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Sunday, March 18, 2018


6:55 am - Sunday - Wittmann, AZ - 47º F, 52% humidity, wind 8 mph out of the west by northwest......clear blue skies, and it does not feel like there is any wind right now.  The high today at Desert View will be 42º, however, the high here will be 66º F, and our forecast low will be 43º F.  I slept with the bedroom window open once again.

After working 8 of the last 9 months it is time for some serious decompression time accompanied by significant TSFF (T-shirts, Shorts and Flip Flops) time.......

Dressed and ready to drive into Wickenburg, AZ for the Webb Center BBQ challenge

......it was nice to walk outside and not immediately wish you were wearing more clothing.....I just stood there in the sun in my t-shirt, pajama bottoms and slippers feeling the balmy morning air.   I spent an hour, or so first thing getting the VW out of the trailer, straightening up the interior of the trailer, and tossing a few more things in the trash.  I'm going to spend the next few days getting rid of more unnecessary stuff.

We left Wittmann riding in Tom and Darlene's car around 10:40 am to drive the 20 miles into Wickenburg arriving there just after 11 am and well ahead of the 11:30 opening of the BBQ challenge we were going to attend this day.  We brought our own chairs as seating there was limited.  It felt wonderful to stand outside in the sun (again) in our shorts, t-shirts and flip flops (well, Keen closed toe sandals for me).  

The entry fee was $10 each for all the BBQ you could eat, and $4 for each beer ticket.  We found a nice place on the grass to set up our chairs and then began to go from tent to tent getting plates of BBQ....beef, pork belly, pork ribs (meat on and off the bone), tri-tips, BBQ'd shrimp tacos, chicken.....you name it. 

  Ready to taste some great BBQ!

TLE and I made several trips to obtain more plates of our favorite  pork belly BBQ, and by 1:30 pm we were stuffed!  There was a band performing the entire time we were there.....

....and we had music

.....finally about 2 pm they announced the winners of various categories of BBQ, and well as the winner of the raffle for a brand new BBQ.  We were on our way back to Wittmann by 2:30, and home by 3 pm.

I spent the rest of the afternoon watching one NCAA March Madness basketball game after another with the final game ending about 8:30 pm.  As I watched the games I kept glancing up at our altimeter and smiling.......

......one thousand, six hundred and fifty-three feet elevation.  I walked outside about 6:40 pm to snap a picture of the sunset in my t-shirt, shorts and flip flops......I could not have done that just a couple of days ago......

.....due to being surrounded by juniper and pine trees it was often impossible to really see the sunrise, or sunset at Desert View unless you were down at the Watchtower viewpoint.

Life is good, and we are beginning to decompress just a little.....thanks for stopping by!

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Desert View - Day 127 - T minus zero......lift off!

7:23 am - Saturday - March 17th - Wittman, AZ - 47º F, 64% humidity, wind 7 mph out of the east.....forecast for today is sunny skies with a high.......get this......of 67º, and a low tonight (47 º F) that will be higher than the high (45º F) at Desert View today!  I slept with my bedroom window open for the first time in months and months and did not get up until 7 am!  

I was awake earlier than I wished at 4:30 am on 'T minus zero' day.  It is my nature to be thinking about what needs to be done and by what time if we are to meet our 'Jello' departure time of 9 am, so my mind was racing as it checked off one item after another in its proper order that must be accomplished before we begin to back the Newell and American trailer out of RV site #2 in the Desert View residential area.  Of course there is that rascally 2" of snow that fell Thursday afternoon that is still coating everything outside in the predawn 26º F temperature.......

.......this is not my ideal 'roll the wheels' day.  Over the years I have prepared for lift off in driving rain, in 'whiteout conditions' fog, in hellacious wind and now with 2" of snow on the ground.  Thankfully as the sun rose over the eastern edge of the Grand Canyon for our last day in Desert View there were only a few clouds so we immediately began to be hit with its wonderful warming rays, and things began to thaw.

I didn't venture outside until after 7:30 am.....until then I busied myself with folding down my computer table, putting my laptop away in its travel bag, setting up my small HP laptop which runs my Delorme GPS program on the center console, and then entering our route for the day.

As I related above, our 'Jello' goal was to be backing out of our site by 9 am.  I had to disconnect the utilities (water, sewer and electric).....I had to connect our pancake compressor to the 'quick connect' in the right engine bay to air up the system before turning the big Detroit Diesel 6V92 over.  I do this when we have been sitting still for a long time as it decreases the amount of time to finish the airing up process when I finally fire up the diesel.  Once the pancake compressor had done its job I had to stow it away, then put away the portable fire pit, pull the tire covers off the Newell tires, pull the mirror and windshield wipers covers off (TLE actually did this), take down our wind chimes which hang from the passenger side view mirror, disconnect the trailer from electricity, put away the various 'welcome' mats, and entry step for the Newell, and finally drop the trailer on the hitch.

By the time all this was done it was just after 9 am and time to begin backing out of our site.....

.....backing out took about 5 minutes as I had to do a little maneuvering to extricate us from our shoehorn site......nevertheless, we were successful, and by 9:11 am I was driving away from site #2......

.....we had decided earlier that I would drive the Newell with trailer over to the RV parking area at the Desert View Watchtower parking lot where we would insert the VW without blocking traffic on Colter Lane where site #2 is.

Within a few minutes the VW was loaded.....I still can't believe we got it in......we have way too much stuff and need to seriously begin to discard some of it in the worst kind of way......

......at any rate, we were on our way out the east gate of the Grand Canyon by 9:30 am headed for lower elevations......and I mean LOWER elevations!  Our modest goal for the day was 240 miles away at the home of dear friends Tom and Darlene in Wittman, AZ (near Surprise) which sits at the deliciously low elevation of 1,683'.....well over a mile lower than we have been at for the past 9 months.

As we slipped down the 30 mile decline towards Cameron, AZ I turned to TLE and said "It's good to be moving again", to which she replied "Yeah, it is good".  Our first stop of the day necessitated by the alarmingly depleted nature of our 60 gallon propane tank was the Conoco fuel station just outside of Flagstaff where they sell propane for $2.69/gallon.  They also have an extremely 'easy in, easy out' configuration that we love.  We took on 56 gallons of propane, which means we had about 4 gallons left......maybe another 10 days, or so before we would have no longer had hot water.  Thank goodness we topped off our tank in Page, AZ on November 6th the same day we arrived at Desert View!

From Flagstaff we picked up I-40 westbound to I-17 southbound and then it was just a matter of holding on to the steering wheel and 'jaking' down the 20 mile decline into CampVerde where we again had a 5 mile climb out of the Verde Valley.  

We took a brief break at the Sunset Rest Area and then continued our ever downward trajectory to AZ-74 (aka: Carefree Highway) where we turned west toward our ultimate destination in Wittman, AZ.....

The big building is Tom's "workshop" where Tom keeps his 2002 Newell when he and Darlene are not traveling

......we arrived at Tom and Darlene's country property about 3 pm....within minutes I was wearing flip flops, shorts and a t-shirt and enjoying the 69º F temperature as I connected our utilities.  My ears are still 'popping' from the massive elevation loss!

We spent the afternoon and early evening catching up with Tom and Darlene....it's been almost 15 months since we were last here....that is difficult to believe.....it seems like just a few weeks.  We'll be here for about 5 days decompressing from out 4.5 month odyssey at the Desert View General Store, and then head to Indio, CA where we will spend three days with good vagabonding friends Steve and Linda, then it is home to SoCal to visit with our children, grand children, and great grand child for 3 weeks.  Life is good!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Desert View - Day 126 - T minus 1

6:15 am - Friday - March 16th - Grand Canyon - 26º F, 77% humidity, wind 3 mph out of the north by northeast.......forecast for today is sunny with some clouds and a high of 49º F.......our last morning at Desert View.

Waking up to snow on our final Desert View day has only reaffirmed my intense desire to be somewhere else where the low will be higher than our forecast high here at Desert View today.  We'll be rolling our wheels in about 2 hours.

At last, the final day of our sojourn here at the Desert View Watchtower has arrived.  We had talked for the past year, or so about spending the winter at elevation where it was cold, and where there would possibly be snow on the ground a lot, if not all winter.  We have found ourselves over the past few years briefly in snow, but had never spent the winter where there was the possibility have snow on the ground all winter.  We escaped that bullet  here at Desert View, but not the cold.  The first couple of months the weather was wonderful most of the time, but beginning in January it got consistently cold, and the novelty began to wear off over time.  Consider us officially cured of wanting to live in the snow!  On our work day at the Desert View Market my eyes kept drifting to the top of my register monitor to see what time it was.....here it was 10:09 am meaning I had about 2 hour and 21 minutes before I would be clocking out for the last time....

 Yup, you're right.....they misspelled my first name

.......about 11 am it began to snow in earnest just as the weather guessers had predicted.  The accumulation, thank goodness, did not live up to their prognostications, but snow on the ground is snow on the ground.....it just makes everything more difficult when it comes to stow the final few things away Friday morning.

As the morning stretched on a few employees came by to say their 'until next times'.....Kathy was the first.......

 Final day with Kathy

.....Kathy is the Deli manager and one of our favorite people here at Desert View.  I remember the first time I met her way back in early November I told her "I don't know you very well yet, but I know I am going to like you!", and that is exactly how it came to be.  We will both miss her, and wish her all the best as she pursues her eventual dream to become a vagabonder, too.

Carlos has only been at Desert View a week, or less, but we developed a bond very quickly.  He is from Equador as I related previously, and very, very sharp.  He picked up the cashier routine very quickly, and will be more than a competent replacement for moi......

Carlos and moi for the last time

.....Kevin, who worked in the bakery, came by our 'home' after to work to bid his adieus, but I forgot to take an 'usie', however, I did get this shot of him Thursday doing his job.....

Kevin working

....he was also one of our favorite people and a real gentleman.  He has been working at Desert View for a little over a year now....Kevin, you will be missed!

There are other favorites that I did not get pictures of such as Mary (Deli) who when I would great her each morning and ask how she was always retorted....."Peachy!", Katie and Ashley (Trading Post Coffee Bar), and Scott (Receiving Clerk).......you guys are now apart of our lives and memories!

Around 11:10 am our manager, Wayne, came to me asking if I thought TLE would be okay with NOT working Thursday, and without hesitation, I answered "NO!" she would not mind.  I quickly called her and told her she did not have to report for work, but would have to come in to turn in her 'bank' of $400.  Carlos relieved me at the register around 11:55 am, and I quickly made my way to the back room to count my cash drawer, make my deposit ($356), and then turn in my remaining $400 bank.  We took our final 'usie' with Wayne and Ian......

Ian (floor manager), and Wayne (Interim Manager)

......and we were out the door at 11:25 am never to darken the back door of the General Store again.

We spent the afternoon watching golf, and watching the snow come down heavily.  I was beginning to get very concerned about what it might look like Friday morning.  Finally the snow began to abate, and we began to see blue sky once again. The snow did not really stick to the road, so our fears about being snowed in began to subside, and thoughts of being someplace much warmer on Friday afternoon began to come to the forefront.

We watched a few recorded shows to close out the evening and were in bed by 10 pm dreaming of flip flops, shorts and t-shirts within 24 hours.....thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Desert View - Day 125 - T minus 2 and holding

5:40 am - Thursday - March 15th - Grand Canyon - 33º F, 83% humidity, wind 8 mph out of the southwest (it blew all night, and it seems the wind is stronger than the 8 mph being reported).......forecast for today is 1-3 inches of snow (wait, what?) a high of 38º F.  Windy all night long.  A side note about the blog title today....I miscounted....Wednesday was supposed to be "T minus 2", not Tuesday....I don't want to go back and correct the last 13 blog titles, so we are in a holding pattern for one day.  Thursday will be T minus 1.

Spring Break has seen a steady increase in store revenues each day.  For me my cash deposit broke the $500 mark Wednesday coming in at $546 and change.  When I counted down I was surprised as it did not seem I was that busy at all.  I was guessing $300+ so I was way wrong!

There is really nothing notable to report about Wednesday.....it was just another ordinary work day at the General Store.  I really like working the morning shift because it is very quiet most mornings until about 10 am.  I spend the first 2.5 hours straightening up the store, cleaning, vacuuming, mopping, straightening displays, checking date codes on perishable items, etc.  It is very relaxing for me, and it makes me feel like there are two parts to my workday.  The real work begins around 10 am when we begin to see a real influx of customers into the store, and by 12 pm  I am being relieved by TLE, and am usually home by 12:40 pm at the latest.  I then have the whole afternoon to myself.

This is really the first time since TLE and I retired that we have essentially spent the entire daylight portion of each work day (when we are working, of course) apart.  We have always worked the same shifts before, and would see each other several times a day.  Working different shifts has been a different experience, but I have come to appreciate time by myself, or I should say I am getting used to being by myself, which is a good thing.  I don't do the solitary thing very well.  I've had to develop some new routines to keep myself occupied.  Usually when TLE and I are home together we set out a plan for the day which might include hiking, biking, junking, shopping, or whatever.  There is always an activity which each day revolves around in which we both participate.  It might just be as simple as sitting outside reading and enjoying nice weather, but we do it together.

I've really enjoyed these past few days as I have been getting our Newell and trailer ready to roll, and looking forward to the next two months when TLE and I will be back in a more normal to us routine until we arrive in Maine for our summer job.  I have resolved to really enjoy each and every day of that two months.

On the 'future plans' front we are tentatively planning to travel to Alaska in the summer of 2019 with at least one other couple.  We have no plans to work that summer.....just spend the summer traveling in Alaska.  The planning is really in the early stages right now so there is not much to report, but I thought I would throw that out there for now.  There are 14 months between us and the beginning of that adventure, and anything can happen.  We also have some tentative plans for the winter after we finish with our summer job in Maine to spend a couple of months in Cedar Key, FL (one of our favorite winter places on earth) decompressing from what has essentially become a year of working one job after another.

I was home from work by 12:30, had lunch and then got back outside (in the wind) to finish taking down the rest of our decorative lighting which was strung in and between two large trees in our site.  That required the use of my telescoping ladder and took about two hours to finish.  Additionally, I took some time to weed through the stuff in our trailer and get rid of a few things we no longer need.  When I finished around 3 pm with the lights and the trailer I had a big smile on my face......we are ready to roll!  All that remains is to drop the trailer on the Newell hitch, back it out and then load the VW and we are 'gone with the wind'.

Speaking of wind, that is one thing I will not miss about our time here at the Grand Canyon.  The first couple of months were very idyllic with warm temps and little or no wind.  Now it seems we get a wind storm at least once a week that lasts for a day, or two.  The wind came up Wednesday about mid morning and continued into the night, however, Friday is looking good for our departure....fingers crossed!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Desert View - Day 124 - T minus 2

4:59 am - Wednesday - March 14th - Grand Canyon - 38º F, 74% humidity, wind 4 mph out of the south.....forecast for today is rain late morning (40% chance), and wind up to 28 mph in the afternoon with a high of 58º F.  Why am I awake so early?  As is my habit when we are getting close to our departure date my mind goes into overdrive thinking about all the things I need to do before we roll our wheels once again.  I was wide awake at 4:35 am with, apparently, no hope of going back to sleep, so I just decided to start my day 40 minutes early.

Tuesday was a barn burner!  By and far our busiest day since Spring Break began!  As we opened the door at 8 am for business there were 5 people waiting, and it got busier from there.  I had a number of side projects I wanted to work on including, but not limited to re-stocking t-shirts, mopping, etc., but I never got to them.  I ended up dropping $454.56, my biggest cash drop this SB.  Seeing how our business is increasing exponentially as we get deeper into the SB season, I am grateful we only have two days left after Tuesday!  I was getting ready to clock out around 12:30 pm, but noticed TLE's line was getting quite long so I hung around until a little after 2 pm to 'bag' for her customers.  In that 90 minute span our line got as long as 30 people deep, and the Deli line was about 40 people deep at its zenith, but eventually things leveled off, plus another cashier came on duty, so it was finally time for me to clock out.

When last we left off I had finished organizing the trailer for artificial turf and VW insertion.  Tuesday was the day we would insert the turf, but first I had to flip it over to dry the other half of the underside......it was about 2:30 pm.  In order to do that I had to put away the portable fireplace, the Sea-B-Que and the table on which it was sitting.  Since I had lost an hour and a half of my afternoon I had to work steadily with no breaks to get everything done which needed doing.  

After flipping the turf over I began to roll up our rope lights, of which there are about 100' now, and all the extension cords I as using to hook them all together.  In the middle of all this I needed to dump the black tank as it had been 8 days, remove the jack stands under the trailer which I use to stabilize it when we are parked in one place for a long time, pull the tire covers and check the air pressure on all four trailer tires.....each tire needed about 5 psi to bring them up to the proper pressure.

By the time I was finished with all that it was edging toward 5:30 pm......three straight hours of non-stop work and I was beat.  I still needed fold up the artificial turf so when TLE got home it would just be a matter of dragging it inside the trailer which takes just a couple of minutes.

Once again, TLE was not home until almost 6 pm.  She advised she dropped over $1,000 while the other cashier dropped another $500....so just over $2,000 cash sales for the day, which does include the credit card receipts which were probably another $3-4,000.  We quickly dragged the turf inside the trailer, and TLE put away the rope lights I had coiled.  

Two more days to finish a few final details.......it looks like rain Wednesday, and a trace of snow and rain on Thursday.....Friday, our lift off day looks good.....sunny with a few clouds.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Desert View - Day 123 - T minus 3

5:54 am - Tuesday - March 13th - Grand Canyon - 40º F, 80% humidity, wind - CALM....forecast for today is partly cloudy with a high of 58º F.

As we continue to edge further into 'Spring Break' season the days continue to get busier at the General Store.  When we unlocked the doors Monday morning there were 7 people waiting to come into the store.....that's a first!  I think part of the reason for the congregation at the door was that the fog had rolled into the Grand Canyon around 7:30 am and you could hardly see the Watchtower from the store, let alone get a view of the canyon, so people were looking for something to do until the fog lifted.

Because it had rained on Sunday the store floor was in serious need of a good wet mopping....there were footprints everywhere from people walking in with wet shoe soles!  Due to the early rush of people into the store I was not able to finish mopping until almost 10:30.  My cash deposit for my 5 hour shift came to $297 and change, and TLE reported dropping just under $900.....yup, that's a busy day.

Since I did no work on organizing the trailer on Sunday I to finish that chore Monday afternoon after work.  By the time I had my lunch eaten and short nap in the bank it was after 2 pm, but I knew I could finish well before TLE came home.  I, indeed, finished with the trailer interior a little after 4 pm, and it is now ready for us to move the artificial turf inside Tuesday afternoon when TLE comes home from work.

I next moved the picnic table, and Sea-B-Que off the artificial turf so I could fold fold it in half to allow the underside to begin drying out......when I get home from work Tuesday I'll flip it over the other way to get the other half of the underside dry.  Then it is just a matter of folding it up and dragging it to the back of the trailer and then inside through the rear door.  We'll insert the VW first thing Friday morning and then be on our way south to warmer climes.

TLE didn't get home until almost 6 pm as there was a flood of customers into the store just before our 5 pm closing time.  By the time they all finished paying for their purchases it was almost 5:30.  Just after she got home I lit the Sea-B-Que so I could grill a couple of filets we bought when we were in Flagstaff last Friday.  TLE provided sides of asparagus and mashed potatoes and a glass of Pinot Noir for good measure.

Well, here we are......just two more days of work (Tuesday and Wednesday), one more day of getting the Newell road worthy, and we are off Friday morning!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Monday, March 12, 2018

Desert View - Day 122 - T minus 4, not 6

5:45 am - Monday - March 12th - Grand Canyon - 36º F, 73% humidity, wind 2 mph out of the south.....forecast for today is clear blue skies with a high of 53º F.  We have rain in the forecast for Wednesday (14th) , and then 2-4" of snow Saturday and Sunday (17th and 18th).  The snow this weekend has caused us to move our departure date up from the 18th to the 16th, hence the change in the 'T minus' number above from 6 to 4.

Sunday morning was 'Daylight Savings Time' for most the country, but if you are living in Arizona your clock did not have to be changed.  Because our clocks did not spring forward we are now sharing Pacific Time with the West Coast folks, and now our DirecTV is back on West Coast time.....yay!

I woke up to a blood pressure spike so I 'called in' sick.....more important to get my blood pressure down (it came down later in the morning, and is okay now), and then TLE woke up with an itchy rash on her back, so she 'called in' sick, also.  I wrote about the allergic reaction I had to something in the Trading Post last week, and now TLE has had a reaction to something at either the General Store, or something environmental.  She treated the rash with some topical Benadryl, and it began to improve later in the day.  

We awoke up to heavy rainfall, which had commenced sometime earlier in the morning, and continued unabated until about 8 am.  It's the first time we have had any sustained rainfall since we arrived back on November 6th, and I am sure they need the rain here at the Grand Canyon.  It also helped melt any remaining snow around the Newell and trailer.  

Since my job Sunday was to relax and get my blood pressure down I did no work in the trailer, but that's cool, because I have Monday and Tuesday afternoon to finish, and get the artificial turf inside before it rains again on Wednesday.

I basically spent the entire day in my recliner watching first English Premier Soccer, and then all 18 holes of the Valspar golf tournament in Tampa Bay, FL.  Tiger Woods managed a 1 under par 70 round Sunday to make it four days in a row posting an under par score, and finished one stroke behind the winner, Paul Casey. He had a birdie opportunity on the 18th hole to tie, but just fell short.  He had to drain a 44 foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to get within 1 stroke, and have a chance to tie it one hole later.  All that being said it was great to see him playing competitive golf once again at age 42.  Whether, or not you like him personally, you have to admire his grit and determination to fight his way back into playing competitive golf once again.

I didn't leave the Newell the entire day....I just relaxed.  I know the reason for my blood pressure spike, but will not share it now.....maybe next week after we are on the road.  I pride myself on showing up for work every day I am scheduled, but now that I have high blood pressure I must take care of myself first.

The fog rolled in and out the rest of the day, so I am sure there was not much 'viewing' of the Grand Canyon going on at the Watchtower.  Finally about 4 pm the sun came out, and the clouds began to clear away.....it should be a nice clear day on Monday!

So, here we are getting ready to pull up our anchor in just a few more days.....we'll work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and have Thursday and Friday off enabling us to easily get the final preparations for departure on Friday completed.

Thanks for stopping by!

When you shop Amazon, please use our link (below) to access their website.......we will appreciate every purchase you make using our Amazon Affiliate link, and  remember, using our link will not add one penny to your purchase, plus we will receive a small commission which helps defer the costs of producing this blog each day.