Friday, January 28, 2011

Going Home

The mountains at Flagstaff

We are on the road to Kentucky finally. At the moment we are banging down the road in Arkansas. For the last two days we seem to go from reasonably smooth highway to the Chisholm Trail and back. When we hit the rugged road everything in Mary moves and rattles, clangs, and bangs. There are metal slide latches attached to the two heavy pocket doors that separate the bedroom from the bathroom, and the bathroom from the rest of the coach. When we travel we secure the latches so the doors don't slam open and closed as we travel. Once yesterday and twice so far today (and it is only noon) the latch has rattled loose and the door slammed. You can't miss it. It sounds like someone dropped a crate of cannonballs from two stories up. I'm spending my day running back and forth from the front to the back catching things and adjusting things that are coming loose. At one point I set my laptop on the dashboard and went to get my lunch. I got all of the stuff out for a sandwich and I heard John holler over the internal commotion in Mary, "You better get your laptop!!!!" I dropped the knife in my hand and sprinted to the front. When I got up close I stepped on Breezy's rug and slid into the cockpit just in time to catch my pretty Mac before it hit the floor. It was very good timing, and quite graceful, if I do say so myself. Two seconds later it wouldn't have been so pretty. Or if I had another foot to slide on the rug, I would have ended up on my ass on the floor with my computer. It all worked out.

We left Scottsdale, reluctantly, on Wednesday morning. It was another cool sunny morning. We drove through the mountains to I-40 at Holbrook, Arizona and then on to Santa Rosa, New Mexico. John zeroed in on a sign post that said "5,000" feet and said, "Oh, the beds." I said, "Oh, the beds," and sprinted to the back to find them on 100, the highest setting. I deflated them both to 5 and returned to my seat to let my heart rate settle down. An exploded bed would be rather tragic, I think. By the time we go to Santa Rosa the chambers had blown themselves back up to 95. All of the milk cartons, juice bottles and sealed plastic containers in the refrigerator were bloated. Imagine an exploding tomato juice bottle ... no, don't.

Smiley Jones at Barrett Jackson's car auction

The weather on this trip has been good so far. We decided that we would take I-40 and drive like hell. So far we've stuck to the plan. Amazing considering our track record with plans on this trip. We went from Santa Rosa to Checotah, Oklahoma yesterday. The wind picked up a bit in Oklahoma, but considering our usual experiences with wind in Oklahoma, it wasn't too bad. We stopped in the middle of nowhere for the night, where Ransom became enchanted with some crusty organic stuff that was laying around on the ground. I'm freaky about the dogs picking something up and eating it, especially while we are traveling, without easy access to a vet. He was just bonkers last night. Three times I practically had to wrestle him to the ground to take this gunk out of his mouth. He spent the evening pestering us to go out. He didn't need to do potty business, and after Idol started we had to get a little grumpy with him about it. There must be some dog nip in Oklahoma gunk. What ever it was he was a wild man. All Breezy wanted was her dinner :)

Remember Back To The Future?
Speaking of Idol, I don't know what you Idol watchers out there think but I think this is the best season yet. I don't miss grumpy old Simon and think Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are doing a great job. Randy is trying to act like Simon at times, which doesn't become him. I prefer his old dawg self. Anyway, where did they find all of these uber talented 15 year olds??? This year they have cut way back on the goofiness in the audition process (which I could do without entirely in exchange for hearing more of the people that they put through to Hollywood), and the judges have been pretty constructive and not so painful in their critiques of the singers. I'll be really interested to see what other changes they have made since Simon the Terrible left.

Red rocks in Sedona

We are still waiting on the bank to either accept or reject our offer on the house. This is completely amazing. There are literally millions of homes either in foreclosure or approved for short sale in the United States (can you feel a soap box moment coming?). There are very few people that the damn banks will approve for loans to buy these houses. In this case the damn bank has a qualified, pre-approved buyer to purchase this house before it goes into foreclosure and destroys the sellers credit for seven years. The damn bank has moved the foreclosure date twice. It is now set for ten days from now. The damn bank waited an entire month from the date of our last offer until they finally responded, rejecting our offer and giving us a generous 24 hours to counter ... AGAIN. That more or less broke my pick with the damn bank. We countered within 24 hours. Now the damn bank has moved into WARP speed. The next day at 11:00 AM they responded, rejecting our counter, and gave us ONE HOUR to counter with our last and best offer. We were at the Barrett Jackson car auction (more on that later) in the midst of a kazillion people when we got the call. So we went back to the coach, had a very fast pow wow, and made our last offer on the place. I was just pissed off ... no, I was PISSED OFF!!! Our agent said that he felt very good about the offer. I'm glad he did because we were both just PISSED OFF.

Crossing the Mississippi River! Leaving the Chisholm behind!

Okay, so now we have the entire weekend to wait to hear from the bank. Our agent is feeling quite good about it. Good for him. We are just plain ambivalent. I guess this is a good thing because I'm reasonably sure that the bank is going to jerk us all around again before this is over. On Monday we got a call from our agent. He tells us that the bank wants real signatures on the addendum to the contract. We've been doing this all electronically up to this point. Our agent says this is a really good sign. I looked at John and said, "I'm not even excited!" That was a sad moment. When one buys one's dream house, one should be excited. But the damn banks are turning this into something akin to emotional abuse. So we signed the contract with real ink and email the thing back to the damn bank. It is now Friday and we have not heard another word. And foreclosure is looming on the folks that own the home. We have money. They have a house that they need to sell. I fail to see what the DAMN BANK'S problem is.

Now to windshield wipers. When we left Oregon last fall we had a new thing-a-ma-gig to help the windshield wipers function. As you might recall, they kept stalling out when we were in Kansas City on our way out west last fall. I invested in some Rain-X wipes which John applied to the windshield in case we got caught in a rainstorm without wipers. As it turned out the wiper motor was shot. So John called Monaco and ordered a new one to install before we left Kentucky for Arizona. They sent one. It arrived and John took it out to the farm to put it on Mary. He opened the generator door and peered into where the wiper motor lives. He looked at the big motor that Monaco sent, and realized that it didn't match the small motor that was installed in Mary. He came home disgusted. There wasn't any time to order another one so we hauled the wrong motor across the country to Arizona. By some major miracle we didn't encounter a drop of rain across the 2,000 plus miles between Kentucky and Arizona.

When we arrived in Arizona and got settled at Ft. McDowell's RV Park, John called Monaco and ordered the correct motor, and had it sent to the RV park. Monaco said that they would send a label to the RV park so that he could send the wrong motor back to Monaco. All seemed well and good. So the new motor arrived. John got it and announced that he was going to install it. He left the coach and I heard the generator door open. I looked at my watch an hour later and realized how long he had been out there. I got up and looked out the front window. I could see his feet and they were moving so I decided to let him do his thing without my observations. I was working on my new manuscript so time went flying by. I finally looked up and it was an hour and forty minutes since he got started. I hadn't heard any swearing so I figured that he must be making headway with the project. A few minutes later the door opened and he came up the steps into the coach. He looked like he had been mugged! His hair was standing up, his shirt tails were hanging out, and he had grease all over his face and hands. He was staggering across the floor. I said, "Are you alright?" He looked at me and smiled. "Yeah," he said. "I got it done."

The next step was to test the wipers, which he did at every speed, several times. It was a total triumph. The wipers were fixed. The only thing left to do was to make sure that the wrong wiper motor made it back to Oregon. He took the box up with the number that Monaco told him to write on the box. UPS was sending the shipping label to go on the box. All they had to do was match the number on the box to the one on the shipping label and it would go back to Monaco. Easy, right?


Two weeks later we are staying at West World I'm checking the credit card statement online to be sure that we were credited for the wiper motor. No credit. So I mention it to John. He calls Monaco. No motor. He calls the RV park in Ft. McDowell. No motor. The damn thing cost $250.00 and it is apparently lost.

Where the hell is the motor?

We drove out to the RV park the next day and John went in. The guy at the office swears that according to the woman who was working in the office that day, the UPS person picked it up. The problem is that the shipping label is still there at the office. We are set to leave the next day to go over to Palm Desert. There was nothing to do but put the ball back in Monaco's court, and wait for the woman who was working in the office the day that the box disappeared to come back to work, two days later. We left for Palm Desert.

John called Monaco again after we got to Palm Desert. Still no information on the disappearance. At this point the volume control on incoming calls on John's phone has gone to hell so he spends a lot of time hollering into his phone, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" Why is it that when we can't hear someone we assume that they can't hear us? Anyway, he was desperate to get to a Verizon store so he could get a new phone and he told the woman at Monaco that if she tracked the motor down to call my phone, which I don't wear on my body, so that we could hear the call. I took the dogs out for a walk and sure enough, she called. When I got back to the coach I listened to the message. She said that the UPS person did pick the box up before the label arrived. He used the information on the box to ship the motor ... BACK TO LEXINGTON. She wanted to know if anyone was at home in Lexington. I threw my hands in the air and hollered at my phone, "NO ONE IS HOME IN LEXINGTON!" John came in about that time. "Who are you yelling at," he asked. "Murphy," I said. Then I explained. He hasn't talked to Monaco since and we still don't have a credit for the motor. I bring it up every so often and he just sighs. He'll deal with it when we get home.

We just spent the night in Goodettsville, Tennessee. We are about an hour from home now. I'm ready to unload the bus and settle in at home.

As we were leaving West World on our way to Palm Desert and L.A. I was standing by John's seat looking at the monitor at the car. I never do that anymore because that seems to be the most reliable part of this mass of mechanics. It just tracks back there like a champ. It has for three years. When I looked at the monitor something struck me as odd, but not enough to suggest stopping to check it. You know how that goes. Your little voice whispers to you that something isn't right and then you promptly ignore it and forget about it. So we took off and hit the 101 going 65 miles per hour. For about 20 miles, every so often, a horn would toot. I thought that was odd, but the drivers in Scottsdale are pretty aggressive so I shrugged that off too. Finally after about 20 miles we were passing an exit when I heard a little "meep, meep" to the right. I looked out the window and there was a guy taking the exit on a motorcycle. He was mouthing something. Of course my first thought was that he was mouthing something obscene. Isn't that a statement on how we live today? I'm so used to people being obnoxious that when they are trying to be helpful, I just assume they are being obnoxious. We were traveling at the same speed, and he mouthed again, CHECK YOUR CAR. Holy shit.


I leaped from my seat to the monitor and hollered, "PULL OVER!!!" We weren't in a spot where there was enough room on the shoulder to pull over and of course John hasn't a clue that I've been getting messages from the motorcycle guy. "WHY?" he hollered at me. "THE CAR!! THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE CAR!!" I screamed. "PULL OVER NOW!!!" I was nearly hysterical. I think I need therapy to something. Of course he wanted to know how I came to the conclusion that there was something wrong with the car so I explained in a speed talking jumble about the guy on the motorcycle. He pulled over on a very busy freeway and got out to see what was wrong.

Sunset in the desert

He came back and got in the driver's seat, put the bus in gear and moved forward, then stopped. "What's wrong?" I asked. "One of the towing arms didn't lock and the car was being pulled down the road cockeyed." I nearly hit the floor. He went out and looked, came back, and repeated the procedure two more times until he said that the arm finally locked. I obsessed until we got to Palm Desert. We had to unhook the car in order to put the coach into a tight spot. Then I got into it to move it. It seemed fine. After we got set up we drove over to Tim and Jeanne's house. It was fine.

It's official. The car is virtually in-destructable. When we parked in the driveway at Arcuri's place I said, "This car needs to be in the Smithsonian."

We made one more stop on our adventure in the west. After we left Griffith Park we went to Sedona to meet Jimmy and Helen Robertson. They were going to be there for a day before they drove down to Tucson. I have to say that I think Sedona is probably one of the prettiest places that we have been in this entire country. The "Oh wow" moments are never ending up there. We made a reservation in a ridiculously expensive RV Park (as RV parks go) and pulled in. The woman had instructed John to pull up to the office. It was a beautiful spot but as we made the tight turns into the office area I was wondering how we were going to get Mary back down to the park area. John went in and I got out and looked around. I didn't see a way to do it, even with the car unhooked. So he came out with instructions on how to get to our space. Step one was to unhook the car. Step two was to make a left turn and then a right turn and drive to the space. He tried left. There wasn't enough room to make the turn. So he looked right and then left and said, "I can make it." I was skeptical. He started that direction. I was standing by the car about to get in when this bearded guy showed up. "Man that's a beautiful rig," he says. "Thank you," I say as I turn to go to the car. "What make is it?" he asks. "A Monaco Dynasty," I say and start to turn away again. "How many miles do you have on it?" he asks. Exasperated I say, "Not sure. About 60,000 I think." Now I'm walking to the car when I hear, ssssrrrrrraaaaapppppppppe.

I won't say what I said.

I jumped in the in-destructible Smithsonian car and ripped down to the bottom of the hill where John was eyeing the damage to the side of the coach. Apparently there were some thorny bushes ... I'll spare you the details. When we take it to the detailer this spring he will have some work to do.

The next thing we had on the agenda was to find a car wash. Smithsonian car was a pig. Armed with instructions from the handyman at the park we took off. Sedona's city council must have outlawed left turns because from the time that you turn off of Interstate 17 and head for Sedona you start encountering roundabouts. No stop signs exist in Sedona. Only roundabouts. I think John took Mary through about ten of them on the way to the RV park and ten of them on the way out. 42 feet plus a Smithsonian car in a roundabout is a challenge. I think Smithsonian car jumped a couple of curbs on the way in. Anyway, back to the car wash. With some very loose instructions on how to find the car wash we set out tootling through roundabouts. When we had the choice to go left or right Murphy got involved and we took the wrong turn. A half hour later we were still looking for it, and we were only five minutes from the RV park. Finally we found it and then we couldn't figure out how to get in the driveway. Once we got into the driveway we found that we had discovered the world's slowest car wash. It took a half hour to get the car washed. Then Jimmy and Helen called us and asked if we would pick them up so that we could go up to a church that is built into a rock on a hill.

We picked them up at their hotel (we actually found it without turning around one time ... a miracle) and we drove up to the top of the hill. We went into the church. It didn't fall down. Another miracle. It was very cool and the view was fantastic.

The church in the rocks

We dropped them off and went back to the coach to change for dinner. We had made reservations at a place called Enchantment Resort. I read the reviews and they were glowing. The resort is about 8 miles out of town in the red rocks of Sedona. Jimmy drove us in their rental car, a new Camry, to the resort. As we were climbing in altitude we saw a full moon rising in between two stunning red peaks. It hung there like a giant softly glowing ball in the sky. It was stunning. Those who know the legend of Jimmy Robertson's driving, know that he considers himself "an excellent driver". They also know that when he drives his big red truck down the narrow winding road that they live on, people dive for the ditch when they see him coming. His driving is truly legendary in the horse industry. Helen, John, and I discussed this issue on the way up to the resort and decided that because the three of us were going to be drinking that Jimmy would be the best driver of the four of us after dinner. Scary.

We had a meal that I would rate in the top ten of my life. And the view, at night, with the full moon was almost surreal. And we drank a lot. We had cocktails. We had wine. And more wine. I think we could safely say that the three of us we were toasted. We piled into the Camry and Jimmy took off toward town. John and I were in the back seat so we weren't paying much attention to where he was going. He made a wrong turn and we ended up on a dirt road. It was a moonlit dirt road, but a DIRT road none the less. The three of us protested that we were going the wrong way. Jimmy gleefully continued down this road. We disintegrated into hysterics and I developed a horrendous case of the hiccups. I was laughing, tears rolling down my cheeks, and hiccuping, while Helen was writing a Facebook entry on her phone telling the world that we were lost in the desert in Sedona with Jimmy behind the wheel. The little Camry flew down the dirt road, around corners at high speed and through holes in the road like a champ. Finally, after what seemed like four hours, we hit the main road back to town. We just had a blast.

As of today (which is February 11th) the damn bank has harassed us for one piece of information after another and we still don't have an agreement on the price. If anyone is reading this that is considering buying a house on short sale here is my advice: RUN. RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN THE OTHER WAY AND DON'T LOOK BACK. If we weren't so far into this we would pull the plug on this one and move on to a property that isn't in financial distress.

We are home now. It is cold. The ground is covered with snow again and the temperatures have been in the single digits for the last few mornings. Mary is plugged in over at the farm chugging away. The good thing is that the days are getting longer and the weatherman says that we have a break in the weather coming! Temperatures in the 50s are on the horizon. It's the mid winter break time. Yay!!!!!!

By our front porch

I hope everyone is having a good winter! I'll be back when we begin our migration back to Scottsdale in March for the horse show. Or maybe, if the house gods smile on us, to MOVE! :)

I was about to publish this post when the phone rang. It was John.

WE GOT THE HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 3, 2011


Snow on the Mountain

It seems that no matter where we go the weather goes whacky. No exception in Arizona. I took the above picture on our daily walk up the hill above where we were keeping Mary. Notice the snow on the mountains. We woke up to temperatures in the upper 20s two mornings in a row. They were forecasting snow in Phoenix at one point. I was in town that day having fun with Karen Anthony and her daughter Ali and her daughter in-law Dawn. On the way back to Fort McDowell they said it was snowing in East Mesa. I thought I saw snow flakes when I was sitting at the traffic light in Fountain Hills. Turns out it was weed fuzz :-)

We don't mind the cold temps because when we look at the weather at home, comparatively, its almost warm. Currently (its Monday) we are at RV Renovators, parked in their back parking lot for the night, watching the Kentucky Wildcats play Pennsylvania. Tomorrow it will break 60 degrees again and all will be right with the world.

The reason we are at RV Renovators ... which are the people who saved our collective rear ends when Guarantee RV in Oregon ripped us off two years ago, or so ... is because the driver's side slide in bedroom broke (again). We were going to start migrating back to Kentucky. I know ... HAVE WE LOST OUR MINDS?????? No, we lost our house person. We have someone who looks after our house, picks up the mail and such while we are traveling. She got transferred by her company and had to make a quick move so we are stuck for someone to take care of the place and the mail.


It is now January 17th. We still aren't home yet. Someone recently said that our lives parallel "Where's Waldo?". I've taken to calling John, Waldo Jones. We have two Woofs.

Back to RV Renovators. When we pulled in they guided us to the back parking lot. It was enclosed by a chain link fence that ran the length of the lot. At night they close the gates on either end and lock everything up. So our guy Eddie gets into the coach and we visit with him about the slide problem, and what will eventually (and I mean two and a half days later) be done to fix it. Ransom is sitting in the co-pilot's seat and John and I are near the galley while we talk to Eddie. We find out that they don't have the part that we need on site, and will have to order it from Monaco in Indiana. It's later in the day and the parts place in Indiana was closed. They were going to call in the morning and have the part flown to Arizona for delivery on Wednesday. They invited us to stay in the parking lot. It's like living in an episode of Junk Yard Wars. Seriously. It's a mess!

We hooked up and Eddie went out the door as Bob (the best repair guy ever) got in. In the process no one noticed that they left the door open. John got up, stepped down to the parking lot and then jumped back in the coach. "Is Ransom in here?" he hollered at me. I looked around and we both called his name at the same time. No dog. Paralyzing fear hit me like a locomotive. We were sitting right on Main Street in busy Mesa, Arizona. I bolted out of the coach with John and he commenced his ear splitting whistling. Behind the chain link fence was a row of crummy houses and a dirt road. I followed the chain link fence with my eyes looking for a hole where he could have gotten through. There was no hole. My eyes kept going until I got to the gate, which was right on the road. By this time the entire crew at RV Renovators had sprung into action. There was a guy unlocking the walk-through gate and people were running everywhere hollering, "HAVE YOU SEEN A LITTLE RED DOG?" John kept whistling. Panic had me by the throat. I wanted to sit down in the middle of the parking lot and cry. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw a red streak flying down the dirt road on the opposite side of the fence. Ransom was checking every possible way to get through that fence and back to us. I took off running toward the gate calling him and he followed me on the other side of the fence until we got to the street. He jetted around the end of the fence and I scooped his little ass up and hugged him and then scolded him all the way back to the coach. He just licked my face, all jazzed up from his escape. The dog nearly gave me a heart attack.

The Escapee

So we spent two nights in the parking lot. Every morning at 6:30 someone would step into the mass of RV parts, windshields, insulation, paint cans, hoses, tools, and crap stacked miles high and holler something that I never understood and we would sit bolt upright in the bed. For two days during the day we would go out and explore our potential new home area, eat lunch out, go walking with the dogs, shop, and count the minutes until our coach was back together and we could begin our journey back to Kentucky. Or not.

The actual repair took an entire day on the third day, while we cooled our heels in the RV Renovators waiting room We took the dogs in with us. John was in and out for several of those hours, driving the repair guys nuts I'm sure.

There is a popcorn machine in the waiting room. Breezy ended up giving away one of our closely held secrets, one that was kept between her and Ransom and me. We don't hand feed either one of them anything except dog treats. No people food by hand. And very little people food anyway. But when John is traveling the dogs and I catch up on our chick flicks. And of course with a movie you have to eat popcorn. So I make Orville Redenbacher's tender white popcorn. I can't eat a whole bag of it by myself so we share it. I eat a kernel and toss one each to my adoring canine companions. Of course I swore them to secrecy so we wouldn't get any flack from John.

Breezy in the pilot's seat, against the reflection of a tree at Griffith Park

Miss Breezy being the brainiest and most trustworthy of our group is allowed to go leash free where ever it is allowed. We situated ourselves in the little waiting room, me on a chair, Ransom on my left on his leash, John on the chair next to me, and Breezy without her leash, on John's right. And also she was closest (about five feet) from the popcorn machine. John told her to lie down, and she got comfortable next to his feet ... with her nose pointing toward the popcorn machine.

Double Frisbees at West World

Breezy has a way of laying flat like no other dog I've ever had. She can get really, really, really flat with her little feet out in front of her and her chin in the floor. While she is that flat-like-a-rug-on-the-floor dog, she can also scoot very slowly along the floor in that position. It's a miracle of dog physics. Every time I looked over at her she had moved several inches closer to the popcorn machine. It was getting close to her afternoon feeding time so I suspected that she was going to blow our cover. I went back to my reading. A few minutes later a man came in to get some popcorn out of the machine. He got a bag and opened the door and Breezy crawled on her belly over to the machine. John started to laugh. He said, "She has never had popcorn in her life. I don't know why she is over there." I cleared my throat and shifted in my chair. When Breezy is hungry she drools. It's a reaction that gets her lots of food. "Look at the poor dog. She's starving." Of course she weighed almost 50 pounds the last time she was on the scale and I'd trimmed a good four or five pounds off of her since we had been in Arizona. The man asked if he could give her some popcorn. John said, "We don't hand feed them." I said, "Well, that's not exactly true." Both John and the man turned and looked at me. "We do eat popcorn together when you travel," I said. "You can't watch movies without popcorn." The man started to laugh while Breezy is salivating all over the floor and John said, "Okay then. Give her some popcorn." She was one happy Border Collie. Ransom got some too. And now I don't have to swear them to secrecy anymore.

We were so proud of ourselves. We managed to get through the holidays without any of the lights and music and the stuff that after 55 and 65 years on the planet, we are both sick of. In the RV park at Ft. McDowell there were several people who decorated their coaches. You can't know how ridiculous it looks to have reindeer antlers stuck to the front of a million dollar Prevost coach. Or santa hats hanging on the side mirrors. And lights strung all over the things. Anyway, we managed to sail through, enjoying our outdoor time without all of the Christmas trappings. So on January 3rd we went to an Italian restaurant in Fountain Hills for dinner. When we walked in I was immediately struck by the fact that there were Christmas lights in the windows. When they seated us we walked by two fully decorated Christmas trees. And when we sat down we both heard the music. "Here Comes Santa Claus" was the first tune. It was followed by another equally ridiculous Christmas song. I leaned over the table and whispered, "You think someone forgot to tell them that Christmas is over?" The waitress came up to get our drink order. She said, "Would you like something to drink?" John said, "Christmas is over." This girl was dumb as a box of rocks and slow as molasses in January (in Kentucky). She says, "I know." Okay. So why were we being tortured by stupid Christmas music (not "Silent Night" or "Oh Holy Night" but "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" and "Frosty The Snowman" ... I swear!)? I surmised that it was because we spent too much time being proud of the fact that we managed to get to January 1st without hearing them. Such is life. We had a seriously bad meal, exceptionally slow service and all of it done to bad music. It was karmic payment for gloating.

We got the coach back together late on the third afternoon and made a mad dash down to West World with the plan that we would leave the next morning (Thursday) for Kentucky. This was Plan B. Neither one of us had our hearts in Plan B. We woke up on Thursday morning to a glorious day of sunshine and warm temperatures. We had the place to ourselves except for some people in the main parking lot working on some big event that was coming up. We had a weather window and route planned that might have gotten us home without any snow storms. But we weakened (code for, we talked each other out of leaving) and opted for just one more day ... one that we enjoyed completely. Late in the day I got on my computer to be sure that we were good to go on Friday, and discovered that we had blown our weather window. According to and the National Weather Service there wasn't a route that we could take to Kentucky that wouldn't stick us in the middle of a nasty storm that was going to blanket the mid south from Dallas to the east coast of the Carolinas. On to Plan C.

John decided that the ladies in the office at West World needed some bribing in order to keep us there for as long as we needed to be there so he took them a signed copy of "Silent Partner". I went over to the office and visited with them, and they were so happy to have the book. I don't think anyone ever gave them anything before. They had been a little testy each time that we dealt with them in the past but the book opened the floodgates of generosity. They really are nice ladies but working for the city apparently has its challenges. As it turned out, it was a terrible storm that lasted longer than we expected so we were stuck at West World. No other RV Park had space for us. The event that was coming in was the Barrett Jackson car auction. It is an epic car event (and I'm an epic car lover). The ladies at the office said that Barrett Jackson's group was scheduled to take over the lot that we were in on Monday. We watched the weather channel and the terrible storm back east, and the days clicked by. We biked and played Frisbee with the dogs and saw movies and ate out, soaked up sun and read and napped. Everyone at home kept telling us NOT to come home because it was horrible there. My dear friend Leigh took over the mail duties at the house so that was a load off of my mind. But Barrett Jackson's group was taking over all of the RV spaces on Monday. Plan C was to leave on Monday. The weather prevented that. On to Plan D.

Christopher Robin (L.A. Equestrian Center mascot)

John coaxed two more days out of the office. I'm not sure how they did it but they let us stay in the lot while the Barrett Jackson people prepared West World for the big event all around us. They brought in semi load after semi load of the most beautiful, cherry cars you have ever seen! The Arcuris were due in town for the big Oregon vs. Auburn game on Monday so on Tuesday we had lunch with them. While we were eating Tim invited us to go over to Palm Desert where they have their house. There is a big park with a lake a mile from their house where we could put Mary. Plan D was formed. On Wednesday we left West World, wishing that we could stay for the auction which was due to start on the 17th (today) and drove west. The entire trip we kept saying, "I can't believe we are going farther west!" We spent two days there and had a great time. The park was wonderful and we had perfect weather. The next conversation was about whether we would go home from there or go over to the Los Angeles Equestrian Center for a visit with the Bennetts. It was only 140 miles. So what the heck! The weather sucked at home, the house was taken care of and we didn't have anything else to do. Plan E.

We drove over to Burbank and parked Mary. It was a great stay and again THE WEATHER WAS PERFECT. Oh, and by the way, we are still waiting to hear from the bank on our home purchase. That is probably the main reason we are dragging our feet about going home. Anyway, we had a great time there. The plan was to go home from there. It would take 5 days from L.A. to Lexington. I looked at the weather. It was good until we got to Lexington on Friday. The forecast was 19 degrees for a high and 6 degrees for a low. And it said it was going to be windy. I told Jim Bennett and he said, "Why would you go home to that now?"

That was all we needed. John talked to Jimmy Robertson who said that he and Helen were going to be in Sedona tomorrow. Unbeknownst to me, he called Cayce Marcos to find out if we could park Mary at their barn in Scottsdale so we can attend the Barrett Jackson car auction!!! Plan F was formed this morning at 9:30 when she said yes.

The lake at Palm Desert

Right now we are in Needles, California for the night. Tomorrow we will get up and go to Sedona, one of the prettiest places I've ever been to, to meet up with our friends. Thursday we are off to Scottsdale for the auction, and if the house gods all line up properly, the bank will accept our offer on the house while we are there.

While we were at the L.A. Equestrian Center we met a Percheron named WhoDat who would fetch a small construction cone every time Jim would throw it for him. It was the cutest thing I've seen a horse do! We also met the LAEC official mascot, Christopher Robin. He is a Miniature Horse, a little stallion who does the Spanish walk, and will rear up and walk on his hind feet, sit down, and bow. He is a beautiful little guy. The woman who runs the RV parking and such at LAEC turned out to be someone who John had met in 1977 at a wedding of a mutual friend in Las Vegas. Very small world. I love that place because it is constant horses, so much so that every time I take a breath there I can smell horses. It doesn't get much better than that.

Christopher Robin and his owner, Karen Sun. She exercises him alongside the golf cart.

The question finally came down to: What would we be doing if we were home? The answer was: Freezing our asses off, sitting in front of the fire, waiting to hear from the bank. So we may keep driving circles around the southwest until spring. Stay tuned!