Friday, November 5, 2010

Passing The Hat

Sunset Against Mary in Scottsdale

We left Las Vegas and a wonderful time behind us and caravanned down to Scottsdale to the fall futurity show with the Arcuris. While we were in Las Vegas we saw "Viva Elvis" with the Arcuris and Doug West and then had a terrific dinner at Don Vito's Italian restaurant at South Point. It was the best time ever! I highly recommend any of the Cirque du Soleil shows and "Viva Elvis" was fantastic. There is so much going on in their human circus that if you saw the show ten times in a row you would see something new every time. The sound system in the Aria theater is the best in the world so Elvis's music sounded like he was in the building. They traced through his life, in music, dance, and acrobatics, incredible lighting, and special effects, and we were completely engaged for two hours. On Saturday night Ryan procured ten tickets to the PBR Championships at the Thomas and Mack stadium at UNLV. Ten of us took a limo bus (really!) to watch the bulls against the cowboys (bulls won that night!). They put on quite a show with music and lighting effects, smoke, clowns, audience give aways, all to a packed house. They carried one Brazilian guy out on a stretcher with a neck injury after putting in a 90.00 ride, and apparently he was cleared to ride on Sunday where he put in a ride of 91.25. The guy was unreal! One of his fellow countrymen won the championship and over a million dollars on Sunday. I think you must be at least half crazy to get on one of those massive, man killing machines. Like Las Vegas, the bulls have the advantage. It was a great evening of fun and excitement.

My recommendation for horse people in the east is, after Louisville is over next year, put the California Futurity Horse Show on your calendar, load up some horses and end your year with a great horse show, and some terrific times. What a great place for a show!

Ransom and his Frisbee

Scottsdale was, as always, gorgeous. The show was down some on entries but the facility at WestWorld is so nice that we enjoy it no matter what is going on. We got there late in the afternoon and while Tim and John were settling the horses in I was riding my bike around the area with the dogs, taking in a spectacular sunset. We had our first meal out in Scottsdale at Earl's (our favorite place to grab something quick to eat) and ate our last meal there before saying goodbye to the Arcuris. In between we ate Thai food, Mexican food, and everything in between. It's diet time when I get home! We had lunch with Howie and Jack Schatzburg at KO'Donnells, and dinner with Tim's clients at Mastro's Ocean Club, and dinner with Karen Anthony and her husband Leon Ray at Wild Fish. We had such a great time that we stayed an extra day to soak up that last bit of desert sun. And I pedaled my expanded butt around the area to take in the fresh air and sun. It was a great stay.

Breezy playing her favorite game - Tug!

Now we are headed home ... where it is cold. At the moment we are at an RV park in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. We left Scottsdale on Tuesday with the idea that we would take our time getting home. The problem is, there isn't much between there and home when we go down I-40 except flat boring landscape and wind. Lots of wind. The wind knocked Mary and John around all day on Wednesday from about Tucumcari, New Mexico, through the panhandle of Texas, and into Oklahoma where it picked up to 35 miles per hour. We had our most comical episode of the trip when we exited 1-40 onto the Kirkpatrick/Will Rogers Turnpike. We were on our way to Virgil Helm's place outside of Jefferson City, but needed to stop for an overnight before we got there.

Jumping for the Frisbee

We have taken the route before, and I remembered that there were a lot of toll stops along the way but we've traveled a lot of toll roads in the last three years, and I had them all mixed up in my head. We both forgot that on this toll road there are two toll stops that are unmanned, and require $3.95 each in coins. Only coins. We were traveling with about $300.00 between us but neither of us had much in the way of coins within reach. So we stopped at the first toll station when the first episode of panic ensued. There are signs on the toll station threatening legal ramifications if you pass through without paying the three dollars and ninety five cents, and a big funnel looking thing where you put your change. John began digging and so did I. He had fifty cents in change, and I had a little over two dollars. Not enough. Grumbling and cussing ensued. Thankfully there were two lanes and no one behind us. I said, "What about the hat?!!". The hat is a baseball cap that John throws change into when he empties his pants pockets at night. He said, "It's in the second drawer down, below the television in the bedroom." My heart sank. The second drawer down is sandwiched between the foot of the bed and the wall when the slides are pulled in. I'm thinking the only way to get to it is to wait for Mary's air bags to air up completely, which can take several minutes, and then put the passenger slide out to get to the hat. At this point we are both running up and down the length of the coach like our hair was on fire. After falling over each other a couple of times I decided to go outside to be sure that there wasn't a bill changer somewhere on the funnel thing that I didn't see. We were stopped facing north, the direction in which 35 mile an hour winds are coming from. I pulled the handle on the door and started to push it open when a gust of cold wind hit it and slammed it back in my face. Not to be deterred from my mission, I pulled the handle again and put my shoulder into it. This time I forced the door open, stepped out into what felt like hurricane force winds, and the wind pulled the door from my hand and slammed it shut. Keep in mind that these unmanned toll stations have video surveillance, so what happened at this stop is recorded for some unknown person's entertainment. I went up to the funnel thing, holding down my sunglasses which were perched on top of my head. The wind was whipping me off balance every few seconds while I ducked and dived, trying to find a bill changer anywhere on the dang thing. Not there. There is a sign demanding coins though. I holler to one on in particular, "This is the dumbest damn thing I've ever seen!" I was throwing my hands up in the air and storming around in front of the funnel thing. Finally, after my rant (which is recorded for history), I went back to the coach.

After battling the wind and the door again I found John sitting in the middle of the bed (with the slides closed the bed takes up the entire room, so crawling on or over the bed is the only way to the closet and dresser) with the top drawer of the dresser out. "The HAT!" he hollered at me, and pulled the baseball cap out. It was full of change, and a couple of old horse show pin passes, two screws, a few receipts and a tag off of a shirt that was new two years ago. I sorted through and got the change we needed, counted it twice and headed for the door again.

There is a small traffic light just ahead of the funnel thing. It was red and said "STOP". When you put your change in it is supposed to turn green and say "GO". I did battle with the winds again until I got to the funnel thing, looked it over carefully and started feeding change into the funnel. When I got done I stood there staring at the light, waiting for it to turn green. My plan was to make a mad dash for the coach when it did. I didn't have a back up plan if it didn't. I waited a few seconds. It didn't turn green. I went up to the funnel thing, my hair being whipped into eggbeater style (you can't know how much I hate the wind) and looked into it to see if some change had hung up somewhere. It hadn't. I commenced yelling at the funnel thing and throwing my hands around. That was such a constructive use of my time, don't you think?

Miraculously, no one had pulled up behind us. Apparently most people who travel this turnpike have one of those little windshield box toll thingies like we had when we had the Florida house, where you drive through and the box registers the toll. Only tourists wouldn't have one of those and I don't know what kind of insane people would tour that area of Oklahoma ... except us of course, because we are on our way to Missouri. These are two of my favorite places to visit. Ha.

Okay, so John is behind the wheel waiting for the light to turn green while I'm having a fit in the lane in front of the bus. I stormed back to the door and fought the wind to get it open, struggled into the coach and John says, "Why isn't the light turning green?" I flopped into my seat and said, "I don't know and I don't care. Let's just go." So we did. I expect that we will get something in the mail from the state of Oklahoma telling us that we are in violation of their toll booth rules. I intend to write back if they do.

We totaled roughly $25.00 in tolls that day, one toll because we pulled of at the wrong place and had to pay $1.50 to get off. Then we pulled into Will Rogers Downs to stay the night because it is the only place to put a big rig on that stretch of road. We spent a fun day and night at Helm's place and then at about 2:00 today we took off to get some road behind us before we get home and have to face the Gestapo again. I'll update you on that after we get settled at home.

Relaxing by the coach

This has been the most fun trip that we've taken in Mary so far. Every place we visited, every silly thing that happened, all of the wonderful people we spent time with and met, and all of the fun things we did, were just the best ever. We've been on the road since September 2nd and for the first time since we've been making these long trips I was sad to begin our journey home. John says that I'm usually harassing him to get home about six weeks into a two month trip and he can't get over that I begged to stay another day in Scottsdale. It was just the best.

We will be in Kansas City for the Royal in a little over a week. The book is doing well and I'm very pleased about that. I will have books with me at the Royal if anyone wants to buy one there. Just track John or me down up there!

I hope your summer was the best ever and that the upcoming holidays are too!