Saturday 5 January 2008

Another Day of Not Much Anything

Today started off sunny with cloudy periods but the sun gradually went away giving way to clouds. It was 55F (13C) when I got up and went for my walk.

I saw these two RVs on my walk this morning, the first one is really big and the other one is really little!

Most of the park host sites are covered.

Some cholla trees

A strange looking saguaro

The rest of the morning and afternoon passed uneventfully. I cleaned a few things out of my kitchen cupboards and got them ready to take to Goodwill. Gordon put out some birdseed and a spent a lot of time watching the birds in our yard although only a couple of them really attacked our birdseed. The birds do come to our water tap quite a bit as it leaks a little so that's where they come for a drink.

We found this bug on our rear blinds this afternoon. And they say Florida has bugs!

I spent a lot of the day reading blogs. I've found lots more blogs to read usually through people's blogs that I already read. It's fascinating reading other people's stories of how they decided to fulltime and the pains and struggles to achieve their end.

Birds and animals in our side garden this afternoon after Gordon put out some bird food.

We had a few spatters of rain during the afternoon and just before 5:00 p.m. it started to rain so that you could hear it on the roof but it didn't last long. We had little splatters on and off all evening and a few minutes of serious rain. I can handle those kind of rains!

Friday 4 January 2008

Mesa Market SwapMeet

From Usery Mountain Regional Park, Mesa, AZ

We had a little bit of rain last night just as I was going to bed but it didn't last long. When I got up it was sunny with some cloud and 55F (13C). I didn't go for my walk this morning as I thought I'd save my foot since we were going to the Mesa Fleamarket this morning.

We arrived shortly after 10:00 a.m. and asked where the RV supplies were so we went there first. We got our heavy duty chocks, some stakes and a carpet that comes in a little carrying bag so now we can throw out that old piece of indoor/outdoor carpeting that we've had. Then we went our separate ways. I picked up a few items but nothing really special and some are for other people so I can't mention what they are. I'd like to go back again as we were only there three hours and I didn't get to look at everything I wanted to look at but both my back and my foot were getting tired so we came home. The thermometer in the truck read 74F (23C) on our way home, still mostly sunny.

Inside the Mesa Market SwapMeet

As you can see it's a series of large warehouses with stores on each side and concrete floors.

When I got back to the RV I did a minor closet clean up and pitched some stuff in the garbage and have a few things to go to goodwill. I need to do a more thorough clean up though.

Then I sat out for a little while when we came home but even with the temperature as warm as it is, it still feels chilly to me. I'm told by residents that it's because of the dry heat here. I also walked around a little bit but not too far from our site.

This is a photo of our 'yard'.

We've sort of decided that if we can stay here for another two weeks, we will, rather than going over to McDowell Mountain Regional Park. It's not as pretty over there as it is here and I would much rather stay here if at all possible. Again, plans made in jello!

There was a pretty nice sunset tonight!

Thursday 3 January 2008

December 07 and End of Year Expenses and January 3rd Happenings

From Usery Mountain Regional Park, Mesa, AZ

December 07 Expenses and End of Year Totals

I'm not altogether happy with the December total but it's not a lot different than it was last winter in Texas. I'm still unhappy about the high charge for electric at the campground in Tucson but you will see below that has been resolved for the future. We bought new lawn chairs and a new external hard drive which ate up a fair chunk of change and I've been taking some natural remedies for things that ail me which also aren't cheap but they work!

Our yearly total was one that came as a shock. We'll have to find a way to pare that down. Fuel is a costly item especially when we're going cross country in the Fall on our way to warmer climates and in the Spring when we have to hustle to get home. Food is also a biggie - will have to work on that one. We don't eat out a lot so that might be the difference.

Now on to the day's happenings which weren't very interesting.

I walked again this morning with only some mild aching in the arch of my foot. It was a nice morning at about 55F (13C). The radio said it was cloudy but when I went out it was sunny so here are a few photos that I took.

A view of our RV as I was coming back from my walk.

Looks like a jungle, doesn't it?

The saguaro cactus here in Mesa have more arms than the ones in Tucson for some reason.

When I got back, I had an email from JoAnn. She and Doug arrived safely yesterday at Justin's Diamond J RV Park west of Tucson and emailed me to let me know that they are no longer charging for electricity! Bonus! I wonder if I had anything to do with that?

I decided to go and find the Walmart on McKellips as I needed a few things. Stores aren't all that easy to find here because they don't have the big high signs so I drove past it and then found it when I turned around and came back. I knew it was somewhere near Higley but that was all I remembered. After that I dropped by a craft store on Apache Trail to see what sort of beads they had since we won't be going to Quartzsite. They didn't have much that was interesting but I was able to get some emerald green beads, usually they're a light lime colour.

It was a beautiful day today even though it was partly cloudy. The temperature reached 72F (22C). I even wore my sandals when I went out shopping. When I came back I sat out for a while in my new chair and read and listened to the birds singing.

These doves kept me company this afternoon when I was sitting outside.

The evening was spent watching one of the Bridget Jones movies and in the rv-dreams chatroom.

Wednesday 2 January 2008

A Day of Not Much

Still at Usery Mountain Regional Park, Mesa, AZ

I was up earlier than usual this morning. I had decided last night that I was going for a walk this morning. It was cloudy but there were some interesting clouds in the sky as I walked around the park close to where we're parked. I was out for 25 minutes. When I got back I wrapped my foot again but it appears to be steadily improving.

I took these photos when I was out for my walk this morning.

Gordon had gone out for sunrise but was home before I got back from my walk. He's been climbing the hills here in the park to get better views.

Although it was cloudy this morning, the sun came out this afternoon and turned into quite a nice day with a high of around 65F (18C).

Gordon went back out again late this morning to take some more photos and again at sunset. I decided not to go and instead vacuumed and washed the floors this morning.

This afternoon I made stew again while listening to one of Toronto's radio stations via our Starchoice satellite and listening to their weather (he he). So, all in all, a pretty boring day.

These were taken this afternoon from just around the RV. Some pretty interesting clouds in the sky.

Tuesday 1 January 2008

We Say Goodbye to JoAnn and Doug

Our first day of the New Year was pretty quiet.

Gordon and I went out to find a Mexican restaurant that was open for our dinner out tonight. Our first choice, Chileros weren't answering their phone and no phone message. We stopped by there but there was no sign in the door. On to Plan B. There wasn't a lot of choice but after several stops we managed to find one that would be open.

On our way back to the RV, Gordon asked if I wanted to walk a trail but I had my foot wrapped and only had my duck boots on so declined. He decided to go on his own so I read for a while. When he got back we cleaned out the truck and vacuumed. It badly needed it.

At about 4:45 p.m. we picked up JoAnn and Doug and we went to the restaurant that we found, Los Gringos Locos. Fillmore wasn't happy that he had to stay at home. JoAnn and Doug are leaving Usery Mountain Regional Park tomorrow and heading for the park we just came from in Tucson. They've been warned about the charge for electricity!

The photo above was taken by the waitress at the restaurant.

On our return to the RV it was time to get into the chat room again and getting my blog ready for tomorrow morning.

By the way there's a new kid on these days, check out

I thought that since I've decided to post in the morning for the time being that I'd have to change the name of my blog but since it's listed in a few places as Nightly News I've decided to leave it as is. I might decide I don't like morning posting.

Our Year in Review

Note: I'm going to try posting in the mornings starting tomorrow for a while starting tomorrow and see how that goes.

I have either emailed this letter for Christmas to a lot of you or sent it via snail mail but have updated it a little bit at the end to cover the last few days of December

The winter of 2006/7 was mostly spent on the Texas Coastal Bend - specifically Mustang Island State Park, Port Aransas, Goose Island State Park, and Rockport/Fulton. The winter there was colder than normal, so the locals say, but still quite pleasant. We always enjoy being near the Gulf of Mexico, walking on the beach and photographing the birds.

Probably the highlight of our stay in this area was seeing and photographing Roseate Spoonbills and taking the Whooping Crane Tour through Rockport Birding and Kayak Adventures. We managed to get quite close to a pair of Whooping Cranes and took quite a few good photos of them from the boat.

Near the end of February we started across to join Betty & Garth in Fort Myers, Florida. We made quite a few stops on the way, one in Louisiana where we met up with internet photography friends, Gayle & Breland. One of our favourite stops was at Dauphin Island, Alabama which is on the migratory birding path. Unfortunately at this time of year we didn’t see many birds but put this on our list of places to go back to.

We spent a great month in Fort Myers, FL at a fairly reasonably priced park for the area, Fort Myers Campgound visiting back and forth with Betty & Garth who were staying in a condo at the Kelly Greens Golf and Country Club. There were lots of great places to see birds and alligators, including Lakes Regional Park right in the city and not far from our RV park and Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve. Betty and I had a few shopping days together and quite a few dinners at their condo.

We also visited Gordon’s long time friend, Bill near Bradenton, Florida, spending the night at his house. That was one of the first nights we spent away from our home on wheels. There was also a trip to Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park, another place we feel we’d like to return to.

On April 7th we started our trek northward, stopping to see Gordon’s family in Ohio and to have lunch with friends, Mel & Janice in Dayton before our usual stop at Erie, Pennsylvania on the last leg of our journey to Ontario.

We arrived at Rideau Acres Campground in Kingston, Ontario on April 24th and from there drove to Ottawa on April 28th to sign our income tax forms, overnighting with my sister, Margie and family. While there we were able to see Nick and Becky as well. While in Kingston we had to replace the rear end in the truck (under warranty) and we also got new tires all around (not under warranty).

We were unable to get a park in Ottawa for the month of May as we usually do, so called on our favourite park, Tranquil Acres in Carleton Place, and Dave and Shonagh let us come in even before the park was open. During the time spent near Ottawa, we visited with my sister Margie and her family several times and I was able to get in a couple of visits with my friends and former co-workers at BreconRidge. It’s always good to go back for a visit.

We spent the summer at Tranquil Acres until mid August when we started out for Lindsay, Ontario to spend time again with Betty & Garth.

In May we drove to Toronto to overnight at Betty’s condo and attend my friend, Laura’s wedding the following day in Kitchener. After the wedding we stopped at the Wings of Paradise Butterfly Conservatory at Cambridge, then on to Cobourg where we blew the budget at the Best Western Inn there. While in Cobourg, we found a cute little RV park on the beach and decided we wanted to return there, so that was planned for arrival on the Monday of the long weekend in August on our way to Lindsay. Not a good plan as it turns out. The park looks much larger with no one in it. With wall to wall RVs, the spot they had chosen for us was way to small and contrary to what we were told, we couldn't have accessed the satellites, so a phone call to the Double "M" RV Resort & Campground, our favourite RV park in Lindsay, and we were on our way there a week early.

The following weekend was 'cottage weekend' and the family from Ottawa arrived at the cottage. As usual we ate too much but had a great time. We did some little trips while there north to the Haliburton area, once on our own and once with Betty and Garth again taking more photos of the changing leaves.

Both Gordon and I got sick while in Lindsay so we wound up staying about 10 weeks instead of the usual 4 weeks. Instead of going west through Canada as planned and then south through the Dakotas, after leaving Lindsay we went to a park near Fort Erie called Sherkston Shores. It’s a really nice RV park in close proximity to Niagara Falls although we hardly went there at all, having been at the Falls several times before. We did go to Niagara-on-the-Lake, a quaint little town where Sue, a friend of mine that I worked with at Nortel, has a B&B. Betty and Garth were staying with her so we met them there and I got to see Sue again. Betty and I had another day of looking around the quaint little town while Garth read the newspaper and Gordon photographed the local historic fort.

Sherkston Shores may be our future stopping off point before crossing into the U.S. as it’s a fairly easy crossing at Buffalo, New York and a shorter distance to drive to our first stop, Columbus, Ohio on our way south. Again, visits with Gordon's family, brief this time due to staying ahead of freezing weather, before going west on I-70 with stops at St. Louis, Missouri where we stayed a couple of days to see and photograph the Gateway Arch.

We continued west, trying to stay ahead of the cold weather, with our final destination expected to be Arizona. While en route though, ten wonderful days were spent at Palo Duro Canyon in Texas. This is just a lovely stop with all the red rocks. Our RV site backed on these beautifully coloured rocks and except for weekends, it was a very peaceful place to be.

Photography friends and part-time RVrs, Gayle & Breland had been near San Antonio, New Mexico at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge for over a month, so we stopped there for the Festival of the Cranes. Sandhill Cranes abounded and we saw thousands of them as well as many thousands of snow geese and quite a few other kinds of birds and little critters. It was another wonderfully scenic place to spend four days.

While there, we also saw some of the area, including the VLA Radio Observatory, and then we managed to get out of there about two days ahead of a cold snap coming through, overnighting on this final leg of our trek to Arizona at Deming, New Mexico where we briefly saw the nearby City of Rocks State Park.

We made it to Tucson, Arizona on November 20th. I had found a brand new RV park just west of Tucson called Justin’s Diamond J RV Park which backs on the desert. The sites are huge and we could walk out our door and be in the desert on a trail in seconds.

While in Tucson we met two other traveling couples, Fred & Jo and Jim & Ellie I have followed Fred & Jo's blog for a long time and met Ellie through our rv-dreams chatroom.

We extended our stay until December 27th and was there for Christmas and also purchased a membership to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It’s a very interesting place so we spent a couple of half days a week there. It’s a lot of walking though!

We left Tucson for Mesa, AZ (a suburb of Phoenix) on December 27th and spent our New Year at Usery Mountain Regional Park. We are enjoying being the country more than the cities and the Regional Parks in this area are in natural settings yet this one is only a couple of miles out of the city. We’re here until January 10th at which time we’re hoping to try another Regional Park here called McDowell Mountain. These parks don’t take reservations so it’s first come, first served. We had been corresponding with another couple via email, Doug & JoAnn who were also staying at Usery Mountain and they made us a lovely meal on our arrival. There are lots of wonderful people that are full timer RVers and we're just getting started meeting them this year. We hope to meet a lot more down the road!

Just before Christmas I managed to sprain my right foot quite badly so have been hobbling around. It's on the mend now so am able to walk but I'm still pretty careful when walking on uneven surfaces. That'll teach me to vacuum!

We have been enjoying our traveling retirement immensely. We’ve seen so many beautiful places, met some very nice people and done lots of interesting things. Here's hoping that we can continue this lifestyle for the foreseeable future!

Have a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year and to all of those part time and full time RVers out there, travel safely!

Sunday 30 December 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone from Usery Mountain Regional Park, Mesa, AZl

First of all Happy Anniversary to my sister, Betty and brother-in-law, Garth! They were married 10 years ago today in St. Lucia. I'm sure they'll be living it up tonight in Toronto. Here's a photo that I took of them at the cottage in October.

My goal for this year had been to reach 10,000 hits by today on my blog. Since I only set up my blog counter in June of this year I was amazed that I got even close to 10,000 but to hit over 11,500! Thanks to all who have contributed to this and thanks for reading my blog. Just today I've had visitors from Brazil, India, France and Sweden as well as all over Canada and the U.S. I'm averaging over 80 hits a day.

I was up about 1/2 hour early this morning. The radio predicted that we'd reach 70F (21C) today and when I got up it was already 42F (6C) instead of the usual 30F (-1C) that it's been the last little while. We're not out of the cold spell yet however, more to come later this week along with some rain predicted.

Today hit a sunny high of 68F (20C). Late this morning we drove into Scottsdale to Whole Foods so I could get some flax cereal. For some reason the stores don't seem to have it here like they did in Tucson. Even Whole Foods didn't have the exact one I wanted. Our plan today had been to drive to McDowell Mountain Regional Park to check out their campground and see if we want to go there after we leave here on January 10th. I packed a picnic lunch for us.

We saw this house on our way to McDowell. I remember it from last time we were here. Just love it!
We arrived around noon, drove around one part of the campground then on to the visitor center where we were told there probably won't be a problem getting in on the 10th. None of the Regional Parks take reservations so you takes your chances. We drove to the end of the park and had our picnic lunch amid the palo verdes and cacti with a view of the mountains.

On our way to the picnic area we saw the devastation created by a fire in the park in 1995.

We then stopped at the other campground loop, decided we liked the first one better then set out for home unfortunately going in the wrong direction but did see this upscale neighborhood with nice landscaping along the road.

My computer had come along for the ride in case we needed GPS and when we came to the end of the paved roadway decided now was the time to get it out. We got back going the right way and drove home via the back way thinking this is the way we will come on the 10th when we bring the RV back to McDowell Mountain however Gordon hadn't remembered the steep roadway in one part of the Bush Highway so we might decide to go through the city instead.

This is Weaver's Needle as seen from the Bush Highway.

These are the Bulldog Cliffs also seen from the Bush Highway.

On our way back we stopped at one part of the Bush Highway where there's a cholla forest with the mountains in the background. We had stopped here when we were in Mesa two years ago.

Tonight we are staying at home. We've rarely been ones to go out on New Year's Eve. I'd had enough of that in a previous life to last me a lifetime! So it will be a quiet night at home. I usually stay up till midnight but at 10:00 p.m. it's midnight in the east so I can go to bed then having brought in the New Year in the east. Gordon usually goes to bed at his usual time. I expect I will spend another evening in the chatroom!

Shopping, a Visit and a Sunset Drive

Still at Usery Mountain Regional Park, AZ

Today I struck out on my own to get groceries and generally have a 'girlie' day. I stopped at a new market claiming to have organic produce. I wasn't overly impressed with it as I was looking for gluten free food and flax cereal, neither of which they had on to a couple of Dollar Stores looking for cases for Gordon's DVDs, no luck there but I did pick up some kitchen garbage bags. I also stopped at Big Lots but still no cases for DVDs. On to Walmart where I got groceries. I was gone about four hours, most of it walking time. I think my foot fared rather well today.

I caught some little quail running around the campground today. They run really fast!

The ocotillo is starting to get new leaves here in the campground.

Just as I got back and got the groceries put away, JoAnn and Doug stopped by for information and directions on getting to Justin's Diamond J RV Park at Tucson. I tried for a photo with Fillmore giving me a kiss but he wasn't having any of it. Here's what we did get.

We then proceeded to go out for a sunset drive. We drove up the Apache Trail to Lost Dutchman State Park and took this photo of the Superstition Mountains from there.

We continued on to Goldfield, a ghost town which has been revitalized and took some photos there including this photo of the Superstition Mountains at sunset.

The little house behind the big house (as my Father used to say).

The little trainOne of the shops with the Superstition Mountains in the background

Does this remind you of Petticoat Junction?

The Good News and the Bad News in the Old West

The Good News
Not So Good News

The Really Bad News

And so ends another lovely day here at Usery Mountain Regional Park.