Sunday, February 22, 2009


We have had an amazing and busy week; spending quality time with family as well as new and old friends and we even slipped in a movie day. We managed to remember to take a few pictures but then forgot we had a camera on two occasions! I hate it when we do that!!

The weather this morning in Casa Grande, AZ at 6:30 a.m. was partly cloudy and 42f. The sun peeked out for a few minutes; enough to raise the temperature to 55f by 8:30 a.m. (I’m moving slow this morning) so I expect we will have a really nice day.

Newest news on my computer problems: 95% of my files have been found on back-up including my Family Tree Maker genealogy files … except for the most recent. Somehow, I also lost the program, Microsoft Publisher. If any of you good people in my family have had new additions in the past four years I would really appreciate an e-mail with the latest vital statistics. As traumatic as it was, Phil and I have learned many hard lessons from this fiasco that will no doubt protect future data and we are grateful for that.

My precious niece, Tammy, her daughter, Jessie and husband, Steve on a Spring Break vacation from Olympia, WA stopped by on 17 Feb for a quick visit. After they got settled into a local motel and took Jessie out to peruse the Promenade Mall, we treated them to dinner at the impressive buffet restaurant called the “The Golden Corral.” They stopped for a few minutes the next morning on the way out of town heading to the Phoenix area and their flight home on Friday. Steve’s parents winter in Wellton, AZ; his brother lives in Surprise, AZ and Jessie has a good friend in Phoenix, AZ—then add visiting Aunt Joy and Phil in Casa Grande, AZ and they had a busy week. It was wonderful to see them.

Later that day, RVing-blogger friends, Jerry and Suzy met us at our new favorite restaurant, “Mimi’s” for “linner” and we spent nearly two hours discovering all the things we had in common beyond being full time Rvers. I have said many times before and I will say again that the people we meet and the new friendships we build with this lifestyle continue to make these “Golden Years” the very best years of our lives!

On Thursday we enjoyed a day at the movies! We had two we wanted to see so we spent the whole afternoon in the theater. We watched, actor-icon, Clint Eastwood’s latest called “Gran Torino” and then Liam Neeson’s newest called, “Taken.” These movies are not for the faint of heart. Both were filled with edge of your seat action, ethnic slurs, horrific foul language and brutal violence but if you are a true fan of these actors (as we are), both showed their genuine talent in these flicks.

Friday we drove to Glendale, AZ and spent the afternoon with our cousins, sisters Norma and Beverly. Norma is recuperating from a serious fall that broke her left arm in three places, a TIA while in the hospital, triple shunt surgery and pneumonia just since Christmas! She is so determined to get well her courage amazes us. Her dear sister, Beverly is the ultimate caregiver and Norma will recuperate quickly with her loving attention. It was wonderful to see them both and as usual, Beverly fed us a wonderful dinner before we headed home. Thank you ladies for a great day!

Our week ended with a day at the desert home of our former hometown friends and snowbirds, Carol and John near Maricopa, AZ. They have spent their winters in AZ for many years and we were especially lucky to visit while our dear friend Don was visiting from Payson, AZ. It was a fantastic day of home cooking at its best as well as lots of fun and laughter with our exceptional and much loved friends.

Everyone who reads this blog knows about the horrific accident one of our special Rving friends, Bob Skelding was in almost two weeks ago. In response to the tragedy, my dear cousin who lives in Tennessee wrote me an e-mail. Her experience and advice regarding the highway where Bob was traveling when he was run down by an 18-wheeler is very enlightening. With her permission, I am enclosing some excerpts that in my opinion are good advice to all those who wander in their recreational vehicles across this part of the country.

She wrote: “I read all the newspaper articles and the beginning of Bob's blog, about the horses. This just sickens me. That is seriously one of the most dangerous highways in this country with a bunch of lunatics driving on it. We NEVER EVER take that highway!

I haven't read everything that Bob wrote about how he planned this trip but if he did it thru a GPS or one of the internet maps, I KNOW they routed him that way and don't even acknowledge The Natchez Trace. No one who knows anything about Mississippi would take hiway 45 unless they live on it or are trying to get to somewhere with no other options. “The Trace” is a "City/Town Free" 2–lane, beautiful highway that runs from Nashville to Natchez, MS. or beyond. It is nearly 500 miles; immaculately kept, thoroughly patrolled, with a 55 MPH speed limit that is strictly enforced!

What makes me angry is that this horrid thing could happen to this dear man and those innocent animals and he didn't have to be on that highway. If he looked for GPS alternatives, they refuse to route you on the Trace. My husband, myself, my son and my daughter all have GPSs and none will route them that way. We were lucky to have discovered this alternate route long before GPSs became in vogue and have never taken highway 45.”

My cousin continues with her well-informed, first hand opinion that, “Mississippi's highways are notoriously dangerous. Almost all with 2 narrow lanes and no regard to speed at all. When you get down in the delta area it's no mans land!

Anyway, I got this off my chest. I'm praying for Bob; this is a horrible thing to happen and what a horrible way for a dream to end. I hope somehow he can overcome this and in the future do a little better research. And, by the way, if any one of those idiots that posted how he shouldn't have been on the highway, they should drive through Lawrence County, TN and any other number of eastern and Midwest counties and see the Amish, safely coexisting (I think I know of one fatality in 30 years in Lawrenceburg).”

I don’t know about you but Phil and I have red-lined highway 45 in Mississippi and intend to avoid it like the plague from now on!

Here is a link to the latest articles about Bob with news about the horses. If the link doesn't work, just hilight, copy and paste it into your address line. It takes a minute or two to load so be patient.

Until next time,

Here is another peek at our precious great, grandson Sean-Michael, b: 25-10-2008
Isn't he just the greatest!

Joy's niece, Tammy, daughter, Jessica and husband Steve in Casa Grande, AZ.

Joy's much-loved cousins, Beverly and Norma.
Joy and her cousin, Beverly saying goodbye.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


We are comfortably settled at Sunscape RV Resort in Casa Grande AZ until 25 Feb. This is a private lot with full hookups and we decided to stay put and attend the rally by driving The Lone Ranger over (about five minutes away) each day. The rain, mud and wind the first couple days pretty well made up our mind (since our lot is nice, clean gravel) then after hearing about Datastorm connection problems by some of the attendees, some sites not getting water the first day or so, then losing electricity for several hours due to a transformer blowing up—we were glad we made that decision. Our rally coordinator, Nick Russell has decided we will not have the Western Rally at the Pinal County Fairground next year and is looking for another viable location. We will not be here for the 2010 Western rally but have plans to attend the 2009 Eastern rally in Celina, Ohio if we are anywhere in the neighborhood.

On the right side of Backroad Chronicles there is a “sidebar.” This feature allows bloggers to add some fun stuff to our blogs. One element is a list of links to other blogs that I enjoy and follow on a fairly regular basis. One click (actually it might be a double click) and you are there. They are alphabetical and at the bottom there is one called “The Wagonteamster”. I have been a follower and reading his blog daily since August 2008. Last Tuesday, Bob was rear ended by an 18-wheeler on a US highway in Mississippi. His wagon was totally destroyed and two of his four beautiful Percheron horses were killed instantly. He was seriously injured and is still the hospital. Here is a link to one of the newspaper articles about this horrendous crash. I am going to leave the link up because there are some informative comments in his guest book.

I have been steadily working on reconstructing my programs in my computer. I have a long (and tedious) way to go but I am getting there. Phil says that with the extra RAM it seems to be a lot faster when he is playing games on it but as far as I’m concerned, I have seen little if any benefit. However, one thing I have noticed is that my screen doesn’t lock up like it did before the upgrade and that is a good thing!

The Western Gypsy Gathering was really a lot of fun. Phil and I went to several seminars and I certainly feel I learned a lot. Hopefully, Phil feels the same way but you know how hard it is for most men to admit they are not all knowing and all seeing without classes or seminars. The best part of any rally is meeting new people and making new friends as well as spending time with our old friends. On registration day, we went to lunch with our fellow fulltimers, Bill and Diane. They recommended a local Mexican eatery and we enjoyed the food and especially treasured the company of these two dear friends. We do not know when we will cross paths again because they are heading west and we are heading east but since we keep in touch via our blogs and positions on the Datastorm map, it is bound to happen sooner or later.

We are looking forward to a visit from our niece, Tammy and her husband, Steve either tomorrow or Tuesday. They have come down from WA and are obviously hoping to find some sunshine while spending a few days with Steve’s parents who have wintered in Wellton AZ for several years. Since we are sort of in the neighborhood they are coming to see us as well.

Until next time ...

Our friend Diane with her husband, Bill who is exploring his feminine side as a contestant in the Cactus Queen pageant.

Doesn't he look great in blue and that hat! I want one ... LOL!

After the uproarious pageant with six contestants, here is the Cactus Queen for 2009!

We are pretty sure he won because he had great legs!

I turned around and saw Phil pointing the camera in my direction. He warned me by saying, "Smile or get out of the way!"
I was having a great time so I smiled!

My once yearly indulgence ... delicious donuts with my coffee every morning compliments of Nick and Terry. Oh they were soooooo good!

A bunch of volunteers ready to hand out huge slices of Domino's Pizza at our Pizza Party mid-week. Yummy!

Our friend and fellow blogger, Jerry of "Our Life on Wheels" assisted by his joyful and tireless wife, Suzy (Sorry Suzy-didn't get a pic of you!) selling the 50-50 tickets before one of the daily drawinga. Three lucky winners won a total of over $1,000 in three drawings during the rally.
Unfortunately, we weren't one of them ... boo hoo! Oh well, maybe next time LOL!

The economy and price of gas has certainly affected the RV industry but even with attendance down by 100 rigs, it was a very successful western rally for 2009. Phil and I had a great time!

Nick and Terry Russell. With lots of encouragement from the packed house of rally attendees, he is giving his hard working wife a sweet thank you kiss for her untiring efforts in organizing a very successful rally.

New friends and fellow bloggers, Pat and Mike (Pressure Pro System Reps) who are expecting at any moment.

No, not Pat but Ms Mega2, their new kitty!

One of several new pictures of our great grandson, Sean-Michael and his obviously rapturous Mama, our beautiful granddaughter, Megan.

Look what we found! I have seen this on TV but we were amazed to run across this business at the airport in the tiny town of Eloy, AZ!
Skydiving without jumping out of a plane? I might just do that some day ... well ... I MIGHT!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Aside from the obvious—the death of a loved one, being diagnosed with a terminal illness, losing your job, your retirement funds or your home—what would be the most terrible thing that could happen to you? Last Tuesday, mine came to pass and during the last four days, I have been reeling from the shock. Yesterday, our bad news worm started to turn but my loss is still uppermost in my mind every waking moment. I will get through this but finding my way back to square one is going to take so much time and work, I worry whether I am up to the job …

Last week my computer was attacked by what they called a “fake virus warning” and I did everything wrong. Inadvertently, I allowed access to this cruel amusement, this nuisance some low life hacker created and although it was called a “harmless” virus, it kept me from working in Internet Explorer and after trying every fix in our small bag of expertise (including getting help from Microsoft) without results, we decided to take it in to a computer repair shop. They recognized my problem and assured me the job would only take a day or so and I could pick up the machine on this past Tuesday. On Tuesday morning, Phil called to see what progress had been made and much to our astonishment we were told (on speaker phone) in a matter of fact way that the hard drive on my computer had been “accidentally” wiped clean and it was irreversible. EXCUSE ME?

The pathetic explanation referencing how it happened was so far beyond comprehension it did nothing to appease the horrific feeling of loss that stunned us into disbelief. It couldn’t be … we didn’t hear correctly … surely they could undo the deed and make it all better! Nope, we were told nothing could be done. The only recourse without paying some computer lab many thousands of dollars—a “restore” feature on my computer was defective (probably from the factory). My 40 years of genealogy work in the computer program “Family Tree Maker”, my 10 plus years of work writing my ancestor’s biographies (not to mention my own bio), all the research I have collected over the years, our life on the road in pictures we have taken over the past 4.5 years and deleted from the camera, all my carefully digitized and categorized genealogy photos … all gone!

Phil went ballistic and I retreated into a quiet place to keep from going out of my mind.

As we drove the seven miles to town, we discussed our options and tried to decide what should/could be done. By now you are thinking, hasn’t she told us before she backs up her computer? Yes, we backed up “My Documents” and C-drive about once a month and I have a stack pf CDs that are labeled, “FTM” so although we lost several years of our “favorites” in IE and AOL (We learned our “favorites” on AOL were stored on our computer, not in AOL and we have learned it is possible to back up our “favorites” in IE but hadn’t done that either!) we were fairly certain it would be possible to reload my software programs and transfer the data from the external hard drive back into my computer. However, I felt sick and pretty stupid the next day while trying to reconstruct my genealogy program from the recent “backup” CDs when I discovered the only thing on them—ALL of them, was the FTM shortcut from the desktop—no data. Instead of using the “back up” feature on the FTM program I had used the “send to” feature from my hard drive to the CD. The worst part was that I KNEW better and that knowledge came back to me in a flood of remorse.

Now, for the good news, my packrat tendency may have saved the day. I have all my floppy diskettes leftover from the “old days” and I dug them all out of the media box. I have an external 3.5-inch disk reader and on them, I found my files. The thousands of pages of data were intact albeit out of date (as you know, genealogy is an ongoing project--ever changing) but it is a beginning! Then later, I found an old CD dated 2004 and yes, it was actually a bona fide back-up CD—burned correctly so I have my info up to five years ago. A huge start in the reconstruction! Also, all the data on my external hard drive transferred correctly and “my documents” is restored up to three weeks ago.

Note: The owner of the computer store installed a DVD burner, added 512 MB of RAM (bringing my total to 1024) and reinstalled Microsoft Office (I didn’t have the CD) at no charge as compensation. It was the best he could do and along with his genuine remorse, it would have to be acceptable.

Weather in Casa Grande: At 7 am, 50 degrees and cloudy with showers. The desert always needs rain. Even so, I can’t help but wish Arizona would rain on its own time, not mine! Does that make any sense? Oh well, (as Phil always says) … the forecast says we will have showers, thunderstorms and clouds for the next couple days. Since we are moving to the fairground (unpaved, hard packed clay RV parking) for our Western Gypsy Gathering Rally today we can expect lots of mud. We are not looking forward to that.

I am so sorry this post is so long but I wanted to tell you all why I have been conspicuously absent from the comments sections of all my friends and family’s blogs lately. My sadness overwhelmed me for a few days but I am back … I will survive this nightmare, I will!

An early morning visitor. One of a pair of mating doves living in the area stops to rest on our awning. Her mate showed up a few minutes later. Their cooing is so sweet.

Our favorite part of fulltime Rving! Meeting other like-minded travelers in person. We had lunch at Mimi's (good food!) in Casa Grande with Brad and Suzanne of Adventures of Brad and Suzanne this past Thursday. They are a delightful couple and it was a great two hours swapping travel tales and tips. Check out their well written and informative blog by clicking the link above.

Ho Hum! Just another spectacular Arizona sunset outside our window a few days ago.

Anybody want to buy a Saguaro? We found this truck and cactus with "for sale" signs on it, parked beside a back road. Notice the tiny root ball for such a tall plant. These cacti are protected but this one was supposedly a legal sale, tagged by AZ Dept. of Agriculture ... ? Okay ...

Sunday, February 01, 2009


Our drive east from Yuma was uneventful. It felt good to be on the road again even if we were not going very far. Of course, the way we travel, what else is new? Lots of sunshine but thankfully, for the most part, it was south and west of us—not in our eyes. Since we have seen this part of the state many times we listened to a book on tape as we rolled down the highway. The time passes very quickly when we do that so it seemed we arrived quicker than anticipated. Our new location is a privately owned lot we rented in Sunscape RV Resort just down the road from the Pinal County Fairground. The fairground is where the third western Gypsy Journal Rally will take place next week. We stopped to visit with Nick and Terry (the organizers—see link to Nick’s Blog in my sidebar) in their bus parked at the fairground late Friday afternoon and they told us they were on schedule and maybe even possibly a bit ahead this year. As they say, practice makes perfect!

On the fourth day of our “one-day” service, Fed Ex delivered Phil’s computer before noon last Monday. Of course, he turned it on and it would not work. So, another call to HP in India (!!) and then a conference call to our satellite IP in San Luis Obisbo, CA, where he was told to check the date. After resetting the clock … guess what? His sweet machine is working even better than when it was new. HP in Houston put in a new motherboard (covered by warranty) and Phil believes it had been going bad from day one.
Of course, my computer was having its own problems and even after running some virus scans recommended by Microsoft the problem continued. Internet Explorer was barely working and I was relieved to have AOL (which seemed to be okay) as my backup. Best Buy ran a free virus scan on my external hard drive for us and gave it a clean bill of health which was a relief. We had several discussions about our options and Phil made some calls to several local computer repair shops. After being given a reasonable shop rate from one, we took my tower in yesterday and were not surprised when the technician knew exactly what was wrong. It should be ready to pick up on Tuesday. And as long as it is in the shop, we are having a DVD burner installed and also told them to double my RAM. Of course, my hard drive and motherboard are over four years old but we are trying not to think about that.

I am posting from Phil’s 7-year old Dell laptop after retrieving it from under the bed storage. We haven’t taken any pictures of anything lately so I found a couple pics on this computer I thought you might enjoy.

We found this sign at an abandoned gas station in New Jersey the fall of 2005. Even though we were only paying about $2.00 a gallon at the time we read it and mourned the "good old days."

The "left" coast as it is called by some people from the east. The Pacific Ocean to us westerners. No doubt called spectacular by all!

The Golden Gate - my ultimate bridge and where I was born. I definitely "left my heart" here when we moved north.

Don't you just love tunnels? I can hardly NOT blow the horn now that I am all grown up!