Saturday, February 26, 2011

Phoenix Elks - the good and the VA - the bad

Well...the good and the bad have met in Phoenix.

The good - The Elks in north-central Phoenix is a great place to park.  Brand new asphalt with trees lining the boulevards between rows.  Friendly people at the lodge.  Met new friends from Michigan - Pam and Ross and we seem to have a lot in common.  They are parked next to us.  Had dinner at the lodge on Wed. night - grill your own meat (salmon, chicken, steak or pork chops), then pick up your salad, fruit cup, baked potato with the fixin's and roll.  ($9 - what a bargain)!  The Grilllmaster was just outside the dining area/lounge and he had several large charcoal grills ready and waiting and was there to give advice.  He had also made up some glaze/marindade with rum, mango, dry mustard, brown sugar +.  Excellent.  I had the salmon, Jerry a steak.  Friendly people around the charcoal pit.  It was great not to have to cook as we had a longgggg day - packing up at Havasu and traveling to Phoenix...arrived at the Elks about 4 PM. Had dinner Thursday at Valle Luna a Mexican restaurant - excellent food - leftovers for dinner tomorrow!  Jerry indulged me as I was so hungry for mexican food.  Then, last night, dinner at the lodge again with Pam and Ross....salad, lasagna or spaghetti and meat balls, garlic bread and a white choc/macadamia nut cookie...   Gotta diet!

The bad - The reason we are in big city Phoenix (we usually avoid the big towns) is so J could get some work done on his ankle orthotic as the padding has disintegrated and is rubbing blisters on his arch-wanna-be (he has very flat feet - part of his feet problem.)  Didn't get going as fast as we could have on Thursday, so arrived at the VA about 10 miles away at 10 am - drove around for 45 min to find a place to park.  Got sent to several offices/clinics to get service and finally wound up at "eligibility" to wait for 1-1/2 hrs to get into the "Phoenix system."  Then the computer was so slow they advised us to go home and come  back at 7:30 AM on Friday and we'd be in the system.  Sounded good to us.
Friday we were there at 7:15 nowhere at the first clinic...told not eligible.  Back to the "eligibility desk" and the great people wrote a note on his paperwork and sent him to another clinic.  Well...won't go into all the details, but finally at 3:30 pm after yo-yoing between the Prosthetics dept. and the clinic, we were a bit closer to getting service.  It all boils down to the Phoenix getting paid for Iowa vets...paperwork, etc.  At any rate, we're to go back on Monday at 7 AM and Reggie our great helper from the clinic said the "big man" would have the report from his assistant who talked to Jerry on the phone...and would, most probably, force the issue for him to get served.  We'll hope's such a minor fix needed for so much hassle....
Today and tomorrow will be rest and relax days.  May get together with friends, Jan and Ken....
Hugs to all!  (At least it is warmer here than many of you despite the rain to come in tomorrow).  We're not complaining about that!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Friends, Fireworks, Feeds and "hail???"

It's been a great time here at the Steppes.  We had daily happy hours - usually lasting two hours - so many people, so many conversations!  Walked most days with various groupings - most days 1-1/2 miles or so.  Jerry was able to go on three rides through the desert. 

The highlights were the fireworks last weekend.  Friday we had the wind...  looks like the morning after a big party, but the overturned chairs were the work of the wind.  Then Saturday, we had rain...beginning Friday night at 9:30 pm and rained steadily most of the morning...1" - amazing for here in the desert.  We were so happy, though, as it cleared up for the big fireworks show that night.  Long wait saving seats on the top row of the bleachers, though.  They were amazing - 40 minutes of awe!
Sunday, we had a lot of dark clouds scudding through the sky...looked as if it could pour any minute.  Everyone started gathering for "Ed's Birthday Party" scheduled for noon (rained out date from Saturday).  It's actually Duane's party thrown by his gal, Betty.  This was year five.  Years one and two were Duane's party.  Year three, Betty went to the store to get the birthday cake and they were all out except for one..."Happy Birthday Ed" which was half price...what???  Well, it seems Ed had passed away and the relatives, of course, didn't want the cake.  So enterprising Betty said "why not" and brought Ed's birthday cake to the party.  Well, we had to go with the theme, so instead of singing Happy Birthday to Duane, we sang the Ode to Mr. Ed from the long-time ago TV show bout the horse that talked.  Hilarious! 
So, we're all set for Ed's Birthday party on Sunday...all are gathered, the potluck dishes are on the long table and Duane and Betty have the hot dogs on the started to sprinkle - oh well, it rarely rains in the desert.  Everyone scrambled for their rain gear and umbrellas with a really large one protecting the chefs.  When out of the sky comes pea-size hail!  And more pea-size hail!  And more pea-size hail!  Jerry quickly put the awning down as our rig was the closest to the potluck area.  So we had 30+ of our closest friends huddling under the awning.  Many of us looked like drowned rats.  Hailed about 10 minutes, rained about 3 minutes and it quit!  Yippee - paper toweled dry the tops of the potluck dishes (many of them were still covered as we hadn't started to eat yet - good think or we'd have had soggy salad.  LOL)  and the grilling resumed.  We had some good laughs as people forgot their chairs were wet and sat down, or had to dry their dripping hair before they could eat.  We even decided the potluck had it's own theme song now "Hail, Hail, the Gang's all here!"  LOL  A fun afternoon enjoyed by all.

Monday, many rigs left but there were still about 20 for happy hour and wet got to talk with some new people.  Tuesday we helped Ann and Mick move into their new RV.  The dealer put the rigs door to door with planks and we hauled and stowed all afternoon.  Bill and Gisela stopped by to see their new rig and we stopped about 4:30 to relax and have lasagna & salad dinner a little later.  We all felt good about the progress made.  They're on their own today as we're heading to Phoenix to the VA to see if we can get Jerry's leg orthotic (sp?) worked on as it's falling apart.  It's been a fun two weeks here at the Steppes.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lake Havasu City - The Steppes - The Model Boat Races

 Looking east up into the Steppes area.
 Well, here we are south of Lake Havasu City, right off highway 95 at milemarker 165-6 at a place called The Steppes. A developer spent millions of $$ excavating this area and leveling off steppes to have a housing community but was shut down due to toxic chemicals.  Now it belongs to the State of AZ and is a popular place to boondock.
 Looking northeast
 Looking West towards the Colorado River.  On the other side of the river is California.

We arrived here on Wednesday with one other Boomer couple who was with us at Parker, Ann and Mick.  Mostly hung around, did a couple of walks, enjoyed the area.  Friday went into town and got groceries.  Met Bill and Bonnie at happy hour - they are heavily into model airplanes but used to race model boats and told us about the races this weekend.

Saturday we ran into town and watched the model boat races.  They are about 1-1/2 to 2 feet long and are run by two-cycle gas, water-cooled string trimmer motors.  They run around 65-70 mpr and run a 5 lap oval course about 1/8-1/10 mile in length.  Five boats race at a time and they are certainly competitive.  There are various classes which race against each other - outriggers, powerboats, v-hull, and thunderboats.  Many times two or three of the boats quit running during the race or hit one of the buoy markers and flip out, or lose communication with their radio control and go wild down the river.  They are exciting races and really fun to watch.  Besides it's a gorgeous river and great to be outside in the sun and cool/warm air. 

The setting - looking south along the walking path past the Lake Havasu Resort towards the racing area and pits.

Looking south from the launch area.  Power boats lined up to watch.

We sat along the wall here with these people to watch.  The launch area was right below us under a 4' cement wall with about 2-1/2' of sand beach for the pit crew to launch.  There were two people for each boat, one had the controls in the "driving area" near the announcer stand and the other crew member would pull the starter rope at the"boaters - start your engines" command.  Then they would check with the controller to be sure they were ready and toss the boat out into the river.  They would have 90 seconds to get this done, get their boats warmed up and then a 30 second warning would sound for them to gather up and the countdown would start.  Those who jumped the starting line or went inside a buoy would automatically get a lap penalty.

During the down time between races, two retrieve boats would go out and pick up the dead in the water boats and also chase away the mallards who are prolific.  Sometimes the next race would have to be delayed while a model boat (or the larger boats) herded the ducks to safety.

Between races, they would allow boats wanting to use the channel to go up and down the river to proceed west of the race area.  There were party barges, cruisers, kayaks, canoes and even these paddle surfers???

All's quiet between races and Jerry's right on top of the action.
 Here's a closeup of just one kind of model boat.  The men below are getting ready to start their boats which are down on the sand on their stand.  The two boats on top of the wall are ready in place for the next race.
We really enjoyed the races.  They ended at 4 PM due to glare on the river.  Stopped at the street fest (vendor kiosks down the street) for a quick peek.  Ran into Betty and Duane and stopped for an ice cream cone with them.  Got back home in time for the second half of happy hour.  Added several new couples today and more are coming in the next few days.  Life is great!  Wish you were here!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Start your engines - Parker 425 2/2/11 - present

Wednesday, 2/2 found us on the road again from Gila Bend to Parker - out on Shea Road 8 miles from town with a bunch of Boomer friends.  Three couples we knew and ended up meeting two other couples.  On Thursday, they had time trials for the Road Race (Parker 425) so Duane and Jerry went to the pits to watch some of that.  I worked on my to Scotland for a bit.  In the afternoon Duane, Betty, Jerry and I went into town to the flea market, grocery store and the guys went to the car show.  On Friday they had "tech inspection" so the guys went to watch.  Saturday at 7:24 AM the first of the pack came through the wash near where we were parked, so we all gathered at the edge to watch.  After a while, we all disbanded to our separate ways and Jerry and I squirreled around on the dirt paths to view the race from various areas.  Sure was varied areas - washes, steep hills with a 90 degree turn at the bottom, and lots of soft fine dirt!  It was a  beautiful day so it was a pleasure to be out and around! 
Yesterday it was a Super Bowl party at Betty and Duane's  - 4 couples.  Had a great time...I made sloppy joes and we had deviled eggs, waldorf apple salad and beer bread...oh yes, chocolate chip cookies and adult beverages. 
Walked most days at least a mile - usually 1.5 or so.  TAlso had happy hour daily at 4 PM.  It was nice enough each day to be outside.  Today after brunch of egg casserole, quick breads and fruit and juice, we walked 2.6 miles.  Jerry went off scrounging firewood from abandoned sites so we would have wood for our next location in Havasu at the Steppes.

Brunch: Judy Messex and Betty Anderson

Betty, Duane, Clark, Mick Ann Jerry and Judy.  Sue's taking the photo.

We're going to hang out here another couple of days, then move north about 1/2 hour to The Steppes - south of Havasu City for a couple of weeks.  See ya later!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mesa to Quartzsite to Gila Bend

Jerry picked me up the the Allegiant Airlines terminal in Mesa about 2:30 PM on Thursday, January 20.  We stopped for groceries and it was about 5 PM when we were driving past Tonopah, AZ on I-10.  We stopped for a bite to eat and found out about the hot springs there.  Well, that's just what we needed!  A wonderful oasis in the middle of nowhere with palm trees, lots of different tub sizes and temperatures.  $15 an hour each but worth every penny!  We soaked, had a glass of wine and crashed right in their parking lot!  While soaking, Jerry regaled me with the tales from his batching experience while I was in Missoula.  Lots of hard riding on interesting mountain trails in the Tonto National Forest and fording a waist-high river to get to the Verde Hot Springs.  WOW - he had a ball - no wonder he needed that hot tub!

On Friday, we got settled in at Quartzsite with the Boomers (part of our Escapee RV Club) in "Boomerville" - an area about 7 miles out of Q - out in the middle of the desert.  We ended up with 130 rigs attending during the 2 week period.  We had everything from potlucks to trash can turkey dinners, wine and tasting, geocaching, 4-wheel drive excursions (and Jerry on his two-wheels), personal safety talk, tee-shirt braiding, slide shows, lots of hugs with new and old friends.  Fortunately, our weather was awesome - no wind and temps in the 60-70 degree range!  We only went shopping one way in the huge RV Show tent and bought some new orthotics for our shoes and traded in our mifi for two palm pixi plus phones which act like wifi hot spots and will give us 10 gigs for $10 less than what we had been spending for 5 gigs.  This is with Verizon which is who we have our phones with.  Awesome tent special!

Ate out twice at Grubstake's - a fun tent in town.  Once for my birthday and once with 3 other couples.  Great fish and sliders!  While at Q, two of our original solar panels quit working - luckily we were right there where we purchased them and they were under a 25 year warranty.  So, Jerry took down the defunct ones and we replaced afternoon task.  Yippee - back in business.

On Sunday, January 30, traveled about 2 hours to Gila Bend, AZ - stayed in an RV park to do laundry and dump our tanks.  Then moved on Monday to the Elk's parking lot where we had orientation on Monday night and on Tuesday night, Jerry was initiated into their lodge.  Many of the Elks lodges have inexpensive RV parking and this will come in handy in our travels.  Left there on Wednesday in heavy wind and very chilly temps and traveled to Parker, AZ (4 hours).  We're here on Shea Road about 8 miles out of town, perched near the banks of a wash.  The Parker 425 Road Race will be Saturday and the various kinds of souped up vehicles will be "flying" through the wash.  Attended last year for the first time and had fun.  So far only 5 other Boomer couples here.  Had about 20 last year...  Went into town with Betty and Duane.  The guys walked around and looked at the car show - many of the vehicles which will be racing were there including Robby Gordon's #77.  Betty and I took in a flea market and did grocery shopping.  Back in time for happy hour at our rig with 5 other couples.