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.
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 Weather.com 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!