Sunday, September 30, 2018

Kareem O'Corn And The Critters

My rig is again parked back home, although nowhere NEAR as clean as this.  She definitely needs a bath, but that will have to wait.  Too bad they didn't put in a truck wash at that Shell service station!!

Up at 4:00 am AGAIN, even though I tried to stay awake until 9:30 at night, hoping it would rub off on Cooper, I spent the morning watching AFV.  America's Funniest Home Videos.  I've probably seen most all of them before, but they still make me laugh out loud, and that's what I needed before heading out.
Have you noticed lately that the driving attitude on the freeway has become terribly aggressive?  There's absolutely no respect for other drivers.  Even on the surface streets at a four way stop sign, when I was stopped long before the guy on my left.  Just as I pulled out he decided to beat me to the punch.  I almost hit him.  What's wrong with people????  Believe me, it's not because I'm a slow driver.  I have a lead foot to be sure.

So off to visit about 40 minutes away.  I had a little trouble getting in the door once I arrived.  Protective family and all that.  No problem, I barged right in.  I was on a mission for the son (my very good friend) who had to be out of town for the weekend.  I wasn't taking no for an answer.

Even the pit bull who snarled and tried to bite me, was not going to deter me from visiting with Phyllis.  She's just the sweetest lady who lost her husband to cancer.  We sat on the couch and talked about traveling in the motorhome (she wants to come with me on a short trip or two) ... quilting (she has done a couple and wants to learn more) and most importantly .... THE GIANTS!!  She has always been a big fan.

In no time I had her laughing at my cooking cemetery and some of my motorhome exploits.  It seemed to me the fog lifted a little and she was a different person when I left.  Sometimes laughter is the best medicine.  I'm going back today ... maybe I can talk her into a little walk outside.  At the very least, a weekly meet for coffee is in order.

On the way home I stopped in at the Pumpkin Patch to check in before work begins on Monday.  Many of last year's kids have returned.  It was like old home week.  I can't wait to show you pictures of the newest attraction ... Barnyard Squares.  Remember the old TV show Hollywood Squares?

You'll get to meet Kareem O'Korn (an ear of corn), Carrie Feathers (a chicken), Husk Earnhardt Jr. (also corn), Woolrich (a sheep of course) and William Goat.  These are a few of the newest critters teaching about where food comes from.  Yeah, orange is not really my color, but you can definitely tell who is an employee and who is not.
Finally back home, I had the lovely pleasure of dumping the tanks on my RV.  I unplugged and drove over to the local Elks Park.  Unfortunately, I had to wait in line for someone who didn't really know what they were doing.  I had to clean up the mess before dumping MY tanks.

If you have stayed there, you will be happy to know they have opened the road so you can drive forward out of the dump station, making a U-turn in order to leave.   I have to say it's a tight turn however.  I'm about 37 feet long and I just made it.

Back home, I watched the Giants lose AGAIN to the Dodgers.  They aren't in the running at all, so I really think they aren't playing their A-Game, not to mention they have so many new players right out of AAA.  

It's a funny thing about being in California ... I'm already looking forward to Arizona.  When I'm in Arizona, I'm looking forward to California.  In between, I just want to catch up on sleep!!!!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

PIE ... It's Good For Stress!!

I don't mean to brag, but it's a lovely 57 degrees here in Central California with a high today of 76.  Something is wrong to be sure.  Last October it was 90 degrees most every day.  Hmmm ... maybe that's why there are so many spiders!!  Just like McDonalds, I'm lovin' it!!!!

Yesterday ended up being cancelled.  It's funny how my mind just couldn't get past the situation.  I tried everything I could think of, including going through my four boxes of quilting material I brought back from Arizona.

This quilt of owls will be my first project.  This is the one with 364 tiny triangles to sew together.  Somehow I couldn't seem to get motivated on this either.
I did spend three hours looking up the phone numbers for Schwans in Riverside.  You know, the ones who always provide the ice cream for the Indio Rally?  I have seven phone numbers.  I only got one answer from Curt, who was manager six years ago.  I finally called corporate.

They are not allowed to give out the phone numbers of their distribution points.  After explaining my predicament and almost crying, the nice lady gave me the name of Max, along with his phone number.  Max quit TWO years ago.  

Finally, in total frustration, I contacted very nice Loretta at Costco.  She promised to check on what she could offer and get back to me.  Honestly, it will be MUCH cheaper, but the problem will be freezer space.  There is none.  Rent-A-Freezer does not exist in Indio.  I'm not panicking .... YET!!!  Why does this have to be so hard every year?  Why can't they just answer the phone???

As a diversion, I hit the local Mexican Market for some potatoes.  This persnickety dog has me baking potatoes for him.  Not that he's eating it ......... he has decided a diet of plain chicken is perfect.  He picks out the chicken and leaves everything else.  
With Jonathan dangerously low on bird biscuits, I whipped up my specialty, sunflower banana muffins.  I realize this doesn't look like muffins.  They ended up in the freezer just as I found another super simple no-bake pie recipe to try out before feeding it to real people.  

Key lime pie ... only there are no key limes.  That's not something you might find in a Mexican grocery store.  It turned out okay ... I mean, it's pie, so it HAS to be good, right?  Cream cheese, heavy cream, lime juice and sweetened condensed milk.  It will do in a pinch.
I'm feeling pretty drug out today, but the visitation is on.  I promised to make sure Mom was okay.  I think when I get back, I'll just crash on the couch.  Hopefully working at the Pumpkin Patch next week will put a little pop in my step.  That and PIE for every meal!!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Spider City!!!!

What a nice welcome home I received.  A bite of some sort right on my forearm.  I guess there are critters here that don't like me, just like in Arizona.  I noticed it while unpacking yesterday.  A little magic cortisone cream has taken care of it nicely.  No itching and I never noticed it at the time.  Weird!!  I guess I just attract creepy crawlies.
The first order of business was to empty the fridge and park myself on the couch.  That didn't last long.  The smell when returning to a house that's been locked up tight is not something I like.  It even keeps me awake at night.  

I grabbed my tallest ladder from the garage and climbed up to replace the filters.  Yup .... waaaaayyy up there.  Whoever invented the grates must snicker with joy at the frustration they cause.  Once I finally got the new filter in place, the door wouldn't shut.  My first thought was a hammer, but I finally got it locked in without falling off the ladder.
With that done, I turned on the fan and opened the outside door to let in the wonder 65 degree air.  It's cool in California at night and only up to 80-somthing during the day.  Not that I'm gloating or anything!!!  Next up .... light every candle thing I have so the smell of cinnamon will pervade the house.

I got cleaned up enough to make a quick trip to the post office in the afternoon.  Amazingly, there was still room in the box.  If I cancel a couple of those magazine subscriptions, I'll be in good shape for any 4 month trip.  

There was a stack of ads six inches high when I got through sorting them on the post office floor.  I filled their garbage bin to the top.  No use ME paying to haul off that junk!!  The next three hours was spent going through the envelopes.  Sort, sort, throw away and keep in the big box on the office floor. At the end of the year, the "keep" box goes in the garage.  It's your typical accountant filing system.

About that time I happened to go out the front door.  Yikes!!  I got hit in the face by spider webs.  Good grief!!  I think they have almost covered the entire house!!  I grabbed a handy dandy duster on a stick and went to work.  

It must be a bumper crop year for spiders because I've never seen so many webs here before.  No black widows, except a couple of dead ones on the garage floor where I sprayed before leaving.  These are mostly daddy long legs.  Maybe I should have left them for Halloween!!
In regards to the Pumpkin Patch, MY work schedule doesn't begin until Monday.  I'm on the board for 9-4:00 roaming .... meaning I get to do whatever I want.  How fun is THAT going to be!!  I get to do a little of everything and play with the school kids as we shuttle 5,000 of them around the patch to ride the rides and pick out pumpkins.  That doesn't count all the birthday parties on the schedule either.

In the meantime, I've been a little distracted the last couple of days.  There have been some incidences of cancer that have wreaked havoc on my friends here.  It's a horrible disease that has caused tragic things to happen.  I'll be spending the next two days with one family, trying to help the Mom get through this.  At least she won't be alone.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Home Sweet Home

After the screaming loud music and the cat scare yesterday morning, I gathered my wits and went to say goodbye.  It was rather quick since no one was up yet, probably due to the night serenading we experienced.

With only 90 minutes of travel to go, off I went into the worst traffic I've experienced so far.  Never travel around Hanford or Fresno at 7:30 in the morning.  Luckily I was in front at every stop sign save one before jumping on the freeway.

In no time at all I was home, sweet home.  After eight years, I'm getting that backing thing down pretty good.  Once the big yard gate was closed, the puppies couldn't get out fast enough.  They do love their big green back yard.  Green because it looks like the gardeners have given it plenty of water.  The grass is at least six inches tall.
I had already decided I would sleep for awhile before the major unpacking began.  I lasted about ten minutes.  I just couldn't stand knowing all that stuff needed to be removed from the rig.  Mostly cleaning out the fridge and gathering up a few clothes and dirty laundry.  Oh ... and Jonathan, and pet food, and coffee, and quilt stuff, and ....... oh the heck with it.  I kept at it until I was about half done.

In the meantime, I kept adding to my list of things to do.  I have sticky notes hanging everywhere.  The first thing will be to re-up my Pilot Flying J credit card for discount diesel.  I've been meaning to do that and just keep forgetting.

I located a new fuel station at Hwy 99 and Avenue 18-1/2 just North of Madera.  Easy in and out ... just go slow over the entrance road because it's trashed beyond belief.  BIG holes everywhere!!
But WAIT!!  Right across the street I see what looks like another truck fueling station with SHELL signs all over.  What's this?  I quickly looked for the big green price sign.  $3.89 ..... Pilot's sign said $4.10.  I turned left and slowly cruised up to the pumps, not really sure which way I should enter.  

Seven pumps and I was the sole occupant.  No waiting in line for 15 minutes like at Pilot.  Inside, I found some delicious smelling fried chicken ... LOTS of it.  Although tempted, I was just wanting to get fuel and get home.  

After paying up, the guy said they had just opened.  You're cheaper than Pilot I commented.  "Yes .. we will ALWAYS be cheaper than pilot".  Okay then ... you've got ME for a customer.  So I said I would pass the word.  The place is immaculately clean and easy to access.  There are not a lot of spots to stay overnight should you wish to, but the road in is brand new and smooth as can be!!

Today I'll spend most of the day trying to get rid of the stale house smell and finish up unloading the rig.  Then it's off to the Elks dump station.  I've only got a couple of days to catch up on sleep before the Pumpkin Patch saga begins.

By the way ... I think those cats followed me home.  First thing this morning, Jessie caught two of them in the back yard.  Hopefully they won't be back!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

OH WELL .........

I know I can't expect every single day to go along without a hitch, so over the years, I have finally taken the "oh well" attitude to heart.  I'm not alone.  Thankfully this entire group is really good at expressing that when things happen.

I was up early yesterday as usual and had to chase off a couple of kitties before letting the dogs out.  No problem, they ran away as normal wild cats do.  There was no time for Words With Friends or television ... the meeting started at 8:30 sharp.
First up, a long set of questions from the main office of FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association), the parent company of this shindig.  I only belong because of the Golden Spike Chapter's love of all things locomotive.

By the questions they had for us, they are actually interested in what we think about various things.  We answered their questions and got on to lunch, which of course is MUCH more important.

In the past, we have always had great food here.  I don't know what happened last year, but it was a big fail.  THIS year we all got Subway sandwiches, chips, cookies and water.  I'm not at all into Italian sandwiches however.  It helped that there was lettuce and tomato she said, except OOPS .... they forgot to put those ingredients on mine.  Oh well .........
After lunch, we got down to the business of the ice cream social.  Everyone LOVED the new ice cream bars I got, but a cost of $4,000 was over my $3,200 budget.  That means we are back to cheap ice cream all around for both days, or good bars on Friday and scooped ice cream on Saturday.  It took an hour's worth of time to decide.  Ice cream is important ya know!!

I let them figure it out.  For those that attend this January rally in Indio, we are handing out the same really good bars one day and hand scooping the second day.  I'm still going to be over my budget (oh well), but we won't tell them that.

Finally the meetings were over and we were all set for that catered dinner.  Last year was Kentucky Fried Chicken (yes, really).  With so many complaints, they went back to having it catered.  Tri-tip, chicken, potatoes au gratin, green beans ... YUM YUM!

So why is there a picture of pizza?  Because the caterer put us on his calendar for today, not yesterday.  There will be no really good dinner after all.  Oh well .....  the crowd was very understanding.  They made a quick trip to Costco and brought back pizza and apple pie.  What can I say ... it's better than Colonel Sanders!!
I got absolutely no sleep last night as I'm sure one of our group had a head-banging, acid rock, screaming band in their rig ... right next door to me.  I've never heard such a racket in my life.  It went on until 2:00 am.  I thought this was cattle country!  Where's the country music?

At one point, I even stepped outside to see where it was coming from and couldn't figure it out.  I was surrounded .... in Hanford of all places.  Oh well, I've only got a 90 minute drive and I'll be home.

This morning when I tried to take the puppies out, I heard the loudest growl ever.  I turned around expecting to see a coyote ready to attack.  The dogs started barking and acting crazy, but I couldn't really see anything.  

I hurriedly drug them back to the rig and went out to see what huge critter was chasing us.  Come to find out, it wasn't a coyote.  It was three cats making the most horrid sounds I've ever heard.  I mean I've heard cats yowl, but this was crazy.  I came back inside and locked the door.  Puppies will have to go out when it's light and the night critters have left.

I can't wait to get home and fall fast asleep on the couch!!!  I have lots of stuff to do, but OH WELL!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Superior is SUPERIOR!!

To tell you the truth, I'm sure there is one main reason this group meets in Hanford California.  I seriously don't think it's because we all like to tour this dairy town, or that everyone just can't wait to meet up and discuss the 60+ hours of work coming up in our future.

Everyone comes here for SUPERIOR!!  I mentioned this is a dairy town and here are the results of that we all have been waiting for.  Superior Dairy Products Company makes ice cream.   Not just ANY ice cream, but the best and CHEAPEST in the country.
It's probably a good thing I don't live here or I'd be 300 pounds!!  Just look at this ice cream sundae.  It's close to ten inches tall.  Kurt has the same kind of sundae, just without the whipped cream.  Believe it or not, this is  ONE .... yes a ONE SCOOP SERVING of vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce.

I'm going to let you guess how much this one scoop cost.  I'll tell you at the end of the blog, because you're not going to believe it, not to mention that it's one of the best ice creams I've ever eaten!!
Directly across the street is the town auditorium, painted a beautiful blue and gold.  It's a little weird with those colors, but it's a magnificent building.  
Sooooo ... back to the fairgrounds, we were all stuffed and miserable.  I even brought back half of my ice cream because I couldn't eat it all.  I swear it was a whole quart of goodness.  

We are spread out all over the fairgrounds, many with full hookups and all 50 amp.  I prefer to be on this end so the puppies don't bother anyone, plus it's just a shorter walk to the meeting building.  I'm not sure why anyone else hasn't figured that out.  
Still miserable from eating too much ice cream, it was time to whip out those bread sticks.  Turns out they were a little more trouble than bag-o-salad would have been.  It took me 45 minutes to bake 30 of them.  

Done just in time for the call to dinner.  You know the drill ... wait for your table name to be called.  Even though the line goes down both sides of the tables, I always seem to get in the slow line.  It just takes us old folks longer to make a decision about what food we want.

I really tried to skip all the pasta dishes ... and there were MANY!  I loaded up on salad as best I could and skipped desert completely.  No one went away hungry since we all brought enough to feed 200 people, with only 50 in attendance.

Today will be the all important business meeting, making dollar decisions for the rally.  Lucky for me, there are always extra dollars for the ice cream budget.  NO ONE disputes the cost when it comes to the ice cream.  

What an exciting day it will be!!  Oh well, it's the price of being the Ice Cream Captain.  Speaking of price ..... that huge bowl of ice cream sundae cost a measly $6.00.  You can get a DOUBLE scoop for $8.00.  So if you are ever traveling in this part of the country, stop in at Superior Dairy and have the best and cheapest ice cream sundae ever, because Superior is SUPERIOR!!!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Beautiful Downtown Hanford California

This is me ... in beautiful downtown Hanford at 4 am.  I'm a little bleary eyed since this is where the train engineers like to blow their horns over two intersections within a stone's throw distance ... all night long!!

It was not a bad drive since traffic was pretty light.  Two hours on cruise control got me here without a single bay door coming open.

Unfortunately, no one told me about the secret entrance.  I found the front gate locked up tight.  No problem ... I called the CEO of the parking lot, hoping he wasn't in church.  About fifteen minutes later, someone came and opened the gate.  With only two rigs here, it was pretty quiet for the first couple of hours while I settled in.
First up was a trip to the grocery store for garlic bread sticks, my contribution to the potluck.  Apparently I missed the memo where K-S should bring a salad.  Oh well, that's me.  Rebel to the end.  I'm not changing now, I've got six boxes of bread sticks in the freezer.

This is definitely me, only the "six" should read something like "32".
This is me too with a huge parrot bite mark.  You were wondering if parrots bite?  Yes ... yes they do. Even when you raised them from an egg, you have to be careful every single second, especially with Jonathan.  

When he (she) was maybe two years old, he got very sick, requiring I grab him with a towel and give him shots in his belly, TWICE a day.  Needless to say, he's pretty shy of hands.  Unfortunately yesterday, I didn't pay attention and he nailed me.  It's black and blue today, and quite sore.  I should be thankful he didn't take out an entire chunk .. which he is more than capable of doing.
This is me too.  I never do selfies and rarely post pictures of myself, but there's not much to see or take pictures of in downtown Hanford.  
A group of twenty of us went to Ryan's Place for dinner.  I don't know these folks very well, so I didn't whip out my camera for an exciting picture of my stuffed chicken.  It was stuffed with broccoli, with broccoli on the side.  It was a LOT of broccoli.

Here's the cool part.  If you go online and sign up, you get a free piece of pie.  How could we resist that?  Unfortunately their site wasn't working exactly right and we all signed up twice.  Now we have to UNSIGN-UP once.  I got the peach pie.  Real fresh peaches and it was wonderful.

Today is a do-nothing day for friend Betty and I, so we may just have to go shopping.  I'm pretty sure there are no Chicos or Macys here, but maybe we can find a dairy supply store.  It's what they are known for ... some of the biggest dairies around.

Eventually I will bake up my 36 bread sticks and cut them in half.  That way there will be some for everyone and maybe ... just maybe ..... I won't get chastised for breaking the rules!!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Fifth Gear Is My Friend

Well surprise surprise!!  Everything went swimmingly well yesterday.  No excitement at all, no honking horns and no open bay doors.  Thank goodness!!

I left Hesperia's wonderful quiet parking lot and headed out, with my first obstacle being the dip in the road at the stop light.  It's a big one.  I got honked at again, but only because I was taking up two lanes, trying to cut across at an angle.  I think I scared the guy in the pickup truck I had to go around.

After going through stop light after stop light, I finally made it to Hwy 395, where I went through stop light after stop light.  I think they have even added a few more.  It's important to note that the highway construction on 395 near Kramer Junction looks exactly as it did three months ago.

From there, it was all downhill to Mohave where windmills have become the name of the game.  There are even more than the last time I was here.  Thankfully the traffic thinned out as I cruised through the valley.

Fifth Gear was my best friend as I climbed up and drove down hills without using the brakes at all, keeping a close eye on the temperature gauge.  It's a game I've played for many years with mountain driving.  The goal is to see just how long you can drive without using your brakes.  Course I cheated a little with the exhaust brakes.
When it came time to head down Tehachapi Pass I think I only used them three times.  Look Ma ... no brakes and NO traffic.  But what I DID see was lots of smog as I topped out.  Good grief!  It just gets worse and worse every year.  
I actually hung out in Hesperia until 10:00 before taking off.  I figured it would take me three hours to get to Bakersfield.  It's really hard to just sit there when you're ready to hit the road.  I made it in two and a half hours, hitting the Orange Grove RV Park at exactly the wrong time.

They were closed for lunch.  Another couple came in from Sacramento and stopped right behind me.  Luckily I noticed all these envelopes taped to the wall.  How cool is that?  They put our site number on the outside and a map inside showing you where to park.

It was fairly quiet except for that yappy little dog someone left outside their rig all night long.  I glanced out the window once to see this ..... MORE smog!  When we first moved to this valley in the dark ages, you could actually see the mountains every day.  Just look at it now!!  I'm already craving the clear skies of Arizona.  
My drive today to the big town of Hanford should only take two hours, maybe less because it's Sunday morning and traffic will be light.  There I will be involved in the WMHA RV Rally planning as little as possible.  It's always a problem when 40 Indian Chiefs get together to lead us 10 little Indians.

Of course there is the obligatory potluck dinner, so the first course of business will be to find a grocery store.  Instead of making a salad, I'm opting for frozen garlic bread sticks.  Pop them in the oven and I'm done.  I've no need to show off my cooking skills!!  

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Hesperia .... Who Knew??

It was another long five hour drive from Quartzsite to Hesperia where I planned to spend the night.  I'm not into long drives, especially when Jonathan and I are already tired from the first five hour drive.  As much as I would love to tell you it was a nice relaxing time, I cannot lie.

It was a hot 89 degrees when I pulled out of the big Q, all of 200 yards to the fuel station.  Did you know that in Arizona, if you fuel up at the truck side of a station, you pay an extra truck tax?  Better to fuel up on the RV/Auto side, but alas, they were under construction.

Finally on the road, the traffic was awful.  I've never seen so many cars and trucks ... one right after another.  The good news is since a lot of it is downhill, I got 13 mph.  Crazy, right?  It's the big engine with the smaller, lighter body.

When I hit Indio, traffic got worse.  I just HATE driving through that section.  I'm always afraid I will miss an offramp, no matter how many times I've driven it.

At long last I'm nearing Hesperia.  I had never heard of it until friends Barbara and Tom Westerfield said they stopped at the Elks Lodge RV Park.  I don't think anyone even knows it's here!!  It's a little ways off the freeway, so I followed my GPS.  Too bad I didn't remember I set it for the center of the city since I didn't have an address.

All of a sudden there was that HONKING again!!  I'm sorry, I'm sorry ... I must have pulled out in front of you!!  Another half a block and MORE honking.  CLICK ... the brain kicked in.  I bet that darn door is open again.  Sure enough ... everyone was pointing.  I pulled over at the first spot I could find and hit my emergency flashers.  This time I remembered where they were.

As I hit the brake switch, I jumped out the door and ran around to the driver's side.  There I found a nice man in a van parked behind me with HIS flashers on so I wouldn't get run over.  I SLAMMED the door and raced back to the rig.

After a couple turns around the block, I finally found the Elks Park.  Whew!!!  At last I can relax.  But first ... fill up with DEF fluid and fix that darn door!!  THIS time I did what Mr. Chance suggested.
Cheap latch if you ask me, but anyway, I moved it out enough so the door is latched, but almost loose.  I grabbed it from underneath and gave it a hard tug.  It stayed latched.  Gosh I hope this is the last time that happens!!!
As you can see from the above picture, I'm completely alone here.   It's so quiet .... well except for that big dog in the back and the trains that go by.  No matter ... I have a 30 amp hookup and the AC is running just fine to combat the 95 degree weather.  The good news is that it was 65 degrees at 4 am.  I'm loving it!!
When I talked to Patty, she asked if they had a quilt shop here.  Funny you should ask.  Yes ... yes they do.  I unhooked the car and shot down Main Street.  Wow .. this is a really big town just chock full of restaurants that sound amazing.

I found the quilt shop just in the nick of time.  They are closing their doors for good at 5:00.  Everything was 50-70% off.  Who could resist a deal like that?  He/she with the most fabric WINS!!

It's going to be a cruising easy day today.  I've only have a few hours drive to Bakersfield where I'll stay for one more night before heading to beautiful downtown Hanford.  Maybe today I can catch up on some sleep.

I wonder if Bakersfield has a quilt shop?????

Friday, September 21, 2018

Could Someone Turn Down The Heat Please?

At least in the Tucson foothill area, it was cooling off at night.  I can't say as much for Quartzsite.  First however, there was an amazing DINNER in Tucson.

As a thank you for kitty sitting, the Chance household took Pat and I out for dinner.  They could not have picked a better place in my book.  The Horseshoe Grill on Broadway had it all.  There's a nice bar if you've a mind for a drink, live music and the best barbecue I've had in a long time.

It was pouring down rain when we arrived, and our chauffeur Mr. Dan drove us right to the door.  The second you open their front door, the smell of barbecue washes over you.  YUM YUM!!!

I had pulled pork, the best I've ever tasted in my life.  Not too smoky and so tender I almost didn't have to chew.  The three huge ribs I saved for breakfast.  What goes better with smoked meat than mac 'n cheese and Texas toast.  It was amazing!!  I'll definitely be going back!
On the way out, since it was still raining, Dan went to get the car.  When the white car pulled up, we grabbed the door handle and started to jump in.  WAIT!!  UH OH ... that isn't DAN!!!  It was an Uber driver delivering people to the restaurant.  OOPS .... excuse us!  In our defense, it was a WHITE car!!  We all had a big laugh as Dan pulled up right behind!!

It was a nice cool 68 degrees out yesterday morning.  That white stuff is fog.  Fog in the desert.  I never knew.  I finished packing the house, remembering to do everything, only because I have a list to check off.  

As I pulled the Jeep forward to hook up to the rig, what should I find but ANOTHER RAT!!  Can you believe this?  Good for me, not so good for him.  I must have run over him when I went to get fuel.  He was flat as a pancake ... the only kind of good rat.
The further West I get, the hotter it was and traffic was terrible.  Quartzsite was around 97 when I arrived, cooling down to 82 this morning.  I turned the air on at 4:30.  I'll be off again soon, heading further Northwest.  
There's one cool thing about Quartzsite, even though it's hot, you can see hundreds and hundreds of stars at night.  It's almost like you can reach up and touch them.

I'm off to get fuel at the truck stop ... seems my favorite station has a fuel tank problem and is completely blocked off.  See you down the road.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Wait ... Did I Get Taken Again????


I always thought I was a smart cookie.  I've discovered I must be closer to a slow piece of eggplant.  After a couple days of dealing with the sewer smell again, going around the house and putting water in every hole I could find, I was hit right in the face with the smell of something DEAD!

I followed it to the air conditioning intake filter.  Of course I removed the filter, only to be wafted with the lovely scent of rot ... of something yucky melting into the ground under my house to the munching sounds of maggots.  My head and shoulders dropped six inches.  Really??  I don't need this when I'm trying so hard to remember everything I need to do before leaving.

I halfway crawled under the house to find the dryer vent that was once so nicely up off the ground, to be back laying ON the ground.  I thought Superior Repairs fixed that!!  And WHAT is that SMELL??

I called the air conditioning company because I was sure it was in the big vents.  The nice guy came out with lots of equipment and found nothing, but agreed he certainly could smell it.  He volunteered to crawl under and see what was up.  I was very appreciative.  TOO appreciative I suppose.
"I found four dead rats and your dryer hose completely disconnected" he stated.  Are you kidding me?  Why didn't Superior find those dead rats?  And apparently they stretched the hose so tight, it came undone at the other end.

I grabbed some bags, the AC tech grabbed his gloves and went back in, along with a roll of what he said was VERY expensive tape to fix the dryer tube.  I again thanked him.

By the way he said, you should have a maintenance contract on your AC unit.  With this company, it would cost $1,000 for four years.  HE however, would give me a great deal of only $500 for four years.  To make it even better, he is a maintenance man, plumber, electrician extraordinaire and I should call him for ALL my maintenance work, which includes checking under the house for dead rats. THIS time however, it was going to cost me!!

Here I thought he was being so nice.  Okay ... I grabbed $50 from my wallet.  At least I'll offer him that.  Sure enough, there were four dead rats in the bag he brought out.  That's when he said he REALLY needed to be sure no rats crawled up the OTHER end of the dryer vent and died.  Of course that will cost a little more.  

I'm sure it's fine ... I can easily check the back of the dryer, thinking this wasn't going well for me money wise.  
Now on to the service the air conditioning unit which I requested, since he was going to be there anyway.  I'm not kidding ... all he did was pull the circuit breaker, spray some stuff on the outside, then washed it off with a hose.  That was the entire service!!

I couldn't get him out of the house fast enough.  I had my check ready.  How much do I owe you??  The service call to Desert Aire was $55.  HIS charge to get the rats out was a whopping $120!!!  I about threw up, but what could I do??  I wrote another check and ushered him quickly out the door.

What about that maintenance contract with me, he asked.  I don't have time to even think about it.  Give me a couple of months and I'll call you ................... as in NEVER!!!!!!

I guess it just goes to prove there are no honest people around any more.  There's always someone trying to take advantage of you.  

To add insult to injury, as soon as I walked back in the house, THIS guy was parked on the INSIDE of my window.  Perfect fishing bait I thought, but NOT something I want flying around my house.  I grabbed a huge bath towel, smothering him while I raced outside and shook it out.  Off he flew.
I think I'll be glad to get back in my other house where the only thing I have to worry about is black widow spiders.  In the meantime, I've added rat traps under the house.  

I have a pest control service, but since he never seems to show up, I went online to find the exact same rat traps and the same bait he uses.  I'm going into the pest control business.  YOU GOT RATS?  I GOT TRAPS!!!

Since I couldn't find any way possible for the rats to get under the house, here's what I think MAY have happened.  When I was here previously, I DID find a hole chewed through the boards.  I got a can of that foamy spray stuff and filled up the hole.  It is entirely possible that the rats were underneath the house when I filled the hole.  They eventually died and have been laying there ever since ... I was just never in the right spot at the right time to smell them.  

Anyway, I'm on my own ... and the WAR IS ON!!!!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Just When I Think I'm All Together!!!

So .... here's a picture of what Cooper looks like at 5:30 in the morning when he's gotten me up at 3 am.  Sound asleep!!  That's how it started out yesterday.
It's time for me to use up all those Fry's grocery store receipt points and fuel up the rig (with big discounts) for the trip home.  Funny ...  I wasn't nervous at all this time, even though I haven't driven it for a couple of months.

I unhooked everything, raised all the blinds, removed all the flashing lights I keep underneath to deter the packrats and even removed the tennis balls from the windshield wipers.  As I sat in the driver's seat, I was feeling pretty smug.  I actually remembered EVERYTHING, including the inverter since I've already packed lots of frozen items!!

Here I go ... driving off in my big RV ... feeling really fine!!  But boy is it HOT!  I didn't bother with the air conditioner and generator, I just flipped on the dash air.  Well I tried anyway ... the little knob just went round and round.  There was no clicking and no turning on.  In fact, the knob fell off in my hand.  Luckily I could turn the stem with my fingers.  It blew hot air.  Oh well, I don't have far to go.

I was still feeling the smugness ... the "I did it" feeling ... but it didn't last long.

That's when I looked down.  CHECK ENGINE!!!  Oh good grief.  I've started this thing up and run the engine every other week and NEVER had this happen.  I saw nothing in the gauges to think something was up, so I just kept driving.

As I went down a short hill for a left turn, I heard it.        Honk     Honk Honk   HOONNNNNKKKK! The lady pulling up beside me was pointing frantically.  Now what???  Am I on fire???  Are the tires flat???  I hit the brakes and stopped in the middle of the road.  

I WOULD have hit the emergency flashers, but couldn't remember where they were at that second.  I jumped out, walked around the rig which was holding up oodles of traffic and found my big bay door wide open.  What the heck?

I slammed it a couple of times, thought it was latched and took off ... slowly.  Finally at the fuel station, I was feeling better about everything because I was getting fuel at a 50 cent per gallon discount.  Or not.  You have to have your little card to scan, which was still on the Jeep keyring back at the house.  No discount for YOU!!

As the pump filled the tank, I looked at the bay door.  It was calling my name.  I slipped a fingernail into the crack and pulled ever so slightly.  It popped wide open.  BIG SIGH!!  It's not latching at all. 

Once I paid FULL PRICE for the fuel, I pulled over and scrounged through my tool box for a couple of wrenches to try and fix the problem.  There were no wrenches to be found.

With one set of regular pliers, one needle nose pliers and seven attempts, I was finally able to get it to latch.  I think.  At least the fingernail trick did not produce any results.

When I started up the engine to leave, the CHECK ENGINE light went out.  Whew!!  Thank goodness for small favors.  Maybe this January at the RV rally I will invest in one of those tell all computer things that sits on your dash and tells you what the check engine light is saying.

With my ego totally deflated, I quietly made my way back home.  I backed in the long driveway, replaced all the flashing rope lights and tennis balls just in time to be met by the air conditioning repairman.  You see when I came in the house Monday afternoon, I smelled something really bad right at the air filter intake.  It hit me right between the eyes.  Just what I needed when I'm planning to leave.
It's a long story ... it's frustrating, maddening, and I think I got taken yet again.  I'll report on that tomorrow because right now, I need to do some ZEN get-over-it breathing and lower my blood pressure!!  

I'll be back on the road in the morning.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Weird And The Wonderful

There are lots of fascinating things to see around the country but THIS is one of the most weird, yet wonderful ones I've taken in.  I caught wind of this in one of Nick Russell's blogs.  When he said he could walk around here for hours, he was right.

This is the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures.  Who knew there even WAS such a thing.  Hidden in northwestern Tucson is this building full of miniature handmade creations.  Founded by Patricia and Walter Arnell, it was a way to showcase her vast collection of antique miniatures.  It opened in 2009.

I've seen a few dollhouses in my time, but believe me, you've never seen anything as intricate as these.  Since Halloween is coming soon, there was an entire room of cute scenes depicting everything you would expect Halloween to be.  You might want to click on the image to see it better.  All of these were taken through glass to keep little hands at bay, not to mention most of the people in the scenes are only 2-3 inches tall.
Here's the pharmacy where you can buy werewolf hair, eye of newt and all that good stuff.  The attention to detail is amazing.
As I walked around, I discovered there are hundreds of people who make these scenes as hobbyists.  You can too if you've a mind.  This is a picture frame with three witches made from cheesecloth and a few dried flowers.  
There is an entire room dedicated to Christmas, even underneath your feet!!!  It's a kids paradise.  
By the way, the same rules apply here as at the botanical gardens.  No climbing on the tree!!  You can look between the roots to find little mouse houses though.  It helps if you are only three feet tall for this attraction.  In fact, if you are short, this one's for you.  I found myself kneeling down on several occasions to see better.
Here's the Three Little Bears, with the broken chair below and the family discovering Goldilocks.  Almost every display has lights inside.  I've no idea how they work but they are so realistic it's crazy.
Many of the displays are simply houses with rooms full of furniture.  This Wine Cellar is actually built in a wine box.  
The Chocolate Shop was fascinating with lots of miniature cakes, pies and candy to behold.  
Towards the end you will find castles and amazing displays of furniture, chandeliers (all lit up) and even tapestries on the walls.  Tiny tables are set with real silver goblets and glasses, made by someone with small hands and lots of patience.  Teeny tiny pieces of art all on display.  I mean really, how do you make a candle the size of a toothpick?
Along one wall there are even mechanical displays.  Just push a button and it will begin to play music and move all about.  At $8 for seniors, it was worth it to view these amazing pieces of art that have taken hundreds of hours to make.  You can also stay out of the heat for a couple of hours.  

Interested in doing this yourself?  They have starter kits in the small gift shop and I imagine you can find ANYTHING miniature on the internet.  Although there was nothing going on this day, if you look them up first, you will find a list of daily presentations by the artists themselves on how to get started.  

Personally, I never thought of this as art until now.  It was pretty fascinating.

So I'm down to packing.  The Chance family has returned and I'm off kitty duty.  It's time to start concentrating on the Indio Rally Ice Cream Social.  Do I sound excited?  Yeah, well, I'm working on it!!!

Monday, September 17, 2018

I'm a Wallflower

I have been since I was a kid.  You could always find me sitting against the back wall at every 4-H and school dance I went to, which weren't many.  So you would think I'd be the first one to love flower gardens.

Not so much, although I do like photography in flower gardens.  That's why I decided to visit the Tucson Botanical Gardens.  It's not exactly easy to find.  I drove past the entrance twice before finally getting it right.  The entrance to the garden itself is not visibly marked, so just drive to the back of the parking lot and walk towards the building.
Take the white door to the right into the gift shop where you must pay for entry.  $13 each for seniors.  The very first thing I saw was this beautiful flowering cactus.  Wait ... what?  I walked closer.  It was a metal water fountain, so real looking it had me fooled.  
Everything is of course posted with name tags so I would know what it was I was killing should I plant some of these in MY back yard.  
Although I thought for sure they would all be blooming like crazy, I was wrong.  The blooming season is short in the desert and this is the only cactus bloom I could find.  Weird how there is one flower just at the tip.
As I pretended to be on a great jungle expedition looking for the elusive tiger to photograph, I ran into another beautiful fountain.  It's rather hard to see due to the dappled shade, which I was very thankful for.  
It was only 9:00 am and I was sweltering.  Just look at these happy campers!!  Interestingly enough, there were very few drip systems set up.  Several employees, or maybe volunteers, were watering everything by hand.
Maybe if I just sit under the shade of this tree and enjoy the morning, I will cool off a tad.  It's a magnificent setting to be sure.  There is a restaurant on the premises, but it was too early for lunch.
FINALLY ... a critter!!  In the butterfly garden there were hundreds of these beauties flying around.  Timing is everything.  I probably took thirty images of these guys before I got one with it's wings open.
There were two monarchs that weren't cooperating at all.  This is the best I could come up with because by now the flies were driving me crazy.  They are definitely sticky little guys.
This was originally the home of Bernice and Rutger Porter dating back to the 1920's, who operated a garden nursery here.  They even built their house out of adobe, which still stands today, being used for administration.

Around the back side of the house are more familiar roses, vines and trees showing off their finery.
With absolutely no one in sight, since they are all smart enough to stay home in the heat, I walked around this beautiful area by myself.  Another fountain made it feel cooler than it was.
At long last the wallflower jungle trekker spotted a critter.  A horned lizard ... and a BIG one probably 12 inches long.  Please, please stay still till I get a picture!!
There are garden rules ... do not climb the trees (??), smell the flowers but don't take any cuttings (this one is directed towards Miss Patty Chance and her nurse scissors) and pets or dogs are NOT allowed, nor is smoking or vaping.  

I was looking forward to the butterfly and orchid pavilion, but alas it is only open October to May.  Taking a picture of this sculpture will have to suffice.
You are usually directed to exit through the gift shop, but in this case, you ENTER through the gift shop.  Time to head back around and see if anything in there floats my boat.  Sure enough, standing forlornly outside the back door was this little table.  

It called my name.  The nice lady said "why yes, it's for sale - I'll even give you 25% off if you take it because it's terribly faded".  Okie dokie ... and I loaded it up in the Jeep.  Once home, I gave it a quick cleaning and a spray of sealant to bring all the life and color back.  It's perfect for coffee in the mornings.
In case you were wondering, yes you CAN get married here in the gardens.  You can also have your engagement pictures taken here, as did the couple who arrived just as I was leaving.  Be forewarned, it costs extra if you are using a "professional" camera.  I instantly stuffed mine in my backpack.  

I'm sure this wallflower would have spent much more time here if it weren't for the heat.  Stop by in the wintertime and bring a snack.  There are several areas in which to relax and enjoy the things that grow.