Monday, December 30, 2013

Getting Crafty in the Old West!

Oh, Boy!  Another new craft to add to my already list that is too long!  Friday afternoon, I took a wire wrapping class.  This is a separate class from the one on Monday when we made clay beads.  There are no dull moments around here! I had the nicest teacher and she was very patient.  It turned out rather well for a beginner.  Of, course, I was hooked!  So Saturday we got up early, went to breakfast at Sunny Days and hit the flea market for tools I could use in jewelry making.  The worst flea market we have ever been to!  First of all we showed up at 9:00 since the internet said they opened at 8:00.  Well, practically nobody was there and the very few that were there were taking their time setting up and rather nonchalantly said “Oh, most of the venders don’t set up ‘til around noon or 3 PM!”  That certainly is no way to make a living if you need the money!  So we just ran around town to other stores to kill time.  When we returned to the flea market,  we were disappointed.  The place was so dirty (and so were the characters!)  Most everybody was selling the same thing – JUNK, JUNK, JUNK.  We go to flea markets lots of times but this is sure one we will never return to!  So I could have gotten a few more ZZZZZs!  It was a quick walk through the place. 

Since we finished so early, we ran other errands.  Uh, Oh!  There is In-N-Out Burger again!  Since we were going right by it, it just hollered “LUNCH” at us!  Yes, we stopped!  We headed to the strip mall near the park and I stopped in Michaels Crafts.  I should have gone there first to begin with!  They had what I was looking for, plus it was cheap, AND a lady in front of me gave me a 50% discount coupon!  Hold me back, I am on another roll!!!   Well, here is my attempt (with a little help) at wire wrapping in the traditional sytle: 

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Yesterday, I  FINALLY got caught up on my scrapbooking.  Then this morning I was right back in the clay room making MORE beads! What a great bunch of ladies.  Everyone here is so friendly.  As I returned to the RV, still ANOTHER HitchHiker RV pulled in a couple sites down from us. Yesterday, one pulled in almost right behind us.  You would think we were having our own Hitchhiker rally!  We are still having warm days and cool nights and no rain in sight for some time.  That suits me just fine!  

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Trains, Trains, Trains…..I Love Trains!

Some men will always be little boys at heart.  Who didn’t love train sets growing up?  The RV park has a working G gauge railroad in front of the clubhouse.  Including the train, of course, all the streets and buildings light up.  The guys in the club even where their engineer hats and post the times the train will be running.  It was even all lit up and decorated for Xmas Eve.  It is an ongoing work in progress and anyone can work on it.  Really cute!  Fun to watch it roll around the tracks.  Some of the buildings and houses are as cute as can be.  I love the hot dog stand.  You can see the scale by comparing the layout to the people sitting in the chairs in the first picture below.  So from very young to very elderly, the love of train sets is still alive here in Tucson.

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Park train (6)  Park train (1) 

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We also love to ride on trains.  In our travels we enjoy a day’s ride through scenic countryside.  It is fun to ride in the outdoor open cars and take in the surrounding pretty sites of the rivers and mountains, etc.  There is something mesmerizing about the sound of the whistle and the rumbling along the tracks under beautiful skies and open air.  It seems to take you away to new places, leaving all your cares far behind.  My camera is clicking away as fast as the train is moving!!  Horseshoe Bend rail trip on the Thunder Mountain Line is about an hour north of Caldwell, ID,  and was a great ride (picture #1) in August, 2008.  We also enjoyed the Verde Canyon Railroad trip in Clarkdale, AZ, in April, 2012.  One of these days we would LOVE to take one of those train vacation trips through the Canadian Rockies.  Have to win the lottery first!!!

TX Caldwell  Train Ride 018  Verde Canyon Railroad 042

I , and a classmate, used to ride the train home from college in Marion, VA, in the far southwestern tip of the state to Virginia Beach, VA.  We rode mostly at night and early morning.  The train wound through the mountains before heading East.  What pleasure to watch the sun come up in the early morning hours!  I loved every minute of the rides.  There are still adventures to tell at a later time. 

I guess my love of trains started when I was real young. (That was a LONG……. time ago!) My brother always had a train set.  Dad built him a nice large train board about waist high.  I enjoyed playing with the trains as much as my brother did!.  We kept the board in the den, then when we moved, Dad simply sawed the board in half and reattached it in the attic of our new house.  When my brother moved out on his own, he still kept his trains.  As he grew older he collected some of the really rare engines and I would go with him to lots of the local antique toy dealers.  Alas, he finally put the trains up for auction, not having anywhere to run them again, and they sold for lots of $$$$$!  He figured it was time for somebody else to collect and enjoy them.  So I still love looking at the miniature trains and we have been to a few real train and toy train museums.  You can tell how much I like trains because of the pictures I took and posted earlier!  

Like Johnny Cash sang:  “I hear the whistle blowin’,  Comin’ round the bend…”

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Day in Tucson, AZ

Good food and new friends made for a very pleasant Xmas afternoon.  It was a warm 65 degree day under clear blue skies.  We meet nice people everywhere we go and dinner yesterday was no exception.  It is so interesting to hear other people’s stories.  Amazing how often we find that we have been in many of the places other people live.  That is what comes from all the traveling we have done over the years.  The ham dinner was pretty good and everyone seemed to enjoy it and have a good time.  We spent the rest of the day just being lazy and watching Xmas show repeats.  Sometimes not doing anything feels good!

We talked with family and grandkids to wish them a Merry Xmas from across the miles.  The holidays are always tough for me because I miss family very much.  I wish I could clone myself and be in two places at the same time.  But for now in our retirement, we do what we can while we can.  Life is too short to just watch it pass by.  There is a whole world out there just waiting to be explored!  

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Lao Tzu

So time to put our teeny tree away, walk off Xmas dinner, and return to just hanging out in Tucson.  Life is good! P.S. I wore the shirt I have on at Xmas a few weeks after my son was born 38 years ago!!  Funny to have held on to it all these years and it remains in style!   Even more amazing that it still fits!!!

Xmas tree 001 tree redo xmas 004

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Xmas Eve and Park Xmas Lights

Are we nuts to go out into the Xmas rush!? We got an early start hoping to beat the Xmas Eve last day before Xmas rush.  Well, what do you know, it wasn’t bad at all.  And that was at Wal-Mart!  We had to go because Doug was out of a medication.  I also had to get a new hair dryer.  Yesterday when I turned on my old hair dryer there was a CLANG, CLANG CLANG..!!! It sounded like somebody put a barrel of screws in the clothes dryer and turned it on!  I did have the quick reaction to turn it off!  I guess something had come undone and got caught in the motor.  Scared the hee-bee-geebies out of me so bad Doug had to grab the spatula and scrape me off the ceiling!!  I wound up drying the rest of my hair in front of a fan!  So I was lucky enough to find a new hair dryer thinking the store would have sold out for  Xmas.  

When I was young, one morning I wanted a piece of toast but the toaster wasn’t getting hot.  Dad said “Push the plug in”.  Well, the sparks came out flying like the fourth of July!  I screamed and ran across the room!  I have a picture in my mind of Dad grabbing the carton of milk and pouring it on the toaster!  Guess that was the first thing handy!  Turns out the toaster was bad and not the wall socket.  But Dad did ask me “Why did you run away?  What good did that do if there was a fire!?” I answered “That’s what YOU were for!!! I’m just the kid!”  That scared me half out of my wits, and I will NEVER fully trust a plug again. Even to this day, there is that split second hesitation whenever I plug in anything.  So you can see why the sudden loud  noise from my hair dryer made me think of that incident with the toaster.  Funny how certain things stick with us!

    Internet Concept Stock Image                                                           

This afternoon we decided to go see The Hobbitt sequel.  There were no crowds so we got right in.  The movie was pretty good but just lots of continuous fast action that was hard to keep up with at times.  Seems like that is what is in demand for today’s movies.   We had skipped lunch so we headed over to In-N-Out Burger, AGAIN.  I knew that place was going to be hard to stay away from! Guess that meant I didn’t have to cook! 

Then when it was dark, around 6 PM, we walked around the park looking at the Xmas lights.  Some folks went all out!  it is hard to take pictures at night but there are a few to enjoy.  We gave the last picture the award for the most lights!  To finish out the day, we watched Xmas specials with choirs singing Xmas carols.  Just a nice quiet Xmas EVE.    Merry Christmas!   

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sun Shining on the Mountains & Turkey Day Here in Tucson

We had some running around to do yesterday, so we went into town for breakfast then went to the Tucson Mall to walk since it was too breezy and cold to walk outside.  The Tucson Mall is another HUGE mall.  It may be only 2 stories, but it is so spread out that we got a great walk and workout.  You still see the same usual retail stores but there were still a few we don’t have back in Va. Beach, VA.   We then headed to Davis-Monthan AFB and the commissary on the other side of town.  We will only head that way when our grocery list is long.  For a few little things , it isn’t worth what we would use in gas.  I got a great view of the sun on the remaining snow up in the mountains.  If I had my way, I would have driven all the way up there just for the scenery!!

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Mt Lemmon with snow 2 013  tucson w snow card 1  Lacy snowflake. Royalty Free Stock Image

Since we found out that Xmas dinner includes ham but no turkey, we decided to have our turkey today.  It is the first time we tried cooking one in the gas oven.  I always thought a turkey wouldn’t fit.  We found a 8 1/4 lb. one and it fit just fine.  Here is a picture of our pitiful little bird!  Looks more like just a fat chicken! But with potatoes, gravy, dressing, and fresh kale, it was a nice meal.  But I do miss cooking my turkey in an electric oven.  Our bird was so small that there are not many leftovers.  That is the best part-a sandwich on white bread with lots of mayo, turkey, salt, and lettuce & tomato! Ummm…!  A once a year thing since we have to watch our diet the rest of the year.  Yes, we watch it alright!  We watch it fly right out the window! ‘A waist is terrible thing to watch!’  Well, that just means 2 more laps around the park! 

turkey in RV Dec. 22 001 Turkey Royalty Free Stock Image

Tomorrow we should both be busy with activities here at the park that we think we will enjoy.  Hmmm..more crafts!  That is right up MY alley!! Don’t tell Doug! I don’t have too many hiding places left!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Snow on Mt. Lemmon inTucson, AZ!

Yesterday we just hung around the park and had a nice walk since we still had a warm beautiful day. With nice paved streets, walking in the park is a pleasure and it is big enough to feel like you can get a nice dose of exercise.  I need lots of that!  Me in spandex, and one of those wide halter tops is not a pretty picture!  I need more than little pieces of spandex and cotton to hold me in and keep up those body parts that are supposed to be up!  After all, we live in an RV and doing aerobics in my own RV would feel like an elephant stampede or an earthquake!  I’ll stick to walking, biking, hiking & light aerobic exercise classes at the clubhouse.  The park also has a nice exercise room.  I got a bike ride AND a nice walk in today, even in the cold. 

Girl on the exercise bike Stock Photography  

After our morning walk the other day, I went to a creative writing class.  Only 3 of us showed up but I think it will be in full swing after Xmas.  Even met a man who has been writing for years and still is at 88 years old!  We didn’t stay at the class but I went home with the gentleman and met his wife, who also writes and instead of a regular 2 hour writing class, we had a nice 2 hour visit in their park model.  I have my calendar marked and ready to go with all the classes that interest me and it looks like I will be on the go!  It should be fun! 

We woke up to this today! Snow on Mt. Lemmon! Beautiful! I could see some of it right from my window. 

snow ist day from park

Mt. Lemmon and Snow 009Mt. Lemmon and Snow 020

It rained last night and got down to 41 degrees. We had rain but the higher elevations had snow like Mt. Lemmon. There is a ski area on the back side plus a little town at the top.  Mt. Lemmon is my favorite mountain!  The drive up to the top is beautiful and so much fun and we will drive up again when it is warmer and a clear day.  The rock formations are so unique up there.  It will be our 4th time up there!  More rain is expected today so I can hardly wait to see what the mountains look like in the morning!  Here is a shot at the top of Mt. Lemmon on Nov. of 2011!  Lots of snow then!  Hope I see more this time!

Carol and snow 2

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Checking Out Part of Our Corner of Tucson

Whew, yesterday we made it to the post office and the grandkids Xmas packages will arrive Xmas Eve!  Talk about cutting it close!!  I was even late mailing the Xmas cards this year.  We did a bit more checking out of the local shopping area and found that we have everything we need right on our west side of Tucson.  Just up the street is Boot Barn, my favorite western wear store!  But, sadly, this time I have already accumulated enough western shirts and jewelry to out dress Annie Oakley!!  It’s just that I have enough credit points that if I buy something for just 10.00 more dollars, I can get $15 off my next purchase!  There MUST BE SOMETHING western that I NEED (or is just wan?t!)!   Then we discovered Texas Roadhouse was nearby so last night we went out for dinner and I got the ribs, which I really like at that restaurant. 

Yesterday afternoon we took a 10 mile drive out in the desert to see what another campground was like that friends told us about.  There was just no comparison to what we have where we are.  The drive was nice however and I got to take some pictures of the back side of the mountains in front of the campground.  Camera out the window, I caught closer shots of cactus growing high the mountain sides.  The ones with arms just seem to be waving and saying “Hi, there, welcome to Tucson”.  The Saguaro Cactus is a significant sight because they only grow in this part of the country.  It takes a Saguaro Cactus 75 years before it starts to grow arms!  Amazing!  There is also lots of the desert cactus and the Chillo Cactus looks like its branches are coated with cotton.  But beware!  Beauty can bite!  Those branches are also covered in sharp spines.  Also, here is a view of Tucson heading back into town. 

around Tucson 004   March Mesa Greaseland B&A drive 060

      Cartoon Cactus Character Stock Image        Superstition Mtns. Mesa, AZ 005 Prickly Pear Cactus Royalty Free Stock Images

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I think living in the desert takes a hearty soul.  The ground is just dirt with the typical desert growth, and I can only imagine what it is like when the wind is blowing strong.  We have been in sand storms before and they are not pleasant!  Of, course, if you want to spend a fortune on gravel, watering system, and  plenty of concrete and blacktop, you might manage a  small clean spot.  But I am still fascinated by the colorful rock formations that seem so bright in the sun.  Each time the sun moves, the rock seems to change color. Love that blue sky!! You can see the dirt in front of the house in the  picture below and that is typical for a yard, but some folks make even that beautiful with cactus gardens and lined driveways and paths with stones.  It is just the warm weather most of the year that draws so many people to the area permanently and for the winter, like us. 

around Tucson 007  around Tucson 009

We have had some beautiful days here!  Upper 70s and lots of sun, breezes, cool nights, pretty sunsets and sunrises.  We both just love being back out here in the west again!  This is our view from our front door of Mt. Lemmon and the sunrise this morning.  Wait…shadows of palm tress in front of the mountains?! I still can’t get used to that, it should be shadows of cactus!!!.   We have one more day of warm weather on tap and then that old cold air comes through again.  Yuck…

Tuscon Rincon Country Park 009  around Tucson 035

Monday, December 16, 2013

Nestled Beneath the Tucson, AZ, Mountains

It was just a beautiful blue sky, warm, day today.  I raised all the shades, pulled back the curtains, and opened the windows.  Ahhh…..fresh air!  We’re back……! 

A little history: When you even hear “Tucson”, and the nearby town of “Tombstone”, you think of the Wild West. Tucson was 1st visited by Paleo-Indians, known to have been in southern Arizona by about 12,000 years ago.  A Mission settlement and Spanish walled fortress was established in 1700.  The town came to be called "Tucs├│n" and became a part of the Mexican state of  Occidente after Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821. There was the Mexican-American War 1846. The  Mormon soldiers in 1846  marched into Tucson and the Mexican garrison fled.   A brief occupation ensued and then the Mormons continued their march to the Pacific. Following the Gadsen purchase in 1853, Tucson became part of the New Mexico Territory, an organized territory of the United States of America.  In July 1860, a convention drafted a constitution for a "Territory of Arizona" to be organized out of the New Mexico Territory.  In July 1861, after the Civil War began, a force of Texan cavalry and Arizonan militia conquered the southern New Mexico territory. The proposal to organize the territory was passed by the Confederate Congress in early 1862. Efforts by the Confederacy to secure control of the region led to the New Mexico Campaign. Tucson eventually was captured by the Union.  Tucson, and all of Arizona, remained part of the New Mexico Territory until February 24, 1863, when the  Arizona Organic Act passed the Senate forming the Arizona Territory. In 1867, the territorial capital was moved to Tucson from Prescott. During the territorial and early statehood periods, Tucson was Arizona's largest city then Phoenix became the largest city & the seat of state gov’t. was moved from Tucson in 1889.  AZ is the 48th  state and was admitted to the Union in 1912.  

Here we are at the Rincon Country West RV Park and we are located at the foot of some of Tucson’s mountains.   The park is huge!  Most of the area up front is all park models and the RV area is in the rear of the park.  This is a beautiful park with pretty landscaping and so clean.  The sites are nicely spaced and we have our own palm tree!  Wait..!! Palm Trees in AZ!? Did we take a wrong turn & we are really back in FL?  It is a nice touch! We wanted to find an active park and sure did! There are so many things going on that we just can’t begin to do them all.  We are looking forward to some fun times. 

Tuscon Rincon Country Park 005 Tuscon Rincon Country Park 004

Tuscon Rincon Country Park 014

We will have to do some of the park activities later because Xmas caught up with me before I was ready! So today we had some quick Xmas shopping to do.  Plus I had to buy the supplies to get ready for mailing.  We also needed to refill a propane tank and buy a few groceries to get ourselves set for awhile.  We did manage a quick late afternoon bike ride on this beautiful afternoon.  But, boy, as soon as the sun goes down, it gets chilly.  It is also nice to see some folks with their sites all lit up for Xmas.  First thing on tap for tomorrow-the post office!   


 Packages Stock Photography Mailman delivering box Royalty Free Stock Photos

Oh Boy! Settled In Tucson, AZ, For The Winter

We reached a MILEstone yesterday! Literally! We stopped at a gas station at the exact moment that we hit 100,000 miles on the truck!  That is a lot of driving, riding, and exploring in 5 1/2+ years!  Doug is great about maintaining the truck so here’s to another 100,000 as we keep on truckin’ (excuse the pun!).  

It got down to 26 degrees at Deming, NM, night before last!  I am so sick of the cold weather, jeans, heavy jackets,and earmuffs!  All the standing water in the campground was frozen, of course.  We were looking forward to finally heading to Tucson and reaching our destination for the winter.  We have traveled the same part of I-10 a few times so the rest of the drive through New Mexico and southern AZ was the  same scenery as the last few days, nothing out there!  Just wide open spaces!  But it was fun to remember the same landmarks that I had in my scrapbooks from previous years.  As massive as the US is, and all the places to travel, it seems funny that we have driven the same area for the 4th time!  It kind of makes the US seem smaller, especially when you run into your friends in some of the same places.

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We remarked earlier in the week that we had not seen any trains like we used to out in the desert.  Then the day before yesterday, we saw one.  But yesterday, we saw many all along our route!  Of course, my camera is ready and I am even sticking it outside the window to get a clear shot.  Guess the engineer in the close up shot must have “There goes another one of those crazy RVing people! You would think she had never seen a train before!”   Just loved seeing those trains in the distance making the mountains look even higher among the desert vistas that you just wouldn’t see back in VA (home) with all the trees.  So many relativse in my family have worked, and still work, for the railroad.   There is a unique feeling to feel like you are so free because you are not hemmed in.  That is just one more thing we love about the West so much.

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Oh Boy!  Welcome to Arizona! And Doug was the first one to spot a Saguaro Cactus near Tucson.   It was 65 when we arrived and the office at the RV park asked where our heavy coats came from!  It is going to be in the upper 70s the rest of the week! So goodbye jeans and jackets!  Hello shorts,  and T-shirts!  Lovin’ Tucson again already!

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We discovered In-N-Out Burger (fast food hamburgers) when in Mesa, AZ, in 2011.  We figured there MUST be one in Tucson.  Yep!  We passed it on the way to the RV park.  So after getting set up late in the afternoon, that is exactly where we headed!  We LOVE their hamburgers and that is all they serve.  Big juicy cheeseburgers with the fixin’s for only $2.25 and fries for $1.60.  You couldn’t get a deal like that at McDonalds!  I think it is going to be dangerous to the old waist line having the place so close to the park!  Walk….Hike….Walk….Hike….Burger for lunch…….walk….hike….walk….! Did I walk off enough calories for tomorrow!!!?   


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Are We Through Texas Yet? Yep, Welcome to New Mexico

Are we EVER going to have warm weather again!?  It was 40 degrees when we headed out this morning and is supposed to be 25 degrees tonight!  There is something wrong with this picture!  You go south to get WARM!  We went to bed early last night since we didn’t have hookups and planned an early start.  We were up by 6:00 AM and on the road at 7:30.   Most of the trip today was STILL in Texas!  You don’t realize how big it really is until you drive straight across the widest part.   We certainly didn’t have to worry about rush hour traffic!  Just us and the big trucks!  It is kind of nice sometimes to start the drive in the dark and watch the sun come up as it plays across the landscape and brings all the colors to life.  It just feels so peaceful and quiet.  The landscape was pretty much the same as yesterday, just open desert.  We hadn’t seen a train in a long time but finally saw one this morning.  I love trains!  Note the scale of the train to the mountains.  A neat sight way out in the open just rambling along. 

 To Deming NM 009  To Deming NM 022

To Deming NM 019

Most of the rest of the way through Texas we also followed the Rio Grande River to El Paso and on into New Mexico where we crossed it.  The one spot that we did see the Rio Grande River as we crossed it in NM was almost completely dry.  I guess due to so much use for irrigation.  The Rio Grande defines the border between Texas and Mexico.  We couldn’t really see the river but we could see towns in Mexico, especially from El Paso which is right at one of the border crossings.  El Paso has just exploded and I just couldn’t get over how massive the area has become and it looks like there isn’t a single spot left without a house on it and they are sprawled even up the mountain sides. We have been to El Paso twice before and stayed at Fort Bliss Army Base.  But this time we were just passing through and the traffic on a Saturday was extremely heavy and just all kinds of stores and businesses that anyone could imagine! Give me the little bit smaller towns!  Just after we passed El Paso, we entered mountain time, so by setting the clock back we gained an extra hour.  You mean I could have slept that extra hour this morning!?  

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FINALLY! We crossed the state line into New Mexico!  It was about the last third of the trip and STILL just more open flat desert and mountains!  We are only at the Escapee Dream Catcher RV park for one night.  Deming, is just a small town but is an area where some Rivers to spend the winter.   The town is just old and nothing fancy but they have a Wal-Mart!

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We have been to Deming before and the last time we stayed a week in November of 2011 at the Rock Hound State Park a few miles outside of town.  The state park is in the mountains you can see in the background of the picture of the Escapee campground.  We really enjoyed it and that is where I had my National Geographic photo moment with a coyote, the one you see in my profile picture on my blog.   It is one of my very favorite pictures! We were just in the right place at the right time.  The campground gives you a nice view of the desert landscape. Plus people go there for the rocks and minerals.  Each person is allowed to carry out a maximum of 5 pounds of rocks.  What some people will do for entertainment!  I kind of wish we had made time to spend a couple of days at the state park again because we enjoyed it so much out there.   So tomorrow we will finally be in Tucson at our destination for the winter.  Make it warmer there, PLEASE!

coyote head crop  coyote 

Deming CG hike 008  Rock Hound St Pk 2 023