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!

 

 

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Canada Day Celebrations 150th Year


We live in a small community of 1200 people, but we are part of the larger community of the Township of Trent Hills, which includes the towns of Campbellford, Warkworth and Hastings. Each town has a multitude of events throughout the summer months, but the times are fairly well coordinated to make it easy for the citizens of Trent Hills to attend as many as they’d like. When a major event happens, like Canada Day, the celebration venues and times are also coordinated throughout the day.

So we started our day with a pancake breakfast at the waterfront park in Campbellford. Despite the threat of rain, there was a good crowd.

We skipped some of the later events, and missed the Opening Ceremonies in Warkworth, but we were in downtown Hastings for the Opening Ceremony there. We grabbed lunch from one of the many food vendors; we joined in the singing of Oh Canada while a local pianist played the newly presented “community piano.”

We watched a medieval sword fight presented by the Blades of Glory.

We enjoyed watching a performance by the Firelights Belly Dancing Troup, and the brave efforts of audience members during a lesson in the art.

At 4:00 the parade began. As often happens, this small community parade was as interesting as many major city ones, and maybe a little more fun.

At 9:30 the crowds of people began to assemble on the shores of the Trent Canal and on the bridge, for the Annual Fireworks Display. Since we moved to Hastings we have agreed that this is the best fireworks display we’ve ever seen, and we’ve seen many. It is said that 10,000 people flock in from far and wide just to witness it. We walked the half block over to the park on our side of the canal and parked our chairs amongst the crowds. For some reason, perhaps because of the earlier thunder storm and deluge of rain, there seemed to be a problem getting started. It was an hour later that the first bursts of colour lighted up the sky right over our heads, but it was worth the wait! The money raised by our local firefighting teams to put on this show created another spectacular ending to the Canada Day events.

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!

A Weekend of Music and Entertainment in Phoenix Area


It all began on a Friday night when our new friend, Mary Lee, took us to The Arizona Opry, which is located east of Mesa near the community of Apache Junction. We were ushered into a large hall lined with rows of long tables, clothed and set for the chicken dinner that was to come. On stage was a huge array of musical instruments, including strings, brass and percussions, which would be played for our entertainment when dinner was over.

Arizona Opry Stage

Arizona Opry Stage

Jim, Judy, Mary Lee at Opry

Jim, Judy, Mary Lee at Opry

At precisely 6:30 pm trays of filled dinner plates began to appear, and within thirty-five minutes all 508 guests were served a sumptuous meal of roasted chicken breast, baked potatoes, vegetables and rolls. The “Opry chocolate cake” that was already on the tables when we arrived completed (or started) the repast. Coffee and lemonade were constantly available from the moment we sat down. By 7:30 the tables were cleared, chairs were turned toward the stage, and the music got our feet tapping. The Barleen Family and Guests perform and choreograph fourteen different shows throughout the year. This night was a Variety Show displaying a multitude of talent and unbelievable energy. When the “Arizona Champion Guitar Picker” was introduced as the evening’s guest performer, he seemed familiar. Sure enough, it was Ryan Martin whom we’d first heard picking and strumming back in 2010 in Cody, Wyoming. What a pleasant surprise.

If you ever find yourself in this area of Arizona, be sure to pay a visit to Barleens Arizona Opry Dinner Theatre. You won’t be disappointed.

On Saturday we rode the bike to the North West side of Phoenix to check another item off our Bucket List – a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM). Little did we know that one day would never be enough time! It happened that that particular weekend was a special one at MIM, with a Carnival Theme. That meant the price of admission included not only the chance to tour the gallery and listen to samples of many types of music and instruments in the process, but we could choose to experience the spirit of Caribbean cultures by attending workshops, listening to live music in the courtyard, watching dancing and observing the colourful costumes. We could have had our pictures taken wearing some of these costumes, but we ran out of time! There was so much going on that we had time to tour only two rooms of the gallery, between taking in a steel pan making workshop given by master steel drum maker, Ancliff “Ansel” Joseph, and eating lunch while enjoying the courtyard entertainment.

Steel Pan Maker

Tuning a Steel Pan (drum)

Steel Pan Maker

Steel Drum Band Performing

Steel Drum Band Performing

Stilt Walker

Stilt Walker

We were given headsets for the self-guided gallery tour. Once we clipped them onto our pockets, we didn’t need to touch them again. Sensors placed at the front of each display connected with the headsets as we approached, providing us with the music and dialogue for each station, in whatever order we chose to travel.  We oohed over the beautiful guitars and music boxes, and found it difficult not to dance along with the music.

Guitars

Guitars

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Music Boxes

Music Boxes

We left at closing time, with a second-day pass in our pockets. We would return on Thursday to finish our tour, because on Sunday we wanted to experience the annual Renaissance Festival and Artisan Marketplace.

Sunday morning was a little overcast and therefore cooler, but by the time we’d reached the gates of the Renaissance Festival the clouds had moved off and we had to shed the extra layers of clothing we’d donned for the bike ride there. After maneuvering through the long but quickly moving ticket line, we were greeted at the gates by wenches, peasants, monks and lords. Inside we were invited to sit with the “Queen” and her court.

Entering through gates

Entering through gates

Received by Royalty

Received by Royalty

Besides all of the employed character actors in costumes, we were surprised to see so many visitors who melted into the theme with their own costumes. In fact there was a costume rental facility at the gate, and inside there was a store where beautiful costumes costing hundreds of dollars could be purchased for every member of the family. We strolled through the park, listening to buskers performing on renaissance era instruments, watched a stilt walker wander through the crowd with ease, and a vendor selling baked pretzels from a wooden rack.

Lunch

Lunch

We shared a huge turkey leg for lunch, watched a glass blower, and chuckled at the results of hypnotic suggestion at a Hypnotist’s Show.

Harpsichord Player

Harpsichord Player

Street Musicians

Street Musicians

We were amused by the variations on modern day carnival games – axe throw, star throw. We visited the vendors of jewelry, leather, feather and metal crafts. The pretty princess head dresses and skirts, hair braiding and pirate paraphernalia made us think of how much our grandchildren would enjoy this fair.

Then there was the King’s Jousting Tournament! We found ourselves joining hundreds of people in bleachers overlooking the ring. There were to be three competing knights and the crowd was divided into three cheering sections. Our knight was Sir Maximilian. He won many of the challenges, but was defeated in the end.

Maximillian

Maximilian

A personal challenge was issued for a fight later in the day. We didn’t return to find out the results. By 5:00 we were hot and tired and ready to ride home. It had been another amazing weekend.

Thursday we finished our tour of MIM, when we saw some very interesting instruments. I was especially amused by these bagpipes!

Bagpipes

Hmm. These bagpipes might be a challenge to play.

Bagpipes

BagpipesWe also saw how Martin Guitars and Steinway Pianos are made.

Martin Guitar in Making

Martin Guitar in Making

The parts of a Steinway

The parts of a Steinway