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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Perspective. Everyone has one and some are very different from others. Perspective is how we view what’s going on around us. I’m not a political type, so I’m not going to get into the events of this week. I am deeply saddened by the division in our country, but I can’t fix it by writing about it. My topic today is based on our lifestyle.

I grew up in northern Kansas. My bedroom was in the second story of a farmhouse and there was very little heat in those bedrooms. Believe me, I know what cold is! I remember walking on top of snowdrifts to get to our mailbox, about a quarter mile away. That is winter. This part of Arizona is NOT winter, but I still find myself saying that is is cold when we go for our mid-morning walk at 55 degrees. When a flannel shirt is enough of a coat to keep me warm, it isn’t really cold. However, our neighbor across the street lives here in Yuma all year long. Yuma temperatures in the summer often hover in the 115-120 degree range. Larry knows what hot is! So it didn’t really surprise us this week to see him taking in his trash cart in a winter parka with the hood pulled up. To his thin blood, it was cold. Meanwhile, this was LeRoy that same day or the day after. It seems to me that our perspective on cold has changed!

For anyone who thought that just because the year 2020 was over, things in the health or political world would miraculously be better just because the calendar changed to 2021, surprise! Covid is still around with a vengeance, vaccines notwithstanding. In Arizona, the rollout now includes the 75+ population, which includes us. However, appointments must be made and they are hard to come by, I understand. We will get on that after we get back from Quartzsite this week. We plan to leave on Tuesday to go help secure a spot for the Eagles to meet. Our normal meeting place has been sold, we understand, so we’re going to be in the desert out of town this year. For someone who considers less than full hookups to be roughing it, dry camping is a real stretch. Our generator will be our friend, since our refrigerator is not an RV refrigerator, but runs on full power. We’ll see how tough we are by next Sunday!

In our current world, the biggest source of entertainment is looking out the patio door at the bird feeders. More than any other type of bird, we have lots of finches. Their colors are beautiful and we have several varieties. We have lots of doves on the ground, waiting for someone to kick birdseed out of the feeders above. It amazes us how all the birds, seemingly on cue, will take flight at the same time and be gone for five or ten minutes. Today I think they must be taking a Sunday afternoon nap, because the feeders are full and there is one lone golden finch sitting on top of the feeder. We are easily amused!

Maybe by the time I write next, there will be good news on the political and Covid fronts. But then again, maybe it’s just a matter of perspective.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

To paraphrase a country song from many years ago, happiness is 2020 in my rear view mirror! I can’t say I think anything much will change, at least not on January 1, 2021. Our pastor in Wichita preached a sermon series called Worst. Year. Ever! It was a reminder that even in the dumpster, useful things can be found. I was encouraged to look for the good in 2020 and that’s what I’ve tried to do.

In February, we flew to Hawaii and spent a week with Robert and Shelly. Shelly is a fantastic tour guide! We went deep sea fishing our first full day there and the guys caught a black marlin. We loved seeing Pearl Harbor from the Admiral’s Barge and walking along the shore and eating wonderful food. Even though our 55th anniversary wasn’t until July, we considered that trip our real celebration.

In March when so much of the country was under stay-at-home orders, we isolated in warm weather in Yuma where we could go walking outdoors even if we couldn’t go to church or shopping. We enjoyed livestreaming worship services for three or four locations every Sunday, not quite the same as being there, but feeding our souls anyway.

Our summer plans were in limbo for a long time. Colorado wasn’t allowing the camp to have residential camps, so we weren’t sure we would be needed and the RV park we have gone to several times was permanently closed. In July, Golden Bell was open to campers but with size restrictions on groups, masks indoors and temperature checks every morning, so we spent a couple of months there in the cool mountains. A lot of our friends we normally would have seen both there and on our way home were not going out or accepting visitors, so that was different.

Fall in Kansas was a mixture of cancellations, proceeding as normal and combinations thereof. We attended football games, volleyball games and bus rallies, even worshipped in person, but other things were cancelled. “Normal” is just a setting on the dryer!

We’ve been back in Yuma since early November where restrictions are largely ignored, except for masks in stores. Part of LeRoy’s exercise program is going back to the car to get his mask! We’re doing our best to stay safe and trusting the Lord to take care of us.

I hope everyone has taken time this season to remember that Christmas is connected to Easter, the baby in the manger came to be our Savior. Even when the decorations are tucked away, Christmas lives on in our hearts.

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Christmas bells

Growing up in the country 5 miles from the nearest town, I never heard church bells ringing on Sunday morning, let alone Christmas day. The Christmas hymn “I heard the bells on Christmas day” didn’t mean much to me. Longfellow wrote the words in 1863, when the Civil War filled everyone’s minds. (Hymnals tend to leave out the verses that specifically speak to that.) I really didn’t like the song very much because it was “old” and dreary. I grew up with sweet songs about the baby Jesus and the shepherds and angels, much cheerier lyrics. It wasn’t until many years later when I was more aware of dire circumstances in the world around me that I grew to love the words of that old carol. Christmas is about hope, primarily because a savior came into the world to rescue us, but also to help us see that no matter our interpretation of current events, God is not surprised and he’s still in control. Please hear the words, don’t just sing along as you read them without thinking of the meaning.

I heard the bells on Christmas day their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come, the belfries of all Christendom had rolled along the unbroken song of peace on earth, good will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way, the world revolved from night to day, a voice, a chime, a change sublime of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair, I bowed my head. “There is no peace on earth,” I said, “for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then rang the bells more loud and deep, God IS NOT dead, nor does he sleep! The wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth, good will to men!

Our pastor has been preaching advent as found in the book of Revelation this month, which gives you a whole different perspective on both. 2020 has been a strange year for sure and I’m not sure 2021 will look much different, but hope, peace, joy and love are desperately needed by all of us this Christmas season.

Here in the desert southwest, life goes on, Covid 19 notwithstanding. We are staying well and enjoying bright sunshine and mostly warm (by Great Plains standards, anyway) temperatures. Back home, when daytime highs are in the high 60s and low 70s, people are breaking out the shorts or at least leaving the coat at home. Our local newscasters remind us to take a jacket or better yet, stay inside when it is so chilly! Most folks in snowy country are satisfied with daytime highs no lower than the 40s, which is what our overnights are, but I’ll try not to gloat.

Merry Christmas and we’ll see you all down the road!

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Long standing feud is over

When I was in high school, I learned to bake pies and I made quite a few. I’m sure I used Mother’s pie crust recipe but I don’t remember it now. So after LeRoy and I were married, I wanted to show off my prowess to my new husband. That’s when I learned that all shortening is not created equal. I didn’t have access to lard and real Crisco cost too much, so I used cheap shortening. Try as I might, that pie crust would not hold together and of course the more I tried to work it, the tougher it got. That was in 1965 or very early 1966 and from that day to last week, I have never made my own pie crust. It is readily available in the frozen food section! Rarely have I even made a pie that couldn’t be put in a graham cracker crust! A few years back when we were visiting Pie-O-Neer pie shop in Pie Town, NM, I told the owner that I had made her recipe for New Mexico pie (apples, pine nuts and green chilies) but didn’t have her pie crust recipe. She promptly took me to the kitchen and had the pie baker write it down for me. This year LeRoy got me the pie cookbook she put out and the crust recipe is in that, too. Since I was tasked with bringing pies for Thanksgiving dinner with friends, I decided I’d try it out and now I no longer carry a grudge against pie crust. I started out with some misgivings, but the crust was very good. I didn’t get it rolled out quite big enough, so no fancy edges, but both the pecan and pumpkin pies tasted great.

The weather on Thanksgiving day was gorgeous. We had been invited to a friend’s house for dinner and all I had to bring was pies. We had the usual fare, turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and fresh hot rolls. And pies! The good part about going to someone else’s house for dinner is not having to clean up, either before or after the meal. The bad part is not having turkey leftovers or a turkey carcass to boil for turkey and noodles. I don’t think we lost any weight for lack of leftovers, though!

Our friends from Wichita that we thought were going to come see us before Thanksgiving ended up going home from their daughter’s house because of Covid symptoms. They’ve been battling a variety of symptoms since and they both, along with their doctor daughter, tested positive for Covid. My best friend in Wichita has also been dealing with Covid this week as well as our granddaughter Bailey’s boyfriend Brett. We’re praying for a quick recovery for all of them.

Later this week, a long time RVing friend is scheduled to arrive in her motorhome to stay awhile. Donna Lee is a part of several singles RV groups, many of them single women traveling alone or in groups. We’re eager to see her again after about a year.

Stay well, everyone!

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At home again in Arizona

“Home” is such a nebulous place for RVers, even part-timers like we are. We are “at home” all the time, and yet there are certain locations that are also “home”. The Landing in Kansas has been home for quite a few springs and falls, Teller and Park Counties in Colorado are our summer home, Tucson was home for several winters and now our park model in Yuma is also home. We got here on Tuesday and a few exhausting days later, the motor home is mostly empty and the house is mostly stocked. Just a few minutes before I sat down to write, I asked LeRoy where we had put something and discovered that it was still in the RV across the lot. I suppose we’ll be doing that for a few days until everything we have to have has found a place. We went to Desert Grace Nazarene church this morning and it was good to see friends there.

On the way here, we made our traditional stop in Tucson behind the Northwest Community Friends church where we spent several winters. Pastor Adam Kemper and his family picked up dinner at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants and brought it to the church were their 4 boys could run around while we visited. Their boys range in age from two year-old twins to an almost six year-old to an eight year-old who was born one of the first winters we attended church there. They call us Papa and Anne, since the oldest couldn’t say LeRoy when he was beginning to talk. All four boys know who we are and were excited for us to come. Allie’s mother Beth winters with them and we are good friends, as well. We really miss the church, and especially the Kemper family and Beth.

Wednesday we began to see garage sale activity on our street as people set up tables and dragged things out of storage, so we decided to get rid of a few things, too. Even though we’ve had a “one thing in, one thing out” rule for more than 10 years now, we still end up with stuff we don’t need or use. We had one measly little table plus a few extras, only a couple items that we priced at more than $3, and yet in a day and a half, we made about $60.00. Not bad! All the while, we were sitting in 75+ degree weather and meeting or getting reacquainted with neighbors.

One of the advantages of the full-time life we lived for 8 years is that we have made so many friends. One couple who lived full time in their purple Prevost for almost as long as we lived in Liberty built a house here in Yuma and now live there year around, except for extended trips. They survived their first summer in Yuma and it was a scorcher. We checked in with them on Wednesday when we needed a break from moving stuff. Another friend lives a mile or so from us most of the year. He and a friend came to see us one evening. Another evening we had Wichita RV friends meet us for dinner. We rarely see them in Kansas but almost always see them in the winter out here. They brought square dancing friends with them who live just a short distance away, so we’ve made new acquaintances. In addition, our neighborhood has had a few changes since we left in the spring and one of the current residents will be moving soon. One house sold and LeRoy has met the new residents, and another house is being built two doors down. I’ve challenged myself to meet more of the neighbors this winter, including the ones who typically stay inside. We’ll see how that goes!

We’re looking forward to a visit from Glenn and Joyce Veenstra from Northridge Friends church in Wichita during Thanksgiving week. Their daughter Christy is a doctor in Flagstaff and they will come to see us while visiting her. Since we have our motorhome on our lot, as well as our house, we now have guest quarters! We’d love to have company! (Hint, hint)

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On the road again

I really ought to research how many times in the last 10 years I’ve used that headline. At any rate, we’ve been on the road since Friday and we’re spending the night tonight in Sunny Acres RV park in Las Cruces, NM. We started staying here when Raymond was in the hospital at the time of his double amputation. We’ve been back numerous times since 2017. Today we quit about 1:30 with winds about to get nasty.

Our usual fall migration begins November 9, after Jadelyn, our youngest granddaughter’s birthday. This year she’s 16 and had other things to do on her birthday, so we celebrated on Thursday. She chose Texas Roadhouse and we had a very enjoyable time, after we convinced the birthday girl it was okay to be celebrated.

After dinner we went to her big sister Bailey’s apartment to continue the party with a banner, LOTS of balloons and cake and ice cream. I have a hard time thinking about her being 16 already and dating age. Her dad’s going to need a big stick, I think.

We’re so grateful that at least one good thing has come out of the Covid pandemic. We were able to have the worship service from Northridge Friends Church right here in the RV with us as we traveled. We sang along at full volume and didn’t have to wear out masks!

Speaking of the virus, we have several friends who have been dealing with it to various degrees. Some have had milder symptoms, while at least one friend spent 9 days on a ventilator and is now learning to walk all over again. Any time you think about those who have tested positive, no matter how severe their symptoms, pray for them! Knowing that people are praying is what is getting them through as God heals them.

We’d appreciate prayers as we travel, too. See you down the road!

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Cold shoulder

Well, not just a cold shoulder, but cold all over! After an 80 degree day on Thursday, winter has come in with a vengeance. Highs in the 30s just aren’t part of my temperature schedule. Add moisture. which will probably happen starting this evening, and it’s a recipe for something we try to escape–snow! We’ll see.

On that windy 80+ degree day on Thursday, we rented a U-Haul and moved most of the big stuff from the building at the Landing to a storage unit in Valley Center. Several things are in play here. Last spring, we bought metal siding enough to cover the inside of the building, which has never been finished. We were gone all summer and even though we’ve been back since late August, the metal pile is still outside. With the motorhome and car parked inside, it’s just inconvenient to work with long sheets of metal. By moving everything out now, when we come back in the spring, there will be no excuse. The hot tub will be the last thing to be moved before we go to Yuma. The other possibility is that we might sell the property and do something else closer to Wichita. We are all about flexibility!

Yesterday was Jadelyn’s last high school volleyball game for the year. After a very successful season (30-5), the Lady Cardinals went into sub-state with high hopes. After beating one team, they battled for three sets with Inman’s Teutons and lost. Lots of tears, but these girls really are remarkable players. Jadelyn and, I imagine, most of the team, will be moving on to club volleyball for the winter, but we won’t be here to see that.

Northridge Friends Church, our home church in Wichita, has a fellowship meal on Wednesday evenings during the months when youth activities are being held. Each week, one of the families in the church provide a meal for all the attendees and each person is asked to pay $3 +or $10 per family. A few weeks ago, our pastor asked for people to help cook. He asked for those who like to cook, or even if you don’t like to but can cook, to volunteer to help with that effort. I fall into the latter category. I’ve been cooking for more years than I care to think about and while I don’t love to cook, I certainly can. I talked to the head of the committee in charge and volunteered to provide several weeks worth of desserts that can be frozen. Last week I made pumpkim snickerdoodles and I’m planning on cake this week. Not sure what else I’ll leave but I’m sure I can come up with something.

Since Jadelyn and her parents will all be out of town on Sunday November 8, her actual birthday, we decided today at lunch that we will get together on Thursday November 5 for her celebration. After all, turning 16 needs to be celebrated, right? After that we will be ready to head for warmer parts. For today, we’re hunkered down with the furnace blowing and coffee in the coffeepot. See you down the road!

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Good fun, good food and good friends

Ft. Scott, Kansas, is a relatively small town in southeast Kansas. Much larger than Alton, (92) where I grew up, but for a town of less than 8,000, it has a lot to offer. The quaint business buildings of downtown are busy with little local stores of many varieties. Yes, it has the antique stores that fill many small town main streets, but local entrepreneurs have upped the ante with a real potpourri of merchandise. There are used book stores and coffee shops, clothing stores and a place to buy many flavors of coffee beans and even a grinder to make your morning brew. We ate lunch at Nu Grille Cafe, where a two-piece chicken tender meal was way more than enough for me! Fortunately, LeRoy was along to make up for what I couldn’t eat.

In the afternoon, we went to a unique museum celebrating Unsung Heroes, many of whom were new to me. What began as a high school class project to find unsung heroes turned into a real history lesson and a trip to Poland for two girls who found and recorded the deeds of Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker during World War II. Her brave, undercover actions saved the lives of 2,500 Jewish children in the Warsaw ghetto. The girls wrote a play that was presented in schools so that children everywhere know that part of world history. Several of us bought the book Life in a Jar and I’m looking forward to reading it.

After the museum, we took a trolley ride around Ft. Scott to see all the historical mansions and the National Cemetery. It took about an hour and was well worth the ride on hard wooden benches. LeRoy and I bought a house in Osborne, KS in 1975 that was built the year Kansas became a state, just about the age of many of the houses we saw in Ft. Scott, although not nearly as ornate.

Dinner that evening was at Luther’s, a really good barbecue place with one of my favorites, burnt ends, which they advertise as “meat flavored marshmallows” because they are so tender and almost sweet. If you haven’t tasted burnt ends, get with the program! They are delicious pieces of smoked meat cut from the point end of a brisket and oh, so good!

When the Kansas rally was over, all but one of the Eagles (and our Pace Arrow) caravaned to Branson to continue the fun. We made quite a parade going across the dam on our way out!

In Branson we were joined by additional buses from Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and another from Texas. We already had Missouri, Wisconsin, Oregon, Arizona and two from Texas, not counting a couple of wanderers who don’t really know where home is, like us and Gary Hatt, the owner, publisher and editor of Bus Conversion Magazine. I’m sure I’ve left someone out, but we loved being with all of them.

Again, food was a major item on the rally schedule. Krispy Kreme doughnuts each morning along with a never ending coffee pot made for a good start to the day. We were treated to a catered barbecue meal one evening which ended with ice cream, cookies and brownies. Another night, the ladies brought a wonderful variety of dishes for a potluck. Meatloaf, cowboy beans, Mexican corn, and desserts enough to fill another table. If anyone went hungry, it was their own fault! Of course, Branson and the surrounding area have a lot of restaurants for our dining pleasure as well. The ladies drove to Ozark to the Spring Creek Tea Room for lunch one day and enjoyed shopping, as well as good food. The building also houses an antique store, where many of the items aren’t as old as I am! How dare they call them antiques!

The guys went with rally master Byron Pigg to his home in Rogersville while the ladies were at the tearoom. They got to see Byron’s shop and his bus museum. I’ve been there, too, and it’s quite the place. A fellow who used to come to the rallies, Wayne St. Ange, otherwise known as “Preacher Wayne”, had some bus parts for sale and bus owners always need something extra, so they had a heyday buying bumpers, a joey bed, rear engine compartment corners, and other things that the wives would have called “stuff” but to them were treasures. Preacher Wayne isn’t doing too well these days, so he wasn’t able to attend. Even though he brought the things to be given to the bus owners, they paid what they wanted and the proceeds, along with a letter signed by all the attendees, will be sent to him.

Sunday morning, the day for goodbyes, is always hard. As soon as you hear the first Detroit engine start so the air pressure can build, you know everyone will soon be gone. We got our goodbye hugs and said our “see ya’ down the road” and left for home.

The wind was pretty bad about the last half of the way home and our Google maps program took us down some funky narrow, shoulderless roads, but we made it home in time to go to town and say hi to Heidi and Tim and the family. Tomorrow morning we have to leave the Landing by 8 to take the Pace Arrow to the repair shop to have the leveling jacks fixed. Yes, it’s early, but LeRoy has promised to take me out to breakfast later, so it’s all okay.

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Beautiful fall weather

We left the Landing on Saturday morning and headed for Crawford State Park to join up with our friends for an Eagles rally. It seems odd to be the only ones in a motor home, but the Eagles are a pretty accepting bunch and we are still non-voting members of the group. We have wonderful hosts, Mike and Susan Groves. Yesterday they provided chili for everyone and time to get together around the fire. Smoke and cold drove me out early, but I did enjoy the chili and companionship.

Today we had a group outing to a restaurant just outside Pittsburg, KS, called Chicken Annie’s. This area was coal mining country in the last century and the original Chicken Annie, Annie Pichler, began cooking and selling dinners for miners when her husband was disabled in a mining accident in 1934. Weekends found the family relocating their living room furniture to accommodate all the diners. Eventually, business grew to the point that the family moved out to open up more space and even added extra rooms because of increased demand for Annie’s chicken dinners. The restaurant moved to the larger present building in 1972, but the same good food is being served and Annie’s family still owns and operates it.

Just down the street a few doors is a competitor, Chicken Mary’s. While we haven’t eaten there, we understand sentiments run high and everyone seems to have a favorite. Chicken Annie’s chicken breast was tender and moist with very little breading and the gizzards, livers and hearts were nicely done. Next time I think we’ll have to try Chicken Mary’s just to be fair.

Back about 8 years ago, we went to see Big Brutus, the second largest electric shovel in the world.

Today our group went to see it again and it is still a jawdropping sight. Back when LeRoy was designing farm equipment, he designed a 500 bushel grain cart for John Deere. If I read the sign correctly, the bucket on Big Brutus would hold 2000 bushels and I thought that grain cart was big! (Of course, nowadays grain carts are even bigger, but that’s beside the point.) It is truly an amazing machine, a one of a kind build costing $6.5 million in 1963. LeRoy and most of the group climbed up and around the inside while Chicken Little Anne stayed on the ground after climbing to the first landing. For perspective, that’s Donna Thomas in the picture and she’s about my height or shorter.

Each of the 32 plates in the tracks weigh about a ton! No wonder it moved at the rate of about .25 miles per hour.

Tomorrow is a lazier day to give the women time to cook and these Eagle ladies do know how to cook! Just thinking about supper tomorrow night has my mouth watering already!

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