Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving, WIN style

Every year our Singles RV club, WIN, gets together on public land near Borrego Springs, CA, for Thanksgiving. As I always say, we have Thanksgiving in the desert with 100 of our closest friends. This year it wasn't quite 100, more like 80 or so, but, as always, it was a wonderful celebration of friendship and community. WIN is like a family with all its ups and downs, laughter and arguments, but people you can count on to stand with you when you need support. I always say that if you need a lift, just drive into a WIN gathering. The Thanksgiving gathering is one of my favorites because I get to see people I haven't seen for a year or more. It's a great feeling.

On our way here, we took Box Canyon Road from I10 to the tiny town of Mecca. It's a funny name for a road since it does go through a canyon, but it's certainly not a box canyon. It's a very scenic drive and a surprising change from the surrounding flat desert. You can even camp there, but I wouldn't advise it if there is any chance of rain. There were signs warning about flash floods and looking at the road as it runs through the wash, you can see the problem.

Here we are all huddled together in our traditional spot in the desert.

It's really quite a production to make this event happen. We order turkeys from a grocery store in Brawley - 60 miles away. Yesterday (Wednesday), a volunteer picked up our twelve turkeys and a couple hams which also came with mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pies. The turkeys are carved up, put in serving dishes, and, along with the sides, distributed to the group to refrigerate overnight. Ron is pretty good at (un)bagging those birds.

And we have plenty of willing carvers.

This morning all the things that needed to be warm were heated in various ovens and microwaves and brought to the feast at the appointed time. Each person also brings a side to share. I made cookies and brownies for Ron and I to bring.

Here are the hungry troops gathering like the clouds in the background.

We have servers for the turkey, ham, stuffing, and gravy to speed things along. Now, who's ready to eat?

Personally, my favorite dishes are the ones made by the WINs. With the second shift servers leading the way, the feeding frenzy began.

Mort had a particularly delicious-looking meal. I'm going to have to get one of these partitioned trays.

Most people take a picture of the table before they eat, but we didn't think of it until later. Here are Diana, Phil, Ron, and I, looking fat and happy.

Trust my sister to get a shot of me scarfing down Nelda's amazing pie.

I hope all of you had a Thanksgiving as wonderful as I did. I feel truly thankful and blessed to be living this lifestyle in this great country. I must have done something right in a former life.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Back to PA

For the past week I've been visiting my father in Pennsylvania while Ron waits (and gets a lot done) in Phoenix. Not that he's ever a slacker, but this week he scrubbed the roof and even waxed it. Not an easy job. But right now I'm sitting in the Harrisburg airport waiting for the plane that will take me to Philadelphia where I change to a direct flight to Phoenix. After it took me 14 hours to get here a week ago, I'm a little paranoid. The gate clerk is sympathetic and has actually been giving me updates. My plane is on time and will be here any minute now. Where else can you get that kind of personal service?

Last Saturday, I happened to catch this shot with the sun setting behind us.

Then we circled Philly so long that we finally had to land in Baltimore before we ran out of fuel. By the time we fueled up and went back to Philly I had missed my connection by hours. I had plenty of time to wander around the airport. I thought this lit sign with the scullers on the Schuylkill River by Boathouse Row was pretty cool. But the gate clerk was not happy with me for whipping out a camera. I promised not to take anything else and he was mollified.

This was another case of extreme security. My father and I were out in the car one day and happened to see this train coming. Of course we had to get a picture and the railroad police chased us off the railroad right of way. But I realize we do look pretty suspicious.

One morning I awoke to a winter wonderland. Since snow is something I haven't seen for awhile, I was excited. It was still flurrying when I captured the front yard. . .

And the back yard. This picture is not crooked - my father lives in the woods on the side of a mountain. Although since these are not the Rockies, Ron asked, "What mountain?"

I thought the snow was particularly lovely on this Aucuba plant.

All day I had the song Winter Wonderland stuck in my head. But even I thought it was too much of a good thing when we were hit with a blizzard on our way home from my cousin's house. (Alright it was a small blizzard.) But I shivered when we passed this campground with RVs in the snow.

I had a terrific time with my father and the friends we visited. Once again I have no pictures of all these people. As a blogger, I need some improvement. Oh, well.

P.S. I'm happy to report that my flight from Harrisburg to Philly took off and landed right on time. I'm now at the gate in Philly, looking at my plane. It's always a good sign when the plane is at the gate. Barring any mechanical difficulties, I think there's a good chance I'll arrive in Phoenix at midnight as scheduled. Wish me luck!

P.P.S. BTW, although you can't take a bottle of water through security, you can take an empty bottle and fill it at the water fountain. :-)

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Joy of Friends

I think RVers almost all agree that one of the most wonderful things about this lifestyle is the people you meet along the way. Lately we have been lucky enough to see friends everywhere we go. No sooner had we checked into the park at North Ranch in Congress, than fellow WINs Tom C. and Donna D. surprised us in the club house. We hadn't seen them for quite awhile and spent hours catching up. Wondering around the park one day, we saw Andrew B. who had just arrived and introduced us to Sue (uh-oh, I don't know her last name.) We would have spent longer with them, but they were on their way out to go dancing at the local Elks. Then Sally D. rode her Harley from Sun City to pay us a visit. She looked really cute in all her leather gear. (Are bikers supposed to look cute? Well, she did anyway.) We chatted and went to lunch at the Cowboy Cafe in Wickenburg.

Then when we moved to the Mesa Elks the other day, Tom P. was already parked in their parking lot. We haven't seen him in a month of Sundays, so we caught up on what he's been doing. And last, but certainly not least, we visited Pat and Harold T. who have a house here in Mesa. They've been off the road awhile now, because of complications from Harold's car accident. But they hope to get the RV out this summer if all goes well.

I'm really sorry I didn't get pictures of anybody. What is the matter with me? But I want these and all my friends to know how grateful I am to have them in my life. Life on the road just wouldn't be as wonderful without them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I am so excited! While we were staying at North Ranch, the park had a yard sale. I had been whining that I wanted a recliner since I really like to sit with my feet up. As we rode our bikes around the yard sale, there it was - the perfect chair with an ottoman! So Ron bought it for me for Christmas.

Isn't it spectacular?

Of course our conversation area got a bit cozy.

Since the base was bigger than the one on the original chair, Ron had to make a new bracket to hold it in place while we drive. What a guy.

Yesterday we moved to the Mesa Elks parking lot. Although this is not the quietest place, it is so conveniently located, we come here a lot. Today we jammed the old chair in the back seat of the Saturn (not an easy thing to do) and took it to the storage locker. So we can again walk around the RV without tripping over it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Local Touring

North Ranch, the Escapee park where we're staying, is 12 miles north of historic Wickenburg. One day we checked out the local sights.

This is for my father - the train enthusiast. During the height of the gold rush, old 761 Santa Fe steam locomotive traveled daily from Chicago to the West Coast.

This 200 year old mesquite tree actually served as the town jail in the late 1800s.

Notice the covered statue chained to the tree (presumably a prisoner.) As we walked around town, we saw many of these wrapped artworks. We were told a local philanthropist paid for these bronze pieces which, unfortunately for us, would not be unveiled for a few weeks. It looked like they would be really interesting so we'll look forward to seeing them another time. (Always leave something for the next trip.)

Am I the only one who never heard of the term 'hoosegow'?

Here are Ron and I in our new outfits. Just look at the arms on Ron!

There were also some realistic-looking animal statues around town. The roadrunners were pretty cute, but the tarantula and snake looked a little too real.

But never fear, Ron the snake hunter has things under control.

Another day we drove north into the mountains to Yarnell. As far as I can see, the town is known for two things - a really great bakery which Ron enjoyed and the Shrine of Saint Joseph.

The shrine consists of several life-size statures sculptured from reinforced concrete by Felix Lucero and the 14 Stations of the Cross set into the granite hillside.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

On to Congress

No this is not a political title - I'm sure you've all had enough politics for awhile. Although no matter how you feel about the results of the election, there is no disputing that it is an amazing piece of history.

Anyway, we left our friends outside of Show Low yesterday when we saw on that wind and cold were on the way. In order to continue our spotless record of good weather, we drove off so suddenly that their heads were spinning.

We headed west on a beautiful stretch of road along the Mogollon Rim of Arizona. The 'Rim' is a 200 mile escarpment along the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau. There were gorgeous views of sandstone cliffs and expansive valleys all along the road from Show Low to Payson and beyond. We even saw three elk trotting parallel to the road. This is a very poor picture taken along the way.

We stayed overnight in Payson at the Walmart. They had the best sign in the parking lot. Although a picture is worth a thousand words, I'm not sure that applies to a sign, so I'll just quote it. It said, "No overnight parking after 24 hours." I think that's just perfect. I really feel Walmart should be a overnight stop and not a destination. And don't get me started about lawn chairs and awnings. Of course we went in and gave a $70 contribution to the store. :-)

So today we continued on to the Escapee Park in Congress, Arizona. The Escapee RV club has parks scattered across the country and we're trying to see them all. North Ranch RV park is about 60 miles northwest of Phoenix. They gave us a terrific spot to park along the edge with an unobstructed view of the surrounding desert.

As soon as we parked, Ron got out there and washed the front windshield so we could see our front yard better.

Right across from us is Saguaro Park - a well planned and labeled garden of desert based plants.

The most remarkable feature of the garden is this giant saguaro. I tried to count the arms, but lost track. The sign said it is appropriately named Methuselah.

It provides homes for numerous birds that I would like to identify as cactus wrens, but I think they were sparrows.