Thursday, January 23, 2020

This and That in Arizona

January 10 - 23, 2020
Tombstone, Arizona

It's so nice to have a free overnight stop-over that includes good friends. A relaxing dinner at our home-on-wheels with Kevin and Bridgette makes for the perfect "break" in our return drive. We're up and gone at sunrise Friday morning. It's a pretty time of day we rarely see.

Sweet view from our mooch-dock spot at Lake Tamarisk, California.
For me one of the main things that defines the freedom of fulltime RVing, is never having to "go back" to a home base. Always moving forward from one destination to the next is such a great feeling. As much as I love our new Arizona winter home, I realize we've lost that piece of the life style. I can tell I'm going to get tired of Interstate 10!

That revelation aside, it's sweet pulling into our driveway. Everything is just as we left it (would have been nice if the new year fairies had taken down all the Christmas stuff), and this time it does feel like home. 

A couple days later our crew returns to start Phase II of the remodel. Our goal is to be done before Super Bowl. Then the kitchen will be complete and we'll be through until we return from the road at the end of the year. Then we'll tackle the bathrooms!

This phase includes a new custom cupboard and the new counter tops due on the 29th. 
Ever since we retired, our lives have slowed down in a very good way. Being back in a sticks-and-bricks for a few months we've slowed down even more. Every day we're doing something on the property, and almost every day I find myself on a "necessary" drive into Sierra Vista. Tessa knows exactly where the treats are kept at our Home Depot :-) Still, we spend a lot of time just enjoying our amazing views and the perfect quiet of our little place on the hill.

We're often treated to subtle sunsets.
On a rainy Thursday I run errands in Tucson, including picking out the granite slab for our counters. Even better I also have a 90 minute hot stone massage AND lunch with good friends John and Pam (ohtheplacestheygo) It's been way too long since we've seen each other, and it's wonderful to get caught up. Since they're now part-timers as well, I'm happy to hear their experiences. No photo of course.

The drive home is so pretty with the sun setting, making the desert glow. I love this time of day!

Golden glow in the gloaming.
Friends Kevin and Bridgette come for a few days, staying with Donnie and Anna. We all get together for football playoffs - yay Chiefs and 49ers!, dinners, and most exciting to look at property in the area :-) How fun to have more life-long friends as neighbors! We'll know next month if they're able to make it happen. Certainly never imagined 45 years ago that we'd be living in the same place as these high school pals!

Winston guards Bridgette from all the crazies in the house.
Long overdue, we make the hour drive to see our friends Mike and Janna (restorationcowboy) who continue to make magic happen at their Pearce, Arizona property. We last saw them on a rainy winter afternoon two years ago with John and Pam. It's a nearly identical repeat as it's another cold and rainy day, and John and Pam arrive at the same time we do!

I still find it odd to have fog in the desert!
The time goes by too quickly in the company of great people who have so much in common. Conversations about beautiful places we've all been have Bill and I both wanting to get back on the road!! Tessa is delighted to see Gramma Pamma again, and Emmi is good about sharing both her space and the attention. 

These two have done so much work creating their beautiful desert adobe home. When we're expecting company I might prepare some snacks and fluff the pillows, Mike and Janna build a half-bath! 

John, Pam, Janna, Mike, Emmi and Bill

Nearly impossible to remember how it looked when they bought it. It's fun following their progress on her blog!
The pups are very happy the treat lady has come to visit!

The clouds give us an especially beautiful drive home.
Life is not only slow, it's also rich and full. We love our desert surroundings, our dear friends, and the fun of making our home together at our own pace. 

Meanwhile back in SoCal, our number five grand, Henry Miles, is just perfect.

Subtle warning above the door at our local cafe......

Monday, January 13, 2020

Happiest of Holidays

December 20, 2019 - January 9, 2020
Tombstone, Arizona - Desert Center and Valencia, California

There's really only three things I miss on the road - our kids and grands, a house for Christmas, and a bathtub. Having taken advantage of the tub over the last couple months, I was looking forward to enjoying the other two the end of last month!

Decorating for Christmas during major remodeling is challenging but not un-doable. With our crew getting done on schedule I'm able to put the finishing touches on the dining room before we head to the airport on the 20th.

Warning: lots of family photos!

Brian (my oldest, our number one) and Shalise and Ezra are flying into Phoenix from Burbank, and Jeff (my youngest and our number four) is due in from Seattle a half hour later. Flights are direct and cheaper compared to Tucson, although it means a three hour drive after they arrive. Jeff's flight is delayed, but we eventually get everyone loaded up and on our way to Tombstone by 4:00. I'm so excited to have them all here!! We rented a large SUV (free upgrade from a mini van which they didn't have although I'd reserved six weeks earlier) so everyone, including Tessa, has plenty of room. 

It's dark long before we exit the freeway for the last 30 minutes on the two-lane highway. Ezra has been traveling for most of the day, and as we identify the few lights of Tombstone ahead, he gives us the best quote of the week: "Daddy? Are we still on Earth?"

The best Christmas present!
Ezra and parents stay in the motorhome, with Jeff in the guestroom. It's nice to have lots of space - and more than one bathroom! Having the living and dining rooms opened up we enjoy being together without being on top of each other. Ezra especially likes the through-doors on the half bath that enable him to run laps around the house :-)))

With cold outdoor temps we mostly play indoors with trips to "the wild west" of Tombstone, and the natural beauty of Chiricahua National Monument. It's a nice balance for spending precious time together.

Daddy and Ezra time.

Mommy and Ezra time.

Family time - Ezra beats them all in Go Fish!

At Cochise Head Overlook in the Chiricahuas. The boys and I were here when Jeff was Ezra's age.
Ezra points out his best friend, Uncle Jeff.

Ezra comes by it naturally......

Love and laughter.

Getting it right - Cochise Mountain in the background.

Mommy and the kid overlooking the hoodoos.
Our desert looking very wintery.
Mommy and Ezra spin hoops during a short break on a drive near the house.

It isn't Tombstone without a stagecoach ride!

Beautiful daughter-in-law Shalise at one of our many saloons.

I saved a lot of the packing materials from our recent purchases which make for great imagination time for Ezra and I.

Visiting with the locals
Making sure Nawma doesn't see what he's up to.
Reflective son.

Reflective grand son.
Having the time and space to be with family for the holidays is the best - and makes the work we've gotten done worth every effort. We've loved our Christmases on the road as well, may have more in our future, but this was such a special time. We're grateful the kids could make the time and cover the miles to be with us. Is there anything more wonderful on Christmas morning than seeing it through the eyes of a child?

He's excited about his Christmas Eve present - a new book!

On Christmas Eve, anticipating Santa's face when he sees his cookies.

Yay! Santa liked the cookies!

Christmas at our new place!

Everybody's comfy and enjoying watching the little boy.

So happy to have time with Uncle Jeff.

Just so happy!

The flying robot is a big hit.
Such a ham :-)

His smiles light up the room.

Tuckered out and happy to be together.

Holiday tradition - the popcorn tin!
We have Christmas dinner of ham and turkey and all the trimmings around the dining room table - what a treat. Can't believe I didn't get a photo of that!

It isn't Christmas these days without matching PJs - what a perfect holiday we had!!
The next morning we return the rental car and pack up the motorhome for the return drive to the airport. 

Still asleep when we head out. I'm definitely not ready for this visit to be over, even though we'll see him again in a week :-)
Since Bill and I will be in Desert Center for New Years, we decide that it's smarter to continue west from Phoenix than making another six hour round trip. Plenty of room at the cell phone lot where we unhook the already loaded Jeep. I deliver passengers and luggage and am back in five minutes. It worked even better than we hoped! 

The next three nights we're at White Tank Regional Park, one of our favorite campgrounds. The weather is cold and calm, and we spend the first day resting and missing the kiddos.

A very different desert from both Tombstone and Desert Center.
I continue to fail at getting a photo of Dawn and Darryl, doing so again when they come to visit us on Saturday. The last couple visits have been way too short so it's especially nice to have several hours to get caught up. The blessing of new friends from our travels combined with time with family is not lost on us. Life is so good.

Darryl and Dawn, shamelessly borrowed from Facebook.
Some gatherings are quieter than others, and this New Years is one of those. It's wonderful to see good friends, even though it's a much smaller group than in years past. It's also colder so we spend most of our time around a big fire!

Eucalyptus tree glowing beside the fire.

When you break a chair......toss it in!

Everyone backs off quickly while the blaze grows to over ten feet - note Tessa not on her blanket!
You're never too old for sparklers :-)
Our fifth grand child arrived on the last day of 2019. Henry Miles Bannerman is the son of my borrowed daughter Megan and husband Chris. We can't wait to meet him in a couple days!

Welcome to the family Henry!

New Years Day we're all back in our circle.

Good friends and family who shared this community over 40 years ago. Note the "chair" and skull that was a very large, very dead Eucalyptus tree. 
That tree keeps us warm for several days!
Thursday morning we say our goodbyes-for-now and make the long trek to Valencia. My least favorite drive, but the reward is worth it. More visits with the family, including Bill's mom in Fresno, fill up the week. 

It seems like just weeks ago that he was too little to come down this slide on his own.

Now he flies!
Saturday morning we're back on the road, but in the Jeep, for the drive to Fresno. The weather is nice, but it's not a pretty drive once you're over the Grapevine. We enjoy a couple visits with Bill's mom, Anne. She's 94 and is so delighted to see her son. Staying at Bill's cousin's house is always fun, and we have a nice visit.

The family matriarch, Anne.
Everybody's busy with life so we squeeze in visits where and when we can. Our newest daughter-in-law, Christie, isn't feeling well, but we see everybody else. 

Little Mason with Uncle Richie.

Maximus and I have great fun with a simple orange tube.

Hey! Don't forget this cuteness!

Grand-daughter Reese sleeps through our visit. She's beyond adorable :-)

And here's newborn Henry Miles with momma Megan! 
Our last night we have dinner with Ezra and his parents. It's always a delight to spend time with this sweet boy, and when he expresses his sadness that we're leaving it tears us up! 

Hard to believe we had one daughter-in-law, one son-in-law, and zero grands when we went on the road four-and-a-half years ago. Our family has grown by three DILs and five grandchildren! Our hearts are so full :-))

It's also even harder to leave when we know it will be several months before we return. For now, it's back to Tombstone and more house-fun!