “RV Parks” along the highways, where seasonal oil workers parked their various temporary homes.

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That night we were in one of those parks, in  Monahans, Texas after spending over an hour looking for the advertised RV Parks. There were very few amenities, but we had what we needed. It was raining and there was lots of mud. I was glad I had my rubber boots with me. When the rain stopped we took a walk up the road to the Travel Centre to get some exercise, snacks, and lottery tickets. We were in bed early that night, but still a little later getting away the next morning.

At lunch time we pulled into the town of Sierra Blanca, hoping to find a restaurant. It turned out to be mostly a ghost town! There was one Mexican restaurant that was in one of the old buildings, a newer sign hung beside the original sign. There was also an Exon Station with a Subway. We enjoyed wraps there, with the Border Patrol officers who were taking their lunch break. Doing a search later, I found some of its interesting history.

Shortly after one in the afternoon we had reached our destination for that day. We were back at Mission RV Park in El Paso! It felt like home! Jim had discovered that the RV was in need of one new spark plug and he hoped that the Repair Shop there would have what he needed. But, like the windshield wiper we needed last year, they didn’t. This time we were told that they only did work on things inside RVs, such as appliances. We did find a set of plugs at another location, but it was too big a job to do while travelling and nothing that was urgent.

We did get to enjoy a lovely reunion dinner with Shawn, our new-found friend from last year in El Paso. It was so nice to see him. We regretted that his wife was unable to join us.

We were in Deming, New Mexico for lunch the next day and happily in Arizona by mid-afternoon.

Some highway signs across the desert.

Our last stop before reaching Mesa was in Wilcox, home of Rex Allen, Sr. We did the tour his Museum before booking into the Grande Vista RV Park for the night.

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There was a section for Rex Allen Junior, and other Country Hall of Famers

Rex Allen Junior in his younger days

Rex Allen Junior in his younger days

 

The Memorial continued in the park across the street.

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Grande Vista RV Park

 

We were “home” in time to make dinner the next day.

Last Weeks in Arizona


We’ve been home from Arizona for nearly a week and are finally settled back into a bit of our summer routine, except for the fact that the weather is very much like winter today. In fact we haven’t had more than a few hours of sun since we arrived back in Ontario! We did have a beautiful sunset on our first night, while we were parked in an empty parking lot for the night, and a lovely sunrise at 5:00 a.m. the next morning.

The rest of the drive home was too long to get us there at a reasonable hour, so this is where we stayed, right near a Tim Horton’s!

Our trip back to the frozen north was pretty much uneventful this time, with the usual high winds and gradually falling temperatures, although a little more severe than usual.

I think it was a battle for Jim to keep the beast on the road at times. Even when we were stopped for gas it was rocking.

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Flags flying straight out in New Mexico

My big excitement happened when we were driving through Indianapolis. The highway was so full of bumps that the motor-home was coming down hard and rocking. Dishes in our cupboards were rattling and I kept looking back to make sure no doors or drawers were opening. After a particularly hard slam I looked back to see the fridge door swinging all the way open and a can of ice tea hitting the floor just ahead of the suspension bar that had been in place inside the fridge to prevent such occurrences! I rushed back and tried to get the bar back into place, but the ride was too rough. All I could do was push the remaining items back on the shelf and slam the door shut. I picked up the fallen can and then rode the next few miles standing with my back against the fridge and my feet braced against the opposite wall until the road I felt confident enough that slamming had ended and the door might stay closed.

When I sat back down, Jim asked, “What was going on back there?”

We eventually got off the highway. I found a plastic basket to hold the bottles and jars of condiments and put them back into the fridge where they wouldn’t tip over anymore. I put the bar back into place and we were good for the rest of the trip. Lesson learned!

The only stops we made were for food, gas and sleep. We tried a different RV Park in Tucumcari, New Mexico that was really interesting. A note in the office of Cactus RV said, “This is a business. No personal questions.” I wasn’t sure what constituted “personal” but I would love to have asked about the history of these old buildings on the property.

We did have a few more interesting adventures in the Mesa area the last couple of weeks before we left for home.

We took part in the Mesa Regal Polynesian Theme Day, playing ukulele with twenty-five other members of the band, while riding on a float, and then forty-five of us put on a concert on the patio, complete with the Hula Dancers from our neighbour resort. Jim was honoured with much appreciation from his ukulele students.

We went once again to Tempe to the Aloha Festival. This time Jim spent an hour teaching beginner ukulele lessons. When he was done, we looked around the vendor stalls and then sought out our favourite lunch spot. It was a beautiful day to sit on the patio and people-watch. Several people stopped to chat when they noticed our Hawaiian shirts and leis.

One day we drove out Bush Highway to search for wild horses, the one thing that Jim’s daughter Karen asked to do during her visit. We found some!

From there we drove to Fountain Hills and then to Saguaro Lake where we had lunch at the restaurant overlooking the beautiful water.

On Karen’s last day we did a hike on Superstition Mountain, led by our friends and neighbours, Dave and Pauline. It was another perfect day with a few clouds to keep us from overheating. An afternoon neighbourhood St. Paddy’s Day Party and then a trip to the airport with Karen pretty much ended that day. We fell asleep on the couch while attempting to watch a movie.

Our last week was filled with meetings (I’m now the new VP of the Mesa Regal Pickle Ball Club!), meals out with friends, including a trip to the Rockin’ R Ranch, a sort of theme park, for a Chuck-wagon Supper and Western Stage Show,

and many sad goodbyes. But since we’ve both made commitments for the fall, we will be back!

 

 

A Day of Exploring Scottsdale with Good Friends


It’s amazing to find how much more there is to learn about the places we’ve visited before. We’ve been to the Scottsdale area when we went to the Botanical Gardens, and the Museum of Instrumental Music (MIM) both of which I’ve written about before, but after being introduced to the blog. Chocolatour, by a friend, I knew we’d missed some interesting things in the downtown. So one Sunday morning we picked up our friends, Alice and Joe, and headed out.

The drive from Mesa is a good hour and a half. Once we found parking we decided that the best way to find what we wanted to see, and a place to eat, was to hop onto the free trolley. We stayed on it until it made a stop at the Western Museum, and then we got off to take some pictures outside.

When we discovered that it had just opened, we went into the lobby and the gift shop for a little exploring.

There were some incredible works of art.

We were getting hungry so we didn’t take time to do the tour. That will have to be another time. We set out on foot to see what we could find.

We were looking for Zak’s Chocolate that Doreen had mentioned in her blog, but we couldn’t find it. While waiting for our lunch at David’s Hamburgers (I enjoyed a very thick and tasty BLT while the others got their mouths around the tall Texas Burger), we learned from a Google search that Zak’s was a few miles out of the downtown core, and unfortunately, it isn’t open on Sundays. Of course the couple who run it, and make all of the chocolate with little help, need a day or two off, but our taste buds were disappointed. That will have to be next time!

However there were plenty of other things to see and explore!

After lunch we visited “Old Scottsdale”. We admired the old architecture and wondered at the antique farm equipment on display outside the many antique shops.

We took a tour of the beautifully restored Mission Church.

Back in the “new” downtown, we did some window shopping, lusting over the intricate, jeweled, had-made belt buckles and other dazzling jewelry that we knew we could never afford to own. We sauntered down Frontier Town where Alice satisfied our sweets craving by sampling some fresh fudge at Outrageous Olive Oils and Vinegars. We made our only purchase of the day when we split on the special deal of three pieces, to take home. Yumm.

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The sound of music drew us toward this beautiful park and museum area, which I later discovered was the Scottsdale Civic Centre Mall.

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This memorial depicts Scottdale’s founder, Chaplain Winfield Scott, welcoming newcomers, with his wife Helen seated on their beloved mule “Old Maud”

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Herb Drinkwater and his dog Sadie, Scottdale’s Mayor 1980-1996

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This Lagoon is filled with fountains and bronze statues and ducks

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We tried to catch a trolley back to where we’d parked the car, but kept missing it. Once we got walking in the right direction we discovered it wasn’t as far away as we’d thought, but we were all tired after that busy day. Next season we’ll try to return to explore the things we’ve still missed.

Lost Dutchman Days in Apache Junction, and a Fine Arts and Craft Sale in Fountain Hills, Arizona


One cold Saturday morning, not too long ago, we got up early to travel east for the Lost Dutchman Days Parade, the start of the two day festival. By following another car through some gravel back lanes we managed to find ourselves a perfect place to park, just a short walk from the beginning of the parade route. We opened our folding chairs and settled in with our hot tea, bananas and granola bars. We hadn’t taken time for breakfast. Before long the Flag Bearers started things off and for half an hour we watched and waved as the numerous entries passed by. Some were familiar, having been in the Wickenburg Gold Rush Parade. Others were more local, and again, there were numerous horses.

When it was over we got back into our car and drove to the nearest restaurant that offered a hot breakfast. Our toes and fingers were feeling the cold. The Sports Grill served up a generous portion of orange juice, bacon, eggs, home fries and toast.

Once we were sufficiently warmed and fed, we drove out to the Rodeo Grounds to see what was there. I’d forgotten we’d been there once before. We wandered through the many vendor booths and the midway, but the only thing that interested us was this band that was playing under the big tent. The idea of paying to sit on cold metal benches to watch the rodeo appealed to us no more this time than last, so we struck out on another road trip that led us to Fountain Hills.

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The guy in the overalls has some of the fastest picking fingers we’ve ever seen!

We’ve been to Fountain Hills for the Fine Arts and Craft Sale a few times and each time it has been bigger. This year we got too tired, even after sampling some of the food-truck food, to walk the complete route, but we saw many beautiful things that would look great in our condo or motor home, if only they were bigger!

 

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The Fountain of Fountain Hills

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An Animal Rescue Centre had a live Armadillo, something we’d never seen before!

Fountain Hills is always a beautiful town to visit, located east of Scottsdale, Arizona, and a twenty minute drive along East Shea Boulevard, off Loop 101. We often take guest there so look for more on this community in future posts!

A Sunday Road Trip to a Casino and a Copper Mine in Arizona


Another month has quickly disappeared and I didn’t get any more posts written,  not because we haven’t been busy, but because we’ve been too busy with things such as ukulele (Jim is now teaching two beginner classes and leading a weekly jam session here in the park) and trying to get some pickle ball in to keep ourselves fit.

On Sunday we finally got away for a road trip, heading north-east toward Globe. The terrain was a little different than on other routes we’ve taken.

We spotted a few brave hikers climbing the steep cliffs beside the highway.

The main road, Hwy 60, through Globe is wide and scattered with many familiar and prosperous –looking gas stations and restaurants, and other businesses, but when we ventured off the highway we were disappointed to discover a rather derelict community; however, one large shop sitting on a side street beckoned us in to see some unique gifts and crafts for sale.

When Jim asked one of the sales people what was happening in Globe that day, without much hesitation she replied, “About the same as yesterday. Not much at all.”

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It looked real!

Back on the highway, we followed the sign to “Historical Globe” only to find not much open. Some of the old buildings had been converted into restaurants or bars. I had to record these interesting signs.

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Waterbeds sign

Does anyone still sleep in waterbeds?

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Further along the street got wider and there were some buildings that had been beautifully restored.

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We decided to continue through town to find the Apache Gold Casino out Hwy 70, where we enjoyed a big lunch and the quickly lost our $15 each that we were given with our slot machine cards. We seldom gamble with our own money, so it was time to leave.

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A different route home allowed us to visit the Kennecott Copper Mine, now owned by the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO). This remarkable operation hadn’t been open for public viewing on other occasions when we’d driven past. It’s really quite amazing to see the many layers of colour in the rocks and the size of the monster trucks that look like toys from the observation deck, and to read about the capacity of the ore removed and the copper separated.

Open Pit Mine

Can you see the trucks way down there in the pit?

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This was the highlight of our day.