Cool Colorful Colorado

We’ve been busy with volunteer work all during July, so we haven’t done much away from Golden Bell except for some trips to Colorado Springs. We are, however, enjoying cool days and even cooler nights, which is really the reason we come to Teller County. The scenery is beautiful and the weather is just about perfect. Even work isn’t so bad when the temperature is in the 70s!

LeRoy has had a lot of variety in his work this year. He has been a mechanic, a painter, a gardener and a mower, among other things. He really likes the guys he works with and for and there’s never a dull moment. I’ve spent most of my days doing laundry and while it’s tiring, it isn’t really difficult. I’ve already been forewarned that there will be an abundance of laundry this coming week, because the lodge has been in use all weekend with a very large family reunion and a church retreat. When the governor wouldn’t allow overnight camps throughout the shutdown, they had to get creative to keep income flowing so they began day camps for children of essential workers. That has been pretty successful but now that it’s about time for school to start, either in the classroom or virtually, day camp will end in two weeks. The last residential camp was over Friday and the summer staffers have started going home, so we’re about to get really quiet. Tonight all the volunteers and summer staffers, along with the paid staff members, are celebrating with a chuckwagon meal.

One night this week, we went into Woodland Park and ate at a new-to-us restaurant, Southern Lilly. Their special for the evening was Crawfish Boil, so we split the large one. It was a beautiful, tasty meal and the crawfish were huge. No pictures of the blackberry cobbler baked on a little cast iron skillet and topped with ice cream, we just dove in and ate it all!

There is a little brown vintage travel trailer here in the RV park that has affectionately been known as the Dawson Mansion. Far from a mansion, it has provided living space for volunteers in the past, even though the pipes were so leaky that the tub and sinks were stained with rust, the bed was awful and the furnishings were uncomfortable. This year, the new camp management decided that we needed a little store here to sell the things campers forgot, as well as candy and ice cream. We think it’s the best use for this little place yet! Since I’m usually finished for the day in the laundry by 1 or 1:30 and the store is only open for a couple of hours in the afternoon, I am taking care of the store Monday through Thursday. There’s too much light to get a good picture, but you get the idea.

We also have RV supplies and grocery supplies. I have a hard time believing anyone would go on a weekend camping trip without some of these things, but I suppose it could happen. What do we sell most? Ice cream and ice, with candy thrown in as an afterthought. I haven’t been in the store since Thursday, so I’m not sure what this weekend’s campers thought they couldn’t live without!

We’re starting to make plans for our departure in just under 3 weeks. I think the volunteers are all leaving at about the same time, give or take a week. The paid staff has already started doing the housekeeping chores that the summer staff has done, so even though the rest of us can drive away, their work goes on. They deserve a rest and I’m sure they’ll get one sooner or later, but the camp is also a conference center that runs all year round, so I’m sure it will be brief and staggered.

Since it rains about every afternoon, I thought I’d leave you with a picture one of the Kansas summer staffers took. It pretty much sums up how so many people feel about Golden Bell.

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Lost in the Fifties!

Actually, lost in the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s, etc. When I bought my new computer, I finally got around to organizing, at least a little, all the photos on the old one. When we sold our house in Wichita, I had a whole box full of pictures, in no particular order. Some were my grandparents, some were me as a baby, some were our grandchildren. I went through the box for duplicates and Brownie camera pictures that were too distant or too blurry to make out the people. You remember those before-digital pictures where you ordered duplicates in case you wanted to pass them on and they came out really bad? I took the remaining several thousand to a client of mine who did scanning of pictures on trade for his ads and I had them all on first a disc and later a thumb drive. I told LeRoy that “some winter”, I would get them organized. I was envisioning a wintry day by the heater, but of course winter in southern Arizona is never snowy and cold, so the job never got done. We were planning to take both computers to the Geek Squad to get everything transferred over, but I discovered that my Geek Squad account doesn’t cover data transfer. For half the price of having them do it, I purchased an external hard drive and now all those photos reside on the new computer.

In the meantime, I went through most of those photos, giving each one a real description and organizing in folders. It sounds simple enough, right? Not so true! I quickly got lost in the memories of each one, remembering the sights and people of my childhood, my children’s hand decorated birthday cakes, the birth of grandchildren and even a great grandchild. Bear with me a bit and I’ll show you a few.

This one is me in a rocking chair on the front porch of the farmhouse. My sisters can tell lots more details, but I think there’s a story about the old barn being blown away before I was born. If I’m wrong, I’m sure someone will correct me!

This picture was taken at the Brookville Hotel when it was still in Brookville, KS. We were celebrating my parents 40th wedding anniversary and all their grandchildren in the picture have “matured”! It’s hard to believe that the three older boys have all hit 60 and only one has yet to see 50. How time flies!

LeRoy’s dad died when he was three, so we only have a few pictures of them together. This one on the horse is about my favorite. LeRoy came along after 12 years of marriage, long after they had given up, so he was very precious to them.

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Service and celebration

Since we aren’t hosting at the RV park this summer, or at least not right now, we weren’t sure what we would be doing at Golden Bell. LeRoy had a reputation with previous staff of being someone they could count on in maintenance, but this year’s management is totally new except for our friend in the office. I’ve worked in the gift shop in past years but the gift shop isn’t open now. Monday morning when we showed up for breakfast, I was asked to help serve. In the past, food was on a buffet line but due to Covid, everything has to be plated and handed to the person by a masked, gloved and aproned server. It was easy that first morning, with only the summer staffers and volunteers. The first residential campers of the year arrived that morning. The next morning, LeRoy and I both served breakfast to 150 or so people. It’s amazing how tiring that can be!

Monday after breakfast, I started washing venetian blinds and the windows behind them. The camp was started more than 50 years ago and if I didn’t know better, I’d be convinced that the blinds haven’t been cleaned since then! That project has been sort of catch as catch can, because as soon as the summer staff stripped beds in some of the rental units, I started doing laundry and didn’t get back to windows until Thursday afternoon! The laundry is done in a little room in the swimming pool building, and serves as a passthrough to the pool equipment at the other end. There are three washers and four dryers and from Monday morning until noon Thursday, all were in use. I’ve always known that everyone has their own way of folding, so it didn’t really surprise me that Golden Bell sheets, towels and blankets are folded just so. The instructions for each are laminated and posted on the dryer doors! One afternoon LeRoy came to help fold sheets but other than that, I was by myself. I know those instructions by heart!

We work a combined 10 hours a day for four days with plans to take off on Friday to celebrate our anniversary. We thought 55 years was worth celebrating! I’m not sure how that happened, because we still feel like newlyweds! We spent the day running around in Colorado Springs. My new computer (this is my first blog on it) arrived Monday and we wanted to get Best Buy’s Geek Squad to change files over from the old Dell to the new HP. Turns out, we couldn’t get an appointment to do that until next Friday, so we’ll be going down the hill again. The day we left the Landing, LeRoy discovered that one of the diamonds in his wedding ring was missing and he didn’t find it, so we took it to Helzbergs for repair since that’s where he got it five years ago. They’ll tell us when it’s ready and if we play our cards right, we might get another trip to the Springs on another Friday. We learned to enjoy Culver’s food when we were in Tucson and since there was a Culver’s almost across from Best Buy, we had lunch there. Still as yummy as ever!

Friday evening we made reservations for dinner at the Swiss Chalet in Woodland Park. It is a very nice restaurant with both inside and outside dining space. We had a table on the deck and enjoyed the mountain scenery around us as we waited and ate. We each started out with sweet chili corn chowder that was so good we think we’ll try to replicate it. LeRoy had a ribeye steak and I had pork chops with crispy fingerling potatoes. There was enough left over that we’re having it for supper tonight. It was a wonderful evening and we feel very blessed to have each other after all these years.

Tonight we’ll go to the lodge for chapel with the other volunteers and summer staffers and then tomorrow is another day. Last week, I found myself singing a scripture song that goes “His strength is perfect when our strength is gone. He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on.” I can attest that it is true and we will both depend on it again this next week!

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Eventful trip, but we’re here

As we had planned, we were ready to leave in time for my follow up eye appointment. Wind notwithstanding, we made it to Ellsworth just fine. Our granddaughter Jordan and her husband Marc live there and they are the parents of our only great granddaughter (so far). We had a great time talking and playing with Rae. She even got a shot at driving the RV! She was pretty proud of herself.

When we were showing Jordan and Rae the inside of our home on wheels, we put the foot rest on my seat out to show them. It wouldn’t go back down, so LeRoy walked to town to get a fuse. Not sure it’s really fixed for good, but at least it went back down and we have spare fuses now. Since their side street is far from level and the steps couldn’t go completely out, LeRoy had put the jacks down while we were parked. None of the easy things worked, so he went underneath and drained the hydraulic fluid out to let the springs pull them up. Eventually, we were able to get on the road again.

Did I mention wind before? As long as we were going north, it was at our back but once we turned west, it was just about broadside to us. In Liberty before LeRoy added air-assist power steering, it would have been really tough and even with that addition, it took strong arms and vigilance. I’ve always said it was like driving a billboard. The Pace Arrow made it much easier, but it was still a tiring day for my driver.

The temperature was hovering near the 100 degree mark most of Monday, but the generator runs both air conditioners and we do have dash air now. The generator got hot and quit for a little bit, but eventually it did start again. Another blessing!

Just as we bumped down into the Whistle Stop RV park in Colby, the refrigerator door swung open, the water jug inside and a full quart container of yogurt fell out and broke. Two and a half gallons of water ran under our storage unit into the carpet and it’s still not quite dry, even with fans running on it all the time. The yogurt made a bigger mess at first but once it was cleaned up, we were good.

The engine in the RV tends to run just below very hot all the time, which they tell me is typical of that engine, so we left Colby early Tuesday morning hoping to escape hot weather and get up the mountain safely. Mountains are always a challenge for RVs, it seems to me, or at least the ones we’ve owned. We took the car off the dolly and I drove up to lessen the load and we made it.

The drive Tuesday was still pretty windy, enough so that the big side awning decided to unroll as we drove. So in beautiful downtown Kanorado, KS, we stopped by the side of the road and cut it off. That’s about all you can do if it won’t rewind. LeRoy carries a foldable ladder which made getting it down so much easier, even though nothing about getting it on the ground was easy! I’m no match for LeRoy’s strength!

When we arrived at Golden Bell, we got reacquainted with long time friends after we got parked in the RV park and met several new staff members at dinner. Things are somewhat different than in the past. The cushions have been removed from the couches in the lobby to aid in social distancing, even though the staff, volunteers and summer staff are about the only ones here. and every time we are in a camp building, we will wear a mask. Other than that, Golden Bell is still a wonderful place to be.

After dinner last night, I began to experience a rash on my upper body. Heidi suggested that I should send pictures to my doctor in Wichita via the patient portal and I am still waiting to hear from them. I guess we’ll see what they think and maybe go to a doctor in Woodland Park. I feel good and don’t itch too much!

This morning, because of the rash, I didn’t go to breakfast, so I took a walk to see my favorite view. I just stood and soaked in the beauty God made for us and I know all is well, no matter what.

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As always it seems, the most important family events happen the last week before we leave the Landing. This week was definitely no exception. What I couldn’t write in last Sunday’s blog was that we, mainly Heidi and family, were planning a birthday bash for LeRoy’s 75th birthday. Since it was also Father’s Day, we decided on ice cream at Braum’s in the evening and invited long time friends to attend. We really did surprise him!

Our family and friends were already gathered when we arrived, but he still didn’t get it until he saw the cake and balloon. It seems that most of our close friends, whom we really consider family, are from Northridge Friends Church and he thought at first there was a church meeting there! We were missing a few family members but it was a great time anyway.

The next big event has to do with this sweet little thing.

Our family gets pictures and videos of Rae via Family Album app and I had permission to share this one. The exciting one for the whole family came later in the week when we got the first video of her walking all by herself! She looks as though she’s been walking all her life and we’re so proud of her. When we remember that tiny little micropreemie, this is a remarkable milestone. Congratulations, little one! We’re planning to stop and see them on Monday as we go to Colorado.

On Thursday, Ben came home from Tech School in Mississippi and we went to the airport to welcome him home. It was so good to see him again. He was already gone to school by the time we came back from Arizona, so we hadn’t seen him since his basic training graduation in November.

Since we will be gone on our 55th anniversary (July 10), we decided to take the family out to celebrate early at Longhorn Steakhouse. I’m so glad that restaurants are open again! We had a wonderful evening and very good food. Bailey brought her boyfriend Brett and we enjoyed getting better acquainted with him, too.

Jadelyn has enough activities to keep their whole family hopping, so we were thankful for a short period of time that we had them all together. We ate lunch together after church today, too. Storing up memories to last the summer!

Later this afternoon LeRoy will unhook everything and pull the RV out of the barn to hitch up to the tow dolly. Midmorning tomorrow I have an eye appointment for a followup and then we will head out of town toward Golden Bell Nazarene Camp. Going from 90+ degrees as daytime highs to 60s and 70s will be a shock to my system and will probably call for socks and real shoes for awhile, maybe even long pants until my thin blood gets used to it. LeRoy often tells people that our summers are cooler than our winters!

In this age of internet and cell phones, we’re easy to reach wherever we are, so it doesn’t seem like we are so far away. Come see us in cool colorful Colorado!

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This year, three events collide in our world with a big BANG! It comes close every year, but this year Father’s Day, the first day of summer and LeRoy’s birthday (75, I might add) are all happening today, June 21. LeRoy has always said he was one of the boys of summer and he loves the sunshine. Anyone who has a birthday around Christmas understands that quite often, one present has to make do for both occasions. It’s hard enough to find one present for LeRoy, much less two, so I always appreciate helpful hints along the way. I have a friend who says that anything with a cord is NOT a gift, but LeRoy loves tools so that particular thing isn’t an issue. One of his presents this year fits both categories, a CORDLESS tool! He has already tried out his new rechargeable battery powered air compressor and pronounced it a success. Maybe that’s enough to make up for getting clothes for Father’s Day. We celebrated the occasion for Tim and LeRoy both by having lunch together as a family after church. Bailey has invited us to join her at Braums for ice cream this evening to round out the day.

I think I have mentioned before an internet group called Boondockers Welcome. We and our property here at the Landing are registered as a site that travelers are allowed to spend the night as they pass through an area. Since the first part of May, we’ve had 5 visitors for a total of 8 nights. We have met some very interesting people. Recently, a 30-something young man and his dog stopped for a few days to enjoy the area. He has just sold his restaurants in El Paso, TX and he and Duke are traveling the country. Earlier this week, a couple stopped overnight who are missionaries in Haiti. They are retired teachers and they spend a few months each year in the US raising support while traveling in their RV. The most recent visitors are the aunt and uncle of a local TV anchor. We really enjoyed visiting with them. We feel blessed to have the property, so we try to make it available to share whenever we can.

Golden Bell Camp, where we have volunteered several years, plans to be open to camps beginning in July, I think, so we are still planning to leave a week from tomorrow to head that way. We’ve always been in charge of the RV park at Golden Bell when we’ve been there, but this year I think they have made other arrangements since we weren’t able to be there in May or June. It will be interesting what we find ourselves doing! LeRoy has made himself valuable there doing maintenance and anything else they need, so that probably won’t change. I may be doing most anything from kitchen (not cooking) to housekeeping to whatever they may find for me. I hope I’m up to the job!

Enjoy your summer and we’ll try to keep up from Colorado, God willing!

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This week we finally feel like there may be an end to being socially distanced forever. We’ve stayed within the size limits of the groups, but we have seen friends face to face. We’ve gone to Heidi and Tim’s place for worship and lunch the last few Sundays. It’s good to enjoy worship services with family and next Sunday, Northridge will have in person services. Looking forward to that, even though we’ve felt the presence of the Lord even when it was just the two of us.

Monday last week, we got to have dinner with Johnny and Karen Schmidt and have some of Karen’s Mexican cooking. We’ve known them since high school years, long enough to know that no one cooks Mexican like she does! Best friends forever!

Tuesday, we drove to Emporia and met up with two couples with whom we have volunteered for several years in Colorado. Chuck and Mavis Parnell live north of Salina and Dale and Judy Foster live in Gardner, so we all had a few miles to go to get together. Both of those couples have sold their RVs and won’t be going to Golden Bell this year. It was great to see them again.

LeRoy has been waiting on a couple of parts to finish projects around here and Thursday he put up a chain hoist door opener on the big RV door on the building. Now I can open it without having to call for help for the last several feet. It really makes it easy! The other part is for the front leveling jack on the RV. It had leaked and periodically caused a very loud alarm, but once he gets it back on, it should (?) be perfect! The one good thing about having it off is that the shower drains more easily!

At lunch time today, the Meeting House in Sedgwick had a free drive-thru community lunch of smoked chicken, baked beans and chips. Thanks! The Meeting House is a little restaurant run by volunteers, students and community members. They are open limited hours and we enjoy their sandwiches, coffee and desserts. No matter when we have been there in the past, there have been small groups meeting, Bible study groups and families sharing the space. Of course, for the past weeks they’ve only had carry out, but now that things are opening up more, we’re looking forward to eating there again.

This coming week, we have plans to meet up with another RVing couple who live in their fifth wheel just down the road from us. They winter in Texas and we haven’t seen them since either of us got back. Wouldn’t you know, our time together will include food!

I hope everyone is enjoying late spring before the heat of summer gets to us. God bless you!

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Ahh, Kansas!

After leaving 100 degree temperatures in Yuma, we encountered a little cooler weather on the way “home”. Still warm enough for tee shirts and short pants, but definitely not the century mark. And then this week Kansas happened. We ran the air conditioners all the way home but this week the furnace ran pretty steadily in the RV, even parked inside the building at the Landing. Highs in the 40s and 50s? Not my favorite! However, today we started off in the high 60s and I think the high is predicted to be near 80. That’s more like it!

Social distancing has taken a backseat a time or two since we got back with family and close friends, never more than ten of us at a time. The day we arrived was a knockout combination: Cinco de Mayo and taco Tuesday. We went to Heidi and Tim’s house for some really good tacos and a Mother’s Day/belated birthday cake for Heidi. We also went to their house on Sunday so we could participate in worship with our church family at Northridge via internet. Technology gets a bad rap sometimes, but it truly is wonderful to be able to sing praise together in living rooms all over the country. While we were there, Heidi and I had a picture taken together, just the two of us. That rarely happens! Her roses came from Ben, who is in Tech School at Keesler AFB in Mississippi. Mine were Talisman roses from Bailey. It has become sort of a tradition between us and I love it.

Mother’s Day was a great day, virus or not. I talked to or saw all our children and spouses and in general caught up on virtual hugs. Now that we’re in the Central time zone, our time is 5 hours different from Hawaii, so I’m never sure when I can call at a convenient time for Robert and Shelly. The Army is still essential, so he is working at least part of the time. Shelly was supposed to start a new job a month or so ago, but that’s on hold for the present. They called Sunday evening and we had a great visit.

When I called to tell Mary, our neighbor on the corner east of us, that we were back, she told us that she had possibly been exposed to Covid-19 and was under quarantine until she could be tested. While we like to think that we are taking safety precautions for “older folks”, we fit the category, as does Mary, so we were pleased when she stopped by our yard today to say that the test came back negative. We’re still maintaining our distance, but at least we can breathe easier for her.

I’m still enjoying my flowers, so I thought I’d leave you with a picture, which is worth 1000 words.

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Milestone birthday

Two years ago yesterday, our oldest granddaughter’s baby girl arrived weighing 1 lb. 5 oz. Yesterday we celebrated this miracle baby’s second birthday via Zoom with more grandparents “present” than most children are fortunate enough to have. Even her animals wore party hats and Rae herself was dressed for the occasion. She must have been waiting for us at the door, but we arrived by phone and computer.

She received many, many presents and like most little ones, the toys and books got rave reviews and proved pretty distracting. It was so much fun to watch her pull things out of bags or rip off paper. Our hearts are full of joy just watching her grow!

This week will be full of transferring things from the house to the RV, since barring any unforeseen circumstances we plan to leave Yuma on Friday. I tried to have all the kitchen necessities in both places so we are already supplied with small appliances, plates, etc. Food will have to be transferred from the larger pantry in the house to the cabinets and cubbies of the RV. Then the scavenger hunt begins! “Where did I put the can opener?” or “Where do we have zipper baggies?” “What’s in that bin?” Same for all the clothes. I’m still not sure what I’ll do with shoes, even though I’m sure we brought them with us last fall somehow. Memory doesn’t always kick in when one needs it, or maybe there’s a better way to do things and we just haven’t found it. We have to plan for summer weather, as well as fall and early winter in Kansas. Maybe I’ll just toss it all and reconstruct my wardrobe!

Like people all over the country, we’ve been missing some of our favorite restaurants. Several restaurants here closed down entirely, while others were open for take out and delivery only. Friday the local “Cajun” grill reopened for take out and we were happy to see that they were doing a land office business! The restaurant is called Icons Grill and on Friday, the phone was answered by “Tina Turner”! Our favorite waiter there is “Clint Eastwood”. He said he wanted to be John Travolta, I think, but they said he was too tall. Every one of the wait staff introduces themselves as a star and really makes the dining experience fun. Several nights a week, they have live music, occasionally Elvis Presley or Hank Williams. Maybe when we come back in the fall, they will be fully open and we can enjoy it again. We like to patronize small local eateries and don’t go to many fast food or other franchise restaurants, but today after our worship experience(s) we drove to a good old Kansas establishment, Freddy’s, where we had steakburgers and onion rings. It was worth the drive.

As the country is opening back up, some states more quickly than others, we pray for the safety and health of each of you and especially our friends who are health care providers or in the medical field. Our prayer lists have grown much more extensive over this past few weeks. As God brings people to mind, we try to pray. That said, if God brings us to your mind in this next couple of weeks as we prepare and then travel, we would appreciate your prayers.

See you on the road!

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Still the same

Don’t know about anyone else, but it’s still the same ol’ same ol’ around here. While in a normal year we would be on our way home by now, we’re still sitting in Yuma. Kansas is under a stricter stay-at-home order than we are here, so we don’t see much use going there where we couldn’t see the people we’d have gone there to see! Our current plans are to leave here about the 1st of May, since Arizona’s restrictions are tentatively set to stop then. That doesn’t mean that they will, just that Gov. Ducey has put them in place until then. Along the way, we might run into a problem finding RV parks open to overnight visitors. Of course, we could dry camp and run the generator to keep the residential-type refrigerator cold in the RV, but we’re spoiled. We like our 50 amp plug in. At least here, we have a house with reliable air conditioning and a quiet neighborhood with paved streets for a morning walk. People out here freak out about winds above 20, which is just a gentle breeze back home! Our Pace Arrow is in the shop for some last minute fixes mechanically before we’re ready to go and today, the “service engine soon” light came on in the Escape, so I guess there’s no hurry to get on the road.

I do have one very bright spot in our lives that I can share with you, though. Easter was very good to our little great-granddaughter Rae. The resulting picture is priceless!

Our miracle baby is growing up! She will be two in just a few days now. It hardly seems possible that it’s been that long. Marc and Jordan said I could share her with you in the blog, so you can get the same good feeling I have when I see that sweet face.

We are trying to abide by the rules, still going for a long walk every day, not going to the store until we have a long list, not even going after takeout food unless I’m just REALLY tired of cooking, but we have one guilty pleasure. There’s a place in a nearby strip mall called the Tiki Hut that sells frozen yogurt and they have Dole Whip, which I learned to love in Hawaii. Once or twice a week, we hop in the car after dinner and go to Tiki Hut. Sadly, we don’t get to fill our own cups anymore, just order at the door and let the owners bring it to us. Then we get in the car and bring it home or go for a ride around the area and wave at people outside. We sure hope we get to hug our friends before we and/or they head off to avoid Yuma’s summer temperatures!

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