Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Lazy Days in Arizona

January 12 -25, 2022
Tombstone, Arizona

It's not like we did any of the work on the rebuild here except for some painting and minor electric, but now that the inside is finished I feel like we've been taking a break! 

When I head out Tuesday morning to pick up good friend Rebecca for a day in Tubac, I think "This is the first anything I've done in weeks." Not that there's anything really needed doing, but I'm feeling like a slug! Even after nine (!) years of retirement I have a hard time cutting myself some slack on productivity. Time to get over that :-)))

We get one day of good drenching rain. And I hadn't even washed the Jeep! Bill and I drive up to Benson for brunch on a Saturday. Try the Farmhouse Restaurant with mixed results - tasty green chili but just meh sausage gravy. We'll give them another try.

On the way home we explore some backroads out of St David - I love the long vistas and winter desert scapes of this area!

We could use several days of this!

Some roads are more rustic than others.

Two things I wish our place had - an old barn and a big Cottonwood tree!

Muted layers.

Ghost trees under darkening skies.

I get a surprise call that an old friend from California will be in Tombstone that afternoon! She's staying with friends near Phoenix and they're taking a day trip to our little historic town. We enjoy a long lunch at the Longhorn, getting caught up and remembering good times shared when we lived on neighboring ranches. Of course I fail to get a pic, but it's 
sure fun to see Mary!

We continue to enjoy our local wildlife stopping by to visit. While a couple deer have jumped the fence to feast on our one green bush in the past, they seem to find enough outside these days.

The grands check in regularly, all growing way too fast.

Cousins Oliver and Penelope live in the same complex - so fun they'll be growing up together!

Ezra and Elliott - getting harder to tell who's the big brother!

Penelope already lighting up at the camera!

I'm very happy that Jeff introduces me to the lovely library in Sierra Vista. He works there a couple times a week, and it has everything! You can even check out bicycles and telescopes. A small coffee bar, used book store, classes and events make this a wonderful community center of activity. 

Love the smell of all these books.

Several local art pieces adorn the walls.

The highlight of the last few weeks is the Tubac shopping day! Rebecca and I share a love of art and beauty, and we find lots to enjoy in this quaint little border town. On the way we stop in Patagonia for a breakfast pastry and a quick peek at the Hummingbird garden. 

It's a lovely day of seeing every shop in town, and sharing them with fellow masked shoppers! I only see two people all day without masks, and all shops require them inside. 

Although I take my camera I don't take any photos - not a lack of things to capture, just focused on good company :-)

I get lots of trip planning done with several reservations made for state parks and holiday weekends. 

We'll take off April 4 and go north through New Mexico and Colorado into Nebraska where I'll finally get to visit Fort Robinson and all the Native American history there. Then east through Iowa and Wisconsin, down to Illinois to spend a few days in Chicago - we spent a day there a few years back and have wanted to go back and see more! Around the lake into Michigan to check out my family history in Kalamazoo, a couple weeks in the UP, a long-overdue visit with pals Jim and Diana, then Fourth of July seeing the Henry Ford Museum and surrounds. 

I still need to tighten up a route across upstate New York and up to Vermont. Then we want to stop in Puxsantawney, Canton, Cinncinnati, Indianapolis, and Kansas City. We'll catch up with friends in Missouri and Oklahoma then make our way back to Tombstone the end of November. 

Very excited to get back on the road, back to being "almost" full-timers again!

Friday, January 14, 2022

A New Year Begins and Our Rebuild Comes to an End

 January 1 - 11, 2022
Tombstone, Arizona

If 2021 taught me anything it's that I have to stop waiting for life to return to how it was before. Before politics revealed a level of ugliness I didn't realize existed in this country. Before a two month pandemic became a two year battle to save us from ourselves. Before campground reservations became such a challenge for certain areas and dates.

Alas, this is life. Right now, and likely for years to come. Disappointed and discouraged is not how I want to live it. Either is frustrated and angry. Trying to fit 2022 into a box from the past (trying to think of a year that was actually without its own issues) even sounds silly. So I'm attempting to look forward to this new year with no expectations. It's an opportunity to do things differently, to accept what's changed. 

You may need to remind me of this attempt as the months unfold!

It was Labor Day when we arrived back in Tombstone to deal with our "SUV-crashed-into-the-house" incident. 

Shocking to see our fireplace destroyed, a wall knocked down, the front door out of its frame.

New Years comes and we're "almost" done. Baseboards are replaced around the new fireplace, painting is touched up, the carpet installers are due on the 5th. It's all coming together!!

And then....

Our contractor has COVID. Our carpet installers call off at the last minute. We've moved all the electronics to the kitchen, drawers from the dressers, lamps and other items from furniture tops, the shower is full of all the wall art - so we're not happy about the delay. A delay that ends up being three days :-(

I pick up the paint brush and finish the baseboards, and the dining room wall. Bill covers the holes in the bedroom floors with sheet metal where the old AC vents were. We camp out in our living room, move the wall art out and then back into the shower. 

The flooring company works with us, contacts me each day so I'm not wondering "when????", and their crew of two shows up 30 minutes early on Saturday following the promised phone call with their expected time. And they bust ass from moving all our furniture, to vacuuming the beautiful final installation. We're soooo happy with the results!

This gets old real fast.

Very excited to see the final step getting done.

So nice to have thick and soft underfoot - and the color looks just how I hoped.

Putting the living room back together is a lot of fun. I've been dreaming of this for months, having a whole house again is a big deal!

A couple new furniture pieces, lamps, throw rug, photo frames and ottomans give the space an updated look. Getting rid of the paneling on the long wall really makes a difference. The new bison skull is being painted by our dear friend, and will soon complete the room.

Our quaint but dated living room when we moved in.

Welcome to the 21st century!

10 days pass and our contractor tests negative, feels fine, and paints the new front door - another successful color choice! 

I always wanted a purple front door and this muted plum turned out great!

This time of year we don't spend much time on the north side of the house because it's chilly. That's also where the car went through the garage wall which is still boarded up. The destroyed downspout has been replaced, and the new siding is finally due in days. When that wall is replaced, the garage ceiling is stained, and the house front all painted, the rebuild will come to an end. 

Gluttons for punishment, we have all the materials to update our main bathroom whenever our contractor can find a few more days for us. It's the project we were preparing for this winter before the forced change of focus. And geeeee, why wouldn't we want some more disruption in the house??

We'll see whether it's a good idea.....

The day after the kids return to California we get a much needed rain storm. Cold and windy, I'm glad we're not having to figure out a place for Rizer and the family isn't making the short trek from the motorhome. Still I wish they didn't live that far away - all of them!

It was a good soaking with winds that flipped over chairs and tables.

Grand daughters Penelope and Reese - happy snuggles.


Little Oliver already growing so fast!

Elliott giving Daddy that "look".

This new variant is definitely more contagious than the preceding virus. We know many who have or have had it, and they all know even more people. Definitely not a time to be in crowds, we're back to limited contact with others. At the same time I'm planning routes and reservations for our upcoming nine months on the road. Optimism at its best :-)

We'll be visiting the remaining five states in the lower 48 that we've missed up until now, as well as adding new places in Michigan and the northeast. I'm excited to get those wheels heading down the long road again!

Sunday, January 9, 2022

A Most Delightful Christmas

 December 19 - 30, 2021
Tombstone, Arizona

Christmas is a special time of year no matter your age, but it is certainly more wonderful celebrated with children!

Last minute stone sealing, gas log installation and wall painting in the living room get done on the 21st giving me a whole day to finish decorating before the kiddos arrive late on the 23rd. We're very happy with the finished build!

Won't miss this :-)

Wish we had the new carpet, but having a completed fireplace is great!

Ezra and Elliott and their parents (and new grand dog Rizer) arrive in the early AM and get settled in the motorhome. They all join us for late breakfast and we start getting caught up. At 6 years old Ezra is very excited about Christmas and what might be in those pretty boxes. It's probably a good thing he only has to wait one day :-) Tradition means opening one present on Christmas Eve and then Mommy and Ezra are off to bed early to make sure Santa doesn't pass us by. Daddy and PopPop play elves, preparing the big surprise. Uncle Jeff is the baby whisperer who can always put them to sleep - because he shows them how it's done :-)

Ezra intent on his Christmas Eve package while Elliott is happy to just run around.

Elliott getting a head start on Christmas treats.

Every kid needs their own roller coaster.

It doesn't take long to go from this.... this. zzzzzzz

Surprisingly it's nearly 10 AM before we hear the pitter patter of little feet at the back door. We're so excited to share this special time. Memories of Christmas mornings past, when I was a little girl, and then when these grown men were little boys, remind me how blessed I am.

Giggles and wows and oh-my-goodnesses!

Stockings are opened before we have a quick breakfast. Then hours of presents and playing and delighting in the joy of kids and grands enjoying their goodies and each other. Ezra is happy to play Santa for everyone, proud that he can read all the cards. My face hurts from smiling so much!

Our own Ezra Claus with his stocking.

Christmas PJs add to the festive feeling.

PopPop and Elliott discuss the merits of new toys.

I'm not the only one with lots of smiles.

Surrounded by mountains of wrappings, Elliott sings to his car track.

He cracks himself up :-)

For the second time since we moved into the house, we add the leaf to the dining table for our family Christmas dinner. A spiral ham and all the trimmings add to our holiday. Can't believe I didn't get a pic - it was so pretty :-))

From California the other grands share their fun. We love getting videos and pics when we can't be with them.

Little M sending us big Christmas hugs - wish we could hug him right back!

Big M is excited about his robot - he's so cute with his thanks!

Reese models her new butterfly coat - something her Nawma is convinced she had to have :-)

Love seeing Henry so happy with his tower toy.

Our little tree got really dry, really fast. The day after it stood watch over our celebration I take it down just to be safe. Definitely the shortest "tree time" I've ever had! 

Not long after, Bill gets the text we're expecting - Baby Gravel is coming!!

Oliver Jamison Gravel arrives mid-day - a very special gift for this holiday season. We're all so happy for Corey and Christie, and to add number eight to our growing family.

Welcome precious little boy.

Happily we get to spend a full week with our visiting family. Rizer is a good boy spending most of his time on the back porch or in his crate. He'll grow out of his barking, and he's so good about not digging or trying to get out of what is a strange and giant yard. He's way too much puppy for old lady Tessa so they just avoid each other.

The big kids make a couple trips into Tombstone and Bisbee, leaving the littles with PopPop and Nawma - which we love! They're both such easy and happy boys. 

The rest of the time we spend in two's and three's and all togethers.....

Ezra and PopPop play on Mommy's phone - his reading level is amazing.

Pinning big brother.

Those eyes.....

Ready to ride!

More than one way to play on a coaster :-)

Double duty.

We're all big Mandalorian fans so "child" shirts were a must for Christmas.

Ezra and I take a few hours on our own to explore nearby Gleeson and then check out the decorations in Tombstone. 

Ezra and Mommy build an Oreo house. We all enjoyed a piece on demolition day later in the week!

The sky dazzles.

Drama to the south.

We didn't save much when we downsized to go fulltime. For each of us it was those things we cherished most. One of them for me were my little cowboy boots that I wore as a toddler, as did Brian and Jeff. We never got a chance to have Ezra wear them, but Shalise is great about making sure Elliott gets the opportunity. I'm so grateful to have him continue the little family tradition.

Elliott in Nawma's cowboy boots.

Too cute.

Looking so much older than 2020.

The time goes by way too fast, and soon it's Thursday and they're headed back to California. It's a long drive even with a stop at Shalise's parents', so I'm glad when they are able to get on the road on time. The house is immediately too quiet, we're no longer watching the Disney channel all day, we miss them already.

Soon we'll be focused on finishing the house rebuild again, 2021 will expire, travel planning will kick into gear. But oh what a delightful Christmas we had :-)

We can't wait to meet you Oliver.