Friday, December 30, 2011

Between the Holidays

So, what have we been up to?....traveling again, but without the motorhome.  We took an airplane ride back to see the family back in Minnesota.  At least the weather and lines were endurable, but flying only has one thing going for it: a fast way to go a long distance.

We were able to do some shopping with the granddaughters, and have dinners with a number of friends.  Christmas Eve was spent with part of the family and Christmas Day was spent with more family.  

We also got back to a service in our home church in Crystal.  Then there was more time with family on the 26th as well.  Whew, did we miss meeting with anyone?  All family is special; this is a good time to reconnect with everyone.

We have another ten days or so to catch up with more family and friends here in Arizona before our next NOMADS project starts in January.  Paige’s Mom is staying at Paula’s also and it’s good to spend time with her, Phil, and Elsie as well.  We’ll be quietly celebrating New Year’s Eve here.

The weather in Phoenix has been perfect!  Sunny and in the low 70’s now.  We’re looking forward to our next project in Buckeye, about 40 miles away.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas

It is getting closer to the holiday time of year so we’ve been doing more seasonal activities.  Here is what we’ve been up to the past week:

Last Monday we went across town, to Mesa, in order to visit with a hospitalized friend who is not likely to get home for the Holidays.  She is recovering from a medical condition and it was good to see she’s doing well and in good spirits.  We wish her well!
On Wednesday we went to a local church’s seasonal social activity which was a dinner and a wonderful music program.  It had a great variety of musical forms: traditional choir, small group vocal jazz, and audience participation.
On Thursday we drove around the local suburbs to view over a dozen holiday lighting displays with Paula and Tomie after going out to dinner.  This was a fun Christmas activity.  The best were the lights that were synced to music.
On Friday we flew to Minnesota to spend a short time with family and friends.  With the lack of snow up here, it may not LOOK like Christmas, but with family around, it FEELS like it. 
Today was spent with our 4 granddaughters, shopping and cookie baking, two of our traditional and favorite activities.

We expect to be busy with a lot of social activities right through Christmas Day and then some.  We will try to post again before returning to Arizona.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Glendale Glitters

Our past posts have shown some Interior Decorating.  Saturday we viewed some Exterior Decorating by going to the historical Glendale downtown area and wandering around a local festival of lights and activities.

The trees were all decorated with lights, and the streets were full of booths with something for everyone: food booths, petting zoo, carriage rides; even a zip-line. 
The sky looked threatening as we arrived just before dark, and sprinkles started to fall by the time we left.  Here in southern Arizona light sprinkles are considered a major rain event, but it also turned out to be their coldest night this season.  Sunday morning we needed to wait for the defrosters to take the ice off the windshield (we’ve packed away the ice scrapers so far that we can’t find them).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Decorating Differences

In our last post, we showed the start of Paula’s decorating with Dept 56 miniatures (34 buildings plus too many to count assorted people, vehicles, trees, etc.)  Here is a picture of the completed village after 3 nights of setting up:

Although we have limited storage space, we brought a couple of items with us to use as Christmas decorations.  Here is what we have done with them:
Our dashboard –

Our dining room–

 Our hall mirror -

 Our coffee table –

As you can see, we have a much more minimalist style – mostly due to space limitations!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Road Trips

We don’t just sit around all of the time, twice this week we actually went for a couple of drives.  On Black Friday we went sightseeing around the city, and even stopped into one shopping center (but left without buying anything).  On Saturday we got out of town for a longer trip: back to Show Low (just the opposite direction of our arrival) for lunch, then back to Phoenix by way of US60.  Two weeks ago I asked a local person at the RV park which route might be best to get us into Phoenix and she suggested we might prefer the northern route, along the Mogollon Rim and through Payson, if we were towing the car with the motorhome.  The southen route, via US60 through Globe, would be twistier.  

She was right. 

Saturday’s first stop was at a small Visitor’s Center, run by the US Forest Service, just east of Payson.  Thank goodness I had seen its location on a map and was watching for it, because it can be really easy to miss – the visitor’s center that is.  The Rim is really easy to spot: a wall over 2000 ft high x 200 miles long.

We both remembered a lot of the scenes from 2 weeks ago, but it was slightly different going in the opposite direction. 

After lunch we took the southern route, dropping off the rim soon after leaving Show Low, down into the Fort Apache Indian Reservation on our way to the Salt River Canyon.  We had heard that this was similar to the Grand Canyon, but that might be stretching things a bit.

What do you think:

We would recommend that other tourists coming through here should try both of these roads.  Since we have a diesel with an exhaust brake neither road is difficult, but US 60  is twistier, for sure (at least 4 tight switchbacks by the Salt River bridge).

 Today, Sunday, was a quiet day putting up Christmas decorations, both in our motorhome and starting in Paula’s house.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Time to get caught up

Thanksgiving has come and gone, along with Black Friday, so it is high time we got this blog up-to-date.

First off, the recent holiday helps us to think of all the things we have, and all that we can do, and to be thankful for them.  Thanksgiving at Paula and Tom’s place was casual: a buffet-style dinner with some neighbors and family; about a dozen people with food for about 50 people.  In the past, we have usually hosted about twice that many people at our place.  Paige had to learn to let someone else take charge – different; but nice, too!

Another birthday also came and went.  Thanks for the cards and phone calls from family and friends.  It wasn’t any big deal, just another year closer to Medicare.

Our plans are to stay here at Paula and Tom’s place through the end of the year, but to fly back to Minnesota for Christmas with the kids and granddaughters.  Skype, e-mails, and phone calls help, but nothing beats face to face, especially for Christmas.

At this time last year we were both still working for a living.  We’ve been out of the house and living in the motorhome for almost 11 months now, and we still get along.  Now, as buddy Ron says, “every day is a Saturday, except for Sunday”.  Yesterday we did a little sightseeing inside the city (downtown, stadiums, shopping centers, etc) and today we are planning a little road trip to get out of the city and see some countryside for a change.  That should force us to take a few new photos and post them here later.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The New "Normal"

It’s been a quiet week in (not Lake Wobegone) Glendale.  We have been here for a week already, not doing anything dramatic.  Tom left for a race in Baja on Sunday; he is doing support work, not racing anymore after his broken back incident of last June.  We have been helping out around here wherever we can, like picking up some supplies, and dropping off some paperwork for Paula & Tom’s business (they call us their “minions”), plus cleaning our home-on-wheels.  I finally got around to buffing out the hazy headlight covers.  If I’d have known how easy it was, I would have done it sooner.
Last Saturday we turned 20 lbs of potatoes into 13+dozen lefsa, in preparation for Thanksgiving next week.  We were a well oiled machine – Paige prepared the dough and rolled out the lefse, Paula was the flipper, and Bob did his normal job of packaging.  It was a change for us to not make this in our home, but Paula’s kitchen offered lots of room and efficiencies that we didn’t have before.  We were very tired by the end of the session!

Tom had a small building without a floor in it.  He had Fostino (their hired helper) empty this building so that they could put in a wooden floor.  Phil and Bob decided to do this work while Tom is in the Baja at the race.  Phil, Bob, and Fostino have been working part of each day this week getting that work done.  Phil is the brains having been a house builder in Alaska, Bob is the helper, and Fostino has been going with his truck to pick up the materials.  The floor is in and now they are putting up some shelves.  Tom will be surprised to see this completed when he returns home.

Paula has been down with the flu the past couple of days.  It looks like she’s bouncing back now and so this afternoon we started to create lists for the Thanksgiving dinner.  Phil and Elsie, Bob and Paige, along with a few neighbors will be here for the dinner.  Tomie comes home from USC on Tuesday and we’re looking forward to having her around here!

No big plans for the weekend.  The weather here has been absolutely perfect – high 70’s and sunny.  There is a possibility of a little bit of rain this weekend but it can’t be perfect forever, right?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Done Traveling – for Awhile

So, here we are in sunny Arizona.  We woke up Thursday morning in Show Low, with an overnight low temperature of 19 degrees.  As it turns out, the day really was sunny, see:

Does this look like the image of Arizona that comes to mind most often?  Only a few minutes later, Highway 260 brought us off the Mogollon Rim and down into the valley of the metro Phoenix area.  Does this look more like what was expected?

It was a full morning of driving, but we pulled into Paula and Tom’s place about 12:30 and unloaded our toys.  The map on this blog can be expanded to show all of our travels in 2011, which is somewhere around 17,000 miles on the motorhome alone (plus some more on the car and motorcycle).  We don’t expect to move the motorhome until we move to our next NOMADS project in early January, so the map won’t be changing for awhile.  I plan to start a new map in 2012.

The big news of the day is that our nephew, Ty, and his wife, Jen, are now parents.  Congratulations to them on the birth of little Leah!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Early on Wednesday we left the Rio Grande valley and climbed to a plateau ringed by peaks which help block radio waves.  Here is where the Very Large Array of radio telescopes is located. 

We stopped at their visitors’ center for a mid morning break and heard a presentation from a former employee who had been working here over 30 years.  For more detailed information, see  
Later, we crossed the continental divide about an hour from the state line.  Here is where we saw the snow.  As “SnowBirds” we are trying to get to Paula and Tom’s place in the Phoenix area before getting caught in any snow.  Not like last January when we left MN on Jan 2.  What we saw today was just a dusting, and in the shadows, not on the road itself.  The weathermen are predicting lots more snow for this area within the week, so our timing is close.

Tomorrow we will finish our trek, as we come down to the lower elevations and park at Paula and Tom’s place.  They already have some work lined up for us to do.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Where are we?

On Monday morning we traveled south to Amarillo and looped around it, not through town.  As a result, we didn’t see much more than truck stops.  Across the Texas panhandle the main things to see are the huge beef feedlots.  As we were crossing the border into New Mexico, we had a phone call with our NOMADS friends in Montana.  We first met them at a project in Arizona last winter and we dropped in at their house last August.  They will soon be leaving home, heading back to Arizona as well.  We will be sure to catch up with them again soon somewhere in the Phoenix area. Since Sunday was a long day we had a short Monday stopping at Clovis, the first large town into New Mexico. We did a little shopping and just relaxed.

Yesterday, Tuesday, the scenery of eastern New Mexico seemed a lot like western Texas, with straight and flat roads, but soon changed into higher plains and we began seeing some actual mountains.  A few already had a white dusting of snow on them.  We skipped on the Billy-the-Kid museum near Fort Sumner, but had lunch and a history lesson at the same time when we pulled into Mountainair where the visitors center for Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is based.  We left the high plains (>6600 ft) and dropped into the Rio Grande valley and actually drove on a freeway for awhile (I-25).  We spent the night at a nice little RV park in Socorro, New Mexico.

Our daytimes have been pleasant with partly cloudy skies and temps in the high 50’s to low 60’s; good for driving.  Nighttimes have been very quiet and cool, with temps near freezing.  Yesterday we made sure we had a full water tank and empty holding tanks overnight.  This was a good thing since there was a hard freeze here overnight.  By the time we get to Phoenix, temps should be in the 70’s.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bigger Day than Planned

Our expectation was for a short day: US 54 to Liberal KS.  It was a little too short, since we got there too early to end the day.  One alternative after another didn't look good for a number of reasons, so we kept on going.  By the time we called it quits, we had left Liberal, crossed the Oklahoma panhandle, and entered Texas.  It was a 375-mile day, so we will intentionally get a late start tomorrow.
We have also left US 54, so we will drop down to US 60 and take it all the way to Phoenix.

This is a First

Normally we post our blogs in the afternoon or evening.  Today, we are doing it before breakfast. 
With Daylight Savings Time ending last night, we stayed up a little later than normal.  Around 11PM we felt a shaking that we first thought might have come from the gusty winds, but this was different.  A walk around the RV didn't show any physical vandalism.  What was it?  Our second guess was maybe an earthquake, and that's what it really was.  This was our first.
The news this morning confirmed a 5.6 quake was centered on Sparks OK - about 150-200 miles away.  We expect the rest of the day to be calmer.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sitting Still

As predicted, today's winds are pretty strong.  Strong enough for us to take a day off and go shopping.  Paige got to check out three (count 'em, 3) yarn stores.  But she only bought from one of them. 
Coleman, the outdoor products company, is based here in Wichita and has a combination museum/outlet store downtown.  We stopped in there too and did some sightseeing in the downtown area.
We are enjoying this "downtime" by taking a short afternoon nap and a short walk around the RV park.  Homemade chicken soup is being prepared as this is being written.
It was a pleasant time off the road, but we will roll again tomorrow.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Westward Ho

We are rolling again - Westward.
Seems like "Route 66" has been overdone, and with a lot of it replaced by I-40, it is work to find the original road.  Instead, we are taking a similar, but parallel, road which is US 54 which still exists all by itself with no Interstates on top of it.
Today, Friday, was a lazy day.  The project was over and there was no rush to leave.  Half of our group went out to breakfast together, then slowly packed up.  It was 11:00 by the time we pulled out and we stopped about 4:00 after crossing half of Kansas.  We are spending the night in Wichita and will get another late start tomorrow, since Paige has found at least 3 yarn shops here.
After seeing what they have available, we will continue following #54 to the west.  Weather shouldn't be too bad this weekend, other than wind.  If it becomes too high, we will stop wherever we might be - that's the nice thing about not having a schedule.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

This project is winding down

It is a cool, blustery mid-afternoon as I write this.  In exchange for extra hours we worked last Friday morning, we were given this afternoon off.  The bigger parts of our project here at Camp Galilee, El Dorado Springs, Missouri are done and the smaller items are now finishing up.  We got a lot of work done here in the past 3 weeks and it gives us a real sense of accomplishment.  At the same time, however, we are all cleaning up and packing up.  Tonight will be a group dinner when we recap all that was done and say our good byes to one another.  A group of strangers met here 3 weeks ago and good friends will soon be scattering to different directions.  It is likely that we will meet again at future projects, we just don’t yet know when or where.  Here are some examples of our activities:
Bob and Elizabeth hauling the herd of deer.

Sue and Art working on the lights in the cold today.

We even got some Geocaching and a Halloween party in too:


Our next week will be spent traveling slowly toward the warmth of the Phoenix area.  We will stretch it out for at least a week by staying toward the back roads and having short driving days.  We're looking forward to spending time with Paula and Tom and connecting with Uncle Phil and Elsie also - and some warm weather again!!  Paula complained in an email today that it was only getting to 60 today - that would be great here!!  It's only in the low 40's now.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Where does the time go?

We posted some pictures of last weekend’s motorcycle event here in Camp Galilee, and since then we’ve learned that the local newspaper ran a nice article about the event.  Details can be seen at  The event sponsor also has a website, and you can see results at 

The author of the article from a local newspaper came back here this week to learn more about us traveling old folks who are volunteering here for three weeks.
          Who are we?
          What are we doing?
If we learn that her visit turns into an article, we will put a link here later.

This week has flown by so quickly.  Our crew has been busy painting, and there is still plenty of work left for next week. 

Friday was our normal day off, so we did some paperwork related to replacing a lost driver’s license.  Paperwork always seems to take too much time.

Then we went for a road trip to see what all the activity in Joplin was about.  We have heard that most tornadoes are F2 (on a scale of 0-5) and most last for 2-3 minutes.  Last May, Joplin was hit with an F5 that stayed on the ground for about 20 minutes.  More specific details are at  Over 7,000 homes were either damaged or totally destroyed and more than 160 people lost their lives.  One of the hospitals is still operating out of tents (like a MASH unit) and the high school is being run out of a shopping center.  We saw complete devastation over a very wide area.  It looks like something out of a movie with nothing left: no trees, no buildings.  Only some driveways, basements, and a few fireplaces are left.  There were only a few damaged buildings left standing.

Photos can’t show it all.  But we also saw lots of re-building going on.  It was a sobering trip, and made us thankful for what we have.

We returned to the camp in time to see some of the decorating going up for a wedding and reception planned here for tomorrow. 

It was a beautiful day for a ride.  The leaves here are at their peak.  We ended the day with a beautiful site of the lake here as we drove in.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Motocross Weekend

It's Sunday night and we are all rested for our next 4 days of the project.  We had a good 3 days off.

On Friday we did laundry and went to Nevada, MO for a Walmart run.  Since the weather was so nice, we went for a motorcycle ride in the later afternoon and stopped at a good barbecue restaurant that was recommended.  The ride was curvy and hilly and the weather was perfect.

Saturday was spent in the campground as there was a motocross event being held at the camp.  The kids and amateurs rode on Saturday and the pros rode on Sunday.  It was fun to watch the smallest riders on 50cc machines (with Mom or Dad running along to help), and the pre-teens on 80s and 125s showed a lot of on-the-job training.  This was the first time anyone had ridden this course; it was hilly, rocky, and heavily treed.  Seems like everyone had a good time, including those of us who were spectating.

Saturday was also a nice day to just kick back and get some stuff done around here.  We volunteered to make lasagna for a group dinner this Wednesday so we got that made and in the freezer then.

On Sunday, we went to a local church as a group, and later in the afternoon we all went to Chicken Annie's.  This is right next to Chicken Mary's out in the country, about an hour away to the SW.  These 2 restaurants were featured on the Food Channel on a show which takes 2 restaurants on in a competition.  Apparently Chicken Mary won.  Originally there was one restaurant owned by sisters.  There was a disagreement about the recipe and this resulted in the 2 restaurants.  Here is a picture of our group:

This morning when we opened the curtain on the front window, this is the sight we had:

Yesterday morning there were 8 deer out in the field in front of us.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Experienced Decorators

We have finished our first week on this project.  Paige and another NOMAD have learned the hard way just how many different styles of Christmas lights there are.  They have been inspecting used strings, replacing dead bulbs (when possible), and staging the good strings for a crew of installers.  They've rejuvenated 4 deer so that they have all their lights and motion controls working again.  Here is Elizabeth with a completed deer.

Bob has been part of the electrical crew: installing switched outlets on many of the buildings around the grounds.  The south half of the grounds are almost done.  They have done a couple of special projects, like re-wiring the building which will be used as a concession stand this weekend.

We do more than work together - we have also had some meals and snacks together as a group - here on site, as well as at a couple of local restaurants.  It's a great group of 5 couples to work with!

The property is at the very edge of town, and heavily wooded.  Here is a picture of one of our "visitors" (notice the ears):
The weather has been pretty good early in the week, but turned downright frosty the past few mornings.  Today, Friday, the temps got back into the 60's, and it is supposed to be even warmer into the first part of the coming week.  We took advantage of the weather and got in a nice motorcycle ride.  Very pretty today with the leaves turning color and all the curvy and hilly roads.  Nice to take some time to enjoy this area!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Back to Work

Take a look at this website: and use the arrow marked  “Come On In”.  This will show you where we are for the next 3 weeks.  Four couples showed up here on Saturday, plus another couple on Sunday, to work together at this church camp.  None of us knew any of the others.  Sunday evening we had a dinner together and learned something about what we will be doing.

Like a lot of places these days, funding is tight so some costs are being cut out altogether  (like the stables) and new ways of fundraising are being tried.  A large local family held a reunion at this facility on Saturday night, complete with their own bluegrass group.  This coming weekend there will be a motocross competition through the woods and ravines here.  Bob rode part of one trail on his mountain bike and knows how rough this might be.  Later this month it will quiet down with a wedding reception or two.  It is a large enough place that we have the 5 RVs parked together, out of the way of everything else.

Last year they held the first annual “Lights Of Galilee”, where all of the cabins had been decorated for Christmas, while local groups participated in a variety of ways:

-   FFA club staged a live nativity
-   School choirs sang carols
-   Social groups sold hot chocolate

and so on.

This year they plan to do it all over again, but with more permanent fixtures.  The 10 of us will be doing the decorating, complete with new switched outlets (to get rid of extension cords) and lighting that will be mounted where it is better protected from the weather.  Today, Monday, was our first day of “work” since the cabin activities around Labor Day.  We are both tired this evening, but ready to go back for more tomorrow.  Once we complete the wiring on over 20 outbuildings, there is painting to be done. There is plenty of work to do, so we will fill these 3 weeks.

We are only 65 miles from Joplin Mo, which was hit so hard by an F5 tornado last spring.  One of the couples in our group is scheduled to work there this weekend (our time off) when Extreme MakeOver is organizing a project to redo 7 homes with thousands of people on hand to participate.

The weather has been very nice (80’s yesterday) but this afternoon it got windy and cooler.  Tonight it’s thundering and rainy.  We’re nice and cozy in the motorhome, however!

Friday, October 14, 2011

What a Hoot!

Wednesday and Thursday were both “Travel Days”:

            Wed  – 261 miles from northern IA into MO, all US 63
            Thurs – 200 miles across MO to the south and west, US63& US54

The fall colors are here but not as bright and distinct as in Minnesota.  The roads have been curvy and hilly; very pleasant riding.  Missouri has a lot of water from Corp of Engineers efforts which add to the scenery.

We found a Corps of Engineers facility in Hermitage MO which is a flood control project.  It turns out that they don’t offer camping here, but there is a state park nearby that they recommend.  We don’t quite have the place to ourselves, but the park is less than 10% occupied, so there is lots of space and quiet – except for the owl that hooted for a long time last night.  Thankfully, it must have captured its prey and quieted down for the night.

Today, Friday, is a day off.  We slept late, had a hot breakfast, did the laundry here in the park, washed the motorhome and took a bicycle ride (not exactly sleeping in a hammock for a day off, but pleasant).

For the next 3 weeks we will be working a church camp which is less than an hour away.  Normally the NOMADS show up on Sundays to get settled in and to meet with our co-workers, but this camp is open to us early, so many of us will pull in tomorrow.

The map to the right hasn’t been working too well lately, but it appears that Google solved whatever the problem was, so it now looks a little better.  Click on the map anywhere and you can make it bigger or smaller.  Click on any dot, and you should see the dates we were there.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Staying Put

Here is another photo of our current parking spot:

This is the same location as yesterday.  Today, too, no one else is here.  Even the geese are gone, so it is really quiet here. 

One of the advantages of our type of travel is the flexibility to stay over when we want.  We stayed nearby to help Don at the hospital for one more day.

We have decided to stay on US highways as much as possible for this week, while we head for the SW corner of Missouri.

Monday, October 10, 2011

On the Road Again

We hooked up all the vehicles and left the Twin Cities on Sunday to head south.  Our first stop was just north of Rochester MN where we pulled into a roadside bar and grill with its own RV park alongside.  It was pleasant enough for a single night, but the highway noise from US52 was a little annoying on Monday morning.  Keep in mind, we don’t have to get up early anymore.

Both Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, we took the car into Rochester to visit with Bob’s brother Don, who is hospitalized there.  He was doing much better on Monday, after getting some decent sleep on Sunday night.  We will be going back there again on Tuesday.  Meanwhile we moved the motorhome to a county park south of Rochester, where we are the only people in the place.  This should be much quieter than last night.

We went for a walk around the park about sunset, when a number of noisy geese flew over.  They should quiet down after the sun sets.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Campground in the Suburbs

For our followers:  we will begin blogging more frequently, as we hit the road again very soon.
For September, we had parked the motorhome at our cabin north of Duluth and spent half of our time there.  The other half was spent in the Minneapolis area.  We didn't buy any diesel fuel for almost 2 months, but we sure put a lot of miles on the car, and a few on the motorcycle too.
A couple of weeks ago we saw light snow when we were visiting Ely MN (N48 – W92) so we know it is time to pack up.  The snow didn’t stick around, and the temperatures are in the 80’s this week, but the wind is blowing the color off of the trees and we know what is coming.
Tomorrow is Saturday and we will have all of our granddaughters together for a final “fix” before we leave on Sunday.  On our way, we will check in with Bob’s brother, Don, who is recovering from a traffic accident.  Since many MN campgrounds have already closed for the season, we will have to be careful about where we stop, but that shouldn’t be a problem as we get into IA and MO.
By the way, here is our current campsite:
That is Brett and Jen’s house where we are parked.  While it only offers 20A, and no sewer connection for us, it does have water for our tanks and there is a Cabella’s down the road with a public dump facility.  It also has a firepit in back, and LOTS of things to keep us busy (the girls).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Busy Times

Yes we know a new posting is overdue.

This week we are back in the big city, complete with 4G connection speeds, so there is little excuse to let things slide.  From mid-August until we leave here in early October we are alternating between the Minneapolis suburbs and the cabin, north of Duluth.  At each place about a week at a time, about 200 miles apart.

 This week we are scheduling annual Dr and Dentist appointments for both of us and having some mechanical issues with the car examined.  The Saturn will be inspected this afternoon for a couple of items and the motorhome is back in Duluth, having a part replaced in the living room slideout (not a do-it-yourself project).  I just got word that it is done and ready for pickup when we get back there (Saturday morning). 

 Mornings this week we are helping the granddaughters get fed and out the door to meet their school bus, and some afternoons we’ll be there when the bus drops them off.  A lot of the evenings have dinners scheduled with family and friends. 

This busy retired life is not for the faint of heart.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Minnesota Update

With us posting only once since mid-August, you might wonder what we are doing and where we are.  The motorhome has been parked at the cabin most of the time while we have been using the car for a couple of field trips to Minneapolis and back.

During late August, Grandma Paige helped with back-to-school shopping for most of the grand-daughters, then we ate our way though the State Fair. 

After that, we took the girls sightseeing in Duluth while on our way back to the cabin.  Here is Enger Tower and a view from the top (about 100 steps)

Labor Day weekend was a time of labor for Bob and Brett, while they finished a number of projects on the cabin.  Between last spring (see prior posts with pictures) and this holiday weekend, the exterior work is now basically done.  We are saving quite a bit of interior work for next year.

After the holiday, we drove back to the Twin Cities area again to help see the girls off to school in the mornings, and be there when they got home.  The first week of a new school year is exciting for everyone.

We are now packing up to return to the cabin for some more quiet time

Most of our electronic communications is handled through Verizon, since their coverage is usually most complete.  One exception is the area where the cabin is located.  They have very spotty coverage there, so we will get this blog posted while we can.  We will be there for the next week, while a couple of motorhome maintenance issues are taken care of.

Our fall/winter schedule is just now beginning to come together.  We will continue to bounce between the cabin and the Twin Cities until early Oct.  We plan to work at a church camp in MO during late Oct, then back to AZ for Nov.

Friday, August 26, 2011

We are still here

For those who are following this blog, we’d like to let everyone know that we are still around.  We drove hard to get from Montana to Duluth as quickly as possible, arriving on Friday the 12th.  Services for Clifford were held on Saturday afternoon, the 13th, with all of his family there. 

The past week has been quite busy with lots of food, cards, condolences and activities.  Things have slowed down a bit, so we have moved out of the driveway to the cabin, about 45 miles outside of Duluth,  close enough to get back and help if needed, and far enough away to allow things to get back to the new normal.

We have no place to go (for awhile) and all kinds of time to get there, so we will hang here for a few days.  Next week we will spend time in the Twin Cities, with all the grand-daughters, and help with some back-to-school shopping and the State Fair.  Then we will come back to the cabin for Labor Day weekend, to get some final electrical work done for the year.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Our Journey's End

Today our journey home was impacted by some very sad news.  Paige's father, Cliff, passed away this afternoon.  Dad has been suffering from intermitent health problems that have escalated recently.  Yesterday Mom and Dad took a ride to the cabin.  Dad enjoyed the beautiful day and the work that had been done to update the siding and windows on the cabin last spring.  The cabin was one of his greatest joys; along with family.  His passing was quick today which was always what he wanted.  We are in Miles City, MT and have 700+ miles to Duluth.  We are going to try to arrive in Duluth late on Friday. 

Dad was a huge supporter of this Alaskan trip.  Mom always showed him our blogs and said this was one of the highlights of his days.  When we called him, he wanted to know where we were and what we were doing.  He'd always end the conversation with a wish that we would have a great trip.  We will miss him!

 Cliff Benson  6/29/28 - 8/10/11

Back in USA

Sunday we made surprisingly good time.  We would like to cut back to shorter driving days of 200 to 250 miles, but with an early start, minimal traffic (our direction), and efficient border crossings we crossed back into the US by mid-afternoon and arrived at Dee and Andy’s house just outside of Glacier Park by late afternoon.  It was a 300-mile day of mostly 2 lane roads through the mountains.  Our cell phones recognized the border and alerted us to e-mails within ½ mile of leaving the border station.  We are back among the “wired”.  We’ve been gone for over 60 days: 35 in Alaska, 27 in Canada (both coming and going), and more getting to and from the border.

We met Dee and Andy last winter on our work project in Arizona.  They had us park in front of their house in Columbia Falls, MT, where we stayed for 2 nights.  We had a couple of errands to run on Monday so they showed us around and Paige found another yarn shop.  We had such a great time with them!  Here we are having a late lunch/early dinner:
On Tuesday, it was back to normal: us on the road again, and them continuing on preparing for their next company later this week.  We drove US2 around the southern edge of Glacier Park, out to Browning, and south to Great Falls.  The geography changed dramatically.  Here are 3 shots taken in less than an hour:

Now it is time to catch up with family and friends by phone and emails while we head for Minnesota.