Saturday, April 4, 2020

Considering Freedom

April 4, 2020
Tombstone, Arizona

And I thought having a winter home base was weird!

This new reality is beyond strange. For so many reasons.

We have a lot of saved TV programs and watching pre-Corona commercials highlights just how different our world is now. Car and furniture advertisements - we used to be able to stroll through all the choices and buy them! Drug commercials - are people able to get their prescriptions mailed, or is it safe to visit a physician to get new ones? Fortunately we personally are able to do the former, and hopefully the latter won't be necessary for a long time. Restaurants, new movies in theatres, concert tours, and sporting events - we certainly spent (or had the opportunity to spend) a lot of time in crowds of others. It's a wonder this pandemic didn't happen sooner. And of course all those online dating sites - people still have the online access, but that "getting to know you from afar" stage is going to be much longer now!!

In our post-Corona world commercials are much more limited. And sensitive to our new reality. No bears singing about how their "hinies clean" since we can't find toilet paper! Of any brand!

We're enjoying our sunsets and wide open spaces, continuing to be grateful for where we've so recently landed. Having Ezra and his parents here is an added blessing, time we've been given that would not have happened otherwise. 

A rare red sky over Sheepshead in the Dragoon Mountains.

Sure glad we got a big recliner!

Building with Daddy.

The big bubble wrap is always more fun than whatever was in the box.

Asking the ants where they're going.

Enjoying quiet cuddle time.
Making mud prints is good clean fun! All gone the next day.

TV watching buddies.
One warm evening sans wind, PopPop builds us a fire to enjoy in the setting sun. Dinosaur beans for dinner and marshmallows for dessert make for a perfect outdoor evening.

Ezra prefers his own plank chair by the fire.
Soon it's his outdoor bed. Less appealing when the sun went down :-)
People have already started asking "What's the first thing you want to do when this is over?" You know who is asked that question?  Prisoners. 

Which brings home the reality of what all of us have temporarily lost. Our freedom. We're staying safe and are able to get food and basic supplies. Many are still fully employed, and either staying at home or performing essential services. We can still do a lot.

But we can't do everything we want to. Can't go anywhere we want - can't go most public places. Can't see our friends. Can't see our family. Can't buy everything we want even though we might have the money. We just can't.

In some large cities, in counties and states, people are fined or arrested for violating sheltering in place rules. Some European countries require permits for leaving home, and those are only given for specific reasons. 

And we have no release date. Freedom will return in the future, but we don't know when. Unsettling at the very least.

If you've visited the Japanese Internment Camp, Manzanar, in the Eastern Sierras of California you may have thought - wow, "they" didn't have it so bad. Food, shelter (inadequate, but shelter), education, entertainment, security, gardens, weddings and births, stores, even a newspaper.  Beautiful, natural surroundings.

But they didn't have their freedom. And they didn't know how long it would be before they did. It mattered a lot.

Our situation isn't as extreme and everything we own wasn't taken from us, but it does raise the issue of how completely unreal this is for all of us who have never experienced a lack of freedom (since we moved out of our parents' home). And how much it matters.

On top of the fear of the actual virus for those most at risk, and the hit on individual finances, this impact on our freedom takes its toll. Some are resentful, some look for answers to the "when" question to lessen their stress, and still others are rebellious to the detriment of everyone's health.

I don't imagine I'm the only one considering what freedom really means, along with all the things most important to us. I'm confident we'll get through this and regain all we enjoyed "before". We'll be grateful for our simple freedoms.  

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Getting to This Day

February 14 - March 26, 2020
Tombstone, Arizona

One real disadvantage to not keeping current on the blog is that when the world turns upside down you forget what you were doing during those weeks you didn't capture. 

We've been enjoying our little home on the hill, so grateful that we got settled in to the perfect location to ride out a social distancing mandate. Not difficult here :-) 

Toward the end of February we started tossing around the idea of staying put this year. It was mostly a financial consideration as we want to pay off the improvements we did to the house, and campground fees have gotten so much higher! Our routes were planned, and I had made most of our reservations through September, but nothing that couldn't be undone. We also wanted to see what summers are like here before we put anymore money into improvements we think are most important. Given that eventually we'll live here fulltime, it's probably wise to consider things that will keep us comfortable in the hotter months as well :-) 

The original plan was to hit the road in mid-April, with our annual high school reunion as our first stop. When the reunion was cancelled we decided that was a good enough sign for us that we should just stay put. 

Now of course, staying put may be what all of us are doing for longer than we'd like. 

Our back porch is still the best seat in the house at sunset.
Something we haven't done much in the last several years is little ones' birthday parties. Clyde and Sarah's (friends from my class in high school who live in nearby Safford) invited us to their newest great-grand child's second birthday. Pizza for everyone and a gazillion darling new outfits for the birthday girl. What fun!

Donnie and Anna's grand daughters came for a visit the beginning of March, and it's always fun to see them. Today they are all back from Colorado, moving here permanently just a few months earlier than planned. 

Roz and Quinn enjoying the sunshine.

Quinn has discovered posing :-)
The three of us, or sometimes just Tessa and I, spend a lot of time exploring our beautiful and historic surroundings. The weather changes everyday giving us a variety of views along the same trails.

Reminds me of my horse who would always walk between the shadows.

The Old Gleeson Jail

Such character in the remnants of the old settlement.

Surrounded by mountains, we get many layers of color and light.

Sheepshead in the distance means we're nearing home.
Sadly our friend Mike buried his son here in St George in 2016. This year he and his wife are unable to make the drive from Phoenix so Bill, Kevin and I take flowers in remembrance of his passing.

Ed Schefflin founded the town of Tombstone, and his wish was to be buried here. The monument marks his grave just outside of town. 
The San Pedro River defines much of the ecosystem we enjoy in this part of Cochise County. You can follow it's path through the desert by the mature Cottonwood Trees that line and fill the river bed. They tell the seasons with the coloring, loss and return of their leaves. 

The San Pedro House is a small visitor center and interpretive garden. The giant trees steal the show.

The trunk is the size of a Volkswagon.

Level paths meander through a variety of local flora.

Feeling very small among these amazing trees.

One cloudy day Bill suggests we finally make the drive to Cochise Stronghold on the "other side" of the Dragoon Mountains. Cochise and the Apaches have a long, often violent, history here, and the stronghold is an opportunity to walk among the spirits of that history. It turns out to be the perfect day to visit, with rain threatening and almost no one else in the park. It's my new favorite place, and I can't wait to get back to spend more time among the fabulous trees and rocks.

The first glimpse of the stronghold draws us in. 

A world of hiding places enabled Cochise and his band to escape battle and capture for many years. He is said to be buried here in an unmarked grave.

The sound of rushing water draws us down a narrow trail.

A fast flowing stream flows from Dragoon Springs.

Tessa leads us back to the Jeep, stopping for us to catch up.

Lots to see here, like a giant shark eating a boat.

And a tiny elephant peeking around the corner.

The skies open up as soon as we get back to the Jeep, and pours on us for several miles.

Green is slowly returning the desert here.

We take a new way home, the back way through Benson. Beautiful.
Other than trips to Sierra Vista to pick up groceries in the safety of a parking area with no one but the store clerk who loads the car and requires no signature, and a quick stop to pick up new glasses in an office with one other person, we are staying away from other people. Our friends have hunkered down as well.

Which gets us to this day.

Ezra and his parents are en route to spend a couple weeks with us. Getting them out of the city, and out of their small apartment with an active four year old, is something we've been working on for a couple weeks. We really want to get Jeff out of Seattle, but he is being responsible, not wanting to chance exposure to those of us at higher risk. He's safely at home with fast, unlimited Internet and a GrubHub account so he says he's fine :-)

Tucked in with a movie for the long drive to PopPop and Nawma's house.
Like so many negative things that impact our lives, for me it's the not knowing the end of the story that I'm concerned about. Living as we are now is not a terrible hardship, but no knowing how we'll be living a month from now is hell. Fortunately we don't know anyone who knows anyone infected with the virus, but we worry that could change at any time. We're still planning our September trip to Lake Powell, but we don't know if things will be better or worse by then. I believe that social distancing is the right answer for flattening the curve, but I don't know that everyone is taking the necessary steps to ensure it happens. 

We laugh at the run on toilet paper and cry at the lack of adequate supplies for our healthcare personnel. Clearly we are not prepared for a global crisis. Certainly we're all being given an opportunity to decide what's really important. 

Hopefully we'll be better to each other during and after this wake up call. Hopefully you are all safe and well and counting your blessings.

And there's always desert sunsets to appreciate....

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Feels Like Lazy 'Til I Start Writing a Post

January 24 - February 14, 2020
Tombstone, Arizona

It's weird.

Actually, many things are weird.

About this whole "winter base" thing.....being in one place for months. Being in a house. Having projects. Building permanence.

It's weird not being on the road and seeing new things. The absence of planning places we'll visit over the next several weeks, of unexpected adventures. 

Yet looking back over our years of fulltime RVing, it is the weird places and experiences that stand out. So weird isn't bad, it's just, you know...weird.

Although we only traveled fulltime for less than five years, it became who we are immediately. So although we've pretty much always lived in a permanent structure, being in a house now feels like we're living such a different life. 

Do I want to get rid of it and travel fulltime? Nope! 

But we are both looking forward to April and hitting the road again :-)

Although it feels like we haven't done much, that we've been lazy slugs since the holidays, once I started gathering photos and looking at my calendar I realized we've been doing a LOT!

Our diligent construction crew finish the kitchen, including the new shelves, moving the dining room light, rewiring the outlets and disposal along the wall with the sink, paint, and installing the sink after the counter tops are installed. We're so happy with how it all turned out!

Our new kitchen. Love the counter tops and how perfectly they matched the stain on the new shelves!

How that corner looked when we moved in.
We didn't need the pantry or broom closet that we took out. We're so happy with the new, open layout.

From the updated dining area.

We don't miss the lamps :-)

Feeling spiffy now!

With the original microwave we had very little usable counter space. And then there was the kitchen carpet!
Not long after we joined John and Pam to see Mike and Janna, we enjoyed a visit from John and Pam with Dave and Sue! To say that we've made dear friends in our travels and blog reading would be an understatement. We've met up with these four all over the country, and although we each have a base we return to now, we still have wonderful travels to share and the love of travel in common. It's great to get caught up and too soon it's time for good-byes-for-now. Three bloggers and none of us got a photo!!

An hour later (not a week or a day, but an hour) after our four travel buddies depart, our high school buddies show up in their fifth wheel to spend the week! Our new two-space RV lot with 50 amp and water was completed the day before - another crew of hard workers who do a great job. 

Getting electrical from the house to the RV spaces.

Jesse's a pro at laying down the gravel.

Room for two with awesome views.

Our first campers! We watched the Super Bowl at Jimmy and Maggie's house the last two years so it's great to have a place we can host them!
Ten of us gather for Super Bowl in our new abode - six of us went to high school in overlapping six years! We certainly never thought 45 years ago we'd be watching the big game together.

Never a lack of things to eat!

Explaining we have BBQ and cole slaw for Kansas City and crab dip with sourdough bread and Ghiradelli Chocolate for San Francisco :-)) just noticed the interesting rabbit ears over my head!

Turk, Jimmy and Jimmy (Cindy's spouse). Donnie and Anna won three out of four quarters in our pool - cheaters!!

Rhonda, Tessa, Maggie and Cindy (Anna's sister) comfy on the couch with Donnie holding down the carpet in front of Anna.

Lizzie wasted no chance every time Bill left his chair :-)
Me and my beautiful buddy Anna.
Yes, it seems we know a lot of people everywhere we go, and here in southeastern Arizona is no different. In addition to our Tombstone friends (there may be more of them soon), we have five(!) more friends who live in nearby Safford, Arizona. We meet up with them in Benson for lunch although sadly Marvin isn't able to join us this time. It really is amazing that so many of us have stayed in touch from a very small town.

Clockwise from the left - Jodee (class of '73), Bill (class of '74), Anna (Donnie's spouse), Donnie (class of '74), Turk (Donnie's brother, class of '71), Jimmy (class of '75), Paul Scott (class of 72), Clyde and Sarah (married, class of '73), Jack Wininger (class of 74), and Maggie (Jimmy's spouse).
Rhonda (also class of '74, and now with Turk after 45 years since we left Eagle Mountain), Anna and I make another (this time successful) trip to Bisbee while Maggie gets caught up with work. It's a beautiful day and although there's little parking, there aren't a lot of people. We do a little shopping although all of us manage to leave without a single item, and stop for yummy coffee before heading home. It's really nice to have some girl time :-)

Bisbee is all about layers.

And the old west.

And lots of pretty colors.
We hang out with our friends and spend evenings between Donnie and Anna's and our place, playing cards and Cribbage. We get out for fish and chips in Sierra Vista one evening.

Dinner at the Landmark - Donnie, Anna, Jimmy, Maggie, Jimmy, Cindy, Jodee, Bill, Rhonda and Turk.

A round table was the right choice!
Tessa's alter ego as a pillow.
Over the weekend we are treated to incredible sunsets. Sadly they're all in between our friends' visits :-( Jimmy and Maggie leave, and two days later our RVing friends Ron and Renee arrive!

While those flaming western skies are stunning, we love our southern views of the Mules and Burros (mountains).
One of those "in between" days, Donnie and Anna take us out to the area south of Gleeson where they were hunting Javelina a few weeks ago. It's a gorgeous warm day with clear blue skies. We need to do this more often!!

Before we bought the RV I was active on the RV-Dreams forum and so was Renee. When she noted we were going to the RV show in Pomona, California, in October, 2014, she reached out to meet up. It was our first meeting with anyone from this new life style we were preparing to join. We had a great time getting to know she and her spouse, Ron. Fast forward 5+ years and we've stayed in touch through our blogs, Facebook, and a couple additional meetings. And now we get to share our new place with them (and Rufus) too!! They're only here for two nights, and the weather is cold and wet (including snow their last night!), but we have a lovely visit and tasty burgers in Tombstone.

Renee, Ron, Bill and Jodee at the Longhorn.

We're fixing it now, but unfortunately our RV space is too tight a turn for bumper-pulls to back into. Fortunately we have 30 amp and water in the driveway with easy access!
Now don't laugh, but the day Ron and Renee leave, more high school friends arrive at Donnie and Anna's! Seriously! Kevin was in Bill and Donnie's class and has been married to Bridgette for 35 years so she's family like Anna and Maggie. They're here for awhile, looking at maybe also making Tombstone their home. There are no more visitors on the schedule as of right now. We'll see how long that lasts :-)

Donnie and Kevin giving Bill a hand taking down the old TV antenna. Nice to have friends in the neighborhood!
Somewhere in all of this my leg starts hurting, and I finally go to the ER to get some answers. X-rays show nothing, including zero arthritis which makes me very happy. Most likely inflamed pinched nerve, and a few pain killers and a small leg brace give me relief "most of the time". Getting old is not for sissies!

When everyone in the ER waiting room sounds like they have the plague, I'm grateful to have the "back room" all to myself!
So I'm enjoying the weirdness, looking forward to our future travels, and realizing we haven't been nearly as lazy as I thought :-)))