Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Back On the Road

After quite a few "false starts" we are really back on the road, now headed west toward California.  Paige returned from Minnesota on Monday, before the blizzard.  We took Tuesday for errands and final packing preparations, and left Paula and Tom's compound in Glendale by mid morning on Wednesday.

We had an easy drive to Yuma, which should make for an easy drive tomorrow as well, when we plan to get to the San Diego area.  Here is some of the scenery on the way:
Since there is an RV rally at the local fairgrounds, we plan to get a day-pass for tomorrow only and do a little parts shopping before we leave.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hike Anyone?

Word from Duluth is that things are going well with Paige and her Mom’s recovery.  Meanwhile yesterday’s blog mentioned a hike.  Here is what had caught my attention (so that’s where I went):

Camelback Mountain

At 2,704 feet, Camelback Mountain is the Mount Everest of the Valley, its summit offering one of the premier views in Arizona.

The hike proceeds from the Echo Canyon Trailhead, ascending ridiculously steep slickrock areas and meandering up a long, boulder-filled gully.

Although the trail draws hundreds of thousands of hikers a year, don't underestimate its difficulty. It's steep and rocky and, during the summer months, uncomfortably hot.

LENGTH: 2.3 miles round trip.

DIFFICULTY: Strenuous. The short trail is relentlessly steep, and, in many places, the footing is dicey.

ELEVATION GAIN: 1,300 feet.

These quotes were found at and I can attest that they are accurate.  This was much tougher than last year’s hike on Pinnacle Peak.  It took 2 hours to get to the top, and another 1-3/4 hr to get back down.  My next few walks will be short and flat, until I recover.  Sorry there are no photos; I forgot the camera.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What’s Happening?

As mentioned in the previous posting, Paige’s mother had some setbacks with her hip replacement.  Pam was with her over the weekend while she had some further surgery.  Paige left the sunny south for Duluth on Monday morning (very early).  Her full recovery is expected, but on a delayed schedule.  Yesterday she was released from the hospital and transferred to the same rehab center she had been in last week.  Paige will stay in snowy Duluth for the week, returning to AZ early next week.

Bob is “batching in” until her return, but is getting out for sightseeing, motorcycle riding, and hiking, plus playing cribbage with Uncle Phil.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Back to the Big City

Here we are back in Glendale, about the 3rd or 4th time this year.  Our plans have a way of changing (sometimes frequently) and the Shaw’s backyard is so easy to get into and it’s also a plus to see family again.

This week has been a time for doing a few errands, but nothing special.  Friday morning we met up with our good friends the Gunderman's who are vacationing in Sedona, which is north of here.  We picked a restaurant between us for a meeting spot.  The Rock Creek CafĂ© is a great little restaurant with wonderful pies also.

After lunch we took them shopping in Cave Creek and sightseeing through Carefree.  It was such a nice time and so good to see them!

Paige’s mom had some complications from her hip replacement recovery yesterday.  They found that her pelvis was broken and so scheduled her for surgery to repair that and the hip today.  Pam went to Duluth to be with her.  The surgery was done today and was successful.  Mom is in recovery and will be sitting up tomorrow.  She’ll have a longer recovery but it’s a good time of the year to just stay inside in Duluth anyways.  She’ll be up and around by summer.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Winter Caught Us Too

Although we are less than 50 miles from the Mexican border, winter caught up to us yesterday.  This is SNOW in the air, between us and our neighbor’s dark car:
There was not enough to accumulate, but enough to become the major topic of conversation around here.  The news focused on how pretty it was, and that the snow was a “good thing” since the year has been uncommonly dry so far.

Arizona became a state 100 years ago this week, so there are a number of activities going on to celebrate this anniversary.  That also is a focus in the news.

Today we’re pulling out of Benson, AZ and heading back to Glendale to pick up our mail, do a few errands, and meet up with our friends from MN for lunch on Friday.  We've stayed a week at the Saguaro Escapee Coop.  Only members of the Escapee club can use this park.  Most sites are leased lots with lots of casitas (small sheds/cabins) on them but there are also overnight spots for those short stays and even some boon docking sites.  This is a small community with lots of options for participating in activities.  We attended one happy hour, the ice cream social, and Paige went to the Knitting Group yesterday which had about 15 attendees.  They have many dinners, card groups, and field trips.  Tonight they are having a dinner for the Benson First Responders as they have provided service at the park many times.  This park is a nice option if you want to stay put for awhile each winter or even, like us, want to participate in a community for a short period of time.  Everyone is very friendly!

Next we’ll head for CA – again!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Was that a Weekend?

We must be getting used to this retired life, where every day is like any other.  The calendar says we’ve just had a weekend, so we should describe what ours was like.
Saturday was another “touristy” day because we went inside another mountain.  This time it was the Kartchner Caverns State Park.

This excursion was warm and humid, not cool and dry like the copper mine was on Friday.  This cave system was only discovered in 1974 and opened to the public in 1999.  For being open such a short time, the management has taken many steps to keep it as protected as possible, like multiple airlocks on our way in and out, and intentionally misting all visitors to maintain humidity and minimize dust being brought in.  For more details, see

On our way back home, we took a real “shortcut”: a dirt road marked “Minimum Maintenance” so we had been warned. 

It was not bad at all, but it makes me wonder why we don’t see 4WD Saturns with lift kits and knobby tires all the way around. 

Sunday was non-touristy, for a change.  A little routine maintenance and cleaning created a need for some minor hardware.  Although there are lots of choices here in Benson, Bob found an excuse for a 2 hour motorcycle ride on some scenic roads.  Meanwhile Paige made her “Sticky Chicken” for a great dinner, and leftovers for home-made soup later this week. 

We ended the weekend by joining park residents at an Ice Cream social.  It was a great way to meet more people who are also “full-timers”.  We learned about another volunteer option with wild life refuges around the country.  Sounds interesting!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tourist Days

Thursday was a relaxing “do nothing” day.  We walked around the park, met many new neighbors, and just took things easy.  The only time we left the park was for a brief look around Benson, to see what it had to offer.  We found this:

 Friday was more “touristy” with a road trip south to the big town of Sierra Vista, then on to Bisbee (an old mining town) and finishing up at Tombstone.  Bisbee was once the largest town between St Louis and San Francisco.  Since the copper mine closed in the 70’s, tourism is its main business

We took the tour of a former underground copper mine.

We stopped in Tombstone on our way back home.  The historic district is full of shops and museums.

   At the west end of town is the OK Corral, where a historic shootout once took place.  Actors re-create that scene regularly

Today we plan on taking a tour of the Kartchner Caverns which have been recommended to us by several people.  Must be a good tour, as reservations are recommended in advance, and they fill up frequently.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Preparing to Explore

After helping to celebrate Paula’s birthday on Tuesday, we left the big city behind and headed off to southern Arizona on Wednesday.  We took Interstate 10 through Tucson and on to the town of Benson (named after Paige’s family??).  We will use this town as a base for rambling around the area.  There is a fort, caverns, and other touristy cities to visit (Tombstone being one).  We are reserving a site for an entire week at the Escapee’s park here in order to play tourist in this area.  There’s also some window washing and RV maintenance to do – as well as just plain sitting around!!  The weather forecast is good until the middle of next week when the temperatures will drop into the low 60’s (I know the folks in MN aren’t sympathetic!). 

Here is our site

 And here is our view to the East

Monday, February 6, 2012

Seeing the Desert up Close

On Friday, the 3rd, we had a fairly short day.  About 80 miles south along the Colorado River (CA/AZ border), past Parker Dam, and the town of Parker, into Quartzsite, which was home to one of the largest RV gatherings anywhere.  The peak attendance was a couple of weeks ago.  Since we were working, and we don’t care for crowds too much, we didn’t feel too bad about getting here after many had left.  The RV show was over, but the area vendors were still set up for the Rocks and Minerals Show, and later there will be a big car show here as well.  One big drawing factor around here is the permission to pull off the road and drive into the desert for camping “off the grid” or “Boondocking” as it is called.  Our last blog showed where we were parked.  Here is a view out our windshield on Saturday morning, looking toward the town.
Not too crowded, right?  The only TV available that night was 2 Spanish-speaking channels.  The shopping in Quartzsite was mostly like a yard sale, so we chose not to stay more than one night.

Saturday we had another 80 mile drive to the small town of Tonapah, right along Interstate 10, to a very nice RV park named Saddleback Mountain RV.  Here is where we spent a quiet weekend. 

We have a little more room around us than at Lake Havasu, but not as much as at Quartzsite.  The church service put on by the park Sunday morning included music from a family with 4 teenagers who performed Bluegrass and Gospel choices.  Our Super Bowl Sunday included homemade soup and bread – a nice quiet weekend (until 3:00AM when Bob heard coyotes howling). 

We plan to spend a few more days at Paula and Tom’s place  (only 60 miles) before moving to southen Arizona by late this week.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Catching up with Family

We have just spent Wednesday and Thursday with Bob’s cousin, Darlene, who spends her winters in Lake Havasu AZ and summers in Jackson WY.  It has been awhile since last visiting with her, so there was lots to catch up on.  Here are the cousins:

Other than a place to spend a mild winter, Lake Havasu is also known for the location of the London Bridge these days.  It was purchased from London, totally dismantled, shipped to Arizona, and reassembled here.

 Wikipedia has some information about the town and the moving of the bridge at,_Arizona  
              (click on this link to see it on a new page)

Note that they say it is the #2 Tourist attraction in the state (after the Grand Canyon).  Thanks, Darlene, for showing us around town.

After a special trip to a yarn shop Friday morning, we left the park about noon for a short drive south to Quartzsite, which is the winter home for lots of RVers.  The big RV trade show is now over, so it is not quite as crowded.  Most people come here to park “off the grid”, out in the desert with no utilities.  Here we are doing the same:


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Route 66 Revisited

Due to a very slow internet connection, Tuesday's blog is being posted Wednesday morning:

We have seen some bits and pieces of old US-66 in many states, but today we spent more time on it than any other day, about 125 miles or so.  We had a nice relaxing start, then we took I-40 to Seligman, Arizona, where the plans of bringing 66 back to historic status began.  From there, we took the 2-laner west.
Look closely above Betty Boop.

The drive to Peach Springs was through a wide open valley, with very little traffic.  The BurmaShave signs were a nice touch.  There must have been 4 or more sets:

The Hackberry General Store is an icon of this road
The Corvette is a 1957 model and its owner still drives it once in awhile.

After lunch and a visit to the official Route 66 Museum, in Kingman, we stayed on the old road (1926 to 1952 alignment) up the switchbacks of Sitgreaves Pass, and into Oatman.  It was a twisty road:

Oatman was once almost a ghost town; now the streets are filled with wild burros and re-creation gunfights, and lined with kwirky shops.

Tuesday morning, we received word that our project scheduled to start 2/20 in LaVerne, CA has been cancelled.  We’ve decided to join the next project there, which starts on 3/12.  This means that our trip up the western coast to Oregon will need to be rescheduled.  We’ll leave the project in California and head back to Minnesota by the end of April.  In the meantime, we have 6 weeks free to spend around Arizona and southern California (not too tough to take).  Wednesday, we’re heading to Lake Havasu and plan to meet up with Bob’s cousin, Darlene.