Friday, November 28, 2014

A Day in the Sun

Last week we went on a good hike on the Lost Goldmine Trail with friends Ron and Barbara. We all thought it was a fairly easy trail and not too long. It was good to get out into the Arizona desert, an environment we have come to love.

There were lots of saguaro cacti.

This saguaro was oddly shaped at the top. I wish I could remember what this kind of growth is called.

Doesn't the arm on this one look like Micky Mouse?

And the cholla were pretty with the sun shining on them.

We had great views of the Superstition Mountains as we hiked.

John took pictures of Barbara and me.

And another of Ron.

Barbara and I were talking so much, John and Ron were quite a ways ahead of us.  I took this picture.

The Lost Goldmine Trail is about 6 miles long, one way. We only took one car, so we planned to hike until we thought we were half done, then turn back to the car. After about 2 miles, Ron said he was going back to the car. Barbara suggested the rest of us could hike to the other end of the trail (which we thought was 5 miles from where we began) and Ron could bring the car to the far trail head. So, that is what we did.

But is wasn't just a 5-mile hike. It didn't even feel like it was 6 miles. Our pedometers showed about 17,000 steps, which would translate to 8 1/2 miles. Since everything I have read, says the trail is only 5.7 or 6 miles, I guess we took lots of really small steps. Let me tell you, we were really glad to see Ron and the car waiting at the trail head.

Ron and Barbara brought us back to our RV resort. We bought sandwiches at the Cactus Deli and then they were our first guests in our new winter home! What fun it was to show it to our friends.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Storage of Stuff

We are continuing our battle against "stuff." I have blogged about our battle with "stuff" since January 2009 and again in February of the same year.

The subject came up again in September 2010 when we decided to get rid of a lot of what we had in storage. Last March we decided to bring everything that was still in storage in Colorado down to Arizona so it would be easier to get to and sort out.

Now, since we have bought a house in Arizona, it was time to pare down even more. In April, we will have an addition built on the house to provide a workshop and storage. The goal is to get rid of enough "stuff" that everything will fit in this house.

We were renting a 10 x 10 storage unit. We have been bringing boxes to the house and/or RV and sorting and throwing. This is what the contents looked like a couple of weeks ago.

We reached the point we could switch to a 5 x 10 unit.

We were happy to see the larger unit EMPTY.

That feels good (and saves us money). Now we have over 5 months to reduce this to what we can store at the house. Wish us luck.

Have you seen the RV reality show "Storage Wars"?  The day we moved to the smaller storage unit, one of the parking aisles was full of cars.  Two or three abandoned, unpaid units were being auctioned off.  But it wasn't like on TV.  We did hear the auctioneer.   But it only lasted a few minutes.  Then everyone left.  No drama there.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Not Again!

The advice is always, check your bank accounts and credit cards regularly to protect against identity theft and credit card theft. I do that regularly, though not daily. We have online access to all our accounts and it is really easy to look at the transactions. I did that last night and found a charge for $100 on the credit card that I didn't recognize. I asked John and he hadn't made a purchase from that company. He said no.  So this morning, I called the merchant. We hadn't bought anything from them, but somebody else had--on our credit card. I wasn't happy with the advice the customer service representative there gave me. Call the bank and cancel the card, then report it to the police.

A couple of years ago, we received a call from the fraud division of our bank, asking if we had bought something in a Houston Walmart the day before. We were in Arizona and hadn't been in Houston for several years. When I told them no, we were told our credit card number had been stolen and used. They would be sending us a new card right away. That is a real problem for us. Since we get 1% cash back on all purchases, we pay most of our bills by automatic debit to our credit card, rather than our checking account. It was real hassle to notify all those businesses of the new card number. It turned out that a local grocery chain had been hacked and many card numbers were stolen--even the Maricopa County Sheriff had his card number stolen. Now I have to do it again.

Today, I called the bank to report the theft of our credit card number. We will receive a new card on Friday. Then my work begins. Next, I called the Pinal County Sheriff to report the theft. A very nice deputy called back and took the report. He will contact the merchant and see if he can find who made the charge.

All I can say, other than "DARN" is, be sure to check your credit card regularly. The sooner you catch any problem, the less trouble you will have protecting your funds.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

We've Decided

Recently, I blogged about trying to find out if registering our truck and trailer in Arizona would be any less expensive than in Colorado. Today, we drove to the Apache Junction branch of the Pinal County motor vehicle division. I learned it would cost about $1,609.75 this year to license our RV. Since we only have to pay $1303.30 to renew the license in Colorado, guess what we chose? We will remain as residents of Colorado.

For all of you who live in states like Texas or Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, either of these amounts probably astound you. They do, me, too. But I guess it is what we pay to be in beautiful places like Colorado or Arizona.

On another note, who on earth would take this picture, much less post it on their blog?

Just someone who hasn't had a dishwasher for six years. These are our new dishes, washed so we can use them when we move into our winter home.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hard Work

Saturday, we joined with 34 other members of Epiphany Episcopal Church in Tempe, where we attend, for the annual fall clean-up day. We were assigned to the crew removing some cactus plants along the north wall of the church. There were a number of purple prickly pear cactus that had been infested with cochineal, an insect that leaves a white powdery substance on the pads of the cactus. (In early 2012, we volunteered at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, along the Rio Grande River. There we learned that cocineal was used by the early Spanish clergy to die bishop's robes. You can learn more about the insect and the dye in this Wikipedia article.)

The unwanted prickly pear plants where put onto a tarp, then hauled to a dumpster.

Next, we dug holes for new plants.

Finally, all the plant along that wall were in place.

Around the corner, there were even larger pots of vegetation to be planted. That meant large holes to dig. But John was up to the task.

In other areas of the grounds, people were trimming trees and bushes.

That meant the trimmed branches had to be picked up and taken to the dumpster.

Just look at how full the dumpster was.

A group of women spent the morning cleaning and organizing the parish hall kitchen.

Another group cleaned a very dirty, very old, very crowded basement. That explains why this woman was in a hazmat suit, going through the old church records they found there.

Finally, most of the work was done and lunch arrived. Everyone there was happy to share in this feast from Subway.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Today, we drove to the county seat of Pinal County, where we are currently living and where our new winter home is located. We knew that Florence was the county seat and knew where the courthouse was located, so that is where we headed. We wanted to find our if it would be less expensive to license our truck and trailer here in Arizona, rather than in Colorado, since we now own property here.

This is the Pinal County Courthouse--the second Pinal County Courthouse.

The central stairway is impressive.

The building was constructed in 1891 and restored in 2012. But notice, I said second county courthouse. Come to find out, there was a third and fourth county courthouse. The third courthouse was built in 1961, though the second still housed county offices. The fourth courthouse was built in 2004. and houses the Sheriff's office, jail and courts.

This shows how the courthouse looked in 1895.

The 2nd edition has been restored as an historic property. But there is no motor vehicle office there. In fact, there is no motor vehicle office in Florence. Those are located in Coolidge and in Apache Junction, which is right next to Gold Canyon, where we are staying!

Next time I head out to a government office, I will do an internet search to make sure I am headed to the right place. We did, however, enjoy checking out the second Pinal County Courthouse.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thank You For Your Service

Every day, Old Glory flies proudly at the entrance to Canyon Vistas RV Resort in Gold Canyon, Arizona, where we are spending the winter. This is the view one evening as the sun was setting on the Superstition Mountains to the north.

Today is Veterans' Day and the resort had a parade that ended at the flag pole for a flag raising ceremony. It was perhaps the quietest parade we have ever seen, but a number of people staying here decorated their golf carts, bikes and motor cycles to participate. The parade began with a truck carrying two accordion players who are here for an RV rally. They played patriotic songs as they rode the parade route.

Here are some other parade participants.

In any Arizona snowbird resort, you will find lots of Canadians. It gets cold, really cold, up north during the winter. One parade participant wore his Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform. We once saw a unit of these Mounties participating in the Skagway, Alaska, 4th of July parade. They patrol the US-Canadian border not far away.

As the parade passed by, those of us staying here follow along to the flag pole at the entrance.

There were flags for each of the branches of the US military.

Before the flag raising, we sang the Star Spangled Banner. I always choke up and my eyes fill with tears when I sing that. I'm not a very emotional person, but thinking of how that was written (we have been to the fort where it was composed) and what our freedom means to me, to our country and the world, always makes me teary-eyed. We also sang (OK, I listened) Oh Canada, the Canadian national anthem. Their military often fights alongside ours around the world. Then the large  United States flag was raised up the pole.

Shelly Glaus, activity director here, gave a moving speech about her father, who was a prisoner of war during World War II, and a saying they had hanging on their wall as she grew up, talking about the value of supporting our country, being willing to serve and die for it, and the fact that some things are so important, so valuable, we must be willing even to die for them.

Our family has many members that have served in the military. Our older son Doug, seen here at his wedding to Sherry in 1998, served in the US Marine Corps for 23 years, seeing action in Kuwait and Iraq, as well as Panama and other places.

John's brother, one brother-in-law, two nephews, the husband of a niece, my uncle and John's cousins have all been in the service. And the history of family members who have fought for our country goes back to the Spanish American War, the Civil War, the War of 1812, and The Revolutionary War.

I remember marching in the Denver Veterans' Day Parade when I was in the pep club in high school. In 1973, John and I were in Washington, DC, on Veteran's Day and attended the ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery when the head of the Veterans Administration laid the wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier.

I am so grateful I live in this wonderful country, that I am free to do and say what I want, go where I want. I am grateful that so many people over the centuries have served to preserve that freedom and to help other people and countries be free from oppression. Thank you to all who have served and to those who have died to give me this way of life.