Although most of North America had an extra hour of sleep last night, not us in Arizona. Like Saskatchewan, we don’t observe Daylight Savings Time. But as of today, we’re just an hour behind Steinbach.
So we watched our regular Sunday morning ‘news’ shows — Fareed and Reliable Sources on CNN. Then it was time for football. Ironically we get more choices of games at home than we do here in Arizona, because at home we get Detroit, Minnesota, and Winnipeg channels, and often they pick up different games at each location. Here we had to settle for the local CBS and FOX channels. Oh well, it was just fine.
As we were watching the second game of the afternoon we got a call on our new MagicJack phone — Dorothy and Bob Schinkel were just 15 minutes from our place, shopping at the big Mesa Flea Market. So they came over and we barbecued steaks and had supper together. Had a fine visit.
About halfway through the Sunday Night Football game the Schinkels got back into their Porsche and headed back across town to their home in Goodyear. Strawberries and ice cream for snack. A great first weekend here in Arizona.
After yesterday’s dust storm and last night’s rain shower, we woke up to a gray, cloudy, and cold Arizona morning. Superstition Mountain was shrouded in cloud. I tinkered with the “TracFone” cell phone we bought at Walmart yesterday — and couldn’t get it to register in our zip code. So I guess we’ll return that.
We had bacon and eggs for breakfast and eventually got into our cycling shorts and went for a morning bike ride. There were signs posted along the way advertising garage sales and an “Art Tour”. We stopped at quite a few garage sales along the way. When we got to the end of our 10km loop we stopped at the Walgreen’s and bought a “MagicJack” phone that plugs into our computer. We picked up bread at Bashas’ on the way home.
Lunch. Then I installed the new MagicJack phone and pulled out all the handsets in the cupboard and plugged them in. Registered the phone and it all seemed to work. Now we have a phone number! I paid an extra $10 for a Winnipeg number so the long distance shouldn’t be a problem for people at home to call us. Sue and I each called our moms and everything was cool.
I went outside to work on the yard for a bit. Finally got the sprinkler system to work only to find out that there are a couple of major ‘leaks’ in the lines. I’ll either need to get them fixed or just turn the whole thing off. It was a bit cool outside, but now that the sun was out it seemed a whole lot nicer than it had been in the morning.
Supper was warmed up leftover pizza. I was on the ‘help live chat’ option with the MagicJack techies trying to figure out why we got ‘busy’ signals when we called our new number. Didn’t get the issue resolved. They will email us when they have a solution.
Then we got a Skype call from Tim and Alex — and when they called our new MagicJack number it all worked! So I don’t know what’s up with that. Discussed flight back to Phoenix after Christmas options with them.
Well, the Bombers lost a big game to Calgary this afternoon, but the Lions appear to be beating the Alouettes big time tonight. That’ll put the Bombers in first place in the east for the playoffs. Looking forward to Sunday NFL games tomorrow.
Time for a little TV.
We went to exchange our Mediacom TV box today. Not that easy. Had to call Richard in Manitoba to get authorization to exchange our box for an HD box. The lady at the Mediacom office felt sorry for us, but couldn’t really make the switch without Richard’s okay. We went to Walmart to shop for sandals and a cell phone before returning to Mediacom — where the lady finally called Richard directly and we got our HD box.
Back at home I plugged it in only to find that we still didn’t get any of the HD channels. So I skyped Mediacom and they did a reset from their end. While we waited for that to take effect, Sue and I went for a walk. We went to Ed and Val’s house and put their garbage bin back into the garage and returned the garage door opener. Then we went to Basha’s and ordered a pizza. By now the sky was already quite gray with blowing sand.
We had an early supper and watched a bit of TV. Not much good on. I finally connected my Mac to the TV and we watched the CBC National news (live streaming) and Thursday’s episode of “At Issue” and Rex Murphy. Felt like we were at home. We’ll probably do that more regularly.
Got up early and went for a bike ride – the old route. We stopped at Walgreens to buy a few items. We barely had time to have lunch before picking up Ed and Val. We dragged some of their extra furniture out onto the driveway – they’d arranged for Salvation Army to pick it up later that afternoon. Then we took them to the Mesa Airport and said goodbye. We had to hurry home because the Mediacom guy was supposed to come and ‘connect us’ between 1 and 5pm. He showed up around 3pm. The good news was that he got our TV and internet all hooked up. The bad news was the set-top box wasn’t HD. We’ll try to exchange it tomorrow.
For supper we had leftovers. Then a bit of TV, Skyping with Alex, and tired to bed. Weather forecast calls for a dust storm tomorrow afternoon. We’ll have to make our Walmart trip in the morning.
Fridge was nice and cold when we got up; the ‘reset’ worked. We went for a short walk this morning. We ended up at Gecko’s, a small café in the little strip mall near our house. Since we didn’t have internet yet, this was a place where we could check our email. After breakfast we went to the Chase bank at the corner and opened up an account. Lunch was at Subway. Then Sue went for a major grocery shop (10% discount on first Wednesday of the month) while Rudy and Ed went golfing at Mountain Brook. It was a beautiful sunny day – a great day for golf.
Sue had packed away all the groceries and cleaned up the patio furniture and barbeque by the time I got home. Today the Peters came to our place for barbecued smokies. Another great evening of visiting. We made arrangements to take the Peters to the airport tomorrow noon.
Woke up. Sue made coffee in the room. Yech! Walked out around the corner to the little coffee shop whose wireless internet we’d been sponging off of last night. Ordered an espresso and a medium coffee. Sue still wasn’t impressed. The hotel breakfast in the lobby of the office wasn’t much better – no waffles for the first morning since we left home. After breakfast we took a walk up and down the Highway 66 main street. Took a couple of photos. Souvenir and curiosity shops were opening up for the day. Didn’t make too many sales to the Manitoba tourists. We were back on the road for our last day of driving soon enough. We left Williams and headed down towards Prescott Valley. Stopped for lunch at a McDonalds just before turning onto the I-17 south to Phoenix.
We arrived at our house in Gold Canyon shortly after 1pm. All just as we left it in April. Sue took off the sheets that had covered all the furniture. I carried all the patio furniture out to the patio. Hauled in our suitcase and Rubbermaid bin. Sue was cleaning and I had just put the bikes together when our neighbours honked as they pulled into their driveway. I wandered over to say hello. I was just chatting with Charlotte’s husband (forgot his name) when a dark Montana van pulls up to our house. Ed and Val. Both the neighbour and Ed told me about how Brian from “Not Just Stumps” had only that morning trimmed the plants and cleaned up the yard. We arranged to go for supper to Ed and Val’s. It looked like our fridge wasn’t working. I tried playing with the controls on the front for a bit and thought maybe it just took longer to get started. In the meantime, after lighting the pilot light on the hot water tank and setting up the water softener, I plugged in the fridge in the garage and put our stuff in there.
We were so hot from all our cleaning and unpacking. We showered and headed over to the Peters’ new house. They live not very far from our place. They have a lovely house. We had a spaghetti supper on their patio and shared a good bottle of wine that had been given to Ed and Val by Tim Snider, who had brought it from Spain. Sue emailed Jill about the fridge; she emailed right back, suggesting a ‘reset’ by unplugging and plugging it in again a couple of minutes later. We’ll try that when we get home. All in all, a great first day in Phoenix.
Cedar City: Breakfast at the Abbey Inn — waffles again. Then we headed down through Zion National Park. Temperature was cool but not too cool. It was CRAZY BEAUTIFUL. Some day I’ll show you the 300 photos that Sue and I took of it. Leaves were turning orange and yellow. Pine trees were still dark green. Rocks were red. Sky was blue. Camera batteries were almost dead.
We stopped in Kanab, Utah for lunch at McDonalds. Then we took the 89A down into Arizona, skirting around the Vermillioin Cliffs. We’d already realized that the striking stripes of color that we’d seen in so many brochures were actually from a place called “The Wave”, a place in the Vermillion Cliffs that is restricted to 20 visitors a day, with permits required, and that we wouldn’t actually see that. So we drove through the big valley south of the Vermillion Cliffs, and then turned south to the Grand Canyon.
We entered that national park from the east entrance, just as we’d done in the fall of 2008, After paying our second $25 national park entrance fee of the day (first one was at Zion), we drove along the southern rim of the canyon, stopping at several lookout points for photos.
Then we exited the park and headed south to Williams, a quaint little tourist town along the old Route 66. Old cars, old motorcycles, old museums, old hippies just like us, staying in the many old-style motels and eating in the old-style diners. Checked into the Lodge on Route 66, then headed down the street to a diner for burgers, beers, and Monday Night Football. Settled into our room for the second half — we hadn’t realized that we’re in a new timezone here and it’s actually an hour EARLIER than what we thought it was. Oh well, early to bed. What else is new? Tomorrow we’ll reach ‘home’ in Gold Canyon.
Woke up. Fareed on CNN. Waffles in the breakfast room. Short walk in the beautiful sunshine. NFL Countdown on ESPN. Game 1: Giants beat Dolphins. (Vikings squeak by Panthers.) McDouble and McChicken for lunch. Game 2: Steelers beat Patriots. Lions pound the Broncos. 60 Minutes: Madoffs talk suicide attempt. SNF: Eagles trounce Cowboys. Trailmix snacks (no supper). Perfect day.
We left Silverthorne after another waffle breakfast. The Levi’s outlet store across the street only opened at 10am — too late for early-birds like us — so we passed on the chance to update the wardrobe for discount prices and headed back on the road. West. Some of the most beautiful country in America, maybe even the world. Snowy mountains. Yellow leaves still clinging to the trees. Big sky. Great roads. We finally stopped for lunch in Grand Junction, Colorado. Then crossed the border into Utah.
Years ago Utah and Alaska were the only two states I hadn’t been to. And so on one of our family trips we made a point of visiting Utah — and discovered, to our amazement, that it was one of the most beautiful places we’d ever seen. Well today, years later, our return to Utah didn’t change that opinion. Utah is gorgeous.
We stopped short of the I-15 on our westward route along I-70, and followed US-89 south through Bryce National Park. It would be a long day of driving but since we are planning on NOT driving at all tomorrow (Sunday, a day to relax and enjoy NFL games on TV), we thought we’d stretch it out a bit today. So when the scenic drive through the Dixie National Forest was blocked by a mudslide and resulted in a 1 hour extension of the route over some seriously winding roads over a 2-mile-high hill, we were okay with that.
We finally arrived in Cedar City, just north of St George, at around 7pm. The sun had set. Since tomorrow is to be a TV-watching day, the hotel we were looking for would need to have a decent TV. And the billboards along the road in to Cedar City told us that the Abbey Inn had new 42-inch TVs. So that’s where we ended up.
After a long walk through the not-so-nice part of town, looking for a pub Sue had found on a motel map, we decided NOT to join the patrons for a Saturday-night Halloween party, walked back to our hotel, had half a sandwich at the IHOP right next to our hotel, and back in the room for the night. Journal update. Some roasted almonds and a glass of wine. Bedtime. Gotta get up early to watch Fareed on CNN tomorrow morning.
Left the La Quinta in Rapid City after enjoying their “deluxe” continental breakfast (not bad, but it’s right next to the big indoor waterpark and the ‘restaurant’ felt a bit like a Chuck E. Cheese with all the kids running around and a waiting line at the waffle machine). The road was great (once again). Not a lot of traffic, great scenery, speed limit 65 to 75 miles per hour. We had a bit of a misunderstanding with the Garmin and ended up getting to our lunch stop, and, more importantly for Sue, bathroom stop, an hour later than what we had projected. So it was 1:30 before we pulled in at an A&W in Wheatland, Wyoming. No teenburgers here, but Sue and I both had a cheeseburger and shared a big frosty rootbeer. Back on the road within 20 minutes. By now the sugar-sprinkling of snow that we had seen on the rolling hills had become quite a bit more intense and it was evident that the big snowstorm that had shut down Denver a few days ago had reached this far north. But the roads were clear. Around Cheyenne, near the border between Wyoming and Colorado, the traffic increased noticeably. By the time we were in Denver we had driven for over an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic, sometimes going 75mph, sometimes slowing down to just a crawl. Friday afternoon rush-hour.
In Denver we turned west off the I-25 onto the I-70. Traffic eased up a bit; I guess lots of people are heading INTO Denver for the big Detroit-Denver NFL game this Sunday. We were determined to be checked-in by 5pm so that we would be comfortably settled into our room in time to watch Game 7 of the World Series. Last night the St Louis Cardinals came back from a 2-run deficit 3 times to win Game 6 over the Texas Rangers in 11 innings. One of the most exciting baseball games we’ve ever watched.
We pulled into Silverthorne (in the heart of Colorado ski country, in Breckenridge) and found another La Quinta Inn. Checked in. Went to pick up some beer and wine from the liquor store across the street. Ordered in pizza from the ‘Old Chicago’ restaurant right in our building, and snuggled into our 6th floor room to watch the sun set behind the chalets and mountains outside our window. It was a bit cool in our room, but once we’d eaten we had a great evening watching the amazing Cardinals come back to win Game 7. I was exhausted from my day of driving, so it didn’t take either of us long to fall asleep.