Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Wanna go for a walk?

No, I wasn't asking Izzy... she was asking me.

How can you say, "No," to that sweet little face?  Right - you can't.  Plus, I think she purposely stood where she would be backlit, looking all angelic.  It was a nice walk, already feeling warm at 7:30 in the morning.

More to get done today, so we can roll tomorrow.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Let's Dish...

No, nothing to do with celebrity gossip.

Our Dish satellite receiver has been acting up.  We called Dish, and they will send out a technician to replace the receiver; actually, they consider it a whole new install.  In our RV.  We were very specific about what we wanted for a receiver, and the person on the phone assured Joan that the installer would have exactly what we wanted.

He didn't.

"They don't even make that receiver any more."  Yeah, we know that... it worked better for RVers, so they "upgraded" it with a receiver that doesn't work as well in an RV.

So, he replaced our receiver with the same model receiver.  Well, Joan replaced it - she said, "I will swap those out."

"I wouldn't argue with her if I were you," I said.

It took Joan about 12 seconds to swap the receivers out.  The new one couldn't find the signal at all.

"It must be your Tailgater," the installer said.  He set up a fixed dish next to our Tailgater.  It took forever to get a signal, but it finally happened.  "You can have that dish," he said.  It's free with your install.

I don't really want a big ol' dish.  I don't really have a place to put a big ol' dish every time we move.  So, we have a new receiver and a big ol' dish.  I moved our Tailgater and am trying it just over from the big ol' dish.

We used to have to go through 3 "switch installation checks" with the other receiver.  This new one has to go through 38 checks.  Yeah, that is real convenient.

The installer suggested that the Tailgater isn't really meant for being in one place for any length of time... he said, "Use the Tailgater when you're moving around, and this big ol' dish (my words) for when you're in one place for a while."

Some of you may recall that I was looking to "simplify"... how's that working out for you, Jim?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Got my head in it...

It's what we say when we talk about heading out of an area (used to say it about going back north after the winter down south): "Once you've got your head in it, you might as well go."

This morning, we got the cargo trailer out of storage.  Brought it back to our site in the RV park.  Yes, the park that doesn't allow cargo trailers.  It's about half empty right now, and many of those people will be pulling out on the 1st of the month.

These are large sites... good thing, because we have 5 vehicles on the site...

Well, six if you count the cargo trailer.  Probably some rule against that, too.  But, as soon as we get the scoots loaded into the trailer, it will look like only 4.  ;-)

Kinda looks like we have "circled the wagons."

It will be a few days before we head out, but there is a lot to get organized.  Yeah, we have our heads in it.


We had an early supper with Steph and Dan today - one of our favorite places, Oregano's.  Great pizza.  Plus, they opened a new restaurant just a mile from their house; instead of a 45 minute drive.  Same great food; equally good service.

It will probably be "old stuff" for Steph and Dan next time we come back.  ;-)


Another striking sky this evening...

Those colors lasted a minute or two, then muted.  One never knows how many sunsets you'll get - nice to enjoy them.  (For me, it was during an Izzy walk.)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fun to the third power...

Cube.  Rubik's Cube.  The competition.

Steph is the coach for the school's Rubik's Cube Team.  She is a math teacher, so I guess that is a good fit.  The kids on the team have been practicing.  This is their first competition... this is all new to them.  It feels a bit like the movie McFarland.

This Phoenix Regional Rubik's Cube Competition was held on the campus of ASU West...

There are 17 schools in their middle school division.  I wasn't aware there are "speed cubes," cubes that turn easier than a regular Rubik's Cube... schools who have more budget (discretionary spending) have those.  Steph bought 25 lightly used cubes and borrowed our Dremel to make them turn easier.  Yes, that is legal for the competition.

A look at Rainbow Valley's team...

Pretty sharp shirts, huh?  Dan designed them.  Steph was getting paperwork when I took this photo.  She was back to give her team a pep talk...

Some of their parents and family who were here to support...

I had no idea this was a big thing.  Check out the size of the crowd...

Rainbow's team was in the first group to compete.  They swap cubes with other teams to mix them up, then get their own cubes back.  I overheard someone from another team say, "Oh, those cubes turn hard."  (referring to Rainbow's cubes)  No matter, they are here to compete.

They hadn't seen professional timers before.  Bigtime.  One more last minute pep talk...

Last minute instructions from the judges...

And, they're off and cubing...


They placed 9th out of 17.  Right in the middle of the pack... and they learned a lot from this first exposure to cube competition.  For clarification, they have to complete 25 cubes as a team.  That was 4 minutes and 30 seconds to complete 25 cubes.  With 8 team members and an alternate.  Their hands were flying - I was impressed.

Next was the solo competition.  Joan, Dan and I stepped out to go get the kids some lunch.  When we got back, we learned the fastest solo time was 11 seconds.  11 seconds??  How is that even possible?  They are allowed up to 10 minutes.  Steph's fastest cuber got it in 53 seconds.

After lunch, Dan took some of the kids outside to toss a football (and give them the chance to blow off some steam).  Then, we watched the team finals.  Another feather in Rainbow's... well, wherever they put a feather... they were faster than some of the high school teams.  A fun experience for the kids... and they will be even better next time around, now that they have been through it once.


A post wouldn't be complete without some kind of feline content.  Another hot day here... 96º.  Little Izzy was in air conditioned comfort in the motorhome... at her "viewing platform" by the window...

Friday, March 27, 2015

If you want to get noticed on a bike...

No, this doesn't have anything to do with being a show-off on the scoots.

It is a hot one today.  We had a couple errands to run, and decided to do it on the scoots...

That long sleeve shirt is a performance shirt - super breathable, but has some SPF factor in it to keep you from getting fried.  No, that's not what gets you noticed.

We stopped at Harbor Freight.  Guys like Harbor Freight.  Guys also seem fascinated by the Honda scooters.  Once as we pulled in, and twice when we were getting ready to pull out, we got the: "Those are sharp!"  (Guys say "sharp", women say "cute")  Followed by the usual, "How many CCs?  How fast?  Highway legal?  Fuel mileage?

In order: 150, 65, yes, 100 mpg.

I may have to change what I say on that miles per gallon thing... this tank had mostly 35 to 45 mph riding and not much stop and go.  I hit a new record (for my scoot): 109 miles per gallon.  Not to be outdone, Joan logged 116 miles per gallon.  That speed seems to be the sweet spot for mileage.

When we pulled into our site, the lady in the 5th wheel next door came around and said, "Those are really quiet - is that because you were going slow?"  (The speed limit in the park is 15 mph)  I should note here that across the street from her is a guy with a loud Harley.  Two sites over from her is another guy with a loud Harley.

Joan said, "These are really quiet, no matter what speed we ride.  We can talk back and forth while riding."

The lady said, "You could leave early in the morning, and we'd never hear you."

Not much chance of that!  ;-)

We are stealthy, though.


Speaking of scoots: congrats to our friend, Patty; the proud new owner of a shiny red PCX.  She and Pat came for a visit earlier this month, and Patty sat on my bike to "try it on for size."  I guess it was a good fit!

I should carry PCX brochures with me when we're out and about.  ;-)

Out for a morning stroll...

With all the attention the new Grandkitty has been getting, what's going on with Izzy?

Thanks for asking.  She is fine; wasn't happy about the interloper coming into her motorhome, but she doesn't hold a grudge.

We have a routine when we're out and about, and that generally includes a few walks during the day so Isabella can check out the surroundings.  She seems to prefer mornings and evenings for getting out.  We are in for some hot weather (over 90º) the next few days, so the mornings are very pleasant.

Walking a cat isn't like walking a dog.  We don't have to go outside for her to "do her business" - she has her own private bath wherever we go, so the outdoor excursions are for pleasure.  Depending on where we are, there are many rocks or blades of grass that must be smelled.  Birds or other scurrying critters that must be stalked (from afar).  But, mostly it is just general looking around.

Izzy has found her favorite viewing places inside the motorhome, but sometimes you just have to get "out there."

There isn't much in the way of grass at this particular park (just on the golf course), so we walk in the sandy gravel...

To me, every pebble or grain of sand looks the same... but I obviously don't have the same perspective as the furry kid.  We walk a bit, stop to sniff, look around, feel the breeze, sniff some more, then maybe take a few more steps.  If you are walking your cat for the exercise, you are likely to burn 2, maybe 3 calories per walk.  Not enough to burn off the French toast and sausage Joan made for breakfast.

Back at the motorhome, we have to pause for "sentry duty"...

Check the perimeter...

At the proper time (varies according to mood), we come back to the door... wait patiently to get unhooked from the leash, so we can go inside...

She lets me know when she is ready for the next outing.  We have gotten two in before 10:00 this morning.  The coach is safe from marauding birds or bugs.  For now.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The big and the small of it...

We did some errand running today, and (of course) lunch out.  In between all that, we checked on the Grandkitties.  Steph and Dan are keeping them apart during the day, but we give them some "full house wandering" when we are there.

Tasha went to the bedroom where Torrie spends a lot of time - it has a nice view.  The little one found a gecko on the outside of the window, and went into full alert.  I think she was smart enough to know that she couldn't get at it, but she kept a very close watch on it.

In the window seat...

The big girl (Torrie) and the little girl (Tasha)...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I need to get a job (looks like I got a lobotomy)...

Apparently, I don't have enough to worry about.

Three nights in a row... I have been working in my sleep.  No, not accomplishing anything - just dreaming about different situations from our years in the studio.  Not reliving anything bad that happened, just new faces in typical situations.  Not the fun stuff.

What's up with that?

My motorcycle helmet has been very comfortable until recently... and has been leaving a crease in my upper forehead (the lobotomy reference in the title).  We decided to do some urban cruising to the Helmet Center (where I bought this helmet) about 30 miles away (yes, Phoenix is spread out).  It was another warm day, and we picked some pleasant roads to work our way north and east.  By the time we got to the Helmet Center, I had a headache from my helmet.

I asked the guy at the counter if I could buy a new liner for the helmet.  He looked at my forehead and said, "I can absolutely sell you another liner, but I may be able to fix the problem."  Then he turned to Joan and asked, "Have you been giving him compliments, making his head swell?"

Ummm... no.  And my hair hasn't gotten any thicker, either.
He checked out where a seam in the liner was rubbing, removed the liner, and made a slight groove in the crushable foam that matched up with the seam.  I tried on the helmet and... no pressure.  And, no charge.  He said he could do more of the same if, after riding for a while, I still felt any pressure.  After seeing him do it, I can do that myself.

We stopped for lunch, then on the ride back to the RV park, enjoyed some different roads.  And, no headache.  I like this helmet, glad to have it feel comfortable again.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Shopping, shopping, shopping...

Feel my arches dropping (sung to the tune of Rawhide).

We are down to less than a week here; felt the need to pick up a few things in the big city.  One of which was some boots for my wide feet.  We have been checking places the past week or so, but no luck.  We made a return trip to Cabela's, and they had a pair that fit me.

I was looking for a hiking or athletic shoe that had some padding at the ankle bone... and hope I don't ever need it... when riding the scooter.

Joan did her part at one of her favorite clothing stores.  And a stop by the Apple Store.

Of course, we had to stop in to check on the Grandkitties...

We did get the two kitties next to each other, but not for a photo op.  It wasn't a love fest, but everyone seemed OK with it.

Monday, March 23, 2015


We stopped in at Steph and Dan's a couple times, to check on the furry kids.  The new kid Tasha's first time dealing with a feeder on a timer.

We checked in right after the timer was supposed to open.  It did.  The little one didn't know that was her food.  I showed it to her, and she scarfed it right down.  It is a different (natural) type of food compared to what Izzy eats... and it looked like 3 times the amount Izzy eats.  Joan said it is "airier"... still looked like a lot of food to me.  Tasha was not dainty.  She has a good appetite.

We let the two kitties be in the same room for a while.  Tasha wanted to play; Torrie wasn't interested...

In fact, Torrie turned her back on the little one...

"I just wanna play!!"

OK, Grandpa will play with you...

So sweet.  Reminds me of me.  ;-)

Thinning out...

No, I haven't lost weight.

Talking about the RV park.  It was wall-to-wall the weekend of the 14th and 15th (with the PIR NASCAR event going on).  On Monday the 16th, we saw an empty site here and there.  Big change with this Monday morning...

The sites are plenty big: room for the truck, the car, and bikes, and still have the awning out...

Back to work for Steph.  We'll go by and check on the new little one sometime today.  Joan is cleaning the interior, I'm heading out to do the exterior.  Less "real estate" to keep up.  ;-)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Scooting about...

I cleaned up the scooters this morning.  Rain splashed red sandy gravel... dust... and splatting bugs - time to put the shine back on 'em.  Then, once they are looking good - it is time to take 'em out and splat 'em up again!

No agenda, no errands to run.  We decided to look for some roads we haven't been on before.  We stopped for a light lunch, since we will be having supper with Steph and Dan later.  Topped off the fuel tanks... apparently, we rode the bikes a bit harder this tank: Joan got 102 mpg, I dropped below the century mark at 98 mpg.

We rode east, past the Goodyear Airport.  Lots of large jets, apparently mothballed...

We continued east, driving through the old downtown section of Avondale.  Set your watch back 20 years, and a couple hundred miles south.

We turned south to do one of Joan's favorite runs: along PIR (Phoenix International Raceway).  I have seen a sign for homes with "RV Super Garages" along this route; today we decided to take a look...

Different from the premise at Happy Trails; not the best location (from my perspective), just north of a large dairy farm.

They did have a model home, but we just looked from the outside.  Then, back to the main road and out past PIR.  We have seen that Bullard Ave. intersects with that road, but haven't been on it before.  It runs past an interesting ever-changing view: desert, agricultural, industrial, some housing, then back by the airport again.

We turned west, heading towards Buckeye; before getting there, we saw a sign for Verrado and turned north.  The building boom appears to be back on in Verrado: plenty of new homes being built; a waterpark; and a large elementary school.  We drove by the construction of the school and found ourselves on a street with a really different view: every yard was grass.  Lush grass.  Most yards around here are gravel... nicely landscaped gravel, but not grass.  You have to have winter grass and summer grass here... and I can't begin to imagine how much water it must take to keep it all green.

We rode around Verrado a bit, then headed east.  Turned south on Citrus Rd.  Another interesting view: trees.  Big trees on both sides of the road...

The shade felt good.  Another sunny day, high around 88º.  Then, back to the RV in time to put on shorts and head to Steph and Dan's house.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Live to ride, and a book signing...

While Steph and Tasha were visiting this morning, another neighbor came calling.  We heard the Harley fire up a few sites down... the leather-clad rider pulled up in front of our site, stopped, turned the bike off and walked towards us.

"Hi, I'm your neighbor, Don.  Just wondering what kind of bikes you have under those covers."

There may have been some chuckling from the female side of the family when I said, "Honda scooters!  Wanna go riding sometime?"

OK, he chuckled, too.  We visited for a bit, he wished us all a good day, and rode away.  Well, we heard his bike shut off again less than a block away... maybe he found someone else to go riding?  ;-)


We had lunch again today with Mark and Cindy, our friends from our days back in Sioux City.  They are a great couple.  It is a treat to catch up some more, and trade stories about cats, eulogies, laundering fluffy items (really, Cindy, your secret is safe with us), kids, travel, work... and whatever else comes up.  You know people who can go years without seeing each other, and pick right up where you left off next time you are together?  That's how we feel about these two.  Mark and I played in bands together.  After college, we both started grown-up careers.  They have lived all over and are settled here.  We joked about senior discounts, but these two look like the models for an ad for "an active adult lifestyle."  Fit and sharp-looking.

I left my camera in the truck - next time, really.

Cindy brought her copy of my book and had me sign it.  I think she was waiting for me to write something smart-ass... "Old friends are the best friends."  Well, they aren't old, but we have been friends for a lot of years.

(Definition of old: fifteen years older than you are currently)

Can't believe we are down to our last 10 days here - the time has gone by so fast.  Ummm, that may be another definition of getting older.  ;-)

Well, that went just like I planned...


Steph came to visit, with Tasha in her carrier.  Someone, whose name I won't mention, but it was Isabella, was a less than gracious host.  And by "less than gracious host, " I mean: she was a shit.  And by "a shit," I mean: she hissed and growled at poor little Tasha, and when Joan picked Izzy up, the cat turned into a Tasmanian Devil, and scratched Joan with her back claws.

It wasn't fun.  I tried to get Izzy to be more polite...

Yeah, that didn't work so well either.  Someone tried to bite at the Daddy... that didn't go over well.

During all this, Tasha was in her carrier, softly meowing... "I didn't do anything, honest!"

"No, little one, you were very nice... just mean ol' Izzy is the problem."

The three humans and the little one went outside, under the awning, to visit.

"Did you see the size of that mean cat??"

It's OK, Momma has you now...

And Joan took a turn holding the sweet little girl...

"I'm nice, huh?"

Yes, Tasha you are very nice.  I can see Izzy isn't ready for a sibling any time soon.  ;-)