Saturday, December 23, 2017

Arizona, Mesa - Saturday, December 23, 2017 - Mormon Temple Lights

The first thing I want to say is MERRY CHRISTMAS!! To our family and friends.  Even though we may be far away our thoughts are still with you this season.  God bless each of you and those you love, hope you have a wonderful holiday.

We visited this beautiful light display last year.  We asked our friends Bill and Cindy Carson from Colorado to visit with us this year, it was still just as amazing.  In addition to the unbelievable light display there is musical entertainment nightly and it is all free.

We wanted to be sure to see the display this year because it is supposed to be down for the next two years for construction at the Temple.  We started out the evening last night with dinner at Garcia’s, a local Mexican restaurant that is a favorite of ours.  Just as we got out of the car headed for the display we saw what we (and everyone else) thought had to be a UFO – no other explanation seemed feasible.  I know my night and lights photography lacks something to be desired but you can see what we were looking at in the center of this picture, click on the picture to enlarge it..  You can see the three wise men to the left and that is definitely not the North Star in the center of the picture, it appeared to be moving rather slowly in a semi-circle pattern.  We found out this morning that a lot of people in California and Arizona also witnessed this strange light.  Turns out it was a rocket that was launched from Santa Barbara, CA that was transporting satellites for an update to a system that helps in tracking planes for the airline industry.

I think every surface in the Temple’s garden is covered with lights, some that must be custom made.  This arch leads into the garden.

The trees are covered entirely in lights and have various kinds of lights in the branches.

Even the flower beds beneath the trees have lights that look like flowers.  I have to figure out how to photograph these better, I’m just not doing them justice.

All of the lights reflecting in the pool in front of the Temple are just amazing.

The nativity scene is a favorite stopping point for everyone.  There is a continuous narration of the story of Christ’s birth.  This is definitely a great place to take the family, it helps us all to remember the reason for the season.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Arizona, Mesa - Thursday, November 2, 2017 - We've Arrived in Mesa

When we left Holbrook, AZ we went through Winslow to stop at the Flying J Truck Stop to fill up with fuel before we settled in for the winter in Mesa.  From Winslow we took AZ 87 south.  There is beautiful scenery along most of this route, but sometimes the road looks like it goes on forever going nowhere.  This area is actually the beginning of the Coconino National Forest even though there are no actual trees to be seen.

Further along the trees become evident.

Although this is a beautiful drive, I have to admit it bothers me because of all the steep declines and long, long inclines.  This particular decline was 6% with a curve at the end for added apprehension on my part.  I might note, Greg doesn’t have the same apprehensions as I do, he’s just driving along doing his thing and I’m worrying enough for both of us.

I liked the way the sun was shining through the trees and adding some interesting shadows.

More of the scenery through Coconino.

Just as we come out of Coconino National Forest we enter Tonto National Forest.  This area seems to have even more curves.

This one is particularly interesting.  Luckily we’ve never met anyone in the middle of this curve.

The Tonto National Forest seems to be more mountainous with a dense covering of trees.

In spite of what this sign and others like it say, we still haven’t seen any wildlife on our trips out here – I don’t think the little lizard we saw last year really counts.  I guess we can count our lucky stars we haven’t had to face a collision with an elk, I hear it can be pretty bad.

This is one of the downgrades.  Even though this drive makes me nervous we hear from people who have done it that the route down through Show Low is even worse.

And, this is one of the inclines showing up on the right.  Makes me nervous just looking at the picture.

The saguaro cactus are starting to show up, means we are almost to our winter home.

We arrived Sunday afternoon and it’s been a busy week so far.  Greg has been cleaning the coach, the outside windows and the Jeep.  The Kansas dust storms left us with a lot of cleaning to do.  I worked today on the inside of some of the cabinets, ran the sweeper and mopped.  We’ve managed to square dance twice so far this week and will be going again tomorrow.  We are back on our low-calorie, low sodium diet with considerations added for kidney health (Greg would prefer no more kidney stones).  So, I’m spending quite a bit of time working on our meal plans and keeping track of what we eat – so far so good but it’s only been four days.

Yesterday we went to the grocery across the street for a restock, it was Senior Citizens Day and we get 10% off.  There is an Osco pharmacy in the store so we decided we would get our flu shots which also gives us each a coupon for 10% off on future grocery purchases.  The pharmacist talked to us about the new pneumonia vaccine, Prevnar 13 so we decided to get that also, this also gave us two more 10% off coupons (this is easier than clipping coupons and Medicare covers it all).  Greg suggested while we were in the waiting area that since we already had our coupons why not just leave.  I made him stay, we got one shot in each arm so last night both of us were kind of hurting, especially from the Prevnar shot.  Today we are fine.  The pharmacist said people over 65 should now have two pneumonia shots, the one we got right after we turned 65 and now the Prevnar 13 shot.  The Prevnar shot is a once in a lifetime event so I encourage all of our friends over 65 to get theirs.

We start work on Monday.  We think our schedule will be Monday and Tuesday, five hours each per day.  Our mail still goes to our South Dakota address and we get it once a month.  But, if anyone needs to get anything to us quicker they can use our Arizona address until April – 233 N. Val Vista Drive, Site 796 V, Mesa, AZ 85213.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Arizona, Holbrook - Saturday, October 28, 2017 - Journey Back to Arizona

We got together with all of our Kansas family for supper on Tuesday night.  This was the last night to spend with the grandkids.  On Wednesday night we attended the Ducks Unlimited fundraiser with David and Lisa.  David was the auctioneer for the night – love to hear him in “auction mode”.  Lots of money was raised for a good cause.  Thursday morning we were ready to head out bright and early.  No matter how many times we have done this I still find it hard to say good bye.  I did manage to keep back the tears when we left Indiana and again when we left Kansas this year.

The wind was brutal leaving Kansas and going through Oklahoma.  This is not a blurry picture that is dust blowing across the highway.  Note the slant to the red semi.  David was in the field drilling wheat that day so he was really aware of the strength of the wind, he called to make sure we were doing okay.

This tumbleweed is just waiting to roll right out in front of us.  We collided with a couple of them, it doesn’t look like they did any damage, and they kind of splintered into pieces on contact.  We saw several semis and a police car with tumbleweeds stuck in the grill.

Hooker, OK was a good place to stop for a Subway sandwich.  We spotted a pull through parking spot so we decided to go inside to eat.  The wind was blowing so hard I almost didn’t make it – you know that was some big wind!!  Since we are towing the Jeep we can’t maneuver into parking spaces like we used to be able to do when we had the Harley on the lift.  When you are towing a vehicle backing is limited.

We spotted lots of cotton fields as we left Kansas, this one just outside of Hooker, OK had almost all of the bolls open.

A lot of the Oklahoma scenery along US 54 looked a lot like this.  I think these are creosote bushes.

New Mexico has some of the prettiest bridges.

Last night we stayed at a place we hadn’t stayed at before, but we will be going back as we make our annual trek to Arizona.  Route 66 RV Resort at the Route 66 Casino is at exit 140 off of I-40 west.

The RV Resort is just over a year old and is really well kept.  There are 100 full service sites with picnic tables and fire rings.  This is us on site 1229.  They have a free shuttle service to the casino.  If you sign up for the casino’s free Rewards Club you will get a coupon for $5.00 off any of their meal venues and a chance to win free play.  We used our meal coupons on their great lunch buffet, it is usually $9.99 per person but with our coupon it was $4.99 plus tax.  We both got $5.00 free play, I think that is probably the standard amount.  We (Greg) did end up having really good luck so we went home winners. 

The pool was beautiful but it was a little chilly to even walk over and get a good look at it.  I took this picture from the coach as we were checking in.

All of the buildings and grounds here are very attractive.  This is the Amenity Center, showers, laundry, etc.

The weather was great for traveling again today, we’ve seen the New Mexico scenery along I-40 several times but it never fails to impress.

The lava rock beds look like somebody just piled up big piles of asphalt.

I don’t know what these yellow trees are, but they certainly stand out.

We’ve reached Arizona.  We are staying at OK RV Park in Holbrook, AZ this evening.  We’ve stayed here before and it’s a nice place to spend a day or so.  We will be moving on in the morning so we can get checked in at Val Vista Villages in Mesa.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pratt, KS - Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - Enjoying the Kansas Life

I didn’t catch the sunset at its best this evening, we were coming back from having dinner in town when I noticed the whole sky was mixed with bright pink and blue.  I ran in when we got home and grabbed the camera, it was still a beautiful sunset.

This is our Kansas site (David’s barn lot).  We have everything we need and have been having a wonderful time catching up with David and the grandkids – lots of things going on.

We were lucky enough to get to see three of Wyatt’s football games.  He is number 33 in this picture.  We were hoping we would get to see one of his basketball games before we had to leave, but that isn’t going to happen.  Their first game isn’t until after the first of November.  By that time we will be back in Mesa putting in our workamper hours at Val Vista Villages.

I went in to listen to Cheyanne’s piano lesson today.  She is working on a song for a recital in early November.  Since we will miss the actual recital I told her I wanted to hear her play before then.  She said she wasn’t very good with the song yet.  I told her it didn’t matter I would love listening to it anyhow.  She said, Of course you will, you have to, you’re Grandma!”

This is the view from our site, looking at the city of Pratt in the distance.

Looking to the east from where we are situated, we can see a mix of old fence posts and new windmills.

The Kansas wind can be brutal.  This new shed didn’t stand up to it.

This old beauty is waiting on David to have time to restore it.  It may be sitting a while longer, he’s a busy guy.

On Monday we went uptown to visit the Pratt Historical Museum.  Looking at the outside you wouldn’t begin to imagine the treasures it holds inside.  I didn’t remember to take a picture of the outside, it’s just a big plain wooden building painted white with brown trim and a small sign on the door.  You could easily pass it thinking it is nothing of importance.  If you are ever in or passing through Pratt, KS this is definitely worth the $4 admission price.

The museum has been blessed with over one million dollars’ worth of Native American artifacts from a recently deceased local collector.  The artifacts are being shown in a new display, the Hartman Gallery.

A bone breastplate was a popular chest ornament of the Plains Indians.  The long bones called hair-pipes were made with bones from buffalo or birds.  Since the hair-pipe bones were difficult to obtain, the number of bones often indicated the wealth of the warrior.  I think this would have belonged to one of the wealthier warriors.

Naturally, flash couldn’t be used for pictures so some of them aren’t as bright as I would like.  This Kiowa cradleboard from the 1880’s doesn’t show up nearly as bright in the picture as it really is.  The beadwork on this is amazing.  The elaborate beadwork followed traditional tribal designs.  A cradleboard could be carried or hung from a horse saddle horn.  The sharp extensions of these backboards were designed to stick in the ground in case there was an accident and the baby fell headfirst.  This must have been one of the original child safety standards.

The quality of the handiwork of this beaded vest and woven basket just leaves me in awe.  I wonder if any of the things I have made in my lifetime are of the quality needed to last another 100 years or more – I’m thinking not.

One of the highlights of this new display is this grizzly bear claw necklace with otter fur from the mid 1800’s.  This necklace signified the warrior’s high status.  Notice also the hand woven rug on the wall behind this display.

I’ve seen covered wagons on display in other museums but I’m still amazed at the adventuresome spirit of the settlers that took off in those wagons in search of their dreams.  We travel in a large motor coach with all of the modern amenities and we still feel discouraged at times when things don’t go exactly as we expected them to.  Seeing one of these once again makes me very thankful for all that we have.

As a very amateur quilter I felt compelled to take a picture of this very detailed quilt to share with my fellow quilters.  I don’t know the size of this, but it was huge.

One of the things that is especially appealing to me about this museum is that the things on display aren’t just laid out for viewing or hung on the wall – they are displayed as they would have been used by the early prairie settlers.  I remember using desks like these wooden ones in the schoolhouse display.

I loved this write up about the discussions going on about providing school lunches in 1877.  I had lunch with Cheyanne at school today, it was much better than the hearty soup suggested in this article, but it wasn’t as good as when we were eating school lunches 60 years ago.  That was when some great stuff was made from scratch by the “cafeteria ladies” – I’m remembering hot rolls and cookies!

This teacher’s contract from 1896 also caught my eye – I wonder if $30 a month was a wage they could live on at the time?

The first thing I noticed in this display was the “eggs in lard” sign.  I’m still trying to decide how that worked.  The essential storm shelter for the prairie home and school was dug into the ground, whitewashed and lined with stone or cement.  It became not only a place of shelter but also a “prairie refrigerator”.

Wouldn’t the ladies have looked special on Sunday when they went to church in one of these lovely hats?  Hats were pretty much out of style by the time I got out of school.  In junior high I did attend a class on how to be a proper lady and learned when I should wear a hat and white gloves – that knowledge has come in so handy.  I don’t think my current signature ball cap makes quite the statement these hats would have made.

This adobe sod house was constructed in the museum with local clay and prairie grass.  These houses featured a sod roof.  The ceilings were covered, often with sewn together flour sacks, as the “soddies” tended to let in rain, dirt, debris, snakes and insects.  I get aggravated if one little fly gets in the house, I obviously don’t have the temperament to be a prairie settler.  The one room adobe houses were cool in the summer and easy to heat in the winter.  The adobe sod furnished a readily available, cheap building material.  But, they were highly susceptible to damage from the wind and rain so they didn’t last too many years.

Over 80 years ago a windmill pumped cool clean water to this crock, situated in the kitchen.  When the water reached the level of the top hole, it would then run down through a channel leading out to the livestock tank.  This gave a continuous supply of water to the farm.

The Coterie was organized October 8, 1885, it was the first women’s club in Pratt County, KS.  It remains today as a women’s study club.  For more than a century the ladies of the club have donated generously to the community.  Today they provide college scholarships for Pratt youth and donate to the public library they helped establish.

The drug store display is another elaborate display to take you back in time.

The bank display furnishings were once in the Iuka State Bank, one of the oldest in Pratt County.  The ceiling is pressed tin, a common building material in early day frame business buildings.

The general store looks like it could meet most any need.

This dress is really an eye-catcher.  On December 24, 1881 it was a lady’s wedding dress.  She and her husband went on to celebrate their 63rd wedding anniversary.  The dress is made of brocaded merino wool.  Row upon row of shirring for the skirt is finished by a wide platting as the hem.  The dress cost $8.00 to make with the material and stitching costing $27.00.

Last picture of this post shows our fall holiday decorations. “Bless This Family” we have had such a great time the past six months enjoying our amazing kids and grandkids, we will miss them this winter but we will enjoy the warm weather in Mesa, AZ.