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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More of the same

Uneventful weeks are hard to write about. When I talk to friends and family back in the Great Plains, they ask “What did you do today?” It’s pretty boring to say that we went hunting for dune buggy parts or an awning latch for the motor home or to WalMart for groceries. There’s always a trip to the Tiki Hut for self service frozen yogurt, but I think everyone expects exciting adventures, not a two mile walk around the neighborhood. In our early years on the road, we hiked and played tourist a lot. Now, LeRoy works on his newest project and I keep house, pretty much what we might be doing if we were still in Kansas. Humdrum, every day stuff. I go to Bible study once a week and take the lady who is staying on our lot to play dominoes on Thursday. LeRoy goes to the church men’s group once a month and today we had lunch outside with the Sunday school class. In between this “busy schedule”, we’re getting ready to lock the place up and travel in a couple of weeks. Now you know!

Back home, today is my sister Mary Jo’s birthday. Florence Marie is about to become a great grandmother and our youngest granddaughter bought her first fancy dress for a prom alternative held by her best friend’s church. I’m so grateful for cell phones that allow us to talk to and sometimes to see each other. Remember the days when long distance calls were planned for after 7 pm because it was cheaper then? We didn’t call often and we timed our calls so that we could keep cost down. Talk, text and data are unlimited on our phone plan (which also costs plenty), but well worth the cost for keeping in contact.

Golden Bell Camp, where we will be spending our summer, has had feet of snow these last few weeks. FEET! We plan to be there by mid-May, but we sure hope the snow will be gone in our parking space! Here and I think back in Kansas and Nebraska, too, spring weather is showing up. It has been more than 80 degrees here recently, mostly with a light breeze. Some days, more than a slight breeze, but we can live with it. After all, I grew up in Kansas!

Easter is on the way, Covid or not. If Jesus could rise from the dead, he can still bring rejoicing and salvation to the hearts of believers all over the world. I’m forever grateful.

See y’all down the road!

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They say time flies when you’re having fun. These days, I’m pretty sure it flies anyway, fun or not. Here in Arizona, we stay on standard time all year long, but most of the other states made you change to daylight saving time this weekend. Our congressional representative from South Dakota was one of several who put forth a proposal this week to adopt DST all year round. It’s an interesting idea. In the meantime, we’ll just encounter two time changes while traveling back to Kansas.

Our time in Arizona is getting shorter and shorter, and so are the lists on the whiteboard in LeRoy’s garage. The list of things to be done to the motorhome before we leave gets longer, though. My mind is already working on ways to make more efficient use of our kitchen storage. Almost every cabinet is either a stretch up or bend over arrangement, not designed for ease of use. Cabinets above the dining booth are very hard for me to reach and the drawer under that bench is hard to pull out, so both of those places need to hold things I seldom use. Maybe LeRoy’s suggestion of putting some small appliances in a storage bay outside isn’t such a bad idea.

One of the things we’ve been hoping to get done before we leave is Covid-19 vaccinations and we got our first Pfizer vaccines last Monday. We were able to schedule the second shot at the same time we scheduled the first, so we will be completely vaccinated before heading to Kansas. I told LeRoy that since some of my friends have had more side effects from the second shot, I think I will start moving things to the motor home the week before our shots as a precaution.

Time and distance have provided an interesting dilemma this season when it comes to mail. From January through May is what we call birthday season in the Willis household. Only 4 or 5 family birthdays fall outside those months. I mailed the first birthday card of the year on January 16 to reach Tulsa, OK by the 23rd. A couple weeks after her birthday, Katrina still hadn’t received it, so I sent another. That one made it in about a week, but the first one didn’t arrive until March 3! It wasn’t even postmarked until Feb. 8, so it must have been hiding somewhere. Another card sent to Kansas took about 10 days, too, but that was during the horrible winter weather and could have been excused. I have enough trouble remembering to get cards sent to the right person at the right time without delays!

This past Wednesday, we drove to Quartzsite to meet up with several of our former Golden Bell volunteer friends and we had a great time. One couple lives in California, about 2 1/2 hours from Quartzsite, two couples are from Kansas but in Surprise, AZ for the winter. Max Reser, who I call the brother I never had, helps manage an RV park in Bouse, AZ, just a few miles up the road. Judith Radcliff is a kindergarten teacher on the Hopi Indian reservation, but she wanted to be part of the group so she and another woman drove 6 hours each way to come. She had us feel special! I think LeRoy and I will be the only ones of the group at Golden Bell this summer.

Next thing you know, we’ll be back in Kansas with family again. We used to always notice how the grandchildren had grown each time, but now they’ve all pretty much reached full height. Our one great-grandaughter, though, is almost 3 now and definitely growing and changing almost daily. I can’t wait to see her!

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Small town Arizona

In the 1960s, a man named Hank Schechert purchased 3,000 acres of ground east of the city of Yuma. We’ve heard stories of how he personally began laying out Foothills Boulevard here and then began developing the area primarily into double RV lots. The Schecherts owned the bank and the hardware store, the water and sewer company, a grocery store and a fitness center when we started coming here within the last 11 years. Since then, some of those businesses have either closed or been sold. This year the fitness center has been sold to a company that plans to put in a grocery store. Good thing, since the grocery store was one of the closures!

Hank Schechert was well known as a forward thinker and an entrepreneur. Every year, the community comes together to celebrate Hank’s Days with a barbecue, car show, entertainment and a parade.

This year it was pared down to just the parade due to the Covid precautions but it was about the longest parade we’ve seen here. That’s Hank and his wife in the bucket of the loader. We sat in our lawn chairs along the parade route and enjoyed visiting with several people around us, most of whom call Oregon home during the rest of the year.

There were no marching bands, but there were two floats carrying a ukelele band on one and a country band on the other. The only marching “band” was this group of bagpipers playing the Marine Hymn that followed the color guard.

Most of the parade was made up of cars, motorcycles, three and 4-wheelers with a smattering of vehicles advertising local businesses and politicians. We happened to be sitting on a corner near a family with small children, so lots of candy was thrown in our direction.

We sat on the west side of the street looking into the sun, so my pictures are not as good as they might be. I hope you get an idea of what we saw.

This next car honked and the people waved. Our friends Danny and Chris Gogerty’s Chevrolet is really nice!

We are used to seeing the horses at the back of parades, followed by the street sweeper, but here they were right in the middle.

It was a beautiful day for a parade and for eating at an outdoor restaurant. Tacos El Cositas furnished fish tacos for our lunch. We were glad to see that the “fixings” bar was operational again. It had been closed due to Covid restrictions. Won’t we all be glad when we can eat at buffets/salad bars/condiments bars without masks and food handlers gloves? I know we will!

We still haven’t heard about appointments for vaccinations but we are glad for our friends who are educators and health care employees back home who are getting their shots. Our turn will come sometime, somewhere. In the meantime, we’re staying well and enjoying our weather. I think even the Great Plains is about to escape the deep freeze and I know everyone will be grateful for that.

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Valentine’s Day

Every week, there is a “poll” in the church bulletin. I think it’s just to see if anyone is paying attention because I don’t know how many are actually turned in. Today, the question was “When you think of Valentine’s Day, would you say…

  1. It is the most special day to love my significant other.
  2. It serves a purpose, but isn’t that important.
  3. It sells cards, but otherwise doesn’t mean much.

I think Valentine’s Day is really a Hallmark holiday, designed to be guilt inducing if you don’t spend money on your special person, but it works for me. I love getting flowers and going out to eat, reading a card that says sweet/funny things about our relationship. And I love the flip side of that, finding the right card and something sweet to give. Wouldn’t you think we’d have outgrown that sort of thing after 55 years of marriage? We haven’t and I hope we never do!

One of the things that makes us stand out in a crowd is that most days except Sunday or other dress up occasions, we wear matching shirts. These days, our masks match as well, or at least they do if we pick up the matching ones. The convenience store where we pick up fountain drinks has all new customer service people this year and two of them now recognize us as soon as we walk in. At first, they would say “You have the same shirts! Did you mean to do that?” And later they’d say “Do you always match?” Now they’ve picked up a trend and they notice that the masks are part of the outfit, too. It makes them smile and it makes us smile that we are recognized. I’m not thrilled when some sweet young thing says “Oh, that’s so cute!” That makes me feel like they really meant “Oh, those old people are so cute!” Not good! However, we still hold hands on the sidewalk (and not just to hold each other up or keep from getting lost.) I’m still crazy about the guy! Happy Valentine’s Day, LeRoy!

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Our 11th “anniversary”

11 years ago this past week, we closed on our house in Wichita and moved into our first bus. A few months later, we bought Liberty and a few months after that, started traveling. For the first several years, we put lots of miles on our home on wheels. Now, we have become destination travelers mostly: winter in Arizon; summer in some place cool, usually Colorado; and fall and spring in Kansas. We have friends in all those places, past and present. And our loyal family loves us wherever we are, time difference and all. We’ve been blessed!

This week an “old” friend and a new one moved their rigs onto our property for a couple months. It was nice to have someone go to church with us this morning and lunch together was nice, too. Sometimes we think we’re basically hermits and having company will get us out of a rut.

LeRoy’s latest project is a new-to-us dune buggy. He traded the pickup he got last winter for a new toy and now he is working on equipping it for use. Here in Arizona, dune buggies and 4x4s can be tagged and driven on the street as well as in the desert, so that is his new goal. We’re thankful for a garage that is big enough for our car and a workspace!

Not much going on around here. I’ll try not to bore you with whining about the weather when so many people across the country are dealing with COLD and snow. There hasn’t been a day when we were too cold to walk around the block or fill the bird feeders or walk to the mailbox. We love seeing snow pictures on Facebook, even from Tucson friends. Yuma is a good place to be!

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Quartzsite 2021

For some reason, I don’t have pictures of the majority of the buses. Just a sample here.

We have spent most of the past week camped in the desert with the Eagles International group. This was our 11th Quartzsite rally and since the first rally we attended in 2011, we’ve seen a big change in the group. Several members have passed away and others are no longer traveling due to age or illness. Quite a few buses have been sold to younger owners who just are not joiners, so the attendance is dwindling. This year Covid 19 made a difference, too, but did not stop us. The man who had made the original arrangements tested positive last week, so was not able to attend. We had a total of 5 Eagles, 2 Prevosts, a toy hauler and our motor home. We may have been small, but we had a great time.

We didn’t shop at the marketplace vendors or the big tent as much as in the past and always wore masks when we did. Quite a few vendors and restaurants just weren’t there this year and we stayed away from restaurants altogether during the rally. That didn’t keep us from eating well, though! One couple provided sourdough pancakes and sausages for breakfast one day and another couple brought mini muffins for another morning. We had a hamburger cookout one night, a happy hour with lots of snacks another and a potluck for the last night. They say you get better acquainted with people around a dinner table and I’d have to agree. What a great group!

At the Quartzsite rally, as well as most other rallies, a campfire is a big attraction. This year, LeRoy and two other guys cleaned out their woodpiles at home and we had a good fire morning and evening. Daytime temperatures were in the 80s, about the warmest Quartzsite rally weather I can remember, but as soon as the sun goes down, everyone goes for a jacket and a seat around the fire.

The men always have plenty to talk about and if anyone has a problem with their bus, all they have to do is raise the engine cover and other owners come out of the woodwork! When they finish solving (or shrugging their shoulders about) the mechanical/electrical problems, they start on the problems of the world. No politics at all, just good conversation. Two of the guys who have been attending for years discovered at this rally that they both went to the same trade school in Kansas City at the same time in 1962-63!

At recent rallies, we’ve had several women’s activities. One rally we learned about love languages, another time we learned trivia about each other. This time, two of the ladies from the Phoenix area had a class in making flowers out of aluminum cans! We didn’t have paint readily available, so those who made flowers will have to paint them once they get home.

Almost everyone pulled out this morning headed somewhere else. Several couples came to Yuma to spend a few days so we expect to see them a little more. I haven’t heard of plans for any rallies this year, and you never know when we’ll see each other again. It is nice to know that we have friends all across the country. See you down the road!

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