Wednesday, February 29, 2012


We have had lots going on since we've been in Arizona. Today, we headed west to visit with a friend of ours, Pat, one of the fishing guides from the Tetons. No doubt, he feels kinda like I do: that "fish out of water," being in the desert. It was fun to get caught up.

He is spending the winter in Quartzsite. Things are definitely winding down there from the BIG crowds they get during the Gem & Mineral Show and mega RV showings they have in January. The restaurant we had lunch in today was mostly empty.

I didn't get a photo with all of us today, but here is a shot from last summer with Pat and Joan, preparing a meal outside the HitchHiker.

It's a couple hours to Quartzsite from where we are. And not much in between. Since we aren't going back to the Tetons this year, this was our only opportunity to visit. It was fun reminiscing about our time at Colter Bay Marina. Pat will be heading back there for his 7th season as a fishing guide. We'll be heading further northwest.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Put Tab A into slot B...

We did a little Ikea shopping over the weekend. No, not for us - the 5th wheel came furnished. ;-) But, the kids picked out some things for their house. One of those things is a storage cabinet just for shoes. With Steph and Dan working all day, I volunteered to put it together. The instruction book was around 27 pages long... no words, just drawings. Drawings of smiley people working in harmony. As long as I studied each drawing, I could figure out what went where...

When all was said and done, it looked just like the one on the store. The drawers opened smoothly, all the tabs went into all the slots, and it went well with the other white furniture in that room. And all those shoes will have a "happy place" to wait for their turn to be selected.

I like walking through Ikea... for the exercise and all the clever storage solutions. Oh, and the names of things; I find myself sounding like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets... although I'm not sure I want to bring home something called a Skanka.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Zoom, zoom...

I've been fussing with the front landing gear on our 5th wheel for quite some time. Last summer, I had to replace the legs when they jammed and locked in place while setting up in the Tetons (our site had quite a slope). On the way to Arizona, they quit again... not jammed, 'cause I could crank the gear down manually... the electrical part just quit functioning.

It was the landing gear motor. With a new one in, it is like night and day difference. It is obvious that the motor was crappy from day one, after seeing the way the new motor runs the gear. Heck, it's going to take way less time to set up... and probably way less cussing.

Makes me wanna haul this thing somewhere. ;-)

Friday, February 24, 2012

So, what do you do all day...

... out there in the desert?

Some of you know I am an early riser. When we're home or boat cruising, I often take in the sunrise on the water; one of my favorite times of the day. Out here in the desert, I am over that. Although the sun rising through the smog of Phoenix, to the east of us, can be pretty.

Of course, little Izzy likes to go for walks. She is not a big fan of gravel, though; and if you have ever been to the desert... well, there's a lot of sand and gravel around here. It's what most people have instead of a lawn, and what most RV parks around here are like. Yeah, I miss green. That's not to say there isn't any green around here... but, I'm not a golfer... and that is about the only green these people get to see.

Lunch. We base a lot of our day around lunch plans. And there are a lot of eating options in the big city. And you have to time it... avoid the lunch crowd, who are trying to get in and out on their lunch hour, but don't eat to early or late to mess up your supper appetite. Really, it's not as easy as it sounds.

Did I mention: cat walking?

And the real reason we are here: to see our daughter and son-in-law. As youngsters, they are still working... so, we have to time seeing them around their schedule. And, damn, they are busy. I'm not sure if they're this "busy" when we aren't around here.

Guitar playing. In case I decide to take this act on the road, I have been playing the new guitar way more than the one that got traded in. Like a kid with a new toy. Or a guy with a trophy wife. No, that's not in my schedule. I'm too busy being Joan's trophy husband.

Computer work. There are 4 internet forums that are pretty active that I participate in. By the time you get around to the 4th one, there are more new posts on the first 3. No wonder internet use while at work is a major time-waster. It's not a "time-waster" when it is part of your everyday routine. Joan does computer work, too...

I consider her a "power user," as evidenced by her laptop and the iPad both going at the same time. She wastes time on there by paying bills, checking on stuff I've ordered, and following certain stocks. I don't need that frustration... and if I do, I can drive around the block a few times to watch the price of gasoline go up on each lap.

Gotta run. I'm getting calluses on my fingertips again, and I have to go play before they soften up. Well, after I walk the cat.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The occasional annual meeting of the Cotton Lane Nu-Wa Owners Forum Contingent...

We finally got together with Stacy and Sharon (NuWa owners and friends of ours) for Happy Hour today. It was a treat to visit with them again... seems that we've been going different directions, and it toook scheduling the time to make this get-together happen, even though we've been in the same RV park for several weeks. We talked travel plans, produce, weather, storage, and what ever else came up... I'm only sorry that we didn't make this happen sooner, so it could happen again before they head out. Three of us tried to convince Joan that the Bluegrass Festival in Lake Havasu would be another good meet up, but is seems that banjo tuning (is that an oxymoron? grin) is at a frequency that grates on her eardrums.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

This place is a zoo...

Literally. Steph and Dan have an annual membership for the zoo. It was an absolutely lovely day - not too hot, not too cool, plenty of sunshine, not windy... I put on my hiking boots. We were not the only ones off to the zoo; a sign near the entrance let us know that there was no parking left in the main lot. After stalking around a bit, we found a spot in a nearby lot. Yep, there are a lot of people here; fortunately, the Phoenix Zoo is huge and it opens up a bunch after you get in the entrance gates.

This is a great zoo - nicely laid out in rolling hills. While it makes for using more leg muscles, it feels more like a park, with winding pathways, large ponds, and open exhibits. Some are open to the point where you are in with the animals.

A look around...

Here be dragons...
Baby komodo dragons, that is.

A bad hair day...

In your face...

And a boat ride! Out on a paddle boat...
We had Steph and Dan take the front; the "premise" was: it's your membership. In use: they could do the paddling. Joan and I sat in back, with the Captain giving occasional heading and steering advice.

We were able to paddle up fairly close to turtles and white pelicans...

I think this was my favorite part... not just because the pelicans reminded of the Tropical Tip, but because I got to sit and rest my tired feet while someone else propelled us around. ;-)

King of the beasts...

With the weather being so pleasant, most of the animals were out moving around in their sizable pens. We didn't have the disappointment of them being "shaded up" because of the heat.

We finished our time there with another treat: getting to pet stingrays...

It's a large tank with dozens of rays swimming about. It was apparent that some of them liked being petted while others were more aloof. More "water time". OK, this may have been my favorite part. ;-)

Afterwards, it was off to Texas Roadhouse to take care of the appetite we worked up while hiking around the zoo. Yeah, it was my favorite part.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Trailersailing Lite...

Lite, because we showed up at a trailersailing event without a boat. There is a major gathering of trailersailors at Lake Havasu, on the Arizona/California border... something on the order of a couple hundred boats and well in excess of 300 participants. Our plan was to "day-trip" it: 180 miles there, see some of our trailersailing buddies, look at some boats, and 180 miles back.

It was actually a pretty drive. Oh, still in the desert, but once we turned north at Quartzsite, the terrain turned "craggy": it's the Colorado River terrain. We made it there right before lunch and ran into friends before we made it to the Convention Center. Sailor friends from Kansas, California, Illinois, and Tennessee, gathering in the desert to sail. (I can't be the only one with thoughts of Burning Man. ;-)) I've corresponded with all these folks, but never met 4 of the 5. Our friend, Tim, from California, we've met in person before. Ron and Chari from Kansas, I've corresponded with, but never done a face-to-face...

We all went out for lunch at the nearby Red Robin. And the rest of the group: Tim, Bud, and Jerry...

I think Bud and Jerry have been traveling together too long, 'cause they couldn't wait to get on either side of Joan... and yes, there was another, "Are you 'the Blonde'?" as we first arrived.

After lunch, Jerry and Bud invited us for a sail on Bud's boat... a beautiful blue sky kinda day with nice wind - yeah, it would be hard to pass that up. While Jerry and Bud went to get the boat, we went back to the car to get me a long sleeve shirt and picked up some sunscreen. We met Tim back at the docks, and met Jerry and Bud when they arrived. And we were off.

5 sailors on Bud's very nice Seaward. Not enough controls to go around for everyone, so we took turns. The sailing was mighty fine.

Lots of boats out on the lake, taking advantage of the good breezes. We missed out on the race yesterday, but we were just fine with cruising around. Pretty scenery, we saw a Bald Eagle sitting on a hill, dodged a few boats, told some stories, and just had a great time doing what everyone came here to do: sail.

Late afternoon, Bud dropped three of us off at the marina and headed back to the marina where his slip is. The slips in front of the London Bridge Resort are very nice...

And, yes, that bridge in the back ground is the London Bridge.

We walked back up to the Convention Center, took a walk through the exhibitors, then said our good-byes. A quick trip around town to see what all has changed since the days that we used to RV in this area, and we hit the road. Our timing was such that we got to see some beautiful silhouettes before the sun set...

And then, the long drive back. It's been a while since we've had the opportunity to drive the speed limit - we're usually towing something big behind us. It was fun to do the passing for a change. Although it is annoying to come up on people driving less than the speed limit in the left lane... and there were a bunch of them on this stretch. I like to put the car on cruise control and just make some miles; and you know what George Carlin said about people who drive slower or faster than you. ;-)

A fine day. Sailing in the desert. I know there were plenty of folks there from colder places... I recognize that smile.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lunch with the teacher...

The forecast yesterday was: 30% chance of rain - places in northern Arizona were seeing snow (not unusual in the Flagstaff area). We were out and about, entertaining ourselves. No rain, but overcast. On the way back to the coach, the sky looked nasty to the west, the direction we were heading. It wasn't rain, rather blowing dirt. And just before the dirt hit, there was 12 seconds of spitting rain.

Guess what the coach, the truck, and the silver grandma car all look like now? Hope brown is in. ;-)

We're off today for "lunch with the teacher." In the 6th grade where Steph and Dan teach, the kids get tickets for doing well, helping out, and being good citizens. They can trade those tickets for rewards. The biggest reward is: lunch with the teacher. The teachers put out a table cloth over desks in the room, the kids bring their own lunch or school lunch, the teachers bring dessert and soda, and they make it a "luncheon banquet." It has become very popular, and the kids have to work hard to earn enough tickets for this... today, there are supposed to be 31 kids for lunch. I know the number, because Joan did the prep work yesterday for the desserts... and Steph decorated them last night.

It says a lot that the kids want to be with the teachers. As you can tell, I'm proud of the work Steph and Dan do... the dedication they have always impresses me. We see the work and expense (out of their pockets) that gets done beyond "work hours."

I suppose it would be out of line for me to suggest "washing the car for the teacher's parents" as a good civic duty? ;-)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

Hope you are able to spend the day with the one you love. I'm fortunate that way.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Two for the show...

An absolutely beautiful day here in the desert - upper 70s, almost no wind, clear blue sky, low humidity. Joan and I started the day with a walk around the park. When we got back, little Izzy was ready for her walk...

We talked about going to a movie, but it was just too pretty to be inside. Instead, I proposed we take in an RV show and sale we saw advertised on TV. After lunch, it was a 15 minute drive to the sports facility where the "show" is located. Show is in quotes because this is more of a sale - no charge to get in, no charge to park... about 5 dealers have new and used RVs they'd like to move. And the salespeople were ready to pounce since this was the first day of their show and sale.

No, there is nothing particular we are looking for - sometimes it is interesting to see what the newest offerings are. This "show" was much bigger than the one we paid to go through in the Rio Grande Valley... lots of motorhomes, 5th wheels, Class Bs, Class Cs, and travel trailers. It was interesting walking through, with no concern about trying to keep straight which model was which. It was more: "Hey, look at this!" We saw several 5th wheels with the living room in the front of the unit (where, traditionally, the bedroom is located); we both liked that - it gave the coach a more open feel but still had a nice division between the rooms.

I was particularly enamored with a large truck conversion...

Fortunately, there wasn't a booth where they were removing kidneys for resale... 'cause that's what it would take for me to consider that unit.

Sorry I didn't take a photo, but we saw a 5th wheel that had a smallish garage (good for a couple bikes) with ramps on either side (not a back opening), and a nicely arranged living room (something most toy haulers don't have), and a patio that folded out the side of the living room, and a large bedroom. The model identifier would have you believe it was 34 1/2 feet... no way could you get all that into that length... yep, it was 42 feet long! To paraphrase the Taco Bell dog, "I think I need a bigger truck." The manufacturer was stating the empty weight of that unit as 12,100 pounds. Sounds like bovine excrement to me.

Since we still had some skin left on our feet, we took a stroll through the Cabela's that was on our way back. Nothing we needed there, but it is fun to look through the store, see all the nice mounts on display, and check out any potential deals in the Bargain Den. Nothing we couldn't live without. Back to the HitchHiker and a sunset walk for Izzy.

Nice day.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Taylor Made...

Sometimes a standing Ovation, sometimes sitting. And, it's not easy sitting with an Ovation. I'm talking guitars here. I've had an electric/acoustic Ovation for a few years. Well, I was trying to remember exactly when I bought that guitar... "I think about 8 years ago." Only missed it by 50%; it was 14 years ago. I like the way the Ovation sounds and plays, but I was less than enthralled by how the guitar slides off my lap due to the rounded back (it's an Ovation "thing"). That rounded back is a "composite synthetic bowl." That means it's hard plastic or something like that. It makes for a nearly indestructible guitar for use on a boat or getting hauled around in an RV.

With our summer plans in mind, the discussion of traveling with the guitar came up. I get 3 or 4 e-mails a week from Guitar Center; after suggesting a "discovery mission" to their nearby store, Joan was onboard. I was looking for something smaller - like a Baby Taylor or something similar. Guitar Center is like a boat show for boaters... or a BIG RV dealer for RV enthusiasts. Lots of shiny things hanging all over the walls. Rows of amplifiers, a room full of keyboards, another room for drums. And my favorite place: a humidity controlled room for the acoustic guitars. They had a LOT to pick from. The Baby Taylor, the Big Baby Taylor, a 3/4 size "travel" Martin... scads of guitars. None of the smaller ones played or sounded like I had hoped. Joan said, "Try some of the full-size ones." Well, we are here. I played some Martins, Fenders, all the good brands. And then, I picked up a Taylor; full size, single cutaway, electric acoustic... ohhhhhhh, it just felt right. Joan could see it on my face - she said, "That one really sounds good! And I can tell you like it."

"Yeah, but it is just a sideways move from my Ovation."

"Is it better than your Ovation?"

"Well, yeah. But, it's not what we came in for."

Not too long after that, one of their managers came in that guitar room and asked about what I was looking for. He could tell that I really liked this particular Taylor. We talked about guitars a bit while I continued to look. Then he said, "Have you ever tried a T5?"

"If that's something new within the last 15 years or so, no." It really has been a while since I've guitar shopped.

"I have one we just got in. It's used, but absolutely like new. It's in the warehouse - I'll be right back."

I heard Joan say something to him before he handed me the guitar, but I didn't catch it. It took my breath away - a VERY pretty instrument. I later found out what Joan said, "Don't show him the price until he plays it." When I played it, it played... well, almost exactly like the other one. Oh, a lot more electronics on it (3 types of pickups), and a thin hollowbody with an absolutely beautiful finish. Well, thanks for confusing the situation.

That was yesterday. I went home and played my Ovation. Damn - both of those Taylors did play better, and sounded better. I guess a lot of things have changed in the past 14 years. Today, Joan suggested we go back with the Ovation and talk about a trade. We did. Of course, they offered me less than I thought mine was worth, but did get a bit flexible on the price of either of theirs. I played them both again. Really, that acoustic/electric called to me. The T5 is a magnificent instrument, but is best when played through an amp or a PA - it doesn't have the "ring" of an acoustic when unplugged. I was nearly swayed by "a pretty face."

We went for lunch, came back, made a counter-offer, and brought home a new Taylor. I didn't gain anything in the way of a smaller size, but, damn, this thing sounds good!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cold front coming...

Another typical desert winter day today: cool mornings, an afternoon high around 70º. There is a cold front that is supposed to move through the area tomorrow... dropping the daytime high to around 68º. And a "chance of precip"... 10%. (Yawn)

Monday, February 6, 2012

The fast paced world of TV repair...

Seems that TVs today are considered disposable. We have an odd situation with the TV in the bedroom of our HitchHiker: it gets a signal fine on cable or satellite, but not from over the air (OTA) antenna. Yes, it is the TV, not our coax cables, switcher box, booster, or antenna... we tried another TV in that location with all the same cables and it works fine.

Figuring that we can't break it any more than what it is, we took the TV down (it is mounted in a cabinet door) and started taking it apart...

Nothing out of the ordinary - nothing that is obviously disconnected. We dug in further.

Don't touch that - you'll get electrocuted! shocked

Took apart the do-hickey (technical term for the coax connection on the TV) connected to the whatchamacallit (printed circuit board)... again, nothing that appeared disconnected. "I've done what I can... time to close it up." ( I think I have been watching too many TV medical dramas).

It's a giant pain in the butt getting that TV lined up in the cabinet door, but doable with the two of us working together (how many husband/wife teams can say that? Roll Eyes).

Got it all put back together and... yep, same situation. Works on cable and satellite, not on the antenna. I guess I will be watching satellite programming until we can go TV shopping. I can see that the REAL problem here is going to be finding a TV that has similar dimensions. If I am living good, it will have the same hole pattern (also seems that there are different size hole patterns, depending on the TV and the size).

On the bright side, I did accomplish something useful today: our daughter and son-in-law have bicycles that haven't gotten any use in a long while because... "the tires are flat." While they were at work today, and in between messing with the TV, we ran to Wally World and picked up a couple innertubes. Replaced two goners. Pumped up the tires. Now, they have no excuse.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


What a game. The Superbowl was, indeed, super. I usually watch for the commercials, but almost all of them were "leaked" ahead of time, taking the element of surprise and interest during the game out of it. The food was fine - Joan always makes us something Superbowl-ish, and today was no exception; she and Steph made all kinds of good finger food, snacky kinda treats. By far, the most super of all the treats was a batch of cookies that Steph made... when we got to their house before the game, the house smelled like cookies!

The photo doesn't do them justice... they are S'mores cookies; chocolate chip cookies with graham cracker in the batter, chunks of chocolate and melted marshmallows. Oh my goodness, these are my new favorite.

Oh, and the game was outstanding, too. Good, right to the end. Congrats to the New York Giants. Oh, and my favorite commercial? The Chevy armageddon sticks in my mind. And the baby as a slingshot for Doritos.

Did I mention the cookies?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Date night...

Well, date afternoon. That's what happens when you get older. ;-) After lunch out, we took in a movie: The Descendents. George Clooney did a fine job in it. It's the first movie we've been to in months, and was a bit "heavier" than I expected. Now that we're settling back in from our trip to the Seattle area, we're trying to get back to a more leisurely schedule.

We drove to a theater in the Surprise area... Joan got "a deal" with Groupon. If I understand correctly, you check that site for your local area and find deals on food, movies, haircuts, car washes, etc. No idea what the cost of the Groupon was, but the theater has different prices depending on the time of day, your age, the color of your eyes, and your shoe size.

Good thing we have GPS built into our phones - the theater sat back off the road enough that we drove by it... twice. Still made it to our seats before the lights went down. Barely. No big deal, since it wasn't crowded.

When we came out of the movie, I had to laugh...

I've mentioned the fact that the Malibu we have is the quintessential nondescript grandma type car - it blends in wherever we park it. Maybe it just needs a set of false eyelashes? ;-)

On the way back to the park we're staying in, we drove through Pueblo El Mirage (an RV park and golf resort a half hour north of us). If "the economy" is the reason the park we're in is way less occupied than the past couple years, Pueblo El Mirage isn't aware of the state of the economy - they were full. Friendly management does make a difference.

Nice day here in the desert - lots of sunshine, very little wind, temp near 70º. I'm enjoying the sunshine.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Winging it...

Rain this morning, but it stopped in time for us to load up the Speck. Even had some breaks with blue sky on the way back to the rental place. I was kinda appalled when we first got that car, but it turned out to be very adequate for getting around in the city. We could fit into any parking spot, and when I would make a wrong turn, I could do a U-turn in about a lane and a half. Still, I didn't shed a tear when we turned it back in.

Gray skies while we're waiting for the plane, but sunny and 70s for the next 10 day forecast for the Phoenix area. We're looking forward to some of that sunshine. And, seeing "the kids"... daughter, son-in-law, and the furry one. Stephanie has been sending us photo texts this week so we could see how little Izzy has been doing.


On edit: Back in the desert. Quite a change from the rain and overcast of the PNW to the Arizona land of dry and infinite sunshine. Little Izzy was happy to see us, and vice versa.

We had a plan on boarding the plane: take the first set of unoccupied seats that didn't have screaming kids nearby. The couple behind us must have had their two kickers and screamers hidden under their jackets, 'cause we sure didn't see them. Just my luck - they put the two of them together in one seat... right behind me. In reality, the Mother was more of an annoyance than the kids... when they'd kick or scream she'd say, "Do you want a spanking? I'll do it right here." Repeatedly.

"Do it, already, lady... or shut up. The kids are fine." ;-)