Sunday, November 29, 2015

Lonely in Yuma

Slowly we drift back into our full-timer’s lifestyle.

It’s scary quiet round here now without the Shanty Shakers, instead of getting on Barbara’s nerves I’ve been sitting outside painting. I decided last week to pick a photo of somewhere we’re been and paint it. Several places were calling out to be painted, the loudest of which was the Broken Arch in Arches NP.

When we were at Arches Barbara was recovering from twisting her knee, I took the short hike out to the Broken Arch while she sat in the car. From this photo I painted the picture. Very satisfying and restful to do, I have a few more in mind for when we get to Casa Grande,

I’ve also started the “Annual Christmas Letter”, we keep promising to do it but somehow it always gets pushed to the back of the list.

Of course this Thursday is Thanksgiving and we are looking forward to the celebration dinner here at the campground. Last year’s was really enjoyable and we expect this year’s too be just as good.

The festivities were due to kick off at 1pm, we signed up earlier in the week at the Rec Center. We chose to bring vegetables and Barbara made her fresh green beans with almonds. Each participant picked a side dish or desert, with the turkey being provided by the park owners. There was a HUGE amount of food and dishes of all descriptions, picking a few that would fit on the plate was quite a task.

We picked a table at the back and got to know our new table-mates Ken and Helen from Vancouver Island in British Columbia Canada. Ken had been a police officer up there until he retired and worked on the coastal patrol boats. He was also a motorcyclist and we rapidly settled into a friendly couple of hours chatting, so much so they had to throw us out! We were the last ones sitting at a table. Helen had volunteered to help clean up so we used that as an excuse for staying.

We were so full after the meal that we sat and digested it for a couple of hours, then guilt forced us to get the bicycles out and go for a ½ hour ride thru the beautiful park right next to the campground We discovered a new part with a fishing lake and stopped at the monument to the Mormon Battalion before heading back to the rig for a quiet evening and finally bed.

Friday night was Movie Night at the park, a bag of popcorn, a seat (Hard) and an old movie called "Spencer's Mountain" with Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara. A tear-jerker but entertaining and pleasant company.

Otherwise apart from a little shopping it's been a quiet relaxing week. Monday we start packing things up, doing laundry and checking over the rig and car ready for the trip to Casa Grande and 3 months in the same place.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Yuma AZ and a big get together.

They kindly invited us to stay with them next time we visit UK and we’ll certainly take them up on the offer.

The reason for US to be in Yuma is the Shanty Shakers Rally for the Yuma Balloon Festival. We were here last year and it was our first Rally. It’s just amazing how far we’ve come along the RV road since then!

Last year we didn’t know what a “Happy Hour” was. Now we’re experts!

Last year Barbara was still scared riding her trike. This morning she loaded 2 bags of clothes on it and rode over to the laundry with them!

Somethings don’t change. Last year the balloon launch got cancelled on Sunday due to high winds. 

This year the balloon launch got cancelled due to high winds.

The whole of the Shanty Shaker contingent went to Lutes Casino for dinner. 

It’s an interesting place down on Main Street old town. It’s not even a Casino although apparently it used to be. Now it’s a restaurant with some strange and unusual stuff hanging on their walls.

After dinner we went for a walk around the North End Art Walk on Main Street. Lots of art and artists. I noticed one of them shared our surname Downing. 
Neil Downing and I talked for about 20 minutes about our relatives and our love of art. Very cool.

Another e-mail this time from our Goldwing/Motorcycle friends Tammy and Dan who are in town for the Balloon Fest. We’ll hook up with them at the launch field. We sure are doing well for visitors!

We made a trip to the Arizona Marketplace which is a must do for RV’ers in Yuma. Lots of good RV stuff at great prices. We bought some stuff we needed. (And some we didn’t!)

Saturday night was a Barbecue/Pot Luck at the clubhouse with the whole SKP Chapter. The guys got a big fire going in the huge barbecue pit behind the clubhouse while the ladies got an amazing assortment of delectable dishes ready for the big event. 
And BIG it was! We sampled as much as we could but there was far more than we could do justice to.

Eventually we all staggered off to the fire ring back were we were all camped and spent the rest of the evening talking about places to go, things to see, rallies we are planning on attending. Stuff we all love.

And suddenly it was Sunday. The wind was down so Barbara and I rode over to the balloon launch area and watched 3 brave pilots launch before the wind got up again and they cancelled the rest of the flying.

Back at the park people started packing up and leaving. The place got emptier and emptier until there were only about 4 of our chapter rigs left. I picked up my paintbrushes and worked on a painting while Barbara quietly read a book. 

Slowly we drift back into our full-timer’s lifestyle.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bluegrass Festival.

And out of the blue we got a message that our friends Fred and Judy from North Carolina were going to be in the Phoenix area and were hoping we could meet up with them next week. It could be a party with everyone coming in.

Graham and Elaine arrived and we took them over to the Elks Lodge for drinks and a Fish Fry dinner, we soon slipped into the cozy friendship that we’ve always shared. 

They are extreme world travelers and have been to some amazing places. They mentioned their cruise around the world and trips to India and Gambia as if it was a bus ride to the supermarket! As travelers ourselves it’s fascinating to hear their experiences, like us they aren’t “Tourist” travelers but like to get out on their own and interact with the real inhabitants of the places they visit.

There is a Bluegrass/Fiddle Festival in town this week and they like foot stomping fiddle music so over there we went. Reasonable fee for entrance was followed by very reasonably priced food vendors and some very good craft type vendors.

The music was good with 3 Bluegrass bands doing 2 sets each interspersed with competitions to find the Arizona State Champion Banjo, Mandolin, Bluegrass Group etc., all while sat in our lawn chairs enjoying beautiful sunny 70’s weather.

Fred and Judy e-mailed to say that the friends they were visiting had scheduled a full week for them and we wouldn’t be able to hook up this week. We’ll see them next year when we head over to the East Coast.

We all came back to the rig for dinner and more catching up with what we’ve all been doing.

Sunday was rainy but fortunately there is a very good Western Museum in Wickenburg which we highly recommend visiting. Their Western Art collection is superb. There is also an area in the basement where replicas of buildings from the 1880’s are filled with period artifacts. A couple of hours just vanishes when you visit there. 

Lunch, a couple of antique stores and a trip to the ice cream social at the RV Park saw us back for dinner at the rig again.

Looking at weather maps and road maps Graham and Elaine decided to go to Yuma with us the next day so we all had dinner at Famous Dave’s there before they left on the start of their return journey to the UK. They kindly invited us to stay with them next time we visit UK and we’ll certainly take them up on the offer.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Great food in El Paso

So we sat in our chairs and watched the traffic show for a couple of hours until it died down then walked to the car and made our way back to the rig.

This week we plan on stopping in El Paso to visit our friend Jess who teaches there, it’s on our way to Yuma/Casa Grande and we’re in no rush.
We called him and he’ll be around so we’ll get our mail forwarded there also. 

Our first night of this leg is an RV Park in Sonora TX. Sonora RV Park is nothing fancy, but it’s flat, has full hookups and it’s close to I10 yet has no traffic noise. $22 a night seals the deal. Mike the owner is a really nice guy and tells us about his plans for the future, which include ongoing improvements.

Walmart provides our stopover in Fort Stockton and our plan is to stop in Van Horn but when we got there we were early and there wasn’t much to see so we pushed on to El Paso. 

We can use the extra time to explore.

Out of the blue we got an e-mail from our English friends Graham and Elaine. They are over touring the US again but they are north somewhere and freezing, so they suggest getting together in Arizona before they fly back to UK. Wickenburg is convenient for all of us and coincidentally there’s a Bluegrass festival the weekend we would be there! It will fit with our plan to be in Yuma for the Balloon Fest perfectly. What a happy day!

We found a darts pub just up the road from the RV Park and so we’re getting more practice in. Luckily they have 20 craft beers on tap too so practice is not too much of a chore!

We also took the opportunity to visit Fort Bliss and their armored museum. They had a Sherman on display like the one in my Dad’s picture taken at the end of WW2. I realized as I stood in front of it that there were 70 years between the 2 pictures.

Jess came over and we caught up with everyone’s news. While we were talking I wasn’t watching the grill and now it doesn’t need to be cleaned up quite as badly as it did!!

Jess took us to his favorite restaurant. We’re not huge Mexican food fans but the one he took us to, L&J is simply great! It’s on the corner of Missouri and Stevens and try the bean dip it’s amazing.

Across the street is a cemetery and Barbara and I have a bit of a thing about walking thru graveyards and reading the headstones. There are some fascinating stories to be found and somethings that just make you laugh.

Eventually it was time to head towards Wickenburg and we started the grind along I 10 heading west.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Back in San Antonio

We left before we saw if they eventually succeeded and stopped on the way the San Antonio to empty the tanks at Camping World.

We had to stay out of the Thousand Trails system for a full 7 days (Their rules) so we found out the San Antonio Elks Lodge has 5 RV spots and went there. We couldn’t find anyone at the lodge but a nice guy named Mike who was staying there told us where to stop and where the power was. We figured we’d pay when the Lodge opened.

Except it never did. 
We eventually saw somebody there and they explained that the lodge only opens for the monthly lodge meeting and special events because nobody ever shows up for social gatherings! They are however putting in full hookups in the RV lot which should be completed within a couple of months.

By Wednesday we were back at Thousand Trails with full hookups and a laundry so we caught up on chores. We really need to find an RV parts place as lots of little things have been breaking lately, we would have bought them at Camping World when we were there but there was no place to park the rig.

This weekend is Halloween and the campground is geared up for it with decorations along the entrance road and the whole patio area set up for games for the kids. The weekend is going to be busy here.

As we were coming along I35 into town we saw a couple off USAF fighter jets flying in formation. When they got closer we saw they were the Thunderbirds Display Team. 


I’m an unrepentant airplane nut and have been since my parents took me to Liverpool’s Speke airport for an airshow in the 50’s. World War 2 aircraft are my thing. I looked up what was happening and sure enough Randolph Field was having a show this weekend.

First though we had to survive long enough to get there. We thought we’d done with rain but oh no we weren’t. Thursday and Friday were forecast for rain and thunder.

At 3.3am Friday morning our cell phones suddenly started chirping. I went to find out what was happening and there was a National Weather Service storm warning for our area. Extreme thunder activity and a TORNADO WARNING. Watches mean there is activity possible, warning mean it’s happening in your area right now!

Which poses a question. If you’re in an RV miles from anywhere and the warning tells you to seek shelter immediately in a solid structure. WHERE DO YOU GO?

At 3.30am with rain lashing down, thunder and lightning shaking the rig, clear thought is at a premium! I sat down and balanced the alternatives.
Get Barbara up, get dressed, get out to the car, hope it isn’t stuck in mud, and drive. But where to drive to? The clubhouse is locked up, and in any case it’s hardly a substantial structure. Neither are the ranger station, laundry or bathrooms.

OR stay where we are, hope we don’t get hit by the lightning or a tornado and be prepared to roll off the bed onto the floor if we hear the tornado getting close?

We chose to stay and we were lucky.

The tornado warning ended at 5 am. Joy! 

Then the phones went off again at 5.30 with a flash flood warning for our area. Sweet.

And at 4 am Saturday morning they phones went off again with another flash flood warning. This is getting old.

So Sunday we went to the airshow and it was sunny, 83 degrees. We bought folding chairs from Walmart (Our camping chairs are too big to carry far) and we sat and watched some extremely entertaining aerobatic from the current World Aerobatic Champion, several “Attacks” by the Commemorative Airforce who reenacted both Pearl Harbor and the Doolittle Raid then the Thunderbirds closed the show.

The formation of everything they fly here

This is a 350 mph jet powered TRUCK!

The Jelly Belly stunt planes lands on a moving truck.

Any airshow fans know what came next.


The huge line on the left is for the buses to the parking lot
we sat for a couple of hours and waited for the line t die down.

So we sat in our chairs and watched the traffic show for a couple of hours until it died down then walked to the car and made our way back to the rig.