|Fri, 09 Mar: We awoke at our own pace, but somewhat hastened by the sounds of RV engines (not to mention the aircraft from the Yuma Marine Air Station). Nevertheless, we took our time and enjoyed a relaxing breakfast.
Following breakfast we started on our pre-departure checklists and by 1000 we were pretty much ready to roll. Dinkum was connected and slides & jacks retracted. Both the Scotts and Baileys stopped by to say farewell for a short time. They'll both be attending a Tiffin rally in Casa Grande later in March so we've planned to get together at that time.
We rolled wheels about 1010 and headed east on I-8. We crossed through the "badlands" east of Yuma and, as usual, Carpe handled the 8% downgrade with no problem (have we mentioned lately how much we love our exhaust brake?)
We went through the Border Patrol checkpoint at mile marker 80 (ever wonder how you can have a checkpoint at a fixed location???). As we rolled along we gained altitude and soon we started to see Saguaro Cactii (Carnegiea gigantea) along the road. Some of the wildflowers were in bloom here and there. We never tire of the Arizona deserts.
We stopped for lunch at the mile marker 85 rest stop and switched drivers. We arrived in Casa Grande about 1400 and topped off the diesel tank. Diesel was $4.199/gallon. November 6 can't come soon enough!
A quick seven miles to the SKP Co-Op where we were welcomed as old friends. Our space was waiting for us and Bob, the manager, got us parked and we were all set up by 1500. We started on laundry and did five loads which got us all set for the nonce.
It is good to be "home", but we suspect we'll start getting "hitch itch" pretty soon now. The weather is starting to warm up, this week will be in the 80s. It won't be long until the thermometer edges toward the 90s and beyond. We'll be ready to roll when that happens.
Right now we're planning to stay put until early April. Till then we'll update this Journal as warranted.
Sun, 18 Mar: A very happy and belated St. Patrick's Day to all. We hope you didn't overdo on the Corned Beef & Guinness. We did neither and probably feel much better this morning...
We had a very quiet week. In fact, our calendars were remarkably (and happily) void of any obligations. Our major accomplishment this week was getting all of our tax stuff together and mailing them off to our "Tax Guy". We think we owe money this year, which does not make us at all happy. We hope Bob the "Tax Guy" can make some magic happen, but we think that the mandatory IRA withdrawal did us in. Turning 70½ ain't for sissies!
We also spent some time this week "playing" with our amateur radio setup. Just before we left for Palm Springs we bought a Buddipole portable high frequency antenna system. It sits on a tripod and extends 16 feet vertically and about that horizontally. We posted a pix of the antenna set up next to Carpe.
We've been experimenting (learning) with its various configurations. We made some very good contacts on the 10 and 20 meter bands. We're blown away with the clarity with which we pick up stations on the east coast. So far no Hawai`i contacts...
On Tuesday we attended the monthly Escapees luncheon at the local Golden Corral. This is a monthly event for all Escapees in the Casa Grande area, and it is usually well attended. This month attendance was a bit light, but it is getting late in the season.
Saturday we met Bobbie & Lee Powell for lunch at the Casa Grande Cracker Barrel. We met Bobbie & Lee on our 2009 World Cruise and we again sailed with them this past December. They were returning from a three week visit to Hawai`i and stopped for lunch as they drove from Sky Harbor to their home south of Tucson. As always we had a wonderful (and all-too-brief) visit.
Yesterday (Saturday) the weather started to change as a low pressure system moved into the southwest. Yesterday was very windy with gusts of 50+ mph. During the night the rain moved in and today is very overcast with scattered showers. We're planning to stay home and attempt to stem the tide of paperwork.
Our travel plans are beginning to jell (the operative description of our plans) somewhat. We are tentatively planning to leave "The Roost" the first week of April and head north to Laughlin, then perhaps Grand Canyon, southeast Utah, Idaho (Wyoming?) and cross into Canada at Sweetgrass, MT (north of Great Falls) around the first of May. Then north to Alaska!
Sat, 24 Mar: Another week of retirement under our belts! We've discovered that retirement is a challenge best left to pros! We spent the majority of the week doing nothing, and we still haven't made much of a dent in it! Guess we'll just have to keep at it...
Last weekend was, as predicted; wet, windy, and cold! Sunday was rainy most of the day so we stayed in and made a major dent in our paperwork backlog. Monday was partly cloudy and still windy & cold. Finally, Tuesday dawned desert gorgeous so we ran up to Chandler for some Trader Joe's & Costco shopping.
Thursday we drove to Avondale (SW burb) to the Good Sam rally at the Phoenix Int'l Raceway. It was a long drive and we only spent a few hours at the rally, mostly in the vendor tent. We've been to many rallys plus Quartzsite so we didn't really need much or cared to do a great deal of "exploring". We bought some things and also had a long talk with the folks at Dish Network. We're considering changing from Direct TV to Dish mostly because of the cost. More about this as it unfolds.
We also made some changes in our broadband connection plan, which is now eligible for renewal. We went with the new 4G Mifi, which has received mixed reviews. With that device we can change to a cheaper monthly plan, so we hope it'll work out. The device should be here early next week so we'll report on our success anon (if it is a failure we won't be able to connect & therefore won't be able to report...)
Friday Wes from RV Medic came out to do some work on Carpe. We had him install some wiring so our ICOM HAM radio now runs off the house batteries rather than the chassis batteries. He also replaced a faulty thermostat on our hot water heater (our hot water wasn't very hot), and inspected, cleaned, & adjusted all of our gas appliances. He declared us "ready for the road". Wes (and his bride Marilyn) are definitely RV Good Guys!
This coming week should be quiet. We have some projects and chores that need to be done before we leave Casa Grande. We hope to make a dent in those, but then again our track record of accomplishments is pretty dismal...
Mon, 26 Mar: Today we took on our new Verizon 4G MiFi wireless modem/hotspot, and while bloodied, we have prevailed. It arrived shortly after 11 and we got it set up and activated, but it would not talk with the Verizon network. After actually reading the book we admitted defeat and called Verizon's Technical Support.
Following much back and forth the tech asked if we'd installed the SIM card. Of course we did, we took it right from our old "dongle". No Dummies (she wanted to say), the new SIM card that came with the MiFi! Back to the shipping box and, lo and behold, there it was on the bottom. Once the correct SIM was installed all is wonderful with the world (or the internet anyway).
Then Bob undertook the daunting task of configuring our printer to talk with the MiFi. If you ever want a lesson on how not to design a user interface, check out a Brother printer. They're champs! Yet, Bob again wrest victory from the jaws of defeat and the printer is now part of the new network.
Here in the hinderlands of Casa Grande we don't have 4G, so we're chugging along at 3G speed same as we've done all winter. It'll be interesting to see what 4G is really like should we ever encounter some. Who knows?
Next project, installing the Dish Network box once it arrives (later in the week). Meanwhile, we'll try to get our blood pressures back to the "normal" range (possibly some very old bourbon will help???)
Sat, 31 Mar: OK who took March? Where did the month go? Goodness, tomorrow's April's Fool Day (in Congress everyday is fool's day). Can you believe it?
Spring has sprung here in the desert. As this is written in late morning we already have the air conditioning running. Today's high is forecast to be our first foray into the nineties. Tomorrow a front is scheduled to come through with wind and much cooler temperatures (seventies). Then back into the high eighties by midweek. It is clearly time for us to consider heading north.
This week was fairly uneventful with our highlight being the visits by the Baileys and Scotts to Casa Grande. They were attending the Tiffin rally and were gracious enough to share some time away from the rally to have lunch with us on Wednesday and visit RoVer's Roost on Thursday.
Our main "entertainment" was of the techie kind. On Monday, as previously noted, our Verizon 4G MiFi hotspot arrived. After much gnashing of teeth (see above) we got it configured and working.
Then, on Thursday, our Dish Network receiver arrived. After agonizing for months over the cost of our Direct TV service (more than $65/mo for basic service) we finally bit the bullet and made the change to Dish. Our monthly subscription will drop $20, and we now have HD. We got that up and running on Thursday and, so far, so good.
Yesterday Sandi had one of those "senior moments". Several weeks ago she made an appointment to have Dinkum serviced (lube, oil, filter, etc.) So, yesterday morning we drove to the local Ford dealer (Glenn Jones Ford) where they had no record of an appointment. Sandi showed them her notes: an appointment at 0930 (at McKie Ford in Rapid City, SD!) So much for full timing... We didn't even know the name of the local Ford dealer. We now have an appointment for next week at Glenn Jones Ford.
Wed, 04 Apr: We had a quiet weekend. We never left the park and got to experience some divergent desert weather. Saturday's highs were in the mid nineties while Sunday was very windy with highs in the seventies.
Monday we drove to Chandler for some shopping. We bought a new blanket at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, a smoke detector at Home Depot, and lotsa "goodies" at Costco (where we also enjoyed lunch). While at Costco Bob had a close encounter with some 52" stuffed bears (see pix).
Yesterday we went into maintenance mode. Our battery compartments were getting pretty dirty so we took the batteries out, cleaned the compartments, and reinstalled everything. It was not the most pleasant task, but now that it's done we feel pretty good (see pix).
Last evening we dined with Ken & Joan Tarkin at Cafe de Manual, a new-to-us local Mexican restaurant. Sandi & Ken both had the chili rellenos, which were pretty good. It was a very good dinner and we're glad we got share it with the Tarkins.
This morning we took Dinkum in for lube/oil/filter. This time we got the right Ford dealer and they had us in and out within the hour. All is OK with the 'ole Dink.
We've decided to hit the road Saturday morning. We had hoped to visit our friend Cathy Rhodes in Surprise, but it didn't work out so we'll head directly to Laughlin and stay with the Baileys for a while. We'll move some of our "treasures" from the coach to our storage unit (and vice versa). Then, who knows?
Fri, 06 Apr: Our last full day In Casa Grande found us busy with "preparing to hit the road" chores. Sandi did five loads of clothes, including blankets and mattress covers.
Yesterday, Thursday, we had dentist appointments for teeth cleaning and checkups. Alas, our dental insurance company only pays for checks & cleaning every six months (which will be next week). So, we'll go without rather than them allowing it a week early. We sure can't wait for Obamacare...
Instead we got haircuts, shopped at Wally World and Food City (where we stocked up on chilis and other great stuff), and finally stopped for lunch at Nico's Mexican Food. This parking lot shack (ala FotoMart) serves up some great grub, including burritos large enough to feed both of us (see pix).
Dinner Thursday was with Ken & Joan at the Casa Grande Elks Lodge. Thursday is their "appetizer nite", so we pigged out on lotsa "bad for you" stuff. Yummy.
We bade farewell to the gang at RoVers Roost. We've become Ohana during the winter and saying goodbye is always difficult. The saving grace is the welcome back hugs we'll get in the fall.
Tomorrow we head for Laughlin...