4-30-09 Thursday (On The Sponge)

Another unexciting day other than the elusive internet connection I've been fighting to find. Up and down, up and down. At one point Jim decided he'd take a nap and I went off to Big Lots by myself. There's a few things I wanted to get that I thought I'd have luck with there. I also thought it would be a great hour time filler. I hadn't been there in a long time so I had high expectations that I'd be returning home with gobs of crap. Only 1 bag of stuff I didn't need and zero of the stuff I actually had hoped to find.

One thing I was looking to buy was some plain ole kitchen sponges. Walmart had nothing but wavy sponges. I wanted plain ole square ones. Why so picky? Well, it's easier to wipe a flat surface with a flat edge. I like sponges for cleaning bathrooms and such. I like Handi Wipes for the kitchen. I got that from my Mom.


Well, that's my sponge story. Exciting blog entry... I know. I bet you can't wait to see what else I've typed.

Some of you may remember that our RV is only a 30amp and has 2 A/C units. Both cannot run at the same time. There's the bedroom/bath A/C and the living area A/C. When the sun is down, it's not a big deal. The A/C units take turns. We've forgotten the battle with 30amp since Florida. Tonight I've got the oven on, the sun is still up and the A/C unit is working it's ass off. We've turned off the bedroom A/C. Ugh. We may have to get a portable A/C unit. They're about $300 and we can probably run it off the extra outlet at the campground's power post.

4-29-09 Wednesday (Wednesday's Friday's Adventure)

Not a very exciting day. We went grocery shopping at Sam's and Walmart. Both the campground's and my internet have been severely spotty all day. I was beginning to think if it was my laptop since both sources sucked. I was getting majorly frustrated at having to reload webpages umteen-million times.

The Friday's special of buy 1 entree get the second at $1 expires by the end of the month. Jim suggested dinner there. I said, "No, I don't care if it's free, I'm fat and we need to do something about this." I was almost in tears. So we went to Walmart, and I bought a few pairs of cheap shorts. I was starving. On the way home, I giggled outloud. Jim asked what was funny. I explained, "My mind is screwed up. I
thought Friday's sounded really good especially since I just bought large shorts." Jim suggested at least salads there. Long story short, off to Friday's we went. The other night, with Jim's mom we had a hard time finding a Fridays. We went to 2 that were closed and finally gave up. Tonight we made sure a Fridays existed by comparing the Fridays website to the GPS. Off we went. We couldn't find this one. We both managed to miss the sign because it wasn't the usual corporate logo. I called them and the recording explained where they were located and that they were open only until 9. They were in a stadium. It was already 8:30pm and we'd need to find parking. UGH! We selected another Fridays that was another 15 minutes away, now totaling a 30 minute each way journey. I called to make sure. They were open until 11 or later.

WELL, let me tell you. I looked over at Jim and said, "There ain't no way I'm having a salad after all this shit." Jim and I both ordered the flat iron steak minus the Jack Daniel's sauce that Friday's seems to want to put on everything. Jim said it wasn't as tender as usual. I disagreed. We swapped pieces. He was right, his wasn't as tender. Interesting. The mashed potatoes were amazing as usual.

But wait... there's more. The desserts were looking mighty yummy. A few months ago, Ann & Morgan gave us a Fridays gift card. When we tried using it, the card was never activated. When I was back in Florida, they got the card taken care of and the Friday's gave us a free dessert card for the trouble. Well, Jim and I used the freebie last night. We split a brownie, caramel, sundae. Oh yummy.

4-28-09 Tuesday (The Winner Is...)

What a great lazy day we had! We went over to Gregg's house in the early afternoon. I set the hot tub to 90-something and enjoyed sitting in it most of the day. The pool was still way to cold for Jim and I. The outdoor temperature was probably 90. Jim sat in the shade and read up on some touristy information Gregg had saved for us. Tony was in and out doing laundry and errands. Levi was at work. Gregg was doing some crap around the house here and there as well.

We brought Dasher along with us. Gregg has 2 dogs (Annie & Patrick), Tony & Levi have 2 dogs (Bella & Chico). Most of the time it went well. Sometimes there was some mean spirited alpha-dogism going on. I happened to have caught a picture of Dasher and Patrick exchanging ugliness. Looking at the picture on my small camera screen, I was just amazed I had captured this. Looking at it while making this post, I laughed so hard at Dasher's "expression". I love it!

Before Jim and I went to Gregg's we stopped off for some munchies, and margarita mix. Yummy! I had two wonderful frozen drinks as I laid around poolside. We ordered pizzas and started a game of Phase 10. Tony was happy we brought the game and assured us he'd be the winner. We had to teach Gregg the game. The pizza was delicious. Phase 10 is a fun card game. I recommend it and if anyone is interested, I have a score sheet I made in Microsoft Word. I'm anal retentive.... Oh, and Tony won...... sigh.

I'll try to get more photos of Gregg's house, including the outdoor kitchen. I just forget....

4-27-09 Monday (Birth of a Monster)

Jim's mom flies back to Florida today. We had a great visit! Jim is taking her to the airport. She invited us out to breakfast but I'll let the two of them have some time together. The original plan is one day they were going to have lunch and go out shopping. I guess it never happened because we still had sightseeing to do.

Caulkenstein Jr. has been officially born. For the past couple of days we've been using the campground showers because the tub is leaking. Jim reshimmed and recaulked the tub leak. Yeah, I think the tub will need to be replaced by the end of our RVing trip. Hopefully we can use our own shower tomorrow. My experience with the campground shower wasn't all that great. There's 2 restroom/shower combinations. The shower was as small and possibly smaller than our shower. The pressure seemed OK. Eventually someone used the other shower or something because my water temperature flucuated. Sometimes it went off the charts. Scauld me with hot water but then decide the best way to treat a burn is with COLD water. Ugh. All on it's own. Great.

We caught up with Gregg. Tim already had plans so we'll probably see him tomorrow. Gregg's house is beautiful. It's a 4 or 5 bedroom, and each has it's own bathroom. The master suite has a sitting area, and fireplace. The master was larger than some people's homes! The kitchen? 3 wall ovens (one is the Advantium). A HUGE Viking stove. There's more to the inside but I'll just skip to the exterior. An edgeless pool, with hottub and a dual waterfall. Peaceful. With the pretty landscaping, I felt like I was at a resort. The back patio also has water misters built into the house. In the other corner of the yard was a ramada (gazebo) complete with outdoor kitchen. That's where we ate dinner. Awesomeness. I took photos.... but of course.

Gregg has 2 roommates... a couple Tony and Levi. They are originally from Oregon. Tony has lived a short time in Hawaii. Tony and Levi are very young. The geographical conquests, career differences and age differences all made for great conversation. Gregg has 2 older dogs, Tony and Levi have 2 chihuahuas, so tomorrow we'll bring Dasher along for another day of fun in the sun. Cheers to being lazy........ {clink}

4-26-09 Sunday (Dam It!)

Ann, Jim, Dasher and I took a beautiful scenic drive today. It's called the Apache Trail Scenic Byway. It was a 5 hour drive. We stopped off at a Subway, and packed our cooler with sandwiches and beverages for the trip. Most was paved road, some dirt. Here's the trail's description:

This historic road covers some of the most rugged terrain in Arizona. The land surrounding the road rises steeply to the north to form the Four Peaks Wilderness Area and to the south to form the Superstition Wilderness Area.The Superstitions have drawn people for thousands of years, and its innermost canyons harbor springs and thousand-year-old Indian ruins. Steep-sided canyons, rock outcroppings and magnificent geologic formations are all along the road. Fish Creek Canyon is perhaps the most awe-inspiring section. The road hangs on the side of this high-walled canyon and winds its way along tremendous precipices that sink sheer for hundreds of feet below.

The first part of the Apache Trail climbs a hairpin road through the desert, revealing how the Sonoran Desert survived for a millennia by traversing along the path to the Salt River, and then along to Theodore Roosevelt Lake. The paved portion of this road goes past a ghost town, and Canyon Lake, which offers first-rate fishing, mostly for bass and catfish. The upper stretches offer a scatter of camping spots and lovely cliff-side inlets. The upper lake also hides Skeleton Cave, the site of a grim battle in 1872. There, a cavalry patrol trapped a band of Yavapai Indians during the infamous Tonto Basin War.

Take advantage of the several opportunities to camp along this road, and five miles north of Apache Junction is the Lost Dutchman State Park, where not only can you camp and picnic, but you'll also find trails leading into the Superstition Wilderness. The western slopes of the Superstitions have some of the most spectacular wildflower blooms in western Arizona, with Mexican gold poppies, blue lupine, and purple owl clover. Although not as frequently visited, Apache Lake offers excellent fishing and some of the best camping in central Arizona. When the lake is full, it stretches for 17 miles and measures 266 feet deep. The water supports the area's wildlife, including deer, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, ringtails, mountain lions and bighorn sheep.

After the trail, we freshened up and attempted to find a Friday's for dinner. 3 locations the GPS found we closed down. One was closed back in 2007. I'm sure they exsit somewhere in the area but we gave up and went to Olive Garden. Yum.

Here's today's photos:

Above: Roosevelt Dam

Above: Overlook to Roosevelt Dam.

Above: Picnic area with a boardwalk.

Above: Picnic area.

Above: Our picnic area. Enjoying our Subway.

Above: View from the picnic area.

Above: Dasher snuggles in the Jeep.

Above: View from a 1 lane bridge.

Above: Going through the one lane bridge.

Above: You'd have to look close but this tree has about 4 ornaments hanging in it. Done for fun?

Who knew the desert could be so pretty, eh?

4-25-09 Saturday (Chinese Mexican Food)

Today was a travel day. Flagstaff to Phoenix. It was pretty uneventful. We stopped off for lunch at "Outlets of Anthem" which is an outdoor mall. Jim spotted this place and it was perfect for it's large RV-accommodating parking lot, it has a food court, and we were hungry. We ate at "Famous Wok" which was OK. There were a few food court places to choose from but I was in the mood for Chinese; Jim and Ann followed suit.

It was a pretty nice ride from Flagstaff to Phoenix. I sat on the couch or at times at the dinette on the computer. Ann rode in my usual co-pilot seat. She enjoyed the RV's viewpoint and large window. For the last leg of the trip we swapped seats.

Above: Ann entertains Jag as we drive.

Above: Saguaro cactus are bountiful in this region.

The RV park, Apache Palms is actually in Tempe. We're close to Phoenix. The park seems nice enough. It was hard finding an RV park. For the Phoenix area, research was revealing RV parks weren't in the best of neighborhoods. As a matter of fact, this particular one was questionable. Jim enlisted the help of our friend Gregg that we met during our December Seattle trip. Sometime last week, Gregg was able to drive by this RV park and give us a "report" on it and it's area. Gregg was spot on. Thanks Gregg! We'll see him and Tim in a few days.

We redeemed a restaurant.com certificate for Tradiciones Restaurant. This Mexican restaurant was pretty good, but I think we're still on the hunt for a kick-ass Mexican food meal.

4-24-09 Friday (Let Go My Eco)

I won't quite call breakfast a misadventure but remember yesterday's no cheese on a breakfast sandwich issue? Well, as promised I brought cheese with me to the hotel. No, really. I brought a slice of cheese to Ann's hotel. It was an individually wrapped single. I held it up my sleeve so as not to look like a dork as a sashayed into the hotel lobby. This way, I just sound like a dork to all the blog readers. Anyway, I walked over to the warmer. Yesterday poached eggs and sausage adorned the warmer. Today? Some egg, bacon, cheese pizza looking thing. I was gypped!

After my non-cheese topped breakfast, we went to Walnut Canyon. It's home to Indian (Sinagua) Cliff dwellings. We've been to several cliff dwellings in our travels and these were average but not as spectacular as Mesa Verde. It was quite a hike. The website says, "Strenuous, especially for those not acclimated to 7,000' elevation. The trail descends 185 vertical feet into the canyon, and returns the same way." It was fierce. We took many breaks. The views were great, the ruins were OK, and the weather was perfect.

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Speaking of weather, we walked through two ecosystems today. One side was cold. We were bundled up. Pine trees, oak trees and walnut trees were all around. We made a turn somewhere, and were greeted by a reader board explaining we'd notice and feel a climate difference now. The now sunny side was very warm (we took our jackets off) and home to prickly pear cactus and yucca. To me, this was so cool. The website says, "This is a biological “hot spot” – a place of concentrated biological productivity – because of its varied exposures and elevations, together with seasonal water, all compressed into a narrow band within a surrounding pine forest. The canyon twists and turns, creating a patchwork of sun and shadow. Hot dry desert-like slopes and shaded forests, normally separated by thousands of feet in elevation, are found here almost side by side. With these overlapping habitats come unusual assortments of plants and animals, and a high concentration of sensitive species. At the same time, the canyon serves as an important wildlife migration corridor, linking higher elevation forests with lower pine-juniper woodlands to the east."

I felt like we drove into a different state today. After we finished the ruins, we took a trip from Flagstaff to Sedona. Sedona's beauty lies in the beautiful red rocks. The drive through Oak Creek Canyon to get there was what was stunning. The red rocks, the green trees and grasses along the creek were amazing! The best part! Once in Sedona, we ate lunch at the Open Range. The food was OK, the views from our table were great.

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Tomorrow, Ann, Jim and I drive the RV to Phoenix...... See ya!