Thursday, March 29, 2012

Organ Stop Pizza and Tucson

Wednesday we made a trip into “Old Scottsdale” to do a little shopping and browsing.  We enjoy walking about these quaint shops in this old town.  Unfortunately, there was a baseball game being played nearby so parking was hard to find and the lots were charging $20.00.  Eventually, we found a free 3 hour spot to park along the street.  Since it was lunchtime we found a Mexican restaurant, Los Olivios, to have lunch and then we walked the streets and shopped.  On the way back to the motorhome we stopped at Albertson’s grocery store to pick up some items for our trip east.  At “The Rally” we had told Esthermay Brooks about the Organ Stop Pizza restaurant and then she sent a message suggesting that we meet for dinner there one evening, so it was planned for this night.  Esthermay and her husband, Bill, were at the restaurant when we arrived about 6pm.  We ate salads and pizza,  listened to the organist playing the organ and joined in the singing of many songs- and we got conversation in there,too.  The evening was topped off with ice cream and at 9pm we left as the restaurant was closing.  It was a fun night being with friends and enjoying music.

Today, Thursday, we left Mesa and drove the motorhome to Tucson, about 120 miles.  We checked into Lazydays campground for our free night of camping that we got at “The Rally”.   I had sent my cousin, Patty, a note a few days ago that we would be stopping here and had made plans that Patty and Braxton, her husband, would come by for a visit.  I called Patty to let her know that we had arrived and they should stop by.  About a half hour later Patty and Braxton were here.  We had a light lunch and visited for a couple of hours.  It was real nice to see Patty and Braxton another time before going home.  This evening we had a free dinner at the restaurant here at Lazydays.  The dining room was very nice with white tablecloths and the food was good.  Tom had Chicken Pot Pie made with a puffed pastry  and I had Chicken Marsala with julienne vegetables and rice.  Tomorrow we start pushing eastward at a faster pace than going from Avondale to Mesa to Tucson.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Breakfast and Apache Trail

Today, Tuesday, we left the motorhome before breakfast and went to Queen's Creek Olive Mill. Last year we had gone to this olive mill for our first time and learned that there was a restaurant on the premises that were serving delicious looking breakfast. So we decided that we wanted to have breakfast there and we were not disappointed. By luck, we found out when we got there that on Tuesdays a 2 for 1 price is offered. We both got a dish that was an eggs bendict style- bread, then egg fritata (not poached), balsamic bacon, chopped tomatoes, avocado and onions,and hollandaise sauce and on the side was a smashed potato and fresh fruit- cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple and strawberry. It was nice eating on an outdoor patio listening to the birds chirping in the trees.
Leaving the olive mill and working our way around detours we finally got on the Apache Trail. This trail was a route for stagecoaches from Mesa to Globe. Superstition Mountains through which the trail goes is the mountains that Jacob Waltz's Lost Dutchman's mine is supposedly hidden in a canyon. The first several miles has commercial establishments- a museum, a mining camp and Goldfield Ghost Town. We stopped at the museum but didn't go through the museum and then at the Ghost Town. The ghost town had souvenir shops and restaurants and a train ride was also available. We walked about the town and then moved on. As we continued on the trail we passed by Canyon Lake and came to Tortilla Flats, a stagecoach stop. Since it was well passed 12 noon we decided to eat lunch here. We had about a 30 minute wait ( it is spring break and families with kids were in all the commercial areas)and then had a enjoyable lunch of a burger for Tom and a chicken sandwich for me. Shortly after leaving Tortilla Flats, we were on an unpaved road for the next 22 miles. The road was rough but the views were just spectacular. The colorful rocky mountains bordered deep canyons that were covered with huge saquaro cacti and then there were lakes- Apache Lake and Roosevelt Lake - of a beautiful shade of blue. We stopped to take pictures often. The road had many curves, ascents and descents but was wide enough for two cars to pass one another. Traffic on the unpaved was light. When we finally came to the Roosevelt Dam the road was paved from that point as we traveled through Globe and Miami, 2 copper/gold mining towns, and on to Mesa. We got back to the motorhome about 7pm- a long day but worth it. Our days travel was in excess of 100 miles.

"The Rally"

Wednesday, March 21st, we left North Ranch in Congress after having our propane tanks filled, and dumping our gray and black tanks and filling up our fresh water tank. We traveled 68 miles to Avondale, near Phoenix, where "The Rally" was being held at the Phoenix International Raceway. We had to pick up our rally packet from the "will call" and then were directed to a line where we waited about 45 minutes until we were finally parked. Then we went to the registration area get additional information and schedules. Esthermay Brooks, a Maryland Good Sam, was working in this area so we talked briefly with her and asked her about places to eat as we had not had lunch and it was near 2pm. She recommended "Black Bear Restaurant" and gave us directions. We easily found the restaurant, remembered that we had eaten at this restaurant in Lake Havesu City several years ago.
Thursday we went to some seminars during the day. The evening entertainment for this evening was "Bowzer's Rock and Roll Party" which starred Bowzer from the group Sha Na Na. It was a lively and entertaining show. As we were leaving the entertainment area we met up with Rita and Bill Fordham, friends and part of the Traveling Americans camping group that we belong to. We talked together briefly and said we would all try to get together out for a meal.

Friday we went to more seminars and through the vendor and dealer displays. The evening entertainment was Bill Cosby who for an hour told stories that had everyone laughing.

Saturday was much the same routine as Friday. We are life members of the Good Sam club so we had a cocktail party to attend that evening. The entertainment on this evening was Martina McBride, another enjoyable evening.

This rally kept us busy and we still had not been able to get together with Bill and Rita so we made plans to go out for breakfast Sunday morning. The four of us went to the Black Bear Restaurant and had good breakfasts. Returning to the rally, a special tribute was held for veterans. Veterans,and that included Tom, assembled and paraded to the stage area and then were seated in front of the stage for a short program honoring these veterans. After this tribute we walked through the vendor area one last time and then returned to the motorhome. Mid afternoon we went out to a Mexican restaurant for early dinner. The evening entertainment for Sunday evening was a group "Ticket to Ride" that impersonated the Beatles. They were also good but we left before the end of the show since the seats seemed to be extremely hard on this particular night. All day long folks were leaving the rally and heading for wherever. Rita sent us a text message that they had left in the evening after others in their area had pulled out giving room for them to maneuver their motorhome out- they had company coming to Casa Grande to spend time with them.

We enjoyed the rally. The area that we were camped in was some distance from the infield of the racetrack where the all the activities were held. Even though trams were circling through the camping area often the trams were filled when they reached our stop so we did alot of walking. The entertainment was wonderful even sitting on hard metal stadium seats. There were 3370 RV's camped at the rally and each day there were several hundred people that came in for the day so it was somewhat crowded at times especially in the vendors tent. There were give aways during the rally of some extremely nice prizes unfortunately we did not win anything. We did take advantage of the offer given to those attending this rally of attending the Louisville, Kentucky rally in June at no cost except for electric hook-ups.

Today, Monday, we got underway about 8:15am and headed for Mesa about 45 miles to the east. Coupons were given out at the rally for 3 free nights of camping at several campgrounds in the Mesa area so we decided to take advantage of this offer. Another coupon for 1 night of free camping was offered in the Tucson area so after our 3 nights in Mesa we plan to stay in Tucson for a night before heading to New Mexico and then on further east.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our Last Day in Congress

Today, Tuesday, is our last day at North Ranch in Congress for this year. We like this park and area so it probably will be on the trip route our next time in Arizona. In preparation for going to "The Rally" in Phoenix tomorrow and dry camping I did the laundry. For lunch we went into Wickenburg to the Tumbleweed Restaurant, the one we found closed yesterday, and had a nice lunch. Tom had pork loin and I had spaghetti which we both enjoyed. We can only credit the somewhat out of the way location for not trying this restaurant before but we will return when we are in this area again. After lunch we stopped at a hardware store to get a new indoor/outdoor thermometer. The rain destroyed our outside unit on the thermometer that we had and we missed being able to see the outside temperature. After that purchase we then stopped at Safeway to pick up a few items for the upcoming week.
Today has been a little warmer than yesterday with temps close to 60 degrees. The strong sun has taken a toll on the snow covered mounains as those mountains closest to us are no longer white. The mountains further away still have snow but are not as white as yesterday.
NOTE: There maybe a break in the blogs while in Phoenix as we are not sure of being able to connect to the internet.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Snow on the Cacti, Say it's Not So!

This morning we got up to see snow falling. Hard to think a couple days ago it was 80 plus degrees here and today snowing. The snow did not accumulate on the ground. The mountains are whiter since more snow fell during the night.

Gradually the snow peeked out from the clouds for a brief moment and then the dark clouds moved over the sun. This peek-a-boo playing between the clouds and sun continued all day. It is cold probably we'll be lucky to see temperatures above 50 degrees, if they get to 50, here in Congress today.
We went into Wickenburg to have lunch at the Tumbleweed Restaurant but it was closed on Monday. Then we decided to ride up to Yarnell, about 12 miles north of Congress. Yarnell is at the top of the mountains that are snow covered. As we wound our way up the mountainous road the ground covering of snow was thickening. The roads were clean. Saquaro cacti had a covering of snow and looked strange as they were white instead of the normal green. Yarnell had 4-5 inches of snow on the ground and it was about 10 degrees colder than Congress. From there we could see the next group of mountains, that would have been on the way to Prescott, which appeared to have a much heavier layer of snow. We stopped at a little diner in Yarnell for a lunch of burgers and cream of green chili's soup. Soup was flavorful but not spicy hot. After lunch we turned around to return to North Ranch.
Back at North Ranch we walked to the Activity Building to check on the wood carvers. This week there is an Escapee gathering of wood carvers here. There were many folks busy working on projects in the building from relief carving, cypress carvings, bark carving, wood burning and caricature and bird carving.

Each type of carving had an area where a group were working and there was a leader or expert in that specific type of carving instructing or helping. Looked interesting.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What a Change in the Weather

Friday and Saturday we stayed in the Congress/Wickenburg areas. Friday we took a dirt road that went passed a few ranches but was mostly land covered with mesquite trees and cacti. There were some hills and curves in the road. And it was pure dust all the way. So after that little jaunt we had to go into Wickenburg to the car wash.
Saturday morning the campground had a sausage and pancake breakfast that we went to. In honor of St. Pat's day they had blueberry pancakes that looked kinda green but were good. And then for lunch we went into Congress for a corned beef and cabbage dinner at the fire hall. The meal was only served from from 12 noon until the food ran out. We got there about 12:30pm and shortly thereafter the serving stopped as the food had run out. They had very large servings of corned beef, potatoes, carrots and a small serving of cabbage. The food was good but I would have like more cabbage and less potatoes and carrots but at least I didn't have to cook.
We have had really nice warm weather until last night when it seemed the bottom fell out. During the day yesterday it was cloudy but comfortable. As the day went on the clouds were building and then we had some wind (not as bad as was predicted), then some thunder and lightning could be heard and seen in the distance and finally the rain started. It rained hard all night. This morning, Sunday, the rain has been coming in showers off and on. The worst part is the temperature has dropped- it was 38 degrees about 7am and is not expected to get much above 50 if that warm today. It's been in the 80's. Mountains north of us are snow covered and further north on I-40 the road has been closed because of snow. And spring is to start this week!! We have been hearing that the weather back east has been wonderful all winter. Hopefully, if this system moves east it will be gone by the time we get home in a couple of weeks.
Close to noon we began to see patches of blue sky as we drove to Surprise, Az. to meet friends, Margaret and Don Phillips for lunch at the Irish Wolfhound Restaurant and Pub. Actually in Surprise the sun was shining and the bright blue sky had lots of big, fluffy white clouds. But as we sat in the restaurant enjoying the company and food the clouds thickened and the sky darkened. It was somewhat breezy and chilly when we left the restaurant a little past 3pm. Driving north toward Wickenburg we had a shower of rain and to the east the most beautiful rainbow occurred. It was an entire rainbow arch, not a partial that is most often seen, plus a second rainbow on the northern side. When we were just about to Wickenburg we were hit with hail for a short spell and then just rain until we got back to the motorhome. It was a nice afternoon being with friends and catching up with one another.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Prescott and Lake Pleasant

It seems I have been neglectful in writing this blog so it is time to catch up on our happenings. I received word over the weekend that a cousin, Barbara Garity, was in the hospital in very serious condition and then I learned that she had passed away. Barb was the oldest (70 years) female cousin in the Little family, my dad's family, and the first of our generation to pass on. She and her husband, Malcolm, lived about 10 or 12 miles from our home in Maryland. In addition to her husband she is survived by 2 daughters and their husbands and 2 granddaughters and a brother. My heart goes out to the family. I will miss her phone calls and hearing about her family.

Tuesday we drove to Prescott. Trader Joe's opened a new store in Prescott a few days prior that we wanted to go. So after stopping at Home Depot for a floor mat and then getting my haircut we went to Trader Joe's. While at Trader Joe's we spied a Five Guys hamburger restaurant, a favorite of ours. A quick stop at Sam's Club we then returned to Five Guys for lunch. Both Trader Joe's and Five Guys were doing a bang up business as the parking lot was so full that finding a parking spot was difficult.

Wednesday we ran into Wickenburg to go to the grocery store and the hardware store for a few articles. We had nice lunch at the Chapparel Cafe that offers sandwiches and homemade ice cream. In the evening I made some tortellini salad and a pan of brownies in preparation for Thursday and a trip to Pleasant Lake.

Today, Thursday, after breakfast I fried some chicken and then packed the cooler with the tortellini salad, chicken, dates and brownies. We were then off to Lake Pleasant Regional Park about 35 miles south of Congress. We stopped at the Visitor Center and walked a short trail by the Center.

              The cacti are beginning to bloom in the desert out here and they are really pretty.

We then drove around the park. There are several campgrounds with electric and water hook-ups and dump stations. These campgrounds appeared to be near capacity.

        We finally drove to the Pipeline Canyon trailhead where we had our lunch at a picnic area.

After lunch we hiked the Pipeline Canyon Trail which is 2 miles of a well defined trail with some loose stones and some hills.

                               The trail crosses the water via a floating bridge at Pipeline Cove.

As we walked we saw much evidence of the presence of wild burros with the droppings left behind. We met a lady and then a couple of young boys going in the opposite direction that told us the burros were up ahead. So we continued on hoping to see the burros. Just when we thought we should turn around we spied the burros.

One burro was off to himself with 5 more were in a group. Initially we only saw 4 burros in the group and then saw one lying stretched out surrounded by the other 4. We even wondered if this burro was alive but eventually they began to move on and we saw that this burro was in the group and appeared to be a younger, smaller burro. We went most of the 2 miles before turning around to return to the parking area that we had left from. We saw small lizards on the trail but, thankfully, no snakes. It was a beautiful day with temperature in the low 80's, clear bright blue skies but the sun still was hot.

The weather forecast for this weekend is for a strong winter storm which means wind and precipitation- rain or snow depeding on elevation. We should be in the rain area. The temperature is also to fall into the 50/60's for this area. Quite a change from the 80 degrees. Rain levels are down so this rain is much needed.
North Ranch has a small park called Saquaro Park that has a variety of cacti and other desert plants. A large saquaro named Methuselah, one of the largest saquaros in Arizona, is in this park.

Properties here in North Ranch also have desert vegetation planted and there are some beautiful cacti blooming at this time.

We enjoying walking about the park and through Saquaro Park seeing this different style of landscaping from that in the eastern part of this country.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Gypsy Gathering and Congress

Tuesday we attended a few seminars at the Gypsy Gathering in the morning. Then at lunchtime we went down to the old section of Yuma for lunch at DeBoyz restaurant known for their pizza. Of course we had to try out a pizza and agreed it was worth the praise that we had heard. A farmers market had been set up in the street outside of the restaurant so after eating we had to walk through the market and make a few purchases of fresh vegetables. Before returning to the fairgrounds and rally we stopped at a date farm to get some dates. For evening entertainment on this evening David Bradley, a cowboy singer, filled the bill. He had a difficult time getting his sound system to work but once that problem was fixed David Bradley did a fine job of entertaining.
Winds started kicking up Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday was a cold day for Yuma. I don't think temperatrures reached 60 degrees that day and for this being the warmest area in Arizona was cold. Again this day there were seminars to attend and a vendor area to walk about and spend money. This evening there was a pizza party in the evening. Piles of Dominos pizza (120 pizzas) arrive at the campground and within less than 10 minutes everyone was served 2 slices of pizza (choice of cheese,pepperoni and sausage) and then if anyone wanted more they were welcomed to return.
Thursday morning the wind had subsided and the sun soon warmed up making for a more comfortable day. Again we attended seminars most of the day. We did go out for lunch at La Fonda Restaurant and Tortilla Factory, a favorite of ours from previous visits and after this visit still remains so. Apparently, we are not the only ones that like this restaurant because it is always busy. In the evening there was a wrapping up of the rally. Door prizes had been awarded throughout the week with this night being the final give away night. Eventually, everyone or rather each RV unit receives a door prize of something and on this night our name was finally called. We, or I should say that I since it was my size, got a tee shirt with the cover of Nick Russell's latest book "Big Lake Lynching". Nick Russell, in addition to publishing "The Gypsy Journal" newspaper and along with his wife, Terry, have 2 Gyspy Gathering Rallies a year, has taken to writting books. "Big Lake Lynching" is a follow to his first book "Big Lake". Tom and I have read the first book and I have begun reading the second book, they are available on Kindle and are quite good reading.
Friday morning after breakfast we packed up and left Yuma. The rally was over and it was time to move on. We really were unsure where we wanted to go and decided to return back to North Ranch in Congress. We got to North Ranch a little past 1pm and the office was closed for their lunch break. We just unhooked our Jeep, left the motorhome in the area for parking while registering and drove into Congress for our lunch. Returning to the campground we got registered and then parked in a site. I had pulled something in my back this morning so we just laid low the remainder of the day.
Today, Saturday, was "Yard Sale Day" here at North Ranch. We walked about the Ranch checking out the sales. I did buy a Rada cheese knife for a dollar, something I have at home but not in the motorhome before today. We then went into Wickenburg for lunch at Anita's Cocina and a stop at Safeway to replenish our food supply. We plan to be here for a little more than a week before going to Phoenix.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Yuma, Arizona

Yesterday, Sunday, we packed up and left Congress a little past 10am and moved southwest to Yuma.  Our travels took us on rte. 71 out of Congress, to rte.60 , then I-10 to rte. 95 into Yuma.  It was a scenic trip through wide open spaces of rural country.  The road was so straight that it seemed we could see miles ahead.  We traveled through some areas that were cultivated, irrigated and had crops growing.  One segment there were groves of nut trees- seemed to be too short for pecans, maybe pistachio?  We went through Quartzsite, easily, as the season for RVer’s to be in this area is drawing to a close for this season.  Just before getting into the city limits of Yuma we passed large fields of vegetables ( lettuces, cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli).  We got to the fairgrounds where the Gypsy Gathering was being held about 1:30pm.  The parking for this rally could not be started until sometime after 12 noon due to another rally needing to be cleared out first.  RV’s were staged in a large parking lot outside the gates and were just being started to be parked when we arrived.  Mistakenly, we were placed in a row with units needing to parked in the handicap area.  When the park crew realized their mistake they told us to just continue on in with this group.  On the good side of this mistake we were parked quicker than if we had been placed with the general parking group.  We did get parked in the area of general parking, not handicap parking.  Since we had not eaten any lunch soon after getting set up we went out to eat at a German restaurant, Das Bratwurst Haus.  It was a mediocre German restaurant.  Yuma has too many really good restaurant for us to want to return to this restaurant.  We stopped at Walmart to pick up some cereal for breakfast.  The utilities at the rally consists of 20-amp electric which adequately keeps the batteries charged but not sufficient to run microwaves and coffeepots and such so no oatmeal for breakfast.

This morning after getting up and eating breakfast Tom went in search of a technician to install the Electrical Monitoring system that we had had in our Newmar and wanted it now in our Phaeton.  The technician spent several hours this morning working on this project getting it installed.  This system monitors the electric coming into the coach and is to shut down the system before  faulty electric can damage appliances within the motorhome.  We then went out for lunch at a favorite Mexican restaurant, Mi Rancho, and unlike yesterday’s meal we were very satisfied with our food.   In the afternoon, the rally was officially opened with a session introducing the vendors and a question and answer session with some so-called experts.  Free ice cream bars were distributed to the attendees.  Later in the evening the attendees again congregated in a large building for door prize drawings but unfortunately we did not win anything- oh well, there will be more drawings throughout the rally.  The weather in Yuma has been rather warm with temps in the mid to upper 80’s.  We wouldn’t want it much warmer without being able to run air conditioning.  Tomorrow there is to be some change in the weather with high winds predicted.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

La Fiesta at North Ranch

Today is La Fiesta at North Ranch, this is a celebration of the opening of this park that occurred in 1992. At 9:30am there was a parade through the park complete with a fire truck, percussion band, dancing ladies, vintage cars, floats(actually ATV's)with candy being thrown from, a search and rescue group and a few bicyclists. Actually for a campgroud it was a nice 15 minute parade.

Then it was to the Activity Center for the craft sale displayed around the outside porch. There were some very nice craft items for sale. Tom and I then made a quick trip to Wickenburg to get batteries for the lock key fob for the motorhome, Tom had worn his batteries out. Returning from town, we again went down to the Activity Center for lunch of pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw, and brownie. The pork was very good but the cole slaw lacked some flavor and the brownie was a good brownie. We checked out the silent auction items and placed a bid but doubt that we will end up with purchasing anything.
The weather today is much improved over yesterday. After I posted yesterday's post the wind kicked up again last night and was blowing to beat the band again as we were going to bed. Sometime during the night it quieted down and today is a warmer day, temps in the 60's. It is to be getting much warmer the next several days with temps in the 80's.
Today is our last day here at North Ranch as we pack up in the morning and head for Yuma. We will be at the Gypsy Gathering at Yuma fairgrounds so don't know if we will be internet connected while there.

Friday, March 02, 2012

The Wind Strikes Again

Yesterday, Thursday, I did some laundry and Tom washed the Jeep. We did our walk about the campground in the morning and again in the late afternoon. We ate dinner in the motorhome. We had to make a run to the grocery store to pick up milk and juices. It was a nice sunny fairly warm day (60 degrees). Tom and I both like to read and on days as this we do just that. There was a jam session in the clubhouse in the afternoon that Tom went to while I stayed back and took a little nap.
This morning about 4:30am I was awakened with the rattling of our slide awnings due to wind. The wind continued blowing all day and finally began to settle down at sunset. It was also cold with temps staying in the 40's. Even though the sun was bright, the wind and chilliness made for an unpleasant day. We did walk about the campground but certain directions proved to be a challenge with the wind. We went into Wickenburg around noon. After walking through a small area of shops called Mecca and not finding a thing that I could not live without we went to the Hog Trough for a barbeque lunch. The Hog Trough food is much to our liking, the meats are well cooked and flavorful and the beans are the best that I have ever eaten. After our lunch we walked to the Chapparel ice cream shop as there was some local musicians playing there this afternoon. We got some coffee and sat back to enjoy the music but then we felt we should probably get some ice cream so we each had a small cup of their homemade ice cream. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do, right?
Tonight is to be a cold night but then tomorrow the temperature is to start rising into the 70's and Sunday into the 80's- sounds good to me.