Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fun week in Phoenix, Arizona

We had an uneventful ride back to Yuma this past Friday and we are safely backed into our former site at Desert Holiday RV Park across the street from where my aunt lives. Phil and I really like Phoenix and have decided we want to go back and spend at least a month one day. And, since we have family in the area as well as all the other things to do, that might not be long enough. We discovered there are many places to park our Penny in the surrounding towns close to the city that are only a few minutes from our cousins and all the attractions. With our wonderful “Carmen” Garmin GPS and an area map from the Visitor’s Center we got around very easily on the surface streets and found our way while avoiding the freeways whenever possible.

And, let me tell you about the restaurants! There are so many to choose from it would take years to try them all! And the malls! If I was a shopper I would be in paradise but since I’m not, I watched out for the thrift stores and there are many of those as well. As it is in all the places we have been in Arizona, the construction is going full-tilt everywhere with no signs of letting up. It is hard to believe there is a recession going on looking around the cities in this state. My aunt Elaine tells me the recession is only apparent to people like her who live on a fixed income. The price of everything is going up while her income stays the same. Phil and I understand completely; thinking long and hard about our wants versus our needs and often find it necessary to make adjustments to our spending in order to stay safe from the wolf at the door.

Sister, Dixie report: The surgery to repair the broken hip has been done, AGAIN. The Staph infection is being treated STILL. She is back in the nursing care facility and the long weeks of recuperation and physical therapy has begun … AGAIN. Dixie celebrated her 58th birthday this past Thursday with flowers, balloons, chocolates, phone calls and visits from her loved ones as well as a special dinner and birthday cake provided by her daughter and son-in-law, Tammy and Steve. Hopefully, all the commemoration helped to cheer her up!

Our rv park was a fenced and gated community but these wild coyotes (there were two of them) managed to get inside and pay us a visit.

There were lots of wild bunnies running around so Phil supposed that was the big attraction for these hunters.

Phil drove down to visit our friends, John and Carol near Casa Grande. He found John helping a neighbor who was pouring cement.

We had been told that our friend, Don was in the neighborhood ... somewhere.

I wasn't feeling well so stayed home and took a nice long nap.

Our good friend, Don enjoying the Casa Grande sunshine.

Thoroughbred Arabians and English riders come onto the field. They were all magnificent ... how can the judges choose just one?

These horses are so elegant, stately and proper as are the riders.

The winner!

The competitors in the Half-Arabian field. I thought the subtle color and markings on this horse were beautiful.

I loved this lady and her beautiful horse.

This gorgeous horse was Phil's favorite.

Isn't this paint a beautiful animal?

The floor of the main arena prepared for a free catered dinner and the Arabian Stallion semen auction. Individual vials containing the valuable reproductive fluid from 144 stallions was on the auction block this evening and would bring five figure bids with NO guarantees. Breeding, raising and showing Arabians is big business!

Joy and her cousin, Beverly in Phoenix. Beverly is SO funny and has so many cute stories to share, we laugh a lot when we get together!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Peoria Arizona in the sunshine

Now THIS is more like it! It is Sunday so I got up early, about 6:30 am, and I could hear the sweet little Doves cooing outside my bedroom window. It is now an hour and a half later, the sun is shining and the famous blue skies of Arizona are beautiful above our Penny. This is why we come to the southwest during the winter months. All we need is a little higher temperatures and our environment will be perfect!

Update on sister, Dixie: Her surgery on Friday went well. The doctor was surprised to find that the bone had begun to heal without support which everyone believes to be a good sign. However, the location of the mending is not exactly where he wanted it to be but rather than re-breaking (!!!) the bone, he decided to leave it as is. He assured the family it would not interfere with Dixie’s ability to walk and went ahead with the repair work on the break. The Staph infection continues to resist the medication but they are hopeful that the persistent antibiotics will eventually get rid of it.

Dixie called me from her hospital room Friday night! Her voice sounded scratchy but she said it was not painful. Our visit was cut short by a nurse coming in to take her vitals but it was so good to hear her voice. She was a bit worried about the flu that had been running rampant in the nursing care facility when she left and we all hope it will have run its course before she returns. If not, I’m afraid her immune system is on shaky ground and she will be a sitting duck! Keep those calls and cards coming folks—she loves hearing from you!

Our home for a week in Peoria, Arizona.

Penny the Pace and The Lone Ranger ... basking in the Arizona sun.

Friday, February 15, 2008

2008 Western Gypsy Journal Rally

Today was a travel day and our Gypsy Journal Rally is history for another year. The weather was fair from Sunday through Thursday; a bit nippy in the evenings but comfortable for the most part during the day. Then Thursday night a front moved in and it started to rain. By morning, we were parked in a muddy lake that was so slippery—several RVs in our row had to be pulled out to higher ground by the Penal County Fairground’s tractor. We waited until almost noon before Phil taped on his Wal*Mart bag goulashes and went outside to brave the elements and prepare our Penny the Pace for travel. What a mess! Our host and fearless leader, Nick Russell told us last night that the fairgrounds may be paving the RV parking area before next year. That would be a first rate improvement. Paved or not, we hope to be there for the third western rally in 2009.

We arrived in Peoria (a bedroom community west of Phoenix) without mishap. The first half of the drive went fairly well in spite of the intermittent rain, and then we hit what I call, “big city traffic.” I much prefer back roads and get nervous when we travel on a road with more than two or three lanes but our wonderful “Carmen” Garmin GPS led us perfectly through the maze of Phoenix freeways to our RV Park. We LOVE Carmen! Actually, this is not officially an RV Park. There are only a few sites available for RVs; most of the sites have mobile homes or park models permanently attached. But … the streets are paved!

The Lone Ranger and Penny the Pace at the 2nd annual Western Gypsy Journal Rally in Casa Grande, AZ. We complained about being parked so closely on the comment sheet. Hopefully, they will remedy that next year.

We took a walk and found this beautiful Great Dane who lives with his owner in a motorhome.

He was very friendly and did not seem to intimidate the smaller dogs.

Can you imagine living with a dog this size in an RV?

Just a part of the huge crowd coming in for the "Welcome Ceremony".

There is Joy at the "Welcome Ceremony".

Miss Terry, wife of Nick Russell. A shy and quiet lady who is the total opposite of her husband.

She is his right hand and he gives her all the credit for getting the work done for the rally.

Our host and the the leader of the rally, Nick Russell.

Nick has so much fun he keeps everyone in the room laughing.

Every morning at 8 am the volunteers served donuts and coffee for an hour.

Phil caught Joy indulging her sweet tooth ... yum!

258 RVers at Pinal County Fairgrounds.

There was this same view in all four directions from our roof-top.

500 +/- rally attendees gather for $5.00, "all you can eat" Pizza party! Can you find Joy in this picture? I am in there, honest!

Contestants waiting for the audience to decide who is the most beautiful ... Ha!

These guys were all crazy and the crowd went wild!

The winner of the Cactus Queen Beauty Contest and a dedicated Escapee Club member who initiated the collection at the end of the evening for C.A.R.E. (read on)

Phil and Joy at the 2nd annual western Gypsy Journal Rally in Casa Grande, Arizona.

This is the amount of money collected from the rally attendees the night before for C.A.R.E.
C.A.R.E. is just one part of the Escapee's RV Club in Livingston, Texas. Members can go there to be looked after when they have to turn in their keys and get off the road for a very reasonable price.
After almost four years on the road, we finally joined this fine organization and are now proud SKPs (or Skips as they call themselves).

It rained all night and was still coming down when we got up this morning.

As you can see, the clay ground cannot absorb the water. Like quicksand and very slick ...

This morning, the lake that surrounded our Penny the Pace.

The motorhome across from us is being pulled out of the mud by the tractor

The fellows in the orange jumpsuits are trustees from the Pinal County Jail. They do all the daily tasks to keep the fairgrounds maintained.

The owner of the the 5th wheel is taking pictures and his wife is sitting in the truck as the hook up the chain from the tractor.

Can you see the data storm satellite dishes on the rigs in the next row? There were a lot of us at the rally.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

9.20 am Sunday February 10, 2008

Today is a travel day … it has been a while and we are ready to roll. This morning we will leave for Casa Grande, Arizona for Nick and Terry Russell’s 2nd annual western Gypsy Journal Rally.

We attended last year and had a good time so we signed up immediately at Rally's end for the 2008 gathering. Nick honestly tried to keep this second rally small but his popularity has made that impossible. I have no idea what the final count will be but our guess is that there will be more than 250 RVs this year.

According to his blog, Nick and his volunteer crew parked over 50 yesterday (These rigs decided they did not need reservations and just dropped in without warning which I find a bit obnoxious but that is just me … Nick accepted them without comment in his blog.) and there are over 100 reservations (ours included) for early bird day today. The Rally actually starts tomorrow.

I have finished my digitizing project. Three of the four big plastic tubs we brought along in the back of The Lone Ranger, full of memorabilia, genealogical information and photographs have been emptied and everything has been scanned into my computer and backed up on an external hard drive. An unknown number of large trash bags left Penny the Pace as things were scanned but the photos and the originals of all the documents are now back into smaller containers, filed in albums or packed in an archival box.

My respite is short lived however since now I must get back to my real work of finishing my mother’s biography I began over ten years ago. I am now assured nothing I believe to be pertinent in her life story will be forgotten or inadvertently omitted because as I scanned I also dated everything so my research material is all in chronological order and available to me with the click of my mouse.

We paid a quick visit to our friends, Tim and Shari, the couple we bought our Penny the Pace from back in 2004 on our way to Mexico last Wednesday to pick up a few meds. They were happy to hear that we still love her just as much as we did in the beginning and we tentatively planned a get-together when we return to Yuma so they can pay her a visit.
Wow! Although Los Algodones did not seem all that busy, it took two and a half hours in line to get back into the USA. Knowing that, we stopped at a restaurant located just inside the Mexican border for lunch before we got into the line. The food was pretty good and neither of us suffered any unpleasant gastronomical affects from the ice in our sodas. Afterward, while we were waiting in line, the weather was warm, not hot ... and the time passed quickly.

Sister Dixie update: Staph infection has brought all healing to a halt until it is under control. This coming Friday another surgery check is planned. If the infection is gone, they will go ahead with another repair on the hip bone. We are all playing the waiting game …

My shrimp sauteed in garlic sauce.

Phil's Carne Asada.
The line to the right and ahead of us and there is just as many people at the beginning of the line not in this picture. Is this an indication of what Americans will go through to get their medication at a cost they can afford?

We reminded ourselves that a couple hours in line was well worth the reduction in price.

And the line equally as long up the hill and around the corner ...

There is Joy in line -- waiting patiently while Phil takes pictures.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

10:20 am Sunday February 3, 2008

Super Bowl Sunday … do you know where your man (and I suppose some wives) will be this afternoon?

Since I’m not a big sports fan I will be doing my own thing while Phil will certainly be spending game time yelling and cursing at the TV. That could explain my lack of enthusiasm for sports … it brings out the “loud” in people and I can do without loud! The older I get the more sensitive I am to noise—any noise—and it not only confuses my better half, it seems silly to him.

I am always saying, “What was that?!” Phil’s response is always the same, “What? I didn’t hear anything!” Well, I know his hearing isn’t what it used to be but sometimes I don't believe he really cannot hear that banging, thumping, squeaking, ticking, hissing or knocking that is as plain as the nose on your face to me! Sometimes I think he just doesn’t want to deal with it so he pretends he didn’t hear anything. Hmmm … you think?

The worst thing for me about noise is when it happens without warning; I nearly jump out of my skin! Then, there is my other neurosis. Have you ever heard of “gunfighter syndrome?” I suffer from that as well. So between the noise and the need to sit with my back against the wall it would seem I am a phobic mishmash. Do two neuroses make a neurotic? How many is too many? Is one OK but two is over the line? Do I care? Not really. Am I rambling? Maybe...

Update on sister, Dixie: My dear, distressed sister has had some serious setbacks in the past two weeks. I did not write about her progress last week because there was none. When doctors opened her incision to repair the repair –geezz! (X-rays determined one of the screws was backing out) they found an infection. So, she is back to square one. All the improvement so far was for naught and for a week and a half now she has been in traction in the hospital waiting for antibiotics to eradicate the infection. Once that has occurred, then the surgeon can AGAIN go in and repair the hip bone and she starts her healing from scratch. Dixie, along with her entire family is beginning to wonder ... is this really happening!