Settled Back into our “Summer Home”


It’s been almost a week since we arrived back in Hastings, Ontario. I apologize if any of my readers and friends have been concerned about us, since my last post was about the high winds. We did get away from there the next day, but poor internet connections prohibited posting pictures so I postponed blogging. Once home, there was a week’s worth of household chores, and of course we had to play some pickle ball. Activity was very much needed after nearly 10 days of mostly sitting in the motor home.

We did have a few adventures along the way though.

We got away from Clovis, New Mexico shortly after 8:00 a.m. and, despite the usual strong winds across Texas, the sun was shining and we made good time. We made one stop in Texas, back in McLean hoping for lunch at the Chuck-wagon Restaurant we’d visited before. We were disappointed to discover that, being a Wednesday, it was closed, so we pulled onto the road shoulder near the highway entrance and finished off some leftovers. We were once more struck by the desolation of the town, which probably had once been booming before the new highway bi-passed it. Beside us was what appeared to be a large motel, now overgrown with vegetation.

By 2:00 we were in Oklahoma; two hours later Jim was beginning to feel the effects of fighting the winds. We’d already stopped once to check the awning on the slide out because it was constantly banging, but it was just the wind playing with the spring. I found a KOA at El Reno, but it was fully booked. This doesn’t often happen this time of year. We moved on for another hour. I called ahead to reserve a spot in the Rockwell RV Park where we’ve stayed a few times, near Oklahoma City. The weather was much cooler than it had been last year.  We took a walk around the park for some exercise, stopping to see the Buffalo in the pen, before heating up the last of the chicken pot pies for dinner.

The next morning we drove to Bricktown, Oklahoma City in search of the Banjo Museum. We found a place to park beside the Land Run display along the River Walk. We had to walk through there again, and discovered many details that we’d missed the first time.  It’s still one of our favourite places.

To get to the Banjo Museum, we walked nearly to the other end of the River Walk and up onto the streets. Jim was following a map he’d found in a travel brochure of Oklahoma City, but it wasn’t quite right.  It took us some time to find it; however, it was worth the effort. Two floors displayed these beautiful instruments that not only are used to entertain, but are works of art!

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When we left there an hour later, we returned to Jazzmo’z for another delicious lunch before getting back on the road again. After that, we focused on our destination – home. We stopped only for gas, meals and sleeping. The folks at the Cracker Barrel chain along the way became our best friends. Construction near Troy Illinois held us up for an hour, meaning we got only as far as the Casey KOA on day seven, but we sailed through Indiana and a good portion of Ohio the next day before stopping at a Cracker Barrel, where we always have dinner and breakfast in exchange for the privilege of staying in the parking lot for the night.

By 3:00 p.m. of day nine we were crossing the border into Canada at Buffalo, New York, seeing only a bit of snow in the ditches of Pennsylvania. While traversing the bridge the side mirror (yes the one that almost fell off on our way down!) caught in a section of the chain link fence that had been erected along the under-construction sidewalk, cracking the case and leaving the lower part of the mirror hanging. There was nothing we could do about it before we got through Customs. There was a big crowd of vehicles filling the lanes right back to the beginning of the bridge. A fellow directing traffic managed to get us across three lanes of cars to the Bus Loading Lane, where we had to go into a building to check in. While Jim answered questions I watched an officer come out of the back, take a look around with his hands on his hips and then retreat without a word. I could be wrong, but the dazed look on his face and the weird eyes made me think that he might be stoned. That could have been a scary thing!

Once we were back into Canada Jim pulled over to put the mirror back together, and a few miles later we stopped for Tim Horton’s coffee, and to change the phone SIM card. Then we were into the crazy slow Toronto traffic. It had taken us only six hours to get from Ohio to Buffalo; it took us four more to get home! The restaurants of Hastings were already closed, so I had to make us some dinner. I was tired and hungry, but it was good to be home.

 

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!

From Las Cruces to Clovis, We’re Still in New Mexico!


 

This might just be our longest trip home yet!

As I mentioned in my last post, we stopped on Monday night at the Coachlight Inn and RV Park in Las Cruces. There were some “interesting” rvs in that park! Obviously no restrictions on what you had or how long you stayed applied.

The weather was good when we left and got warmer as we drove. In fact, at one point my upper legs inside my black jeans got a little bit burned from the sun streaming through the window. Then it was time to change into shorts and sandals.

The scenery gradually changed to more trees and less desert. It was quite beautiful. One snow-capped mountain peak caught my attention, behind lower mountain ranges, and we seemed to follow it for twenty miles or more. I think it might be Captain Mountain.

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We stopped for a late lunch in Roswell and ended up spending a couple of hours there, taking pictures and touring the UFO Museum. Roswell is the nearest town to the suspected site of the UFO crash in 1947. It was really interesting to read all of the articles and eye-witness accounts on display in the museum, some believable; some questionable. Is it true that, after admitting to the event, the government suddenly had a change of heart and covered it all up ?

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The theme of the whole city is aliens and UFOs, with souvenir shops selling every sort of thing that could be imagine from post cards to green soccer balls painted to look like alien heads.

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This creative interpretation was outside one shop.

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It was a fun few hours, but the delay meant we wouldn’t make it out of New Mexico that night. And today extremely high winds are keeping us put right where we ended up, at Travelers World Good Sam RV Park outside Clovis, New Mexico! The temperature has dropped and we’ve had a bit of rain. Because we don’t dare engage our leveling jacks for fear they won’t retract, the coach is really rocking.

Hoping tomorrow we might make it across Texas, but that’s not even certain. Good thing we allowed ourselves two weeks to get home.

Leaving Mesa Regal


The time has flown by this winter, probably because we were late arriving in Arizona in the fall. The last weeks were filled with a bit of pickleball and a whole lot of eating out with friends before saying goodbyes. I will really miss all those people who have become an integral part of our lives. But I am anxious to get back to my efficient, well equipped kitchen in Ontario.  It’s been over a month since I’ve had a properly working fridge, which meant we ate out too much.

We left Mesa Regal at noon on April 1st, after our motorhome played a trick on us – the leveling Jacks refused to rise up off the ground. It took about an hour before the problem was solved with an electric drill being used to manually lift them to their traveling position. When we finally got the bike loaded into the trailer, said our final goodbyes and started off, we realized that when we’d parked and covered the car in its storage spot, we’d left the GPS in it! Fortunately it was just a few streets away so we swung by, uncovered the car, retrieved the GPS and re-covered the car. We were already tired! Some lunch helped, and then we were on our way.

By 4:00 we were almost at the turn off for Tombstone. We decided to stop there for the night, and spend part of the next day seeing some of the things we missed the last time we visited that old city. We found a spot in the Stampede RV Park, within walking distance of all the attractions. In the morning, after breakfast served in the park’s Coach Stop, we took the trolley tour,

witnessed a comedy version of the notorious gunfights common in the old west

and looked around the Rose Museum, where the world’s largest rose is huge and presently blooming.

A big thanks goes out to Sue in the RV Park office who gave us a great summary of what to find and where.There are still a few more sites to see, but at 1:00 we knew if we were going to get out of Arizona before the day was out, we had to get back on the road.

We made it to Las Cruces, New Mexico before it was too dark, and stayed at the Coachlight Motel & RV Park.

Get a Free Travel App and Hear About an Amazing Young Performer


There is nothing like listening to some great live music to take your mind off of the political turmoil for a while. Late Thursday morning we drove into downtown Mesa to do just that, at the outdoor noon-hour concert series sponsored by the Mesa Arts Centre. I think I’ve mentioned these wonderful free concerts before. The performer this week was highly promoted by our neighbour Jan, and our expectations were high.  We weren’t disappointed!

After picking up a take-out lunch at our favourite little café, Sweet Cakes, we walked to the Arts Centre to where the stage and seating were set up. It was only 11:30 and the concert didn’t begin until 12:30, but the best seating was already filled! We managed to grab a couple of chairs that weren’t too far away from the stage, but sadly not facing it. While we waited for the show to begin, we enjoyed our very thick turkey-on-(freshly baked) sourdough, side salad and still-warm chocolate chip cookie. Yumm.

At 12:30 the Honky-Tonk Rebel (a.k.a. Mario Carboni) appeared on stage with his keyboard and trumpet. With a bit of introduction, he started to play and he blew our minds.  This young man, who started to play at a very young age, had his fingers speeding across the keys in a blur; and then his rich country voice filled the air. The sound system was perfect; no problem hearing every note from wherever you sat. I wish I could remember all of the songs he performed, but I was mesmerized by those fingers on the keyboard. He has an eclectic play list, everything from honky-tonk country, to truck driving songs, rock and roll and classical. I’ve never heard “The Flight of the Bumblebee” played so perfectly and fast! He did many cover rearrangements and many of his own songs, with a tad humour thrown in once in a while. For a couple of numbers he played his trumpet and keyboard at the same time, without missing a beat. The crowd roared, and at the end of the one-hour performance gave him a standing ovation. The host invited him to do an encore, much to our delight. When the show was over, Mario greeted fans with a smile and a chat while we lined up with our newly purchased CDs in our hands, looking for an autograph. He’ll be on tour across the US and back up to Alaska, where he spends his summers performing, most of this year. Check him out at www.honkytonkrebel.com/    .

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Mario on the left with one of his buddies, Jimmy Phillips

Jimmy Phillips, former drummer with Merle Haggard, Red Simpson and several other “Bakersfield Sound” Country stars, joined Mario on stage for a couple of songs.

Concerts like this are just an example of things you might find to do in over 470 cities around the world using one of the popular GPSmyCity apps that feature self-guided city walks, allowing visitors to explore the best of the city on foot at their own pace. The apps are now available for both iOS and Android phones or tablets.

Would you like to give one of these a try for free? Simply leave me a comment on this blog by February 17th, 2017. The first twenty readers to comment will receive a free access code to the city of their choice, shortly after the contest ends.

There’s more!  During this promotional period you can get a lifetime access to ALL of the guides for just $60 (1% of the total original price).  For more details visit  http://www.gpsmycity.com/cf/

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!

Six Days, Seven States, 2,110 Miles


I said that I would keep you posted along our journey to Arizona, but that hasn’t worked out so well. We are in Holbrook Arizona tonight and will be in Mesa tomorrow, so I’ll give you a synopsis of our travels during the last six days.

Since we have driven this route several times, and this time we aren’t taking time for any sightseeing, there isn’t too much to share with you. The things that have made this an adventure this time are the inconveniences that have occurred.

We got away last Thursday afternoon and got caught up in the rush hour traffic in Toronto. We’d planned to make it to Windsor, ready to cross the border to the US in the morning, but it was dark and rainy so we stopped at the Onroute (Travel Centre) at Guelph for some dinner and the night. We’d driven away from the light snow that was falling when we left, but the temperature was just above freezing. The furnace was necessary. This was the first inconvenience. Jim started it up. The fan came on and we could hear the click of the propane burner trying to fire, but it never made it. Jim started the generator so I could use the microwave, and the furnace came on. It ran the whole time that the generator was on, shutting down when the required temperature was reached, and starting up again. We shut the generator off and went back inside the building to read before bed so as not to use up battery power by using the coach lights. When we got back, it wasn’t so warm, but we were ready for bed anyway. Jim plugged his APAP into the 12 volt outlet and we left the furnace running. At 1:00 a.m. he woke up, unable to breath. The APAP wasn’t working and the coach was very cold, so he had to turn the generator on again to charge up the batteries. Seems the furnace will only run on 110 watts and if that battery gets just a little low, it shuts off. The fan, however, will keep on going on the 12 volt batteries until they too die! It had been running for several hours non-stop, using up all the battery power. Well, at least we knew that. We turned off the furnace once the place was good and warm, and crawled under the covers. Thank goodness for the silk and down duvet that I’d snagged at a patio sale last year!

The second night we parked in a Cracker Barrel parking lot for the night, after enjoying a delicious home-style meal, in Joliet Illinois. Again we had to play the game with the furnace. We were up early and back on the road by 8:10 the next morning. We stopped for gas and just nicely got cruising down I-55 when the passenger side-view mirror, which had seemed a little wobbly the day before and Jim had tightened up the bolts holding it to the arm, was suddenly vibrating so hard that it would soon be off on the side of the road. So Jim got out to check it again and this time discovered that the problem was with the wood behind the siding where the mirror arm was attached. It was rotten! There was nothing he could do but remove the whole thing. Now that’s not so good when you’re driving a vehicle with no back window, so therefore no rearview mirror, and you have to depend on your side-view mirrors. Back on the highway Jim avoided passing anyone because he wouldn’t be able to see well enough to get back into the lane after. He figured if he had some longer bolts he could put them through into the plywood under the inside dash, so when we stopped in Leitchfield for lunch he got what he needed at the local NAPA dealer and replaced the mirror. We’d planned to make it to Lambert’s Café in Sullivan for dinner, but by 5:00 we’d had enough and stopped at the KOA in Stanton, Missouri. Since we’d had to winterize the motor home with antifreeze before we left home, we had only bottled water on board, so it was really nice to be able to hook up to water, sewer and electricity. Oh yes, the water pump wasn’t working anyway so we couldn’t have used our own water. We enjoyed hot showers (thank goodness the water heater was working!) and recharged all of our electronics before crawling into bed.

The next morning we timed it just right to have lunch at Lambert’s. Each other time that we’ve gone there we didn’t have much of a wait and we were out within the hour, but we forgot that it was Sunday of the US Thanksgiving weekend this time. The parking lots were full, but we got lucky enough to grab an RV spot that had just been vacated. However, the porch was filled with people waiting to get into the restaurant and there was a line up at the outdoor Registration Booth!

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We were told there was a 70 to 80 minute wait, but since we’d been anticipating this since the evening before, we decided to wait. It was cold outside so we went into the Gift Shop. Many others had the same idea. We had to get extra layers out of the motor home. At 90 minutes our names were called and we were shown to our seats in a room filled with large families and lots of chatter and of course rolls being tossed across the room. Jim enjoyed a pork variety platter and I decided to try the fried chicken. I hadn’t had fried chicken like that in years. Of course it was too much, so we had the base for our dinner in the RV that night, buying some salad at the Walmart in Claremore Oklahoma, where we parked for the night. It was windy there, but a little warmer.

We were on our way by 7:30 the next morning and except for a stop at a 60’s style diner, Jerry’s Restaurant, in Weatherford, and a short rest at a rest stop in Texas where we could have bought a stuffed buffalo for $20,000, we kept driving until Jim could fight the strong winds sweeping across the plains no more. We stopped in Tucumcari New Mexico for dinner at Denny’s, and checked in for the night at Red Mountain RV Park. The winds were so strong that they would slow the RV down so much that it shifted into a lower gear, making it difficult to climb hills.

Today we left early and stopped for lunch in Sky City at the Dancing Eagle Casino. We indulged ourselves with $5.00 each to play on the slots. Although that lasted us for a good half hour, we came away with nothing to show for it. At 4:00 this afternoon we arrived in Arizona, having traveled 2,110 miles. We drove through a bit of snow flurries and saw more in the ditches and fields along the way as we rose in elevation, but fortunately none was on the roads. We are in the OK RV Park in Holbrook tonight. We’re hoping that the snow will hold off again tomorrow, at least until we get down into the valley. It’s supposed to be well below freezing, so they wouldn’t allow us to hook up to water, but at least we have electricity and WiFi.

. ☺

In the Blink of an Eye


My plan, last month, was to start writing blog posts about the preparations needed to take a trip to China. On September 25th, one week from today, we were scheduled to join a twelve day tour with friends of ours. We’d booked this trip through the local Chamber of Commerce back in May, and until three weeks ago we were counting the days.

But, life can change in the blink of an eye. On Tuesday, August 23rd, Jim and I walked across the soccer field to the Hastings Field House to play pickleball, something we’d been doing three or four times a week all summer long. I was feeling fit and strong and happy.

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Hastings Field House

Two hours later I was lying on a bed in the emergency room at our closest hospital. At the time I wasn’t clear how it had happened, but somehow I’d thrown myself off balance while trying to hit a ball, and before I could move an arm or leg to catch myself, I landed on the floor with such force that it knocked the wind out of me. My right hip hurt and I couldn’t put any weight on my leg, but I couldn’t believe that it could possibly be broken, because it didn’t hurt all that much. I sat in a chair and watched while someone else stepped into my place and the game was finished, at my insistence.

However, when they tried to get me into a truck to take me home one movement caused me to gasp and suddenly I had no control over my leg or foot.  I had to admit that it was more than just a bruised hip. I was still optimistic, hoping it could be a dislocation that could be easily remedied. Instead of going home, my friend drove me to the hospital while Jim followed in our car. X-rays were taken of my hip and the conclusion wasn’t good – a fracture. They’d hoped to transfer me to Peterborough Hospital for surgery later that day. I had to fast until they learned that it wasn’t going to happen.

It was Thursday morning before I was loaded into a patient transfer wagon for the rough, hour-long trip. At 7:00 that night I met my surgeon outside the Operating Room. I was going to require a whole hip replacement! My optimism went out the door.

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Off to Surgery

I asked if I’d still be able to go to China in a month’s time. One nurse in the Emergency Room had told me that I’d be up walking the day after surgery, after all.

“Not going to happen,” said Dr. Lever. “You would have to have a load of blood thinners on board because of the risk of blood clots, and your extended health insurance wouldn’t cover you if anything happened as a result of this surgery. Do you have cancellation insurance?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll sign whatever forms you need to get your refund.”

“We usually leave for Arizona the middle of October, in the motor home.”

“Sorry, I don’t recommend that either.  You should stick close to home until your full twelve-week recovery period is up, for the same reasons.”

As they rolled me into the operating room, just before the anesthesiologist did his job, a few tears escaped from my eyes.

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What my new hip joint looks like

The Emergency Room nurse was right – I was up walking with a walker the next day, but it was obvious that there was no way I’d be ready to do any hiking in China in just four weeks, other risks or not.

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Third Day: Sitting up in a chair, filling out forms

By Sunday I was out of hospital and on the road to recovery, but instead of completing preparations for our trip to China, I’ve been filling out forms to get a refund for it through our Cancellation Insurance, and cancelling the extended health insurance. We will also have to adjust our insurance and our arrival dates for Arizona, but we will go. And maybe next year we’ll go to China.