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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sicko - Day 3

8:12 am - Mountain Time - Saturday - 65° F, 52% humidity, wind 3 mph out of southeast.....heavy cloud cover......began raining late Friday afternoon, and continued on and off most of the night.  Spent the night and early morning binge watching 'Breaking Bad' at the urging of many of my Facebook friends, and didn't get to bed until almost 1:30 am.....slept with two pillows to keep my upper body elevated to alleviate the coughing urge, and it helped.  Breaking Bad gets a 5 star (1-5....5 being best) rating from IMDB on over 630,000 reviews.....that's pretty solid, and so far I am enjoying it!

I continue to be under the weather.....I can almost hear the 'clucking' out there in cyberland....."He's not going to write about how sick he is again!"......well, yes I am.  This is, after all is said and done, a blog about my life such as it is.  Sometimes it is about 'nothing', and sometimes it is actually about something.....TLE says I am a terrible patient, but she faithfully and patiently tends to my needs....of course she is right.  All that being said I continue to battle this cold that wants so desperately to take me down.....I continue to take ZICAM® a few times per day, and RICOLA® as needed to abate my cough accompanied by an occasional hot cup of honey tea courtesy TLE....so far I'm only having to blow my nose on occasion.  I'm hoping I will turn the corner soon as our lift off date is Monday.

Since I was feeling under the weather I pretty much stayed inside all day, venturing outside for just about 15 minutes mid afternoon to dump the black tank....doesn't matter how one feels, when the black tank calls you must answer, right?  TLE spent a good portion of her day playing cards with Darlene........they love to play cards.  Since we have been here  in Wittmann this time around Darlene has been pretty much dominating TLE.....TLE is very competitive, and keeps going back for more....she finally won a game Friday.

That was pretty much my Sicko day #3......hoping for better news by the end of Saturday on the health front......thanks for stopping by!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Avoidance.....

8:39 am - Mountain Time - Friday - 47° F, 63% humidity, wind 8 mph out of ENE......high clouds......forecast high 69° F.

I just realized last night....forgive me, I'm a little slow sometimes.....that there are no college bowl games on January 1st (Sunday)......only NFL games.  The bowl games traditionally played on January 1st will be played on January 2nd this year, so I guess this is the first time in a long time New Years has been on Sunday.  As you may recall from my most recent posts we are leaving Wittmann on Monday, January 2nd to drive back to the Quechan Casino.  The main reason, now, is that it will be raining Saturday night, and Sunday morning, or so the weather guessers predict.  I would be inclined to leave Sunday......most of the NFL games this Sunday do not mean much, but I'm not sure the dirt road will be driveable.....sooooo we leave early Monday in order to arrive early enough to watch the remaining bowl games.

I continued to feel under the weather Thursday, but there were a few things I needed to do before we depart......clear the partial clog in the bathroom sink drain, replace a screw on the radiator door on the rear of the coach, lubricate the hitch ball with grease, move the trailer forward and drop it on the hitch ball, reattach the sway bar, use my multi-meter to check the voltage in the wire running to the 'Jake Brake'.....yeah, just a 'few' things.  I got all my tasks done, and determined the 'Jake Brake' is getting at least 13 volts all the way to the valve cover, so the wire must have become disconnected inside the valve cover......that is officially way above my pay grade.....I was hoping it was the outside the valve cover.....bummer.  By the time I finished with those tasks it was going on 1 pm and I was feeling like s**t, as it were......TLE feels my forehead and tells me I've got a fever.....doh!

First I took a long, hot shower (I was filthy), took one more ZICAM® and two Ibupropens, drank a cup of hot honey tea and then took a long nap.  When I awoke around 3 pm I still felt bad, and my head felt like it was larger than normal.  I started coughing a little so I sucked on a RICOLA® (best cough drops ever!).....right now I'm must treating symptoms and hoping for the the best.  So far I've only had a couple of coughing spells, and no runny nose so far......that's the part I'm trying to avoid!  We had planned to drive into Peoria (near Surprise) to have dinner with my niece (Heather) and her family, but once the fever presented itself I figured I might be contagious, so we stayed home......no point in passing whatever I have on to more family members.

I spent the evening dozing, and watching a couple more bowl games in between the dozing.  Thursday got pretty warm....the forecast high was 72° F, but it felt warmer than that.....maybe that fever was affecting my perception?  Hoping my condition improves Friday.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Holiday hangover....

8:50 am - Mountain Time - Thursday - 51° F, humidity 64%, wind 1 mph out of southwest......very cloudy......☁  Did not sleep well last night.....serious post nasal drip going on, and a 'scratchy' throat.....maybe the beginning of a cold.....uggggh!

I spent a few hours Wednesday helping Tom work on his 1940 Ford Sedan......


.....he has removed all the windows and hardware to clean them before reinstalling them.  I worked on the vented windows located at the rear corners of the car indicated by the red arrow in the picture above.  Each of these windows had to be cleaned, and then masked so the metal frames of the windows can be painted black.  The project was 'tedious' as Tom says, but that is the kind of project I enjoy.....the time just melted away.

In the afternoon I began to feel like I was coming down with a cold.....my first cold in 2 years.  Whenever we spend a lot of time where there are a lot of small children it is always a risk, and that is exactly what we did this past Christmas weekend.  I began taking ZICAM® before our trip back to SoCal and have been taking it since I returned, so we'll see how long the cold symptoms last.  The last few times I have felt like I was getting sick I began taking ZICAM® as soon as the symptoms presented themselves and I never really got sick.....I just felt 'punk' for a few days.

Once again there were several college football bowl games and I had one of them on most of the afternoon and evening.  TLE went shopping a couple of days ago and returned with a couple of filet mignons, so I got out the Sea-B-Que around 4:30 to grill one of them.  TLE added mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables as sides......the filet came out a perfect medium rare.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Home Sweet Home!

6:52 am - Mountain Time - Wednesday - Wait what?  Wednesday already?  43° F, 68% humidity, wind 3 mph out of northwest....partly cloudy......forecast high 69° F.  In the midst of a minor 'heat wave'.....will be high 60's to low 70's for next three days then back into the 50's.

It is good to be back in my home.....don't get me wrong, it is always nice to spend a few days in a larger home, but I love the compact nature of my Newell home.....I am most comfortable in this 220 square foot space.  I know where everything is, and I am just feet away from the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, my beloved recliner, the outdoors, the heater thermostat.....I think you get the idea.

When we left on our whirlwind trip to SoCal for Mark's memorial service and Christmas we stowed our patio awning to protect it from possible winds over that span of time.  Now that we have returned it was time to deploy it once again, along with the decorative lights which we also had to takeN down.  When we are dry camping I almost always park the coach in a way to get the most sun on my solar panels for as many hours per day as possible, and that is usually with the nose of the coach facing the west.  This keeps the passenger side, or awning side in the shade meaning we usually do not deploy the awning.  When we have hookups we often do not have a choice in what direction we face, and often find the passenger side exposed to the sun for all, or part of the day, so we deploy the awning. 

Once the awning and patio furniture were redeployed I moved on to the next task......clean out the engine bay on both sides of the coach, and then pressure wash our rear facing radiator.....it has been about 10 months since it was last cleaned, and even though we have not traveled that many miles in the interim it was time.  I usually clean the radiator, at a minimum, every six months.  By the time I finished putting everything away it was closing in on 4 pm, and I was oh so dirty and tired.

After a longish shower I retired to my recliner to read for a while, which almost always leads to a nap, which it did.  Being that it is also the end of the year, the fourth week of December specifically, there are a number of  college 'Bowl' games being played leading up to this weekend when it will be non-stop college football culminating with the New Year's day 'Bowl' blowout on Sunday.

There was a lot of work Tuesday, but what Tuesday mostly was for me was social decompression time......a time to be alone with my own thoughts.  And now we are just days away from rolling our wheels once again.  We will be moving our home back to the Quechan Casino in Winterhaven, CA on January 2nd in anticipation of our next dental appointments on the 3rd and the 9th.  This will position us to be able to be on I-8 heading eastward by January 9th.....if we leave the coach here in Wittmann we have to make two round trips to Los Algodones totaling some 800 miles, and would still have to drive back to Wittmann on the 9th after our last appointment, which would mean we would not be able to hit the road until the 10th.  Why is this important to us?  Well we need to be in Cedar Key, FL by January 20th to keep our reservation at Sunset Isle RV Park and leaving on the 9th will give us a total of 12 days to cover the 2,200 miles, or an average of 183 miles per day.  No doubt there will be some longer days, and some shorter days, but driving under 200 miles per day is our comfort zone.

Our probable route east

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

'Back to the future......'

7:39 am - Mountain Time - Tuesday - 41° F, humidity 67%, wind 3 mph out of NNE.....clear blue skies....forecast high is 70° F.  Back 'home'.....

We were up by 7 am (PST) Monday, which was to be a travel day for TLE and I......time to travel 'back to the future'.....or at least one hour into the future which is where 'Mountain Time' is.  After taking a shower, writing the blog, and packing we were ready for our 'until next times' with Chris and TAR*.....it was just after 9 am and we needed to drop by Tim and TBL's** and Nick and Kate's for the second and third round of final 'until next times'.  We found everyone feeling a little under the weather so quickly bid our adieus and hit the road....it was about 9:50 am.

The day was clear, but still in the low 50's as we merged on to California SR-60 eastbound, and it would not get much warmer than 57° F all day.....a perfect driving day.  I drove the first leg to the I-10 Rest Area near Chiriaco Summit (east of Indio) which is just shy of 100 miles from our starting point where we took a much needed bathroom break.......just barely beating the arrival of a couple of tour buses which promptly resulted in a very long bathroom line for those who were most unfortunate to arrive after them.  From there TLE drove to Blythe where we stopped for lunch at Carl's Jr.......once again just barely beating the tour bus crowd....we sat eating our Santa Fe Chicken sandwiches as the tour bus gang stretched the order line out the door.

When we got back in the VW we knew we would be crossing into Arizona, and Mountain Time in just minutes so we went ahead and changed the clock.....it was 1:20 pm PST, however, it now became 2:20 pm Mountain Time.....we were officially back to the future!  We merged back on to eastbound I-10 and within minutes were passing through Quartzite, which is just beginning to fill up for the winter........a few minutes later we exited I-10 to Arizona SR-60.....120 miles to go!  

After making a quick stop in Wickenburg to fill up our tiny VW gas tank (capacity is around 13-14 gallons) we arrived home about 4:45 pm.....just before sundown, which was our modest goal for the day......nothing like an uneventful trip whether in the VW, or the Newell.  We had a wonderful 4 days with our kids over Christmas, but it is always good to get back to your familiar home, bed and routine once again.

On a side note, it appears......so far.....with the loosening and re-torquing of the 'knock sensor' bolt on the VW engine the 'CHECK ENGINE' light issue has been resolved for the present.  We've put approximately 800 miles on the VW since then and the light has not returned, nonetheless, just in case I do have the replacement Bosch 'knock sensor' in reserve.

Thanks for stopping by!

*TAR = The Amazing Rochelle
**TBL = The Beautiful Laila

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Day, 2016

7:15 am - PST - Monday - 37° F, humidity 66%, wind 2 mph out of the north....clear.....forecast high 59°......travel day coming up!

Christmas day dawned clear and cold and by 9:30 we were driving southward to Creekside (a subdivision in Ontario, CA) and the home (previously our home for 30 years) of Kate (daughter) and Nick (husband) for our annual Christmas Brunch and gift exchange.....

Left to right: Brayden James (grandson), Jolene Rose (grand daughter) and Daniel Christopher (great grandson)......checking out Xmas presents

Almost time for brunch!

The kitchen remodeling is done!

.......it is so wonderful that we can come to SoCal and see all 5 of our kids and their families at the same time.....they are a close group and spend lots of time together even when we aren't in town......that makes me happy!

 Annual Christmas group photo......19 strong.....Front row - left to right: Jolene Rose, Katie, Charlise, Nick; Middle row - left to right: TAR*, Elaine, TBL**, Cynthia, Daniel Christopher, Sharon (Brayden James out of sight), Elijah; Back row - left to right: Christopher, Lena, Chris, Tim, moi, Meredith, Rod

Our son Tim and his fiance, TBL**, were hosting Christmas dinner at their home (also in Creekside), so we had barely digested brunch when it was time to head over there around 2 pm for dinner at 3:30.....I don't think I've been hungry since Thursday.......

The tables are set......

The in-laws have arrived!

  Time to eat....again....

 Jack and Nancy (Nick's parents) bought matching pajamas for the kids and themselves......love this picture!

Hanging in Tim and TBL's** backyard

 Time for the ubiquitous 'shots'!

My sons chose good women....TLE with TBL** and TAR*

It has been a whirlwind trip with non-stop socializing, and lots of hugs and kisses from our kids.......we are so happy we came for Mark's memorial service and were able to see the grief of our extended family transformed into joy over just a few days.....we wouldn't have missed it for the world.

We've had a wonderful time with Chris and TAR* at their home these past 4 days, as well as Nick and Kate, Rod and Sharon, Meredith, and Tim and Laila and all the grand kiddies.....my cup runneth over!

TLE and I were home just before 7......kind of worn out from the past four days.....TLE went to bed almost immediately, and I followed within a couple of hours......we'll be traveling back to Wittmann Monday morning.

Thanks for stopping by!

*TAR - The Amazing Rochelle
**TBL - The Beautiful Laila

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Eve, 2016

8:00 am - PST - Sunday - Merry Christmas!  38° F, humidity 82%, wind 6 mph out of east.....clear blue skies. Headed off for Christmas brunch with the kids and grandkids in an hour.

Saturday was Christmas Eve and it was cold and stormy looking, but we got no more rain......the view towards the local mountains out our bedroom window.....a little dusting of snow can be seen.......



.......view towards the Pomona Valley.....you can see forever....well, almost.....


.....we had a leisurely breakfast and morning......my son doesn't have NFL Sunday Ticket, so I'm missing that a little.....the only game on at 10 am was the Packers vs. the Vikings won by the Packer.  The afternoon game featuring the Raiders vs. Colts was won by the Raiders, but at a great cost.....Derek Carr, their quarterback, suffered a broken fibula near the end of the game, which means he is out for the season, and suddenly the Raiders' chances of going beyond the first round are not looking too good.



The original name of this brewery was Dale Brothers Brewing, however, it was discovered there was already another micro brewery on the east coast with this name, so this one had to change their name to 'Last Name Brewing'

TLE and I met my good friend Paul Hood at Last Name Brewing in Upland, CA around 1 pm.....Yelp gives them 4.5 stars on 227 reviews.  They only serve beer, but you can bring in your own food, which we did.  Paul made a quick stop at The Hat for a couple of their famous pastrami sandwiches, and some onion rings and met us at 1 pm at Last Name........this is a very popular place, and their brews are not to be missed.  I had a tulip glass of their Nitro Oat Meal Stout (11% abv), and so did TLE.  We chatted about an hour before bidding Paul adieu and Merry Christmas....we needed to get home to relax before our next Christmas party at the home of Chris' in-laws, Ed and Linda, at 5:30......I'm pretty sure I have not been hungry in about 4 days!

We haven't seen Ed and Linda since we headed out on our never ending journey almost 5 years ago, so we were looking forward to seeing them.  We have been very blessed with good in-laws, and Ed and Linda are no exception.  We had a wonderful time with them, but by 8:30 pm it was time to head for the barn.  

One more day of time with family, friends and relatives, and way, way too much food and we are off for Arizona once again.

Thanks for stopping by!



Saturday, December 24, 2016

Remembering......

7:51 am - PST - Saturday - 49° F, humidity 95% (yup.....raining, raining, raining), wind 8 mph out of ESE.....heavy clouds.....100% chance of rain.....forecast high 53° F.

We were up before 8 am (PST)......I went to type my blog on my Lenovo laptop and realized almost immediately that I had forgotten the power supply when I packed everything up Thursday.....doh!  Fortunately my son keeps a Dell laptop in the kitchen area on the counter so I just used that to type my blog.  The battery on my Lenovo only last about 90 minutes, and when I am plugged in I usually change the battery charging mode to 50%.....supposedly, according to Lenovo, it extends the battery life.  Anyway, with it set at 50% charge I knew I would only have 40-45 minutes before the battery would die, and after that I would have no chance of using it again until I got a power supply.

At any rate, I managed to get the blog written and then TLE and I decided to go out shopping before Mark's memorial service.  Every time I wear my suit, which is not often, I can't find my black dress socks, and I end up having to go out and buy another pair....this is the third time in the past 12 months I have had to buy new black dress socks......I can't imagine where they disappear to in the Newell.....one of my life's great mysteries.  We drove down Day Creek to its intersection with Foothill where there is a shopping center with a Men's Warehouse, a BevMo (Beverages and More), an REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), and a Best Buy.....all the stores we wanted to visit in one place.....park once and done.

I ended up finding a nice tie, some black dress socks and got out of Men's Warehouse for under $12.  Then it was over to Best Buy to buy a spare power supply for my laptop, and they actually had one for my Lenovo ($41......ouch).  Next up was BevMo where TLE bought some wine while I walked next door to a market to buy some half & half.  

Mark's memorial service was at 2 pm so we left Chris' home by 1 pm to be sure we arrived on time.....this is SoCal and just before Xmas so there is a lot of traffic.  We arrived at Richardson's Funeral Home by 1:40 pm to find most of the families already there.  Tears and hugs were in abundance.  The death of a loved one, and Mark was deeply loved, is always a difficult time for everyone involved and this was no exception.  Nevertheless, by the time the service was concluded folks were beginning to smile again, and that was a good sign.  One could see the closure part of the grieving process beginning to evidence itself.

Kate and Nick (daughter and son-in-law) hosted the reception at their home so we headed there next and spent a couple of hours talking about our memories of Mark before it was time to head back to Chris' home (where we are staying) for their Christmas party.  By the time we headed upstairs we were exhausted from all the socializing, but it was a good kind of exhaustion.  Friday saw us run the full range of emotions from deeply felt sadness to joyful highs, and that is what life is like sometimes.

Christmas Eve there will be more family get-togethers with Sunday, Christmas day, being the climax, and then we will begin the drive back to Wittmann and our Newell life....it won't be long until we are on the road to new adventures!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Jello strikes again.....

8:02 am - PST - Friday - 52° F, humidity 56%, wind 2 mph out of SSE.....overcast skies....in Rancho Cucamonga, CA....forecast high 55° F.

Our Jello plan for Thursday was to depart Wittmann around 11 am so we could arrive in SoCal (Rancho Cucamonga) before sundown......I don't like driving in the dark.....but this is what greeted us at 227th Avenue around 9 am......this dirt road is about .75 miles from the pavement at this point.....there was no way we were going to drive that in the low slung VW.  So we opted to wait for 2-3 hours until the road was passable then make a run for the pavement.......



......it stopped raining around 11 am, and at 1 pm I walked out to the road to access our chances of 'escape' and found the road passable, so around 1:30 pm, 2.5 hours after our planned departure we were on our way knowing we would not arrive at our destination until well after dark......initially our drive west on I-10 was heavily overcast, but no rain until we got past Palm Springs where it began to rain again in earnest...........



......and by the time we reached the top of Banning Pass it was nearing torrential proportions.....at this point TLE was driving and she had driven the last 117 miles, so we pulled off the Interstate changed seats and continued our trek westward.  I have to admit that since my eye surgery driving at night in the  rain is not nearly as daunting as it once was.....my night vision has improved immensely!  As we merged on to SR-210 the rain stopped, and the last 20 miles into Rancho Cucamonga was without rain.  We arrived at my son's (Chris) home just at 6 pm......naturally we gained an hour crossing back into the Pacific Standard Time Zone at the California border.  In all our drive took 5.5 hours including a 30 minute stop at Tom Wells Road, just before the California border, for fuel, and a Subway sandwich.  More rain is forecast for Friday.....of course.....what would a funeral/memorial service be without rain, right?

So, we have arrived safely in SoCal for Mark's memorial service, and for a family Christmas celebration......looking forward to time with our kids, grandkids and great grandkid.....it is, nonetheless, a time of mixed emotions for all of us.

Chris and Rochelle had a dinner of Lasagna and bread sticks ready for our arrival, and Chris and I spent time watching the N.Y. Giants vs. the Philadelphia Eagles TNF game.....the Giants (Ely Manning) committed three turnovers  via interception resulting in 10 points and the difference in the game....the Giants lost 24-19 in a disappointing game.  Their defense played good enough to win, but were betrayed by their offense.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Rain day.....again

7:48 am - Mountain Time - Thursday - 57° F, 100% humidity (raining hard, so understandable), wind 7 mph out of the east.....forecast high 59° F.......heading to SoCal for Mark's funeral and for Christmas with our children.

Wednesday we woke up to a heavy cloud cover knowing that rain was forecast sometime later in the day.  I had one main thing I wanted to accomplish.....wash and thoroughly detail the Beetle.....it has been a while since I have taken the time.  Usually I just give it a quick hand wash, then vacuum out the interior, but it was time for a get on your knees and clean everything and vacuum everything, and that is what I did.  Just as I was finishing the hatch area of the VW it began to sprinkle....I barely got everything put away and made it inside before the rain came......

......and it came with a rush.....within seconds the rain was pouring off the roof of the large garage in sheets, and large puddles were forming all over the backyard.  That was the format the rest of the afternoon and into the evening......hard rain, then it would stop and things would dry out a little, then it would rain again.  This continued on and off most the night and began again just as I was getting up this morning.....it has now stopped again.  Some might wonder why I washed the car knowing the rain was going to come.....yes I did know it was going to rain......the car was so dirty from all the accumulated dust over the past few weeks, and then the rains which we had a few days ago.....it just looked terrible.  At least it was clean yesterday when the rains came, and will still look clean when we depart for SoCal, and with all the rain we have had the last 18 hours there will be no dust as we exit the Wittmann back country dirt roads.

I spent the better part of the afternoon indoors reading as there were no projects left that didn't involve me being exposed to the on again, off again nature of the rain.  Wednesday was the winter solstice.......the shortest daylight portion of a day, and the longest nighttime portion of a day......so we have 'turned the corner' and it will now begin to get darker later, and the sun will come up earlier each day.

There were no new network serials to watch Wednesday night so we watched a couple of recorded movies......first was 'Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel', a 2015 movie Judy Dench, and Maggie Smith, and it was a delightful comedy....I would not have paid money to see it on the big screen, but was happy to spend time for free watching it.  The second recorded movie was the 1987 movie 'Innerspace' starring Dennis Quaid, Martin Short and Meg Ryan.  We have seen this movie before, but it has been at least 20 years, and once again it was delightfully funny.

We were headed off to slumberland by 11:30 pm dreaming of time with our kids over the next 4 days.....YAY for us!

Thanks for stopping by!

P.S. - It is raining again as I close this blog post.....looks like we may be departing in the rain.  If you are not yet a 'FOLLOWER' of my blog please take a few seconds to click on the blue 'FOLLOW' button just to the right of this blog and become one!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

'Wrapping it up'.....

7:57 am - Mountain Time - Wednesday - 58° F, 43% humidity, wind 5 mph out of ENE.....heavy cloud cover with a chance of rain.....forecast high is 65° F.  Only got down to 69° F in the bedroom.....a very warmish night!

Have I ever said I LOVE Amazon Prime?  We first became Amazon Prime members during our Amazon workamper stint in Campbellsville, KY back in October of 2012.  Back then it cost about $80/year....it has risen gradually over the past 4 years to about $99/year now, but it is totally worth it.  It fits our lifestyle to a 'T'......we know that no matter where we are we can receive a package within 2 days, which means we don't have to hang around for days and weeks waiting for an illusive package to arrive.  It really comes in handy for Christmas shopping, and once again this year we did about 75% of our Christmas shopping through Amazon.  The last of our Christmas orders arrived Tuesday, so it just remained for us to make a 'quick' run to Target to pick up a few remaining items.....of course a 'quick' trip to Target is impossible, right?  It's like opening a bag of potato chips and eating just one potato chip, then closing the bag.......not possible, even for a super hero. 

Of course, once again, I get slightly ahead of myself......my first task to finish Tuesday was to finish polishing the ALCOA wheels on the driver's side of the Newell......the weather was perfect, and the driver's side was in the shade, so I got to it.  In all it took me about an hour to finish the final two wheels (no pix, but they came out wonderfully).  By this time it was close to noon, so I took a shower, got dressed and we were off in the VW  to the Target on Bell in Surprise.

I'm amazed at how often we forget how tough finding a parking spot just a few days before Christmas at any retail store can be.....the Target parking lot was packed, and we found ourselves driving up and down parking aisles looking for a spot, and finally found one.  It took us about 45 minutes to get the remaining gifts plus gift wrapping paper, and then we were on our way east on Bell to one of our favorite local micro breweries, Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery.  Here's another thing we forget.......traffic is always bad on Bell, but the week before Christmas......terrible, or as Charles Barkley would say.....TURRIBLE.....it took us 20 minutes to drive 4 miles, but it was worth it!

We chose to sit in the bar area at one of those tall tables.......TLE ordered their Scotch Ale, and I ordered a Saltwater Stout from their rotating specialty dark column......for our late lunch (2:20 pm by now) we ordered a plate of their beer battered onion rings, 2 Tequila Lime Steak Mini Tacos and 2 Fish Mini Tacos.......one of each for each of us......delicious!

The brews have been ordered!

One Tequila Lime Steak Mini Taco and one Fish Mini Taco

We lingered over our brews and tacos talking quietly about our life together, the fragility of life, and our upcoming visit back to SoCal to be with our kids for Mark's funeral and Christmas.  

After a real quick stop at Trader Joe's we were home by 4:15 pm......now all that is left is to wrap up those presents!

Thanks for stopping by!

 P.S. - If you are enjoying my daily blog posts please become a 'follower'.....to the far right of each daily blog post there is a subheading called, appropriately, 'FOLLOWERS'....just click on the link below the pictures of my followers to follow! Thanks!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A tribute........

7:53 am - Mountain Time - Tuesday - 56° F, 25% humidity, wind 8 mph out of NNE.....high clouds......getting warmer again.....forecast high will be 74° F.

I wrote yesterday about the passing of an extended family member who apparently had a heart attack in his sleep and never woke up Sunday morning.....now that the family has officially announced his passing I will go into further detail.  Mark Larson (below - Laila's step grandfather) was married to Cathy Rich Larson (next picture) who is Laila's grandmother (third picture).....Laila is engaged to be married to my youngest son Tim October 7, 2017 (fourth picture)........

 Mark Larson

Cathy and Mark

Mark, Cathy and Laila

Mark, Cathy, Laila and Tim

.......we first met Mark and Cathy about 3 years ago, shortly after Tim and Laila began dating.....they immediately welcomed TLE and I into their extended family, which is a lot like our family.....young at heart, happy, talkative, adventurous, loving, and committed to family being first.  Mark was easy to know, and soon it felt as if we had known he and Cathy for a long, long time.  He treated my son like he was his son, and provided enormous support to Tim and Laila as their relationship progressed.  Mark was Laila's step grandfather, but he was more like a father.  He was slated to walk Laila down the aisle on her wedding day.....

At Mark and Cathy's home for one of many parties we attended

.......as you would think, this is a resilient family, and I know they will pick up the pieces and move forward just as Mark would want.  He will never be forgotten, and his life and influence will continue to be evident in the lives of all those he touched......RIP Mark Larson!

So, what happened Monday?  Ironically, Monday involved driving into Wickenburg around 10 am with my friend Tom, to help out an extended family member of Tom's......the father-in-law, Terry, of Tom's daughter Laura who had just survived a heart attack, and is now recovering from open heart bypass surgery.  He and his wife recently retired, sold their business, bought a 5th wheel, and are spending the winter near their son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.  While Terry is still in the hospital recovering his gray and black tanks needed to be dumped.  5th wheels often have two gray tanks, and figuring out how to dump them both can be a little tricky, but we managed to find all the dump levers, dumped all the tanks and then flushed the black tank a couple of times.

We were back home a little after noon time......I spent the afternoon doing my workout in the trailer, then puttering around in the trailer, reading and thinking about how fragile life is.  I'm hoping by Tuesday it will warm up enough, and the wind will die down enough that I can finish polishing the driver's side ALCOA wheels.

Our short range plans have changed as a result of Mark's passing.....we had planned to drive back to SoCal Saturday to surprise our kids for Christmas, but now we will be leaving Thursday to arrive for Mark's Friday memorial service on Friday.....

Thanks for stopping by!

P.S. - there has been a significant, sustained increased in my readership over the last 6 weeks during which said readership has increased about four fold.  I am humbled, and grateful for your support.  If you are enjoying my daily blog posts please become a 'follower'.....to the far right of each daily blog post there is a subheading called, appropriately, 'FOLLOWERS'....just click on the link below the pictures of my followers to follow! Thanks!

Monday, December 19, 2016

The call.....

7:32 am - Mountain Time - Monday - 37° F , 31% humidity, wind 8 mph out of the north.....clear blue skies for another day.  Got down to 56° F in the bedroom.....BRRRR!

Periodically something occurs in your life which has the immediate effect of recentering your life......a kind of reset, if you will.  Let's face it, at 67 TLE and I are chronologically old now.  We are both still young at heart, but our days on earth are becoming more finite with each birthday.  It is easy to become a little self absorbed in this lifestyle, and sometimes it takes something out of the blue to grab your attention and make you refocus on what is most important in your life.  

We received one of those calls yesterday morning you just don't want to get......you know almost immediately from the tone of the caller's voice they are preparing to give you news you don't want to hear.  Instinctually your mind begins racing ahead of the words it is hearing trying to guess what the bad news is.....you hang on every spoken word trying to discern the news....then you hear the news, and then begin to process it, and then you hear yourself exclaiming.......OH NO!  You begin to think of all those whose lives will be inexorably affected by that news......the ripples of this news have already begun to spread across the universe touching one life after another.  A person in your life, not immediate family, but a big part of your life nonetheless, who is about your age did not wake up Sunday morning.  We all secretly, or maybe not so secretly, would like to go to sleep one night and just not wake up, rather than die slowly of some horrible disease.  For the person who passes in this fashion it is a blessing, but for those left behind it is devastating.  There is no time to mentally prepare......it's just there without warning......your loved one is no longer 'here'.

Once the shock wears off a little you remember you are the same age of the person who just passed......you're in good health......they were in seemingly good health......you're active.....they were active.  There are no guaranteed tomorrows.....there is only today, and maybe not the entire day.  You resolve to live what remains of your life more deliberately.......you resolve to live more in the moment, and to make the most of each minute you have left.  You turn to your spouse to whom you just expressed your love a few minutes before the call, and say it again......you resolve to say "I love you" several times a day to her, and you resolve to tell each of your children that every day until your last breath.  Don't take today, let alone tomorrow for granted....don't leave anything unsaid.

This is one of those downsides to the fulltime life we don't talk often about......what do you do when you are hundreds, if not thousands of miles away when the worst happens to one of your loved ones?  You feel a little helpless......you aren't there to give a hug, to listen to the pain, to encourage, to say "I love you".  

Thank you for putting up with my ramblings today, and thank you so much for stopping by!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Real Saturday.......

8:08 am - Mountain Time - Sunday - 32 F degrees, humidity 53%, wind 5 mph out of NNW....CLEAR BLUE SKIES once again!  Very cold this morning.....got down to 54 F degrees in the bedroom last night, although we did leave the salon heater set at 60 last night.

Saturday was the beginning of the holidays college bowl games, and Saturday was also the Wittmann Flea Market, which I love.  Every time we are in Wittmann long enough we visit at least once, and this Saturday marked my second visit, and TLE's first.  My method at swap meets, flea markets and thrift stores is to walk around and check everything I am interested in, locate items to check into more thoroughly, then once that is done go back and do just that.  Often when I return to certain booths, or tables I find more interesting things as I slowly scan each individual item.  Saturday I returned to one specific booth to exam a few small hand tools in which I was interested, and through my slow scanning process actually focused on three completely different hand tools from what I had originally........


.......so, for a grand total of $5 I got a small hacksaw, curved needle nose pliers, and long reach needle nose pliers.....retail I would probably have spent north of $20!  Some might wonder what dictates what I look for in used tools........what I look for is usually dictated by having had a recent need for a specific tool, and the three pictured above were purchased specifically because I found myself needing each one of them over the past few months, and my lack of them made my job more difficult.

Recently when we were unloading the VW from the trailer at the Quechan Casino the bag which holds my fiberglass flag pole had fallen on the floor and as TLE backed out the VW the left front wheel rolled over the end of the bag, which had the silver ball which tops the flag pole when it is in use, breaking that ball.  I ordered a new one along with a new 'Stars and Stripes' from 'Poles and Holders' before we left Quechan, and they arrived a few days ago, so now my flag pole is redeployed and in use once again!


I spent the afternoon reading with one of the bowl games in the background (Las Vegas Bowl) between Houston and San Diego State, won handily by SDS 34-10.....that was a surprise to me.....once again why I love college football....you just never know what is going to happen.

We shared dinner with Tom and Darlene once again....Darlene prepared 'pulled pork' and we had pulled pork sandwiches for dinner along with a dinner salad and roasted sweet potatoes......yummy!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Merry Christmas! (I feel like it's okay again to say that)

8:18 am - Mountain Time - Saturday - 40 F degrees, humidity 39%, wind 10 mph out of west....CLEAR BLUE SKIES.......forecast high today is 57 F degrees!  In fact, we only have one forecast day of the next 15 to be in the 70's.....every other day will be in the 60's now.  It was windy all night, and has only just calmed somewhat as I sit to type my blog this morning.  

Friday continued with heavy cloud cover, and eventually a rising wind.   I had planned to work on polishing the driver's side wheels, but it looked like rain so I hung out inside for most of the morning.  Around noon time I took a ride with Tom into Phoenix to pick up some custom metal pieces he had made for his 1940 Ford project to replace some rusted pieces in the trunk.  On the way we stopped off for lunch at 'Wild Horse West' for a hamburger, which is their specialty.  'Wild Horse' is a kind of dive bar, but far, far from a dump......



......I had the Cheeseburger and added bacon......I didn't take a picture of my burger, but to give you an idea of how big they are here is one of their regular burgers from their Yelp page for 'Wild Horse'.......Yelp gives them a solid 4 stars on 50 reviews, and I would agree......

Just add cheese and bacon and you've got my burger

......they don't have French Fries, but you can get a bag of chips with your burger.....soft drinks (we had Cokes) are bottomless served in very large red cups.  The food and service were great and I am definitely down for a return engagement!  'Wild Horse' only accepts cash in payment for your food, so bring cash, or if you forget there is an ATM on site for your convenience.

From 'Wild Horse' we picked up I-17 southbound and drove into North Phoenix to the 'MetzFab' (they have, among other machines, Waterjet cutting machines) to pick up the custom metal pieces Tom ordered, and they, ironically, are in the same complex as Heitek Automation where I bought replacement MAC air valves for my Newell 4 years ago!  Tom picked up his order and we were on our way back home arriving back in Wittmann just before 4:30 pm to this beautiful horizon......



.......it wasn't long until we began to feel the wind rising, and it was time to head inside for the evening.  The wind, as I reported above, continued unabated all night....there were several times when I was on the verge of going out side, with TLE's help, and stowing the patio awning, but each time the wind relented enough that I went back to sleep.  With the passing of this storm front it feels as if we have turned a seasonal corner in Arizona.....it's starting to feel a lot like an Arizona winter.

Only 8 days until Christmas, so MERRY CHRISTMAS and thanks for stopping by!

P.S. - there has been a significant, sustained increased in my readership over the last 6 weeks during which said readership has increased about four fold.  I am humbled, and grateful for your support.  If you are enjoying my daily blog posts please become a 'follower'.....to the far right of each daily blog post there is a subheading called, appropriately, 'FOLLOWERS'....just click on the link below the pictures of my followers to follow! Thanks!

P.P.S. - Each Saturday I will answer any questions you might have about our fulltime lifestlye, and related topics, so if you do have a question(s), or there are topics you would like to see discussed, please leave a message at the bottom of any blog post and I will attempt to respond each Saturday to as many as I am able.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Mirror, mirror......

8:31 am - Mountain Time - Friday - 55 F degrees, 98% humidity, wind 6 mph from northeast......began raining about 9:15 pm last night, and rained on and off most of the night....very heavy cloud cover as I write.  More rain forecast for later today....forecast high 70 F degrees.

As I composed yesterday's blog post I could see a cloud bank off to the east approaching us.....it made sense as rain was forecast for Friday.  My main goal for Thursday was to get at least two of my ALCOA wheels polished using the Mother's Mag and Aluminum Polish I bought the other day. A lot of people, including me, dread this job as it usually requires a lot of 'elbow grease', especially the way I used to do it.  The way I used to do it was to put some Mother's on a rag and begin to rub the aluminum to polish it.....this is a very inefficient way to do it and required way too much energy to be expended.  My good friend Tom showed me a better way a few years ago.  What he does is (with latex gloves on) cover the entire wheel with Mother's then use a (in my case) foam ball attached to a drill to polish the wheel, then wipe it off with a clean cloth......sooooo much faster, and so much easier!  As evidence I present before and after pictures below for your viewing pleasure........

 Rear dualie before.....

Rear dualie - after

........in the picture above you can see my corded electric drill with the now dirty foam ball attached.  It used to take me about one hour per wheel in the olden days, but using Tom's method it takes me less than 20 minutes now.  Micro fiber towels are perfect for wiping off the Mother's residue and shinning up the wheel......

Front - before

Front - after

Just like a mirror!

........it is not imperative that you use Mother's......everyone seems to have their preferred aluminum polish for these ALCOA wheels.....the key is how you apply it, and how you polish the wheels.  I don't care what you use as long as you use this foam ball (can be purchased at most automotive parts stores such as Autozone, O'Reilly's, Napa, Pep Boys, etc.) to do the polishing.....it just takes all the pain and exertion out of the process.  On top of that I get a much better, more even result.

As I worked I noticed the air temperature dropping, and the skies becoming more threatening, but I was sure it would not be raining until Friday afternoon.....after all the 'weather guessers' told me so on every weather app I consulted.  At any rate we had to close the windows and screen door early afternoon on THURSDAY as it got colder an colder.

I decided to quit after getting two wheels done, and get the wheel covers on those wheels in advance of the forecast rain.  After putting everything away I spent the bulk of the afternoon finishing a book I've been reading (Jubal Sackett - Louis L'Amour)......I read this one a few years ago, and wanted to revisit it again.

Thursday, was there was another Thursday Night Football game pitting the hapless L.A. Rams at the Seattle Seahawks.  The 'Hawks were coming off a dismal performance against the Green Bay Packers and needed a win to clinch their division, and that is exactly what they did in winning 24-3.  They (the 'Hawks) wore these god awful 'throwback' electric lime green uniforms......


.......you be the judge!  As the game entered the last few minutes of the fourth quarter it began to rain......about 20 hours ahead of the forecast.

Thanks for stopping by!