Saturday, November 30, 2013

Giving Thanks

The Thanksgiving weekend began with Holy Eucharist at Epiphany, where we received the fruits of creation in the form of bread and wine.

Later in the day, we joined with 910 people at the resort's Thanksgiving dinner. We enjoyed the meal with neighbors.

Today, we enjoyed the beauty of the Arizona desert with a hike at San Tan Mountain Regional Park. We love the saguaros.

And the cholla.

In places we saw lots of green ground cover. This is the result of the rain we had a couple of weeks ago.

In addition to hikers, there were horseback riders and bikers enjoying the desert.

It was a beautiful day. I hope you have a lot to be thankful for this weekend.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Whether we're alone, with family, or with friends old or just met, it's a day to be thankful for all we have, all we've done, the freedom we have and the wonder of God's creation and his love.

Have a good day.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Two Problems Solved

Yesterday our mail included the November utility bill from the resort. I almost had a heart attack. The bill showed we had used 2,368 kilowatt hours of electricity between Oct. 23 and Nov. 23. What? There is no way that could be possible. There had to be a mistake. Fortunately, I have the bills from last spring when we were in the same site. The beginning meter reading on last month's bill was 1,935 kwh lower than the final reading on the meter April 1 when we left. Before calling 911, we decided to go talk to the office about the matter.

They agreed something was wrong. An hour or two later, we received a call saying yes, the beginning meter reading used was wrong. The matter had been corrected and instead of being charged $249.84 for electricity and tax, we only owed $74.40. Whew, that is a relief. I think whoever entered the data in the computer hit the wrong number for the second digit of the reading. Problem solved.

The second problem involved licensing the truck we just bought. It will be titled in Arizona but needs to be registered and licensed in Colorado. Our temporary permit expires in February but we won't be in Colorado till April or later. That means we needed to have the VIN verified by law enforcement here, then send that form, a power of attorney and several other things to our son, who will take it to the county motor vehicle office.

That is the same thing we did with the new RV. Getting the VIN verification from law enforcement in Kansas was no problem. But when we asked the dealer here to have law enforcement verify the VIN on the truck, they said they had never heard of such a thing. They reported they even called the Mesa police and were told they didn't do that. Based on that report, I contacted the county clerk in Colorado and learned we could use the Arizona Motor Vehicle Department VIN verification only if the local police gave us a written statement that they would not do the verification.

Today, John took the form to the local Mesa PD substation to get the verification or have them sign a letter I had written, stating they don't do that. He walked in, asked to have the VIN verified and the female sergeant said, "I can do that for you." Great news. Problem number two solved. What a relief.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Where Did the Water Go?

As I showed in yesterday's blog post, our rains created several beautiful lakes in our resort. But this morning, this is what we saw.

Both of these areas where flooded yesterday.

I talked to one of our neighbors. He and his wife live here year-round. He had just checked his rain gauge and found we received more than 3 inches of rain from the storm. Then he explained where all those flood waters had gone. He had watched them drill deep drain holes in the retention areas over the summer, about 120 feet deep. So the mystery is solved.

Not all the holding areas were empty, however. If you look closely at the left side of this picture, you can see where the water has receded, but it hasn't all gone away.

John wanted me to show you that the garden railroad display came through the rain just fine.

All except this house. A tree must have fallen on it.

Hopefully, the weather will clear up and warm up soon. All the blogs I read are reporting cold weather and rain. We snowbirds came here for sunshine and heat, not this.  The silver lining will be when we see the desert blooming in the spring, I guess.

Friday, November 22, 2013

This Is the Desert?

I love photos of reflections in water. Today, I was able to take some here in our "Active 55+ Resort."

Some of the RVs and park models almost had waterfront views.

Even the rose garden I blogged about yesterday was surrounded by water.

Mesa has received more than 1.5 inches of rain--a record for the amount of rain in one day. So every low spot is filled with water. Since it rains so seldom, there are no storm sewers here. Therefore, holding ponds are incorporated into the landscape wherever possible. We love looking at them when they fill with rain runoff.

Yesterday we could have walked in any of these areas and had dry feet. Today is a different story. The storm has caused delays for the state high school football playoffs and a national college soccer tournament.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

At Last!

Five weeks ago today, we signed the papers and took possession of our new 5th wheel trailer. Since then, we have moved everything from the old RV to the new one; driven 1,719 miles from Chanute, Kansas, to Mesa, Arizona; found where we stored most of our possessions in the new RV; bought a new truck and transferred all the extra equipment to it from the almost new old truck, and tried to get settled in our winter home.

Finally in the past few days, we feel we have been able to slow down and enjoy the life we have here in Arizona in the winter. Twice this week, we have spent time in the woodshop, getting started on our intarsia projects. Last night was the annual Welcome Home dinner for the returning snowbirds here at Valle Del Oro. They said 1,700 people were in attendance. The service was amazingly fast. We all went through 2 or 3 serving lines in less than 15 minutes. This shows just a small part of the crowd.

We had a great sunset.

Some of the folks line-danced to the three bands providing music around the area.

We had a good time. We also have taken time to enjoy the rose garden here in the resort. Fall and winter in Arizona are amazing.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Patio Sale

Today was the annual fall patio sale at Valle del Oro. For perhaps the third year, we tried to sell a few things. This is what we put out this morning.

If we had sold everything here at the price marked, we would have raked in $300 or so. Was it a success? Well, yes and no.

The items marked by the #1 went the best. They were free, wouldn't you know.

The air compressor, #2, was priced at $150. When it was loaded up, we took $15. 10%, not bad?

The cooler, #3, brought in $3. It was priced at $5.

The small heater, #4, brought full price, $5.

And I accepted $1.35 for two $1 items.

Our take? $24.35. That is the most we have ever made at one of the patio sales, so on the whole we are happy. We still have to find a home for the rest of the stuff. Goodwill, here we come. Here is what was left.

If we need a day job, I don't think selling used items is a good idea for us.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Everything's Coming Together

We had installed several add-ons to the truck we traded in on our new 3500 dually. Tuesday, we took the new truck back to the dealer to have those add-ons moved to the new truck. They took it to a local welding shop to have the work done. Yesterday afternoon, we were able to pick it up. They installed our tool box and 5th wheel hitch into the truck bed after putting in a spray-on bed liner.

They also moved the steps or running boards, making it much easier to climb into the truck. Without the steps, getting in the truck involved a lot of upper body exertion.

We carry our bikes on a hitch on the front of our truck when we are towing the fifth wheel, so they moved the front receiver from one truck to the other.

We get lots of comments when we carry the bikes on the front of our truck. No, they don't block our view of the road or get in the way. But, why do we do it? Click here to learn our reasons.

We are glad all the parts of our truck have come together again. Maybe (?) we can start to relax and play. Do you think so?

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Fun and Good Food

It wasn't BBQ but Chuck Wagon cooks that gave us a fun and tasty time today. This is the third year we have attended the Chandler Chuck Wagon Cook-off. Tickets for lunch went on sale at 10 am. The event is becoming so popular that the ticket line looked like this when we arrived at 9:30. The ticket booth is under the small red tent on the far left in this photo.

By 10, this many more people had joined the line.

Each of the 10 competing wagons prepared 50 meals, meaning 500 people got lunch. The tickets were sold out somewhere between 11 and 11:30.

It takes a lot of pans and a lot of heat to prepare 50 meals, cooking with open fires and coals.

Contestants were given the meat and dried apples (and maybe pinto beans and potatoes). They provide the rest of the ingredients. One wagon prepared pan fried steak.

The dried fruit was soaked, then made into some kind of dessert.

Onions were friend to mix with meat or beans. Did these ever smell wonderful!

Beans had to be stirred.

Biscuits prepared for cooking.

This is what the menu board looked like at about 11 am. A little later, every single wagon was sold out.

Cook-off volunteers visited each wagon to pick up their entries for judging.

Here are the judges, waiting, with water close at hand, to taste and evaluate 10 different meat dishes, beans, potatoes and desserts.

While everyone waited for lunch, Chef Tess demonstrated how to cook with a hay box or solar oven.

Each contestant was also judged on their chuck wagon. This is just one of the 10 that were there.

Finally, it was time to eat. This was my plate of smothered steak, scalloped potatoes and cowboy beans from the Cannon Family.

This was John's pan fried steak with cream gravy, pecos beans and potatoes with bacon and onions, prepared by Rockin' RR.

We always buy food from two different wagons and share our plates so we get to taste more of the dishes that are prepared. Everything was good, but if we were the judges, Cannon Family would come out on top.

It was a warm sunny day with good food. We had fun. Tumbleweed Park in Chandler is where the event is held each year and we were able to go for a good walk while waiting for lunch. It was a good day and a good diversion from making our RV into our home and buying a new truck.