Sunday, February 28, 2016

Mission accomplished...

1125hrs. and all is well. We managed to pack up the trailer (not as well as Kathy does but, hey, I'm learning :-) And after much tooing and froing... we managed to line up Rikki's hitch ball with Lucy's receiver (hmmm, that sounded kind of mischievous didn't it?). Anyway we were finally ready to go and, even though it was way too early to arrive at Canyon Lake, we headed there anyway. There really wasn t anywhere else to go...

Site A (the only one available) is larger and more open than I had realized... But the size gives us the opportunity for a back porch AND a viewing patio :-). Very glad we had a second awning added to the table and window side of the trailer. Sophie and I are sitting in a coolish light breeze in the viewing area. We have a good view of the lake, a green space with picnic tables (glad the weekend is almost over even though they're empty at the moment) and, except for one cigarette hulled boat (with the obligatory throaty, revving engines) things are quiet and peaceful here. There are several folks fishing in the lake; some with boats and some on tubes. And there are numerous canoes and kayaks floating about. There are also three small planes buzzing us at the moment. One is an old bi-plane, another is fairly ordinary looking, and the third resembles a fighter jet/glider combination. They re models of course :-) and kind of cool to watch.

Know we are well, and content to have changed our neighborhood. We even saw a coyote during our drive on the mountainous winding road to get here.

Know also our thoughts are with the family of Officer Ashley Guindon and the members of the Prince William County Police Department. Ashley graduated from police training on Friday. She was killed yesterday, on her first patrol duty shift, attending a Domestic Dispute call. Two other Officers were shot and wounded. They are recovering in hospital. Such a tragic ending to the dreams of a young police officer.

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Things I've learned this week.....

I started this posting a couple days ago... Best get it on the wires before it's totally redundant :-)

In case you missed it...Kathy is in Kauai with her mom this week and all reports are they're having a great time. They've driven as far as they could go in each direction and saw some of the huge breakers coming in as a result of the huge bit of weather just north of them. On Monday they're going on a River Boat Tour and a Luau. Boy, do those two pack a lot in! Hopefully Kathy's taking pics and will be able to share them.

Me? I' m here, in an Apache Junction RV Park that shall go un-named. Don't get me wrong... it's great. They were kind enough to take us in during a time when there were pretty much no vacancies... and the residents are very nice... and so is the staff. The staff are so great that, when I explained why I wanted out of our contract (stuff like... too busy, too noisy, can't sleep and can't write) they very kindly found a way for me to extricate our little trailer and move on this weekend. I shall be forever grateful.

Having said that, Sophie and I have been doing pretty well living here. Our site is the smallest one and the hardest to get into (according to the park host who signed us in). It's also on a corner... the corner most doggies at this end of the parking lot (er park) use, because the site is usually empty. But the neighbours have been great and folks passing by on their orbit, either with a dog or on a bicycle... (people do laps of this place for exercise) all go by our corner during their circuits.

Living solo with Sophie is somewhat complicated as her need for 'not being left alone' has become stronger since the attack last year. I can tell you that Kathy has become quite skilled at replacing screening in the lower portion of the trailer screen door... Not that it was damaged mind you... just skillfully removed by one three-legged poodle rather unhappy at having been left alone from time to time. And further... I should say... It isn't like we're abandoning her.... but, oh for an hour or two of shopping, restaurant visits, sports like activities.... So very difficult in 80 degrees... with a lovable and charming little critter to care for. When I have had to shop I have taken to leaving the truck in whatever shade I can find, with the windows half down, and then jogging to the store, through the aisles, out the door and back to the truck before she either cooks, someone breaks into the truck, or the AZ puppy police nail me. Thank goodness it hasn't been often and usually I shop in the early morning when it's much cooler.

Let me move on by saying... Living in an Apache Junction RV Park, and in the business of the Phoenix AZ area, has been an education. This week I have learned that...

... The GPS doesn't always take you where you think you're going... (one hour too late I realized I was going in the wrong direction :-(. I think you can figure out how long I had to drive to undo my wrong-doing.

... Trying to find a nice, quiet campground - suitable for the peace of mind required for inspired word smithing - is not usually something you should do during the 3-4 weeks of American Spring Break.

... Persevering, however, may lead you to a suitable solution (have to let you know on this one).

... As long as you have email (and the ability for a little Internet research) life is OK. When you think you've lost it (and know you don't have the ability to get it back)... It's NOT.

... It is possible to trick the Princess. If you leave her comfortably ensconced in her favorite trailer seat (the camp chair is still #1) and go outside, closing the door behind you.... about three times; on the fourth 'exit & door closing' you can keep going... to the laundry, or shower, or where ever. And, if you're lucky when you return.... she'll just be glad to see you instead of screaming holy terror. She'll think you've just been outside working on the patio.

... Letting the Princess sit in her #2 favorite seat, inside the trailer, while you eat dinner... isn't a great idea... Cuz when she burps after having a big drink of water...and your books are on the table.... Well... Let's just say, most of the upcoming water wiped up and the rest soaked in :-) She now waits on the floor while I eat my dinner.

... When I was little we'd get messages from my grand parents (the ones who must have been pioneer RVers). And the one I liked the best was a photo of Grandma Daley pedaling her three-wheeler around the RV park (picture this... It was in the 1950's).. In this case... "delivering pies". I loved that photo. I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that women (some my age... but acting much older)... are still riding those three-wheelers around.

...and, lastly, I learned that if you put out your hummingbird feeder, cleverly hung from the street corner sign that graces our site (and is the only possible place one could be hung)... that no hummingbirds would visit... BUT. Take it down and wait a day... And one just about hit me while I was standing at the back of the truck. Then it checked out Rikki's hub caps and my rosemary shrub... And then didn't it just fly right into Lucy, hovered a bit in front of Sophie... and then flew out and was gone.... Cheeky bugger. The Princess slept through the whole thing :-)

Sunday, that's today now, we head out... away from the congestion of town and into the hills and surrounding desert. Canyon Lake Marina and Campground have agreed to take us in for the next eleven days. I am anticipating clear skies and brilliant stars, morning and afternoon three-legged walks, great views of a desert lake reputed to have the largest Bass fishery... ever... And well, just some good old peace and quiet (except for the coyotes at night of course :-)

We've had the great pleasure of reconnecting with old friends who winter down here and will be seeing more of them over the next couple of weeks. Kathy returns next Thursday (March 3rd).

Know we are well.... And we wish the best for you and yours... (and fingers crossed this crazy US election settles down into some realistic outcomes). I will try to post some photos in the next few days... provided we have Internet connection at the lake.

Ttfn. CJ

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Monday, February 22, 2016


As I sit here in an Arizona RV Park, sipping coffee and browsing the world news... my mind wanders back to life a mere 13 days ago. How far it seems we've come. Not two weeks ago we were totally involved with the "putting to bed" of the good ship SSpirit. Turns out Shannon's Spirit was a great name to call our new ride. It pays good homage to our wonderful little ship Shannon, the Mexicans and cruisers alike remember us (we were "the girls from Shannon"), it shortens up nicely to SSpirit for abbreviated radio talk... and the name SSpirit itself is pretty cool for a boat.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, about this life we're currently living. As a result of deciding this would not be a sailing season (you already know why) we decided to change directions and make good use of the last two months and wander our way through Arizona and California. We have friends in both States who have from time to time suggested we drop by. Well, there we were (here we are) with time on our hands and a little trailer to travel in. So, as I think back over these past two weeks... it is like a transition... from water cruising (worrying about weather, our intended course and where we will anchor... and what will be our back up anchorage plan... and what we will eat and where we will find that food); to land cruising with almost identical concerns. The main difference may be the safety factor. On land, if the weather and road conditions become too dangerous, we can pull over. At sea we just have to keep going. For that little extra watery thrill... we get to see far away places with a rugged beauty that would make your breath catch in your throat. Not a bad trade off.

So, here we are transitioning from ocean cruisers to land cruisers, at least for these couple of months. It's a great chance to visit friends and family and it's also giving us some insight into what winter life might look like after we bring SSpirit home in a few years.

The photos above represent some of the stages we are undergoing. The first is, of course, dear SSpirit on her way from the marina to the work yard and dry storage. Please note the results of our labour... all wrapped up to protect her from Mother Nature. The second photo speaks for itself... three gals having a farewell lunch at their favorite beach palapa. Then we leap ahead to an Arizonian desert scene, resplendent in it's own kind of beauty. The trailer in the next photo is not Lucy, she's much bigger :-) but it is a good shot of a Gilbert Ray County Park camp site and the location we chose to begin our transition.

Kathy's photo shows she and Sophie engaged in the desert activity of hiking/walking/hopping and wildlife watching, and then there's the heart shaped cactus (wish we'd found that before Valentine's day :-), and finally, one last desert scene to firm up our resolution to become RVers for the rest of this season.

While it is true that we dearly miss the sparkling blue waters of the Sea of Cortez, they were not ours to enjoy this year...  instead, we shall become experienced desert dwellers of one sort or another and will arrive home, as planned, in late April. Our goal?  To stay below the frost line of course!

Best of the day to all of you from all of us.  TTFN (ta ta for now).    Carolyn

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The things you learn in the desert....

Who knew... Pack rats like to nest in your engines... but only if they're dark?  The answer: leave your hood open at night so there is too much ambient light for them; or better yet (if you don't mind the "Coney Island effect"), lay a string of lights along the ground underneath your trailer... and your truck.

Who knew... a certain type of cactus, known as Teddy Bear cactus by the locals, is loaded with small spiney round bits that not only stick to you like Velcro but also jump (sort of) from place to place on your body when you try to brush them off?  The answer: carry a fork (yup, a kitchen fork) when you hike and use it to flick the little devils off.

Who knew... (and, by the way, we have not experienced anything to do with these...yet). That "Africanized" bees (thanks so much Dr. W. E. Kerr) head butt you first to warn you away from their nest and, if you don't take heed and leave quickly, will then start to sting and attack?  The answer: take heed the next time a bee head butts you... And get the h__ out of Dodge!  Who knew...that if you do get attacked by one of these devils... you ought not to wave your arms at them, cuz that just makes them angrier....  That they aim for your face (eyes, ears, nose), so cover your head quickly with a t-shirt or jacket and leave only a small hole to peek through as you run like h__ away; and that if you get covered up and run away and they pursue you, they may actually tire and let you go after about a kilometer. That if you do get stung, you shouldn't use your finger nails or a tweezer to try to get the stinger out cuz you will just squirt more venom into you. You should, instead, scrape the stinger off with a credit card or something like it. And finally, who knew... you shouldn't actually try to kill one of these guys because they will scream bloody murder and reinforcements will arrive in a big way...

Who indeed knew??  We didn't, but we do now.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday, Feb. 12th. Gilbert Ray County Campground

After a quick visit to Tubac (and a busy but amazing Festival of Artists) we have escaped into the desert... somewhere west of Tucson. Thank goodness for electricity though... and the air conditioning it can provide. We have just settled in to the Gilbert Ray County Campground in Tucson Mountain Park (site A36 on the A Loop) and it is hot! It's also quite beautiful (in a sandy, rocky, cactusy kind of way) and viewings of a variety of wildlife have been promised. AND... We can t wait for tonight and the star show we know awaits us. We'll be out there, wrapped in blankets, kicked back in our garden chairs... And enjoying the starry, starry night. We are away from the city lights and a fine show is guaranteed.

Thank goodness also for the shade cloth curtains Kathy was smart enough to acquire for the trailer awning. They make quite a difference by blocking much of the hot sunlight off the front of the trailer. These next few days promise to be interesting. Although we have electricity, we are not hooked up to water or " the other" :-). And so we will be as frugal as possible... But no more frugal than necessary :-). We re going to take a few days to just calm down and settle in... move our minds from the rush of boat projects to the calm of enjoying nature and our natural surroundings.

For you RVers... This is a place we would come back to. Three major loops of sites and their layout is quite spacious. Seems to be a good amount of room between each site. Each site has electrical hook up only but there are two dump stations in the park and quite a few water spigots you can use (you just can t hook up to them)... AND, best of all, the cost is $20 per night cash or cheque... no credit cards (maximum stay 7 days).

We, again thanks to Kathy's persistence, should have Internet while we enjoy our desert... So will be in email and blog contact. Know we are well... and wishing all of you good health and good times... Will write again soon. CJ

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Alive and well in Arizona...

Just a quick update.. to let you know we have moved along. The great ship Shannon's Spirit has been cleaned, serviced, packed up, and put to bed. She is securely nestled between four "hurricane poles" in the secure storage yard of Marina San Carlos Seca and she will be watched over by a small fleet of security and maintenance staff.

We packed up Rikki and headed north yesterday. After attempting to file the correct paper work with Mexican officials at the border, we were forced to give up. Four different officials had four different opinions about which form (or if any form) was required for us to remove some equipment (in need of repair and/or replacement) from Mexico. Guess we'll test the waters next fall when we return with our new and/or repaired boat parts. The US border staff were good to us and we were through and on our way to Rio Rico (for an over night at Esplendor) by mid-afternoon.

It's early Wednesday morning and today we will drive to Tubac and reclaim TT (Travel Trailer) Lucy, who has been shivering patiently in unusually cold weather. We hope to move aboard either today or tomorrow. Coincidentally, the annual Tubac Art Festival starts today and we're looking forward to experiencing that before moving on.

We'll write again as we travel through AZ and CA. We hope to visit some pretty neat places and will share our discoveries as we find them... take care one and all.... And stay warm! this weather has to improve soon... All the best to you and yours... From CJ, K and Princess Sophie (still going strong at 14 years young :-)

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