Wednesday, December 30, 2009


OK, there have been more messages about me being "whipped", due to walking the cat with her sweater on. Perhaps karma for all those years of me chuckling at guys walking their little "yappy" dogs wearing sweaters. (No office to our friend, Snack) To those "friends", I said, "You will know I am whipped when Izzy and I go for walks in our matching outfits!"

Yeah, it's a photoshopped joke.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


I've gotten some private messages about... cat clothes.

On the subject of "cat clothes": Unlike Steph's cat who was not pleased at all with her "designer" t-shirt, Izzy didn't seem bothered by the sweater. Joan has been concerned about Izzy being cold. Izzy's fur is fine and silky... and she does not like going out when it's cold. Yesterday (day 2 with the sweater) - Izzy waits patiently by the door when I get the leash out. She seemed fine when Joan put the sweater on her and trotted right outside, even though it was chilly. I am in the "animals don't need clothes" camp. More like: "animals are embarrassed by clothes" camp... but, again I was outvoted. Not sure how that happens, since there are two voting members in this coach... one would think "unanimous or a tie" (I was a math major)... but, no. On the boat, there is the tradition of the sea where the captain's decision is law... apparently there is no such directive on land? Of course, I am kidding... I am frequently outvoted on the boat, too.

When I have tried to walk Izzy when it's cold (BS - Before Sweater), she takes a few steps, looks up at me and says, "Uh, uh," and runs back to the door. May just be coincidence. Apparently, little Izzy has the same tolerance for cold that I have.

This all may have come about when Izzy met Snack (the little Yorkie) this summer on the Erie Canal. Snack wore ribbons in her hair and had a wardrobe that would make Barbie jealous.

Best wishes for a wonderful 2010!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry and Bright...

Christmas was wonderful around our rolling condo and our daughter and son-in-law's home. No grandkids, but we did get plenty of kid-shopping for the Angel Tree at Steph and Dan's school. Joan and Steph cooked, we all played games, and doted on the kitties - Izzy and two "grand-cats" that belong to the kids. Cats are easy to buy for - if it's round and can be batted around, it's sure to be a hit. Joan has been threatening to get a sweater for Izzy, since it gets down right chilly here in the desert. I think cats are too proud to be "dressed up", but our daughter wasn't going to be thwarted.

Here's little Izzy in her new sweater from Stephanie...

Dressing cats aside, the best part of the holiday is spending time with family, and we were certainly blessed in that area.

Hope your holidays have been merry and bright.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Carols..

Izzy and I have been singing her favorites...

Have Yourself a Meowy Little Christmas

We Three Cats

And her special favorite (about a beach cat): I Saw Mommy Kissing Sandy Claws

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Zoo Lights...

Steph and Dan took us to see more Christmas lights, this time at the Phoenix Zoo. Nicely done. Some set to music. And lovely weather for an evening stroll through the zoo.

Not many animals to be seen, but they had a tank where you could pet stingrays... the rays seemed to enjoy the attention, some of them moving up to your hand in the water.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The day we met...

It's an anniversary of sorts... it was one year ago that we met the little bit of fur that is now our Izzy. That wasn't her name at the time; she was tiny, under-nourished; thin fur, ear mites, and didn't make a sound. When Joan reached into that cage at the shelter, I knew our agreement to "look for a more mature cat" was going by the wayside. I'm grateful no one listens to me.

And last night I finished writing the story of Molly. A bit of polishing up and I'll look for a literary agent.

Looking back, it's been quite a year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Glendale Glitters - in the old town part of Glendale, the weekend nights are glittering... if the PR is accurate: put the lights end to end and the strand would reach from Phoenix to Flagstaff. I believe it; what a festival of lights. Besides the typical Christmas tree, all the palm trees are adorned with outlines of lights. Lots of booths, selling food, ornaments, art... oh, and doggie hats. We had a great time walking around, taking in the sights, and eating a fudge ball.
From there, it was off to Westgate, the shopping and entertainment complex by the stadium. We found some bar-b-q and listened to a 3 piece acoustic band playing outside by the fountains. Nice way to spend a winter evening.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Desert Sunrise...

Our pace here has slowed, and we're just enjoying our time in the desert. We have a mountain view from our RV site and were treated to this pretty sunrise sky early this morning...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Big Red is Back!

Hallelujah! Big Red is back where she belongs. The body shop called just before 4:00 and Joan was out shopping. As soon as she got back, we hustled down to the shop, walked around our truck, and brought her home! She looks good - all the lines are smooth, the color matches, and everything on it works... yeah, the first thing we did was plug her into the HH and test the lights and brakes. Put the hitch in her. Nice!

I love my truck. I generally don't get all emotional about a vehicle, but this truck is a champ. And now she looks as good as she did before getting whacked.

They did a great job of cleaning her up after having her all apart. She has a bit of that "I've been cleaned with flowery stuff" smell, but other than that, she seems back to her old self.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Angel Tree...

I mentioned the Angel Tree in the previous post. Some of the good folks on the Trailer Sailor Bulletin Board helped... and every "angel" on the tree was "adopted." They sent donations to Steph. She and Joan went through ads, poured over the internet, clipped coupons, and took advantage of the "early-bird" morning sales to get the kids the most for every dollar. It took on the planning intensity of a military operation...

Through Joan's organization and Stephanie's heart, they hit the stores, knowing what items were needed. They picked out outfits, something warm (it gets downright chilly here in the desert), shoes, and something "fun" for each kid. Store to store.

Dan and I helped with the wrapping and bagging, and last night finished it all up.

Santa needs helpers to get to some of the homes... and there are Angel Trees in all communities.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tis the Season...

We have been helping Steph and Dan with the Angel Tree at their school. Joan and Steph have been shopping, getting the kids the most possible with the funds available. The sailing folks have really come through for the kids again, so there will be something on Christmas morning for every child on that Angel Tree. The economy is tough. There is a lot of need. And a lot of big-hearted folks that have made this possible. Saying thanks just doesn't seem like enough.

Around the home front, we have completed our Christmas letter and shot a new family photo - Izzy's first family Christmas photo session, and she did fine...

Big Red is getting close to being back where she belongs. I check in with the body shop every other day or so, and all the progress is looking good. The repair/replacement part is done; finish painting and clear coat to go.

Chilly weather here in the desert, but nothing like the winter storm that has hammered much of the US this week. Notice the sweaters in the photo above... quite a change from the t-shirts and shorts of recent Christmas photos.

Hope your season is merry and bright.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Batten down the hatches!

The weather weasels were calling for wind and rain last night... flash flood warnings locally. We certainly got rain, but the wind was WAY above what was predicted, with gusts well over 50 mph. During one particularly strong gust before midnight, the Love Shack shuddered and the power went out. Fortunately in an RV, the fridge switches itself over to gas and the 12 volt furnace and lights still work. Joan went through the coach, shutting off our electric items, like the fireplace and water heater. I figured the power would come back on shortly... I was wrong. At 7:00 this morning, we still didn't have power. After firing up the generator so we could have our morning coffee, we turned on the TV and heard that 150,000 people in this area still don't have power.

Could be worse: this same storm dropped a BUNCH of snow in the Flagstaff area, with over a foot already and another foot expected. Lots of folks in that area without power. At least at our temp and elevation, the precip was rain.

This park has a "no generators" rule... we weren't the only ones who needed power this morning. We don't do much boondocking (overnighting without a plug-in); this is the first time we've run the HH on the generator; works fine.

A quick walk around shows that the HitchHiker handled this fine. Our VuQube (satellite dish) blew over and the cargo trailer moved a bit. No damage that I can see at this time, but the windows across the back and sides are filthy - blowing dirt and rain.

But, the sun is shining this morning, and we are snug in our HH.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's a dry heat...

And a wet cold. Startling fact I picked up on the local weather this afternoon: average rainfall year to date should be just under 8". Yeah, for the whole year. And they are over 4" behind so far this year. But today, it has been raining. A cold rain, moving in from the northwest. And before it moves out tomorrow, they may see 2-3", making for flash flood warnings locally.

I was beginning to think it was me. After all, there was 12" of rain in Rockport the day we showed up there! And then there was July and August in New York... nahhhhh, must just be coincidence.

Surprising how fast cabin fever sets in.

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

It's the freakin' desert - it looks like the desert. As the Christmas season approaches... well, it still looks like the desert.

We are settling in; Joan brought out some Christmas decorations to put up in and out of the HitchHiker. Certainly nothing like decorating the boat... just something to make this gravel site we're on feel more Christmassy.

One of our new purchases is this giant evergreen tree you see in the photo. It’s one of the rare trees from the fibrous opticus family. Apparently they are only found in China, but occasionally are shipped to the US. It cost a small fortune ($12.88), but what the heck - it’s the season. When these rare trees are energized with electricity, the ends of the branches glow! In different colors! Yes, it’s true; what a find!

On the outside of the coach, we kept it simple, yet not fancy. A string of red rope lights is intertwined with a string of white rope lights and then carefully laid beside the RV on the gravelly desert floor. Next to the rear corner of the coach, there are 8 single LED solar lights. But wait, there’s more: we carefully hung a string of flashing star lights in the tree. Yes, the same tree we had to trim to get our slide out extended. We’re doing our part to bring cheer to the skinny pull through section of the Cotton Lane RV Resort.

I visited with Bev today (the lady who keeps an eye on our place while we're gone); she said the weather at home is miserable cold, windy, and drizzly... "Be glad you aren't here trying to get your boat decorated!" There is snow predicted for the Houston area (WAY up the Gulf Coast from our place)... PI is going to be in the low to mid-30s tonight! Brrrrrrrrrrrrr! Not much warmer than that at night here in the desert, but it warms right up as soon as the sun comes up.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Big Red looks naked!

The general manager of the park came by today and offered several options to make things right, including moving us to another site with his truck. Very gracious of him. We worked out a solution that was acceptable to both of us and put this behind us.

We stopped by the body shop today to see what they found on Big Red when they could get beneath the sheet metal...

She looks naked with the bed off and holes cut in the cab... but, no surprises beneath the skin, and we are still on schedule for completing the repair. The staff at A&D Body Shop have been very helpful and thorough.

I topped off the day with a motorcycle ride. It cools down fast when the sun goes down here in the desert.

Best wishes,
Jim B.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Valley of the Sun...

We rolled into the Phoenix area this afternoon. We will be down for a month and Big Red goes in tomorrow to start her "make over." I have to say we were a bit disappointed with the RV park here (Cotton Lane RV and Golf Resort)... we made the reservation a long time ago and reserved a specific spot with plenty of space around it. When we pulled in with the cargo trailer in tow (and we told them about it when we made the reservation), they moved us to the "north 40 cheap seats"... for the same price, we get less than half the space. Our neighbor is so close we can't put our awning out. BUT, we were told "It is a pull-though site, and that's where RVs with cargo trailers have to go." The manager here is less than friendly, and let us know it was this or nothing. Apparently, sheds and temporary car ports are acceptable, but a cargo trailer is offensive. angry If we had known this ahead of time, we would have made reservations elsewhere. And now with Big Red going in for repairs in the morning, we have no way to move anywhere else. It chaps me to give this place our money... we've stayed here a half dozen times in the past, but this will be the last time they'll get any of our money. Too bad, it's the park that's the closest to our daughter and son-in-law's home.

On the bright side, there's no snow and it's dry! I'm hoping we'll get some biking in this month - both the motorized and pedal variety.