Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 in Review

The year 2017 has been full of contrasts.  We spent 6 1/2 months in our winter home in Gold Canyon and 8 weeks in 4 Colorado state parks and we still managed to drive a little over 17,000 miles, including 8,139 miles towing our Airstream.  Part of the year we were really on the move.

Our travels included 47 campgrounds from Arizona to New Hampshire to Colorado and back to Arizona.  We stayed in two of those campgrounds twice.  As we traveled, we stayed in 9 KOA campgrounds and 2 Corps of Engineers campgrounds.  We try to avoid KOA because they are often overpriced but there are just times when they are the only or the best place available where we want to stay.  Unfortunately, the Corps doesn't have campgrounds all across the country.  In fact, the majority are west of the Mississippi River.

We were in 20 states as we traveled.  Five of those we stayed in for the first time--knocking one item off our bucket list.  We have now slept overnight in our RV in all 49 continental states.  It has taken us 29 years to make it to all of the lower 48 and Alaska. This shows where we have been this year.

We didn't drive to the East Coast just to complete an item on our bucket list.  We traveled to New Hampshire to watch our son Doug graduate from Nashua Community College.  We also spent some time with our 2 granddaughters, Rachal and Samantha.  Since we were in the neighborhood--so to speak--we also visited New York City and Washington, DC.

We were able to see family and friends as we made a somewhat slower return trip west.  In Colorado we had more time with family and friends.

At least at this point, we don't expect 2018 will bring as much travel--at least in our RV.  We are hoping to fly to England and spend 6 to 8 weeks traveling there.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


We are spending the week of Christmas in Tucson, at Justin's Diamond J RV park. It isn't a resort by any stretch, but the sites are large, the hookups full with 50 amp and there are trails right outside the gate through the beautiful Arizona desert.

There are cholla, saguaro and prickly pear cactus thick in this part of the Sonoran Desert.

The nearby trails were developed and are maintained by the campground staff.  They are labeled with neatly printed signs on the rocks.  At one time the signs must have been different.  In 2 places we saw this old tin baking sheets with long faded arrows marking the way.

The have a sense of humor, as well.   Here are two "graves" along the track.  The jug at the head of the right-hand grave reads "Platte River."  It comes from Missouri.

These folding chairs once provided a resting place along the trail.  There have long outlived their usefulness.

The day after Christmas we went hiking in the nearby national park.  Can you guess which one it is?  We are near Saguaro National Park West.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Getting Into the Christmas Spirit

Looking for a little Christmas spirit, we went to Mesa Monday evening and had bbq sandwiches at Waldo's.  John had the brisket sandwich on the left and I had the pulled pork on the right.

The food was good and filling.  The we were ready to set off for the Christmas light display on the Mesa LDS temple grounds.

There were the 3 wise men.

Lights around the reflecting pool in front of the temple.

The trees were lighted, the gardens and walkways.  It was truly beautiful.

As we were taking pictures, one of the volunteers offered to take our picture.

And more lights on the grounds.

Here is on last photo of the wise men and their camels with lighted palm trees in  the background.

Monday, December 18, 2017


Change can be hard and we’ve had a lot of it this year.  After officiating in July at the marriage of our niece Sarah to Jay, John announced that he was retiring and that was the last priestly event he would do for the family.  The past 2 summers there have been funerals for one brother-in-law and one sister-in-law. Those life events are very important and serious and they demand a lot of time and effort for everyone involved.  John was ordained to the priesthood 30 years ago and we are both 75 years old.  It was time for a change—for real retirement.

That retirement from ministry meant he would not be preaching and celebrating several times a month at the Church of the Epiphany in Tempe, the Episcopal church we have been worshiping in for  5 years during our winters in Arizona.  That was a real change.  On top of that, the rector there (who happened to have attended the same seminary as John at the same time) retired.  The worship experience was different as a result.  Being a part of that church community and worship had been a central part of our life here each winter.

These changes were difficult to adjust to.  We decided to see if we could find a church where we could truly worship God in the Phoenix valley without driving 25 miles one way to the services.  That drive had meant John drove 400 miles during Holy Week last spring, serving at every worship service during that special week.  We wanted to find something closer.

After visiting 3 nearby churches, I wondered if we would find any place where we really felt we could worship.  I had to keep reassuring myself God would not abandon us.  There would be a church closer to where we live, where we would feel comfortable and reach out to God in this part of the valley.

In 1984 the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America entered into open communion, agreeing they could share clergy and members could worship and receive communion in either church, no matter which one they were a member of.  We think we have found a church home in an ELCA church and are working through this change with hope.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

No Pictures?

Not much to talk about this week--and less to post photos about. Wednesday we met Ron and Barbara and Diana for lunch at Kneaders. Good food and good conversation. But would you believe that 3 bloggers met for lunch (Barbara, Diana and I) and no one took a picture? Oh well, it was a good get together even without pictures.

A week or so ago, our neighbors Jack and Kathy said they were having a painter come to do some work on their house. We said we really needed someone to paint some of the exterior trim on our house. Thursday the painters came and made estimates of the cost of our paint jobs. By 9 am Friday their were working at Jack and Kathty's and by the end of the day they had painted the trim on 3 houses on our street. Today they painted 3 or 4 more places and others are expecting them to come on Monday. It looks really spiffy on our street!

The painters are very careful and neat. We didn't see any drips or spots and they didn't put the dark paint on the light stucco--all without any masking. They do a really good and professional job. Thanks!

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Lunch With Friends

John and Dave have been friends since childhood and we were glad when we moved to Gold Canyon to learn their winter home is less than 2 miles from ours. Each winter we see them 2 or more times. We got together Wednesday at a nearby Mexican restaurant. We talked non-stop for a couple of hours, catching up on each others' lives over the summer.

It is good to have friends from many years ago. It is always good to meet up with Dave and Alice.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Somebody Has Been Really Busy

In early October John and I took a class on turning pens. It is relatively easy to do. But it takes practice and skill to do it really well.  Since then I have made 4 more pens. But John is another story. He loves creating pens. Just look at what he has done!

Only 2 of these pens are ones I made.  I need a lot of practice before I am good at it.

John especially likes woods with pattern or designs. If you look closely, you will see zebrawood, bocote, wenge and others. There is even stabilized ambrosia maple. All of these woods can be made into exquisite pens. We have found three stores in the Phoenix area that sell wood pen blanks, plus we can order them online.

All this creativity is filling John's time in his retirement.