Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
October, 2017 - Mexico

Sunday, February 4, 2018

We Have a New Home

For those of you who have been waiting on pins and needles for the big announcement, I can now share that we have purchased a park model at Fortuna de Oro RV Resort in Yuma, Arizona. This is the third winter that we have stayed at this resort. We really like it for many reasons. It has a golf course, which many places don't have. There are also so many activities that you could make yourself crazy if you tried to do them all. The people are really nice, and it just feels like home.

The park model we purchased is on the golf course near the back of the resort. Most of the surrounding area is all park models, which makes it much quieter than the RV area in another part of the park. There is no one behind us, as we are on the golf course with a fantastic view. It is about 25 years old, but has been maintained very well. It comes fully furnished, so we don't have to buy new stuff right away. Of course, being that old, some items are dated. But, we will have time to decorate to our liking over the next few years.

Here's a picture of the front. It has a nice front porch to enjoy the shade on hot days. The post next to the steps will be removed, and we hope to plant an orange tree in the front. Also, we will change the paint color to more natural tones, but not for a few years, as it was just painted about three years ago.

We plan to remove the outdoor carpeting on the porch, and replace it with tile flooring.

The main reason we chose to buy this unit was for the backyard and the view of the golf course. I love being able to see green grass and palm trees. There is a covered patio and a shed in the back.

It even comes with a golf cart.

The inside needs some updating. We plan to paint the walls and cabinets and update light fixtures. It has a living room and an added Arizona room which is like a family room. Here's the living room and kitchen. I didn't get a picture of the other rooms yet.

We also plan to replace all the flooring with wood laminate. As you can see, it needs some updating. Overall, the bones are good, but I can't wait to get in there and make it our own. The previous owners are a very elderly couple who need to sell for health reasons. We agreed to let them stay until the end of March, as it is a sad time for them to have to leave. We will have possession for a week before we leave. That will give us time to get a new mattress delivered, do a few minor repairs and close it up for the summer. Next year will really be the first time we can live in it for the winter.

Our plan is to spend anywhere from 6 to 7 months in Arizona and travel in our fifth wheel in the summers. We'll see how hot it gets!!  We've been on the road full time for almost 8 wonderful years. I was missing a sense of home and community, though. This place has that feel. We've joined some golf groups this year, I've been more active in the quilting group, and we've been playing bocce ball with some people. We've made a lot of friends, and it just feels right.

Last Wednesday morning was a trifecta of a full, super, blood moon with an eclipse of the moon in the morning. Here's a shot of the blood moon with the eclipse just starting around 6:30 am that morning.

About an hour later it looked like this. Very cool to see.

So, that's our big news. We're very excited about it. Of course, we will continue to come to Wisconsin and Nebraska to see our family and friends!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Phoenix Quilt Show

On Wednesday seven members of the quilting group here at the resort headed to Phoenix to attend a quilting trunk show presented by Jenny Doan. I was lucky enough to be part of the group.

Just a little information for those of you who are not quilters about just exactly what we were doing. First of all, Jenny Doan is a celebrity in the quilting world. She and her family own the Missouri Quilt Star Company in Hamilton, Missouri. She has hundreds of online tutorial videos on quilt making. Her story was fascinating. She spent most of her married life raising a family of seven children with her husband Ron. In 2007 when the economy tanked, they lost a large part of their retirement portfolio. They were empty nesters so she went to work doing the quilting on quilt tops others in her community had made. Her son encouraged her to post some videos on quilting topics, and a dynasty was born. They now own 17 storefronts in the downtown area of Hamilton. As with many small towns, most of the buildings were vacant. They've only been in business ten years, but now employ 400 people and have brought Hamilton back to life. Many quilters flock to their shops every year to meet Jenny, shop for everything quilt related, and attend workshops. This is Jenny.

A trunk show is where a quilter shows lots of sample quilts they have made. Jenny spent about an hour and a half showing some of her quilts and telling us how easy they are to make. She was a great speaker with lots of humor and personal stories thrown into her presentation. Her husband travels with her and helped hold up the quilts. Here are just a few of the patterns she showed us how to make. My head was spinning with ideas.

Each of the quilts was beautiful. Even though they may look complicated, Jenny has perfected techniques to make them quite easy to assemble. At the end of her presentation, she answered every single question asked from the audience of about 400 people. They she stayed and took pictures. Her husband did the picture taking with anyone who gave him a camera. Here's our group.

We left Yuma at 6 am that morning. We shopped at two nice quilt shops in Chandler and Mesa, suburbs of Phoenix. Then we attended the show at one of the sister RV resorts to ours in Mesa. It was a beautiful place, larger than our park. They're quilt room is to die for. We took lots of pictures, and will be encouraging the management at our park to make some improvements.

I had a really good time on the excursion with some new friends I've made in the quilting group. We got back home about 9 pm. A long, but thoroughly enjoyable day.

On Monday we joined the hiking group on a hike around Pilot Knob mountain. It's about 25 miles west of Yuma in California. In the early days when supplies were sent mostly by boat down the Colorado River, Pilot Knob was a well known reference point in their navigation. We didn't hike up it, but around it.

Here's our group. Kevin is in the middle at the back wearing a royal blue cap, behind the shorter lady in black with the teal cap. (You can always click on any of the pictures to enlarge them for a better look.)

On the back side of the mountain, we had very good views into Los Algodones, Mexico. It's the border town that many snowbirds visit every winter for dental work, cheap prescription drugs, liquor and eyeglasses, along with some good restaurants, lots of margaritas and all the souvenirs your heart desires. We've been there several times over the years.

It's a small town, but I read there are somewhere between 500 and 600 dentists, the largest per capita amount of dentists in the world. Teeth cleaning is about $25 and a crown about $200. Many of the dentists were trained at colleges in the US. Some of them even live in the US, and cross the border each day to their clinic. The prices are so much cheaper because costs are much lower and the malpractice insurance is much cheaper. We've not had dental work done there, but many people we know have. I've never heard a bad word about any of the dentists there.

The parking lot on the US side is on Indian reservation land. They charge $6 a day to park, and then you just walk across the border. A nice income maker for the Native Americans. As you can see, there were many cars parked there. Lots of American and Canadian tourists flock to Algodones.

There is a long border wall that runs across much of Arizona and California along the Mexican border. Here's just a small part of it. It makes me sad to see it. I know it is a dream, but wouldn't it be wonderful if it wasn't needed or desired.

We're still working on the change I mentioned in the last post. It's coming together, and I should have definitive news in about a week. The cliff hanger continues.

The weather this winter has been phenomenal. Sunny with highs mostly in the mid 70s. Next week we will even see the low 80s. We sure are enjoying ourselves this winter.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Fantastic Winter

As much of the country is in the big chill this winter, we have been so fortunate to enjoy some exceptionally beautiful weather here in Yuma. Temperatures have been above average, and we are becoming spoiled with consistent 70 plus temps. About every ten days, a little cold front comes through creating strong winds and temps in the low 60s for a few days. Then its right back into the mid 70s. Loving it!!!

We've been keeping busy with the same activities; golf, hiking, quilting, bocce ball, walking, biking, cards, visiting with new and old friends, and relaxing. We are also working on a pretty significant change in our lifestyle. However, it hasn't all come together, so I'm not ready to announce it quite yet. Hopefully, within the next two weeks, I will have a pretty big announcement. How's that for a cliff hanger.

There are about 1,200 sites at this RV resort. Most every site has some type of tree in front of it. I'm not sure what the name of the tree at our site is, but many of the sites have this same type of tree. We've been at this same site for a few years, and the tree has always looked like a bush rather than a tree. Kevin has to be very careful not to scratch the side of the truck when he parks the fifth wheel. 

This winter some of the work campers have been going through the park and doing some major pruning on these trees. It is long overdue, and will help the trees grow taller, rather than bushing out. Here are the before and after pictures of the tree at our site. It should be much easier for Kevin to pull the fifth wheel out of the site this year without worrying about scratching the truck.

One of the facts of live at a snow bird RV resort is that many of the visitors are elderly. This year there have been several deaths at the park, and a number of people have been hospitalized; some of them having to go back home for further medical treatment.

On January 2nd, a fellow golfer died of a heart attack. Del had just finished playing nine holes of golf with the men's group and collapsed afterwards in the clubhouse. They were able to revive him, but he died on the way to the hospital. He was only 72 years old. His wife Joan is a quilter, so I have gotten to know her pretty well. Yesterday there was a celebration of life service for Del at the main hall. It reminds us that life is short, and we are so happy with the choices we have made in our lifestyle at this stage of our life.

I don't mean to be a downer, but remember to take time to smell the roses and enjoy every day!!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

Kevin and I want to wish all of our family and friends the merriest of Christmases. Although, we are not joining our family this year in person, you are all in our hearts on this special day. We go back to Wisconsin every other year to spend the holidays with family; this is our year to stay in Arizona. I must say I am missing my kids a bit, but it's wonderful to be able to speak to them on the phone.

The weather up north is the coldest of the season, so I am definitely not missing the cold and snow. We had a bit of a cold spell in Yuma the past few days with highs of only about 60 and lows near 40 with strong winds. However, starting today, we're back in the 70s for highs and about 50 for lows. Can't beat that.

We continue to stay busy here at the resort. While Kevin was back in Wisconsin a few weeks ago, I went hiking with the hiking group. Here's a picture of me hiking in an area called the Painted Desert. It was beautiful.

Last Monday Kevin and I both joined the hiking group on an expedition to the Valley of  Names. It was about a thirty minute drive from Yuma to a desert area in California. There are several explanations online of how this area got started. It seems at least sixty years ago people started spelling out their names with rocks. The area has grown to over 10,000 names covering several miles. It's an amazing site to see. Here's part of our group getting started walking around and looking at some of the names.

Some people have gone to great lengths to recognize their family. All of these rocks are brought in from the outside. Large plots are outlined with whole families of names. Some have generations of family members recognized.

There are names much farther than the eye can see.

In addition to hiking, we've been golfing a few times a week. We've joined a scramble group on Friday afternoons and a couples group on Wednesday mornings. It's a great way to meet new people.

I join the quilting group once a week to sew together. Starting in January we will be working on a mystery quilt project as a group. That should be fun. They're a nice group. We also play bocce ball on Thursdays when the weather cooperates. The last two Thursdays it was quite cold and windy so we didn't play.

January through March are the busiest times for the snowbird resorts. Lots of people don't arrive until after Christmas. Our resort is supposedly pretty much fully booked, so there should be lots of units rolling in during the next week or two. I have to say that I really enjoy it during this fall season when it's not so busy.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Happy Birthday Kevin

We will not be celebrating together this year. Kevin is celebrating in Wisconsin where it is quite cold. The reason for this all started almost a year ago.

During the early months of 2017, Kevin noticed some blood in his urine every few weeks. He thought it would go away; but when it was still happening in spring, he visited our primary care doctor when we arrived back in Wisconsin. He was referred to a urologist who ordered a CT scan. That was the start of a long and stressful summer.

He was diagnosed with a bladder tumor which was most likely cancerous. He had a surgery in August to have it scraped out. After the surgery, they put chemo drugs in the bladder to kill any cancer cells that may be floating around. He was passing a great deal of blood through the catheter, which required a second surgery on the same day to cauterize the bleeders. That meant two surgeries with full anesthesia in one day. Needless to say, after the second surgery he wasn't in the best of shape. He had lost a lot of blood, his blood pressure was doing crazy stuff, so they kept him over night.

At the office appointment a week later to get the pathology results, he found out the type of cancer cells he had were the worst of two types. The doctor recommended another surgery to scrape even further down to make sure all cancer was removed. In September, Kevin had that second surgery with the chemo drugs in the bladder again. This time things went much better, and he was able to come home the same day.

The follow up of that surgery was excellent. He has been declared cancer free!!! However, he must go in for a scope test every three to four months to make sure it doesn't come back. There is a chance it will return within three to five years.

Because of the lousy insurance choices in this country, it was cheaper for him to fly back to Wisconsin to see his doctor in the HMO we are in for that test, than to go to a doctor in Yuma. Once he is old enough for Medicare, he will be able to see a doctor anywhere in the country.

I did not post about Kevin's health scare before now because I wanted to see how it all played out, and I just wasn't ready to do so. One thing I really would like everyone to take away from this experience is that over 90% of bladder cancer occurs in smokers or former smokers. Please let this be a wake up call to anyone who still smokes.

He is staying with our son Eric while he is there. They have plans every day until he returns on Wednesday. I think it will be a great guys visit. Today they are going to a friend's house to watch the Packer Game and play cards with a group of guys they have been playing cards with for years.

Since Thanksgiving we have been enjoying ourselves in Yuma. We continue to golf, play bocce ball and lots of other activities. One day we went to Mexico with friends Brad and Martha. I bought a nice small leather back pack and a new ankle bracelet. We also stocked up on some booze, and enjoyed a delicious lunch with tasty margaritas. My shrimp tacos were very good.

On December 3rd there was a full moon. The night before it rose while still light outside. Here are a few pictures of it coming over the foothills.

On Sunday, the actual full moon night, the resort hosted a "Howl at the Moon" party. There was a bonfire and a band playing. Lots of people attended, and it looked like everyone had a great time.

Unfortunately, right before the moon rose over the foothills, a large cloud moved in. There was still plenty of howling going on. The moon rose between two palm trees. The picture isn't the best, but it was still an amazing site. The event was such a success, the resort is already planning for the next full moon party.

Several times since we've been here three or four ultralights have flown over the resort. They are sure interesting to see. I don't think I'd have the guts to do that!

Yesterday the Yuma Orchestra String Ambassadors put on a Christmas concert at the resort. They are a group of young people who enjoy sharing their musical talents with others. I went by myself, and really enjoyed the show.

Tomorrow I'm going hiking with the hiking group. The rest of the time Kevin is gone, I plan to do lots of sewing. We've been so busy, I haven't had much time for that. There is a quilting group in the park, and I have been trying to get down there once a week and sew with the group. They are a fun group of people, and I enjoy sewing with them and sharing ideas.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Happy Thanksgiving to all. We are so thankful for our family and friends, as well as our health and enjoyable lifestyle.

We celebrated with a delicious Thanksgiving dinner sponsored by the resort last Saturday. The park provides the turkey and gravy, all other dishes are pot luck style provided by the people at the table. Tables are 20 people. We were invited to join a table by the people parked next to us from Minnesota. This year we didn't know anyone in the park when we got here, so it was nice of them to include us. We had a great meal and met some nice new people. The main hall was packed full of tables, and there were even some tables set up outside to accommodate everyone.

The park is much busier this time of year compared to previous years we've been here. Rumor has it this is due to the storms in Florida and Texas this past summer, which damaged many RV parks. When we left for our trip to Mexico on October 25th, there was no one around us. When we got back on the 31st, we had neighbors on both sides of us. A few days later, we got neighbors behind us. Two of them are from Quebec, which is a long ways from Arizona. I must say I liked it better in previous years when the area we are in didn't get busy until January, and we had open spaces around us during the fall.

The weather in November has been hotter than average. In fact, yesterday, today and tomorrow are forecast to be 90 degrees. Record breaking heat. We've had to run the air more than normal this time of year. I hear Wisconsin temperatures have been below normal for November, so no complaints from us. We have had some amazingly beautiful sunrises and sunsets the last few weeks. Here are two of the sunrises.

And a sunset. The entire sky was pink. Pictures cannot come close to showing the beauty of it!!

We've been keeping quite busy. We joined a golf group on Friday afternoons. It is co-ed, and you are paired with a different group of four people each week. You pay $2 extra per person, and then play a scramble round. The only rule is each person must use at least one drive. Top teams win prize money. The first week there were 15 teams. Kevin won $2.50 and I won $4.50. My team had a guy that was really good. The next week there were 16 teams. Kevin won $2.50 again. My team had a score of par, and were not in the prize money. It's been a lot of fun, and the people are very nice. We are thinking of joining the couples group on Wednesdays, as well.

We've also been playing some pickle ball, but it's been too hot for the most part. We'll play more when it cools off. We joined a group that plays bocce ball on Thursdays at 4 pm. Everyone brings an appetizer to share. We eat and visit and then play three games of bocce ball. The losing teams move over a court, so a great way to meet more nice people.

Last Monday was the first hike for the hiking group. We've hiked with this group each year we've come to the resort. It's led to Everett and his wife Nancy from Idaho who are in their 70s. Such a nice couple, and you'd never guess they are that age. It was a great beginning hike with about 20 people. The group will double in size in a few months when lots of snowbirds arrive.

It was one of the cooler days this months, so a great day for a hike in the desert.

I did a little Christmas shopping this morning. Amazon has the Kindle Fire 7 for $29.99, half price. We bought one last year, and I use it a lot for reading books and watching Netflix. The new one will be for Kevin to read books on, too. Verizon has the Galaxy S8 phones at half price, so I'll probably head out on Saturday to get a new phone. I've been waiting for them to go on sale. No way am I going anywhere near the mall tomorrow. I could order it online, but I like to get it in store so they can set it up for me.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Mexican Vacation, Part 3

One afternoon we rented two wave runners for a half hour each. Cathryn and I had never been on one, and we were excited to try it.

Kevin had no desire to ride, so Eric was kind enough to give me a ride without scaring me.

After he drove me around for a bit, I tried being the driver. I didn't like driving. Each wave made me feel like I was turning without wanting to. I was probably going too slow, and the waves were pushing me. I rode with Eric for about ten minutes, and then I told him go out there and have a blast. He did.

Cathryn had an opportunity to drive, too. She enjoyed her first time on a wave runner.

Kevin and I really enjoy vacationing with our grown children. We have many wonderful memories of trips with them as children. Adult trips are just as fun. I know they appreciate these experiences we are giving them. As Eric said, "I'd rather spend time with you now than when you're dead." Makes a lot of sense. Ha,  ha!! They are such awesome people.

Korey and Cathryn were blessed to find each other. They have been married for four years, and I so enjoy watching them together. They have such a wonderful relationship.

The resort has a show every night at 9:30 pm. They frequently had live music before and after the show, as well. The first night we saw fire dancers. Amazing.

We also saw an acrobatic show, singers, Caribbean music, an Elvis impersonator and this Michael Jackson impersonator. All of the shows were enjoyable. The Michael Jackson performer sounded very much like him, and had the moves down perfectly. It was hard to get a picture because he was dancing the whole time.

We saw some unusual wildlife at the resort. These guys are called Coati. They look like a raccoon, only their noses are long like an anteater. They were not at all shy, and several unsuspecting people had food stolen right off their plate at the pool and the beach.

We also saw a raccoon, deer, lots of birds and several iguana. This was the granddaddy of them all. Eric was nice enough to pose with him for size perspective.

I know there are bigger iguana, but this was the largest ones we've ever seen.

That pretty much wraps up our all-inclusive vacation to Mexico. We enjoyed the all-inclusive format, but all agreed that next time we'll probably cruise again. We think cruising has more choices of things to do for everyone, and costs about the same or maybe even a little less. We did some dreaming of future trips we would like to take. Time will tell as to what family vacation we come up with next.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!