Friday, June 23, 2017

Letting the Cat out of the Bag

We now have a sign in front of our RV lot in Cochise Terrace Resort that I thought I’d never see.



Don and I have decided to make a pretty major lifestyle change. After almost 23 years of full-time RVing for him and over 14 for me, we are ready to settle down with a “sticks and bricks” style home. We bought a lot in the Cochise Terrace homeowners area and originally planned to hold onto the lot for a couple of years before putting a house on it.


It’s about the only remaining lot that has any kind of a view, and is on a corner. After thinking it over, we couldn’t come up with a good reason to wait on building the house. We both believe in enjoying every day that we have, because you never know when you won’t have them (or be able to enjoy them).


We designed our floor plan by combining our favorite parts of the standard plans, with a few extra modifications. The manufacturer is Cavco in Phoenix. We have been to the plant and toured a model home, as well as some in the construction process, and we’re impressed with the quality built into the structures. Once finished, it’s hard to tell the house wasn’t built on site, and the lower price tag makes this type of home a great option for a lot of people.

Our home will be made up of two 14’ sections (total width 28’), one section will be 44’ long, and the other 52’6” long, making it 1,341 square feet, more than 3 times the space we have inside the motorhome. We’ll have 2 bedrooms, 2 full baths with both a walk-in shower and garden tub in the master. Don will use the 2nd bedroom as a man cave, and I’ll use a “retreat” room connected to the master bedroom for my quilting and other hobbies.

The two sections will be transported, after our final inspection in early August, to Benson where the site will have been prepared with a dugout to fit the footprint of the house. The two parts will be placed in the ground and joined, with flooring and utilities connections done, as well as outside landscaping and finishing to the outside walls. We should get the keys and approval for occupancy in early September.

Ground-breaking and construction of a block wall has started while we’re traveling in Colorado, escaping the heat of Arizona – and keeping us out of the way for various projects being done. Thanks to Gloria King for the picture below, and the developer has also sent pictures of the wall-building project.


We plan to downsize our RV, and will be selling our 2012 Phaeton 40QBH after another year or so of traveling. We’ll still be RVers, just not full-time. If anyone is interested in either our RV lot or our motorhome, please contact me for more information.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Show Low to Cortez to Durango

We got together with friends Lila and Stephen Dudley at the Elks Lodge where we parked the motorhome in Show Low. It was Friday night fish fry, which was pretty good. Then they invited us to see their cabin in the woods and have dessert at their place. So we followed them over and got a tour of the neighborhood. What a nice place to escape the heat in lower elevations of Arizona in the summer!



Thanks for the special tour and delicious key lime pie, Steve & Lila. We’ll visit you again next time we’re in that neck of the woods!

One day we drove to nearby Snowflake to view some of the pioneer homes. It was the day of the historical society’s big rummage sale, so there was nobody to lead tours through the homes except for a reluctant young woman in the museum, and she would have had to close up the museum to give us a tour. We opted to just do a driving tour around town.



As we learned in the Show Low museum, Snowflake was named after Erastus Snow and William Flake, Mormon pioneers, who founded it in 1878. Below is the Flake home.


This monument honors the pioneers.


Leaving Show Low, we drove to Cortez, Colorado. The trip was a little over 300 miles, farther than we like to drive in a day, but we weren’t drawn to stay anywhere else along the way. We did make a slight detour (on very bad, narrow, worn-out roads) to visit the famed Four Corners. The monument was established by native Americans and we were charged $5 per person for the privilege of parking in a rough dirt lot (that took a lot of planning to avoid having to un-hitch the towed) and go stand in line to get our picture taken. We started a conversation with a nice family from Munich, Germany, on a tour of the American west. So we swapped cameras and took pictures of each other.


Now we can say, “been there, done that.”

We loved our brief stay in Cortez, did a little shopping, found a wonderful Italian restaurant, and just kicked back. One of the trading posts had lots of beautiful native American items for sale with beautiful price tags ($$$$$!) plus a free museum on the lower level.




One day we visited the Anasazi Heritage Center, and since it’s a Federal institution we got free admission with our “geezer card.” It was very interesting and we recommend it to anyone traveling through the area.


I really enjoyed seeing the beautiful hand-crafted items from so long ago.


Also, the artifacts unearthed by archaeologists were fascinating.


Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that our friends Wendy and Mike Lawrence were in Cortez, so we missed a chance to get together with them.

We’re now in Durango, where we celebrated our 9th anniversary yesterday with a wonderful dinner at Ken & Sue’s Restaurant in the historical downtown. I posted the picture below on Facebook and couldn’t believe all the well-wishes we received from friends and family! Thank you all, we really loved hearing from you.

Don & Sharon 9th

In closing, many of you know that Kay Peterson, co-founder of the Escapees RV Club with her late husband Joe Peterson, passed away after a brief illness at the age of 90. We were so privileged to know her and Joe personally, and she will be missed by many. Our friend Nick Russell wrote a wonderful eulogy in his blog post Goodbye Miss Kay, and I encourage all RVers to read it. What a marvelous woman!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Show Low, AZ

Don & I escaped the heat in Benson and made our first visit to Show Low, in the White Mountains. Yesterday we didn’t do much more than drive here – I drove the first half and he drove the last half that included the slow, steep descent and climbing on 25mph switch-back curves. It was a beautiful drive, and we were happy to enjoy low 80’s instead of high 90’s as we had in Benson and 105+ in Tucson. We got parked at the Elks Lodge RV Park, after a bit of confusion on the part of the bartender as to what sites were not occupied, and even got a clear shot of the sky among the tall trees for our satellite dish.

We were disappointed that Gloria & Frank weren’t able to come with us as previously planned, due to a wind shear that ruined the awning on their brand-new travel trailer. It wasn’t windy at all that day, until a big whoosh! and the awning arms were toast.


Don & Frank were able to dismantle the arms and wire the rolled awning to the side brackets so the trailer could be towed.


Gee, it was just a few days earlier that it looked like this!


It’s now back at the dealer in Tucson awaiting parts, so Gloria & Frank are waiting until it’s ready to start their summer travels. They made a nice choice for a down-sized rig that can go places their almost 40-ft 5th wheel can’t, including family and friends’ driveways. The floor plan is a nice one, with the bedroom separate from the living/cooking/eating area. And their heavy-duty truck pulls it easily.

Now that we’re on the road again, we enjoyed playing tourist today with a stop at the visitor center to pick up maps, brochures and guides, and to get recommendations for restaurants. We had a great lunch at PersNIKKIty's Cafe. The letters spelling Nikki are in caps because it’s the owner’s name. Cute place, small enough that we shared a table with a couple of women who graciously invited us as they got the last open one and there was plenty of room at the table for 6.

After lunch, we went to the local historical museum. It was very interesting and we spent a couple of hours there. Here are a few of my pictures.

Sand paintings have always fascinated me.


Dyes used for yarn and fabrics were made from various plants by Native Americans.


Beautiful paintings.


Arrowheads displayed as art, and handmade pottery bowls.


Art piece made from broken bowl shards.


Kachina dolls – this picture is especially for Bill Mains who has a great collection.


Several quilts. Maybe I’ll take some inspiration from them. The quilts and clothing were mostly made by hand with a few dresses from very primitive sewing machines.



This telephone switchboard was used in nearby Holbrook in the early 1960’s.


Regional ranch brands adorn this wall.


I used some of these old business machines back in the day! Not the telephone, though. Smile


Unfortunately, the model trains only run on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The level of detail and accurate depiction of a town were very well done.


In closing, we are mourning the loss of Gloria & Frank’s beloved dog Shadow. She passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday evening. We became friends with Gloria & Frank while we were in Alaska in 2011, and the fact that both our dogs were named Shadow was part of the reason we got to know each other. Now both of them are over the Rainbow Bridge – maybe they’re together again.

Two Shadows

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Modesto, Hearst Castle, and Beyond

Before leaving Modesto, we spent another day mostly with Frank & Dottie, starting with a trip to the Saturday morning farmer’s market. The weather was nice, and we loved seeing all the fresh produce, as well as hand-made products of many varieties, and listening to live music.


We even found time to have lunch with a long-time RV friend, Pat Livingston, who was part of our “Loosey Goosey Gang” led by Dennis & Carol Hill to Alaska in 2011.


We had dinner later with Frank & Dottie at Fisherman’s Galley. We tried to get in to Outback but there was a 45-minute wait for a table, whereas we were only one of three groups at Fisherman’s and we all enjoyed the meal and chance to continue our visit.

Here’s a picture showing Bella’s face. Do you think she looks like a slightly larger Gigi?



Our next stop down the road was to tick off an item on Don’s bucket list: Hearst Castle. He had never been there, but I had visited several times when I lived in California, and then took all 5 tours (as offered then) in 2003 when I first started full-time RVing. If you’ve been there I’ll spare you the tedium of looking at all my pictures. If you haven’t been, look at the Hearst Castle website for professional pics. Here are just a few of the many I took.

We arrived early for our 10:00 tour of the Grand Rooms so we explored the gift shop. Somehow this style hat doesn’t exactly suit Don, but he had fun modeling it anyway.


We could see glimpses of the castle from the bus on our ride up to the top of La Cuesta Encantada (The Enchanted Hill).




How would you like to be a guest at this dinner table?


And sleep in this bedroom?


We took the Grand Rooms Tour on Monday, then the Upstairs Suites Tour, followed by the Cottages & Kitchen Tour, both on Tuesday. After climbing more than 300 steps on the second tour plus all the walking and steps on the other tours, our legs and feet were tired. We decided to check out a nearby restaurant recommended by one of the guides: Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill in Cambria. Their clam chowder was really good – we had it in sourdough bowls and it was a hearty meal. The outdoor seating offered a great view of the Pacific Ocean too.


The Atascadero Elks Lodge was our home for these few days, and we enjoyed having full hookups with 50 amps for $25/night – inexpensive for this area. Yesterday I drove the 34.8 mile distance to Oceano, where we are again staying at the local Elks Lodge paying $25/night. This time it’s water and 30 amps with a dump that is hard to get to, but it’s just a block from the ocean and all the other RV parks here charge even more than around Atascadero.

We again had clam chowder for dinner last night, this time at a small cafe in Pismo Beach called Splash. The chowder is creamier but doesn’t have bacon cooked in it like Moonstone does. Both chowders were good, just different. We’re enjoying the cool ocean breezes here, but I hope it warms up and the sun comes out so we can take Gigi to the beach.