Saturday, February 27, 2010

AJ Area

We have explored several areas around the Valley of the Sun from our base in Apache Junction. One thing we have really enjoyed is the walks in the desert just across the street from Desert Holiday RV Park. The rain we have had has turned the land green and has the cacti just waiting to burst into bloom. The walks have also given us a great view of the Superstition Mountains (our new blog photo) towering in the East.
Just a few miles east the road climbs into the mountains and the sign warns of 35 miles of twisting, turning driving ahead. The reward for the drive is the great view of Canyon Lake.
Just beyond Canyon Lake is Tortilla Flat, an old stagecoach stop on the Apache Trail. Today it is billed as the "Real Old West" with the highlight being the Superstition Saloon. There are a few other shops selling genuine western junque for all the tourist.
The bar is unique with old saddles serving as "stools" and the walls covered with nearly $100,000 in bills from around the world. Everyone knows Nanc likes to drink her wine from a wine glass, but this is the first time the wine glass was a small jam jar. The whole Western theme even extends into the rest rooms.
Another trip was with Alan and Sharon to Cave Creek for lunch and some gallery hopping. As you can see, the Steeler's Nation is even thriving here in Cardinal's country. The sign did look like someone had thrown red paint (or more likely a red alcoholic drink) at it, but it was obviously repelled by Steeler power.
Another stop with Sharon and Alan was to a Mesa art gallery where they had work on display. We were very disappointed when we learned neither of them won recognition for their fine work. Sharon's pastel is the sheep herder's cabin at Boyce Thompson Arboretum.
To get deeper into the desert we hiked a trail in the Tonto National Forest. There were many different cacti and rocks as we climbed to a saddle overlooking the mountains in the distance.
The trail brought us to Weavers Needle, the remains of an ancient volcano.There were a variety of rock formations along the trail including hoodoos and balanced rocks. There were also several species of cacti like the cholla, prickly pear, ocitilla and saguaro with their human like characteristics.
Alan and Sharon invited us to their home for a farewell luncheon where we got to meet their friends Mike and Rose, another RVing couple. We had a wonderful afternoon sharing ideas about places to visit on the road. We will be leaving AJ on Monday after stopping to purchase new RV tires. We plan to sprint (for us) 1200 miles in four days across Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas. This will be a first for us as we usually just slowly meander but we are on a mission to get back east while still staying in the warmer weather. We really enjoyed spending the month here and having the opportunity to spend time with family and friends. It just might be a winter destination in the future.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Desert Holiday at Desert Holiday

Tom and Georgie flew to Phoenix to deliver mail, visit, relax and escape the Pennsylvania winter weather. They arrived on Thursday to sunny skies and temps in the 70's. Unfortunately, the forecast of extended sun proved to be wrong as we had two days of off and on rain and temps in the 60's and it was even 55 one day. We awoke on Tuesday, their last day, to see snow on the distant mountains where there had been none all month. All that said, we had a great visit and enjoyed the time together. We went to two of our favorite places near here, the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and Taliesin West. (You can see the earlier post about these places here.) The day we went to Boyce Thompson was sunny and warm and we all enjoyed the spring desert landscape. We had visited Fallingwater, another Wright building, together during a major renovation a few years ago and have always been big fans of this work. We ate at several different places, including Filly's, a local cowboy bar that has good food and a live band. Another day we got together with Linda Rocks whom Tom, Georgie and I taught with in Washington. We went to Scottsdale to do a little gallery hopping and window shopping. We played euchre three evenings and I am glad to report that the guys kicked butt all three times:) Even though the weather was not great by Arizona standards, it was still MUCH better then what they are having in WashPA and we did not let it stand in the way of having a grand time together.
Scenes from the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.
Taliesin West - The spiral pictograph found at Taliesin became the logo. Wright interpreted it as being hands clasped in fellowship. The tower, designed by Wright, was built in Scottsdale during this century making him the only architect to have a design built in three centuries. Every time you visit a place you learn something new.
We toured the Old Adobe Mission in Scottsdale. It was built in 1933 and is being restored.
Even with the great cards Nanc has in her hand the guys still prevailed. Unfortunately, she never got to play this hand.
The happy retirees enjoyed an evening catching up.
If there is no rain there will be no rainbows. We were rewarded with a classic full rainbow that deposited the pot-o-gold near the rig.
The happy travelers in long sleeves with winter coats in hand preparing to fly back to the snow. As we always say getting to spend extended time with friends and family is the best thing about the fulltime lifestyle.

Monday, February 15, 2010

An Extra Special Valentine's Weekend

Rick and Denise flew into Phoenix for a Valentine's weekend visit and getaway at the Royal Palms Resort. After picking them up we drove to Old Town Scottsdale for a great lunch at the Italian Grotto while catching up on what has been going on in all our lives since we last saw each other in Vancouver, BC last summer.
Old Town is a neat area with many restaurants, shoppes and galleries in an Old West setting. It is really "upscale" and we did a lot of window shopping.
The Royal Palms is a beautiful resort that was originally the home of T. Cook. The resort offers many services of which we took full advantage. We had lunch at the pool and worked on our tans under sunny warm skies. Rick and Denise loved the escape from the PA winter weather.
On Saturday we all had massages. It was very relaxing getting all the kinks worked out. Carol, my masseuse, was interested in our fulltime lifestyle and wondered if she could make a living as a masseuse while traveling. We definitely encouraged her to consider it and told her we thought she could do well in the RV community. It is great from time to time to be pampered.
The evening started with a drink at the bar followed by dinner at T Cooks, the resort restaurant voted as one of the most romantic in Phoenix. It has a beautiful rustic Mediterranean decor with cozy little alcoves and fire pits. The meal was fabulous with Rick, Denise and Nanc having lobster tail while I opted for the locally raised lamb. Wonderful!!!
On Sunday Rick and Denise came to our place for brunch and a quiet afternoon. While it was a whirlwind visit, it was very relaxing and great getting to spend so much time together and catching up.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hanging out in Apache Junction

The view of the mountains from the rig.
Alan working in the new studio.

We are now in Apache Junction for the month of February at Desert Holiday RV Park. Our plans are to just chill a bit and visit with friends. We did go to the Mesa Flea Market, one of those huge places that sells everything anyone could possibly want but nothing anyone really needs. Sharon and Alan Frey, who we met last winter in Rockport and who we crossed paths with several times this summer, have purchased a double wide here so they have more room to work on their pastel painting. Their new place has plenty of room for a studio and all their art materials. We have gotten together a couple of times and this week we are going to go to an art exhibit that includes some of their work. We also stopped to see Nick and Terry Russell. We attended one of their Gypsy Journal Rallies in Ohio and saw them in Texas last winter. Nick has a great blog and a RV travel newspaper, The Gypsy Journal, that is filled with good stories on all aspects of fulltiming. We wanted to buy a copy of their RVer's Guide to Fairground Camping and see their new rig. We had a nice visit swapping travel stories about this fantastic lifestyle with a couple of experts who have been on the road for ten years. Nick also gave me some good advice on where to purchase new tires. We both need replacements and he had already done the research which saved me from having to do it. Thank you Nick.

While riding the bikes in Yuma last week we each had a flat (again) and have finally figured out it's the very sharp desert thorns that are the source of our troubles. We started searching for a bike shop to get heavy duty tubes but the first couple shops we tried did not have the size we needed. We then tried Mike's Bike Chalet in Mesa and were surprised to discover that we met Mike last spring. He is the mate of Linda Rocks whom I taught with and visited last spring when we passed through the area. We are planning to see Linda again and it was another of those "it's a small world moments" when I walked into the bike shop.

We are looking forward to the weekend when Rick and Denise are coming out for a long weekend stay at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa in nearby Scottsdale. The four of us are scheduled for a day of pampering at the spa and a Valentine's dinner at T Cooks. We will have the whole weekend to catch up since we have not seen them since our stay in Vancouver, BC this past summer.

The following week Tom and Georgie will be flying out with a personal mail delivery and to spend a few days in the sun to escape the long, cold, snowy winter they have been suffering through in Wash PA. Getting to spend time with friends and family continues to be a real highlight of fulltiming.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Bright New Smile

On our last week in Yuma we got together a couple more times with Dick and Joan and checked out more things in the Yuma area. We used a bike trail that started near the RV park and ran through the West Wetlands Park and then along one of the many irrigation canals that runs through the city.
This is a monument to the Mormon Battalion which crossed the Colorado River here as they traveled from Council Bluffs to San Diego in 1846 - 47. The battalion traveled through land won by the US in the Mexican War of 1846. The trail was then used by 60,000 forty-niners heading to the California gold fields.
The West Wetlands Park did the job of holding water during the rain. The park has a great trail system, a fish filled lake, ball fields and a large playground. This is a solar array in the park that puts electricity into the grid.
We wanted to go to Mexico to get our teeth cleaned so Dick and Joan took us to a dentist they have used. The town of Los Algodones has many dentists, optometrists, pharmacies, and stores selling many other things, lining the streets in a small ten block area. We met a couple from Oregon in the dentist's office who had flown to Yuma for a week just to have dental work done. We were very happy with the job done by Dr. Rodriguez as you can see by our bright shining smiles.
The streets of Los Algodones were busy with American and Canadian snowbirds. We found it to be cleaner, less crowded, but a bit more expensive than Progresso, where we visited Mexico last winter. Like most of the people, we parked on the US side and walked across the border so we had to stand in line for about a half hour to get through customs on the return.
As you can see, going to Mexico can be an hair raising experience.
We really enjoyed our time in Yuma, especially the time we got to spend with Dick and Joan. It was like we had not seen each other for thirty days not thirty years. It was great talking about old times. We look forward to visiting with them again when we return to the Yuma area.