Saturday, February 26, 2011


It has been a long while since my last post but there has just been too much going on with all my medical appointments and preparing for our departure from Florence.  We got carried away closing up the park model and got ahead of schedule and turned off the power, forgetting we needed the power on to run our internet router so we were without internet for our last two days.   I went for bloodwork on the 17th, a cat scan on the 18th and my appointment with the lung specialist on the 22nd.  The cat scan showed the mass in my lung has shrunk since January 7th which is good.  My Valley Fever count is lower on the blood test so he cut my medication in half and said to discontinue it after one more month.  One thing the cat scan showed though was a cyst on a kidney, which hadn’t changed at all since the January 7th scan.  We left Mitzy with friends Jim and Betty (who threatened to keep her permanently) while we were in Casa Grande for the specialist.  We went for supper at Picazzo’s Pizza and again it was very good.  I had made noises about going to the buffet restaurant for a quicker meal but Picazzo’s was every bit as fast that night.
We played Mexican Train with friends a couple of evenings and Aileen and I played SkipBo several times.  We were even with our winning until last night when she beat me all three games.   We had a dandy dust storm on the 19th.  Mitzy and I were out in the desert when I first noticed a small dust cloud way over toward Casa Grande.  A few minutes later I noticed it was much closer so we headed home much faster than normal and we did beat it there.  It sure deposited a lot of dust in all the protected areas.  The heavy rain that followed washed clean everything that was exposed.   Dust storms, like other weather phenomenon, are fascinating.

Sunday the 20th was motor home washing day so I had some sore spots after that was done.  I tried using Windex to clean the water spots off the motor home glass but it didn’t even touch it.  Aileen went on line and found a good recipe using rubbing alcohol, vinegar and water which really worked.  Bev helped me get going on post cards while she was here so I made some of those and they look really good.  Of course they cost way more than commercial ones.  In between all the other things going on, we did the Chatterbox news typing and I proofed a copy on Thursday.  On Thursday evening we took Jacquie and Jim and went to PF Changs (who have a great gluten free section on their menu) on Superstition Blvd in Mesa for supper and it was excellent.
We had a leisurely start Friday morning.  I was planning on waiting for the propane guy then went to town for the bank and water place.  Stopped at the feed store and asked about a propane fill there since I noticed they had a tank and it was much cheaper so we went there on the way out.  We had lots of neighbours to bid farewell so that took awhile.  The Mackley’s got home last night from their month in New Zealand and Australia so we got to see them this morning.  In fact, Ken came and helped load and wrap the scooter.  The electric heater died Friday morning so we thought we’d get one at Walmart.  They sold out during the cold spell!   We stopped at Ace Hardware and got a heater.  It was after 1 pm when we finally got on I-8 heading for Gila Bend then Buckeye and west on I-10.  We took the Salome Road intending to boondock near Bouse.  It started getting too late for us so we spent the night dry camped at Salome Centennial Park for $8. We had a fabulous sunset out our front window.

 We were awakened just after 1 am with no power to our breathing machines.  For some reason the battery was way lower than it should have been.  We didn’t have any issues with it when we dry camped last fall so not sure what happened.  I guess we will be staying in parks the rest of the way.  I turned the generator on for a few minutes and the batteries powered up enough to run the small inverter so Aileen could use her machine.
We hit the road about 9:30 leaving the very quiet campground.  Gas is $3.299 to $3.399 in most of AZ but jumps by up to 60 cents a gallon when you get to CA.  We stopped early at the little wide spot that used to be Rice, CA.  Mitzy and I took a stroll over to a fence covered with shoes then checked out a sign talking about the Colorado Desert and the area between here and Blythe, CA.  That might be an interesting drive sometime if we are in this area for an extended period.
 The last fireplace in Rice, CA

The Rice, CA boot fence

We are in Yucca Valley, CA tonight and it is snowing quite well.  It is about 32F but the wind chill is like the low 20s.  The forecast says not too much so hope they are right.  We are at 3300 feet here but climb another 800 feet or more tomorrow before dropping down the Tehachapi  Hill. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


We've been seeing a lot of large flocks of sheep lately and they are mostly in these alfalfa or grass paddocks.  Note how flat these fields are and the ridges separating the.  This is to allow flood irrigation which is by far the most common method of getting water to the crops.

The pace is picking up here prior to our departure.  Our calendar is getting fuller with appointments and considerations.  We had our block potluck supper on Sunday night followed by the ATV club potluck on Monday night.  My sister Janet and husband John came to visit yesterday.  They and some friends are over in Sun Lakes for a few days.  They wanted to take us for lunch so we went to Casa Grande and Picazzo’s Pizza.  We all had gluten free food starting with wings and salad.  We shared two pizzas which we ordered half and half which gave us four different pizza styles to share.  Delicious!  We ordered all vegetarian and they were so tasty.  I think I much prefer the gluten free pastry just like with Aileen’s pies.  Janet and John left here late heading to my sister Wendy and Randy’s in Coolidge for supper.

 Mitzy likes to scratch her head and back in the dirt.  Looks like the chicken dance to me!

 Then we have to try and shake it all off before Mom notices!

We like to run too, good for the figure.

Mitzy and I walk out in the desert out beyond the fence most days but when it is warm, we have to go early.  Mitzy and Aileen are not hot weather types.  I took my camera to try out the new lens one day.  Aileen and I are working on the park newsletter again typing for the March edition.  The deadline is before we leave but I don’t know if we’ll be here long enough to do the proofing.
Mitzy went for her grooming this morning and looks pretty spiffy right now.  First walk in the desert will fix that.  I go for blood work tomorrow, cat scan Friday and the lung specialist next Tuesday.  In between we have the park model to empty and clean and the motor home to get packed and organized. 

 The Saguaro on the right will soon be the dominant one as the old one on the right is about to expire

 There are ten horses grazing out where we walk these days

Friday, February 11, 2011


Mid 50's Chev three ton or so

Late 40's or early 50's Ford both shot in Hardman, Oregon on our trip down last Fall

My main lens, a Canon 24-105 seems to have a problem. I keep getting an error message every time I try to shoot lower than level and sometimes all the time. It was very frustrating and at first I thought it was my camera causing the problem. I decided to try my other lenses and had no issues at all. I will send it off to Canon Canada when we get back to BC but in the mean time I have ordered a 28-135 Canon to fill in and it arrived today. I shoot 90 plus percent of my images with the 24-105 so it is really important to have a spare in that range. All my shots at the Greek Monastery, on my last post, were shot with my 20mm fixed lens.

I have been buying grapefruit from the truck that comes into the park every Monday and they are awesome. The price is okay too at 20 cents each for large ones. They are so juicy and sweet. We went to friends, Ken and Marie’s, for supper Tuesday night and had a great evening. Aileen made a really tasty pecan pie for desert. We played SkipBo which we haven’t played for several years. Aileen won the first two games and Ken the last one. We used to play often with our Salmon Arm neighbours, Bill and Del and we always had a ball but that was back in our other life.

We took Bev to Sky HarborAirport in Phoenix Wednesday at noon for her to head back home. We were sad to see her go and I think she would have liked to stay longer. We really enjoyed her visit and all the help she was too. She did lots of cleaning and little projects we were ignoring. She was a blessing to me with my new computer since she is a lot more tech savvy than I am.

I took the motor home over to Coolidge yesterday for an oil and lube job. I didn’t have to wait too long and surprised Aileen by getting home much earlier than she thought. I went for a ride on my bike yesterday afternoon, my first since before getting ill in December. It’s becoming quite challenging getting our laundry done now with the park getting so full. There are about 20 washing machines spread throughout the park and sometimes it takes a long while before you can get one. Our next door neighbour, Carol, is the smart one. She goes when everyone else is either in bed or glued to the TV. That’s swimming pool time in this house so doesn’t work. Aileen was thinking she may have to set the alarm for 5 am to get into the laundry without competition. I have been to the hot tub a couple times and that sure has felt good.

We’re going to have to sit down pretty soon and start planning our itinerary for our trip north departure time is fast approaching. We figure to go up I5 from southern California but have to decide on how we get to there from here. We try to take different routes when possible but in some cases at this time of year those options are pretty limited as we don’t want any winter driving experiences.

Aileen was up early this morning to take Mitzy over to the vet in Coolidge to have her teeth cleaned. We picked her up about 3 pm and she was glad to see us. We picked up more groceries while we were over in Coolidge. The weather is great again. We were at 22C (about 70F) when we got home at 4 pm and overnight temperatures are rising as well. Overnights are supposed to stay above or close to 40F for the next while.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


The Prophet Elias' Chapel on the hill above the Monastery

The next several shots are inside the grounds of St Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery

This was the last day of our cold weather and at nearly 11:30 the ice is still with us

Aileen on the left and Bev (our daughter) in mandated dress.

A mailbox in Kelvin, AZ

The Ray Copper Mine south of Superior, AZ

To get some perspective on the size of the truck and shovel (loader), the front end loader on the left is actually a rubber tired dozer with a large blade. Only four buckets full filled the truck

We been enjoying having Bev visit and she has done lots of little projects for us that we had mostly let slide. We’ve played three games of Mexican Train and Aileen has won all three! We’ve made several trips over to Casa Grande for various things and I think had lunch there every time.

On Wednesday morning, I mentioned that my grapefruit seemed rather warm and the pop did too. I then checked the thermometer when Aileen reminded me of it and it was 46F. Awhile later, after turning the dial to cooler, it was even warmer. A little later, the fridge quit completely! Great! Bev and Aileen got chatting with Kathy Richardson down the street who mentioned checking out Brown’s Coolers in Coolidge. By the time Mitzy and I returned from our walk in the desert, Aileen had a list of new and used ones that would fit our opening. Bev and I headed over while Aileen stayed to make the pecan pie for supper. We looked at the used fridges which were $250 and up. They all looked old, tired and junky. I called Sears in Casa Grande but they had nothing on the floor that would work so I bought an 18 cubic foot one at Brown’s. It cost $616 including tax and $35 delivery. They delivered it about 2:30 and took our old one away. We had friends Ken and Marie over for supper and the pecan pie which is Ken’s favourite. Aileen made a gluten free pastry and it has to be the best pastry I’ve ever had. We played Mexican train that night too with that being one of Aileen’s wins.

I’m starting to get this new computer somewhat organized but am having several issues. My ProShow Gold shows won’t load at all, I get a message saying it can’t find the file. I guess I’ll have to contact their help line to see if they have a simple fix. It needs to be simple for me! I’m also having trouble finding a direct path to some of my document files and pictures. I couldn’t be happier with the computer’s performance when it comes to Photomatix and PhotoShop Elements. It is really fast, in fact, I don’t have those little rest times while waiting for something to process that were so plentiful before.

Yesterday we went to St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery which is ten miles south of Florence, AZ. If you are in the area, find the time to visit this very interesting place. The architecture and workmanship is fascinating. You can pick up a brochure and wander the grounds on your own or follow along with a guided tour. There is a dress code. Men are to have long sleeve shirts and long pants while ladies are to wear long dresses (well below the knee) long sleeved blouses and head scarfs. They do have skirts and scarves available to borrow. You will see Bev and Aileen wearing them. After leaving the Monastery, we drove out the Florence-Kelvin Highway and then pulled off on the Barkerville Rd to have our lunch. Aileen had packed the makings and we stood at the back of the car and made our own lunches then stood in the sun to eat. It was quite pleasant. We carried on to Kelvin then turned north and went up to Superior. We stopped at the overlook for the huge Ray Copper Mine then later dove through some of old Superior.

Our weather has finally warmed up to be much more pleasant. I went in the hot tub yesterday and today in the mid afternoons. That’s my first time since back in December and I enjoyed it. The pools got so cold even Aileen had to miss a couple nights. Our pool is 82F today so she will be using it tonight. I think our temperatures dropped down as low as 20F and there were several broken water lines in the park with water shooting out. I have been reading other travel blogs from all over the southern US and we fared better than a lot of places. Some RVers were caught in 0F tempertures and suffered total freeze up of their water lines. Others had snow and ice storms to contend with and there was a lot of wind at time as well. Of course when looking at the overall situation throughout North America, we were still among the most fortunate. A lot of the plants both here and in the towns have been badly frosted so we are way down on flowers now. I imagine it will be awhile before there are many blossoms in the desert this Spring.

We are down to less than three weeks before heading north to BC already. We have a lot of things to do before then. I imagine we’ll probably find some winter like weather along the way. We plan to go to Vancouver Island first for about four weeks. My Dad’s celebration of life is now scheduled for April 9 in Errington and after attending it we will then head for Salmon Arm to take care of business and appointments. We haven’t given thought to what’s after that yet, or at least I haven’t.