Announcing…

The suspense is over for us. Announcing the latest in the Liberty story:

The story starts April 3 when we took Liberty to Algodones, Mexico for a facelift at Navarros Paint and Body Shop.

They had done a couple other rigs that we had seen and we could tell they did a good job. We had been checking prices for quite a while because the blue paint had deteriorated pretty badly. It appeared to us that the only clear coat was on the graphics and the rest of the paint had seen better days. Near the roof, it was down to primer. Navarros had a much better price than other shops we had talked to so we chose them. Brian Reeve, who was married to LeRoy’s cousin Beverly prior to her passing a few years back, has a house in Yuma where he winters and he and his new wife Joyce invited us to stay with them. For a month!

Jose, the owner of the paint shop, told us four weeks initially. He told us we were welcome to come to the shop any time, so we made several trips each week to visit Liberty and check on progress.

The workers did a great job of removing the paint, even using who knows how many razor blades to get to the bottom of it. What you see on the ground are paint slivers.

After the paint was all removed and the body work done in a few places, they moved into the paint building to mask and begin adding layers.

We were so excited the day we arrived to find color!

We were sad to know that the mural would be going away and the shop really didn’t want to remove it, but it was time. We have lots of pictures of it. Dick and Debbie Bell, the original converters of Liberty, had the scene painted from their own back yard with a few small additions, so it was truly theirs, not ours.

Another change was the Liberty name on the front. It was done in silverleaf, I think, and due to a few bird hits, it was beginning to chip off.

We’re not sure yet in just what way, but the name will return. She’ll always be Liberty to us! (Our son says, still Liberty, just with a new wardrobe!)

Friday afternoon, LeRoy said “Well, we probably aren’t going to get the bus back tomorrow, since it’s almost quitting time and we haven’t had a call.” We were resigning ourselves to another few days when Jose called to say that Liberty would be ready at 10 a.m. Saturday morning! LeRoy jockeyed the bus out of the paint building, out of the lot and onto the street lined with vehicles that couldn’t be moved and we were ready to go!

One of our concerns from the beginning had been getting the bus back OUT of the little town. The drive through the border crossing into Mexico was a straight shot, with only one very tight right turn, so LeRoy managed that just fine. Jose kept assuring us that it would be no problem to get out, even though I estimate the turn at 60 degrees or less, with traffic barriers, fences and cones along the edge. See the man with a crutch? The car behind him is where LeRoy had to put our 40-foot Liberty!About the time the butterflies in my stomach started flying in formation, I was reminded that the Lord brought us through the Needles tunnels in South Dakota, he could surely do this.  I got out to help guide him and he only had to do two up-and-backs before he made it through. What an excellent bus driver I have!

We had been warned to drive toward the lane with the orange cones, since the others were narrow enough that some drivers have had to bring their rigs back to fix gouges. Fortunately, even the lane with the cones was open for business, so we pulled up for inspection. LeRoy had to open every bay and the gentleman went inside by himself to inspect all the possible hiding places for contraband or people, but after a thorough inspection, we passed and were able to drive out. That sign says “Welcome to California” and I heaved a sigh of relief.

While we got out without a scratch, we didn’t get off scot free. On the way in April 3, a speed bump broke off a cast iron manifold downpipe just in front of the muffler. Boy, did we make an entrance! No one missed our arrival! A friend from the Kansas City area shipped us another one and after we got back to Brian’s place and LeRoy reattached the eagle side emblems, he put on him “get greasy” clothes and climbed under the bus.

If you’ve been reading this blog long, you’ve seen similar pictures lots of time, but this time it isn’t a generator repair. The picture below is the broken part and the result of the replacement was amazing. Quiet! Well, as quiet as a bus gets, anyway.

While he was doing the repairs, I worked on changing the interior to reflect the new Liberty.

So look for us on the road. I don’t think you’ll have any trouble seeing us!

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Rally week

I’m not sure what we were expecting when we left for the Passport America rally. We’re used to Silver Eagles rallies where 20 or 30 Eagles and their owners get together, the men talk about buses and the women catch up on families or go shopping. We mostly all know each other, with just an occasional newcomer. This definitely wasn’t that! We were the only bus conversion among 150 or so RVs, all the way from little campers to fifth wheels to big coaches and we didn’t know any of the owners, going into the rally. Knowing LeRoy, you know that didn’t last long. He quickly got acquainted and even lent a hand at fixing a shower door in a much newer coach than ours. People are what makes a rally experience what it is for us. We met the folks from the Passport America office in the Florida who were in charge, along with recent full timers from New Jersey, an early-Bronco club from California, a working couple of full timers from Alaska and many, many more. There was a catered dinner each night, pulled pork one night, brisket another and ending with a pizza party.

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The entertainment on Tuesday night was Rick Roberts from Nashville, but this guy showed up for dinner, complete with one bullet in his pocket.

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His comedy was clean and relatable and he wasn’t bad with the guitar, either.

Rick Roberts

We had to go back to the church for our last Bible study on Wednesday, so we missed the entertainers that night, a duo called Too Lazy 2 Ranch.

The seminar schedule and the vendor list were disappointing, to say the least. I think there were 7 vendors and even fewer scheduled seminars. The only two I found halfway interesting cancelled before the rally even started!

The saving grace was LaMesa RV’s assortment of RVs (a hundred or more, all shapes and sizes). We toured dozens and I took pictures of several relatively unique features. These came from several multi-hundred thousand dollar coaches, not all in the same one.  Everyone needs a walk-in cedar lined closet

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with a tip out escape ladder, just release that catch and push.

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That mirror? It turns into a TV when you want to watch a movie in bed. I’ve seen those before, just not in an RV.

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I liked several with niches for my shoes!

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A double vanity would come in handy…

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and a safe.

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Since the driver should keep his hands on the wheel, it comes in handy to have two screens for the GPS, one with the menu for the passenger to use, and the other with just the map for the driver.

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LeRoy liked this instrument panel on the steering column.

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Since we have a mural painted on the back of Liberty, we were fascinated with this one that parked behind us. It’s “sort of” Niagra Falls and sort of not!

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The couple who own it are another Bob and Karen from California, like our bus friends Bob and Karen Ward in Kansas. They were part of the Bronco group and we joined them (or they joined us) for lunch at Hotrods of Vail on Thursday. The guys practically drooled at the very clean active hotrod shop attached to the restaurant and bar. You could just about eat off of that floor.

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The menu was varied, food was good, the portions were large and the prices were very reasonable. And the company was lots of fun.

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And now, we’re in Yuma visiting friends and family again. Adventure still awaits, even this late in the season.

 

 

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Sunrise, sunset

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I have to admit, I see many more sunsets than sunrises, but the ones this past week have been spectacular. Our eyes see much more glorious color than the camera lens sees, but the mountains silhouetted against the sunset sky never cease to touch my soul.

What I was really referring to in the title, though, was the song from Fiddler on the Roof that says, among other things, “Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset! Swiftly fly the years. One season following another, laden with happiness and tears.” Since Florence Marie had decided to leave her motor home here and let the church have it, we signed the title over and Pastor Adam listed it on Craigslist on Thursday. Saturday afternoon, it left the parking lot at the hand of the new owner! We never thought it would go that quickly, but we praise the Lord that it did. So now the back parking lot at the church begins a season without a self-contained RV for the first time in several years. In its place is a camper our pastors Adam and Allie Kemper recently purchased. Their adventure camping with two pre-school aged boys has only begun!

This weekend has been the spring 4th Avenue Street Fair and we went by ourselves this time. Even though I didn’t buy any, you might know where you’ll find me if there’s jewelry for sale.

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And you can bet if there’s barbecue, we can’t be far away!

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Today we had our last meal for the season at Ole Mexican Restaurant. We ordered the Ole Style Molcajete with steak, chicken and shrimp as well as grilled veggies. We shared and still had plenty to eat.

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LeRoy has been busy this afternoon, stowing away most of the things we’ve had outside and moving the bus into position to hook up the dolly and load the car. The electric cord and DirecTV dish will go in last minute in the morning.

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We’re headed to the Pima County Fair Grounds tomorrow for a Passport America rally this week. Passport America is a membership that allows us half price camping all across the country. We’ve been members since 2010, but have never attended a rally so this should be fun.

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Whew!

The last couple of weeks have kept our social calendar booked, with everyday things filling most of the slots. Seems like I don’t have much to say, even though we’ve done lots of things. The primary motivation for most of this time has been service, of course mixed with enough fun to keep us interested.

We aren’t often in an area where we can eat at Culver’s, a fast food chain that serves things like pot roast, in addition to butter burgers and fantastic fish. We’ve discovered that this restaurant is very friendly to non-profit fund raisers. The small youth group at the Northwest Community Friends Church made arrangements one evening to get a small percentage of the sales tickets from people with a flyer, in exchange for the youth acting as servers to deliver the meals to patrons in the store.

We had a pretty good turnout. Well, let’s face it, we all like to eat! Even if the food at Culver’s was somehow disappointing, which it never is, the frozen custard is enough to draw us in.

We also did something I’ve been thinking about for as long as we’ve been coming to Tucson. We drove the car up Sentinel Peak, better known as “A” Mountain. There is a large letter A at the top formed with rocks and painted white and it is visible from all over the city. I say painted white, and that’s mostly true, but occasionally some overzealous Arizona State fans will sneak in and paint it ASU’s team colors overnight, since Tucson is the home of their arch rival, the University of Arizona, which is what the A stands for in the first place.

Last Sunday night was the last hymn sing for the season at Desert Trails RV Park. When the singers begin the migration home, our crowd dwindles and we find ourselves singing “Till We Meet Again” for the final time until fall. They put up with my playing the piano and allowed us to be a part of the group, even though we aren’t staying in the park. We’ve made really good friends there and we’re sad to see it be over for now.

On Monday, we made a quick trip to Yuma to deliver a prescription to a friend and see a friend visiting from Seattle area. While we were at it, we stopped in to see our friends Wilbur and Laura Bradbury and check out the new garage they are building. Once that building is built, they will be ready to make plans for the house they intend to build on their other lot.

That trip fit perfectly as a preface to our lunch date Tuesday in Casa Grande with our daughter-in-law Shelly and her parents Marty and Steve Oldham. Shelly is changing careers and will be spending a few months in school learning to be an aesthetician, so she carved out a few days to fly to Arizona for a visit. Steve and Marty winter in Mesa and summer in Show Low, so they’ve found the best way to stay in Arizona and still deal with temperature extremes. We wish Robert could have come along, but the demands of his job just didn’t allow for that. Best wishes, Shelly, on your new adventure!

This winter, a few of us have been participating in a small group studying Rooted. It has been a really good experience, both the Bible study part (including homework that really makes us dig) and bonding with other group members. Yesterday we all went to Interfaith Community Services and volunteered in the foodbank, packaging bread, rolls, bagels and fresh tomatoes and red pepper to be handed out to those in need. This is the largest foodbank in Arizona and draws people from Nogales, on the American side of the Mexican border. Their system doesn’t allow abusing the system, but rather encourages and fosters regaining independence. We all found ways we think we might be of service in an ongoing way. We went out to lunch today for our final celebration together, since one member is leaving Tuesday. She’ll be back in a couple of weeks, but we will be gone by then.

Yesterday was also a church work day (work morning, actually, due to heat), so when we got back from ICS, LeRoy went out to start cutting and pulling brush to make the back road into the church property more accessible. I went inside the church to measure for a sewing project I plan to do in the nursery this week and when I came out, LeRoy and one other guy were the only ones still working. With temperatures in the mid-90s, I was glad when LeRoy called it a day so he didn’t overheat. He really doesn’t know a good way to say “enough” sometimes!

This week we’re tying up loose ends, plus a few more items on the social calendar. We’ll be attending a Passport America RV Rally the following week, so will leave the church a week from tomorrow. More excitement lies ahead–wait for it!

 

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To everything, there is a season

Some things in our lives don’t come to be permanent, they only come for a season. This past week, a “season” in our lives came to an end. For several years, my oldest sister, Florence Marie, has come to spend time with us here in Tucson. The first year, she came for two weeks and stayed with us in Liberty. The next year, she decided that she wanted to come and stay longer, but sleeping on the couch and going to bed and getting up on our schedule was probably not really to her liking. Can you blame her? At that point, we started looking for a small RV that she could call her own. Even though it was really small, it was a space to herself. Barring anything unforeseen, this is the last picture of her as an RVer although she may fly out and spend a week or two with us next year, just to warm her feet.

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We did all of her last minute errands on Wednesday and Thursday morning, then after lunch at another restaurant she’d not yet enjoyed, we took her to the airport to send her off. No, not in the wagon behind us but in a real airplane. Tucson is just as modern as anyplace these days.

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It was a rather emotional day for me. Although Florence Marie has pretty much stayed to herself this winter, we did spend some time together every day and I will really miss that. We came home from the airport and I busied myself clearing out everything that she had left behind for the church rummage sale just to keep my mind occupied. The RV is ready for a new owner as soon as LeRoy gets it running. It hasn’t been started in about two years, so that’s a whole new project!

Our schedule this year is changing up somewhat. Rather than staying here in Tucson until mid-April and heading back to Kansas, we’ll leave here at the end of March and go back to Yuma for several weeks before heading east. Timing there is still up in the air, but we do know that we have to be in Colorado by mid-May.

We’ve been corresponding with the new volunteer coordinator at Golden Bell Camp and Retreat Center, as well as other volunteers, about our summer duties as RV park camp hosts. Almost all the staff at the lodge is new since last summer, so we’re all anxious to find out what changes will be made. It sounds as though the senior volunteers will be about the same motley crew as last year and we can hardly wait to see them and spend time working and playing with them again.

 

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Every week is different

Just like when we were living in a house and working, each week may contain the same scheduled events, but each week is different. Going into it, we knew we would have a hymn sing, a women’s Bible study, a men’s/women’s breakfast and an evening small group. We fill in the blanks with different errands each week.

I’ve picked up an old hobby again in the last few weeks, knitting. For several years, I knitted prayer shawls for friends and relatives who were having special challenges, usually health. In fact, I have one partially finished that has been sitting for quite some time. I started it with no one in particular in mind and just lost momentum. Recently though, I picked up the needles again and started on a slouchy cap for my sister Mary Jo who is undergoing chemo. She and her husband Ray live in Manhattan, KS and are big K-State Wildcat fans and when I saw the soft ball of yarn that had a hint of purple, I knew it was for her. Mary Jo, you might be surprised to know that when I went back to the knit shop to show them the picture, the lady looked at it and said “That’s you, right?” I told her no, that it was my sister. She looked at it again and back at me in disbelief. And I don’t think we look that much alike!

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One of my other errands this week was choosing what video series our ladies’ small group would watch. With several others in on the deciding, we had some bumps along the road. You know how when you ask someone where they want to go eat, they often say they don’t care, wherever you want? And then when you choose, someone says, “Not there, though.” That has been somewhat like this experience. All’s well that ends well. We’ve selected and started “Grace” by Max Lucado for our last few weeks before leaving.

LeRoy’s time is often filled in with bus projects and this week he was working on our nemesis, the bus generator. He devised a clever little helper to hold it up when the tray was fully extended.

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With it out of its extremely tight compartment, he could remove the fuel line (part copper tubing, part fuel line and a plastic tube) which had sprung a leak. The fuel line designed for the purpose seems to do a much better job. The generator is running again, although it still doesn’t start from the inside. Oh well, running is better than not!

When there aren’t bus problems, LeRoy keeps busy working on things at the church. Saturday’s project for him, along with Glen Hartley, the head of the building and grounds committee, was getting the feed for the closed circuit security cameras redirected to the proper office inside. After many trips up and down the ladder, they succeeded!

There’s always grocery shopping and laundry and since Florence Marie doesn’t drive when she’s here, there are always errands she needs to do as well. She has had the same hairdresser here for the last three winters, I think, and had her last appointment Saturday. She will be flying back to Weeping Water, NE on Thursday and has decided not to come back for the whole winter again. We will miss her!

When I get it written down, it strikes me that our full timing experience is very much like our working existence before, but without the jobs. I guess there’s nothing new under the sun, after all.

 

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Familiar territory

The winter hosting season continues! For the past 10 days or so, we’ve had a new rig beside us, Larry and Mileta Kinser’s 42-foot Monaco Diplomat. We’ve known Larry and Mileta since they were full-timers in a tiny fifth wheel right out of college. They were musical evangelists and often parked in our front yard in Osborne, KS or near Mt. Ayr Friends Church at Alton. They left the RV life behind for a long time, pastoring churches in Colorado, Ohio and California. (I may have missed some.) Most recently, just before Larry retired, he was our pastor at Northridge Friends in Wichita. Mileta has supplied my Mary Kay habit for years and is now one of the top directors in the Mary Kay company. I’m always glad to see them come!

While they were here, we took them to the Tubac art festival, one of my favorite places. Again, it has to do with shopping and Mileta and I do that very well!

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Other than Tubac, the primary thing we did together was eating, hitting up several of our favorite places that we hadn’t taken them yet. They left this morning, headed toward Fresno, CA and their grandsons. The boys differentiate between their grandmas by calling Mileta “Bus Nana”. They use Facetime daily to keep in touch and the boys were suitably impressed that there were TWO big buses next to each other.

Valentine’s day LeRoy took me to lunch at Longhorn, since we knew the evening would find every restaurant packed with sweethearts eating together. LeRoy also brought me my favorite two-tone roses and most of them are still looking beautiful.

Florence Marie and I spent time this weekend with other women from the church at a retreat that started at Living Water Retreat Center not far from Sahuarita, south of Tucson. I say it started there because this retreat turned into an adventure. You’ve probably been to progressive dinners, where each course is held at a different home? This lovely setting in the mountains uses a woodburning fireplace and space heaters for heat and depends on a generator for its power. All would probably have been well if there hadn’t been a Willis along. You know how we are with generators! Anyway, mid evening on Friday, the generator quit and we were left in the dark. We couldn’t even charge our cell phones and you know how important that is! Our brave pastor’s wife and the Captain of Cuisine for the weekend went out to look at it. Pastor Adam had left instructions for the generator and they were able to get it started again, only it kept blinking on and off. Several trips outside later, they got it going but in the middle of the night, it quit and refused to restart. The decision was made about the time we ate lunch (the stove and refrigerator were not dependent upon electricity, thank goodness) that we would pack up and move back to the church for the rest of the day. The women spent the night in their own homes and this morning we carpooled to breakfast at the home of our Captain, since she had french toast casserole on the menu and no one wanted to miss that. I think the worship service probably looked pretty short on attendees this morning with many of the women gone, but we had a great time together and made it back home just after noon. It was a real bonding experience and we got to know each other much better.

I don’t think there are any special plans this week but I guess I’ll find out as the week progresses. Let you know when it happens!

 

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