Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
October, 2017 - Mexico

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

April Snow Delays

We left Arizona on April 6th and spent the weekend at Enchanted Trails RV Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It's a Passport America park, which gives us a half price stay. We stayed two nights to wait out some strong winds on Sunday.

There wasn't much to do in the wind, but we did take a drive to the eastern side of town to experience a drive on the musical highway on part of old Route 66. If you drive at 45 mph on a stretch of the road, you can clearly hear America the Beautiful.

You have to drive your right tire over the rumble strips at the correct speed to hear the song. The strips were installed in 2014 by National Geographic for a show called "Crowd Control". We turned around and did it a second time to get the full impact. Kevin wasn't too impressed, but I thought it was a fun roadside attraction.

We spent Monday night at the South Pueblo KOA in Colorado. There aren't many good choices of RV parks for us on this stretch of the trip where we feel we will fit without too much hassle for one night. The KOA is very nice, but at $51 a night, it's quite a ridiculous price to pay for an overnight. We use Passport America and Good Sam discounts at a lot of our stops, so at least the nightly price we pay averages out.

Here was the view when we arrived. The Rocky Mountains looked a bit ominous, but there was no rain or snow. At least we have a fantastic view for our nightly fee.

The next morning as we were hooking up, the mountains again gave us an amazing view.

And this little Mountain Bluebird was hopping around on the gravel. How beautiful!!!

We spent one night in Big Springs, Nebraska and then arrived in Lincoln for a five night stay to visit with our son Korey and daughter-in-law Cathryn. We hadn't seen them since our family trip to Mexico in October, so I was very excited to see them.

Temperatures on Thursday and Friday were quite warm with a high on Friday of 82 degrees. On Saturday afternoon things were quite different with a temperature of 28 degrees, snow and howling winds. That's a 24 hour temperature change of 54 degrees. I-80 in western Nebraska was closed for a few days with blizzard warnings. We had just come through there a few days before. Crazy!!!

Cathryn had a class on Saturday, so we spent the afternoon with Korey. They had purchased a Costco membership, so we took a little field trip to check it out. I managed to spend $120. Then we visited the Zipline Microbrewery where Korey and Kevin enjoyed a flight of beers. I had a delicious hard cider.

Sunday's weather was still terrible, but not as bad as Beaver Dam, Wisconsin where our summer campground is located. They had 8 inches of snow. We were supposed to be back today, but had to extend our stay an extra night in Lincoln to avoid the snow in Wisconsin. Here was the view out of our window on Sunday morning.

Today we're headed to Amana, Iowa for at least 2 nights. We were hoping the snow would melt and to be in Wisconsin on Thursday, but they are now expecting 3 to 5 inches of snow on Wednesday, so we may be delayed a day or two longer. This is the craziest April weather. Tomorrow our friends, John and Janie, are going to visit us in Amana, and we'll have to visit the Millstream Brewing Company. It's supposed to snow 1 to 3 inches in Amana tomorrow.

If we had known mid April weather was going to be this lousy, we could have spent an extra week in Yuma where it's nice and warm. This will be the latest we get back for our job in Wisconsin in eight years, but we're not risking arriving with a bunch of snow on the ground.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Gamble's Quail Wants a Ride

We left Yuma Wednesday morning for a three hour drive to Leaf Verde RV Resort in Buckeye, a western suburb of Phoenix. We're here for two nights as we slowly make our way north to Wisconsin. It snowed there yesterday, and they are expecting more snow tomorrow. Don't want to move north too quickly!!

This morning I was watching the news when I saw movement out of the window. There was a Gamble's Quail on the hood of the truck. I grabbed my phone and took a picture through the window. Sorry for the poor quality, but it's through the window and screen.

As I sat back down I saw one on the ground which I thought was the one that had been on the car. Then I caught another glimpse of one on the truck. My eyes must be playing tricks on me because it looks like he's inside the windshield. Oops, Kevin left the driver's window open last night. Sure enough, the quail was walking back and forth along the dash. Too funny. Again, not the best picture; it's through the RV window and the truck window.

Kevin was still sleeping, and I was in my pajamas. I was debating if I should go outside to get him out when he decided he'd explored inside enough. He sat on the edge of the window for a little while, and then flew down to the ground to meet up with his buddy. Unfortunately, he didn't face me when we was on the edge of the window.

Here's the culprit making a getaway with his partner. He was nice enough not to leave us any presents inside the truck. I had a good laugh early in the day.

Before we left Yuma, we wanted to stock up at Walmart on a couple of 1.75 litre bottles of Southern Comfort. It's about $6 less per bottle than it is in Wisconsin. The closest Walmart was out of them. Oh well. A few days later we were running errands on the other side of Yuma, so we stopped at the other Walmart to stock up. They were completely out too. What's up with that??

I don't want to point any fingers, but there are a lot of Canadians that winter in Yuma. Their liquor prices are extremely high at home, so I know they stock up with as much as they can legally bring across the border. Those Canadians must really like SoCo. Other brands were readily available at both Walmarts.

Today we needed to shop for a few groceries at the Fry's store in Buckeye. By the way, Fry's is a Kroger owned grocery store, and is one of our favorite grocery stores anywhere in the country Fry's had the SoCo, but their prices aren't any better than in Wisconsin. There is a Walmart across the street, so we popped in. You won't believe it, but they were completely out of the 1.75 litre bottles of SoCo as well. Is there a national shortage we haven't heard about?

Now we're on a mission. Tomorrow we head to Homolovi State Park in Winslow, AZ for one night. There is a Walmart nearby. You bet we will be checking to see if they have any. That's our last stop in Arizona, so if they don't; we're out of luck.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Beautiful Day for Golf On Easter Sunday

We hope everyone had a very Happy Easter. We spent the afternoon playing 18 holes of golf with friends Brad and Martha. We played at Las Barrancas Golf Course in Yuma. It's a beautiful course with nice views of the Yuma Foothills. We also played the same course last Thursday.

Both days were beautiful. On Thursday highs were near 90 degrees and I was sure glad we were playing cart golf. Yesterday the high was 89 degrees, but there were wispy clouds and a slight breeze, so it was just perfect. We have gotten very spoiled here in Yuma with wonderful weather and low humidity.

On Thursday I had my best score on the front nine of the course, a 47. I know that's not as good as lots of other golfers, but I was very happy with it. The back nine is another story, It just eats me up. Yesterday I had a 49 on the front nine, another good score. The back nine was a challenge again. But, we had a great time!!

We took possession of our new to us home last Monday. We've been busy making it our own. It was left to us fully furnished with full kitchen cabinets. I've already sold a couch and recliner, and put together several boxes and bins for a yard sale next year. The RV park allows residents to have a yard sale the second Tuesday of each month, so I'm going to give it a go in January and February when the park is busiest.  There have also been several trips to the dumpster.

On Thursday the termite company came and did a full treatment as there were two small termite infestations found during the inspection. They come back twice a year to spray for bugs and re-check for termites.

On Friday our new king mattress was delivered. The old mattress was a queen, so Kevin built a bigger platform for the king mattress. It's like in an RV where the platform lifts up for extra storage. Great job Kevin.

Here's another view of the bedroom. Although the mattress takes up most of the room, the king fits nicely. We've been spoiled with a king bed in the RV for the last eight years, and it would be hard downsizing to a smaller mattress. We have a huge closet where Kevin plans to build some shelving. There are also lots of drawers and cabinets for storage. I'll be painting the cabinets white next year.

The bathroom doesn't need much work. Just paint. We plan to hire someone to get rid of the popcorn ceilings, texturize all the walls and paint the entire place next fall.

The Arizona room has a closet at the back. We plan to hire someone to take out the closet and put a large window in the back wall so we can enjoy the beautiful view of the golf course out there.

There's lots of stuff and clutter in all of these pictures as we're trying to organize the stuff that was there and get it ready for summer shut down. The milk jugs are for leaving full of water throughout to keep some humidity in the air.

The kitchen is going to be completely redone. Our friend Brad was a cabinet maker before he retired. He still has his workshop in his garage here in their home in Yuma. He has offered to build me new kitchen cabinets at cost in exchange for making him a quilt. What an amazing gesture!!  Brad and Martha came over after golf for happy hour. I picked his professional mind for the new cabinets. They are going to look awesome!

I already have a new light fixture for over the table. We bought a smaller kitchen table from someone here in the park, so the larger table underneath will be sold or donated next year. The soffet is coming out at well as the fluorescent lighting.

The living room will be repainted and we plan to redo the flooring in the entire home after all the other work is done. We also think we will have the windows replaced as they are quite old and are only single pane.  New blinds are also in the plans. The blue recliner will be sold or donated. Not sure about the love seat yet. The shelves over the windows are coming down.

Here's the front with the golf cart parked in our drive. We have some plans for repainting and refreshing the outside, but that may be a few years in the future. It was just repainted three years ago, so this is not as an immediate priority as the inside. Mainly I just want to change the color to more neutral tones. The big post in the front has already been removed. Brad was kind enough to bring over his Sawzall and cut it off for us.

Here's the back side with our large shed. Lots of storage in there, plus the washer and dryer. The new window in the Arizona room will be on that back wall next to the back stairs.

Here's our patio. The yard was the main reason we fell in love with this place. It has a very nice covered patio and is quite roomy. Many of the homes here have much smaller yards. We plan to take out the wood wall on the left to open up the view even more. Kevin is thinking of putting in an outside refrigerator at the back counter. The screens roll up and down for wind and sun protection. There is also an outdoor heater included for cool days or nights.

We have a beautiful view out the back over the golf course. Lots of birds, lizards and roadrunners out there. It's so nice and peaceful sitting on our patio.

We are planning more renovation than we originally anticipated. As this will be our home base for six to eight months every year, and we hope to own it for a long time; we've decided to renovate it and make it exactly as we want it right off the bat. We were able to negotiate a decent sales price, so can use some of those savings for the upgrades. I'm really excited to see what it will look like when its done. Although, next year will require living in a construction zone for a while. Oh well, it will be so worth it!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Games

In previous years we have spent the month of March at an RV park in the Phoenix area so we could attend some spring training baseball games. Now that we have purchased a home in Yuma, we will no longer be spending the entire month in Phoenix.

However, we are still baseball fans; so we drove up to Phoenix last Wednesday to attend a game on Wednesday. We spent the night at a hotel and attended the last home game of the spring training season for the Brewers on Thursday.

These beautiful roses were blooming outside the main gate.

The Brewers have been playing their spring training games at Maryvale Park in Phoenix for many years. It is one of the oldest ball parks in the Cactus League. In recent years, many teams have opened new state of the art facilities. The Brewers have committed to spending nearly $60 million dollars during this next off season to do a complete overhaul of the Maryvale Park. The city of Phoenix is contributing $10 million. The work is promised to be complete by the end of next February when spring training 2019 starts.

We'll be very interested to see what the improved facility will look like. We really enjoy games at the Brewers stadium. There is a very family friendly feel to the place. Some of the newer parks have a bigger feel to them, not nearly as fan friendly. We hope the Brewers can put together a more modern facility, but keep the fan and family friendly aspects of the current park.

On Wednesday evening we were invited to dinner at friends Jim and Jane's place in Cave Creek, north of Phoenix. Kevin, Jim and Jane all grew up in the same neighborhood. Kevin and Jim attended the local Catholic grade school together and then both went on to attend Boy's Tech High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

They lost touch after high school, but through the magic of the internet and Facebook, we reconnected with them in the last few years. Jim and Jane moved to Arizona several years ago. They have a beautiful home on the outskirts of the Phoenix area. We arrived just in time to see some wild javelinas behind the back fence of their property. They look kind of like pigs, but are actually members of the peccary family, a group of hoofed mammals originating from South America. We've seen them in captivity and at a distance, but this was the first time we saw them up close.

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner that Jim and Jane prepared for us and a great visit. Thanks so much for inviting us. We're hoping they can visit us this summer in Beaver Dam when they return to Wisconsin to visit friends and family. Thanks to Jane for taking the picture.

This afternoon we will finally take possession of our new home. We've owned it for about two months, but had agreed to let the previous owners stay until the end of the season. We're leaving on April 4th, so will not have much time to really do anything with it. A new mattress is being delivered and the termite people are coming to spray this week. We'll check everything out, close it up for the summer, and start fresh next fall. I'll post some pictures in my next entry.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Costa Rica Part Six

On our second day in Monteverde, we went on an excursion to the hanging bridges hike in the cloud forest. The platform in the distance is for the ziplining.

There were five bridges in the canopy of the forest. The largest bridge is number 5 which is 774 feet long and 164 feet high.

This wasp was about the size of a half dollar. Our guide told us an interesting story of how these wasps will sting a tarantula which paralyzes it for days. The wasp then lays its eggs in the tarantula and the larvae eat the tarantula alive. Gross!

This was another pitviper like the one we saw on the night hike. They eat hummingbirds. They can strike faster than the hummingbird flies. It takes about a month for the bird to digest inside the snake, so the snakes often stay in one spot for about a month.

Here's a millipede. It's secretion is poisonous.

This plant is called blue indigo. It sure doesn't look like it, but the roots used to be ground up to make blue dye.

As we were waiting for our return transportation, we watched the zip liners coming down the cable from up in the forest. We've zip lined before, and weren't interested in doing it on this trip.

And this Coati was sitting in the parking lot.

In the afternoon we toured the Don Juan coffee plantation. There are 50,000 coffee producers in Costa Rica. Most are small family operations. Seventy percent of them belong to a coop to help get their coffee beans to market.

At Don Juan's they grow mainly coffee plants, but also bananas, cocoa beans and sugar cane. The tour was very interesting. We saw how the coffee beans are processed, how sugar cane is pressed, and how chocolate is made from the cocoa beans.  Here are some coffee plants with banana trees mixed in.

We got a phone call that night saying there was a rock slide on the road we were supposed to take out the next morning. Therefore, our pick up time would be at 6:40 am instead of 8 am. The ride down was even more jarring than on the way up. There was much construction on these mountainous roads.
The cloud forest was beautiful in the morning light.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Costa Rica. We did not get to the Pacific side which I believe is the more touristy part where the expensive homes are located. We hope to someday do a Panama Canal cruise which has a stop on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. So, we may get there one day.

We are going back to Phoenix on Wednesday and Thursday to take in two Milwaukee Brewers spring training games and have dinner with some friends Kevin grew up with. A week from today we take possession of our park model home!!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Costa Rica Part Five

On Sunday, we moved to our final destination in our Costa Rica adventure. We were headed to Monteverde in the mountainous cloud forest; home to over 3,000 plant species, 120 mammal species, 400 bird species, and 1,200 species of amphibians and reptiles. Our trip began with another boat ride across Arenal Lake.

There were many egrets along the shore.

These black birds were very noisy.

A howler monkey watching us go by.

This Green Heron was hiding in the weeds. Another beautiful bird.

We transferred from the boat to a van for a very interesting trip to Monteverde. The scenery as we headed up into the mountains was breathtaking. About two hours of the drive was on a gravel road with lots of rocks and potholes. The van was rattling so much, I was amazed it was still running. As our driver said, a free two hour massage.

We finally arrived in Monteverde and checked into our very nice hotel and spa. Much of what we saw in Costa Rica was very third world like, but some very nice hotels are scattered throughout some of the cities. Here's a look at the city of Monteverde. This was very typical of the housing we saw everywhere we went. Mostly tin and wood shacks. Some buildings are made with concrete block. As remote as most villages are, its surprising they are able to obtain any building materials.

There were lots of birds in the trees outside our hotel room. This is a Blue-crowned Motmot. It was absolutely beautiful!!!

This Emerald Toucanet had a nest in a hole in a huge tree outside of our room. I saw both of the adults, but did not see the babies.

There were also lots of hummingbirds flitting about in the flowering bushes outside of our room. It sure is hard to get a picture of one of them. There are fifty species of hummingbirds in Costa Rica, so I have no idea what type these were.

We went on a night hike at a nature preserve. The guide was masterful in finding wildlife for us to see. Up in the trees we saw a sloth, an anteater (this is very rare to see and the guides were super excited about it), a sleeping bird, and an olingo. I did not get pictures of any of them. After all, it was dark. The guide had a scope and flashlight, so we were able to see the animals quite well.

We saw this orange-kneed tarantula. I was happy to view it from a safe distance.

This is a poisonous side-striped palm pitviper. It blended in so well, but our guide found him for us to see.

We were already in the parking lot with our van waiting to take us back to the hotel. Our guide was saying goodbye to us when he heard a sound nearby. He said it was just too close to pass up, so we trekked down a nearby path until he found this mottled owl for us to see. The night hike was very cool.

Tomorrow I'll wrap up with our final day in Monteverde.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!