Thursday, December 31, 2015
As I look back, 2015 has been a good year for us. A change in land cruising, with a move back to a motorhome. Another downsizing, from the HitchHiker - and we are enjoying the change. We spent over 3/4 of the year in it... including a pretty amazing summer in the San Juan Islands again.
We will ring in the New Year with our delightful daughter and son-in-law; a continuation of the games and prizes from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We are long over going to Las Vegas or some other loud, crowded celebration. Heck, we may even manage to stay up 'till midnight. Well, midnight in New York, since we are two hours behind that. ;-)
Everyone here is doing fine. No firm plans for 2016 yet, other than some traveling starting next month. We send our best wishes for a joyous New Year.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
The Blonde and I had a lovely day today - we had a couple things on her to-do list, nice sunshine (even though it never got above 60º)... it was nice just to be out and about.
One of the Christmas gifts Joan got me is a small dye-sublimation printer. I had one, enjoyed it a bunch, but finally wore it out. That one was made by Kodak, this one is a Canon; very similar in usage. She also bought a small pack of photo paper that is a sticky-back, but small. Not sure what I'd do with that, but she likes the idea. More on that shortly.
She bought this printer at Joann's Fabrics. For those of you not familiar with that store, it is a lot like Michael's... or Hobby Lobby, with more emphasis on craft and sewing stuff. Let me go on record here: the staff in those stores seem to know nothing about a dye-sublimation printer or the paper and supplies. The pack of small sticky-back paper has to have a different cassette to feed it into the printer. No big deal... just not something I see a use for. That said (a couple times now) you cannot use that paper without the different cassette, that does not come with the printer. Joan looked online and saw that a Joann's store a half hour or so away had 7 of those smaller cassettes on hand. We were heading to that area, anyway, to pick up something at the Apple Store.
We had a nice lunch out. Even though it was packed, a young lady at the Apple Store made our stop there quick and easy. On to Joann's. We could not find that smaller cassette with the printer supplies. Joan did grab another box of the small sticky-back paper and one other item. We went in search of a store person to help us find the smaller cassette. Joan gave me the other two items and said, "You get in line to pay for these, and I'll get the cassette by the time you get through the line."
Let me say: it was a LONG line...
Yeah, that line wraps around to the left, if you follow it forward. It was a long line. I was the only person with testicles in that line... not that having testicles is a plus or a minus in this circumstance. While waiting, I was surrounded by craft-stuff... magazines, sequins, yarn, yarn magazines, sewing stuff, sewing magazines... really, who knew there were all these crafty-stuff magazines? I kept looking nervously over my shoulder to see if Joan was anywhere to be seen, with a cassette for paper I don't need in her hands. Nope.
When she did show up, I had already let two ladies behind me go around. Of course, they didn't have, or couldn't find, any of the small cassettes. So, I stood in line all that time to pay for a $3.49 package of Handi-Tac.
Being the nice guy that I am, I suggested she check online to see if the Joann's that is closer to our RV park has any of those small cassettes (that I still don't need) in stock. Yep. Four of them. We drove there... hey, it was on the way home. It was also WAY less crowded than the store that is by the large mall. Imagine that?
Joan found a nice lady who works there... who also had no idea what we were talking about. Joan had the item, including the store item number on her phone. Really, this should be easy. It wasn't. This nice lady went to their "back room" (I think it is a place they go to get away from customers). Twice. "I have never heard of this thing." Yep, we know. She looked all around on the shelves. We looked all around on the shelves. Nada.
Joan finally gave up and asked about ordering and having it shipped to the store. The nice lady took us to a register up front to do that. Near that counter was a locked down area, that did have stuff for a Cri-Cut printer (more crafty stuff). Joan asked if they might have that cassette in there. The nice lady said, "I don't think it would be in there..." Joan poked around a bit through the wire guarding that stuff and said, "There is something in there with red lettering - this cassette should be in a box with red lettering." (It was buried to the back, where only a corner of the package could be seen. If you bent way over and twisted your neck just so.)
Yes, Joan found it. So, we now have that small cassette that will hold the sticky-back paper that I have no idea what will be the use. It is nice to be able to go into a store, armed with info that you find online, so you can tell them what they actually have in their store. ;-)
We also made a stop at Trader Joe's. Among other stuff, Joan bought several bottles of wine. I don't drink wine. I may start.
For full disclosure, I think Joan feels the same way about going into the Apple Store. I like going into the Apple Store, even if I don't need anything. If there is something specific you are looking for, one of the "geniuses" there will know where to find it. Nothing like a craft store.
No, not like in the frozen northland.
But, it has been chilly for most of our time here in Arizona, so far. Warmer days ahead.
This morning, after eating her breakfast, little Izzy wanted to go for a walk. I said, "Maybe later - it is cold out there!" (Somewhere around 40º) She doesn't fuss. She does, however, do her "sad kitty" face... and laid sweetly by me. Amazing how they know how to "work you."
I let her listen to my headphones for a bit...
This little furry girl loves music. I felt the guilt slipping in and said, "OK, let me get some warm clothes on and we'll go for a walk."
She perked up. I didn't know Joan was going to put a sweater on Izzy while I was getting dressed. Out for a walk...
We didn't go far and didn't stay out all that long, but she is a happy girl.
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
She said, "This will be good on the scooter."
I know what you're thinking: "Wow, Jim, you are more flexible than I thought."
While shopping at the Container Store, Joan found these...
It's a Velcro strap with a metal hook on the end. Some scooters come with bag-hooks - a hook that folds out and allows you to hang grocery bags on it. For times when the area under the seat isn't enough carrying capacity. The PCX is a great scoot, but no bag hooks. They fit around the handlebar, giving us more carrying options.
These are sold as stroller hooks, but will be great on the scoots. I like practical stuff like this.
What? Oh, yeah, there were other gifts. They don't lend themselves to a title as good as this one. ;-)
If it ever warms up here in the desert, we'll give my hooker a try. There has been plenty of sunshine, just a bit nippy right now. I'd like to see 60º or warmer to get out on the scoots. Yes, I am a candy-ass. We have a car here, we don't have to rely on just the scoots.
Sunday, December 27, 2015
When we visit here, we generally take in some professional sports. Steph and Dan's school was recognized for raising money for St. Jude's Children's Hospital, and had group seating for this game.
One of the perks was being allowed in before the general public, to watch the team warm up...
After that, Joan and I walked a couple laps of the arena, in search of some pricey "game food." Then up to our actual seats...
I would call this the OMG section, as in: OMG, we are WAY up! This is the first time we have had seats higher than the Jumbotron...
After letting the vertigo settle, we waited for things to get started. Lighters are out, cell phone flashlights are in...
Some BIG flames on the court, as they introduced the Phoenix players...
Of course, the obligatory dancers shot...
There was a game, too...
Sorta. The 76ers have the worst record in the NBA, with only one win so far this season. The first quarter was almost painful to watch... the 76ers were ahead by 12. Then, finally, some good moves...
The Golden Grannies. No shortage of retired folks in the Phoenix area. The crowd appreciated their performance.
The second quarter was more of the same, but the Suns did bring the score closer. Then some inspired playing...
Little kids played at half-time. Not sure how old they were - they looked really small from our seats - but they played with heart.
After the half, both teams came out re-energized, and the play was good. By the fourth quarter, it was pretty clear the 76ers would double their wins for the season. Final score:
After the game, the kids from Steph and Dan's school were invited to get some autographs. Dan was allowed the first cut to take down the net...
Then, other staff got to do some snipping...
And, the obligatory check shot...
The game was OK, but it was a fun evening with our kids. We didn't get home until after 11:00... big night out for us.
Saturday, December 26, 2015
In our house, Izzy is not usually referred to as "the cat." Oh, I think she knows she is a cat, but she is used to hearing, "Sweet little Izzy," or "Isabella, you are so pretty."
We have spent most of the last two days at Steph and Dan's house. Izzy does not play well with other... well, other cats. So, she has been by herself much of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. When I came back to the coach to get her lunch yesterday, Steph came with me. Steph is quite convinced that Izzy doesn't like her, but I don't see that... it just takes Iz a while to get comfortable with people (other than Joan and me).
After lunch, Steph went with us when I walked Izzy. The walks are for Izzy's entertainment value - unlike a dog, she does not poop or pee outside.
This morning - early this morning - there was shopping to be done. I took a pass and stayed home with Izzy. Steph and Dan picked up Joan. When they go back from their excursion, we all visited in the motorhome for a while. I mentioned something about "a walk," and Izzy came out, expecting to go for one. Hoping for some Stephanie/Izzy bonding, I suggested that Steph take her out for a walk.
Izzy looked at Joan, with that, "Is this OK?" expression that she has.
"Yes, you'll be fine." I told Steph where to sit to get Izzy to come to her to get her leash on... and Izzy did what she's used to. She looked at me one more time before heading out the door.
And, they walked together just fine...
Joan took the photo from a window in the coach - it is cold and windy out there. But, it's good to see these two play together nicely. (One of them gets a little jealous with all the attention... and the other is a cat. ;-) )
Friday, December 25, 2015
I wish I had known this as a kid.
Forget the Elf on a Shelf. Can the Naughty or Nice List. You still get stuff. Santa left presents sometime during the night. He found us in the motorhome... we brought our gifts to Steph and Dan's house, so we could all open things at the same time.
We had a great time with the kids. Steph made an egg dish and caramel rolls for breakfast; tasty food to go with gift opening. Steph took a break with me, when we went back to the motorhome to give Izzy her lunch and go for a walk.
Back to the games... I'll let you know how that all plays out.
Thursday, December 24, 2015
We had a great time with Steph, Dan, and the grandcats tonight. We opened some presents, played some games, and enjoyed a great meal. Just a delight to spend this time together.
Tasha, the youngest grandcat, is also the biggest. She is about the size of Torrie and Izzy combined... and just as sweet as can be. This is her first Christmas as part of the family, and she was excited about all the fun. Playing among the packages...
After we left, Steph got this photo...
On the way home, the Christmas full moon lit up the sky...
We saw a light go zipping by... can't say for sure, but I have an idea of who it is.
For the past few years, Steph and Dan have come to us. Before that, we came to Arizona. It doesn't matter where we are, it is a delight to spend Christmas together.
Joan and Steph are cooking (prime rib); in between, we are playing games... the winner picks a number that matches up to gifts... before opening the gift, there is a "directive"... might be a question to answer... or a "give it to the person on your right"... or "exchange it with the person on the left."
It has become a family tradition.
Merry Christmas. Hope this holiday finds you with those you love. Make some memorable traditions.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
I didn't really put it off. I felt like crap for a couple weeks, then it was time to load up and hit the road... time to get that Christmas shopping done. OK, truth be told, we don't have that much to do... no grandkids. I'm probably not spoiling any surprise to say the grandcats will get cat spit on whatever we get them... and they don't ask for the newest "must have" gizmo.
The Blonde and I get what we want, when we want. We knew what we were getting for Steph and Dan... and Christmas is at their place this year, so they are in charge of the games and prizes.
It was a delight this morning to spend the time shopping with my little girl... I love the Daddy-Daughter time. I knew it was going to be a good experience when we pulled up at the mall and a parking spot opened up right by the door. The crowds weren't unbearable. Steph said, "Do you think online shopping has made a difference?"
Oh, yeah. Even going out among the other late shoppers, Steph pulled up stuff on her phone and we knew right where to go in the store to get just what we wanted. No aimless wandering.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
We got a call from the RV park manager today... we have to move our cargo trailer. Let me state this publicly: Cotton Lane RV and Golf Resort discriminates against cargo trailer enabled Americans. It isn't bad enough that we have to pay an extra fee on toll roads or when transiting by ferry. Can you imagine in this day and age, an RV park that won't allow you to bring your stuff with you as you RV across this great country of ours?
For the record, we have run into this situation with this particular park before. We have stayed in other RV parks because of this asinine policy of theirs. That's right - they would rather loose the income than allow a nice-looking, color-matched cargo trailer to remain with the RV. We read through their new rules book. Yes, they have a rules book. It doesn't say ANYTHING in there about not allowing a cargo trailer. I thought they may have come to their senses. I would be mistaken. They continue their bigoted anti-cargo-trailer policy.
What's the big deal? Thanks for asking. We like to have our scooters with us. The cargo trailer is how we haul them. It is also their "garage" when we are in an RV park for a while. No, this park would rather we leave our stuff out in the weather than have them safely put away. Oh, you can put up a crappy shed. Or, have an RV with body damage and ugly faded gelcoat. (We have that right behind us.) Some parks have a policy about not allowing RVs older than 10 years, unless approved by the management. No sign of that here. We could put out all manner of ratty camp chairs, dog pens, or home-made yard decorations... just don't even think of bringing an attractive cargo trailer in here!
So, we had to borrow a truck (thanks to one of Steph's friends) and move the cargo trailer into a storage lot (for more $$). The weather is supposed to be crappy for the next week or so, so we put the scooters in Steph and Dan's garage. For now, if we want to go for a ride, we have to drive the car to their place to get the scoots. Yeah, a first world problem... just one that makes absolutely no sense. Thus, I will post about it here. And complain on Trip Advisor. And give the park a low rating on the various campground review sites.
Joan thought they may have turned over a new leaf, since the crappy old manager is now gone. Nope.
Imagine, having to put those sweet scooters outside during these cold desert nights. Almost inhumane, huh? Well, some people don't care about doing what's right... they just want to make up rules that benefit NO ONE. And discriminate against the cargo trailer enabled. Right here in the good ol' US of A. (Cue the flag unfurling and the marching band music!)
The days get longer. Well, each day will still have 24 hours, but we'll gain a couple minutes of daylight each day. Until June 21st. Yep, happy Winter Solstice!
Back in the old days in the frozen northland, daylight in the winter seemed too scant. We went to work in the dark, and came home in the dark. Now, in the desert southwest, it seems different...
That is sunrise this morning. Nice of Mother Nature to schedule it a little later so I'd be awake to see it. ;-)
For those keeping track: 3 shopping days 'till Christmas. Better get going, daylight's burning! ;-)
Monday, December 21, 2015
Since I have been under the weather, then traveling - well, it didn't leave much time for Christmas shopping. We met the kids for breakfast out, then parted company. I dropped Joan off, then went off on my own. I was surprised I could find a parking space, then pick my way through the crowds. Plenty of people, but it wasn't bad.
Joan and I met back up for lunch. Still getting better, I got a nap in this afternoon... I needed that. Supper with Steph and Dan, some Izzy walking (she likes to go out after sunset), then settling in. It was a full day.
A photo of Joan with grandkitty Tasha after supper...
Today was the first day of registration for "drone" owners. According to the information, since I owned and flew mine before today, I didn't have to register until some time in February. Some people are making a big fuss about this; I don't get it. It took about 3 minutes online. In the registration process, you had to read and acknowledge some "don't do" things about flying these... probably a good idea to state it, but it seems pretty obvious. I am now a registered drone pilot. Since I still hold a commercial pilots license, the FAA already had my info.
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Come on, it's the desert - we all know what that looks like.
After the trek to get here, we had a lazy morning. When Joan went to the fabric store, I started decorating the coach for Christmas...
We have some stockings hung and some lights around the patio mat...
Not that much space, so it didn't take long. When Joan got back, we got the cargo trailer set up: scoots unstrapped, stuff stored for living instead of traveling.
We spent the afternoon with Steph and Dan; and the grandcats. Watched some football, made some burgers, and visited. This is all I wanted for Christmas.
Back to the coach this afternoon, there was still enough light to get some aerial photos of the motorhome...
You can see the park isn't too occupied, yet.
While walking Izzy again, a "sleigh" came by...
This couple does a lap of the park every few hours this time of year. Nice engineering, with the bikes (with reindeer antlers) in front of the golf cart. Little Izzy had to check that out.
Joan tried out her new ice-maker. The fridge in the motorhome doesn't have one built in; the portable one we had gave out. Joan is giving the replacement an initial workout.
Saturday, December 19, 2015
You're probably thinking: Jim and Joan sure do well together in those compact spaces: house, boat, motorhome. And, all those years working together.
And, you'd be right.
We didn't get up early this morning. We were normal people. Had our morning coffee and hot chocolate, cleaned up, then hit the road. About 360 miles to do today... certainly less than we've covered the past couple days.
We stopped at a nearby MacDonalds to grab a quick breakfast. I let Joan off at the driveway, while I found a parking spot out on the street. She was back in a couple minutes... empty-handed. She said, "Two buses pulled in ahead of us - the line is all the way back to the door. Let's just roll and I'll make some breakfast along the way."
"Works for me."
An advantage for the motorhome over the 5th wheel: you can access all your stuff as you go down the road. Stuff as in: kitchen, potty, bed, food, drink, etc, etc. Yes, I am aware that all occupants are supposed to be belted in all times. That's what we did. Really. Except for the part where we didn't. Just like everyone with a motorhome.
About that "working together" title... we came upon some road construction. The weather can be extreme here, so there is always some road construction. At one point, the road narrowed to one lane. Not sure why some people feel they don't have to merge until they are forced to, hoping they can get around a few cars before the single lane. Behind us was a semi, and that driver went down the middle of the two lanes before they merged, keeping the cars behind him from getting around. (Good for him!) A green Nissan Frontier swerved to the right, and when the truck moved to the right, the Nissan driver pulled around him (recklessly) on the shoulder on the left! I was NOT going to let her get around us... I filled the lane moving right and left. She tried to pass on the right - blocked her. She tried to pass on the left (on the shoulder) - blocked her. And then, we were into the single lane.
No doubt, she thought I was an asshole. I am certain she was. When the construction ended, I moved back into the right lane and she blasted around us, never turning her head. When the semi passed us, we gave each other a thumbs up! A small victory for stopping people who think they are more important than anyone else on the road.
The scenery changes as you move into western New Mexico - more mountains...
A sign advertising their main export...
Getting closer to Arizona, we could see snow at the tops of the mountains in the distance...
Occasional closer scenery...
And here we are in Arizona...
What is that ahead of us?
The pickup truck and trailer are loaded with what looks like antique chairs and tables; and by loaded, I mean...
Antique or just old? I guess it depends on the buyer. ;-)
Traffic was heavy as we got closer to Phoenix; from the looks of the cars, lots of people traveling for the holiday. We made it to the RV park where we will settle in for the next 5 or 6 weeks. The office was closed, but Joan had called ahead; we made reservations when we were here in October, so we knew which site we were in. Didn't take us long to get settled in...
The reason we are here: Steph and Dan. Wonderful to see them again, and a nice supper out. Got some grandkitty time in - Dan and the cats...
Tasha a grown a LOT since we saw her just two months ago...
And, she's not done growing!
Nice to be here, great to be with family for the holidays.