Whew! It’s been awhile since my last post because we’ve been so busy with friends. Our campground is awesome, set up against Usery Mountain. The sites are big, the utilities work, and the cactus that grow like weeds are spectacular!
First, we went out to dinner at a local mexican restaurant called Arriba’s with my old friend John Bie,r wife Wilma and son Steven. It was awesome to finally meet them in person. Steven looks very similar to what John looked like in high school , so that took me back a few years. (How could John and I have aged that much?!) We talked and laughed and could have stayed there all night. It filled my heart to meet John’s family and I was so glad to see he hadn’t lost his warped sense of humor that I find so funny. What a good man he still is and how blessed we were to have dinner with he and his family.
Then Eliza’s gymnastics’ team came to Phoenix for a meet, so she and I went into town for 3 days straight. The big Phoenix. 4.2 million people live here and it is crazy to drive. Speed limit is 75 mph on the 6 lane highways and I was getting passed on both sides. Fun to turn a 30 mile trip into20 minutes, but a little strange to be flying that fast down the road. We only had a couple times in a traffic jam; other than that the traffic does move along well. Contrast their huge highways with how our city planners only did 2 lanes on the Bend bypass.
On Friday, we pulled into the parking garage at 3rd and Jefferson after crossing 2 lanes to get there. Oops! Then walked to the Phoenix Convention Center. (Eliza hates to walk.)There were huge buildings in front of us, but we didn’t know which one the meet was in. The architecture is beautiful – new glass, steel and a light brown local rock. At the stop light, I asked two older ladies carrying heavy bags what convention they were going to and they said it was a gift/trade show in the smaller building. Perfect, scratch that building. We kept walking to the next huge one. We asked the guard where the meet was and of course, it was in the last building! Downstairs! We thought this was a big meet, but they were relegated to the basement!
We had arrived early in the morning so Eliza could be there before the girls started arriving. Only 2 of her friends knew she was coming, so she stood at the bottom of a long escalator and waited as the girls descended to surprise the rest of the team. I was glad that the girls are coordinated because they could have fallen the whole way down they were so excited to see her. I was trying not to cry. Well worth the drive in! Eliza was able to be on the floor with the Level 7’s during their meet, then got to say hello to all the Level 8’s as they started. She couldn’t stop smiling and I was so glad Dan and I changed our plans so she could be here for the meet. It was hard for her to leave her friends in Bend, so we thought it was important for her to see them again.
After getting Eliza settled, I went upstairs to wait for my friend Robyn who was my doubles partner in high school. She lives in a suburb of Phoenix and was kind enough to come in. We had 2 full hours of non-stop girl talk and it was wonderful. I had seen her 2 1/2 years ago in Bend, so we picked right back up again and talked about everything important in our lives. There is something wonderful about friends like that; to be cherished. Can’t wait to see her again.
While we were in town with the tow vehicle, the boys had to stay at the rig. Nate slept in, Dan took long rides, Nate took shorter ones, they played with the dogs, and basically just hung out. I’m sure they missed having two females telling them what to do for 3 days!
On Saturday, Eliza and I got up early again and went into town to pick up Denise and Kyla at their hotel. Then we drove to Mary and Sara’s hotel downtown. We had been kicking around ideas of what to do – hike, shop, eat, take a tour of Talesin West – and finally settled on driving up to Scottsdale and bumming around Old Town. 6 of us piled into our little tow vehicle!! (Reminded me of college; have wheels, will fit everyone in!) Mary and I lucked out in the front seats, but the other 4 were good sports.
We pulled into the parking garage in Scottsdale and laughed at the sign “decoy vehicle on premises”. We’re a long way from Kansas, Toto! The signs in the parking garage in Bend would probably say, “Hey, have a good day, dude”, “Don’t forget your stuff”, or “Go eat at the D & D, it’s the best burger in town.” But in Scottsdale they are telling you that your car may not be there when you get back. First funny.
We started walking, and one of the first people we ran into was a middle aged guy pushing a bright aqua blue stroller… with his dog inside it. Yes, really, his DOG. We’ve seen people pushing dog strollers before, but this one was funny. Then we had to stare at a college age guy dressed in a leopard outfit – head to toe. He was walking around with a group of the same age, so we asked the ones following, WHY? They said he lost a bet. Funny number 2.
Another block down the road found us all screaming STOP at a dog that was running hard down the sidewalk – with his leash attached to an outdoor patio chair. Luckily he was on the sidewalk, not the busy road, but he was going fast. As he came to us, he wrapped the leash and chair around a telephone pole, so the leash snapped off, and away he ran harder. The funny part of this situation was his owner prancing blocks behind. She wasn’t running hard, just prancing. I will never get the image out of my head and wish I would have taken a picture. The funniest.
We shopped in Old Town, went to the old Little Red Schoolhouse, watched a Native American dance in the park, took tons of pictures of the girls together, and had lunch at a mexican restaurant. It didn’t really matter what we did, it was just nice to be together – and in the sun!
We headed back to Mary’s fancy Sheraton, and the girls changed into swimsuits. The pool was on the 4th floor, a long narrow one perfect for swimming laps if I’d had my suit. Instead I got to sit in the sun with Mary & Denise, compare scars, and chat more. Heaven.
On Sunday, we drove back in early and Eliza and Lexi had the privelege of helping Mohini coach the Level 3’s for their meet. Kyla and Hailie were in the other gym helping coach Sara and Miranda in Level 6. Mohini had been double booked in both gyms, so she went back and forth as the girls competed. Not a stellar meet for any of the team, but a good experience for them. Denise and I had a great hike on the Papago trail system.
Lunch was at the Hard Rock across from the Diamond Backs new deluxe stadium. Wow, did they pour some money into that place! Baseball is big business here and we wish we were here a few weeks longer to see spring training. So many teams come to this area, and the Cubs are building a new stadium for their practice. Would be fun to watch.
Seeing the big stadium just reminds me how strangeit is to see such big buildings, big freeways, big everything. Bend is on such a small, simple scale compared to all that we’ve seen so far in California and Arizona. The one thing that isn’t different, however, are all the chains. You can find any chain store from Bend everywhere we’ve gone. It’s harder to find the local places to shop but we’ve really liked the Bashas’ supermarket.
So lunch was over quickly, and it was time to say good-bye . Dan and I had been worried about Eliza having to leave her friends again, but she did better than I did as we were walking away. I was the one crying! It had been such a special time, and it was hard to face that we wouldn’t see them again for over a year. It’s like that with everyone, and we should be used to it, but I’m not. Luckily we have FB and texts and email.
On Sunday night we went to John’s house to watch the Superbowl. First time I’ve ever watched a whole game and not just the commercials. Wilma prepared an impressive feast and we ate more than our share. I had a dream about the unique Rice Krispie treats! Great to see them again, and lucky Nate, his book we had ordered finally caught up to him, thanks to my cousin Jennifer! Really hard to hug them good-bye. Wish we could be neighbors…
The next fun we had was with Al & Sue Crouse and their friends Joan and Maureen. We met at a cool little spot in Cave Creek called The Grotto. Great breakfast grub. They all used to live here or live here now, so they know where to go. After breakfast we drove out into the hills and had a nice hike on the Spur Cross trail. Beautiful scenery. Tons of cactus. Sunshine. Petroglyphs. Fun conversation. Could have gone all day, but the kids would have been vocal about that. As it was, they did great.
Yesterday afternoon we stopped by my cousin Barbara’s house in Gold Canyon. She’s only 5 miles away from our new KOA campground. I thought she was in Tuscon, and we had a reservation for a week there. I happened to mention to her in an email that we were leaving for Tuscon Friday and would call when we got there. She replied, “do you know where we are?” Well, no, I thought I had heard Tuscon, and didn’t do my normal careful planning or even take 30 seconds to map it. She’s only been 20 miles away the whole two weeks we’ve been there! She was the only reason we were going to Tuscon!
So we cancelled Tuscon and started to look for another RV park here, because the state park only allows you to stay 14 days. We made a reservation at a park near her, and were set. We thought. As we were trip planning for the summer, Dan happened to see the RV park listed in the Good Sam book. It said it was a 55+ park. Dan called and they said they aren’t too strict about the 55 age limit, but they don’t allow kids. So we scrambled to find another park. Luckily KOA’s don’t discrimate.
We weren’t surprised at the 55+ requirement for the parks, because we’d run into it before when we came through in 1998. At that time, we were exhausted from a day of driving and happened upon an RV park in Sun City, AZ. We pulled in and practically had to beg to stay there for 3 nights. The only reason they let us stay was because they had just opened, so they weren’t full. We had to fill out a form as long as my arm. I didn’t mind because the new pool was Olympic sized and I was in it a lot!
This time the 55+ requirement seems a little strange. And slightly illegal? There are many retirement neighborhoods that also advertise no kids. Why would you want that? What’s better than a mulit-generational neighborhood and the sound of kids playing outside? Come to think of it, our Tumalo neighborhood could have been advertised as 55+ . It was not kid friendly. The next one will be better; we promised the kids.
In between all the fun of seeing friends, we’ve been schooling at the library, seeing the local sites, and cooking up a storm. The kids have worked really hard at school and we are proud of them. Their online school just added the silly requirement that they have to check in with their teachers twice a week, so the Oregon Department of Education requirement can be met. Will be tough for us because the times are all over the board as far as Eastern, Mountain and Pacific time zones are concerned. We created a spread sheet that took us 2 1/2 hours. Then Dan spent hours getting the voice class connect program to work on one of the laptops, and we went to test it Friday morning during Nate’s math teacher’s class time. We were told the kids could just log in, say hi, log out. So we were testing it when the teacher’s voice came on and said, “Hi, Nathaniel, can you hear me?” Dan and I looked at each other, laughed, and I got up to go get Nate out of his bunk… we had let him sleep in! At least we know the program worked. Now we have to get it on my phone so if we aren’t at a computer, they can check in. Silly, silly, silly.
So Day 52 is upon us and finds us at the library, doing school and trip planning. Dan’s almost got the whole summer scheduled and we’ve made most of the reservations. We are going to post it here when we get it done so that people can come meet us at any spot along the way. Unfortunately, we don’t have the physical room for guests, but we would love to share our experience with anyone willing to fly! Happy Monday!