Last few weeks in Arizona

While we had a week of hotter than the norm days…mid 90°, we are back to low to mid 70° range these last few days of March. Very very nice, especially in the late afternoon and evening. Great Happy Hour weather. We’ve taken a little time to explore and found The Pork Shop in Queen Creek, out in the San Tan Valley area. A small meat market (dead pig only) in the middle of a somewhat rural area. How fun. We got a pack of great pepper bacon and some scrumptious pork chops. A fun visit.

We visited the Keelan (Nephew Marshall, Amanda, and Mackenzie) Homestead one Sunday to help plant some new fruit trees and install new buried water lines. Lots of work to do there, which is actually in the heart of Chandler! Amanda on tractor. Looks like Connie found a treasure?

Marshall with mom Carol (Connie’s sister) taking a break from planting trees while discussing ongoing plans . It was a fun day…a little hot, but we were rewarded well 🙂

Meanwhile, we do have duties at Twin Palms RV Park. One of Ed’s projects is standardizing sewer connections on some of the RV lots. Here he is cutting off the existing orangeburg pipe below ground level.

Next step is adapting to regular size 3″ PVC pipe using a Fernco flexible adapter.

Lastly, top off the new PVC with a cap, pour concrete in to a form to keep junction in place. Once set up, the site it ready for a new occupant.

 

Our new car??? Well not exactly. Just a note that we  are planning on purchasing an older run-around car when we return to Mesa in November. That means we have been invited to return as park managers (hosts, volunteer overseers, etc) next winter. Will return in November and depart again in April 2018…Lord willing and our health holds out.

 

Back to Full Time in Arizona

Unlike living in a home where you have a yard, we have to compromise a bit on space. Connie loves plants and would love to have a garden, but full time in a 5th wheel trailer requires some sacrifices. Connie makes the most of our small yard and recently purchased this cute little bird bath. Surprisingly enough, we have a variety of birds here; including finch, doves, hummingbirds, and quail. We have 8′ Oleanders along the back of our lot, usually loaded with birds. At any rate, it helps make full timing a little more enjoyable, especially when we’re here for several months.

Our dining room, evening theater, and sometimes bedroom, often turns in to Connie’s sewing studio. You can see the oleanders out the rear window. Click here to see some Connie’s quilting activities while we’ve been here.

Living in the 15 lot Twin Palms RV Park doesn’t have all the amenities of some larger parks, but we do have community, albeit short time frames. Most of the folks in this impromptu “block party” have moved on, but we remember them well.

A previous occupant at the site next to us trimmed a large chunk out of one side of this tree, plus it was leaning about 30°. Ed dug a large hole about 2′ deep all around, then pulled it straight with a tie-down strapped to a steel post. It will probably stay attached until next winter. After a little more trimming, it looks a lot better! Way to go Ed. Note the oleander plants along the back of the lots. Gives us a little privacy.

Connie has gotten out a few times to hike. Mostly with sister Carol (above) and a couple other women that have become new hiking friends. This hike was earlier in the year around Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

Another hike with new friend Kerry, was up around Lost Dutchman State Park. The howling coyote is a sundial.

These beautiful Lilies were sent to us from the great folks at Big Creek Fish Hatchery in Oregon to help comfort our grief from losing Kari. We gotta go back there. What a wonderful place to serve as well as great community!

We have a few more weeks to enjoy Arizona. It supposed to be hitting 90 this week so won’t be too long before it gets really HOT! We pull out April 13, heading to sister’s in Stephenville, TX; then back to Colorado for about 6 weeks; then Gillette for a few days before heading east. We’re thinking of taking a “Vacation.”

A Final Goodbye

Darling and courageous daughter Kari.

Placard of Kari’s headstone. The real one will take a few weeks.

Saturday February 7, 2017: We took an early morning (6am) Frontier flight from Phoenix to Denver; Drove Cheri’s car with nephew Marshall and Cheri to Gillette, Wyoming. A 5 hour drive. Attended the Celebration for Life service at New Life Wesleyan Church in Gillette and graveside at Campbell County Cemetery, and drove the 5 hours back to Denver. Flew back to Phoenix Sunday evening.

Celebration of Life video slide show. Thanks to Shannon Hartnett and Brittani Phelps.

Goodbye Precious Daughter

Our beloved daughter Kari Ann Allen-Brinkerhoff-Wales passed on to the arms of Jesus today after a 13 year battle with cancer.
April 29, 1974 – February 7, 2017

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
2Timothy 2:7-8

Merry Christmas from Arizona

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Greetings. No, we don’t have snow here…yet. I stole this picture off the web. It doesn’t depict this joyous time of year when we once again remember the reason for Christmas. Not Santa or the giving, but to celebrate God’s gift to us in Jesus.

Through the years…centuries…the story of Christmas has evolved a bit and permeated our minds with visions without a biblical basis. In the past, I enjoyed sharing a simple Christmas “test” that helps us understand some of the fallacies. Here is a sample.

What does the Bible say that the Innkeeper said to Mary and Joseph? (Luke 2:7)
    A. “There is no room in the inn.”
    B. “I have a stable you can use.”
    C. “Come back later and I should have some vacancies.”
    D. Both A and B
    E. None of the above

Curious? Check the other 19 multiple choice question test here. There is also a link to the answers.

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We enjoyed meeting up with Bob and Twyla for a pizza and a visit to the Phoenix Zoo to see the fabulous Christmas lights. Bob and Twyla hosted with us at Colorado Bend State Park in Texas; back on our very first volunteer job. This winter, Bob and Twyla are volunteers at  Maricopa County Park: Desert Outdoor Center near Anthem.

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We saw several Lego displays on our walk around the zoo. You can’t tell much from this picture, but they are quite incredible.

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Our duties here at Twin Palms RV Park are pretty basic. Owners Steve and Jenni are fantastic. When an RV departs, Ed rakes the site and reads the electric and water meters in preparation for a new incoming RV. There are only 15 spaces, and many folks are here by the month, so not too demanding.

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Connie is back doing her favorite work…playing in the dirt. Especially when someone else pay$ for the flowers. She has offered to do her next favorite thing, painting, but Steve hasn’t taken her up on it yet. Her least favorite is cleaning restrooms, but only does that once a week and they are small and stay pretty clean.

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Gilbert Farmers Market is open every Saturday throughout the year. A great place to stroll and pick up a few items. Gilbert and the market is only around 4 miles from our park.

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About 4 miles in the other direction is the Mesa Flea Market. Over a mile of covered shops, food, and entertainment. A fun way to spend a few hours getting some exercise. Reaching for your wallet doesn’t count as exercise.

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Other than the fantastic weather, having a great place to park our 5th wheel and lots of activities, we have family here too. Connie’s sister Carol and her husband Roger are only 4 miles from us…a nice bike ride on the canal path. Roger’s son Kevin and his girlfriend Amanda joined us at Four Peaks Brewing Company in Tempe for a brew and supper. Fantastic! Kevin and Amanda both have high school daughters that are friends and play soccer…Amanda’s twins and Kevin’s daughter Jenna. The girls were actually responsible for them becoming a couple.

Connie’s other sister, Cheri, is driving down from Loveland this week (December 15) to spend a few weeks scouting for a new home and maybe a job? She really wants to retire, but she is inhibited with youth…not quite old enough 😉

We wish you a very memorable Christmas and 2017. May it be filled with comfort and joy. Comfort knowing Jesus, and Joy knowing He paid the price for our everlasting life.

 

Winter Home in Mesa

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We arrived in Mesa Wednesday afternoon, November 9. Our awning had pulled out of slot a bit, so we dropped our trailer at Desert Autoplex for warranty repair.

We were not able to get in to our spot at Twin Palms RV until Saturday, so we were left with 3 homeless nights. Jill, the service manager at Desert Autoplex, was super and allowed us to leave our trailer in their secure lot with 50amp service. They completed the awning repair Wednesday! They are conveniently located directly across Main from Twin Palms.

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Connie’s sister Carol, and husband Roger left for the Holy Land (no not Texas) trip the day we arrived. So we had their home to spend our 3 homeless nights! Now that’s some kind of deal! It was like staying at a $300 a night resort with pool and all the amenities. Here’s Ed on their patio near the pool. Even had the use of Carol’s car!

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We got settled in to our new spot (#9) on Saturday, then had orientation with Steve (the owner) on Monday. Orientation included basic items Steve wanted us to do in his absence as “Managers.” Pretty light duty compared to our other volunteer jobs we’ve had. We love our spot. It’s directly behind Steve’s Motorcycle shop on Main Street, so we get some noise, but quite tolerable.

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We had Mike Isley install three 260 watt solar panels and associated equipment the week we arrived at Twin Palms. Mike did a great job and knows his stuff. Click here for a few more pictures of the install. Ed braved prepping the fiberglass roof for solar by washing and waxing it. The solar will be our safety net while traveling with a power hog residential refrigerator. And of course we like to have our popcorn and movie while parked at Walmart 😉

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Carol’s son Marshall, his wife Amanda, and daughter MacKenzie live in Chandler. Just a few miles from Mesa. While they are only a block off a major street (Dobson), they have a large irrigated tract. The former owner boarded horses. Marshall and Amanda have huge plans for “going off the grid” and have a perfect place for that…only as outsiders, we see lots and lots of work! They invited us over for BBQ and to get a tour of their new place. Even had a beer!

Colorado to Arizona via Texas

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Left Loveland RV Resort on Thursday November 3, 2016 in route to our winter home in Mesa, AZ. We had a nice uneventful drive to the Walmart in Trinidad, CO. Managed to walk the 2 miles in to downtown along the Santa Fe Trail. Not really a trail, but a 2-lane highway.  But enjoyed getting out and seeing some of the downtown area. Somewhat surprised of all the emphasis on cannabis (marijuana) sale places. One next door to Walmart, and a block of stores in downtown. Trinidad is on the border, so is a good source for folks from other states to stalk up.

Traveled from Trinidad to Childress, TX on Friday; pulling in to a delightful campground in the park. Only $15. Was nice and quiet, but we did hear the ducks quacking on the lake. Loved it.

We ventured to Stephenville on Saturday and stayed till the following Tuesday. Great visit with Ed’s sister and family there. Click here to view Texas family pictures.

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Many rodeo cowboys call Stephenville home and the town honors them with a dedicated Cowboy Capital Walk-of-Fame block in downtown.

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Walk-of-Fame plaques include famous bull rider, Tuff Hedeman, Rodeo Clown and bull fighter Junior Meek, and Dallas Cowboys running back and steer wrestler Walt Garrison and 1979 Miss Rodeo America wife Debbie.

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When driving from our Stephenville City Park RV site to Ed’s sister’s place, we would pass Tarleton State University, home of the Texans…or Texanns if you’re woman volleyball player. Tarleton is an extension of Texas A&M, College Station, Texas. We made a note that our grand daughter Faith might one day be interested; scholarship pending of course.

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Drove 600 miles on Tuesday November 8, voting day, to another Walmart in Las Cruces, NM. We had stayed here before on a different trip and remembered it offered pretty nice accommodations…for free..plus they have all night security patrol. Many choices for dinner after hours on the road. We enjoyed a Goose Island IPA and dinner at Applebees, a short walk from Walmart.

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A shorter drive from Cruces to Mesa on Wednesday. Only 350 miles. Another great leg to our journey. We knew we were getting close when we drove through the Texas Canyon area. By this time, our poor Mobile Suites and Dually were quite dirty and weather beaten. Stopped at the Blue Beacon Truck Wash in Casa Grande and were very pleased. Full wash, hand dry, and wheel service for $69. Now we’re all clean again and ready for our new site at Twin Palms RV.

Still in Colorado

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Good news is that Kari is home in Gillette after the ordeal she went through at Anschutz Cancer Center. She’s started a new round of chemo, but not sure how well it’s going to work yet. She gives thanks for the few days she feels better. One day she was happy to get out of the house for a lunch date with a friend. Our prayer is for her to regain her strength so she can participate in life…and granddaughter Blakelee!

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Meanwhile, Connie spent 5 days at Jodi’s mountain condo sewing with girl friends. Had a fantastic time and laughed a lot.

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We’ve been blessed with a warmer than usual fall, which allowed some of the condo girls to take a break outdoors and get in some hiking on nearby trails. This picture has Connie and Jodi leading on.

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Ed has been driving charter bus to help pay the rent here. Weddings, shuttles from downtown Denver to Red Rocks for all kinds of concerts, high school volleyball & soccer teams, seniors from Greeley to see a play in Denver…and transport for folks going to the Bronco’s Monday night football game on October 24.

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We continued to battle the traffic in to Denver to watch Faith and her Lakewood Tigers play volleyball. Shannon got this picture after her last home game. The Tigers finish up this weekend with a tournament…then maybe go on to some playoffs. Faith then begins club volleyball.

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Connie pops in to the Presser Foot (Bernina sewing and quilt store) now and then, and helped them at the Quilt-a-Fair event. She also enjoyed meeting Jenn and Debbi for breakfast a few times.

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After selling most all our stuff (treasures) the summer of 2014, we stored all that we could not part with at sister Cheri’s shed in Loveland, CO. Quite a reduction from a 2700 SF home eh?

 

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Now Cheri has decided to sell out and move to Arizona. Okay, so we once more reduced our footprint…to this. Cheri will take it with her to Arizona. What a peach she is. Just family treasures and keepsakes remaining. Well, except for the steel base swivels for our lounge chairs.

Heading south Thursday. Should beat the Colorado snow. Yeah!

Pre Arizona Visiting

Daughter Kari with her granddaughter Blakelee (our great grand daughter) prior to returning to Denver for more surgery.

Kari has battled cancer since she was 28. It has escalated to the point where her lungs fill with cancerous fluid and must be drained. She’s been to Anschutz Cancer Center at the University of Colorado Health Center 3 times since we’ve been here. We’ve battled the traffic from Loveland several times to be with her post surgery and while she was there. Not pleasant.

Each surgery was supposed to coat her lungs to prevent the fluid build up. Each time requiring a hospital stay. The surgeon punctured her spleen on the last surgery and he had to removed it!! She’s home now, but on oxygen regaining her strength. Kari handles all this with grace and has many people praying for her comfort, strength, faith, and lots more time for her to ride her Harley Trike!

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We miss Big Creek Fish Hatchery, our new friends there, and the park like spot we had. But family is west of there and we feel disconnected without a seasonal visit. We had a great visit in Wyoming, and now in northern Colorado. We’re parked at Loveland RV Resort, located right next to the Centerra Marketplace shopping complex. A huge area with lots of restaurants. Not good! At least when trying to restrain ourselves from going out.

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Grand daughter Faith’s high school volleyball schedule is one reason we wanted to be back in Colorado this fall. Like the good grand parents we are, we’re very proud of her. She is not only the smallest on JV and Varsity at a 5A school, but the only freshman. She loves volleyball and we love watching her and the Lakewood Tigers. The only drawback is the traffic getting to Denver area schools. We will not miss that as we travel south.

We travel to Stephenville, TX on November 3 and will spend a few days with Ed’s sister Alice and all the family there. We will also try and beat the snow in Colorado, then on to Mesa Arizona for the winter.

 

Goodbye Oregon Hello WY & CO

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Sister Cheri flew in to Portland August 22 and spent time with us for our last week in Oregon. Lots for us to show her, but we had to experience downtown Portland before heading back to Big Creek. Wherever women are, it must include shopping! Cheri popped in to a TJ Maxx for a shopping fix. We enjoyed a beer and lunch at Deschutes.

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Had to take Cheri to Astoria’s Maritime Museum. A fabulous place to visit. We also got to tour the Lightship Columbia in the background. Fantastic history that we never knew about before.

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Cheri’s visit would not be complete without a stop a the Bowpicker for a basket of tuna and fries. This time it included the typical wait in line.

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Ed and Connie on the bow of the Lightship Columbia with the Columbia River port in the background.

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Took time to stop for a beer at Rogue Brewery on pier 39 on Thursday August 25, then visit the historic Coffee Girl and Bumble Bee Cannery the following Saturday, August 27. Made it a morning visit for coffee and a treat prior to driving to Ilwaco, WA to buy some tuna and visit the waterfront vendors. Girls need their shopping fix.

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Our volunteer hours didn’t cease because we had a visitor. Cheri actually spent a couple days helping out a bit, but soon realized there was no future in it. She did get to meet our wonderful new friends at Big Creek. L/R are: Joy, Mike, Dustin, Travis, Ross, and Rob. A great group to work with.

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Some of Ed’s last days at Big Creek was spent on this weed wacker. Whew! Didn’t quite finish wacking this path from the hatchery to the inlet, but got a pretty good start.

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Looking back from the picture above is the “after” wacking look.

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Enough with working and on to more Oregon adventures. Pat, a volunteer at Big Creek (didn’t show up for the picture) was relentless that we had to visit Oswald West State Park, just south of Cannon Beach. We found the Cape Falcon hiking trail and were determined we could easily hike the 2.5 miles…and return. In spite of the posted warnings!

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Needless to say, we felt like we had hiked way beyond the 2.5 miles and never did see a sign that said Cape Falcon. We saw some breathtaking views before heading back, including the little waterfall and typical misty view of the Pacific.

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Cheri’s visit wouldn’t be totally complete without a visit to the Tillamook Cheese factory in…you guessed it…Tillamook, OR. Ed was especially excited for the visit because getting a couple dips of his annual ice cream treat was in store. Vanilla of course.

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We pulled out of Big Creek around 7am Tuesday August 30, dropped Cheri at the Portland airport and headed toward a Walmart in Spokane for the night. All went well. Even found a Great Clips where Ed could get a much needed haircut.

Stopped at Timeless Quilts in Missoula to get their row by row. Click here to see pictures and comments on bottom of Connie’s Quilting page.

Got an early start Wednesday with hopes of making the 540 miles to Billings. However, we had inadvertently failed to latch the refrigerator doors and soon discovered a few things had “flown” out. So decided to stop and a Bozeman Walmart. We had stayed there before and remembered it was walking distance to the 406 Brewery and Wild Rye Distillery. Connie got a jug of their Five Drops Bourbon whiskey.

Oh…the pictures are from our in-route to Bozeman stop at Wheat Bakery in…you guessed it again…Wheat, MT. Always a must. We did refrain from the scrumptious looking cinnamon rolls.

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Finally arrived at daughter Kari and Edward’s in Gillette, WY on Thursday afternoon, September 1. They were futuristic enough to equip a 50amp hookup for us next to their house. We took advantage and bummed out here for a week. We had time to have several nice visits with family: L/R Hagen, Shelby, Leanna, Brittani, Ed, Connie, Garth, Blakelee, Edward, and Kari.

Preparing to leave Bozeman early Thursday, discovered our inverter had suffered a low-voltage shut off during the night,  and our refrigerator was off. We were pleased that it had only gotten down to 50/28 before we connected to Edward’s graciously supplied outlet.

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While in Gillette Edward took us on a tour of the city cemetery where he works. Quite impressive for a cowboy/oil/gas town, or any town for that matter! This water feature is just one example. The residents there can’t really appreciate it, but their visitors can. Edward does everything well and was proud to show us all around.

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Pulled back in to Loveland RV Resort in Loveland on Tuesday September 8, but site #34 this time. We like the spot. Lots of shade and pretty nice yard, but we have more traffic than our last #213 spot. And doesn’t compare to our digs at Big Creek!

Tuesday was busy. Shannon came up from Denver to hang out a few hours before we drove up to Poudre High School in Fort Collins to watch Faith’s volleyball game. She didn’t get much play time on varsity, but when she was out there, she was awesome.