Rain, rain

Monsoons have come to Teller County. Don’t get me wrong, we appreciate that there are no fire bans in effect. We’ve been here when you couldn’t even use a gas grill outside, let alone have a campfire. That’s no fun when you have to enforce the rules. All the same, cold, wet weather doesn’t make a tent camper very happy.

When we started volunteering here in 2014, there were probably more tents than RVs on the majority of weekends. Last year, at least partly due to Covid, more people were buying or renting RVs to get away and still be more or less isolated. This year, too, we’ve had lots of first time RVers. One of the byproducts of this change is that toilet paper and paper towel usage in the bathrooms is way down. We credit that at least in part to the fact that more units are self contained. For whatever reason, we appreciate that the bathrooms stay cleaner.

These past few weeks we’ve seen quite a few pop up trailers, too. It’s a cheaper way for a young family to get started camping. We love seeing the little ones enjoying nature, so excited about eating s’mores and sitting around a campfire. We took Heidi on her first camping trip at 5 weeks old and spent almost every weekend that summer at Lake Afton. Rob was not quite 3 and he practiced casting with his own little fishing pole. The families here are just making different memories, but they’ll never forget.

This past week was the last residential camp. That’s always a little sad, because it means the summer staff will be leaving. We got together with all of them this evening to recap the summer. In the past two weeks, I believe, 40 campers made decisions for Christ! That’s what it’s all about. While we don’t directly work with those campers, we do get to bolster the spirits of the counselors.

A week ago, Heidi came to spend a few days with us and we had a great time. We hiked and shopped and visited some of the places we used to come to when we vacationed here years ago. I know it was a long trip for her but we sure were glad to see her.

It has been so nice having cohosts these past few weeks. They will be here for two more weeks before they head to Indiana for repairs to their new trailer. We’re hoping that Mike and Gloria will come visit us once we get back to the Landing, since they are from the Wichita area and are selling their house.

For everyone in hot weather right now, I’m sorry! I would send you a few degrees in trade if I could. Stay cool and stay hydrated!

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Happy Independence Day

Or as our British waiter said today at noon, happy treason day! It seems even freedom is a matter of perspective.

Over the decades we’ve been coming to Colorado, we’ve pretty much accepted the fact that it’s going to rain most afternoons. These last few weeks have definitely proved true to form, but in addition to afternoons, sometimes it rains off and on all night. All that rain helps Colorado to live up to the motto on the signs as you enter the state: Welcome to Colorful Colorado!

As we walk between the RV park and the lodge, we have a choice of taking the “high road”, a longer more rolling path, or the “low road” which is shorter but steeper. It’s choose-between-breathing-and-talking steep in places. Along the low road, we discovered wild iris blossoms earlier in June. By the time we thought about pictures, they were gone.

Along either trail, though, we found those pretty little yellow blossoms we left in Kansas, too, dandelions. The ones here tend to be spindlier but still bright, cheery yellow.

The other plants, weeds or wildflowers, are just pretty blooms for which I don’t know the names. The first ones we saw sprouted right in the middle of the path, light lavender clusters. Since then, we find them everywhere in a variety of colors from pale to deeper purples.

There is also a yellow blossom that grows on a stalk, but the flowers look more bell like.

Some of my favorites are the blue ones that look like little bells first thing in the morning and later open and spread their petals. They grow at the side of the path or right in the middle. The “soil” is pretty much the same everywhere, though, little pinkish rocks we call DG or decomposed granite. It takes a pretty hardy plant to grow in it.

I love the tiny white flowers that look like daisies with lots and lots of petals.

Then there’s this little purple jewel.

I’ve looked for columbine, the state flower, but we must not be at the right altitude for them. We grew them in our flower bed in Wichita before we sold the house there, but I’ve never seen them growing wild. Weeds or wildflowers, we just appreciate the colors we get to see on a daily basis.

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Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to my husband, our son and son-in-law and our grandson-in-law! Each in their own way is a terrific father and I love them all so much. My own dad has been gone for a long time now, but I am who I am in large part due to him and Mother. I can’t remember celebrating Father’s Day on the farm. Since President Reagan was the first to make it a national observance, I’m sure we did something. Kansas wheat farmers are much too busy this time of year to make a big deal of it, but Daddy never worked on Sunday so we at least had dinner.

I apologize if any of my readers missed seeing my blog last week. It’s because I didn’t write one! We had worked 7 days straight, approximately 60 hours each, and I was tired! This week, we took one whole day and part of another off and didn’t have nearly as many hours.

It is almost summer! I know that because LeRoy’s birthday is the first day of summer and it is tomorrow! This is the season of Hallmark at our place. Father’s Day and LeRoy’s birthday often coincide or at the very least are a day or so apart and our anniversary follows on the 10th of July, so finding cards and gifts for all three can be quite a task.

I also know summer is here because I haven’t worn a sweatshirt or long sleeves all this past week! Our temperatures have been hovering near 80 which is just fine with me. We usually have calm winds in the morning with heavier breezes picking up around noon. The camp has a large tent without walls that they use for outside meals or craft projects, but it is currently down for the umpteenth time. Wind and rain are really hard on it. With all the manhours used in putting it back up, they would soon have the cost of a permanent carport type structure.

This weekend we have had a church group from Colorado Springs in the RV park. Several things we know to look forward to for this group’s arrival. There will be many, many children and each child will have a bicycle. From the time the front runners arrived on Thursday afternoon, there was constantly a group of children riding around and around and around the park from early morning until bedtime. The little ones are so cute. One little boy apparently got tired of trying to pedal his tiny bike with training wheels, but he didn’t want to be left out so he just walked and dragged it. A cute little girl, about 4, proudly told us that she could ride her bike uphill AND downhill and she didn’t have training wheels!

Another thing I don’t so much look forward to is all the long hair left on shower surfaces, around the sinks and all over the floors. Something about cleaning up other people’s hair just creeps me out!

Since nearly all the sites were full to overflowing with tents instead of self-contained RVs, the bathrooms were in heavy use. The dumpster was emptied Wednesday morning and is now so full that tonight’s trash will have to be taken to the lodge dumpsters. And the trashmen won’t come until Wednesday again! Fortunately, the contents can be tamped down enough for us to continue to use it, but not until tomorrow.

Have a great summer, y’all!

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Connected

When we traveled in Liberty, we used DirecTV for our television connection and we had been happy with it…until AT&T. At about the time AT&T bought DirecTV, service for RVers started to decline. Every time we needed to change our service address so that we could get local channels, they created a new 2-year contract and tried to charge us $199 for the privilege. So we decided to change service providers and switched to Dish. When we started traveling again in conventional RVs with smaller storage bays, we bought a King Tailgater that would find the satellites all by itself. It has served us pretty well, but we started having trouble getting reliable reception, especially here in the RV park among the trees. LeRoy has a couple of apps on his phone that show where the satellites are and there was nothing in the way, but still we had spotty service and every morning the receiver had to be reminded that we are in Colorado, then rescan for channels. We had purchased the unit and receiver used and put several years on it ourselves, so we bought a new King Tailgater Pro with a Wally receiver. We still don’t get all the channels in HD, but at least we have television so we can be connected to the outside world. Well, sort of.

A few years ago, the camp added wifi in the RV park for the office and volunteers. This year, none of the passwords worked and we have discovered that the router isn’t working. Shouldn’t be a problem. We have Verizon phones, which have always worked better up here than any other provider, so we could get online with our phones or use their hotspots for the iPad in the office and Trading Post. Then one day this week, someone somewhere cut something and ALL internet to the camp, including Verizon phone service, was down for a day! We couldn’t even make a phone call. When all RV park reservations and camp business are internet based and mostly paperless, it makes for a frustrating day. We had people showing up with reservation in hand when we didn’t know anyone was coming! They had reserved online just before they started up the mountain and we had no record of it until the next day. Fortunately the problem was solved in less than 18 hours, but our ability to get around on the internet on our phones is hampered. We thought at first it was because we had so many people in the park this weekend, but it’s still about dial-up speed, remember that? We are so spoiled!

It is finally warm enough for LeRoy’s “uniform”, shorts and a tee shirt! I even leave my jacket at home sometimes, so you now it’s getting nice. Our view changes as the temperatures get warmer, too. This picture was after several days of cold rain, grauppel and slush at our elevation, which also brought more snow to the mountain.

This pictures was earlier this week and as we drove back from church today, there was even less snow.

I’d love to invite everyone up to visit, but you have to bring your own “house”. When we’re in Yuma, we have an extra bedroom. Here, an air mattress in the living room is about as much as we can offer. We’re the only RV hosts at present, so we’ll be working every day but we’d love to see you!

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Wild day in Colorado!

Before we left Sedgwick, I broke a tooth. It didn’t hurt and since our Wichita dentist retired several years ago, I decided to wait until we got out here. You see, our dentist from nearly 50 years ago in Osborne, KS now has a practice in Fairplay, CO, just a short afternoon trip away. I asked if he could see me and got an appointment for this afternoon.

We woke up to a cloudy day this morning and before mid-morning, the ground was covered with graupel, soft ice beads larger than sleet and smaller and softer than hail. We learned that weather term several years ago, right here at Golden Bell.

By 2 pm, the ground was clear and the precipitation was in the liquid form. We started out for Fairplay and over around Lake George, we saw a herd of elk right by the road. We guessed there were between 12 and 18 of them, grazing and just resting on the ground. My goodness, they are LARGE animals! This picture was only part of them.

One of my favorite views in this area, aside from Pikes Peak, is when you top over Wilkerson Pass and see a vast plain stretched out across miles and miles before it ends in mountains to the west. As soon as we reach that area, we start looking for antelope and we usually see them as singles or at most two or three. Today, we were treated to the largest group we’d ever seen, several dozen or so. We were already past when I thought about the camera, so we didn’t get a picture. They were big for pronghorn antelope and just beautiful. They, too, were relaxing, not at all stressed by the misty weather.

After we turned toward Fairplay, we started seeing herds of buffalo. The ranches over there are huge, so there’s room for such large animals. Buffalo meat is sold all over and they have to be raised somewhere!

Our property in Kansas is just more than one acre. My dad farmed several quarter sections and farmer friends in western Kansas irrigated several “circles”, 160 acres each. Today we saw signs of property for sale that made all those others pale by comparison. It is almost more than we can comprehend that one rancher would be selling 120,000 acres! That would take a chunk of change! A mere $26,500,000 and it could all be yours!

A few miles on up the road, we started seeing slush on the road and the ground was covered in white stuff. Rounding one bend in the road, we caught a glimpse of flashing lights ahead of us and then we came upon this snowplow and followed it the rest of the way to Fairplay, where the temperature was 34 degrees!

My tooth was fillable, although it may require a crown somewhere down the road, hoperfully years from now. I was the last patient of the day, so we had Dr. Jim and his wife Joyce Caldwell all to ourselves. It was so good to catch up on their family. Their son James (we called him Jimmy) is an anesthesiologist and the medical director of a Colorado Springs hospital. We recalled him and our son Robbie (sorry, Robert) wrestling in their first tournament as kindergarteners. Jim and I both missed that meet because it was the same night he was extracting my wisdom teeth! Their daughter Stephanie is a few years younger than our daughter Heidi and she is in the medical field, too. Caldwell Dentistry is only open two days a week and they share an office with another local dentist, whose mission statement was hanging on the wall of the waiting room. I think it pretty well sums up our relationship with Jim and Joyce.

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Mountain weatherman

LeRoy is pretty sure he could be a weatherman here in the mountains. All he’d have to say is “You can look for rain this afternoon at higher elevations”, and 90% of the time, he’d be right! This was our view leaving our favorite Mexican restaurant, Fiesta Mexicana, in Woodland Park this afternoon.

For anyone who hasn’t kept up with us lately, we left the Landing in Sedgwick Thursday morning headed to our summer volunteer gig. Going to and from Colorado, it is so handy to stop in Ellsworth to visit granddaughter Jordan and her family and if we time our trip right, we can even have lunch with them. They took us to (what else?) a Mexican restaurant they like. Rae’s favorite thing is their rice and they only have to say that one word to get her to head for the car! We had just been there for her 3rd birthday party a few weeks ago, so she remembered us and even called us Papa and Granne. She knows how to melt a great-grandmother’s heart! She likes Papa pretty well, too. He was feeding her ice and this picture caught her just before that piece came flying back out.

She also loves to be outside and may be the only one in the family who really likes dandelions when they are fuzzy. She has yet to figure out the blowing part and sometimes ends up with fuzz in her mouth. She really liked the “bus” and was ready to go with us, even when Mom went out and started for the house.

The trip itself was fairly uneventful, just a little wind before we got to Colby for Thursday night at the Whistle Stop RV Park. We’ve been there sometimes when we got the last space, but it was mostly empty this time. They are remodeling the old depot building that houses their office and adding new sites that will be ready by summer.

The lunch stop in Limon, CO was the first time since a year ago in March that we’ve been able to eat inside a McDonald’s. I’m disappointed that they have discontinued all their salads and other grilled chicken items and the website says some of those will be permanent. Those are the only things I go to McDonald’s for, so it probably won’t be a big calling card for me.

When we leave Limon, the search is on for the first sighting of Pikes Peak. It’s always so exciting to catch a glimpse and remember that we hiked it, all the way up from Manitou Springs, in the early 1980s.

Several years ago, on two separate occasions, we took grandkids and our daughter up the Peak on the cog railway, but it closed shortly after our last trip and at the time, they thought it might be a permanent closure. The powers-that-be pulled their act together, though, and did the necessary maintenance and upgrades and we understand that tickets are available starting May 20! So this engine is just in time! The newly constructed Visitors Center will be open in June and I’m sure there will be hot donuts on top once again.

While we haven’t been “trained” yet, we have begun our job as camp hosts in the Golden Bell RV Park. It was pretty full when we arrived on Friday but as always has cleared out now. This summer is the first time they have had a provision for long term stays and the trailer next to us is here until October 1. There is one more fifth wheel that is here until the end of May, but only one other senior volunteer. We heard yesterday that the pond has been stocked with nice sized fish, so come on out and join us. It’s catch and release unless you’re willing to pay a per fish price, though. Our co-hosts have had family business to attend to, so we have no idea when they will arrive. Fortunately, the camp management people are campers, so we aren’t left out to dry all by ourselves. The park store still needs to be stocked, but I did that last year so it won’t be hard. If we have supplies, it should be open by Memorial day weekend. We’ve met several of the summer staffers already, college students who do everything including counseling for the camps. They are what keep us coming back year after year.

Just before we arrived, Colorado’s governor lifted the mask mandate entirely, although it is still up to individual stores to make their own decisions. Teller County is pretty much up to individual discretion and it seems so nice to be able to walk into Walmart without having to dig out a mask. We’ve been vaccinated so we will take our chances.

As LeRoy predicted, it is raining and there’s lots of thunder and lightening. I love a good thunderstorm! Picking up trash and cleaning bathrooms will just have to wait a while. I’ll let you know later how we get along!

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Happy Mother’s Day!

When I was growing up, my dad didn’t do a lot of romantic things. I don’t remember him ever giving Mother a Valentine’s gift or making any other romantic gesture, but on Mother’s Day, he always got her a corsage to wear. My sisters can correct me if my memory is lacking, but I don’t remember him ever missing. Back then, a woman always wore a dress & heels, a hat and gloves to church, so the flowers were a perfect accessory. It would seem a little out of place to wear a corsage today when most of us are wearing pants, even jeans to Sunday worship service. Weddings and proms are about the only occasions for wearable flowers now, but not then, and my Daddy was the best!

Our last Sunday in Kansas for the spring just happens to fall on Mother’s Day. Granddaughter Katrina came from Tulsa for the weekend, so we took up almost an entire pew in church this morning. Only Jordan, Marc and Rae were missing from nearby family. We missed Robert and Shelly from Hawaii and Avery from Atlanta, GA. Tim had to work this afternoon, so we’re getting together this evening for a meal with the whole batch. It’s so seldom that everyone is available at the same time once the grandkids are grown or nearly so. We’ll try to get a picture this evening.

This past week was the last school activity we’ll attend for the season, the high school awards ceremony. Jadelyn was inducted into the National Honor Society, as well as collecting several awards in a variety of subjects. Congratulations!

Things have changed since our kids were little and we counted time until a special event in “sleeps”. We are planning to leave for Colorado on Thursday this week and we’re counting “one mores”. One more laundry day, one more trash day, one more (at least) grocery store visit. And this is probably the “one more” blog until we’re gone. See you down the road!

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Eventful spring so far!

Lots of things have been going on since we got back to the Landing. On Saturday the 17th, we drove to Morrison, OK to attend the memorial for the father of one of Heidi’s high school classmates. The family provided a meal that included lots of Bill’s favorite foods and everyone visited, sharing memories. We didn’t stay long into the afternoon because we had to climb back into the car for a several hour trip to Weeping Water, NE to spend the night with my sister Florence Marie.

The next day, we attended a volleyball tournament in Lincoln. Jadelyn has been playing on a club team since school volleyball was over. She spent some time on the injured list when she couldn’t play, but she was back on the court for this tournament. It’s almost like watching ballet to watch those girls move around the court to be in the right place with just the right hit. They are very good at what they do!

This past week, Kansas showed her flexible side by dropping a spring snow on us! It didn’t last long on the warmish ground, but the cold temperatures hung around for several days. Yesterday was the first warm day of the week, a perfect time for my brother-in-law Ray’s auction. For years, he has been a collector and a history buff. He had a big metal building in the backyard of a rental house where he stored many of his treasures, but now they have sold the property, so it was time to have a sale. God provided wonderful weather and the auctioneers worked beyond hard all day long as well as days before.

There was something for everyone, it seemed. Some of the prices were surprisingly low, while others were higher than expected. Ray has had several Cushman scooters over the years but only sold one yesterday.

Lowe’s prices on wood have been going through the roof, but the buyer of this ceiling-high stack of wood made one of the best buys of the day, in my estimation.

My favorite part of the day was watching the individual pieces of this uniform collection sell. There were only 3 or 4 active buyers on these items, but the one that made the biggest impression on my was a dad with an early teen boy. The boy seemed to be pulling the strings as each hanger came down, deciding whether or not to bid. I didn’t talk to Ray about it after, but I thought he should be pleased to know that there is a young generation who cares about those military uniforms, as well.

There was so much history in that building and on the trailers out front! Like I said, something for everyone.

Family is so important! My nephew Bryan was home from Chicago to help in those last busy days. I don’t remember when I saw him last. I was 14 when he was born, so was almost as close in age to him and his brother as to my sisters.

Spending the day with my sister Mary Jo was the best part! We don’t see each other often and I loved being able to talk to her face to face.

Ray was tired, well, maybe exhausted would be a better term, but I think he was relieved to have this enormous project done.

Even my great-nephew John stopped by for a while. He was between a 5K run in the morning and doing commentary for a Wildcat baseball game later in the afternoon.

Since we hadn’t found a reasonably priced motel room for Friday night, we decided to take the motor home. We appreciated sleeping in our own bed, even though a different location. After we left the sale, we headed toward Ellsworth, KS. We parked in the church parking lot of Harvest Bible Church, where our granddaughter’s husband is the pastor. This morning, we just had to walk across the parking lot to go to Sunday school! We were joined by Heidi and Tim, Ben, Bailey and Jadelyn, as well as Pastor Marc’s parents from Newton. After the worship service, we all moved along to Marc and Jordan’s house to celebrate Rachel’s third birthday. She isn’t really much into opening presents, but she likes the presents themselves! She wanted to try on all the clothes, put on all the necklaces and read the books, but the biggest hit of the party inside was a bug house. That is, until they actually caught a bug to put in it. She was carrying it around, but when the bug jumped at her, she threw it across the room! This picture was pre-bug while she was showing my the bug house.

Outside after candles and cake, she had a bigger surprise, a tricycle! This one has a removable handle in back so she can be propelled by someone else until she learns to ride it. She loves being outside, so I’m sure it will get lots of use in the next few months. I think Granddad had as much fun as she did!

This next week should be a little slower, but we’ll catch up with close friends here nearer to home and we love that. For now, a good night’s sleep is ahead.

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Home, home on the range!

We’re back at the Landing in Kansas, after a fairly peaceful drive back from Yuma. The wind was mild when we were driving and mostly at our back until the last day. It felt good to be back. Heidi and Tim were having pizza for dinner that night, so we didn’t even have to cook until the next day.

Our biggest adjustment so far has been, what else, wind. Yuma is considered windy by a lot of the winter visitors, but we know better! We come from the Great Plains and we know what Yuma has isn’t much more than a daily breeze. We haven’t needed coats since we got back, though, so that’s a plus. The daytime temps are tolerable and today is even about 80, right in my comfort zone. We have used a heater at night several nights. The morning we woke up in Belen, NM it was only just above freezing!

When our winters are so comfortable, it makes coming back to season change confusing. Is it spring? Is summer coming or have we come from summer? Snowbird confusion is a real thing! I love the trees in their new leaves and/or blooms. They are so pretty. The daylilies we planted last fall made it through the winter and are looking really good. I know they will probably bloom while we are in Colorado, but we might see some of the flowers. We’re here for such a short time this season that we probably won’t plant any flowers since we wouldn’t be here to water and take care of them.

Our time here is always chock full of doctor appointments and visits with friends and we get started on both this week. Both of us and most of our close friends here are fully vaccinated now, so we do have things to do and people to see! Next weekend we are going to a memorial service for a man we knew in Oklahoma when we lived there and also the last, I think, volleyball tournament of the year in Nebraska. The following weekend, our great-granddaughter Rachel Leigh (we call her Rae) turns 3 and we wouldn’t miss her birthday party! Last year we partied on Zoom, so no hugs or cake. This will be so much better!

A few days before we left Yuma, a friend came from Phoenix and brought us an Easter lily.

It turned out to be a pretty good traveler, for all our misgivings. We put the pot in a bowl in the sink and packed it in with towels to keep it from wobbling too much. That tall stalk made it all the way and now we are down to the last bloom, but we have enjoyed it immensely. Easter lilies just seem so pure and I love them.

It felt good to be back at Northridge Friends to worship among friends this morning. Granddaughter Jadelyn was on the worship team and we had lunch with Heidi, Jadelyn and Bailey after church. We are settling in again and it feels good.

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Signs of spring

Just as warmer temperatures are a sign of spring after a long cold winter, the same is true in Yuma. We haven’t turned on the AC yet, but Weatherbug says it is 88 degrees in the Yuma foothills today and the winds we’ve had recently are gone. Time for the winter visitors to think about going “home”!

Since the first of February, our lot has been full. Our friend Donna Lee Cole, a single RVer, had asked if she could stay with us and when she came, so did her friend Barry in his fifth wheel!

Unlike many of the lots in the foothills, our garage/workshop/living room sits at the front of the lot with outdoor living space behind. Our RV sits toward the back of the west side and we live in the park model on the east side with open space between where we feed the birds, etc. However, from the front, we appeared to be full to the gills!

This morning, our friends moved along, initially toward New Mexico. Breathing room has been restored, just in time for us to load the RV and head eastward ourselves.

We’ve already started taking some things from the park model to the RV, but tomorrow we hope to make a lot of progress on that. We have duplicates of kitchen utensils and small appliances, so we don’t have to move those, but we don’t leave pantry staples here in the summer heat and the refrigerated things will have to wait until the end of the week, when most of the cooking is over. These things require strategic planning and maybe even a shoehorn, since our refrigerator and pantry storage are much smaller in the RV. It’s a little like moving into a new house again, trying to figure out the most efficient way to arrange the kitchen/closets/living room storage for the summer. Wish us luck!

We are looking forward to a busy week. Monday between moving we will go to CVS for our second Covid shots and we are hoping for minimal side effects, like the last time. On Tuesday, a mobile wash unit is coming to wash and wax the motor home and I will go to the last women’s Bible study of the season. If there is sufficient progress on the moving front by Thursday, I will go to the church to play Mexican Train dominoes with the group that gathers there. Some of them have already headed toward home and others will be right behind us, so I’m not sure but what this will be the last of the season, also. Friday evening is the Good Friday service at church and Sunday morning is the Easter breakfast, which our Sunday school class serves and then the Resurrection Sunday worship.

Yesterday, our twin grandchildren turned 21. It seems just yesterday when they were tiny. Now Ben works full time with the Kansas Air National Guard doing cyber security work of some kind and Bailey is in her last semester of preparation for becoming an elementary teacher before student teaching next fall. They don’t fit in anyone’s arms like that anymore!

We hope to celebrate a bunch of birthdays after we get back to Kansas, since there have been quite a few since we left in November and more still to come.

This may be the last blog from Yuma for this season, so in case that is true, we’ll see you down the road!

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