Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Belated Birthday and Other Events

Suzy LeRoy and I have enjoyed celebrating our birthdays together in the past, since they’re only 2 days apart – November 5 (mine) and November 7 (hers). However, this year we were over 1,000 miles apart at that time. We decided it was still a good idea to celebrate together; it was just a little late this year.


Our Guys, Jerry and Don, bought dinner consisting of pizza and Chicken Alfredo, both delivered to their home in the Escapees Park in Benson, AZ. After stuffing ourselves with those yummy delights, Jerry used one of his biggest and meanest-looking knives to carve and serve a delicious red velvet cake.



It topped off a wonderful evening of fun visiting with these two good friends! We look forward to spending more time with them planning for the Escapees Chapter 21 Winter Rally in Parker, AZ in January, and then seeing them on that side of the state during the rally. And Suzy knows two other women with November birthdays, so we’re looking forward to a really big birthday bash next year!

After returning to Cochise Terrace, Don and I enjoyed our simple Christmas decorations in our Arizona desert winter abode.



There are a couple of small gifts under (?) our little Christmas tree on the dash of the motorhome. And we have at least one small surprise inside the stockings that were hung with care.


We’ve already received our large gifts from each other. Don now has a heavy, sturdy, hopefully safe ladder! It’s a Little Giant Ladder, configurable in many different ways, which will give him a much better chance of avoiding injury in the future and still allow him to keep the motorhome clean and shiny.


Mine is a Droid Incredible Verizon phone. I’ve had it for two weeks and am still learning to use it. But I love it and am amazed at all the things it can do!


About 11:00 pm we decided not to wait up to see the rare lunar eclipse on this Winter Solstice night, but we awoke about 2:00 am to see it almost at the complete stage.


We send all our friends and family a sincere wish for a very happy Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) along with good health and happiness in the New Year!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Back In Benson, Briefly

We don’t call our RV lot at Cochise Terrace RV Resort “Home,” although we may consider it that way someday in the future. Still, it’s a place to park in the winter and we don’t have to pay rent, stay a limited time or checkout by a certain hour. And we’re starting to put down roots. We know most of our neighbors, and many of them heard about Don’s accident in July and were looking forward to seeing us again.


We had a few surprises upon our return. This Century Plant, or agave, which is actually a succulent rather than a cactus, grew a huge stalk while we were away! This means that the plant will soon die, as its 30+ year life (not really a century) comes to an end after the stalk and blooms are sprouted. The stalk grows very quickly, about 2 1/2 inches per day, up to 5-15 feet. This one looks like it’s reaching or maybe even exceeding that upper height!


Although I hate to lose the plant, it’s crowded between two prickly pear cacti, so I guess it’s time for it to go. Several other plants have obviously grown a lot in our absence, including this one that’s got a limited life, as well.


No, it’s not going to die on its own. It’s going to be forcibly removed! I think it’s a variety of prickly pear cactus, but it has tiny fuzz-like needles that brush off with only a slight touch, attach themselves to clothing and skin, and are very hard to remove. The plant has grown so large it’s hard to avoid walking near it, and we just don’t want it around anymore. So, a local handyman will be hired to do the deed soon.

The donkey-ear cactus also grew larger during our absence.


The little guys below were left for dead by deer munching on the plant above. Since this cactus doesn’t have any needles, it’s attractive to thirsty/hungry animals. I stuck the ears in the ground on either side of the flagpole, then rabbits almost finalized the death sentence last year. It was a pleasant surprise to see them thriving, putting out new ‘ears’ and growing larger in spite of their enemies!


Our RV lot is a comfortable place, with almost no upkeep. Our next-door neighbor stays here during the summer, and he very kindly keeps most of the big weeds under control on our lot so we don’t have to pay to have that job done. We try to bring him a nice gift as a thank-you – this time it was a Harley T-shirt from Cajun Country. Dutch is a 70-something Harley rider whose wife succumbed to cancer about 1 1/2 years ago, and now he’s working on finding a new wife.

We finished several large projects on our lot and shed during the past two winters, so now all we need to do is a little cleaning and rearranging, then sit back and enjoy it. So, enjoy it we will, but only for a short time. On our agenda are the following travels:

  • New Year’s Eve at the Escapees North Ranch in Congress, AZ
  • Arrive early for SKP Chapter 21 Winter Rally Jan 7-11 in Parker, AZ as we’re hosting the event and will have a few set-up tasks to do in advance
  • Bluegrass Festival in Blythe, CA Jan 14-16
  • SKP Happy Hour in Quartzsite, AZ Jan 19-20
  • Serve as Volunteer Club Representatives (VCRs) at SKP SOLOs Annual Rally in Quartzsite, AZ Jan 20-27
  • Drive to Beaverton, OR for Don’s niece Caren’s wedding Feb 12 (why not in April or May?)
  • Find a relatively warm place in the PNW to hang out for about 2 1/2 months (less $$ and wear and tear than returning to AZ)
  • Meet up with Dennis & Carol Hill and others in WA for a summer trip to Alaska, sometime in May
  • Tour Alaska, going through Canada of course, Summer 2011
  • Attend Escapade in Gillette, WY Aug 28 – Sept 2, 2011
  • Visit Hart Ranch and do annual doctor visits, Sept 2011
  • Return to Benson and maybe stay awhile, Oct 2011 - ?

Hopefully, next winter we’ll let the wheels rest longer and get re-acquainted with the neighbors and just enjoy our lot!


Love those southwest sunsets! And I love the flowers my Sweetie keeps me supplied with!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Needle Crafts and Westward Travels

I enjoy knitting and crocheting, and can do either one and (mostly) still participate in conversations, watch TV, listen to speakers at meetings, or watch scenery while riding down the road. So, there are lots of hours in which to create items. The trouble with this amount of production is that there’s a limit to what you can use/store in an RV. Therefore, I enjoy making things for other people. My latest two projects fall into this category.

A colorful crocheted lapghan was the first one, finished in time for Veterans Day and sent to the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, TX. This was my most recent contribution to Soldiers' Angels through their Blankets of Gratitude program, which gives a little cheer to veterans recovering from wounds in VA hospitals in the U.S.


The next project was suggested by another member of the Escapees RV Club. It could be called a prayer shawl or a shrug, or whatever you want to call it!. It’s intended for someone at the Escapees CARE Center, an adult day-care facility in Livingston, TX. This unique center, located next to the Escapees, Inc. international headquarters, allows Escapees with injuries or illnesses to recover while living in their RVs. I knitted this item, and crocheted around the edges. I hope it will keep someone’s shoulders and neck warm while they’re recuperating.


Both projects were fun to do, and now it’s time to start on a new one!

Don and I have really enjoyed being with many of our RV friends during the past several weeks, but now we’re ready to travel westward by ourselves for the next 4-5 days. We look forward to being back on our RV lot in Benson, AZ and to seeing our neighbors and friends there.

To see more about our fun times during the past almost two weeks, go to Dennis and Carol’s blog. Start with November 19 entitled “Air, Empty, Toilet, Mexican, Gumbo, Friends.” We’re among the friends in this blog post, and we appear in several others after that date. Dennis and Carol are good friends who stood up for us when we got married. We always enjoy our times with them and look forward to seeing them in Quartzsite in January.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Cajun Thanksgiving

What a feast! We just had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner in Abbeville, Louisiana – Cajun style!

Our day began with Don lighting the charcoal for the Acadian (Cajun) Microwave Oven he borrowed from Betty, owner of Betty’s RV Park.


He was preparing to cook a “turducken,” which is a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey. All the bones have been removed if you buy a turducken already prepared. We bought it at Don’s Specialty Meats in nearby Scott, LA. It was stuffed with Boudin (pronounced BOO-danh), a spicy sausage stuffing popular in Cajun country.


The Cajun microwave is basically an insulated box with a rack in the bottom and a lid with another rack for charcoal. The heat penetrates down through the lid to cook the contents. A temperature probe was inserted in the middle of the birds, with the readout set outside the oven.


Directions said to cook at 350 degrees for 4.5 hours, but this one took about 6. It could be that the bird was too far from the heat, and ashes started to choke out the charcoal, even though Don kept adding more briquets to keep the fire going. He finished off the cooking in Betty’s oven after she finished with other baking.

When Don took it out of the oven, it was beautiful! And tasty!


It didn’t take long for everyone in our group to fill their plates and chow down!


My plate got pretty full, too.


Don was happy to sit down and enjoy the results of his labor.


Betty (left) also enjoyed relaxing after cooking a separate dinner for her family as well as contributing to the RV group’s meal. Glenn, the local Trailer Life rep (with hubby Allen, not in pic) will undoubtedly give Betty’s RV a good rating!


Afterward, friends kicked back in the swings and benches. Susie seems to be drawn to men wearing yellow shirts (Bob).


And Denny (Susie’s hubby) is drawn to tall women (Caroline)!


On the other hand, Dennis seems to be looking for someone to join him.


But his wife Carol is hugging someone else (Caroline’s hubby Art)!


And I didn’t get a photo of Molly, Bob’s wife, but here are the two of them a couple of days ago having Mimosas with their Cajun breakfast.


We’re all just one big happy RV family, after all!

Friday, November 5, 2010

“Remember, Remember The Fifth of November”

This is the title of a British rhyme that refers to the failed attempt of Guy Fawkes (aka Guido) and a few other radicals who tried to overthrow King James I in 1605. James had just succeeded Queen Elizabeth I, who died in 1603. Evidently, QE allowed persecution of Catholics in England. When KJ continued that practice, even though his mother was a Catholic, the group decided to overthrow the government. They gathered 36 barrels of gunpowder and hatched a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, killing the King and possibly other Royals.

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

Their plot was discovered on November 5 and Guy Fawkes became the fall guy, the only one of the group who was caught. He was tortured and executed. Bonfires were lit to celebrate the safety of the King that night, and this tradition continues today with the fifth of November being called Bonfire Night, and effigies of Guy Fawkes being burned all over England.


Although this event hasn’t drawn a lot of attention outside England, it has inspired several books and at least one movie. The novel “V for Vendetta” by Alan Moore and the movie based on it bring to light this long-ago event.

Of course, the fifth of November is also the day that Ralph and Norma Cline welcomed their 4th child into their home in Lubbock, Texas 64 years ago, during the first year of the Baby Boom era. Named Sharon Diane, I grew up with siblings who mostly loved and often teased me. We moved to El Paso in 1952 when I was 5, and I attended 12 years of public school while living in the same house. This was the longest period I ever lived in the same location. I moved around for my education and career, as well as relationships, living in 6 different States and 10 cities. My jobs took me to all but one of the States (West Virginia), including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as several international destinations. I visited libraries, gave presentations at conferences, and went to branch offices of my employers.

Now, as a full-time RVer, I’m revisiting those states to see them at ground level, and going to small towns instead of big cities. After 30 years of flying, living out of a suitcase and driving rental cars, I’m glad to sleep in the same bed every night. And I did finally make it to WV recently. It’s a great life, and I’m happy to celebrate one more year of living it! My wonderful husband Don is making this a special day for me, and I couldn’t be happier to have him in my life.

Thanks to everyone who sent me birthday greetings. I return your wishes for many more years of enjoying life!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chicken Fried Bacon

As we left Montgomery, TX this morning and were passing through College Station, home of Texas A&M, Snook was only 12 miles out of our way. So we just had to take the detour. Where is Snook, TX, and why would we want to go there?


Snook is the home of Sodolak's Original Country Inn, home of Chicken Fried Bacon. We learned about this artery-clogging gourmet delight on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” on TV. Frank Sodolak carries the distinction of being the inventor of the dish.


I couldn’t find a web site for the restaurant, but you can Google it and find lots of reviews and comments. It’s the kind of place where bikers, hunters, roughnecks, firefighters and ordinary folks (like us!) are equally comfortable.


Served with creamy white gravy, hard to see in the photo, the calorie count is beyond my imagination. But you have to do this kind of thing once, right?


Don and I certainly enjoyed it, and we both agreed that it tasted lighter and crunchier than expected. It didn’t even taste as greasy as regular fried bacon.


So now we can say “Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt.”


Sunday, October 24, 2010

From Mt. Airy to Myrtle Beach, Red Bay, Gilmer and Livingston

What do you do when you know you *should* write a post to your blog, but the words just don’t come? Don and I have had several adventures during the month since I last posted, but for some reason I just haven’t written about them. A few readers have made me feel guilty for not posting, so I’m pushing myself to put together some words and pictures. If I were to write about all our experiences, this would be a very long blog, and probably not that interesting to read. So, I’ll just put up some pictures with a few comments to catch you up to date. Embedded links will lead you to read more about various attractions. Enjoy, and leave a comment so I’ll know you’re out there!

We visited Mt. Airy, NC, where actor Andy Griffith grew up. Mayberry Days are celebrated here, as this town is believed to be the inspiration for the Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry RFD. Wikipedia provides an interesting description, also.

We had lunch at Aunt Bea’s BBQ. My inner copy editor has to point out that it should be Aunt Bee, not Bea.


Andy Griffith’s modest home can now be reserved for lodging in Mt. Airy.


We had ice cream at Opie’s Candy Store.


Life-size statues of Andy and Opie stand outside the Andy Griffith Museum.


We spent about a week with Don’s son Craig and wife Liz in Myrtle Beach, SC. We got to park in the site next to them. The KOA campground is buried in the trees, so we were ‘satellite deprived.’ But we had cable TV and free WiFi from the park.


Remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole blew through the area during the last night of September, and a tree branch fell on our coach, bending the top of our motorhome ladder.


We went to Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede dinner and show with Craig and Liz.


Craig and another man, coincidentally also from Hawaii, were selected to represent the North (our side of the audience) and the South (the other guys) in a horseshoe contest in the show arena. No cameras were allowed inside, but we took photos of the horses prior to going in. Craig made friends with this horse. It was a fun evening of food, eaten totally without utensils, and entertainment.


A highlight of our visit was going kayaking on the Waccamaw River. There wasn’t anywhere to get out of the boats along the banks, so we gathered close together and ate our sandwiches in the shade of the oak trees.


This was our first time kayaking since Don’s accident. He managed pretty well with both his heel and wrist, although he got tired of paddling. Thanks to Craig and Liz for managing the loading/unloading of the boats and helping us into and out of them.

While Craig worked during the week, we took Liz on several outings, including a drive to Pawley’s Island. We drove around to see the remaining historic homes from the days when the wealthy vacationed here, and we took a short walk on the white sand beach.


On the way to Red Bay, AL, we drove on a portion of a new Interstate freeway, I-22, now US Hwy 78, northwest of Birmingham.


At the Tiffin Motorhome factory in Red Bay, we had several things fixed and/or upgraded, including replacing all our day/night shades with RollEase Shades. The valances were removed, modified to accommodate the brackets, and re-installed. After re-stringing all the day/night shades and still having them break repeatedly, we love the new shades! There’s a screen for minimal shading, and an opaque one for privacy. They are manually operated by a continuous bead chain hidden behind the side of the window trim.


Two cabinets were modified: The drawers in the pull-out galley island were very narrow.


The drawer fronts remain, but the pull-out now contains a more spacious pantry with adjustable shelves.


In the bedroom, a small chest of 4 drawers and tiny laundry hamper didn’t fill all of the space provided by the slide-out.


It was replaced by a new, deeper chest that includes 4 big drawers.


These modifications spurred us on to reorganize several other cabinets and discard lots of things we had forgotten we owned and never use any more.

Our final visit before reaching Livingston was with my cousin Jim Cline and his wife Sylvia at their beautiful historic home, the Warren-Futrell House in Gilmer, TX. Daisie Warren built this grand home in 1912, in an era when women couldn’t vote and rarely did anything independently. Jim and Sylvia retired early, after spending their careers with the U.S. Postal Service. They found this house and bought it, then researched and restored it after it had passed through several hands and associated modifications. Click here to learn more about the house, and its dedication as a Texas Historical Landmark. They could have opened it as a bed-and-breakfast, but instead undertook a successful second career in antique oak furniture restoration. Here are a few pics of them and the house. Click this link to the web album where there are lots more photos.






We’re now in Livingston, TX where we attended the annual Octoberfest at Escapees’ international headquarters at Rainbow’s End, as our first experience as VCRs (see previous post where we became VCRs).