Back again in Arizona

This past week was a travel one, but by airplane instead of bus. When we thought about the fuel to drive the bus to Georgia and added in the days it would take, we found it cost-effective to buy plane tickets and let someone else transport us. We rented a car while we were there and since we arrived about midnight on Tuesday, we didn’t have visual landmarks to get us to their house. Imagine our surprise when Maps on my phone showed us these instructions when we got to the turn into their development. It also told us that it would be a 10 minute walk! Fortunately, we’d been there enough to know how to get there from the entrance.

gps

We had a great visit with Robert and Shelly and we were honored to be able to attend his ceremony. We had an additional surprise, since he was presented the Knowlton Award before the company ceremony. Needless to say, we are proud parents!  It was  also gratifying to hear his comrades in arms tell us how much they like and appreciate him. One of his buddies who is stationed at Ft. Mead drove all the way down just for the ceremony.

knowlton-award

Robert and his new Company Commander have been getting ready for the activation of Delta Company, 707th Military Intelligence Battalion for some time and while the company was activated on December 2nd, the two of them comprise the company until some time in January when the other members will be on board.

new-team

In order to promote ownership by the new group members, they chose the Wombat as their company “mascot”. It’s a long story, really, that goes back to more than one of Robert’s previous places of service and I won’t go into all that here. Look up information on the wombat and be sure to check out the things that make it unique among marsupials!

wombats

Since both Robert and Shelly are working, we had time to explore and shop during the days we were there. We found good food, too! French Market Grille provided us good Cajun food the first day. We really like Cajun food and the menu included all the lyrics to Hank Williams’ song Jambalaya: jambalaya, crawfish pie and gumbo! We didn’t make any purchases in the shops but we found “cute” (to the tune of several hundred dollars cute) shoes and handbags as well as sweaters and coats. Those are my real weaknesses, but we try to avoid weather cold enough to need them. A little shop called Soho had this unique Christmas tree decorating the show floor. It’s evident that Georgia is Coca Cola country!

coke-bottle-tree

I don’t often get selfies of our grandkids that don’t include tongues sticking out or other weird faces, so I was delighted to see this one on Facebook and I stole it. Avery (that’s the name Alma is using now) is beautiful and I love that smile, at Christmas or any other time of year!

avery

Before we headed to the airport yesterday morning, we went to breakfast at Cracker Barrel with Robert and Shelly and caught a selfie on the way out. Until next time!

willis-4-selfie

 

 

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Thanksgiving

We celebrate Thanksgiving on a specific day in November, but thankfulness is really more of a lifestyle for us. I read recently that people who tend to be thankful for what they have also say that they are generally happy. Coincidence? I think not! LeRoy often says that the only things we have that are truly unique to us are our signature and our attitude and we are in charge of both. I choose to be thankful not because I have everything I want but because I have enough to eat, clothes to wear and family and friends to love. Even if I didn’t have all that, I have Jesus and he is everything I need, even when life isn’t easy.

Today coming out of church, I saw a good example of life not being easy. There on the sidewalk was a tiny ant struggling along in the wind with a load much bigger than itself. The little feather made him go in circles as the wind blew it, but the ant never let go, even when he was presented with a bread crumb. Now, that’s an attitude you can be proud of!

ant

This year we celebrated our traditional Thanksgiving with RVing friends and let Golden Corral do the cooking and cleanup. Each of us had our fill of our favorite foods without the tempting leftovers. We had an enjoyable time with David and Loretta Carr as a bonus.

This week, we’ll be flying to Augusta, GA to celebrate with our son Robert as he becomes the First Sergeant of a new company at Ft. Gordon. Two years ago, we went to Thanksgiving lunch with him at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, TX. This year, they were in Illinois for Thanksgiving and have other plans for Christmas, so this trip will have to be our holiday celebration with Robert and Shelly.

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By the time we get back next weekend, our little RV park will have another occupant. Ron and Carol Young from Beatrice, NE have spent a piece of the last two winters here with us and they’ll be in place before we return. We are looking forward to seeing them again.

 

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The journey continues

As planned, we left Kansas on Monday and the weather was in our favor. We drove in very little wind that day but in looking out the window we saw what was to become an ongoing theme in every state–wind farms. Some turbines were turning but many were barely moving if at all.

wind-farm

Our first night out, we were in Burkburnett, TX where we ate dinner with Mike and Peggy Renfro. Several years back when Peggy was contemplating retiring from teaching, she was a weekend caregiver for my mother. Since then, LeRoy walked her down the aisle when she and Mike were married, Peggy is still teaching and she has taught in three different states after Kansas: Colorado, Texas and now Oklahoma. Every morning she drives from her home in Texas to her school just a few miles away in Oklahoma. Retirement is still in the future. Since the move to Burkburnett, Mike is the manager of a startup hardware store, a fantastic benefit for the small town. It is the backdrop for our selfie with them.

renfro-selfie

Long time blog readers will remember that we enjoy watching the different vegetation and terrain as we travel through otherwise “boring” landscape. It offends me to hear people talk about how boring and flat Kansas is, so I try very hard not to say anything derogatory about other states. As we traveled across Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, we came across grassland, row crops, sage brush, cactus and cotton. Nothing boring here!

cotton

Our stop in Truth or Consequences was a very pleasant one. Last spring, we found LeRoy’s cousin Raymond in the hospital and we stayed until he got transferred to a rehab facility to regain strength. Raymond, like LeRoy and the generations before them, is just a little (?) stubborn and we weren’t sure how he would do in that environment. Either he would resist or he would throw all his energy into getting better. As it turned out, he did the latter and was home in his own apartment by summer. He is in better health than he has been in quite sometime and we had a very enjoyable visit.

As usual, when we were in the vicinity of hot springs, we spent quite a bit of time soaking. Riverbend Hot Springs has developed into a lovely resort over the past few years. Even though Truth or Consequences has quite a number of hot springs locations, the setting for Riverbend is unique. The pools all overlook the Rio Grande with Turtleback Mountain in the background. When we first started going there, there were five public pools and three private ones. They have added several of each since then, including a large therapy pool. None of those added pools were in operation when we were here in the spring.

new-pools

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Even the night view is magical.

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All the pools have signs now that include the depth of the pools and the temperature range. This one is a little too dark to see that the depth is 2’1″ and the temperatures range from 105-107 progressing from the coolest pool to the warmest.

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Even the original pools take on new glamour at night.

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While we were there in their tiny RV park, our neighbor was a workcamper who just happens to fulltime in a bus conversion even older than ours, a 4104 GM bus.

neighbors

We stopped for lunch on Friday in Hatch, NM for the best green chili cheeseburger in the country at Sparky’s. As a matter of fact, they call if the World Famous and even though LeRoy usually doesn’t share meals with me, we split one. We met our bus friends David and Lois St. John from Belen for lunch before we all headed on toward Arizona.

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We are now safely hidden away behind Northwest Community Friends Church in Tucson. If you happen to be traveling in the area, stop and see us. We’ll take you out to eat!

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Cultured

Cultured can mean several things. A cultured pearl began as a mere speck inserted into a clam. It serves as an irritant, which causes the clam to protect itself by coating the rough intruder with something that keeps the sharp points from hurting.  While LeRoy and I made sometimes seem like the irritating intruder, I’d prefer to talk about another definition of “culture” today. That would be the arts and humanities.

Our only grandson Ben is a junior in high school this year. When the vocal music teacher was casting people for the fall musical, Ben was “volunteered”, as I understand it, by a classmate and got the role of Pooch, a trainer for the football team in Good News. We went to see them opening night, along with most of the family. He said today that the Friday night crowd was the best because the audience was made of more of adults who got the jokes. The teens who made up more of the Saturday night audience probably wouldn’t have picked up on the reference to the stock market being the best place to invest–it IS 1928, you know! It was a fun show and the kids did a great job.

pooch-and-player

When I was in college, I participated in a symphonic choir called the Singing Quakers which was directed by Dr. Cecil J. Riney. The choir is nationally known and has sung all over the world. Our daughter Heidi traveled with them to Russia during her time in college, still directed by Dr. Riney. Twenty some years ago, Dr. Riney founded an alumni choir which consists of Singing Quakers from the past 50 years and Saturday evening we drove across town for a concert by that choir. Heidi had invited me to participate this year but I was afraid my voice wouldn’t pass muster any more since I’ve had so much sinus trouble in the last year. Heidi sang, though, and the concert was fantastic. It took me back to my days with the choir and a few of the people I sang with are still singing.

We’ve had visits this week from Eagle friends Jim and Denise Hufford from Arkansas, as well as local bus friends Bob and Karen Ward. We also had good-byes from our neighbor Mary McGinn and church friends. Today we had lunch with friends from Army days in the 1960s, Sharon and Eldon Orrell who now live in Barnes, KS. It’s fun to walk back into each other’s lives and catch up. We may meet up with them in Arizona this winter, or at least we hope so.

We’ve always been able to flat tow the PT Cruiser but the Escape has to have a dolly, so LeRoy spent most of yesterday afternoon wiring the new-to-us tow dolly so we will have lights on our towed vehicle. It will be a new learning process as we travel. Everything works and the Escape is firmly in place, ready to head out tomorrow headed to points south and west. We should be in Tucson before the end of the week!

 

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It’s so different now!

I guess I’m a little nostalgic this week. I love my grandchildren and I’m proud of them all, right where they are, but sometimes I miss the babies and toddlers they used to be. I guess what brought this up is that our youngest granddaughter Jadelyn’s birthday is this week. I have this picture of her on her fourth birthday.

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What a difference a few years makes! Jadelyn has grown into a caring and compassionate 12-year-old (well, officially not until Tuesday). She prays daily for a number of people who have cancer and other traumatic illnesses and before her birthday, she told her parents that she would like to shave her head to honor them and their situations. It wasn’t an easy decision and she knew that there might be people who wouldn’t understand. After lots of discussion, she got her wish.

haircut

Our precious, chatty pig-tailed toddler is now eye-to-eye with me and if the rest of the family is any model, will soon have to bend over to hug me. One of my favorite things that often brings tear to my eyes are those hugs from grandchildren and I can’t get too many!

Fortunately, long distance communication is easier than ever now so we do keep in touch, but even at that, hugs are one of the things I’ll miss most when we drive away to a warmer winter. I just have them to look forward to when we drive back.

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Finally!

At what feels like long last, the rental project is finished! We’ve been working on it often 6 days a week since Labor Day and we’re glad to move on to other things.

First, the “before” pictures.

1907 1907-bedroombefore-4

And the “afters”. Undoubtedly the biggest change is in the kitchen. It went from chocolate brown with a gas water heater in the corner to a creamy country white with a full kitchen counter and much more storage space. The new electric water heater is tucked under the counter.

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We even added a new steel front door,

1907-door

two storm doors, four storm windows and seven pieces of glass. New mini blinds all around make it look really nice. We listed it with the realtor who helped us buy these two houses in the first place and the sign is in the yard. Over LeRoy’s shoulder in the picture above, you can see the other house on the property. The little one bedroom unit used to be the garage for the front one. We hope someone who wants to be a landlord will see the potential and snap them up!

Our wifi in Liberty is provided by a Verizon jetpack call a MiFi and this past spring we started having trouble with it just going off to sleep and not waking up. While we were in Tucson, Verizon replaced the SIM card and it went back to work. Mid-summer, we started noticing a distinct swelling of the battery compartment, until the battery actually outgrew the compartment and popped off the cover.

battery

Those of you who live in a sticks and bricks house may take for granted the luxury of unlimited wireless internet access, but this little device is very important to us! Our plan provides 30 gigabytes of internet usage which is shared by 6 phones and our MiFi. This summer in Woodland Park, the Verizon rep told us that they don’t have batteries and we weren’t eligible for an upgrade yet, so we just let that poor swollen little battery keep working as long as it would. Yesterday we went looking for a battery from other sources. No one had one in stock and the cost would be about as much as a new unit, so we replaced the unit and Liberty’s network is back online. It’s amazing how dependent we are on it!

mifi1

Our weather here is certainly atypical for this time of year. Friday’s temperature was near or above the record of 90 degrees! Today is cooler but the next few days are forecast to be in the 80s again. What a way to begin November! Frequently we have a skiff of snow before we leave for Tucson but it looks like we may miss out on the first snowfall here this time, since we’ll be leaving in just two weeks.

 

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Rested and ready

What a refreshing break from our remodeling project! We left the Landing two weeks ago today, headed toward Branson. Our first stop, though, was in Olathe, Kansas at Mid-America Nazarene University where we, along with several other volunteer and staff couples, helped host a mini-reunion of Golden Bell summer staffers for the past few years. It was such a fun evening!

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The next morning, we met up with a bus friend from Merriam, KS, Dan Leap. Dan has a band called Pompous Jack and is the maker of the Guitar Lamp, one of which you see in the picture below. Dan’s place is unique and well worth seeing, pinball machines and all.

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Our little PT Cruiser had more than 133,000 miles and we had decided it was time to move on to something with four doors, an automatic transmission and cruise control. LeRoy had been researching and while many newer cars that meet those qualifications aren’t flat towable, some are towable with a dolly. The 2016 Escape is one of those and we picked one up while we were in the Kansas City area.

escape

Since we still had the Cruiser in tow, I drove the new car behind LeRoy as we headed to Branson. We met up with friends in Ozark the night before we headed back to the Landing and they decided to buy the Cruiser! They also happened to have a tow dolly, so it was a mutually beneficial transaction.

The Branson rally was, as always, lots of fun. This year there were 30 or more buses, including mostly Silver Eagle conversions, with one GM conversion and several Prevost conversions in the mix. There were several new members, including new friends from Texas, Louisiana and Kansas. Beautiful buses!

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This one even followed us home! Wilbur and Laura Bradbury have spent a few days at the Landing while they take care of his sister in Derby. We’ll miss them when they leave, but we’ll see them again in January in Arizona.

bradbury

One of our favorite things about bus rallies is the food. We ate…and ate…and ate some more! Greek food at Papouli’s in Reed Springs

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catfish and chicken livers at Big Cedar Lodge where we walked across a covered bridge

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and stuffed french toast or 15″ pancakes at Billy Gail’s.

billy-gail

We used to say that we weren’t old enough to attend the shows in Branson but that was before we discovered Sight and Sound Theater and their fantastic Biblical musicals. Two years ago we saw Jonah and this time the current show was Moses, which we saw with Dennis and Renae Hafenbreadl from Wisconsin. These shows are magnificent! If you get the chance, check them out. How do you top parting the Red Sea?

moses

Now that we’re back in Kansas, we’re busy finishing up the remodel on one of our rental properties. We’re getting closer but still no real “after” shots. We’re hoping to be finished by the end of the week and it’s beginning to look like a real possibility. Stay tuned for more!

 

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