Welcome

The CoolRVers are actually a couple of retirees, Judy and Luke Rinehimer and our 5 year old German Shepherd Dog, Miss Shady Lady. We are "extended-time" travelers with a home in Cool, California. Thanks for following along with us as we travel North America in our "rolling condo", enjoying the RV lifestyle. Your comments are always welcomed.



Click photos to view the images enlarged. Use your BACK arrow to return to the blog.





Thursday, March 27, 2014

HAPPY TIMES IN HAPPY TRAILS

We are getting close to wrapping up our full month stay in Happy Trails Resort in Surprise, Arizona.  This was the first time we have “sat” for an extended time without health issues. (Luke’s fall and subsequent broken ribs in Yuma and my hospitalization for mononucleosis in PA don’t count. LOL)

WHY HAPPY TRAILS

We have visited Happy Trails (HT) numerous times as stop-overs returning from our time at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. Those stays have IMG_20140327_153829_056lasted a few days to maybe a week or two.  Our friends Bonnie and Ken Martin have their winter home here in the front portion of the resort, an area known as The Ranch, and have helped us arrange lots in the past. 
IMG_20140304_132448_229
This Ranch portion of the resort is limited to Class A motorhomes and is easy to negotiate for our 40’ rig, has modern casitas, and plenty of uncovered (open) lots that allow for use of our DirecTV dish. We have a transponder to open the “gates” and do not have to go through the HT Security Gate to get “home”. The park is aging nicely and the place prides itself on activities and volunteerism.
Life in Happy Trails often revolves around facilities located in or near the centrally-located Town Center.  There are no merchants here but the area does include the Chuckwagon, Mail Center, Ballroom, craft and hobby rooms, billiards, fitness center, and a general activities office. (More photos at the end of this blog.)
IMG_20140327_151551_388IMG_20140327_151322_780
IMG_20140303_115610_612
The 18-hole public golf course, Great Eagle, is privately owned and meanders through the entire RV park.  Along some of the fairways, nettings protect RVs and patios along the back of owned lots.  On our first visit in 2007 we Happy Trails - 002 -2007stayed on a rental golf course lot that had actually decorated the patio in a Florida nautical theme of pink flamingos and sea shells with buoys hanging on the nets and docking ropes.  The protection was definitely needed as we heard repeated errant golf balls bouncing off the metal roofs of the shade ports and nearby RVs. 
Happy Trails - 001 - 2007

A BUSY SOCIAL LIFE

I have had a chance to play 5 rounds of golf with the Ladies Golf Club here.  Didn’t play well, but had fun.  Many of you know that Luke doesn’t play golf, so getting to play while traveling is a treat for me.
We enjoyed numerous HT breakfasts at the Chuckwagon, the volunteer-run coffee shop where prices run from $1 for a multi-grain/nut 8” pancake to $3.50 for huge, made-to-order omelets.  We also attended a traditional St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage dinner. An English band (hmmm, probably couldn’t find an Irish group) played rock n roll music with plenty of dancing following dinner. There were other opportunities for HT-sponsored entertainment events and dinners, but sell-outs and our schedules did not allow attendance.

IMG_20140327_152324_363

Flyers from some of the entertainment evenings at HT.

There were “neighborhood” activities as well.  We attended two of the three potlucks that were held this month here in the Ranch section.  This week, for example, one couple hosted a rib dinner that spilled over onto three lots.  They had six roasters for 75 lbs. of delicious, slow-roasted BBQ ribs and potluck side dishes to feed about 80 attendees.
IMG_20140325_172717_879-1
IMG_20140325_173100_372-1




Above: Chef Tammy shows off one of the six roasters full of ribs. Friend Ken Martin waiting in line for food. Below: some of my golfing partners at the rib dinner.
IMG_20140325_172814_488-1

We also ate out with our friends: Big Buddha Chinese with the Martins, and prime rib (salad for me) at Nick’s Diner with Boomers & HT residents Gloria and Charley Goss.  We did one Boomer/Ballooning gathering hosted by Connie and Marshall Shapiro.  Turns out they were with us in ABQ at last year’s Balloon Wicked balloon_image_CFESK_146xFiesta and they live across the street here in HT from the Gloria & Charley.  The “Wicked” pilot team they crewed for at Fiesta, Dave Lopushinsky and Leslie Manion, were also staying in the area with another pilot so we had a definite excuse to get-together.  
Gloria Goss




Now that I think about it, RVers don’t need excuses to get-together for food, fun, and story telling.

Gloria Goss with her redneck wine glass.





SEASON ENDING ACTIVITIES

The “season” is coming to a close in Happy Trails so it has been time for the clubs and activities to wrap things up. (Canadian snowbirds are reluctantly leaving the park heading north before their 6-month limitation time schedule expires.) 
While we were getting ready to take our grandson & SIL to a ballgame during their recent visit, the annual Happy Trails Parade started lining up along our street.  Golf carts, the normal method of getting around in HT, also doubled as decorated floats in the parade.
IMG_20140314_095107_591IMG_20140314_091920_720

On Tuesday, the Lady Golfers ended their “season” with an 18-hole Scramble tournament and their annual awards ceremony. The morning of golf was followed by a pizza party at the gazebo overlooking a large pond near the “Town Center”.

IMG_20140325_133028_678

ROY ROGERS & DALE EVANS

Roy Rogers - Dale Evans Pix
Most of my blog reading friends remember these icons from Western movies and television.  I bet you even know the names of their horses, side-kick, and even the jeep that appeared in the TV series from 1951-1957.

So why am I writing about them in a blog about Happy Trails?

Apparently, when this RV park was being planned, the developers bought the “endorsement” of  Roy Rogers and Dale Evans to use the images and characters from the movies and 100 TV episodes.  They never did live in Happy Trails, but the Activities Office has a scrapbook of photos from visits the pair made here.  There is also a collection of memorabilia from the promotions of the early days in the park’s history.  That history lives on in the street names throughout the park.  (These will answer the trivia questions asked earlier.)


LOTS WE DIDN’T DO…

Happy Trails has a lot of activities that we did not take advantage of during our month here.  Here are scenes from around Town Center:


MONDAY DEPARTURE

We will leave Happy Trails on Monday, but there is still more to write about our time in the Phoenix area.

Until then…  “Happy Trails to You” as sung by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. (click the link).


NEXT: CACTI, CHIHULY, & CULTURE

Saturday, March 22, 2014

BASEBALL AND THE BOYS

Our youngest grandson, Tanner, is VERY active in youth sports and finding a break in his schedules to go RVing with Grandpa and Grandma has been almost impossible. 
A couple of years ago we took his older brother on a one-way RV trip from Sacramento to Seattle for a couple of weeks. [See our blog: Travels with Taylor] After seeing the sights, we put him on an airplane and flew him home. 
Cactus League logoTanner, however, wanted his solo RV trip to be to SF Giants Spring Training in Scottsdale, but he was not anxious to fly by himself.  So, after much calendar coordination, we figured out his dad Troy could fly with him from San Jose, CA to Phoenix on a Wednesday after school, miss classes on Thursday and a minimum half-day on Friday (he is a Straight-A student so no problem), and fly home Friday night to be ready for their Senior Little League game on Saturday. Dad is his LL coach and also an avid baseball fan. 
My job was now to find games to fit the schedule.
The Giants spring training home is in Scottsdale, on the east side of Phoenix. On the dates the boys would be here there was only one “home” game and that was on Friday afternoon. Okay, Game One scheduled:  Colorado Rockies vs. SF Giants.
On Thursday, however, the Giants would be playing a night
away game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium, just six miles from our RV park.  Game Two scheduled.

That left room for an afternoon game on Thursday.  Troy, a life-long LA Dodger fan, asked if IMG_20140313_114744_348there was a way we could go to Camelback Ranch Stadium to see a Dodger’s game.  Since the stadium is on the west side of the valley, I was able to secure tickets for a Cincinnati Reds – Dodgers match-up.  Game Three scheduled.
Thursday’s west-side double-header also gave us enough time between the games to return to the rig to take care of our dog Star. Keeping our canine kid happy is an important priority when traveling with a pet. 
IMG_20140313_162612_946The driving time back to the motorhome also provided our weary gamer boy time for a quick nap. He was ready to go again for the evening game at Surprise Stadium.




GOAL:  GETTING BALLS & AUTOGRAPHS
Tanner is “experienced” at getting a game ball (either a foul ball or a tossed ball at the end of an inning) and to get player autographs.  Last year he managed to get Giants’ Right Fielder Hunter Pence’s autograph while the pre-game TV camera was on him.  I happened to record that game and was able to share this photo with him.
Tanner on TV at Giants Game
IMG_20140313_180455_841-1Tanner had a strategy and he came prepared.  He brought along the orange and black feather Mohawk wig that I bought him as a souvenir during the Balloon Fiesta last year. He didn’t wear it during the Dodgers game (for obvious reasons), but did wear it as he hung on the railings before and after each Giants game. It was hard to miss him!
IMG_20140313_180134_028IMG_20140313_175408_234-1
Tanner’s hometown hero, Brandon Crawford, tosses balls to the fans at the end of pre-game warm-ups.
IMG_20140313_180016_489


IMG_20140313_130819_929-1
NO FOUL BALLS
For Christmas my family gave ME a baseball glove so I could hopefully snag a foul ball during a Giants game some day.  While I sat prepared for three games, none came my way.  Well, there was one “tossed” ball that came directly to where I had been sitting – but I was in a food line getting dinner. The guy in front of me got it.  That will teach me!  Another tossed ball came in the direction of Tanner and the man in front of him “stole” it out of Tan’s glove.  All the fans around booed him and he quickly turned and handed it back to Tanner.  Smiles all around.
VISITING SCOTTSDALE
Our final game of our two-day, triple-header was in Scottsdale. While we sat right behind the dugouts at Camelback and Surprise Stadiums, our seats at Scottsdale Stadium were the worst.  While we were still close to the first base line, we were on the third level which made it difficult for Tanner to run down to the railing between innings when the home team tosses the balls into the stands.  After the game, however, Tanner got one more signature and that made his day.
IMG_20140314_152341_848
ONE DISAPPOINTMENT
We had promised to buy Tanner a new Giants jersey when we visited the Stadium Dugout Store.  He has outgrown his child-size Buster Posey jersey and he wanted a Brandon Crawford one. (Crawford is from Pleasanton, CA where Tanner lives.)  I tried at Christmas but selection is nearly non-existent until baseball season.  Would you believe the Dugout Store did not have ANY player jerseys!  Everything was either Spring Training oriented or summer tank tops or t-shirts. Tanner got a Cactus League shirt and will go online to order the shirt he wants.
IMG_20140314_142318



















DO YOU KNOW THE WAY TO SAN JOSE…
Following the Giants win over the Rockies it was time to head for Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport.  If you have heard stories about the horrendous traffic in Phoenix you can believe it. While the Treto boys didn’t fly back to San Jose until 8 pm, there was not enough time to drive back to our motorhome in Surprise and then back across town to the airport.  We opted to take them directly to the airport and try to avoid the commute traffic on a Friday afternoon.  They got there without trouble and it took us over an hour to get home.
Next year we will stay on the east side of Phoenix to lessen the time stuck in traffic. Maybe the whole family will spend their timeshare week in Scottsdale and we can mix baseball with more family time.

NEXT:  LIFE IN HAPPY TRAILS

BUSY, BUSY WEEKENDS

I can’t believe how much we have done since I last wrote my blog update!  This update covers just two weekends.
GOOD GUYS CAR SHOW
We are familiar with the Good Guys Hot Rod Car Show from our many stays at the Alameda County Fairgrounds (near our daughter’s place in Pleasanton) where car lovers gather in Northern California.  We are sometimes parked in the Fair RV Park during the show and Luke just takes our dog Star for a walk in the early morning and stands by the entrance gate, watching (and listening) to the hundreds of cars streaming in for the weekend car show. Don’t you just love the muffler pipe sounds of classic cars?
When we saw there was a Good Guys show in Scottsdale, we headed out for a day of automotive memories.  What was your first car?  Did it have fender skirts or a Continental kit?  Luke’s did. He also shared lots of stories of back road drag racing and fixing up old cars. The car he spent the most time with talking to the owner was a IMG_20140308_131541_8301958 Chevy Impala.  Luke’s was black, but had the same interior colors of this car.  When he went into the Air Force he gave the Impala to his mother and never got it back. 
IMG_20140308_131641_473
IMG_20140308_131019_448
IMG_20140308_131517_888IMG_20140308_131617_573
(A side story:  As we were returning home at the end of the day, we actually followed this same car for miles, almost to our motorhome.  I expected Luke to have the guy pull over so he could ask to drive it.  I think I saw a little drooling and envy in his eyes!)
IMG_20140308_132038_328My dream car was a 1966 Chevy Super Sport, canary yellow with black interior.  Instead, my first car was a 1963 gray Volkswagen Bug…


There was even something for classic RVers
IMG_20140308_142138_997
IMG_20140308_142250_567IMG_20140308_142126_700

LUKE AFB OPEN HOUSE
It is so nice that the Air Force named an entire Air Force base after Luke.  ;-0  And to think he was only in the AF for four years. Oh, he did spend another 30+ years working for the Dept. of Defense at McClellan AFB near Sacramento. 
Another busy weekend with temps in the mid 80s had us in the Arizona sun wandering the tarmac looking at military air and ground equipment. We were at the Luke AFB Lightning in the Desert! The Open House and Air Show.
We avoided the long lines to climb into the various aircraft on display, but did get to see everything from transports to the latest F-35As. 


NEW HOME OF THE F-35A
The F-35s have just been assigned to Luke AFB and they fly day and night along with the F-15 and F-16 fighters stationed at Luke AFB.  Guess who is staying the month of March parked directly below their flight path.
IMG_9470
IMG_9467
IMG_9402There was plenty of creative action in the air, too. 

P-51 Red Tail Tuskegee demonstrations and other WWII P-51 Mustangs also roared along the flight line,





HELICOPTER OR PLANE?
IMG_9413The V-22s are unique in how they can tilt their engine wings upward and become almost helicopters.  The pilots had fun “dancing” them along the runway.  Forwards, backwards, up and down. 
They also did a Heritage Flight featuring the planes from WWII to the new F-35s flying side-by-side. (Sorry, my picture was out of focus.)  Click here to learn more about the story of the Heritage Flight Foundation.
An air show is not complete without acrobatic pilots putting their aircraft through twists, turns, and even stalling while upside down in a free fall.

The famed Thunderbirds were also on the program but we actually left the airfield before they flew to avoid the traffic.

GETTING THERE WAS NOT PART OF THE FUN
Getting to the actual open house was a real challenge.  An expected 200,000 people attended and parking was on agricultural lands about 3 miles from the base. A fleet of 30 school busses were used to move attendees from parking to the base.  The bad (good?) news was all the bag checking and “wand” security inspections by the Air Force were done at the parking lot and it took over an hour just to board the bus. Everyone, young and old, were checked.  In the meantime the line up of busses just waited for passengers.
IMG_20140316_110012_885
IMG_20140316_105622_595
IMG_20140316_104246_655

SOUNDS OF FREEDOM
While we may whine about long lines for security checks or the noise of training flights, we DO appreciate and honor our military.  As our RV friend and author Nick Russell likes to say, “These are the sounds of freedom.”  Apparently others think the same.

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS
Breast Cancer Awareness is NOT limited to the month of October.  As a mater of fact, just this morning we joined others in our RV park for a fund-raising breakfast for Breast Cancer Awareness efforts.  Well, we were pleased to see these vehicles on display during the Luke AFB Open House.
IMG_9456
Also on display were vehicles from the Pink Heals Tour.  If you click on the image to enlarge it, you will see that people have been “signing” these fire trucks.  Click the link above to learn more about the tour.

NEXT:  BASEBALL AND THE BOYS