Well, I did it! I always wanted to stop in Winslow Arizona and get my picture taken in front of the Eagles display. Note the girl in the flat-bed ford slowin' down to take a look at me. Also see the Eagle perched in the upstairs window!
Senor Ping and I celebrated American Thanksgiving with our friends and neighbors in Val Vista. Carol and Sandy organized the dinner and everyone contributed by bringing appetizers, hot and cold dishes and desserts. We spent the afternoon (and into the night) enjoying delicious food and drink, beautiful weather, wonderful companionship and great music. People from elsewhere in the park dropped by to listen to the singing and share in the good company. We are so thankful to be a part of such a wonderful "snowbird community".
When Senor Ping and I led a student tour in Italy we were treated to a glass blowing demonstration in Venice. It was amazing to watch and something I never thought I would have an opportunity to try. When we arrived in Mesa, Loreen asked me if I was interested in taking a class in glass blowing and I jumped at the chance. Four of us from Val Vista spent 3 hours with a glass blower for a beginner class in glass blowing.
First we made flowers, which do not involve any blowing. We started by "gathering" the molten glass on a pipe. I know it sounds easy, but first you have to stick a long pipe into a furnace which is at about 2400 F, pick up enough glass and then you have to keep the pipe turning as you take it out of the furnace and move to the bench, again turning the pipe constantly so the glass doesn't fall off. And while you are keeping the pipe turning you use long pliers to pull the glass which has the consistency of very, very stiff taffy. In Venice the glass blower made a horse.....I'm not there yet!!!!
When we had "mastered" the first step we moved to making glass ornaments and adding color to the glass. This involved gathering on a blow pipe and then rolling the glass on a marver (a thick sheet of steel). When you add the colored glass (called frit) it goes back into another furnace called the "glory hole" and is reheated. Next you need to blow into the pipe and create a bubble. Oh, and did I mention you need to keep the pipe turning the entire time so the glass doesn't droop or fall off or any of those other disasters that might just happen. We discovered that even a small glass ornament requires team work, and we took turns blowing into the pipe while others used tools called jacks and diamond sheers.
All completed pieces of glass are put into a "lehr", another type of furnace that is used to cool the glass slowly over many hours. The time flew by quickly and before we knew it the class was over. Hopefully I will have another opportunity to learn more about the art of glass blowing, but in the meantime I will be hanging the ornaments I made on my Christmas tree.
Yesterday the Jacobs' and Baileys' had a 8:37 AM tee time at Superstition Springs Golf Course. When we arrived they told us our tee time was delayed due to frost....now, I admit it was a bit chilly the night before, but these people do not know the meaning of November frost!!! Needless to say, we hit a bucket of balls at the driving range, enjoyed the view and relaxed until we teed off. We had seen the golf course from the freeway as we had driven by, but this was our first time golfing at this course. The landscape was spectacular. It was full of undulating greens, rolling fairways, water hazards, sand traps, birds of all kinds (we saw herons and egrets just to name a few) waterfalls and challenging holes.
This hole is known as the volcano. A long par 3 surrounded by sand bunkers. I have to admit I was at the beach on the way to the top!!
There was water everywhere. Quite a change from our regular course where the only water is in your glass. Senor Ping had a tough out on this hole.
We made a return trip to Kokopelli golf course last week with friends Loreen and Gavin. It was a beautiful day for golf, slightly overcast (meaning not as hot as it has been) but no wind or bugs!! The course is lush with rolling fairways, lots of water and sand (my favorite things ....just not on a golf course) and no obstacles like houses for Senor Ping to worry about. What a great way to spend the day!!!
Last week we went golfing and I took my little camera along and took a few shots of Senor Ping and the golf course. When I went to upload the pictures to the computer t I was quite surprised to find golf photos from Desert Blume in Medicine Hat. In August Doug and Debbie K. and I enjoyed a round of golf in Medicine Hat. Although we drove through rain most of the way to Medicine Hat, the rain clouds lifted and we were able to enjoy our round of golf at one of the more challenging courses we have played.
One of our biggest beef's about the RV park we are staying in is the high speed internet. At times it works just fine, but on occasion (and those occasions have been getting more frequent as more people arrive), it slows to a crawl, times out and generally annoys us to no end. It is very difficult to harvest and plant crops on Farmville when it is so slow and last night we skyped Megan and had to reconnect 4 times to finish our conversation. Last year I had to sit outside to use skype or walk to the laundry room to improve the strength of the signal.
This morning we had an internet provider come and hook up a modem and now things are zooming along. I can farm all I want, Senor Ping can check out how the Roughriders are preparing for their next football game and we can skype (and hopefully not lose our connection). I will also be able to post more photos on my blog without waiting and waiting and waiting.....
The drive from Moab Utah to Cortez Colorado is very scenic. We left the red rock cliffs behind and drove through flat prairie. The trees were golden in the sunshine and it was a beautiful fall day. After getting set up in the campground we drove to Mesa Verde National Park. The road to the top is full of switchbacks and deep ravines. We watched a short video about the Puebloans and then toured the museum. The viewpoint from the museum overlooks Spruce Tree House, the park's best-preserved cliff dwelling. We chose to tour the Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling in the park. Our tour took us down uneven stone steps, paths around rocks and into the Cliff Palace. (Should I mention at this time that I am not fond of heights or edges???) It was amazing to see what these ancient peoples had designed and built with none of the modern technology available to us today. The climb back up involved more uneven stone steps and climbing ladders for a 100 ft vertical climb. It was not a climb I would care to repeat anytime too soon, but very much worth it!!!
This morning Senor Ping and I drove up to the Devil's Garden in the the Arches National Park. The hike was marked as an easy trail so we were confident that "flatlanders" would be able to successfully make the hike without needing CPR. The trail led us through red rocks and sand, up, down and between crevices formed by nature. At the end of the trail we were amazed by the huge arch before us. What a spectacular sight!!!
Senor Ping and I headed south earlier this week, leaving behind a skiff of snow and below average temperatures. Our first night was spent in Butte and we were very pleased with the furnace in our new rig. It kept us nice and toasty warm! Our second night was south of Salt Lake City and then we had a short drive to Moab on our third day. We settled in at an RV park on the edge of town, did some grocery shopping and then spent the day relaxing in the sun. The next morning we drove to Arches National Park. We decided to follow the auto tour, stopping at various roadside turnouts to take pictures and marvel at the beauty of the landscape. Some of our favorite stops included the Three Gossips, Balanced Rock, Delicate Arch and the Double Arch. We did a short hike up to the North and south Arches and then had lunch at the base of the trail. There were bikers and hikers of all ages enjoying the trails. Here are a few of our favorite stops on the trip.
Last week Senor Ping and I joined 3 other couples for "Mesa North". Our hosts, Gavin and Loreen, welcomed us into their home on the lake for 4 days of fun, food and music. We arrived from California, Saskatchewan and B.C. with guitars, amplifiers, microphones, song lists and tons of food. We took turns cooking dinner each night and enjoyed lingering over a glass of wine as the sun set over the mountains. We had many laughs, numerous discussions, played board games, swapped recipes and shared book lists. Gavin also took us for a cruise on the lake. It was a wonderful week that ended with a concert in the garage. We each went our own ways on Friday morning with a promise of more good times to be had when we meet up again in Arizona.
Senor Ping has brought our 5th wheel to the street in front of our house and I am busy packing the last of the groceries. We are finally going to take our "new to us" Cougar on its "maiden voyage". I started organizing the cupboards a couple weeks ago. I have now moved 1 saucepan and 2 frypans to 3 different cupboards, and I'm not sure if they will stay where they are. There is quite a bit more storage in this RV but, as it seems with all things, the more storage you have the more things you take.
Senor Ping in the meantime has perfected the art of setting up the new TV and satellite dish. He has packed and organized the "basement" storage and installed the new bike rack (although we are not taking bikes on this trip). We have the golf clubs packed, guitar (only one this trip) and other necessities.
Today we are going to Irma, a small town in Alberta, hoping to set up for the weekend and watch some provincial mens' softball (Allan is playing). We are going to have time to visit with Ray and Ronnie and play some golf before the ball games start on Friday.
On Sunday we are going north to Cold Lake Provincial Park. I am facilitating a drama camp for youth at the military base in Cold Lake. The camp should be lots of fun and we are looking forward to seeing some new country. There are 2 golf courses in close vicinity so Senor Ping is going to check them out while I am busy during the day.
From there we are going to head south to Sylvan Lake for the weekend. Ted and Colleen will be out at the lake for the weekend so maybe we will play some golf and have a few beverages. Hopefully the kids will be able to come for a visit and we can have a "mini reunion".
Last week we went to Calgary for the University of Calgary Spring Convocation ceremonies. We also had time for some shopping, dinner with Megan, Gary and Allan, and a visit with Ted and Colleen. We were very proud to watch Allan receive his Bachelor of Commerce degree.
For some reason we can never bypass Las Vegas. The truck just turns off the interstate highway and it seems to know its way to the RV park. Ritchie and Corrine had emailed us to let us know that they would be in Las Vegas when we were passing through and then Fred and Colleen also emailed to say that they would also be in Las Vegas so what could we do? We just had to let the truck take us to Sam's Town.
It was great to have a few beverages with friends from home and catch up on the news. We enjoyed showing Ritchie and Corrine around the strip (too bad Ritchie was not feeling well and had to head back to the hotel early). We shared some stories and a few dinners while we were together. On Friday they left their truck and trailer in Las Vegas and headed out on the motorcycle to tour around Arizona for the next week.
And our winter holiday would not be complete if we weren't following Fred and Colleen home. They left Las Vegas Friday morning and we started for home today. Roads are clear, I'm still in capris and sandals (not sure for how much longer) and the weather forecast is great. We should be home on Monday!!
We took a new route to Laughlin last Sunday. We headed north from Mesa through Phoenix, Glendale (home of the Phoenix Coyotes), Sun City, Sun City West, Peoria and finally more than an hour later hit the open road. We took the route through Wickenburg to Kingman (which is on the historic Route 66) and then on to Laughlin. We saw miles of joshua trees and barren desert. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the scenic trip. We dropped Abbey off at the kennel (she seems to remember the place) and then headed over to the employee parking where we left our 5th wheel. We spent the evening feeding the slot machines and strolling along the river walk.
On Monday morning I decided I had to find a beauty salon and the sooner the better. Lucky for me there was a salon on the hotel and they were not too busy. Well, as a matter of fact I was their only customer. An hour and half later I walked out a much happier person. I joined Senor Ping poolside and we spent the rest of the day relaxing and reading while soaking up some sunshine. I also squeezed in a bit of shopping at the outlet stores before feeding the slot machines at a couple more casinos. No jackpots for us!!!
Tuesday was windy and cloudy but we spent a couple hours at the pool and then did some more shopping and gambling. Overall the gambling was poor, weather was fair (Wednesday morning the temperatures hit a record low) and the shopping was good. On to Las Vegas!!!
Tomorrow morning Senor Ping and I will begin our trek home. We have enjoyed the past 2 months here in Mesa and have made tentative plans to return next February. We will spend the next 3 nights at a hotel in Laughlin while Abbey enjoys a few days of R&R at the kennel. On Wednesday we are heading to Las Vegas for a few nights and then we'll start for home. In the mean time we want to wish everyone a Happy Easter and we look forward to seeing you soon.