Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Wild, Wild West

Hold on to your saddles cuz its getting wild and crazy here in the wild west.  Just because this is a retirement, 55+ community, it doesn't mean its all knitting, bingo and hot-water aerobics.  These people like to have fun!  Like the wild and crazy race cars - you heard me - these people race fast cars.  Not us, we're much more timid than most of these old folks.  We watched.  We held our breath.  We cheered.  We were rooting for Team Elmo.  That's right, kids.  These people were racing toy cars!

 Complete with big trophies you can see at the far end of the table

And they were dead serious about it too!  Cut throat competition, with trophies and everything!  We had to disguise our eye rolling as allergies.  We didn't stay long - only enough to know that Team Elmo was the one to beat! 

Last weekend we did a bit of thrift shopping and estate sale shopping.  For us, that is way more fun than racing toy cars, but to each his own.  There is this awesome vintage shop here that is only open one weekend a month, and the three girls that run the place on my kind of girls.  The shop had about a million things I wanted, and only one thing that would fit in the trailer.  A sterling silver old ladle that had been turned into a little "dish" for my rings and earrings at the end of the day.  Oh, and cherry jam.  That's a consumable, so that doesn't count when calculating cabinet and storage space in the RV.  The estate sale had a few small things I couldn't pass up and I packed away to later sell in my Etsy vintage shop someday....

They don't have a website, so I didn't take a card, thinking I would remember the name.  That was a week ago - of course I have forgotten it.

One afternoon we took a naturalist-led sunset hike at Lost Dutchman State Park.  It was a beautiful evening and the walk was well attended.  We enjoyed learning about some of the plants and rock formations, Noel enjoyed talking "park talk" with one of the volunteers and we all enjoyed a beautiful sunset and a little exercise at the base of the Superstitious Mountains.  Fortunately I had something in the crock pot for dinner when we got home - all this mountain air really works up an appetite!

 Some see a "face" in this rock.  Do you see it?

 The flowers of this plant taste just like cucumbers!

 The mountains take on a beautiful red hue as the sun goes down.

As we drove to the state park we had to drive through Apache Junction and saw all kinds of places we wanted to return to, so the next day we spent the day in Apache Junction, going to the Superstitious Mountain Museum where there happened to be a poetry reading.  Yes Fred, of course we stayed to listen to a few!  The man was reading poetry and stories written over a hundred years ago by cowboys.  To my surprise, we both really enjoyed it!  The museum grounds were full of old movie set props, including a church filmed in many movies, including a western made by Elvis (hence the Elvis statue), the carriages used in the old Gun Smoke show and other stuff.  It was fun to see and Noel used to love westerns growing up, so he especially got a kick out of it.  There was even a "boot hill" cemetery with funny grave markers!

 Boot Hill
 Poetry Reading

 From the "Gunsmoke" show
Just some of the celebrities that have shot movies here

We had a great dinner at the Lost Dutchman Miners Camp restaurant, and when we saw a sign for "Lost Dutchman Days Fair and Rodeo", we went back the next day too!

The rodeo was an honest to goodness rodeo with real cowboys and girls competing for big money prizes.  There were rides and booth and food and games, all set against the backdrop of the Superstitious Mountains - so I took a zillion pictures. It was our 28th wedding anniversary and we had a great day!

 barrel races

 At least one guy was smart enough to wear a helmet!

 After being thrown off of a horse once in my life, it pained
me to watch some of these guys!

 Calf Ropin'

 Isn't this just a pretty setting for a fair?




 Look at me!  I'm a flying cowgirl!

Yesterday (Saturday February 22) there was a craft show here at the RV resort, so I set up a table to sell some of the jewelry I've been making along the way.  I sold a few things, so now I can order more wire to make more! Yay!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Reading on the Road

Despite how it looks, we aren't traveling and having fun everyday.  There is lots of "trailer time" for relaxing, reading, watching tv and making jewelry.  Here's what I've read in the last few months:

Title:  The Year of Fog
Author:  Michelle Richmond
Notes:  A very suspenseful story about a little girl that disappears in a matter of moments.  The stress it puts on the couple, and the woman's guilt for letting go of her hand is really well described and you can really empathize with the characters.
Recommend:  Yes

Title:  The Language of Flowers
Author:  Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Notes:  Victoria spent her life in the foster care system, her only real connection to the world is through flowers and their meaning.  Confronting her painful past, she finds she's not as unloveable and flawed as she thinks she is.  Exceptionally well written.
Recommend:  Yes, I loved this book!

Title:  Swim Back to Me
Author:  Ann Packer
Notes:  A collection of short stories, I tended to lose interest.
Recommend:  No

Title:  The Guest Book
Author:  Marybeth Whalen
Notes:  When the main character was a child, her family rented a home every year on the beach.  Starting when she was too young to write in the guest book, she always left a picture she had drawn in the book.  For 10 years, she and a boy "communicated" through these pictures.  After her father died, they stopped going to the beach house.  Now as an adult and single mother, she goes back to find the mysterious artist.
Recommend:  Sure, a light read.

Title:  The Cove
Author:  Ron Rash
Notes:  Well written, an interesting story that spans time, back to the early 1900s and into WW I.  A woman that had a hard life growing up in the shadows of a large stone outcropping, a cove that many say is cursed.
Recommend:  Yes, I really enjoyed it

Title:  Orphan Train
Author:  Christina Baker Kline
Notes:  Based on real accounts, I loved this book!  Beautifully written, it jumps between the early 1900s and now, as a 95 year old woman recounts her experience as an orphan.
Recommend:  YES!

Title:  Zelah Green
Author:  Vanessa Curtis
Notes:  With her mother dead and her father missing, Zelah, a teenager with OCD, is placed in a residential program by her stepmother.
Recommend:  Lukewarm on this one.

Title:  The Good Father
Author:  Diane Chamberlain
Notes:  A nicely woven story with good character development.  Travis is a single father, down on his luck and gets tangled up with drug dealers out of desperation to feed his young daughter.  In the meantime, the child's mother is a back story, as well as a third character, named Erin.  Well woven.
Recommend:  Yes

Title:  In the Bag
Author:  Kate Klise
Notes:  "A tale of two suitcases, 3 cities, 4 people and a big mix up".
Recommend:  No - predictable and juvenile.  Maybe a good read for a young teen.

I would love to hear your thoughts and book recommendations!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chihuly Glass at the Desert Botanical Gardens

On other days here in Mesa we have found lots of things to keep us busy.  We play Bingo on Saturday nights.  I've been to the pool and hot tubs.  I've tried line dancing and ti chi.  We both read a lot.  Noel's been to the workout room and likes the lapidary class.  One afternoon we went to "downtown" Mesa to look around and found they have various art statues on every corner in their "historic district".  We also found a great antique store we enjoyed wasting a hour or two in.

 A passing little boy called him "creepy" - I agree!

 This just cracked me up....

On the 2nd Tuesday of the month, the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix is free (regulary $22/person), so we, and about 10,000 other people, took advantage of the savings to see the Chihuly Glass exhibit.  So glad we did - it was amazing!

Of course in addition to the glass, the gardens themselves were pretty cool.  I never knew there were so many types of cactus and desert flowers!  I've always thought of myself as a beach girl, but both of us are really finding the bio-diversity here fun to learn about.

 This big art cactus is made from pick ax handles!

 The contrast between the dark rocks and the yellow green
cactus was so striking

 even bees get thirsty in the desert!

 Called a boojum tree, Dr. Seuss himself couldn't
come up with something more strange looking

 Of course you can never get away from pesky bugs

 butterflies in the desert! Who knew?

 some cactus tower as tall as trees and are hundreds of years old

 A purple prickly pear - say that 3 times fast!

 looks painful!

 I guess the red tips remind us this thing WILL draw blood!

 A real roadrunner bird!  Beep Beep! No Wile E Coyote in sight

 A totem pole cactus

Isn't this pretty??

On another afternoon, we took a drive to Casa Grande Indian Ruins National Monument.  Fascinating history of the native people that once farmed this area, back when water was still plentiful...

So that's been our last 2 weeks or so!

Several people have asked whether the better weather has made me feel any better and my answer to that is a  I'm sure the bitter cold weather in Ohio would have made me miserable, but I am finding that I have just as much pain here, and it took me 4 days to recover from our adventure in Tucson.  I've been taking pain meds and I had to use one of my hoarded stash of pain patches to get me through.  Today I saw a local chiropractor, so I'm hoping he can help my back.  We cut our visit to the botanical gardens short because I was in more pain than I could handle.  I'm not complaining, I thank God everyday that we are fortunate to be able to do this.  I'm trying not to make it the focus of the blog, (I've had inquiries from people asking about traveling with chronic pain), but my friends and family know I put on a smile and figure I can hurt having fun as much as I can hurt at home.

As far as Noel's health, he has had some issues on this trip, but I'm THIIIIISSSSS close to getting him to see a doctor here in Arizona.  Thank you all for continuing to support us, pray for us, go through our mail for us, etc.  We both appreciate it.

One more thing, I am making jewelry from the gemstones I have purchased at the two big gem shows, and I'll be posting pics soon.  I'm having to come to the resort's computer room since we can't get wifi :(

Stay warm peeps!  Spring is coming.....