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Monday, April 9, 2012

Catch Up Time…

Okay, the longer we are on the road, the further behind this blog becomes.  That must mean one of two things:  we are so extremely busy, I have no time to write OR we are so extremely laid back, I have no time (or motivation) to write. Nope, it means both.  So, this writing session will hopefully get the blog up-to-date.

YUMA:  FEBRUARY. 21 – MARCH 21, 2012
On our drive to Yuma from Lake Havasu we had no idea where we would be parking the motorhome.  We had a week to kill before going into the Gypsy Journal Rally at the Yuma Fairgrounds. There are lots of BLM properties where RVers can dry camp (boondock), but we also knew the area east of downtown Yuma called the Foothills was a popular spot for many of our friends.  While Luke drove, I got online with our Verizon Air card and posted on the Boomers Bulletin Board to ask if anyone had a lot available for us to rent.  Within 20 minutes we had a phone call back and we were headed for Helen Drive, just north of 40th Street in the Foothills.

IMAG1235The reply came from Boomers Carl and Joey Christensen and we had a wonderful rental lot in the Yuma Foothills to call home. We had full-ups with 30 amp power and shared the lot with their vacant mobile home which is for sale. As a bonus, they opened the front door so we could use the laundry area and re-fill our potable water with their reverse osmosis (RO) water.  The fenced yard also allowed Star some much needed off-leash time. 

Our one week stay, however, lasted a month while Luke recuperated from his fall off a step stool. (For details, read our last blog about Luke’s fall that resulted in five broken ribs, a punctured lung, bruises and abrasions.)  But before the fall, we did have a time to explore Algodones, MX and attend a Boomers Potluck ‘Rang.

SOUTH OF THE BORDER
Algondones, Mexico, 11 miles from Yuma, is a destination just across the US-Mexican border where “snowbirds” head for their supply of pharmaceuticals and low cost dental and optical services.  There are over 350 medically-related storefront services tucked into every nook and cranny within a four-square block area.  There are also plenty of street vendors and places to stock up your liquor and cigarette supplies, too.

Luke was in need of glasses and wanted to try the Mexican dentists to repair a broken tooth he experienced while we were in Lake Havasu City.  “Too many choices” was a common quote as we checked out the many recommendations we had received from satisfied customer friends.  We settled on a dentist and made an appointment for the following week. (Unfortunately, the fall interceded and he had to cancel.)  He found glasses he liked but the store was so busy we decided to postpone the purchase until we came back for his dentist  appointment.  Well, that didn’t happen either.

We did wander among the vendor booths, street artists, and stood in the long line to sample the highly recommended shrimp and fish tacos.  With passports in hand, we had about a 40-minute wait to walk back through US Customs.  Besides lunch, we had nothing to claim.


BOOMER POTLUCK
Boomers are known to enjoy getting together and, when food is mentioned, you better believe there will be a full house.  Jenny and Dan Sheppard hosted the potluck that attracted more than 40 Boomers to their Yuma Foothill casita and backyard. 

Below Left:  Gloria King captures a Kodak moment.  Right:  Hostess Jenny Sheppard does an attendance head count and gives instruction for the now-traditional group photo with the “Boomer Banner”.
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Boomer Potluck at Sheppards

GYPSY JOURNAL GATHERING
With Luke’s comfort in mind, we decided to keep the motorhome on our site in the Foothills instead of moving to the Yuma Fairgrounds for the annual rally.  I was on the rally schedule to moderate a Women’s Only RVing Discussion Group, co-teach a session on Smartphones and assist with other sessions on Geocaching.  I commuted about 10 miles each day for those specific activities and attended a couple of other sessions.  Otherwise, it was back to the motorhome.  Luke was either sleeping or doped up during those early days so Star was his caretaker.  He wasn’t going anywhere.

I did have a special project I wanted to accomplish during the rally.  As most of our RVing friends know, Nick and Terry Russell are the publishers of the Gypsy Journal RVing newspaper and host two GJ RVer rallies each year – The Western Gathering in Yuma and an Eastern Gathering in Celina, Ohio.  Nick, a former newspaper guy, also publishes a daily blog I follow and is now a “best seller” fiction author.  His books, “Big Lake” and “Big Lake Lynching” have been hot items since being released for e-readers. 

My brainstorm was to create t-shirts bearing the cover artwork for each book to present to the Russells.  With the help of Nick’s buddy and computer guru, Greg White, I obtained digital copies of the covers, purchased t-shirt transfers, found shirts for Terry and Nick (plus four other “test” versions we donated as door prizes), and found Luke’s 45-year-old travel iron we have carried in our RV for “special occasions”.  For me to wield an iron, it has to be special and this project met that criteria.  Once the shirts were done, I made another trip into the rally and barged onto the stage during the evening announcements to present the shirts. 



APACHE JUNCTION:  MARCH 21-28
Four weeks into Luke’s recovery, we were suffering from “hitch itch” and I was anxious to see a couple of San Francisco Spring Training games so we decided to head for the Phoenix area.  We had friends at the Meridian RV Resort in Apache Junction and drove about 210 miles north with Luke behind the wheel.
IMAG1370Unlike the huge resorts in nearby Mesa, AZ that are full of park models with a few “RV spaces” tucked in tightly with grapefruit trees on every site, Meridian has only RVs with well-designed sites.  We stayed here a couple of years ago and our friends Ed and Hazel Mazurowski contacted the staff and got us into a space right behind them.  Other friends, Joela and Paul Marenda, were also on hand to greet us and the guys jumped right in to help park Luke and level the rig.

Besides short visits between everyone’s busy schedules, we also got in a dinner with our ABQ Balloon Pilot Mike and T Liberti and Boomers/Crew Steve and Pam Ritchie.  We also met Boomers Connie Carno and Art Sauerstrom for lunch at the highly recommended #1 Eastern Super Buffet.  We also used Meridian as our home base while attending SF Giants games and running shopping errands at Wally World, Camping World, and PetSmart and getting haircuts.


GO GIANTS!
Every March we try to get to a couple of San Francisco Giants spring training games.  This year we first traveled across Phoenix to Camelback Ranch Stadium, the shared training facility for the LA Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox.  Unfortunately, most of regular starters were on the bench that day and Chicago beat the Giants.

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IMAG1372The next day, however, we were at the Giants’ home field in Scottsdale with all the familiar names on the starting line-up card.  It was an exciting game that ended with Pablo (“The Panda”) Sandoval hitting a walk-off, two run homer to win the game over the Kansas City Royals..


We had excellent seats near home plate.  Left:  Pablo Sandoval at bat with Buster Posey on deck early in the game.  Right: Giants and fans celebrate the Panda’s walk-off homer.
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Former greats and Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers, Bert Campaneris, Willie Wilson, and Gaylord Perry were available before the game to sign autographs (for a donation).
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SKP NORTH RANCH STOPOVER:  MARCH 28, 2012
It had been seven years since we visited the Escapees North Ranch RV Park so we decided to do a one-nighter on our way back to California.  The park is located west of Phoenix in the small town of Congress, AZ and it was only a slight detour via Hwy. 60.  As with almost any stop at an Escapees members park, there were plenty of friends in the “neighborhood”.  We arrived during Bead Week, organized by Boomers Cathy (and Ron) Benton, and there were lots of SKP bead hobbyist in attendance.  We were invited to join the group for their onsite pizza party. 


NORTH PALM SPRINGS, CA:  MARCH 29 – APRIL 4, 2012
Our next destination was to North Palm Springs and a private lot in the Two Springs Resort.  This 200-site development only caters to RVers and there are no park models (our preferred arrangement).  We stayed here a couple of years ago on a a “free 3 day/2 night” offer which is still available on their website. The park, IMAG1404near the snowcapped San Jacinto Mountains,  is across the street from a one of the world’s largest windmill farms. Our lot owners, Ralph and Tammy Norris, had just re-graded the site to make a longer pad that easily accommodates a 40-footer. The site was in the furthest corner of the park with great views of the mountains and the Palm Springs/Coachella Valley.


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We typically spend Easter Week in the Palm Desert/Indio area with our daughter and her family, but their plans changed this year.  On this trip we were here to see friends MerrieAnn and Jeff Martin who have hung-up their RV keys and now have a winter place up the road a few miles in Desert Hot Springs in the Mission Lakes Country Club development.  After many rain checks, golf with MerrieAnn was definitely on the agenda.  She arranged a couple of tee times at her club and we got one round in before the infamous DHS winds kicked up over the weekend.  (I did get a second round in with the group from Two Springs at the nearby Sands RV and Golf park before we left.)

Views from the Mission Lakes golf course. 
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IMAG1422The Martins also had us over for a crockpot chicken chili dinner following golf and our dog Star was invited. 

While Star enjoyed their cool patio, one of their kitty cats was fascinated just keeping an eye on that big ol’ canine through the glass doors.  Star barely noticed.




BAKERSFIELD, CA:  APRIL 5, 2012
Wind through the mountain passes of Southern California are not uncommon.  With an eye on the weather forecast, we got an early start heading north and chose a route through Yucca Valley and Apple Valley towards Hwy. 58.  Luke said the winds were drivable so we set our destination over Tehachapi Pass to Bakersfield.  BTW, we had temperatures in the low 90’s during the week and nearly froze when we stopped in Tehachapi for fuel and the outside temp dropped into the low 40's.  Bakersfield was in the low 70’s by the time we reached there in mid-afternoon.

We pass this way often in our travels and since we had a $10 off coupon for Bakersfield RV Resort it was a chance to try a new park close to one of our routing routes. (Our last stop in Bakersfield last October was at Bakersfield Palms RV Resort where we had our car ransacked.  We won’t be going back there again!)
This new park, Bakersfield RV Resort, is definitely trying to set themselves above all the competition.   With wide, level spaces and 50 amp service, we will keep this one on our “stay again” list.  They give you chocolate cookies at check-in, a morning newspaper, and have a decent onsite bar and grill we tried with our “first timers” discount coupon.  Check out the size of the beer-battered onion rings in the photo below.  While we didn’t use it, the park also features “coach service” for delivering meals to your coach.  A Facebook friend says the delivery service is a hoot – a guy in a tuxedo arrives by golf cart with your breakfast, lunch or dinner.  May have to try that next time.


ALMOST HOME…
On Friday afternoon we pulled into the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, CA.  We are just a few blocks to our daughter’s home and this park is normally our first and last stops on each of our trips.  We are spending Easter week with family and getting grandkid-fixes on and off all week around their busy schedules.  From here we will head to the Western Area Escapees Rally (WARE) in nearby Lodi and then our Winter Trip will draw to a close.

NEXT:  WARE BEFORE HOME



Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Fall of Yuma

No, this is not about seasonal travel in the fall of the year, but rather Luke’s fall off a step stool while cleaning the rig.  Since it made such an impact, pun intended, we’ll start with the fall and then catch you up on our other Yuma activities in our next blog.

[This delayed write-up is because Luke did not want any publicity about his fall.  Now that he is well on the recovery road, I will post the details for those that missed all the excitement.  If you’ve heard this before, see you on our next blog.]

MR. CLEAN TAKES A TUMBLE…

Anyone who knows Luke, knows how proud he is of his clean motorhome,  If you ask him to clean your rig after he finishes cleaning ours, he has a standard answer:  “Once I finish this, it is time to start over”.

Like a good mechanic, Luke uses the right tools to do the job – well, most of the time.  RVers who have attended any vendor show are well aware of all the products on the market to help folks keep their rigs sparkling clean  – The Solution, 303 Protectorant, microfibers in every shape and color, mop heads, extension poles, buckets, etc.  We have them all and, when used properly, they make the coach shine to Luke’s standard.

Then there are times when one DOESN’T use the right tools, or, worse, uses the tools improperly.  So, you say, what the heck did Luke do?

IMAG1275“STUPID, STUPID, STUPID…”

Those were Luke’s words when he explained he was too lazy to get out his extension pole washing system and decided to add some leveling blocks to his 3-foot step stool so he could reach “just a little higher” without getting out his bigger ladder.

HMMMM, WHAT WAS HE THINKING???

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Yep, that was what he was standing on when he apparently lost his balance and tumbled backwards onto the adjacent brick-lined planter box and property wall. (We were parked on a Boomer’s private lot with the brick walls in the Foothills before we planned to move to the Yuma Fairgrounds the following week.)

We think his left elbow hit first, then his left side (hips and ribs) landed onto the bricks, and then his head bounced against the wall.  OUCH!

This happened about 5 pm while I was out playing golf.  By the time I got home a half-hour later, he had managed to clean-up a lot of his gravel road rash.  When I walked in he was holding his side and said he thought I might need to take him to a doctor.   Duh, when a guy wants to see a doctor, you’d better believe he NEEDS to see a doctor.

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We were less than 2 miles away from a brand new Urgent Care, but unfortunately, it was approaching 6 pm on a Sunday night and they did not have an x-ray technician on duty since they would soon be closing,  We were referred to a 24-hour urgent care center downtown so off we went.

It took about an hour to be seen by a Physicians’ Assistant (PA) where he treated the abrasions and said Luke probably had bruised or broken some ribs.  They took a “chest” x-ray, but the technician was not certified to perform “rib” x-rays.  The x-ray did not reveal much so the PA was not too concerned because he said it didn’t really matter if the ribs were bruised or broken since they don’t do anything like wrapping for ribs.  Oh, and there looked liked part of the lung “MIGHT” be a bit deflated but “that might not be related to this incident.”  He did not think it was necessary to go to the nearby Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) ER for additional x-rays.

Luke was told he would just “have to tough it out” and that he would be pretty sore for the 6-8 weeks the ribs would take to heal themselves.  So after a pain shot and a prescription for pain pills and antibiotics, we were on our way to a 24-hour Walgreens and then back to the RV.  The pain pills kept him doped up pretty well. 

By Wednesday, however, his prescription was running out and the pain kept intensifying.  This time we contacted the nearby urgent care and he saw a different PA who ordered a series of digital images with their onsite YRMC Digital Imaging Center. 

This guy was on the ball!  The images showed FIVE (5) broken ribs, including a jagged rib that was “grabbing” Luke’s lung, a partially deflated lung (probably punctured by the rib), and fluid (blood) in the lung.  He said we should head for the YRMC Emergency Room.

imageWe spent five hours in ER and the doctor said if Luke had been seen in ER the night of the accident, he would have been admitted for observation.   They ran plenty of tests, scans, etc. and sent us home with new pain meds.  He was referred to a surgeon for follow-up appointments regarding the deflated lung and fluid in the lung.  She saw him on Friday and again a week later after repeated x-rays.  Everything looked like it was healing on its own and she declared him released to travel when he felt up to it.

Coughing, sneezing, and plain ol’ breathing was VERY uncomfortable for the first three weeks.  He has not been able to sleep on his back or side in bed so he continues to claim his recliner as his bed. 

We were in Yuma to attend the Gypsy Journal Rally where I was scheduled to participate in a number of seminars.  We compromised our time so we could keep Luke in the RV on our Foothills lot and I “commuted” the 11 miles to teach my seminars.  His recovery really just involved resting while his injuries recovered over time.

As mentioned above, Luke did not want me to post about his fall, but friends at the rally soon learned about it and many of them made time in their schedules to come by to wish Luke well with his recovery.  It was also fun (?) to hear each guy share his story of broken ribs, legs, ankles, collar bones, and shoulders.  By the end of  Week 3 Luke was also getting cabin fever.  He began getting out of the rig, sitting in the sun each day and he eventually felt social enough to go out to dinner with our many friends. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR CARING THOUGHTS AND ENCOURAGEMENT.

By Week 4 we had “hitch itch” so we decided to leave Yuma and headed for Apache Junction.  While I had become proficient in dumping the black tank, doing early morning dog walks (Luke’s normal job), and running errands, Luke was confident he felt well enough to drive the motorhome the 210 miles to Apache Junction.   For the record, I know how to drive the rig and was willing to do so, but I think his personal recovery goal was to prove HE could do it.  He DID it successfully. 

After a week in Apache Junction, a stop-over at the Escapees’ North Ranch RV Park, and now a week in North Palm Springs, we feel like we are back on the road. Today marks the start of Week 6 and, while still not fully recovered, he is well on the way.

NEXT:  YUMA BEFORE THE FALL