Monday, December 30, 2013

Mesa, AZ - You Can't Make Up Things Like This

When you see pictures of happy RV’ers, they’re sitting by the side of a lake high in the mountains, sun shining, blue sky, snow-capped mountains ringing them and nary another soul to be found. Or, it’s a family walking a path through a wooded glen. Or, maybe a couple fishing in a stream catching their dinner. Ain’t this life great? No cares, no worries, no problems. Yep. Great lifestyle.

Well. as anyone who owns an RV can tell you - not always. This carefree lifestyle is not always so carefree. Now, don’t get me wrong - I love to RV and Gary and I happy to be in our RV, traveling the US. HOWEVER - we’ll be the first to tell you that it is not always a carefree lifestyle. If you’ve read our blog for any length of time, you know about all our problems with our Safari Simba last fall and why we now have a Winnebago Journey. Or, maybe, if you have just started reading our blog, you know about our 8 days in the Freightliner parking lot in Grand Junction in September of this year.

Just like any house, an RV needs maintenance, repairs and, maybe, some renovations. Our prior experiences in the Service centers were for maintenance and repairs. This fall we spent some time at RV Renovators in Mesa when we decided to replace our carpet with something easy to clean. We got our RV back from RV Renovators and were so taken with the wood floor that we realized that we should have done one last little bit. Thinking that it was hidden and no one but we would see it, we left the carpet on the slide in the bedroom. Big Mistake. Boy, did we notice it every day and regret not getting that done when we had the rest of the floor done.

Easy to correct, just take it in and get that section done. It’s so small that it shouldn’t cost so much. And, we had an appointment for Monday. We pulled the utilities Sunday night and got the RV ready to go so we could get to RV Renovators by 8:00 in the morning. We left it there and took off for Paradise Bakery for coffee and some bagels and then to the library in Gilbert, a few miles away. We can always find things to do in a library, mostly because we take our computers. Jim at RV Renovators told us to call about 3:30 to see how things were coming. We did, he said he said to come about 4:30. End of the day, oh, shucks. I can occupy myself for a few hours in the library but 6 hours - ‘oof da’ as they say in Fargo.

We got to RV Renovators at 4:30, checked the work over, paid and drove off. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Well, as everyone who has an RV knows, nothing is simple when getting anything done. There’s always a catch. And we found ours when we got back to the resort, parked in our spot and opened our slides.

Here’s a picture of the slide with the new wood on it to match the floor.

Looks great, right? Hey, what is that white strip between the floor and the slide? Is that the unfinished floor of the RV? Isn’t that plywood? Yep, someone at RV Renovators had not gotten the slide all the way out and had not noticed that the new wood and trim on the slide didn’t come all the way to the new wood floor. When we opened the slide ALL the way out, we noticed this. Oh, shucks. Looks like we need to take it back in - tomorrow - first thing.

We had not hooked up anything but the electricity (since we leave for Quartzsite on Wednesday) so it was easy to get ready to move. We got back to RV Renovators by 8:10 and showed them the cute little white strip of plywood. Oops. They will fix it and have it ready by 4:00. Oh, shucks. Another day making things up to do. Well, we started with breakfast out at the Good Egg which is a good choice for breakfast in Mesa then on to bigger and better things: errands. Our last errand was at Costco where we ate our way though the food section. (Who in their right mind would go to Costco on New Year’s Eve? Probably those same fools who went to Costco on Christmas Eve.) Then back to RV Renovators where we put our groceries in the refrigerator and took off for - not the library this time. We went back to the resort and sat in one of the clubhouses in the resort.

At 4:00 we picked up the RV, checked it over - opened the slide ourselves - all the way, went in to say ‘good-bye’ and ‘Happy New Year’ and we were off. We again (this is the 5th time we’ve had to park in our spot at the resort) backed in and parked. Gary hooked up the electricity while I cleaned inside. Then we went around to say good-bye to our neighbors. From October to 2 weeks ago, we had spaces on each side of us. Then two RV’s moved in and now we have neighbors. Nice neighbors, Neighbors, that if we were staying, we’d probably spend time with. I love RV’ing but, just as we’re meeting some nice people, we leave, or they leave. RV’ers never stay around too long. But, maybe we’ll see them down the line somewhere. Last year at this resort, we had neighbors who stopped in to see us in May in Iowa. We plan to stop in to see them in Washington this summer. And, that’s how it goes, we move around and maybe see each other again, somewhere down the line.

Today is Gary’s 67th birthday. Did he have a great birthday or what? Tomorrow is our 41st anniversary and we’re on the road to Quartzsite. Is that a great anniversary or what?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Mesa, AZ - Superstition Swan Song

We’ve been snowbirding in the Mesa area for 3 years now and have found many places where the hiking is superb: the South Mountain Park, the Scottsdale Sonoran Preserve and the Superstition Mountains among these. We have favorite hikes in all of these areas but like to search out new hikes. Today we thought we’d end this visit with a hike in the Superstitions, though we added a bit to it to make at least a part of it seem ‘new’ to us. 1/2 of it we have hiked before but we want a section where we can say: ‘Haven’t Been There, Haven’t Seen That.’

We got to the dirt road into the trail head but found ourselves behind another car which was following a horse trailer. The horse trailer was going slowly along the rutted road which also had some dips into dry washes. The driver was paying so much attention to the road that she did not see that she had a door on the right-hand side of the trailer that was swinging open with each bump that the trailer took. We, and the other car’s driver kept waving to her to try to catch her attention but she was a bit late for the trail ride and was focused on the road.

In the trail head parking lot, we found that it was ‘hiking club’ day at the RV parks in the area. At least 35 cars were there and we were lucky to get one of the last parking spots. People were all over getting out their packs, lacing up their hiking boots and checking out the pit toilets. We also noticed a car with its driver side door wide open - with no one around who seemed to belong to it. Another hiker and Gary discussed it and decided to shut the door and lock the car. Trail head theft is common (although we’ve left out car unlocked once and a door wide open another time and never experienced theft) but a greater problem is a dead battery caused by an open door. And, guess who had the dead battery? As Jimi Hendrix said: ‘We are experienced’ although maybe not in the way he meant.

Finally, we took off, way behind all the others - except the trail ride. Oops, this is what we saw behind us as we entered the trail. We stood aside to get this picture and - to see which way they were going to take at the trail junction ahead.
Aha, they took the right hand trail - we’ll go to the left. The trail winds around some hills and finally starts up to the Black Mesa (not to be confused with Black Top Mesa - why they have 2 such similarly named mesas and trail within 2 miles, I do not know). At the top we saw the iconic outline of Weaver’s needle,
met and passed one hiking club, wove through a cholla forest and, after a mile or so, headed down to the valley below.

The views are all spectacular in the Superstitions.

This rock looks almost translucent.
At the next trail junction, we took off to the left to circle Black Top Mesa along Bull Pass Trail. And, what do we not understand about the word ‘Pass?’ A ‘pass’ is supposed to be the low point between two mountains through which you can pass with less difficulty. But, to me, it is not ‘low’, it is merely lower than the mountain peaks. It still requires that we hike upwards to get to it. But, and here’s the intriguing thing, at the top of the pass was the trail ride. They were riding along the ridge line to the top of Black Top Mesa where there were some Spanish hieroglyphs. Doesn’t that sound like a neat goal? But we had no trail maps telling us how to get there and we probably didn’t have time for a lot of exploring. But, it’s something to check into when we get back to the RV.

We circled the mesa along a trail that we had never been on and enjoyed the views. There was a string of pools filled with water reflecting the colors of the cliffs above, fed by small waterfalls that bubbled as we passed.
We hiked on, came full circle around Black Top Mesa and reached the junction again (don’t I look relieved to be back to this junction knowing that we are on the final leg of our hike?)
and headed back to the trail head, along the trail which the trail ride had taken. Hmm, looks like they left a lot of reminders that they had been along this trail. Not only were we dodging boulders, bracken, cacti but now we also were dodging little horse reminders. Ah, isn’t that part of the challenge? (And, no, I do not have pictures to document this.)

The last few miles of our hike were in the shade as the sun dipped behind the ridgeline of the Superstition Mountains to our left. It was getting later and chillier so I put my long sleeve shirt back on. We got back to the trail head and were leaving in time to get see the saguaros silhouetted by the setting sun.

Back at the RV, I got out our hiking books of the Superstitions and, voila, there is the path to the top of Black Top Mesa. Now, we are not going to be in this area next year but, the next time we are - we know where we want to hike. I’m already happily anticipating that hike.

14 2506’

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mesa, AZ - Another Leak?

We really enjoy our new floor in the RV. It looks so plush and matches the furniture so well. Since my father majored in forestry in college and was a lumberman all his life, I come by my love of wood honestly. Does it show dust more than the varicolored tile that we had before? Oh, my, not a comparison. As much as I love the sun, when it shines in, it shows every little flake of dust on this floor. I will need to run the mop over the floor every other day, if not every day but that takes so little time and the floor looks so good that it will be a pleasure. Well, not a ‘pleasure’ but not a hardship. Maybe, if I weren’t so prissy. But, I cannot deny my nature, I can only blame it on my mother.

In fact, today was one of those days with the dust mop. And, lo and behold, I was dry mopping in the bathroom and noticed a bit of water around the bottom of the toilet. ‘Gary’ I said, making repairs my way - by calling in the troops. He took a look and, after a bit of study, realized that the hose which feeds the toilet from our water tank had a leak in it. Something about an ‘O’ ring. Oh, great. He just finished repairing a leak in the shower and now he gets to ply his trade on a lead in the toilet. Luckily, it was clean water that was leaking. Last year a friend of ours had just about the same problem and had to buy the exact same repair kit that we had to buy. Thanks, Jerry. Gary called him, they discussed it and Gary was now on his way, he had the part number, he had some hints and he had leak knowledge.

Friday afternoon at 3:30 - what do you think our chances of getting this part are? Slim to none, I’ll bet. Gary had already called Camping World and they did not have the repair kit. So we tooled over to the La Mesa RV service department. The young man there wasn’t quite sure what we needed and said they did not have it but Gary was persistent and finally he said that he did have a supplier who had one. And this supplier was only a mile away. Whoo-eee. Pay dirt.

Saturday rolled around and Gary was thrilled about working on the toilet. I could see his eyes glistening with excitement - or were those tears?

Whatever, he methodically set about his work, taking it apart, cleaning it thoroughly, replacing the gear mechanisms and finally putting it all back together and into the bathroom. He finished up about 3:00.

Me, I had run some errands. Most errands just take time. But finding spice drops is becoming a challenge. Gary likes spice drops and we think that Brach's are the best. However, most stores have their own brand and do not stock Brach's. That’s ok, we can live with the store brands but at least they should stock them. We look throughout the candy displays and usually only find the spice drops sign, under an empty shelf. ‘Oh, yes, that is our most popular candy’ we hear. Well, if it is your most popular candy, why don’t you order more of it? A mystery. Today, I stopped at three stores - no Brach's and I found spice drops only at the last place I stopped. Natch.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mesa, AZ - Art of Many Types

This is December and every city and town and museum in the area is holding markets, art shows, and other opportunites to shop and get a unique gift for someone else or a personal gift. One of the nicer markets in the area is the annual Indian Market at the Pueblo Grande Archaeological Park in Tempe. We’ve gone for several years now and, since this is our last time in this area for a few years, we wanted to go again this year. It was established in 1977 to give native artisans representing many tribes an opportunity to sell their paintings, sculptures, jewelry, baskets, pottery, carvings and more, and also benefit the museum. But, not only are there several hundred artists with every kind of art, there is also entertainment, childrens activities and opportunites to explore the Native American culture. And, did I mention that there was fry bread?

We started the day at the Mesa Art Festival and enjoyed the entertainment by a young string quartet,
the juggler who is swinging a large knife under his legs while juggling two lit torches.
We also enjoyed seeing all of the various artists with their art. We met this potter who was demonstrating her craft.
We then parked our car and boarded the light rail into Phoenix. Now, since we had forgotten to bring any food along with us, we were excited to see a Circle K convenience store and gas station which had bananas and some fiber bars. A marvelous lunch, NOT. But at least it was somewhat nutritious and did its job of quelling the stomach pangs and quieting the runbles. A short walk across the street and into the Indian Market. We could hear the drumbeat of the entertainment as we walked through the parking lot but also smelled the aroma of Navajo fry bread and, since we had already had lunch, we indulged in dessert and shared a piece of this lucious treat. First things first.
We headed first for the entertainment stage where Derrick Suwaima Davis, a world renown hoop dance champion was dancing. We were privileged to see him before and were excited that we could see him dance again. A native of the Choctaw and Hopi nations, he began hoop dancing at the age of 3. He is now a 5-time winner of the World Champion Hoop Dance contests. And, the only one to have won 5 times. He also is one of the few who can hoop dance with 5 hoops. How does he not get lost in all those hoops?

What a privilege to see someone of his abilities and caliber here. He is amazing.

The art that was displayed here was exquisite, the colors were stunning and the range of artistic styles was huge, traditional, modern and everything in between. What a marvelous art show and what a great opportunity to purchase a unique intriguing gift for someone else or for yourself. And, judging by the crowd, there were many who were doing just that.

When the market closed, we wandered over to the light rail and took the steps to the airport connector which was built after the light rail was finished. Obviously the goal was to enable airport passengers  to access the rest of the city using the light rail. We were intrigued by all the tiled art work in the floor. It was designed by Daniel Martin Diaz and called the Tree of Life. It is 500’ long and 40’ wide and was created from 34,398 lbs of aggreagate that includes abalone shell, native desert stones and recycled glass combined. It was poured into the outlines of the design made out of 36,740’ of aluminum, and then polished to a smooth surface that an withstand thousands of people walking on it. Practical and artistic.

But who can understand my description. Here’s the finished product.

We then hopped into one of the cars which runs along the track to see where it went. We thought it circled the airport and that we would end up where we started. It actually circled half the airport and then we had to get out and board the returning train. But it was a fun ride (luckily we are easily entertained) although being in front was a bit dizzying as we hurtled around the curves and up and down the rails.
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Finally, we had see it all, boarded the light rail and headed on home.

We certainly had seen many different forms of art from physical to mechanical to traditional. But, then, art is all around us and makes our world more than just mundane.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mesa, AZ - First Leak

I’m betting that you might think that Gary and I have done nothing over the last 8 or 9 days since I haven’t written anything about it. Actually, you’d be wrong, but much of what we’ve done is not blog worthy and I’ve been too busy to write about the rest. We’ve done Christmas shopping, taken a tour of Scottsdale (we’ve been there but only in the mountains), shopped at the Pueblo Grande Indian Market, met some high school friends who now live in AZ for breakfast and a tour of the Desert Botanical Garden where there is a large installation of Chihuly glass sculptures and, here’s the big part, we’ve gotten our RV back and have found some problems which Gary the Handy-man needed to take care of while I Washed-and-Waxed-All the RV and the Jeep.

Where to start, where to start? How about with getting our ‘home’ back.

We stayed in the park model in our resort for 5 days, from Monday morning when we took our RV in for some work to Saturday morning when we picked it up. We appreciated being able to rent the little house since it meant that we would be close to the RV and its renovations, we’d have a kitchen to cook and avoid restaurant food, a living ‘room’ to relax in and a nice dining ‘room’ to eat in and work at the table in. Pretty comfy and for a fraction of what it would have cost in a hotel and restaurant.

Saturday came and it was time to pick up the RV - and pay for it. Before we left the house, I checked around but couldn’t find our checkbook so thought I must have left it in the RV by mistake. We got to RV Renovators, looked over the work and I looked for the checks. Nope, not there. I jumped in the car to hurry back to the park to check my there again. I got to the house and realized that Gary still had the house keys. I jumped in the car to hurry back to RV Renovators to get the keys. Then I hurried back to the house, checked, found the checks and hurried back to RV Renovator. Was I hurried and harried? Is Phoenix hot in the summer?

We paid, drove the RV back to our spot in the resort and began to clean. Not that it was really dirty but there had been some sawing and gluing in it and the usual residue was left. But, remember, we bought flooring that would be easy to clean. Then, time to move everything in the house back in. We love the warmth of the new floor and the ease of cleaning. Gary has his own desk so we’re not so cramped. Nice.
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2 days later, we notice a small leak around the shower, where they had moved it a little to get the flooring under it. We knew we had a little seepage under the shower but now it is a leak. Seepage we can postpone, leakage, we cannot. Looks like the caulk seal had gotten had broken. However, now we have a full-scale leak. Sounds like a day project: take off the shower doors, use a plastic putty knife and vinegar to remove the lime deposits, re-caulk the shower, put the shower doors back on and cross ones fingers. No, when Gary does a project, he looks at all the angles, he studies the work involved, he does it slowly and he does it right. I did not have to cross my fingers - I knew that Big Gar was on the job. He’s not just a sexy stud muffin.

Here is one door in our driveway, carefully placed on two trash containers so it would be safely out of the way while Gary worked on the shower. Gary brought the other out after I had taken this picture.
So that’s how Gary spent his day. And how did I spend mine? Well, I met some friends from high school and we went out for breakfast and then to the Desert Botanical Garden where we saw some absolutely beautiful glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly from Washington state. Mary and Sherron come down to Phoenix for shopping and sight seeing during December each year and since Gary and I have been in the area, I’ve been able to join them - well, not for the shopping which is not my thing but for the sight seeing. Last year we saw the Christmas lights at the Phoenix Zoo and this year we planned the Desert Botanical Garden. The Garden itself is beautiful but the glass sculptures, carefully placed among all the desert flora at the Garden were exquisite. Sometimes it was easy to see where his sculptures were but sometimes they blended in and we had to scout them out.



And here we three are, reflected in one of his other pieces.

Possibly you’ve seen some of his sculptures in your travels. We had seen one in the San Antonio Public Library several years ago when we were there. We saw this humongous glass chandelier hanging from the ceiling of the atrium and when each glass piece caught the rays of the sun, it glistened. We were intrigued and walked all around under it to catch each view.
We're planning to stop in Seattle this summer and one of the things we want to do is visit some of the Chiluly installations there.

When I got home, I found Gary just beginning to install the shower doors. Doesn’t he look like a happy guy?
Is the leak fixed? Does Phoenix get hot in the summer? Sho nuf. No more leak and no more seepage.

I think I chose a better way to spend my day than Gary. What do you think?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mesa, AZ - Big Changes

Well, we visited our RV at the shop today. We had taken it in last Monday for some work - all by choice. We had decided that we wanted to have something, anything, rather than the carpeted floor we had in the bedroom and around various spots in the RV. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like carpeting, we’ve had lots in the various homes we’ve owned. It’s soft on the feet, it’s warm and it adds a softer look. But, in an RV, it is difficult to vacuum, and attracts dust. I’m retired and have mountains calling my name: I don’t have time to clean carpeting. I want to take a mop, sweep it all around the floor in my RV and call the floor clean. I don’t want to get out the vacuum and do the several carpeted parts we have and then get out the mop for the rest.

I’ve heard that manufacturers are slowing learning that carpeting in RV’s is not the favorite floor covering and are replacing it with other surfaces, like tile and wood. But the operative word is ‘slowly’ and it’s too slow for us. When we got this RV, we had carpet in the bedroom, under both the passenger and driver chairs, under the foot pedals, in the corner under the lounge chair and in several other places. In the main living area we had very nice tile, dark, mottled and it didn’t show dust. And, isn’t that the main criterion for a floor? However, when we went to match this tile for the bedroom, not a piece was to be found. I checked our Winnebago parts lists, got the name of the tile and the manufacturer, called several flooring dealers who had this exact tile on their web page only to be told that it was out of production and discontinued and they had no more left. (Well, then, why is it on your web page?) Blind alley.

So, we put on our thinking caps and - voila, why not replace the tile also with a nice wood laminate? Perfect and that is one of the things we’re having done. We’ve also sold the lounge chair and are putting a small desk in its place. Both Gary and use our computers a lot and our small table is a bit small for two computers, lots of paperwork and - oh, yeah, we need to eat here too. So, Gary is getting a desk and he can go to his corner now. Big changes but we think it will make it more livable for us. Not for everyone, since we got rid of the nice lounge chair which others might use to watch TV. We don’t watch TV much so it was never being used and a desk is much handier for us.

New flooring and a new desk - sounds like it’s going to be a mess and we’d better move out. It’s not as if we have a place to go. How about a motel? Hmmm, that’s why we got an RV to begin with - we wanted to travel and not in a motel with restaurant meals. How about a trip to LA or China, places we’ve thought we’d like to visit. Hmmm, would you go that far away if your RV were being worked on? I though not. How about renting a park model in the same resort that we’ve been in since late October. We’ve got a living room, a kitchen, a dinette, a bedroom and a bath. Perfect. Now we play the waiting game. 5 days and we should have our RV back.
And, yes, I took some before and after pictures so we can see the changes we’ve made and the differences.

Remember that 5th wheeler that I pictured in my blog 2 days ago, we learned some more about the story. It was a hit and run by a semi which hit the corner of the 5th as it was passing and then took off down the highway. Probably the owners of the 5th were so shocked about what had happened that they didn’t get the license plate of the truck. I certainly would be. You can see the the outside damage: the corner, the slide, the top of the RV. What you can’t see is the interior damage to the floor which buckled and to the furniture. Meanwhile the owners are renting a unit in a resort like we are until their RV work is done.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mesa, AZ - What's Wrong With a Nice Canal Walk?

“I’ve learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.”
-- Unknown

Gary and I try to walk at least 4 miles a day and usually, in Mesa, we walk along the canals. There is one that goes right next to our resort and the access is easy. The canals, which are managed by the Salt River Project for water and electricity use in the Phoenix area, all have 18 - 20’ pathways along both sides, wide enough for vehicles with a 20’ ditch on either side of this.
Lots of room for walking and biking and many residents take advantage of this. We even see people fishing in the canals. These canals have lots of uses but Gary and I use them for long straight walks. Sometimes we go north along the canal, sometimes we go south. Sometimes we walk on the west side and sometimes we walk on the east side. You can begin to understand the problem here: it is boring. And, notice the walls along the left hand side. We can’t even see homes along the canal, they are on the other side of this 7’ wall.
There is not much to look at. Oh, an occasional fish jumps out of the water. Maybe a duck will float by. But, on the whole, it is a boring walk.
Thus, we jazz it up with hiking in the mountains around the area. And, boy, are there mountains: short ones, tall ones, ones surrounded by suburbs and ones surrounded by other mountains. There is a myriad of trails and we’ve taken many of them. Last week we hiked a counter-clockwise loop comprised of the Tom’s Thumb Trail, the Windgate Trail, the East End Trail and back to the Tom’s Thumb Trail back to the car. It was aggressive. Now there are some trail loops that are thigh-burners in one direction but are ok in the opposite. It just depends upon the grade of the slope. So, we planned to hike it in a clockwise direction tomorrow.

When we went to bed last night, there was no electricity in the park. We had 5 blankets on, heavier clothing than usual and were just fine as the temperature in the house headed down toward the mid-50’s. We had planned a hike in the morning but, given the situation, we weren’t sure what we were going to do. If the electricity was still off and the refrigerator getting warmer, we might have to load up our food and take it back to our RV in the shop. What kind of irony is that?

However, about 5:00 I awoke not only having to go to the bathroom but also realizing that the light was on in the living room and I was sweltering. Lots of problems to deal with. But, it did mean that our refrigerator was working as usual and we could hike in the morning. Oh, great. But, the electric alarm clocks had been shut off when the electricity went off, I got an important call just as we were leaving, the lady in front of us at the donut shop wanted 3 boxes of donuts, we had forgotten which road to take to the trailhead and our GPS led us astray. It wasn’t until 10:00 that we were able to start up the trail.
Guess what? Clockwise is as aggressive as counterclockwise. What a surprise! Which brings us back to the original question: what’s wrong with a nice canal walk?

10.1 3025’ what were we thinking?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mesa, AZ - Hit and Run


We got this e-mail today from the Activities Director of our resort.

‘We are having issues with our bulletin boards. Posters are disappearing on a consistent basis. In some cases, posters or flyers are vandalized. Flyers are appearing that are not prepared by (or approved by) the activities office. Please … don’t remove anything from our bulletin boards unless you are a coordinator and what you are removing pertains to your activity or event. Please … don’t post anything on our bulletin boards without approval from the Activities Office.’

Now, I can imagine people putting unauthorized posters up just because they didn’t know the rules. But I’m having a hard time with the vandalism of posters. I’m trying to imagine a 75-yr old grandmother, dressed in black, on her golf cart, scooting into the activities center in the dead of night, scratching out poster after poster with her black magic marker, then sneaking back to her golf cart to head back home

        “Tee hee.”

        ‘Take that you chess team poster.’

        ‘How do you like this you shuffleboard schedule.’

Hitting the posters and running off into the night.

Just a bit beyond my imagination.


Oops, the electricity just went off - in the entire park. When I look out the windows, all I can see are a few street lights along the main streets. Inside our resort there are no Christmas decorations, no porch lights, no lights in windows - nothing. EXCEPT - all of the RV’s in the park are fully lit up. Wouldn’t you guess? What kind of irony is this? The one time we are not in our RV - the lights go out. IF we were in our RV, we’d have lights - all on our 12 volt batteries. We’d also have heat in our RV. When we took our RV in for service, we made a special effort to unload everything in our refrigerator and bring it over here so, if the service people forgot to plug in our RV, our food would not spoil. And, here we are, in a house without electricity but with a full freezer and refrigerator.

Meanwhile, we’re using our computers (on batteries) and using the light that they put off. But our electric heat, our electric-heated water, our electric blanket, our electric toothbrush, our electric clocks, all kaput - dead. Here’s the funny part: Gary was in the shower when the lights went out Because he was washing his hair and had his eyes closed, he didn’t notice anything. I kept waiting for him to scream out that the lights were out but he was busy. I was scrambling to see if there were any candles here but to no avail. But I found several extra blankets in the linen closet. Meanwhile Gary finished his shower. There are some things you can do in the dark. Get your mind out of the gutter, that’s not what I meant.

Gary went outside to see what he could see and our next door neighbor told us that this happens at least once a year, although usually when the park is full in January, February or March., when every lot and park model is filled and all are using lots of electricity. It usually does not happen in December, when there are empty spots. Lucky us.

But, at least we’re not in Iowa where the temps are in the single digits. It’s 50 degrees here now and the low tonight is only supposed to be 38.

At least, we’ve got blankets and clothing to don.


I was a bit tongue in cheek with the first story about the hit and run in the resort. Here is something much more serious, something that can happen to any one of us, an actual hit and run out on the highway. We visited our RV in the shop today and noticed these RV’s also in service. Here is one that suffered quite a bit of damage from a hit and run driver. Not only was this corner completely taken out, the thrust of the other vehicle into this corner, not only damaged the whole back cap but also the roof and the slide. The license plate is from British Columbia. They must have gotten close to Mesa when this happened and they brought it in here. I don’t know where the owners might be. But they’re not in their RV. Note how the slide on the passenger side doesn’t line up correctly.
Here is another example of what can be fixed in an RV and how it is done. In this case, they are replacing a floor - by removing the slide. The slide is under the plastic on the right and the slide mechanism is on the floor where the large hole is.


We saw this sign in a store. Are these anything like Fake Real Diamonds? Sure don’t want any of those fake counterfeit diamonds.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mesa, AZ - Hazardous Chemicals, Art and Fast Food

If you think all we do is hike, well, have we ever got a day to stun you. We began with a jaunt over to - the Mesa Hazardous Materials collection day. Pretty jazzy, huh? What a great way to start the day.

Next we headed off to the Tempe Art Festival. The day started cool and cloudy and we thought this might hamper the attendance for the artists. We parked in a parking lot about 4 blocks away and as we were walking over to the Festival, we passed one of our favorite Phoenix area hikes: the ‘A’ hill. Out in the Midwest where we come from we have a lack of mountains and hills. However, every town has a water tower and on this water tower is emblazoned the name of the town, sometimes a little saying or slogan and sometimes they are artistic expressions of a town’s aura.
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We go with what we’ve got. Now, out in the mountainous southwest, every town has the first letter of its name emblazoned on the nearest hill. Why build a water tower when you’ve got these neat mountains all around? Willcox, AZ has a large ‘W’, Benson, AZ has a large ‘B’. Quartzsite, AZ has a large ‘Q’.

Well, in Tempe, the home of Arizona State University, there is a 60’ tall ‘A’ emblazoned on what is formally named Hayden Butte or Tempe Butte. me, I just call it the ‘A’ Hill. You’ve probably seen it and not known what it was: it is a scenic backdrop for all football games played in the Sun Devil Stadium and has also appeared in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl as well as Super Bowl XXX. To Gary and me, it’s a thigh-burner of a climb but pretty short with places to pull off and rest ,or ‘enjoy the view’ as I call it. But, what a view from the top. Usually we plan our hike up there up there about 5:30 when the sun is going down to get splendid pictures of the sunset over Phoenix.

But, not today. As we were passing it heading for the Festival, Gary looked over and thought it might be a good way to warm us up before we walked through the art. Oh, yeah, right. Well, he steered me towards the hill and up we went. It was still a thigh-burner, it still had lots of locals getting their daily workout and it still had great views.

Because the highest point of Tempe Butte stands at 1,496 feet (456 m) in elevation and its base is at approximately 1,150 feet (350 m) we only climb up 300’. We met a young woman whose pocket dog was pulling her up the hill. I asked her if she had read one of my favorite books: ‘Following Atticus’ and she said yes and then asked if I had read ‘The Cat Who Saved My Life.’ No, I hadn’t but I’ll look into it. Love these book exchanges on hikes.
Hike over and, yes, we were considerably warmer, we headed on to the Fair and what a Festival it was. They had expanded it form last year and had added another block with art on both sides of the street. They had food vendors, circus acts (not only does that woman breathe fire but she also lays down on that bed of nails to her left - then invites someone from the audience to stand on her stomach - ye - ouch),

musical performers (this is tony Duncan on his flute - we bought one of his cd’s),
And, here’s Elijah Boessenbroek, we bought a cd from him last year and he signs them all.
craft vendors, and art, art, art. Of course, I couldn’t take pictures of any of it since each artist is protective of their craft and ideas. But, take it from me, it was a marvelous art fest. Others must have thought so too, since people were walking around with their new ‘treasures’ clasped tightly to them. It was a happy crowd, all enjoying the weather and the marvelous expressions of the human spirit.

Afterwards we walked around Tempe Lake to - would you guess - a nearby In-N-Out Burger. You can tell by this picture that a big PacTen game was just starting in the stadium across the river. I’ve never seen this many empty tables in an In-N-Out.
There, see, we don’t always hike.

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