I coulda done this at home

Not a lot of interesting things to say today. I was GOING to make bacon and eggs for breakfast this morning, just like Tim taught me to. I had even bought an extra bun at Bashas’ last night just for that. I haven’t had toast and peanut butter with my morning coffee for a over a week now. But I had all that fruit that I bought yesterday and the eggs and bacon would keep for a while longer. Maybe I’ll have that when Dave joins me here on Wednesday. So I had a couple of grapefruits and some grapes and blueberries. And coffee. Maybe I’ll try carving up one of those big ripe mangos for tomorrow’s breakfast. 

I drove around the corner to the Gold Canyon golf course at around eleven. Spent an hour at the driving range. Every shot went straight and far. I must be good now. I might have hopped on a cart and golfed a quick round right then and there but it looked to me like the tee times were all booked — the driving range was swarming with young muscled American boys, all ‘warming up’ at the driving range. It sounded like they were here for a weekend of expensive golf. From the ‘conversation’ I overheard in between stupendous drives, a few of these boys should probably have stayed at the fancy hotel they had booked for their little golf weekend — and the rest of them were already 3 or 4 beers in, trying to catch up with their buddies. Well, good for them. I can golf Monday.

After getting myself good and ‘warmed up’ on the driving range I returned home for a refreshing shower and lunch. Left-over pizza. Even better today than it was yesterday! Since I’m a couple of time-zones behind the folks back home here, the TV broadcast of The Masters had already started by the time I got home. I tuned in and watched the event ‘in progress’. Then I had a FaceTime with Max and Alex who were about to go play in the park because the weather at home was looking a bit better; the snow was starting to melt!

Out in my ‘back yard’ there wasn’t a hint of snow. The course was a lush deep green, the sun was beating down warming things up to 92, the warmest it’s been here so far this year, and the fairway was busy with golfers all afternoon. So I didn’t feel so bad sitting in my air-conditioned living room WATCHING golf on TV. I ‘snacked’ on some more pizza. When the golf on TV was over I had a little siesta. I should probably do that more often! Now I had no problem staying awake in the evening. 

Tonight I sat and watched TV — mostly CNN where Anthony Bourdain was eating disgusting local dishes (horse meat and fish guts) from exotic locations around the globe. One of MY highlights of the night was when I remembered that the kids had left behind a partially eaten bag of Cheetos Puffs. I found the bag in one of the cupboards and finished it off. Then I washed most of that bright orange food colouring down with a glass of red wine. Yum. That Anthony Bourdain’s got nothin’ on me.

Friday night pizza — back to Wahoo’s

A lazy day here in Gold Canyon. It’s hot. The golf course outside looks busy in spite of the heat and the time of year. I thought all the snowbirds would have left by now, but I still see a lot of Alberta license plates on the road here.

Today I left the air-conditioned comfort of my house three times. The first was late this morning when I (finally!) went to the Superstition Ranch Farmers Market in Apache Junction. In previous years this would have been one of our FIRST stops once we got here. And actually Tim and Alex DID go here a couple of weeks ago when they were here. The fruit and vegetables are so cheap here that you can’t afford NOT to eat a lot of it. Well, my $10 worth is probably too much for me to eat. Seriously! Nine fresh Arizona-grown grapefruits for 99 cents? Big ripe mangos for 50 cents each. Same for vine-ripened beefsteak tomatoes. Bananas for 39 cents a pound. Crazy cheap, but when am I gonna eat this?

When I got home I made myself the usual big sandwich, but added a couple of slices of tomato to the avocado, cheese, and ham. WAY too much food for a guy that really should be going for a long walk or a bike ride. Hmm… what am I doing?

I thought I would go to Mountain Brook for a ‘quick’ round of golf late in the afternoon — if I went late enough surely I would have the course to myself and could zip through 18 holes in under 3 hours. Big mistake! I drove my cart out to the first tee and GOT IN LINE! An elderly husband and wife were taking their sweet time rolling the ball off the tee box and down the fairway. And once they were safely out of range (100 yards down the fairway), two old gomers drove their cart right past mine up to the forward tees and hobbled out onto the tee box with their Big Bertha drivers and dribbled a couple of balls out onto the course. Oh boy! This is not going to be any fun at all. I actually waited around on the tee until the old codgers were out of sight, around the bend. I teed up a couple of balls and proceeded to whack them into the scrub that lined the left side of the fairway. Ha! I’m a fine one to talk! I should have JOINED the old-timers instead of pacing around impatiently on the tee box. Oh well. I might as well ‘practice’. So I played FOUR balls down to the first green. I spent at least 10 minutes just practising my putting, waiting for the gang ahead to move along far enough for me to hit a drive at the next hole. By the time I got to the green on hole #2 it was clear to me that things would only get more bogged down. I gathered my golf balls from the green and drove back to the clubhouse. Went in to complain and ask for a ‘rain’ check. Packed up. I thought I might go the Gold Canyon course where I have a ‘pass’ for the driving range. But the driving range CLOSED at 4 o’clock and it was an hour past that by now. So I went home.

At Wahoo’s. If you don’t want to do karaoke you can watch TV — three choices: a cross-bow hunting show, Championship Poker, or a UFC match between a couple of women!

Since I’d eaten a late lunch, and not exactly a ‘small’ lunch, I decided to wait until after 7 o’clock before going out to Wahoo’s for Friday night pizza. By then the crowd that gathers there every evening should have had their fill of karaoke and be heading home for an early ‘night-night’. Well lucky for me the ‘entertainment’, and I use that term loosely, was still going strong when I sat down at a table and ordered a Kiltlifter. Tonight’s musical trivia game was “which TV theme song do you think I’m trying to play” and I don’t know what was more obnoxious — the old guy on stage showing off all the ‘cool’ effects he could add to the drum track with his Casio keyboard or the drunk old ladies in the audience who hollered out every old TV western theme song they could think of EXCEPT the one that the Casio guy was trying to play. I guess no one was FORCING me to sit there — so I’m probably even more of a loser than the people I’m mocking!

I was thinking I should order a medium pizza so I could have leftovers for Saturday lunch. Dumb idea! Nothing ‘medium’ about the pizza here!  I had three slices and was STUFFED. I took home enough leftovers for at least two more huge meals. So what am I supposed to do now? Sit in front of the TV all weekend watching the Masters and eating cold pizza? That’s not what I came here for. (Like my mom would say, ‘that you can do at home, too!’) I am an idiot!

A day at Superstition Springs

After yesterday’s “slack” day, I righted the ship today. I had my morning coffee and a banana. Then I went for a long bike ride around Gold Canyon. On my way home I stopped at Bashas’ and picked up a fresh bun. Made a humungous sandwich for lunch.

After lunch I drove back to Power Road to pick up my re-gripped golf clubs. On the way I stopped to return one of the two fancy new belts I bought yesterday. That made me feel better. The golf clubs also feel better. But how would new grips affect my game? I decided to try them out right away. So I drove across Hwy 60 to the Superstition Springs golf course. I’d only golfed there once before, back in January 2015, when Sue and I joined Don Hoeppner and Dave Driedger there.

Today I teed off as a single. The new grips meant that the worn out flat part of the grip was gone; how would I know how to line up the club? It felt completely different. But the first few drives all went nice and straight. I caught up with a single ahead of me after about 4 holes and we joined up and played together for the rest of the game. John is half my age, golfs 3 or 4 times a week all year long, works at Boeing here in Phoenix, hits the ball straighter and farther than I can. I enjoyed golfing with him. This golf course used host some PGA events but today it needs a little TLC. The layout is okay, no houses in play and there is more water than the courses in Gold Canyon, but some of the fairways need some irrigation or rain. My game didn’t improved with the new grips, but it wasn’t any worse either. It felt like I was playing with new clubs, so that was good. And I had fun.

It was a little after 6 when we finished. I drove back across the 60 to the Five Guys hamburger restaurant and had the “Little” Bacon Cheeseburger. Little? Not really, especially since I loaded it up with mayo, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, jalapeño peppers, green peppers, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, and A1 sauce! And I had TWO large refills of coke — I think I was dehydrated from all that outdoor activity. The temperature reached 33 degrees (91 Fahrenheit) today and I probably didn’t drink enough water on the golf course. A burger and couple of cokes fixed that.

Just across the road was the Superstition Springs ‘cheap’ theatre. It was 6:40 and the movie “Hostiles” was about to start. I bought a $2.00 ticket and had no trouble staying awake for the next two hours as lots of cowboys and Indians got killed. Not sure there was a single ‘good guy’ in the show, but what can you expect for two bucks!

These days even the nights are warm here. (At home it is snowing tonight.) Walking out of the mall in short sleeves and sandals feels pretty good. I drove back to my home at the foot of Superstition Mountain. It had been a great day!


Rudy goes shopping

Hmm… I kind of ‘wasted’ this day away. I woke up early and then frittered away a few hours putzkying around the house. I had an eleven o’clock appointment for an oil change on the van in Apache Junction. I was almost late for it!

I was hoping the mechanic could figure out what might be the cause of that ‘howling’ noise that comes from my rear wheels when I’m driving slowly. They took off all the wheels and checked the brakes and pronounced them good — lots of wear left, all seemed to be just fine. They ‘sawed’ a few notches into the brake pads, so maybe that would remedy the problem. (It did not. A few hours later as I was driving around the parking lot at the Superstition Springs mall looking for ‘the best’ parking spot, that ‘waa, waa, waa‘ was as loud and annoying as ever.)

I drove to Power Road and ate lunch in the food court at the mall there. I was hoping there might be a movie that would interest me at the cheap theatre there, but there were only two shows that I could see myself sitting through and the start times didn’t match my schedule. 

I wasted another hour at Vans Golf shop just up the road from the mall. I don’t actually know what I was looking for — well, I KNOW that I was looking for something that would magically improve my golf game, but I know better than to believe that just because it works in one of those simulators they have at the shop doesn’t mean it will work on the course. In the end I left my irons and my driver at the repair shop there to have them re-gripped. I’ll pick them up tomorrow.

I had signed up for a free Steven Pinker lecture at Arizona State University for 5:00 today (thanks to a recommendation by Hans Neufeld). I’d been getting a steady stream of emails from the event organizer encouraging me to let them know if I was NOT going to attend so they could give the ticket to somebody on their long waitlist. Must be a hot ticket! The latest email said not to be late — if I wasn’t there by 4:55 I would forfeit my ticket. Okay, I might as well drive to Tempe; the Tempe Marketplace is a large shopping centre not far from the university and I can waste a bit of time shopping this afternoon.

So I went to all my favourite stores. Not really, unless you call TotalWine a store. Wandered around and looked at all the interesting imported and craft beers. I also went to a belt store there — Tim had bought a cool belt when he was here and I wondered if I might find one like it. I did. So I bought two, one black and one brown. (What is with me? Now I’m starting a belt collection? This is exactly why I do not go shopping. I know better.) Too bad I’d had lunch — there are a lot of interesting eating places here. Maybe I’ll come back after the lecture.

A little after four I drove down to the university. Traffic is getting busier. I circled a few times and finally drove into a parkade. I thought it was close to the hall where the talk was going to be, but I ended up walking half a mile, zigzagging around and between all the various university halls and buildings, looking for ‘Old Main’. I guess classes were out and the walkways were crowded with young people, carrying backpacks and gazing into their phones, going the other way. 

The hallways leading into the lecture hall were lined with folks. Wait List #1. Wait List #2. I went to the registration desk and one of the attendants there drew a nice fluorescent yellow highlighter line through my name on the list. And in I went. Row 3. Right on!

I actually don’t know who Steven Pinker is! The talk was entitled “Why Free Speech is Fundamental“. Hans had said he really wished he could hear him. When MaryLou heard I was going to see him she texted that she would love to hear him. The hall quickly fills up. Standing room only. Steven Pinker is up on the stage, looking at his prepared slides on his laptop. I take a photo. 

The lecture is mostly read from his notes. It is interesting, and especially so since I am in Trump’s America, where truth and civilized discourse is under attack. But Pinker doesn’t just criticize the alt-right. He suggests that universities also suppress free speech when they disinvite controversial commencement speakers. He believes that free speech is a fundamental right and in his talk he explains how important that ‘First Amendment’ is to a modern democratic society. 

Steven Pinker is listed as one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World Today”. Steven Pinker is an optimist. He believes that things can and will get better. He makes references to his latest book, “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress“. I think I will have to buy the book. 

It is fun to be here. It’s invigorating. After the lecture there is a question-and-answer session. Long lines form behind the two microphones that are set up in the aisles. After about an hour the moderator cuts them off. It’s time to go — I skip the reception in the hallway and go try and find the parkade where my van is parked.

I had planned to go back to the Tempe Marketplace for dinner but I changed my mind. I had a fridge full of food and drink at home and it was already 7:30. It would take at least half an hour to drive home. 

Back at the house I lit the barbecue and made myself a gin and tonic. Checked out my new belts while the hotdogs were sizzling on the grill. After supper I sat down and watched TV again — more PBS Martin Luther King specials. I guess it’s the anniversary of his assassination. I remember that day back in 1968. I was 12 years old. We were visiting Abe Klassen, Tim’s grandpa, on the farm. The boys were playing outside while the dads were watching the NHL playoffs on TV. Dallas Northstars vs the L.A. Kings. The game was interrupted by a news flash. Dr King had been shot. I didn’t know who Dr King was, but I remember my dad saying this was not good. He said there would be trouble ahead. Riots and unrest. Tonight’s documentary showed that that IS exactly what happened.

I went upstairs so I could fall asleep watching Jimmy Kimmel. What else is new?

A (long) walk down memory lane

I woke up just before six. I hadn’t finished my blog post for yesterday so I did that before I got out of bed. Showered. Decided to WALK down to Bashas’ to have my breakfast and to pick up a bun and sandwich meat for lunch later. Dabbed a bit of sunscreen on my nose and sprayed a little of that new foot creme I got for my birthday from Alex on my feet. Because I’d just written a blog post with a reference to an Eagles song, I quickly downloaded the first and last Eagle albums to my phone. I stepped into my rubber sandals (hmm.. I’d regret that later) and started up my “MapMyRide” app on my phone. Queued up the Eagles albums, stuck the earbuds into my ears and started off on this morning’s ‘fitness’ walk.

The temperature was just right for the walk. Since I’m up on the side of Dinosaur Mountain the walk starts off with more downhill than up. I’m not in the habit of wearing my earphones or listening to music while I ‘exercise’ — mostly I hum all the time. It’s a bit tricky to keep pace with the rhythms of the songs and it’s hard for me to NOT walk in rhythm. Some folks are probably itching to know how many steps I walked (approx 13,600) — but for my own reference, here’s how long the trip was (5.8kms each way) as well as the elevation change for my return trip.

When I got to the Bashas’ corner I stopped in at the Gecko’s coffee shop and had a large coffee and an apple danish at an outside table where I read the USA Today newspaper. Then I went to Bashas’ to pick up a bun and a package of sandwich meat to take back for lunch. And then back home. Uphill most of the way now, and the bottoms of my feet were getting little blisters. Next time I’ll wear socks and runners. 

Many of you will know that I am a big Eagles fan. I love the first 4 or 5 albums, right up to Hotel California. Not so much The Long Run. But I have to say, after today’s “close” listen, that last double album of theirs, Long Road Out of Eden, actually stands up pretty well right next to the early albums. And why not? The album starts with a great acapella tune, No More Walks in the Wood, with those trademark Eagles harmonies. Then comes How Long, an old J.D. Souther song that could easily have been included in one of the first albums. And now, listening to the songs and paying close attention to the lyrics, I really appreciated Don Henley’s “political” songs, like Frail Grasp On The Big Picture and Business As Usual. And then, when I was almost home, here comes the final song on the album. It’s not the best song on the album, by far. It’s a bit cheesy, with mariachi horns and pizzicato strings and an accordion accompanying Glenn Frey’s vocals. But it IS poignant because Frey passed away quite suddenly a couple of years ago. But this morning it was like that song was written for me and I had a hard time holding back the tears as I walked the last half mile back to the house. 

If you don’t have the album you can listen to the song here

A perfect day, the sun is sinkin’ low
As evening falls, the gentle breezes blow
The time we shared went by so fast
Just like a dream, we knew it couldn’t last
But I’d do it all again
If I could, somehow
But I must be leavin’ soon
It’s your world now
It’s your world now
My race is run
I’m moving on
Like the setting sun
No sad goodbyes
No tears allowed
You’ll be alright
It’s your world now
Even when we are apart
You’ll always be in my heart
When dark clouds appear in the sky
Remember, true love never dies
But first a kiss, one glass of wine
Just one more dance while there’s still time
My one last wish: someday, you’ll see
How hard I tried and how much you meant to me
It’s your world now
Use well the time
Be part of something good
Leave something good behind
The curtain falls
I take my bow
That’s how it’s meant to be
It’s your world now
It’s your world now
It’s your world now

Desert BloomsWhen the song ended I stopped to take a picture of a blooming desert plant growing beside me on the road. Sue would have liked that, too. Wherever we travelled, if there was a flowering tree or bush that she could pose next to, I had to take a photo. And I usually did, as you can see below:


Well, that got me all ‘verklempt‘, but the fact is that in the past seven years Sue and I spent more than a year in total here in Gold Canyon, and pretty much everything I see and do here reminds me of Sue. How can it not? This is where we walked and talked, hiked and biked, learned to golf, shopped for groceries, entertained and hosted friends and family, fell in love with the desert, watched the sunrises and sunsets…

When I got home I sat down and opened my laptop to find the lyrics to the song. Then I browsed through some of my photos to find some ‘Sue with flower’ pictures. I started writing this blog post. Then I made myself a terrific sandwich for lunch — and replaced all those calories I’d lost on my walk.

I decided to go golf at the Mountain Brook course later in the afternoon. I registered at the pro shop at around 3:30. There was a couple who teed off just ahead of me. I waited a while, and then decided to play two balls. That way I wouldn’t put too much pressure on the golfers ahead of me. I still had to wait for them at a few of the tee boxes, but they quit after nine holes and after that I was on my own. I also returned my cart after nine holes and walked the back nine. Around the 13th hole I lost one of my golf balls. So now I was playing one ball. A couple of holes later the course crew came by; they were collecting the flags from all the greens so I had to ‘guess’ where the hole was on the remaining holes. Oh well, I was enjoying the walk in the evening cool(er)ness — just the right temperature for carrying my golf bag around the course. And the last gloaming of the sun reflecting on Superstition was much more stunning than any painting of it you might be tempted to buy at the Mesa market.

By now my ‘step count’ was getting close to 20,000. My feet were tired and I was hungry and thirsty. I drove to Bashas’ and picked up a little tub of some kind of Chinese salad to go with the wieners and hotdog buns I’d bought. I barbecued a couple of the hotdogs and loaded the buns up with the usual condiments plus avocado and cheese slices. Hmm… I’m turning into quite the cook, if I do say so myself!

I poured a second beer and sat down to watch American Experience on PBS — a documentary about Martin Luther King. At 10:30 I shut ‘er down and went upstairs to watch Jimmy Kimmel on the bedroom TV.

Golf at Apache Creek

I got up early again — sixish. The sunrise from my upstairs bedroom windows and patio doors is amazing. Reminds me of the first Eagles album cover — pink sunrise tinting a clear blue sky, with dark silhouette cactus in the foreground.

It’s another tequila sunrise
Staring slowly ‘cross the sky

The nights here are dark and quiet. There are no streetlights in Gold Canyon — there are some small lights lighting up the desert plants along the sidewalks, but folks here prefer starlight to streetlights. My house is far away from the busy highway and everyone around here goes to bed by 8pm so the only sound I hear at night is an occasional chorus of coyotes howling at that full moon over Superstition Mountain.

Now, at 6:30 in the morning, there is the hum of the Mexican crew zipping back and forth on their mowers and their gators, making art on the golf course, raking the big sand traps around the greens so there’s no sign of the agony they inflicted on yesterday’s golfers. Sunrise and sunsets here are as short as they are beautiful–quite a bit shorter than they are at home. It gets dark quickly and it gets bright quickly. When the sun bursts over the top of Superstition and blazes onto the walls of my bedroom it’s time to get out of bed and go get the water boiling for my morning coffee.

Not bad. Had to eat the leftover Pringles before I could open another bag of Salt-N-Vinegar.

I worked my way through some of the things on my ‘to-do’ list this morning. Made an appointment for an oil change for Wednesday. Made a few phone calls. Swept out the garage. Cleaned the windows. Finished another crossword puzzle. Cycled down to Bashas’ to pick up buns and avocados so I could make my favorite meal.

At 2:00 I drove to Apache Creek golf course. It’s not as nice as the golf courses here but it was crazy cheap online and had lots of open tee times. I thought I might as well try it — I’ve golfed there previous winters but not this year. I used to hate it because it has a lot of desert scrub if you miss the fairways, and I usually missed the fairways. It’s not easy hitting the ball off of the hard gravel and even harder if the ball is stuck in a prickly plant or has rolled down into one of the many gopher holes. On the plus side, unlike so many courses here, there are no houses or families enjoying happy hour in their backyard patios to hit with an errant shot.

I was paired up with Tim, a security system sales rep who had just moved to Mesa from Indiana. He hit the ball a long way, and mostly straight. It was fun golfing with him — he seemed like a very nice man. We were joined by Chris on about the 12th hole — he was a transplanted Minnesotan who was walking the course and taking his game a little more seriously than Tim and I were. Tim was keeping score for the two of us — I noticed he would mark down my score sort of like you would guess a woman’s age — that helped ease the pain of a couple of sevens and eights for me. I’m not exactly sure what is going on with my short irons — just when my putting improves some of my wedge shots are taking off at right angles…

I got into the van at around 6:15 and was about to drive west to the cheap theatre at Superstition Springs for a 6:40 movie when I got a text from Alex. It’s two hours later at home and Max wants to have a quick FaceTime. Hey, I can go see that movie tomorrow. I hurry back home and have a nice chat with Max and Alex. Max had indoor recess this morning because it was too cold outside! I guess it’s not time to go home yet!

I warmed up my leftover Chinese food from yesterday and sat down to watch some TV. Mixed results. Either the shows are getting less interesting or I am just getting too much exercise to keep from dozing off. I had to have a dish of ice cream and a cookie just for something to do so I could stay awake long enough to get the Trumpy news from Jimmy Kimmel at 10:34. And then BOOM! — sleep overwhelms me and I’m off to bed.

A lazy Easter Sunday at home

Alarm went off at 4:30 am. I quickly got dressed and went downstairs. I woke Max up — he was in a deep sleep, but even before he opened his eyes a big smile came over his face. “I think I will sleep on the plane,” he says as he sits up. I helped him out of his PJs and into his ‘winter going-home’ clothes. Soon his parents were downstairs with their suitcases. We backed out of the garage at around 4:50. It was still warm outside. The moon was still up there, although it was veiled by a thin ‘fog’ of clouds.

I dropped the family off at the sidewalk in front of the terminal and headed back home. There were tears in my eyes, but man, this last week has worked out SO well — we’ve all had a WONDERFUL holiday!

I got home and decided to clean up instead of going back to bed. I did three loads of laundry and moved all my stuff from the west bedroom to the east bedroom, where I have a second-story patio that overlooks the 5th green on Sidewinder. I folded the sofa-bed in Max’s room back into a sofa. I made a delicious large coffee and ate the last yogurt in the fridge. I made a new grocery list. I swept and cleaned the kitchen and dining room. I rearranged all the stuff in the garage, putting the kids’ golf equipment and Max’s bike off to one side and my stuff on the other. I finally programmed the buttons in my van’s console to open the garage door so I could put away the garage door remote control. I made lists of ‘to-do’ items for the week ahead. I watched a few of the Sunday morning talk shows. I made a huge sandwich for lunch. I finally updated my blog which I hadn’t had time to do for the past two days. I watched Ian Poulter win the Houston Open golf tournament on TV. I heard from Alex — they got home without incident, landing in Fargo and then driving home from there.

Later in the afternoon I finally took my van to the car wash — I’d wanted to do that when I first got here, especially to get all the salt off the undercarriage — but it looked okay after I rinsed it off on the trip down here and so I left it until now.  I also need to get it serviced — that dashboard reminder light has been bugging me now for almost a week.

I went to the Chinese restaurant and brought home a big order of king pao chicken and fried rice — I ate half of it for supper and have another time as much left for tomorrow’s supper. 

I watched a bit of ’60 Minutes’ and then all of ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’ on TV. It was a big NBC ‘live’ special — I thought is was okay, but not nearly as good as the original. I recorded the original 2-record set (which I borrowed from Eric Froese sometime in the early ’70s) and listened to it so much that I had it memorized. I remember singing it from beginning to end every morning before coffee break when I worked behind the cross-cut saw at Loewen Windows the summer after grade ten. I can still sing most of it today.

I was in bed by 11:00. Didn’t do much today. No photos. But I’ve got a long list of things to do tomorrow, and I’ll probably start with a early morning bike ride.

Last day of ‘holidays’

Saturday. Might be our warmest day here yet! Alex and I took our last bike ride down to Bashas’ to pick up fresh buns and pastry. It’s been fun cycling together for some of our mornings here. A good workout and a good way to start the day. It’s also been interesting to see how many people are out there, going for a morning walk, or jogging, cycling, or walking their dogs. It’s “busier” here than what I remember from previous visits. 

It’s also been good to spend time with Alex. She is a great mom and a great daughter. Alex is a kind, caring, positive, strong, honest, beautiful woman. She and I share many warm memories of things we did together with Sue here in Gold Canyon.

When we returned from our cycling/shopping trip it was time for breakfast. Saturday breakfast means bacon and eggs, although today Max opted for a fresh chocolate donut with sprinkles on it instead. Tim served up delicious scrambled eggs and bacon. He was feeling MUCH better than he did yesterday and was looking forward to our afternoon golf game at Sidewinder.

After breakfast Max and I had one last cycle to the playground park near our house. It was quite hot already and Max sat in the shade under the slides and buried treasure (rocks) in the sand there. His bike will sit in my garage here until I leave for home in a couple of weeks, so it will be a few weeks before he gets to ride it again. He has certainly improved his riding (and braking) skills here on the up-and-down streets!

When we got back from the playground it was soon time for lunch. Sandwiches and chips and a St. Pauli Girl pilsner. Then, at about 1:30, Max and Alex dropped Tim and me off at the golf course.

While Tim and I golfed our last game at Sidewinder, Alex and Max drove out to the Goldfield Ghost Town. Over the course of the week here, Max has developed quite an interest in the ‘legends’ of Superstition Mountain. He and Alex spent a couple of hours at the Goldfield tourist attraction, visiting the shacks and shops, going down a mine shaft to see what it might have been like to work underground in the ‘olden days’, and witnessing a ‘high noon’ gun fight on Main Street.

When they’d had their fill of old-fashioned entertainment and were ready to cool off a bit, they came back to the house and jumped into the pool for one last swim.

Meanwhile, Tim and I were making good time on the golf course. We started a little ahead of time and only caught up with golfers ahead of us on the last 3 holes. Tim was in fine form again, obviously feeling better than he had for a couple of days, and striking the ball well.

We sent a text message to Alex when we got to the 18th tee. She and Max were just back from the pool and would meet us at the Kokopelli restaurant patio at the golf course for sundowners and dinner. Which they did. The heat of the day was giving way to a warm and pleasant evening as we sat out their watching the sunset. Green fairways below us, golden sunset to the west, a guitarist entertaining the guests, and delicious plates of food in front of us. Marvellous! What a fine end to a fantastic week of family holiday time!

It was dark by the time we got home. The kids went upstairs and packed their suitcases while Max and I played with some “glo-sticks” out on the patio. He and I are each other’s biggest fans. He is the best combination of his parents — smart, funny, always positive, gentle and kind, sensitive, and loving. I already miss him. What a treat it has been for me to have had the opportunity to spend so much ‘quality time’ with Max and his parents these past eight days!

The temperature was still comfortably warm. A full moon was rising above the mountain to the east. Even though we needed to get up ‘super-early’ tomorrow morning, no one wanted to cut short this final evening!


I woke up on the last day of my 61st year. So far so good!

Alex and I cycled down to Bashas’ and picked up pastries for breakfast. 

After breakfast Max and Alex went upstairs for a few minutes — and when they came down they had a gift bag for Opa. New golfing shorts! Just what I wanted! 

New golf shorts for Rudy!
New golf shorts for Rudy!

Max and I went for another bike ride — he’d getting more confident every day. Things are a bit more undulating here than they are in Steinbach, and it takes a bit of practice to pedal HARD up an incline, and to use the brakes to slow down on a downhill. But Max is doing great.

When we got back Alex took Max to the pool. Max just LOVES the pool. And the hot temperatures we’ve had here this week suit that just fine.

Back from the pool, Tim and Alex made sandwiches and we had lunch. Tim was feeling “about 90%” after his miserable day yesterday. It was all systems go for our 2 o’clock tee time at Dinosaur Mountain. 

I checked with the desk at the course to see if it would be okay for Alex and Max to ‘ride’ the course, just for the view. It was supposed to be an extra $25 per person, but I think the guy gave us a pass. 

The Dinosaur Golf Course is a tough course. It’s also a spectacular course. Almost every hole presents a dramatic view. The ‘humps’ of Dinosaur Mountain and the valley below. Manicured fairways and undulating greens protected by deep bunkers. The greens are lightning fast. After Tim and I both hit reasonably good (safe!) drives on hole number one, Tim proceeded to roll his putts back and forth across the crowned green. We would be golfing today for the ‘experience’ and the view rather than for a great or even not-so-great score.

Tim seemed to be feeling quite a bit better than he was yesterday. But as the game went on his symptoms returned. He skipped a few holes on the back nine. We had planned to go out for supper after the game but when we finished the 18th he asked if I could take him home. So we went home. Alex and I were discussing supper options when Tim came back down the stairs and asked about the Urgent Care clinic hours. It was around 6:30 and the clinic was open till 7. Tim had been ‘googling’ his symptoms and it seemed to indicate appendicitis. We all piled back into the van and drove to the Urgent Care clinic down the road.

The doctor who looked at Tim suggested we head straight over to the Emergency entrance at the nearest hospital in Apache Junction. If this really was appendicitis (and he believed that’s what it was)  golfing or doing other strenuous activity could end up aggravating the situation and possibly triggering serious issues for Tim. So we immediately took him to the emergency entrance at the hospital in Apache Junction. 

I left Alex and Tim there while Max and I went looking for supper. We ended up at a Burger King a few miles from the hospital. We ordered and ate our supper and took a burger and drink back to the hospital for Alex. Tim was waiting for a CT scan.

After waiting for some time, I took Alex and Max back to the house. It was bedtime for Max — the heat of the day had taken its toll on all of us. Alex thought she would go back to the hospital to stay with Tim through his surgery. She had already checked out flight options for later next week; the doctor had told Tim he would not be able to fly for a couple of days after the operation.

We were barely back at the house when Tim sent a text: he’d been given the ‘all clear’; come pick him up. The diagnosis revealed that it was NOT appendicitis. Although the symptoms were identical to appendicitis (the doctor was so confident in his initial diagnosis they had Tim change into a hospital gown and all prepped for surgery), the CT scan showed no problems with internal organs. Tim had a virus (mesenteric lymphadenitis) whose symptoms were exactly the same as appendicitis but which could be relieved with rest, fluids, and a pain medication like Aleve. I had just made a couple of gin and tonics for Alex and me. I put my drink in the fridge and drove back to the hospital (15 minutes each way) to pick up Tim. He already felt a whole lot better — in part due to the pain medication he’d received, but almost more significantly, because he now had a diagnosis, a name for what was bothering him, and a plan for what to do about it. Relief.

Back home we sat down and took a deep breath. After the hub-bub of the last 3 hours, it was good to sit down and relax. All-in-all it had been a very good day. A very good BIRTHDAY! And really, we had done nearly ALL the things that were on our list for the day, other than missing our evening dinner at the golf course restaurant. Alex said that Burger King burger had never tasted better! Tim was visibly relieved. After a bit of decompression we headed off to bed — a good night’s rest would prepare us for tomorrow, the last day of March, the last day of this family holiday in Gold Canyon.

A Day “Off”

Or maybe I should say an “off” day. I woke up and went downstairs. Alex came down a short while later. We were going to cycle to Basha’s this morning and have a coffee and pick up pastries for breakfast. But not today. Alex hadn’t slept more than an hour — Tim was sick and spent much of the night vomiting and retching in the bathroom. Max had a bad dream about mountain lions (thanks to that Grand Canyon IMAX film) and had come upstairs and slept with the parents. And Alex was carrying the weight of those worries and feeling terrible. 

I took Max down to Basha’s and we got the pastries and a couple of coffees from Starbucks. After breakfast Max and I went for a bike ride, back to the park. Tim would spend the day in bed. Alex would finish reading her book. 

Tim and I had a tee time booked at Sidewinder but it didn’t look like Tim would be in any shape to golf. His body was aching. He got up for a few minutes and thought that maybe he was okay, but we sent him back to bed. I called the course and cancelled the tee time.

After lunch Alex and Max went to the pool. I stayed back and did a couple of ‘projects’ on the computer before joining them. The pool was BUSY! Lots of people there. It appeared that some families were joining their retired parents for the Easter holiday weekend here. So there were families at the pool, kids playing in the pool and the older folks sitting around and watching or reading or visiting. It was a warm day, maybe the warmest day this week, and a perfect day for the pool. Max barely came out of the water at all. He had his goggles on and was paddling from side to side and across the pool, dodging the ‘football’ that some older kids were throwing at each other. Max has turned into a little fish — a happy little fish.

Back at the house it was happy hour. Well, not so happy. Alex was worried about Tim who wasn’t feeling any better. I went down to Walgreens to talk to the pharmacist. She suggested that it might be a 24- or 48-hour bug, but that it was important for Tim to re-hydrate. I bought a bottle of Gatorade and another of ginger ale to take back. I also stopped at the ‘Urgent Care’ clinic across the road and checked on their hours for tomorrow (Good Friday). Open as usual, from 8am to 7pm. Okay. If there’s no improvement by tomorrow we have some options. 

Back at the house we had our G&Ts and then left Tim at home while the three of us went out for supper. We drove to the shops at Signal Butte and ended up at a Chili’s restaurant. After about a half hour wait we got a table. Today is Major League Baseball’s Opening Day — so there was baseball on all the TVs in the restaurant. We had a nice supper. Max was entertaining us with his ‘jokes’ again. We got back home at around 8pm. PJ time. Bedtime story. Good-night.

Alex and I sat in the living room watching TV. Not much on. Well, how about some ‘runway’ reality TV show about guys sewing dresses for some models. Hmmm… Alex sure knows how to pick TV shows! I think it was barely nine o’clock when Alex disturbed my dozing in the chair and sent me off to bed, too.