Monday, September 14, 2020

Holding Our Breath

September 14, 2020
Tombstone, Arizona

Certainly all the fires in the west contribute to many wanting to hold their breath. Here in southeast Arizona we're surrounded with haze, often blocking all of our mountains to the west and south. 

Huachuca Mountains hidden under smoke from far away fires.

Yet that's not the breath-holding I'm thinking of. 

Almost half way through our seventh month of this unreal reality, it seems perhaps it could go on forever. Even making plans for next summer with great optimism and enthusiasm, I'm reminded that it's possible they will all be cancelled. I never even considered that the northern border might still be closed until a few comments on the last post raised the possibility. 

Another ten months??? Good lord.......

We've already held our breath hoping and praying and wondering and crossing our fingers for such a long time. In April I certainly thought that by August we'd be looking at the end of the threat, that we could breathe normally again. Instead September is sending mixed messages of flattening curves, increased hospitalizations, and possible mutations at the same time vaccine readiness dates are bandied around. 

Sanity requires finding humor where we can.

Political and social justice battles fuel human fires around the country while entire communities are destroyed by killing flames. I hold my breath every morning nervously wondering "what's next?".

Local postal workers remind us they are under attack.

Our new grand baby is coming in early November no matter what the world is doing. Life does go on. 

We continue to get a few projects done in between a whole lot of laziness. Monsoon season has moved on without giving us much water. The San Pedro River is dry in most places, reduced to a flat trickle under the bridge on the drive to Sierra Vista. Our desert is green and beautiful, and most days we have 20% humidity. But it still feels much dryer than last year at this time.

Last year!?! Yep, we've now been here a year. It was October when we moved into the house, but we opened escrow and were mooch-docking at our friends' in early September. Hard to wrap my head around how different our lives have been being off the road. Not bad at all, but certainly different!!

I did finally get the bedroom done and am very pleased with how it turned out. Updating the hardware in the kitchen makes that room feel more complete as well. Bought paint for Jeff's room, and will probably start on that after our trip to Santa Fe.

In between permanent window coverings I used lap blankets. Jeff said it "looks like an opium den". I don't ask how he knows this......

Having lived in earthquake country all my life, I like soft things above the bed :-)

Fun to decorate with my photographs.

The original plan was just the plain blinds, but they turned out "too" plain so I added the curtains to soften the feel. 

With a large yard we have lots of large and small projects to keep us busy during cooler weather. On hot days we still get out to "find" rocks for landscaping and focal points. It's the desert, we have a large selection to choose from :-)

In search of large rocks, we find a new-to-us trail to follow.

Colorful cliffs on both sides.

Erosion shapes interesting canyon walls.

In addition to living in a national historic town, we're surrounded by several smaller vintage townships. Not surprising, Ghost Town Road takes us through several ruins to what remains of Pearce, Arizona. It's a pretty drive on one of our hotter days.

Old mining tailings along Ghost Town Road.

Visiting hours are over at the jail in Pearce, Arizona

Jeff and I take a rare drive to Tucson to pick up a few items we can't get locally. Limiting our exposure to others we're back home in just a few hours. So many places I thought we'd be exploring in our closest city, so many things I thought we'd be doing......

One thing that is less than perfect at our little Arizona home is the lack of decent Internet. We added ViaSat to our AT&T MiFi and we still can't stream movies or TV shows with any regularity. Frustrating with all this time and access to Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu that we can't enjoy. We have satellite with 900 channels, and maybe 12 that aren't complete crap. First world problem admittedly, and maybe one that will get resolved while we're holding our breath :-)

At least football season has started, and while it's a slightly different experience, it's still wonderful to watch games again!!


Back in SoCal Ezra starts Kindergarten at home. Shalise has done a lot of preparation to make sure he's getting the full curriculum. Like all kids, he's missing making new friends and having humans his own age to interact with. Soon Ezra, hopefully soon!

I love that he wants to be a "demolition expert"!

Miss Clover is Ezra's new house companion.

I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe. Remember to breathe :-)

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

I Made Reservations!

September 2, 2020
Tombstone, AZ

Hmmmm....nice of blogger to return this font size. Unless of course I made some error on the last couple posts (doubtful of course). Always nice to have one less thing to be concerned with :-)

While I'm finding peace in focusing on the Now, I've found great pleasure in doing some real travel planning this week! I realize that some people find this piece of RV life stressful, but I've always loved it. Since Bill is happy to go where I route us, and since any routing "oops" affects me more as the driver, it's a very fun project for me. This time there's the added bonus of doing something I love after having had to wait seven months! Patience is definitely not my strong suit.

I now have five maps saved with lots of favorite stops, and a few brand new ones. Leaving in mid-April we'll head north through the center of California and over to the coast just north of San Francisco, all the way to Astoria, Oregon. Then we'll move inland to Gig Harbor, Washington, for that can't-wait visit with my newly found cousin David. North through Port Townsend, Washington, into Canada where we'll finally see Jasper and Banff before continuing south into western Montana. Some stops in Wyoming, Idaho and Utah before we return to Arizona and back to the house in mid-October. Secure reservations for a couple of the holiday weekends, and two summer weeks at our favorite spot on Tillamook Bay, Oregon, is a good start to feeling like we can really make this happen!

One other route is finalized for the week in Santa Fe. Being post-Labor Day I was surprised that getting reservations was a challenge. I didn't find any events happening, but apparently it's a popular time in this favorite city. I'm already preparing my taste buds for stuffed sopaipillas!! 

Cafe Castro in Santa Fe does it right!
Although we enjoy local eateries during our travels we still plan to do only pick-up and delivery rather than exposing ourselves in restaurants for this first trip. I'll stock up with more groceries and supplies than usual to limit my interactions. Bill will continue to stay "in" for now. Since our greatest pleasure is road trips - on and off the highway - we'll find plenty to keep us entertained. Maybe I can find some grass for Tessa's zoomies :-) 

What's odd is that I find I'm nervous about heading out. All the whining, and now I'm anxious! Can't really put my finger on it......maybe I wonder if we'll still know how to "do" everything :-) I suppose the pandemic and all the changes it has wrought is foremost on my mind. I've gotten comfortable with our little world here in Southern Arizona, and how people do or don't comply with safety measures. Trusting a whole world of people "out there" is a bigger step than I thought. But this is our world now, and while vaccines may be in our future before the end of 2020, we won't know their effectiveness for months afterward. I do feel more confident about our 2021 travels, yet who really knows at this point?

Happily my excitement overrides my concerns, and I'm feeling optimistic about returning to the road. 

We did venture out to a birthday party at our dear friends' house. We sat outside for much of the time as there were over a dozen people (a veritable crowd for us) in the house, but it was fun to celebrate with good food and friends for a short time.

Daniel, Rose and Gary ready to make their birthday wishes.
Monsoons continue to take the rain around us most of the time, but we did get one day of steady rain and temps in the low 70's. The smoke has moved out of our views and the blue skies are even sharper with the big white clouds floating by. Heavenly!

I never tire of this view (or any of them all around us!).
I'm finding that most places aren't yet taking 2021 reservations so I'll be planning for several months. I'm looking forward to filling in the calendar!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The Joy of Finding Family

 August 26, 2020
Tombstone, Arizona

Recent changes to Blogger have changed the font size options leaving me without what I found to be the perfect size that was between this new "too large" and the much smaller "not normal for me" .

My last post looks like it was designed for a large print book and rather silly. Feels like I'm yelling at you! Since we are now often referring to the "new normal" of our lives, I suppose opting for the new Normal for my font is appropriate. 

Hardly on the scale of pandemics, civil rights battles, political corruption, fires, power outages and hurricanes, this latest 2020 blogger-font-size crisis will likely not be life changing for anyone :)

We don't need anything else!

I've once again gotten caught up reading posts from my Blog Roll, catching up on what our friends are up to. What a different world most of us are experiencing. Thankfully no one is sick, everyone is safe. Most are stationary. Many are in sticks and bricks, either permanently or part time. Those in Europe are each having different experiences.

How uplifting to see what others are doing! Funny that we all think we're not doing anything of interest to others, yet I find it's my interest in the individuals themselves that makes reading their posts such a delight. We haven't spent a lot of time with most of these travel friends (some more than others), a couple we've not met, and yet all have been a big part of my life for years. Who knew that distant friends would become the norm for all of us?!

Distant family makes us sad as we're missing those grand babies, but a couple months ago I found some of my family which has made me very happy!

I have a small family - Mom had one brother who had one son. Dad had a sister with no children and a brother with two sons. My 3 cousins and I saw a lot of each other when we were little then we moved to the desert of SoCal and I rarely saw them. My mom's nephew Tracy and I stayed in touch and he helped me move in 2001. After high school I lost touch with the other two, only seeing Steven once in 1998. David had moved to the northwest and even changed his last name to his mother's maiden name.

As an only child myself my sons have no cousins from my family. Neither Tracy nor Steven had children so the only other "next generation" are David's two children. 

Aaaanyway, back in 2017 I looked for my cousins on Facebook (although I knew that Steven and Tracy were very unlikely to have a social media presence). Somehow I found a woman who I thought was David's spouse although she had a different last name. I sent her a message. Nothing.

Fast forward to May 2020 and a response pops up!! Yes, she is David's spouse and now David has his own FB page so we become Friends and poof!! Family :-) 

Steven sits while David and I are held by Grandpa George - 1956

Me, Steven and David with our older grands - I still remember that wallpaper!

Since I was already working on photo albums, I had old family photos at my fingertips. Sharing them with David and his family is such a joy. His parents divorced in the 70's and his dad (my Uncle Johnnie) passed a few years later. My mother was with his when she lost her battle with cancer in the early '80's. Most of the photos I have he's never seen, and of course are a glimpse of that long ago time that he can now share with his wife and family. 

Not long after we reconnected, David received his dad's war diary in the mail from a woman who has had it since she was little girl and somehow found David after all this time. Wow!! Uncle Johnnie never talked about those years with his boys so he's hoping to learn more about who his father was. And I have my dad's photo album from those years - with photos of Johnnie and their friends. Our hope is that some of the photos will show people he references in the diary and we'll both have a more complete history! It's all very exciting.

Handsome Uncle Johnnie

I'm grateful Dad saved so many pics of his brother for his
son to enjoy all these years later.

Even better, they live Washington, in an area we love to visit, so next summer we'll be able to get caught up in person. Steven is in Salt Lake City and I'm hopeful we can add him to the reunion. I know our parents are happy we're finally getting the family back together!

At a time in our lives when we're disconnected from most people it is such a gift to have made this connection. To find how much David and I have in common, to feel that blood tie even from 1600 miles away, to know there is another generation with the opportunity to call each other family. I didn't realize the void was there until it was once again filled. 

The fires in Colorado and New Mexico are sharing their smoke with Southern Arizona making our hot days hazy and unpleasant. Fortunately we don't have the smell or the ash, just the blurred views. Arizona has its own fires but the winds seem to be sending "our" smoke to other places. Our kids are away from the current California devastation so we're grateful they are out of harm's way. My BFF posted a pic of the Sacramento skies they're contending with, just awful!!

Dangerous air quality for everyone in Saramento.

We're seriously considering a two week trip to the Santa Fe area the first week of October to get the wheels rolling on the motorhome and give us a much needed adventure. I'll start looking for reservations this weekend to see if it's feasible, then keep an eye on how the COVID numbers look where we want to be.

Just the thought of planning a route, even with restricted "go-sees", is very exciting :-)))) 

Since I've decided to add additional window coverings in the bedroom the "big reveal" is postponed (for those of you who only opened the post to see a pretty bedroom, I apologize).

I'm confident you are all doing well, and making the best of these "troubling times" - keep posting and commenting so we can all see how much or little you're doing!

What Tessa dreams about these days!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Living in the Now, Surrounded By Desert Beauty

 June 21 - August 12, 2020
Tombstone, Arizona

And just like that, another eight weeks rolled on by. With temps in the 90's and a few triple digit days, most of our time is spent indoors. Some projects completed, lots of reading and television. 

And learning to live in the now. 

For two years I planned our fulltime RV life. Then for five years I planned our upcoming routes and new adventures. This new reality of not only "no plans", but no idea when I can start planning again, is a challenge. It requires me to focus on each day, on being in the moment I'm in right now. I'm most content when I'm successful. Because the days I'm living are pretty darn good :-)

Certainly we're blessed to have this house in this place at this time. Appreciating those blessings every day is not a bad way to spend my time. 

I'm not doing a good job of memorializing it, but I've stopped beating myself up over my lack of blogging. These are slower times, captured more slowly.

So Ezra and his parents spent four months with us. During that time they also purchased a home, and moved back to SoCal the middle of July. Jeff remains with us, will go to school in the Fall, will figure out the future when the world can again do that with any certainty.

PopPop and Ezra make each other laugh all the time.
PopPop and Ezra make each other laugh!

Nothing better than water play on a hot day.

Jeff learning the fun part of RV living - dumping the tanks.

The family of 3.5 at their new home in the mountains.

Brian and Ezra

The Gravel boys and their families are managing remote and in-person jobs with children at home. All continue to be healthy, all are ready for return to normalcy. We stay caught up with videos, photos, phone calls and Skype/Facetime. We miss seeing them, miss knowing we can visit them whenever we want.

Mason and Maximus, soon to be two and four.

Reese, our only grand daughter, nine months in August.

Henry (son of our "borrowed" daughter Megan, and our fifth grand), at seven months.

Monsoon season means surrounding storms each afternoon. A couple even bring rain with the thunder, lightning and wind. Mostly they give us incredible skies and that wonderful petrichor.

A lot of our storms come up from the south.

These bright skies make the whole desert glow orange.

Although we don't get a lot of wet, some afternoons feel like we're underwater!

Thunder storms from the north.

One of my projects is painting our bedroom. It feels good to have it done, and I'm happy with the results. Still waiting for the custom shades to be installed so final "reveal" to come!

I'm always finding these little "notes" throughout the house. Something my dad always did!

Lots of cut-in with multiple doors and trim. Since I don't tape or tarp, I take my time.

I'm happy with the color, really warms up the room.

We still love our desert drives and enjoy the drama of cloudy days. It's so green everywhere we go although the San Pedro River has only a trickle still visible. We get flash flood warnings every week, but have yet to see any moving water in our travels. 

Some cloud bursts move a wall of water across the horizon.

We watch for the alien ship to burst out.

Another project that keeps me busy for several days is moving a large box of photos into albums. What fun to enjoy all those memories from my baby days through both my sons growing to manhood. 

Jodee at two with serious expectations for Santa.

Jeff and Brian on the train from Durango to Silverton, Colorado

Always a good time with these two - ages 11 and 3

Bill stays away from town while Jeff and I make regular trips into Sierra Vista to pick up groceries and occasional meals to-go. Mask wearing is finally required at most businesses although sadly some still refuse to exercise common sense. We haven't found any need to drive to Tucson but are keeping Amazon and UPS busy every week!

Most trips to town include supporting our favorite small business for iced coffees. Love our Joe-to-Go!

August is a big birthday month for the family from Ezra at the beginning to Mason at the end - and Bill, Jeff and Maximus in between! Wish we could all be together but we make the best of it. Everybody still gets older even when we're apart :-)

Ezra sharing his present-opening on his big day.

We're healthy, we're happy, we're safe and sane (as much as ever). I'm thinking that once we're able to travel again I'll continue to live in the now. Every minute is precious, and there are lots of them to enjoy in each day!

Enjoy these beautiful sunsets from our desert sanctuary!!!