Archive for March, 2015

Doggie reunion, missing eyebrows and The Katy Trail

Wisdom curtesy of Jimmy Johns

Wisdom curtesy of Jimmy Johns

We flew from Phoenix to St. Louis is order to pick up our fur baby, Sam. He has been staying with Grandma for 5 weeks while we were attending our RV rallies out west. We missed our little guy so much. But there was something amiss when we arrived. Evidently while we were gone someone stole his eyebrows. That’s right. My mom took him to Petco for some grooming and while he was there someone swiped his curls and his eyebrows right from above his terrier nose.

Of course Petco is not quite sure what happened. But nothing could be done. The incident has already happened and Sam will have to endure the embarrassment of an expressionless head until they grow back. It’s nothing that a treat can’t help improve his mood, but he may need some therapy to regain his terrier mojo. Poor guy.

While in St. Louis we tried to lighten Sam’s mood with a run, so we headed to Old St. Charles MO to jump on The Katy Trail. The Katy Trail is considered the most successful rails-to-trails projects in the US. A portion of the Missouri KT Railroad experienced a flood in 1986. Since the railroad was in decline and the cost to repair the tracks were excessive, the railroad disbanded and ceased to exist. In 1989 it was decided to convert the old railroad tracks to a trail system and the first segment of the Katy Trail was officially opened in 1990. It is considered the nations longest rails-to-trails system that spans 237 miles from Machens, MO to Clinton, MO.

This was our first time running on The Katy Trail, and after experiencing a small section we are determined to add biking this trail to our bucket list. There are companies that can help make this happen by hauling your gear from stop to stop over the course of 5 days and make your overnight accommodations for you.  Or you can ride or hike the trail unsupported. Obviously we would like to use the RV for our stop overs, but that requires finding someone who is comfortable pull/parking a camper and can take the time off to do so. All logistics that can be worked out in due time I suppose.

The Eastern most terminus, Machens MO.

The Eastern most terminus, Machens MO.

Sam and I ran/walked an out and back for 6 miles while Jeff ran the entire 12 mile section from St. Charles to Machens. I then drove to pick up Jeff at the trailhead. It was certainly a beautiful day with temps in the low 70s. Shades-on-sunroof-open kind of day. The frogs were croaking and the birds where in full song. Sure signs of spring on the horizon (hopefully).

After being in the dry desert for so long it is definitely a world of change coming back to moist air (code for humidity) and dark brown soil. The contrast is striking. It’s a contrast that I am at odds with. I miss the dry air, amazing sunsets and abundance sunshine of the Southwest. But there is something comforting about the familiarity of the Midwest. It will be nice to be home to experience spring, but my mind is still out on the road.

We had a nice dinner with my Mom and my Grandmom. I have my big 5-0 birthday coming up and it still astounds me that I have a Grandmother still alive. She will be 98 this July. She was living alone, driving and mowing her 1.5 acres until 92 when she finally moved in with my Mom. We got her situated in her own apartment about a year ago at an assisted living facility where she is safe and well cared for. No more going down a flight of stairs to the basement to do laundry when no one is home. Her short-term memory is a challenge now, but she is always willing to talk about the old days.

Jeff put on some Big Band music and asked her to dance. She loves listening to music and it brought back memories of her and my Grandpa going out dancing every Saturday night while my Mom and her brother were free to play with the other kids outside the VFW hall. It was a sweet visit and we never know if this will be our last with Grandma. She hopes she gets to see us again and we do too. She is a feisty gall who loves sweets and ribs…and a few beers in her day. Now her favorite drink is a chocolate shake. Jeff asked her what she attributes her long life to. “Hard work and eating anything she wants”. That sums it up folks…eat more ice-cream!

We will be driving back to Arkansas soon, memories and eyebrow-less dog in tow.

Old St. Charles MO

Old St. Charles MO

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Rally After Rally

Good Sam Rally 2015

Good Sam Rally 2015

We are wrapping up our three RV rally events in four weeks and will be heading back to Arkansas soon. Our feet are sore, our backs are tired but we have met so many people from around the world who call the desert SW home for the winter.

Part of our job is to show new RV products to the public. RV toilets, holding tank treatments, freezers, cooler, icemakers etc.

Mean Joe Green #75 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is not so mean after all.

Mean Joe Green #75 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s not so mean after all.

You’ve never seen a group of people so willing to talk about RV toilets, odors and embarrassing moments like a group of RV’ers. I’ve heard of people cleaning their toilets with Dawn Dish Soap, tongue depressors and even Tang. We share laughs at the things that have been dropped into holding tanks such as bolts (Ok…we did that one), mouth guards, sunglasses and toothbrushes. RV’ers secret? What falls in the tank stays in the tank!

While at the Good Sam Rally we did have the privilege of staying at a hotel for 5 nights. And as many of you know, it is always a luxury to stay where there is an endless supply of hot water, enough counter space to handle your tube of toothpaste and moisturizer at the same time and a flush toilet that can handle an entire roll of toilet paper at once. Oh the joy of careless flushing!

Between events, we pulled the RV into Paradise RV Resort in Sun City, AZ for 5 nights. This was another 55+ retirement community with more park models than RV slots. And par for the course, this place had a long list of activities to keep you entertained and busy.

We played a few games of pickle ball. The fun part of playing pickle ball, or any other game for that matter in 55+ communities, is that no one can remember what the score is. I’m not kidding. I couldn’t even remember. I think there is some sort of device that sucks the memory side of your brain out as soon as you pass through the gates. Once outside the gates, your memory is graciously restored so you can remember you went to the store for batteries. But once back through those gates, BAM…it’s all gone again.

Post water volleyball soak with the team!

Post water volleyball soak with the team!

Most everyone wears a name tag. But on the occasion when it’s not on, our new friend Joe taught us his secret. Just call everyone man or honey.

We played another “friendly” game of water volleyball with the group of guys that play every day except Sunday. These guys play with enough youthful exuberance of an unsupervised group of teenagers in high school detention.

Jeff earned the nickname Chunky by Joe. Joe said he wasn’t going to remember the name Jeff but he could remember Jiffy peanut butter. And since he likes chunky better than smooth…voila…Chunky was born!

It’s been a fun trip out west again, but we are looking forward to getting back to Arkansas. We’re hoping to time our return with spring since the temps in Phoenix and Tucson will be reaching the 90’s next week. We’ve heard that the snakes and scorpions start showing themselves in these parts when things start to really warm up. So we will be checking our shoes before we head out.

The Xscapers first meet-up at the Escapees Escapade 2015

The Xscapers first meet-up at the Escapees Escapade 2015

It’s back to the bricks & sticks for a few months to attend graduations and our nephews wedding before heading back on the road for more RV’ing adventure. We have big news (hopefully) coming soon, so we will be posting a blog about it as soon as things are finalized.

Blessings everyone!

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Marathon Drive and Secrets

Stunning day poolside at Fiesta Grande RV Resort

Stunning day poolside at Fiesta Grande RV Resort

After eight days of travel experiencing some of our countries worst major highways (thank you Louisiana) in a Class C motorhome, our road weary bodies have landed in the world of secrets.

Driving a Class C motorhome over potholes, through construction zones and wind tunnels can be compared to driving around in a tin can of marbles. The noise level and bruit strength it takes to maneuver “Ms. Piggy” almost 2000 miles in eight days is enough to beat the crap out of a person. We. Are. Tired.

As we pulled in to our RV park excited to just sit still for the next 5 days we remembered that we had no groceries left nor toad to get us to the store. So we made a U-turn out of the park and headed for the nearest Walmart…pouting, short tempered and spent.

Oh to just stop moving!

We finally pulled into the Fiesta Grande RV Resort in Casa Grande Arizona, a very large 55+ community of park model homes and RV’s. We evidently arrived at happy hour as neighbors congregated under carports at every turn. We didn’t realize that it was “Thirsty Thursday”. Our timing was impeccable!

We met many nice folks from all over North America who flock to the great southwest for winter.

After a good nights sleep we showed up the next morning at the pickle ball courts ready to kick some retirement community butt. But with 30 or more “retirees” on 3 courts who spend 2 hours a day playing this addictive sport we were handed our rears in a hurry…thank you very much!

These men and women were fierce and feisty with lots of friendly banter and encouragement, just enough to keep things fun.

The three new courts are a first for Fiesta Grande, just installed in November to the pride of the community. But they have quickly realized that more courts are needed, as Pickle Ball is the fastest growing sport in the country. We were told that another RV Resort down the road has 28 courts in their community. That’s a lot of pickles!

After being humiliated on the courts and a two-hour nap we sat on our patio watching the beehive of activity that is all around us. People are out and about on bikes, scooters and foot either going to or from some planned community activity or event that is available on a daily basis. Computer classes, tai chi, variety shows, potlucks by state, shuffle board, card games, wood shop. There was something going on for everyone.

Sun City AZ

Activities for everyone

The next day after 2 hours of pickle ball, we headed to the pool to cool off and were quickly invited to play water volleyball. And after 2 more hours of humiliation we shook it off with a nice soak in the hot tub with our volley-mates.

The mix of guys were from New York, Michigan, Canada, Seattle, Idaho and Oregon all talking about the snowy cold temperatures back home with huge grins on their faces. They had no sympathy for the sorry suckers back home who were shoveling their driveways right about now.

These guys were pranksters, calling passing folks “tourists”, and in general very happy giddy people. I couldn’t help but feel as if they had a secret amongst themselves. As if they had found the fountain of youth or the true meaning of retirement that so many others don’t find or stopped looking for.

Reality is, they have found THEIR fountain of youth, their meaningful retirement. It’s a youthful exuberance for life that is filled with activity, comradery and relationships in a delightful setting of 70-80 degree winter temps. What’s not to love about that!

Casa Grande AZ

The secret to a happy life!

We regretfully have to move on to our final destination, The Good Sams Rally in Phoenix. Casa Grande has left a lasting impression in my heart as the land of secrets where the fountain of youth has been found. I can only hope that Jeff and I will carry a piece of our learnings with us into our own meaningful retirement.

See you around the bend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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