Wednesday, September 30, 2015

On The Road Again

The trip down to Northern Illinois was blessedly uneventful (ie:  no medical events, accidents etc).  We are back on our "home turf" and spending time with my BFF Audrey and catching a meal with whoever we can.
Bill's brother Dave is right at the top of our list.  Many others are also, but with only 1 full day here, we simply cannot see everyone we would like to.  It's good to know we will be back in this area next May and won't have to go so long between visits with our peeps.

Upon our arrival at Fish Lake RV Resort in Volo, IL, we found the place packed (we got the last campsite) with kids in Halloween

 costumes, teens loitering and parents (in costume) walking around with cans of beer checking out the massive displays exhibited by many of the RV'ers in the campground.  The displays were a lot of fun AND, by the time we returned to camp that night (10:30 PM) after having dinner with Tami and Brett, the whole place was still as a mouse, and we had a peaceful nights sleep.

  When I found time the next morning to take Tessa for a walk, I enjoyed the displays and made a new friend:
This little guy waited patiently for me while I traversed the block long walk I had to complete from the time he first spotted me.  Apparently this little guy does this trick hoping to earn treats (he should have had a costume on).

 I can freely admit the intense missing of my BFF Audrey while we are away.  It is the single most difficult part of our being on the road, for me.  But before I explain the squirrel pix, let me tell you a bit about Audrey.  We have been besties for 12 years, ever since Bill and I stopped by her house one day, to harvest some cuttings from her extensive garden.  Audies gardens and lawn are very important to her,
keeping them in Better Homes and Gardens condition.  This dedication also includes feeding her feathered friends.  So, one year when the squirrels declared open season on her bird feeders, the gauntlet was thrown and the battle raged.  I can't really say how many casualties of war there were, but when I saw this T shirt from the  Necedah National Wildlife Refuge 

in WisconsinI INSTANTLY  knew who had to have one!  Audrey LOVES this shirt!  I think she will feel closer to us every time she puts it on.  Interesting fact:  Audrey also went to Maine East High School (Park Ridge, IL) graduating the year I was born (1954).  I call her my "Mini Me" as we are so much alike!

Final hugs were given and Monday morning we pointed our noses west, making our 1st days goal (Omaha), by 6:30 PM, which gave me time to both make dinner (Bill does most of the driving) AND get a batch of chicken soup started.  As we excitedly head for Golden, CO this morning, we find ourselves dealing with a forward quartering wind, which is killing our gas mileage if not our driving time.  You gotta pay to play I guess:-)

Along the way we received a phone call from the receptionist at Clear Creek RV Park In Golden, CO where we had initially made reservations for Sept. 14/15 a full 2 weeks earlier.  Our lifestyle must, by necessity, remain flexible, and on Sept. 9th Bill had called Clear Creek to adjust our reservation to Sept. 15/16.  This evening, as we were still one night out from Golden, the receptionist at Clear Creek called to give us our late check-in instructions for THAT night (the 14th).  Bill explained that we had adjusted the dates on the 9th.  The receptionist then advises us that their books show no such adjustment, and that they would not have a spot for us on Sept. 16th.  Clear Creek then asks us to call tomorrow and if they have made a mistake, a full refund would be forthcoming.  Fast forward to the next afternoon and Bill was on the phone to Clear Creek as we approach Denver, attempting to explain the situation.  The new receptionist at Clear Creek was advising that their records do not show we ever called (Bill had his notes written down in his Franklin Planner and they were very thorough) and that we would be charged the full 2 nights stay.  Bill asked for the "owner" and was told "that would be the city of Golden".  Bill again makes it clear he expects a full refund.  Keep in mind we are driving in eastern CO which is America's blackhole and the phone was cutting in and out, making this conversation even more difficult at best.  We eventually lost the connection mid conversation, and decided to re-attempt the call when we re-entered civilization.  Amazingly, within 5 minutes there was an opening in the sky and we received an e-mail with a FULL refund!  PTL!!!  And, in the ways that God works, a few minutes later James called and within minutes he had us aiming for one of his Denver Mountain Parks!  BEAUTIFUL setting.  And, I think we have made new friends in the Chief Hosa Campground volunteers, Jerry and Ron, who are heading to Indio, CA shortly.  Indio is VERY close to Joshua Tree, and I think a visit is in the offing

Following directions to the new campsite James had arranged for us, a wrong turn was made.  No worries, the Park Ranger was there
Denver Parks Ranger James is Jan's son!
To set us straight:-)
And the beautiful campsite he arranged for us was a short walk to this scene,

    And a short drive to these scenes!  These were taken at Red Rocks Amphitheater!  I have wanted to see this location mostly because James and Sarah work there a lot (he is a Park Ranger, Sarah is a Paramedic), and I wanted to be able to place them in my minds eye.  I did NOT expect such grandeur!  The God given beauty of the place left us in awe.  
And when James sprinted to the top of 100 + stairs with Tessa, just for fun, well we weren't the only ones standing in awe of this physical feat.

  We, on the other hand were content to walk and pose.

Around 4:00 PM we decided Sarah (working graveyard shift this week) had enough sleep and headed back to their apartment.

Where their new kitty "Polaris" made it known to Tessa, in no uncertain terms, that THIS was his territory.  As with Mr. Bibbs (my cousin Lynn's kitty), she quickly learned to give him his space.  James provided a great meal, and breathtaking Free Solo rock climbing video.

Bill and I headed  back to the RV a bit early as, and let this be a lesson to you if you have an air bed, we failed to pull the plugs on the Select Comfort mattress as we headed into the mountains.  The result????   With Bill's side set at 60 and mine at 35, guess who's side exploded?  Yep, mine was like concrete, but intact.  Select Comfort is sending us a replacement for only $50.00 :-)  In the meantime, the patch is holding.

Morning arrived with us preparing to take our leave.  The wall art being delivered to James (part of our downsizing efforts) was transferred and the first of 2 major deliveries out west was complete.

In 6 hours the road to Mesa Verde National Park was traversed.  A short driving day, yes,  but the campsite at Morefield Campground inside the Park was both beautiful and blessedly QUIET!  A good nights sleep was particularly important, as the following day's drive promised to be long.  

12 hours in the saddle did not deter us when we saw this attraction:

Four Corners, where the 4 states of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah intersect.  The "traditional" tourist picture would have me laying down with one foot and one hand in each of the four states.  Traditional "tourists" we are not.  Actually, we very rarely stop at such sights, but it was fun, and now we can say we have been there.

Settled in at Dick and Debbie's in Salome, AZ for a few days of R and R before we tackle the final leg of this journey to Joshua Tree NP.  It was so good to see both of them and realize firsthand how well he is doing since his double lung transplant, and note what an amazing constitution he has!

A week has passed since we headed west away from Salome.  The first Joshua Tree

sightings were like giving a glass of ice water to a man who had been lost in the desert for weeks.

We arrived at Black Rock campground after a brief pause at the Visitor Center to see Ranger Dave AWA a short stop at Connie and Jerry's to give these friends a hug!  So good to see these new/old friends.

The campground is pretty quiet, as opening day, officially October 1st, is the start to our real season.  This gave us a chance to get settled, shop for things to wear to James' and Sarah's wedding, do laundry and re-establish our routine.  Even with all the excitement of travel and seeing/doing new things the mundane daily tasks must still be completed.

Desert Tortoise

This little guy showed up in our backyard while we were making camp.

Connie and Jerry came by with a meal and Cynthia (our boss) brought her fiancee to meet us.  Larry

turns out to be a great guy, so when there was an open invitation to the Little Church of the Desert's  "potluck" dinner for Sunday afternoon, we jumped at the chance to get to  know him and other church regulars.  

My go to for such occasions is Paula Deen's Creamy Mac and Cheese....there was VERY little left to take home.

The observation of the "eclipse" began at the park where the aforementioned "potluck" was taking place, and was competed "up the hill" in camp.

As for the "leftovers"?????  I shared them with a camper who as been living next door to us for a week os so.  Mark

is a retired school teacher (English) from Hawaii, hitch hiking his way back to Baltimore, where he plans to settle near his sister and her family.  With so few campers in the Park, we have had a chance to get to know Mark a bit.  When we scheduled ourselves to join the Saturday night tour of the Desert Queen Ranch, we invited Mark to come along.

This worked out pretty well,  Mark not having a car and all:-).  

A great tour was given by Ranger Sarah (re-kindling our connection to this magical place), followed by the three (Bill, Mark and I) of us going out for dinner to Crossroads Cafe

in Joshua Tree (the town), one of our fav places across this great and diverse land.  

Tomorrow we begin a new chapter in our 3rd season at J. Tree.  Can't wait to see family and friends who have moved to this area (LA basin) since our last visit here (Joe Crisara-friend, Jennifer Breland-niece, Kelly Connelly-daughter).

Whether we stay until January 15th or April 30th is still up in the air, either way, YOU are invited to join us at our FAV National Park!

In closing:  how about we show that person we are to the rest of the world, to those closest to us.

Ephesians 4:2 NIV

If the world  thinks you are a wonderful, loving, sensitive and caring/nurturing person, how much more important to be THAT person to those that love us the most?  Food for thought.  The unexamined life is not worth living. Have YOU looked in the mirror lately?!

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