Gold Canyon IV

My fourth extended stay in Gold Canyon (March – April 2018)

Roadtrip home, Day 3 – North Platte, NE to Winnipeg and home.

It was just after 5:00am when I woke up in our Motel 6 room. Dave was ‘fossicking‘ around in the dark. Time to get up. I had a quick shower and off we were. The GPS led us down the road, a quick U-turn, drive-thru at the McDonalds for a coffee to go, and north up Hwy 83 which would take us into South Dakota. We drove and watched the sunrise. The highway was an undivided two-lane but there was no traffic and we made good time. I kept watching the gas gauge — and was cutting it pretty fine in between fuel stops. Not too many towns along this route today! Several times on this drive home we were down to about 35kms of fuel left when we finally pulled into a gas station. And so it was when we pulled into Casey’s General Store and Gas in Valentine, Nebraska, just south of the South Dakota state line. Whew! Made it. After feeding the van we went across the street to the Bunkhouse Restaurant and Saloon for a big hearty breakfast.

This is near Valentine, Nebraska. We were surprised to see snow on the ground. It got MUCH whiter once we crossed into South Dakota!

The scenery on our drive was ‘other-worldly’ today. I guess that big snowstorm that almost cancelled the Jets hockey game in Minneapolis on Sunday night must have dumped a LOT of snow across South Dakota and northern Nebraska. The gently rolling hills, mostly ranch land, was covered with the white fluffy stuff. The small towns we drove through had huge snowbanks on the side of the streets. We also saw a lot of deer and pronghorns, as well as big colourful wild turkeys, and ducks and geese along our route today.

We took Interstate 90 east to Sioux Falls and then turned north on the I-29 which would take us all the way up to Winnipeg. We again tested the Honda’s “estimated range” calculator and coasted into the town of Brookings on gas fumes. Filled up the tank and stopped in at the Dairy Queen for a burger and milkshake before heading back on the road.

We filled up once more in Grand Forks. It was around 4:30pm. If we hurried Dave might still get to watch most of the Jets game tonight. There were about 5 vehicles ahead of us at the border, but when we pulled up to the window the customs guy asked us where we’d been and for how long and waved us through. Lickety-split. Welcome to Canada. Welcome home.

As soon as we were across the border Dave was on his cell phone, programming his PVR to record the Jets, Raptors, and Blue Jays games. He was going to do some serious ‘catching up’ tonight! Then he was FaceTiming with MaryLou. Supper would be waiting for him when he got home. Which he did, at around 7:30. I dropped him off at the entrance to his condo building and we said goodbye. It was very kind of Dave to join me in Phoenix and then to drive home with me. He is, as he likes to say, ‘a professional driver’. It was fun sharing the driving duties these last couple of days. But more importantly, Dave is a true friend. I have really enjoyed hanging out with him this past week.

When I got home the mail was all neatly sorted on the kitchen counter. A note from Alex welcomed me home. She had bought fresh fruit, bread, cheese, and sandwich meat for me. Nice!

I decided I would unpack the van tomorrow. I made myself a sandwich, opened up a Goose Island IPA, and turned on my TV. Oops! No Jets channel. I quickly logged onto the BellMTS website and subscribed to the sports channels. Boom! middle of the second period. One-nothing Jets. Great!

That’s it for another trip! A good one. Everything worked out so well. I won’t be golfing in the next few days, but I’m hoping that I don’t have to wait too long, and that when I DO get out there my game will just get better! It’s been fun ‘blogging’ for another month, but I’m happy to take another break. So, until next time, thanks for following along with me on my ‘adventure’.

Auf Wiedersehen.

Roadtrip home, Day 2 – Santa Fe, NM to North Platte, NE

Dave with the NYT crossword in front of our breakfast cafe in Limon
Dave with the NYT crossword in front of our breakfast cafe in Trinidad, New Mexico

Woke up around 6am. Showered and put on my long pants and socks and shoes. Packed my shorts and sandals away. It’s supposed to be a lot nicer in Steinbach than it has been for the past month, but I’m afraid I won’t be wearing sandals for a while yet. We picked up a coffee at the Starbucks in the big grocery store next to our motel and then hit the road. Dave took the first turn at the wheel. He suggested that we stop for ‘brunch’ sometime later in the morning and that’s what we did. As we drove through Trinidad, Colorado we passed a lovely cafe. We parked the van and had a very nice wrap that doubled as breakfast and lunch for us. Dave worked on his New York Times Sunday crossword and finished it on the road a while later while I drove a stretch.

We drove north, heading for North Platte, Nebraska. It was a 2-lane road most of the way. Not too many trucks. Thousands of big windmills. Increasing amounts of snow in the ‘ditches’ and white salt residue on the highway. We stopped for gas (the gauge showed we had about 35kms worth of fuel left) and ice cream in Limon, Colorado. Dave drove from there to North Platte. We pulled into North Platte at around 6:00pm local time (we lost another hour due to the timezone today). Dave parked on a Starbucks parking lot and logged onto the wifi there. He booked a Motel 6 room for us and we drove across the road to check in.

The motel was newly renovated but wifi was an extra charge. Nope, not me — charging for wifi seems petty and I will take a moral stand against it and do without tonight. We called the front desk and got info about a local movie theatre and list of shows and show times. The theatre was more or less across the street from our motel — so we walked there. “A Quiet Place” was getting great reviews. We sat through ads for the first 15 minutes and previews for another 15 after that. Then the movie. It was over at 9:30. We walked out into a dark empty parking lot. It was cold outside! We hurried across a few streets to a Chinese restaurant that featured an all-you-can-eat buffet. Just in time! They were closing at 10:00 and quite a few of the food trays were already empty. But we managed to fill up our plates a couple of times and called it supper. After our meal we logged on to the restaurant’s wi-fi and deleted all our new spam. I sent Alex a text that we might well be home late tomorrow night so she would know to turn on the water and heat in my house. Got an immediate reply: all done. My kids are marvellous!

Roadtrip home, Day 1 – golf, Jets game, Santa Fe

Got up at 6. Packed up and were in the van, heading to Bashas’ by 7. Fresh pastry from the bakery with a Starbucks dark roast. Ready for the road. Dave took the wheel. Heading east, into the rising sun. Up through Globe, heading to Show Low. Elevation is over 6,000 feet. The scenery is inspiring.

Show Low has a number of golf courses. We pick a random one, entered it into the GPS. About 12 miles off the road that we’re on. But it’s a golf course, and it has greenish fairways, and it’s open, and it’s got cars on the parking lot. Good to go. Parked the van. Restaurant is busy. Register at the pro shop. $40 with cart. Tee off right now, if you like. 

The course was okay — not great. The greens had been cored recently so putting wasn’t ANYTHING like on Sidewinder. The fairways looked easier than they were. We had a fine round. No waiting (a few players let us play through). The weather was PERFECT golfing weather — 21 degrees and a very light breeze. We made some pars and we lost (and found) a few balls. So that was about ‘par’ for the course. 

After the round it was about 12:30, (high) time for lunch. We went in and sat down at a table. Ordered. Not bad. Dave’s clubhouse was too big to finish. My chicken tenders were more crispy than tender. But it did the job. We left feeling well-fed. 

Back on the road. I drove for much of the afternoon. Again, the scenery was the highlight. At times, wide open spaces with desert plants. The some big buttes come into view. Especially once we got closer to the El Malpais National Monument. Dave tried taking a few photos through the van window as we whizzed by — without too much success!

We got into Albuquerque at around 6:30. The fuel gauge on the van was dinging — 30kms and we are DRY! No problem; Dave has found a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant just off the highway. We make it. Hurry into the restaurant. Yes, there is at least one of their TVs showing the Jets game. We get a table in front of that TV. The score midway through the second period is 3-2 Minnesota. Yes! With Dave and me cheering them on, the Jets should be able to turn this sip around.

We order drinks and a ‘sampler’ plate of food. But the game isn’t going according the plan. Boom. It’s 4-2 Minnesota. Then 5-2. Oh no. By the middle of the third period it is quite clear how this is going to turn out. And that’s what it does. It’s very disappointing.

Dave and I discuss options. There are LOTS of hotels within walking distance from where we’re parked. But what are we going to do from now (around 7pm) until bedtime? What if we decide to drive on for a way? What’s coming up next for us?

Looks Like the road out of here leads through Santa Fe, about an hour north. Let’s check that out. So we do. Dave drives into Santa Fe, and finds the hotel we should stay in almost right away. We check into the Santa Fe Suites. Park the van. Dave goes to the Albertson’s grocery store across the parking lot to get us some ice cream. I unpack some of our stuff and put the drinks into the fridge. We have just enough to make about 2 gin and tonics. Our little ‘kitchenette’ has a fridge and there ice in the ice tray. Dave comes back with the ice cream.

We have a nice evening, watching TV, me writing my blog, and Dave working on the New York Times Sunday crossword before calling it a day.

End of Day 1, roadtrip edition.

Last day in Gold Canyon

Well, my month here is coming to an end. Tomorrow morning Dave and I will begin our road trip back home. 

I woke up early. Dave slept for another hour or so. I made coffee and had some fruit. I started gathering things to pack. At around 9 o’clock I went for one last bike ride — up and down the hill on Don Donnelly twice. I guess it will be a while until I ride it again. And it sure is pretty here in the desert now — so many desert plants are blooming. Dave went on a bike ride after I got back. I took the bikes apart so they are ready to pack into the van. 

After my shower I put a load of laundry in. While that was going I packed my clothes into my big suitcase. At lunch time Dave and I made sandwiches with whatever was still in the fridge. Then Dave had a nap on the couch while I continued to pack. 

At around 2pm we drove to the Gold Canyon Golf Resort. Robert and Arlene were already there, waiting for us. Their clubs were in my van! We registered and were at the tees about 20 minutes BEFORE our 2:38 tee time. 

I golfed better than I often do. Dave, on the other hand, was having a tough day on the course. The conditions were perfect. The temperature was a comfortable 24 degrees, there was a light breeze, and we never had to wait for the group ahead. And as the afternoon turned to evening, the shadows added to the spectacular views. 

After our round we drove into Apache Junction to visit the Handlebar Pub & Grill. It was on Dave’s ‘to-do’ list, and Robert and Arlene had never been there before. We waited outside for about half an hour and then got a table near the band. We ordered hamburgers and listened to two guys on guitar singing familiar songs. 

After our meal it was time to say goodbye. Robert and Arlene were getting up VERY early tomorrow morning for a flight to Calgary — they have a meeting there but will fly back on Tuesday and then drive their motorhome back home beginning on Wednesday. It’s been good to have their company here at the beginning and at the end of my stay here.

Dave and I stopped in at Walmart and then at a gas station to fill up so we’re ready to leave early tomorrow. Our plan is to stop at Bashas’ for morning coffee and pastry, then head down the #60 through Globe on our way to either Albuquerque or Santa Fe, New Mexico. We may try to get one more round of golf in, perhaps in Show Low. 

When we got home I packed the bikes and clubs into the van. I watched Saturday Night Live and then shut it down for one last night here on Hidden Treasure Lane. Good-night.

Jets win, Jets win

No bike ride this morning. I got up at 6 and had a shower. Went downstairs and started the coffee. We had no milk for the coffee so as soon as Dave got his butt downstairs I went to Bashas’ to get some milk for the coffee and some bread for the toast. 

When I got back I got the bacon and eggs going. I fried the bacon on the barbecue burner outside so I wouldn’t stink up the house. The eggs didn’t turn out as well as the bacon did but all was edible so that’s how we took care of it. 

I had to hurry a bit to make it to Mountain Brook for our 10:20 tee time, but we made it. Robert and Arlene met us there. We bashed away at a bucket of balls just to prove that we could hit long and straight before we actually teed off. Then things fell apart for some of us. Well, with all thoughts of a ‘great’ round shattered by the time we reached the second tee we had “nothin’ left to lose”, to which Kris Kristofferson says, “Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free”. “Free” is good with me.

So we continued on that trajectory. And after nine holes the whole day so far was redeemed by a very fine hot dog from the Mountain Brook clubhouse kitchen, along with a draft of Kiltlifter. So all was not lost. We persevered and continued on. Things improved. The temperature was a bit cooler than yesterday and the wind was still gusting pretty good, but we were putting up a valiant defence and would not be denied two days in a row. By the time we reached the eighteenth green Dave and I were golfing scores that were more in line with our abilities. I, at least, was happy for the improvement. Still, the final score was not worth mentioning, so I won’t. 

We went home at around 2:30, a couple of hours before todays’ crucial (second) Stanley Cup playoff game against the Minnesota Wild.

The Dycks stopped by for ‘happy hour’ before it was time for the ‘O Canada’ from the game. We sat around drinking our gin and tonics and refused  to touch the chips and salsa that the gracious host (me) put out before us. Then we hopped into Robert and Arlene’s Honda and zipped over to Wahoo’s, hoping that they would still be showing the game on at least one of their TVs even though the Rogers’ deluxe NHL online package was letting us down. And sure enough, the first TV we spotted inside the bar was already showing Winnipeg’s “white out” fans going wild outside the MTS Bell Centre. It only took Dave a minute or two to spot his wife MaryLou right there in the middle of all those crazy fans, cheering on the Jets.

We quickly ‘reserved’ a table with a front-row seat for the game and began the task of cheering on the Jets. Vigorously.The guys sitting at the bar who kept giving us ‘dirty looks’ every time we got a bit loud ultimately decided to leave rather than to confront us. The poor Minnesotans sitting in front of the TV next to us didn’t have a chance against us rabid Winnipeggers tonight. We out-cheered them. Our Jets would not be denied tonight.

By the time we’d washed down our taco pizza with a few Kilt-lifters the Jets had not only out-shot the opposition, they had out-scored them too. Good thing! I don’t think we could have handled anything but a win.

We boys nominated Arlene to drive us back to the house, where we continued the celebration by finishing off the two ice cream bars in the freezer and the two leftover partial bottles of port. All was right with the world. The Jets are up 2-zip. 

The celebration continued for a little while at our house. Although it was still relatively early in the evening, by nine o’clock our guests had had enough and it was time to say good-night. We will meet again tomorrow afternoon at Sidewinder for one more golf game. 

I still had to write my journal entry for today. I opened my laptop and began writing my journal.

It was after eleven when I awoke. Dave had gone to bed. The TV was on. My computer was open on my lap. The last paragraph I’d written was incomprehensible. I turned out the lights and went upstairs to my bedroom. Took out my contact lenses. Deleted the last few paragraphs of jibberish from my blog. Uploaded the photos I’d taken on the 16th tee box today. Done. 

Tomorrow is my last day here in Gold Canyon. One more day and one more night. My time here has gone quickly. It’s been fun. But now it’s time to go to sleep.

‘Blown away’ by a golf game at Las Sendas

After “sleeping in” until about 7:30, Dave and I went for a little ‘cruise’ around the neighbourhood on bicycle this morning. We cycled to Bashas’ and had a pastry and coffee. Then we biked through Mountain Brook and around some of the back roads behind King’s Ranch Road. We stopped in at the restaurant Wahoo’s to see if they would be showing the Jets game on their sports bar TVs tomorrow afternoon. (The guy we talked to ‘thought so’.) 

Back at the house we showered and got ready for this afternoon’s golf game. We had a sandwich for lunch. Then, just before we headed out, we FaceTimed my dad and sang Happy Birthday to him. 

We got a bit ‘lost’ in one of the RV parks across the road from Gold Canyon, looking for Robert and Arlene’s motorhome. It turned out we were in the WRONG RV park. Once we fixed that we put their golf clubs into the back of the van and set off for the Las Sendas Golf Course. It turned quite a bit windier than it was during our morning bike ride. The desert dust was creating some visibility problems on our drive, and gusts of up to 50 miles an hour was going to make the golf game a bit more challenging than it might have otherwise been.

We hit a few balls on the driving range before doing it ‘for real’ at the first tee at 2:20. The course was as tough as it was picturesque. Our round was not a quick round — we waited for the groups ahead of us at every tee. It was 7:00 by the time we finally finished (and I use that term loosely) the 18th hole and found a table inside at the restaurant for dinner. I think Dave broke a hundred on his round, and I scored around 115. Although the wind didn’t help our scores, it DID help to make us hungry and thirsty after the long afternoon. 

I drove the 20 minute ride back and dropped Robert and Arlene off at their Motorhome. Then Dave and I stopped at Wahoo’s again, just to make sure they were able to get the Stanley Cup playoff games on their TVs. Looks like we’ll be watching the Jets there tomorrow night.

Back at the house we had a drink and a bit of chocolate and tried to stay awake to watch Colbert. Not easy. By eleven it was goodnight and lights out and we were in bed. Forecast for tomorrow is similar — not as hot as it’s been for the past number of weeks, and still lots of wind. We have a morning tee time booked at Mountain Brook.

 

Davey D is here

Got up a bit late again this morning. Since I’d fallen asleep watching Frontline last night I took the opportunity to ‘re-watch’ it online this morning. Then I  went downstairs and had a grapefruit. I was going to cycle to Bashas’ for breakfast, but then I found the cherry fritter I brought home yesterday in the fridge. so instead I made a coffee and warmed up the fritter for my breakfast. Then I got on my bike and cycled down to Bashas’.

I bought a nice fresh kaiser bun and some shaved Black Forest ham and an avocado. I cycled back home (UP the hill) and made a couple of fine sandwiches for Dave and me. At a little before eleven I drove to the Phoenix Sky Harbour Airport to wait for Dave’s arrival. 

I waited in the cell-waiting area but the sign kept saying that Dave’s flight from Vancouver was ‘en route’ — even though my phone apps told me it had landed. It turns out that the plane HAD landed but was on the tarmac for an extra 45 minutes while they waited for crew to help bring the plane in to the terminal. Eventually I got a text from Dave that said he had landed. I picked him up a few minutes later and we were back on the road, heading east back to Gold Canyon.

I decided that we might as well get our first golf game in, and since the Western Skies golf course had been so much fun a few days ago (and not busy) we turned off the 60 and headed south to the Western Skies golf course. 

In a matter of minutes we were on the first tee and ready to play a round. My game wasn’t quite as good as it had been a few days ago, but for the most part Dave and I had a pretty good round. After the game we sent a text to Robert and Arlene, who had made the trip from Palm Desert to Gold Canyon today — they were all set up in their RV campground and hoping we could have dinner together tonight. 

They arrived at the house not long after Dave and I did. The Dycks brought steaks and potatoes and salad and asparagus. Robert barbecued the steaks so they were PERFECT and we sat around our outdoor patio table and enjoyed a very delicious meal together. 

We sat around the outdoor table for the evening and reminisced about the ‘good old days’. The Dycks went home at around 10:00pm. Dave and I watched a bit of Colbert and then called it a night. 

Tomorrow we have a reservation for a tee time at the Las Sendas Golf Club for just after 2 o’clock. Looking forward to it.

This day in history

Thirty-five years ago yesterday the Winnipeg Jets lost the third and final game in the playoffs to the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers went on to play and ultimately lose to the New York Islanders in the 1983 Stanley Cup. It was a sad moment for me. I was watching the game at home on a Saturday night, along with most of the staff of Able Sound who were ‘celebrating’ with me the completion of my newly-finished basement. While I was partying in my new basement, Sue was having a baby at the St Boniface Hospital. Our sister-in-law Shirley, a nurse, was with her. She called me shortly before midnight and encouraged me to get my butt over to the hospital — our baby girl was about to be born. I took my leave from my “basement-warming party” and hurried to St Boniface. It was early Sunday morning, April 10. By the time I got there the big event had already happened. I remember my first meeting with that “wet pink little gopher” and wondering how that little creature would change my life. I had a short visit with Sue. She was tired but doing fine. She told me she would like to name our baby Alexandra. I was okay with that — I really had no opinion about it and was inclined to accept it partly because I felt some guilt for not having been there for Sue. It was around 2:00am when I got back home; there was a big lit sign on the front lawn shouting “It’s a GIRL!” Betty Anne Funk was in the kitchen making pizzas for the crew. The party was going strong. 

Photo taken at Mountain Brook Golf Course six years ago, April 1, 2012

Happy Birthday, Alex. I love you more than I could ever have imagined 35 years ago!

We now take you back to regularly scheduled program already in progress.

Yesterday’s poem did not mention the kerfuffle I had getting back home yesterday. There is an entry gate into the subdivision where I’m hanging out that requires an access code. I can either punch that code into a keypad at the gate or use the fob that I keep in the van. Last night, hurrying home to enjoy the piping hot fried chicken I’d bought at Bashas’, the fob didn’t open the gate. Neither did the code I entered into the keypad. What now? It was dark outside and I was a bit hesitant to jump over the fence what with all the rattlesnake roadkill I’d seen the last few days. I waited for another resident to come driving up and open it up for me but that seemed unlikely given how early everyone here ends their day. I thought of parking the van on the road outside the ‘compound’, but I was hoping that if I ‘jumped’ up and down on the exit driveway I could trigger the exit gate to open. Luckily another car drove up and opened the entry gate and I quickly jumped into my van and followed it in.

All that to say that this morning when I went back to try my code and my fob another resident who was driving through the gate informed me that the ‘admin’ had deleted ‘old’ codes and I would need to email that admin person and send him photos of my fobs so I could get a new code. Hmm… not likely that I’m going to do that. So I went to the rental agent. She knew nothing about the change. Ultimately she gave me three alternate codes that she got from three other properties in the subdivision. I cycled back to the gate and tried them — two of them worked. So I’m back in business.

I went for another long bike ride this morning. I stopped at Bashas’ for a cherry turnover and a Starbucks coffee. When I got back to the house the load of laundry I’d thrown in before I left was done. I made the bed in the big room so it would be ready for Dave when he arrives tomorrow and moved all my stuff back into the ‘second-best’ room. 

By three o’clock I had cleaned up the house and myself and was ready for another try at a golf game at Mountain Brook. The temperature today (and forecasted for tomorrow) is 98 degrees. That’s around 37 degrees Canadian. That is hot. But, as we like to say, it is a DRY heat. So the number scared off most golfers, but idiots like me see this as an ‘opportunity’! 

I teed off and by the 4th hole I’d once again caught up with slower groups ahead. I jumped from hole 4 to hole 7. Now I was in the clear. After the 9th I went back to one and played the front 9 again. Yikes! I don’t know what’s going on, but it seems I’ve caught a ‘rhythm’ — my drives are all straight and far, and I can ‘see’ my putts sinking from 15 feet out. Look out, Jordan Spieth. I’m coming…

I got a message from Max and Alex — they would like to Facetime. Well, I’m 2 hours ahead of home and Max goes to bed at 8:30. That means I gotta be home by 6 my time. So I quit at 5:30 and drove home. Facetimed with the birthday girl and her ‘boys’. Things are great at home. Max was all excited about some very sparkly new nail polish he had picked out for Alex’s birthday gift. 

I fired up the barbecue and made myself a couple of delicious hotdogs for supper. Man, after not eating hotdogs more than once a year for the last 40, I’m doing my share of ‘catching up’ now!

After supper I spent a bit of time looking up Dave’s flight for tomorrow — wanna make sure I’m there at Phoenix Sky Harbour at the right time. Then I sat back and watched some of the Elton John special on TV — although at 9:00pm I switched to Frontline on PBS — more ‘Trumpy’ news.

Not Iambic Pentameter

My route: once around ‘the loop’

Woke up at six

What’s for breakfast: Grapefruit
Who you gonna call: my mom
What you gonna do: go for a walk at 9:00

What’s on my feet: socks and shoes
What’s on my nose: sunscreen
What’s on my playlist: old Kristofferson & new Wailin’ Jennys
What’s on the ground: more dead rattlesnakes
What’s for snack: apple fritter from Bashas’
How about to drink: medium coffee from Starbucks

Continued walk through Mountain Brook
Up past the “Bishop’s house” in Vista Point

Photos: the walkway, the view from “Bishop’s” hill, the bright yellow flowering trees
Stats: 2.5 hours, 13kms

 

What’s for lunch: tomatoes, broccoli, carrots and St Pauli Girl
Where’s the afternoon golf game: Western Skies Golf Course in Gilbert
How are my drives: long and straight (what else is new?)
What’s my score: 90 (that’s better!)
Photos: the 8th tee, no one behind me, selfie (come on, put on a happy face), 17th hole reflections

Detour on the way home: Chandler Mall (one more belt!)
Late supper at home: fried chicken from Bashas’
What’s on TV tonight: Trumpy news on Colbert (only if I can stay awake that long!)

 

Who knew! I’m a poet
And don’t even know it.

Sunday in Gold Canyon, watching Sunday at Augusta

Almost rode my bike over this fresh rattlesnake meat in the middle of the road

Got up early. Made coffee and sat down to watch Fareed at 7:00 am. Then I went for a long bike ride — a couple of trips around the loop, plus some ‘snooping’ around the roads up in Mountain Brook where the homes are on the Dinosaur course. I stopped in at Bashas’ and had a cinnamon twist and bought a bun to take home for lunch. 

By the time I got home the final round of the Masters was already in progress. I sat down to watch. I made myself a great sandwich for lunch. Had a FaceTime call with Alex — we went through my mail which she had just picked up. After the call I watched the rest of the Masters. I was sort of cheering for Rory McIlroy but he was going in the wrong direction today. Then Spieth made an impressive charge — but not enough to take it away from yesterday’s leader, Patrick Reed. 

It was 4pm when the golf was over. I decided to take a ride in the van. I ended up on Signal Butte and spent a couple of hours ‘shopping’. I bought some new golf pants and some t-shirts. It was close to 8 o’clock by the time I had supper — a ‘double double’ at In-N-Out burger. 

Back at home I watched a Kennedy special on CNN and then the local news. Went to bed at around 11pm.

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!

Sixty-two

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. 

Another game at Mountain Brook

After breakfast Tim and Alex went into Apache Junction to the big Farmer’s Fruit Market while Max and I went to the pool. Max and I had a great time at the pool — Max can swim across the pool without help and is happy to spend a whole morning in the water. The pool is heated and there is a hot tub next to it in case we needed to ‘warm up’ a bit. Max is also very much into telling jokes. He’s memorized most of one of his joke books, and when we’ve heard all of those jokes we start making up jokes of our own. Max loves love to laugh.

We went back to the house and Tim and Alex returned with a pile of fresh fruit ($7 worth!) about the same time. Sandwiches and chips for lunch. After we read and did some computer work and built a helicopter with Lego. Soon it was time to get dressed and ready for another family golf game at Mountain Brook. 

It took a while for us to get going — the guy at the clubhouse was so busy ‘visiting’ with two guys at the counter and didn’t have time to take our money! But eventually we drove our carts through the tunnel under the road to the first tee and started our game. It was busier today than the other day — we had to wait for players ahead at every hole and there were golfers behind us too. So that meant we couldn’t “waste” too much time putting on the green with Max. But he was happy and we had a good time. We “finished” a little early, heading back to the clubhouse after fifteen holes because Max needed a bathroom break. It was just after six o’clock and the course really wanted the carts in by 6:15 anyway. It was a little too bad because both Tim and Alex were playing a pretty good game, but in the end we’d probably had our quota of golfing fun and it was time for supper!

Back at the house Tim barbecued hotdogs and Alex made a salad. Then we continued our ‘activities’ from after lunch, reading and visiting and playing with Lego. Max had a shower and went to bed a little after eight. The rest of us watched at least the beginning of the latest “The Trip” movie before we too went to bed.

More golf tomorrow!

The Grand Canyon

We woke up early. I made a couple of coffees to go and we were off the driveway at 7:04. We’d had a Facetime call with Ed and Val yesterday and Ed had warned me about rush hour traffic going through Phoenix so we were happy that we could zip by the stalled freeways by taking the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane. Once we were past all the congested traffic we pulled into a roadside McDonald’s and got some McMuffins and cinnamon rolls.

We got off the main route north and took a little ‘detour’ drive through Sedona. The drive was lovely and the red cliffs were spectacular. Unfortunately we were not the only tourists who thought today would be a good day to do this! All the roadside parking lots were more than full. So the great sights are mostly in our memories; the only photos I have to show for it were these two which Tim took from inside the van.

The detour probably added an extra hour to our 4-hour ride up to the Grand Canyon, but it was worth it. We stopped again in Flagstaff to fill up the van and pick up some sandwiches to eat once we got to the Grand Canyon. Then we took the eastern route up through Cameron. From there we headed up to the east entrance to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Again, we found that this was not an ‘original’ idea. The line-up of vehicles waiting to pay the $30 park entrance fee was half a mile long! We had hoped to eat our sandwiches in the National Park but it was 12:30 and the line was moving pretty slow so we had lunch in the van.

Once through the gate we stopped at the first stop, the Watchtower, from where we got our first view of the impressive canyon. We took a few photos and then climbed the 85 steps up to the top of the tower to get a 360 degree view. Tim and Max had not been to the Grand Canyon before, and although Alex and I had seen it on previous visits, the sheer vastness of this wonder of the world still amazes.

We continued on our drive westward, stopping at some of the lookout points along the way. Tim was very much hoping to take a helicopter tour of the canyon, so we took a turn south once we got to the midway point in order to get to the small canyon airport where several helicopter tour companies are based. Unfortunately that meant we had to leave the park, and although our park pass permitted re-entry, the miles (I mean MILES!) of cars and motorhomes we saw ‘parked’ on the highway into the park entrance as we drove out ruled out a return visit for us.

We pulled into the airport and Tim was happy to learn that he had arrived just in time for a three o’clock flight. He watched a short safety video and soon joined a family of four for a 45-minute flight. Alex, Max, and I watched (and recorded a video) of the take-off. Then, while Tim was having his tour, we drove back into the town of Tusayan, just south of the park’s south entrance, and went to the National Geographic IMAX theatre to check on showtimes for the Grand Canyon movie. We were just a few minutes too late for the 3:30 show. We went back to wait for Tim. When he landed we hurried him into the van and were back at the theatre just in time for the next showing.

After the movie it was time for the long drive back home. It had already been a LONG day in the van, and we still had 4 hours of driving left. Max was holding up surprisingly well, listening to his iPod and telling jokes.

We stopped for dinner at a restaurant in Flagstaff. The temperature now that the sun was down was 1 degree. Brrrr. On our drive back to Phoenix I watched as it climbed back up to 20. About half an hour before we got home Max fell asleep with his headphones on. Tim carried him into the house and put him to bed. It had been a long but fun day. Max was curled up with a big smile on his face. It was just after ten o’clock.

We poured ourselves a little glass of port and sat down to watch Colbert. Didn’t see much of it — the kids had gone to bed when I woke up at around 11:30. I turned out the lights and headed upstairs to bed.

In-n-Out

Max and Nala after a good night’s sleep.

Quiet morning again. I was down by 6:15 and sat in the living room. Max woke up shortly after 7 and once again claimed that he’d only slept a “wee little bit” in the middle of the night. I made coffee and we had breakfast. Then Alex and I went for a bike ride ‘around the loop’. I stopped in to say hello to the rental agent for the house and got permission to reset the garage door opener so we can use the keypad outside instead of always taking the garage door opener or front door key when we go for a bike ride or go to the pool.


 

Our goal was to go out to the In-n-Out burger place on Signal Butte at noon. We got there a little after 12 and had cheeseburgers and fries. After lunch we continued on to the San Tan Village shopping centre. I bought some port. Then the kids went shopping while Max and I looked for kids’ stores and entertainment. At 3 o’clock we were done shopping and we headed back home.

Happy hour. A FaceTime call with Ed and Val who are leaving for Mexico tomorrow morning. At around 5pm Tim and Alex took off in the van for a ‘date night’ (i.e. shopping and dinner out). Max was very excited about having some ‘only Opa’ time. He and I made a list of things that we wanted to do tonight and then began checking them off the list as we did them.

We took our bikes out of the subdivision and drove the long way around to the little playground not far from our house. Max made friends with the 2 kids who were already playing on the structure. We were back home by 7pm. I warmed up the leftover Chinese and we had supper. We did a bit of sketching and we built some lego and we read some stories and we watched a bit of Mary Poppins. And just as I was tucking him into bed his parents came home from their date.

We sat around and visited and tried some of that new port that I’d bought at Total Wine this afternoon. We talked a bit about the plans for tomorrow: the plan is to leave here at around 7am and be at the Grand Canyon before lunch. Tim is hoping to take a helicopter ride. And we’ll probably be home late. So we have a long day ahead. Time to go to bed.

Hiking, Biking, Shopping, Swimming, Golfing, Eating…

Sunday in Gold Canyon. I was up at around 6:30. Alex not far behind. We sat quietly in the living room so as not to disturb Max. He joined us at around 7. Alex and I took a bike ride down to Basha’s to pick up some fresh pastries and the New York Times. When we got back we had breakfast.

Then we put on our hiking shoes, found some walking sticks, and drove down to the parking lot at Silly Mountain. It was a pleasant day for a hike. We took a couple of paths around the hill and ‘the boys’ even climbed up to the top of the tallest one. Quite a view of the Mesa valley below. When we got back down we took a quick tour of the little Botanical Garden with it’s various desert plants and learned the names of some of the cacti.

Back home we had sandwiches and chips and rested up a bit. Then Alex and Max dropped Tim and me off at the Gold Canyon golf course for our 2 o’clock tee time. They went off to check out the Mesa Market while Tim and I teed off on Sidewinder. What a great day! Hardly anyone else on the course. The couple ahead of us quit after 9 holes and there wasn’t anyone behind us for the entire game. We even stopped to pose for a ‘selfie’ on the fifth fairway, in front of our townhouse. I started the game playing quite well, but that didn’t last forever. Tim played very well. We both had a lot of fun. And we played so quickly that when we were finished and sent Alex a text to come pick us up, she and Max were just at the swimming pool, expecting to have a leisurely time there, and not expecting to hear from us for at least another hour.

When she DID come to pick us up we threw our clubs into the van and made a quick stop at “The Great Wall” to pick up Chinese food for supper. Delicious. 

Not much happened after supper. I read a few stories to Max. We plotted out a bit of a plan for the next few days. We had a little ice cream for night snack. And that was the end of another perfect day.

Every Day is Saturday When You’re on Holidays

On the bike in tank top and shorts.

When I woke up and started down the stairs Alex and Max were already sitting in the living room. Early to bed, early to rise, I guess. And so begins day one of the Spring Break holiday. Everyone had slept well, although Max claimed to have been awake all night! I made coffee. Tim got up a bit later. Max changed into his shark shorts and tank top — that alone was almost as exciting for him as anything else on the menu for today — and he went for another bike ride around the neighbourhood.

Bacon and eggs and toast and another fresh cup of coffee. Too many cooks in the kitchen. Well, that’s better than none. After breakfast Alex and Max went to the pool. Tim and I sat around a bit and then walked over to check it out as well. No one else there! It’s the busiest time of the year and we’ve got the pool to ourselves! Max was making the most of it. He had his goggles on and was dog-paddling around, going a little farther every time he jumped in. I’m ordinarily not a ‘pool guy’ but with an enthusiastic little shark inviting me to join him how could I not! 

By the time we got back to the house and had showered and changed it was time for lunch. Steak sandwiches by Tim and Alex. A table full of assorted chips, too. And after reading a few stories it was time to get ready for our 2:30 tee time at Mountain Brook. 

I put Max’s new set of golf clubs on my cart and we drove out to the first tee. Max took his little driver and had a few swipes at a teed-up ball. No windows on the houses that lined the first fairway were in danger. For the next three-and-a-half hours we enjoyed a round of ‘family golf’ — no one behind us so no pressure. Max would take a putter and ball on some of the greens and try ‘sweeping’ the ball into the hole, but mostly he just cheered us all on with his endless enthusiasm. Good shot, Opa. 

After some great shots, lots of laughs, and another beautiful Arizona sunset reflecting on Superstition Mountain, we headed to Wahoo’s, the local pub, for supper. We’d missed ‘pizza night’ yesterday, so that’s what we ordered tonight. Wahoo’s seems to be crazy busy all the time, so we were lucky to get a table near the ‘band’. The pizza was pretty good, but the music is what Max liked most. Not just the middle-aged couple who were singing along with a recorded music track, but the three or four couples who took every opportunity to go up and dance. Max sat and watched intently, snapping his fingers to the music and telling us he couldn’t help it but he really felt like going up and dancing too. I got the feeling it wouldn’t have taken a lot of arm-twisting for him to do it, too.

Back home after a very busy day, Max watched one of his (Netflix) shows as he ate his cherry ice cream for a night snack. I read him a bedtime story and by the time I got to the end so had he! The adults held on for a bit longer, but not much. We were checking the time regularly, just waiting for 10 o’clock so we could feel okay about going to bed, too. 

The Kids Arrive!

Today is Friday. Tim and Alex booked off an extra day of ‘holidays’ so they could drive down to Fargo this morning and catch an Allegiant flight to Mesa. They are scheduled to arrive here at 2:40 pm. I spent the morning cleaning up and getting ready. Well, actually I worked on a crossword puzzle for an hour or two. I made a grocery list but decided that we would stop on the way home from the airport so the kids could have some say in what we should pick up. I wasn’t sure if we’d go out for supper on our first day or if they would prefer staying at the house for the first evening (which would mean they’d have to cook!).

At about 2 o’clock I took my golf clubs out of the van and headed for the airport. The Mesa airport is about half an hour from my place. Actually it’s nearly 10 minutes just to get out of Gold Canyon and onto the highway. 

I parked the car and went into the arrivals entrance. In a few minutes the doors opened and passengers began to come through the gate. Tim and Alex’s seats were in row 4, so they were one of the first ones off the plane. The minute Max saw me he got a big smile and began to run. I had my phone camera ready, and that stopped him in his tracks. Pose. Snap. Run. Hug. We’re in Phoenix!

While the kids waited for their luggage Max and I headed outside to feel the warm sunshine and get a couple of close-up looks at some of the cacti in the planters in front of the terminal. And then we loaded up the van and headed for Gold Canyon.

We stopped at Bashas and filled up a grocery cart. Max was getting impatient. He just wanted to get to the house and get into his shorts and sandals and explore.

The first impressions upon entering the house were great! I was happy that Tim and Alex were happy, and Max declared it ‘awesome’ after a quick tour. Max got the downstairs bedroom so he unpacked his bag and put his things into the multi-colored dresser. We opened up the big sofa-bed and found sheets and a blanket for that. Then we sat down and had G&Ts and ‘unwound’. Max was VERY wound up! He’d apparently been so good and patient during the 3.5 hour car ride to Fargo, and then the plane ride, and then the drive here and the grocery shop stop — but now he was a bundle of energy and he needed to get some release. Time for a bike ride. He gave his little green bike a hug — hadn’t ridden since last fall — and got his helmet on. Alex walked with us as we took a spin around the ‘neighbourhood’. A few gentle ups-and-downs on the roads here — better remember to step on the pedals for the ups and put the brakes on for the downs. It didn’t take long for Max to get the hang of it. We checked out the pool area and the community centre. We said hello to some of the neighbours who were polishing up their fancy cars and motorcycles on their driveways.

We parked the bikes in the garage and then went for short walk. It was sundown and the sprinklers were starting up on the golf course. No more golfers. Safe for Alex, Max, and me to walk across the course behind the 5th green and go check out the little playground not far down the road. Lots of bunnies and birdies to distract a young curious Canadian along the way (and Max enjoyed it, too!).

A bit of exercise and it was time for dinner. Tonight’s meal would be rib-eye steaks barbecued by Tim and ‘rice-a-roni’ and a salad made by Alex. Delicious. This is going to be a GREAT week!

By ten o’clock it was midnight in Manitoba and we’d had a long and exciting day. Time to hit the hay. Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is Saturday. Bacon and eggs. Fresh coffee. Can’t wait!

 

First Game at Mountain Brook

I woke up after 7:30. Yikes! I’d better hurry or I’ll be late for the 9:15 tee time at Mountain Brook. Ken Loewen and I are golfing this morning. I quickly showered and had a little breakfast before driving my van out of the maze that surrounds my subdivision. I was happy to see Ken’s CRV with Manitoba plates at the golf course parking lot — I hadn’t heard from him and wasn’t a hundred percent sure he’d received the booking email. 

We were paired up with two Americans, one who lived in the area, the other from Iowa. Mountain Brook switched the front and back nine around earlier this season. So although this course really feels like my ‘home’ course — it is, after all, where Sue and I first took up golf when we were at Jill’s house for the first time in early 2011 — today the entire first nine holes felt like we were near the end of our game. Bonus! Nine more holes to go! The greens here were VERY sluggish compared to the greens we’d played a couple of days ago at Sidewinder. It took a few holes to adjust. In the end we both played quite a few strokes better than last game, and we had fun.

It was around 1:30 when we got back to my house for lunch. Sandwiches and Sam Adams. Ken left at around 3:30 — time to go back to his RV park to pack up his motorhome and prepare for tomorrow morning’s departure, heading for home.

I got on the road bike and went for a ride. I stopped in at both golf courses and enquired about a ‘deal’ for golf for the next month. The green fees are expensive, although there are cheaper options outside of Gold Canyon. But after talking to the folks at both pro shops, I think I’ll be happy golfing here — especially after the end of next week (Easter, end of March) when many snowbirds will have left for home and the courses will be less busy. I don’t need ‘prime time’ tee times — and am happy to golf ‘twilight rates’ which start at around 2pm. 

When I got home I showered and sat around for a bit. I drove down to Basha’s to scout out supper options. I didn’t really want fast food and I thought maybe I should try ‘cooking’ something. Hmm… Maybe not tonight. I came home with a couple of ‘Lean Cuisine’ packages (we used to call these ‘TV dinners’). I can follow basic directions and know how to set the timer on the microwave. ‘Cuisine’ is certainly a misnomer! The cardboard container of chicken and noodles didn’t taste any better than fast food and I’m pretty sure it isn’t any healthier either. Oh well. Tomorrow the kids come for a week and there’ll be no shortage of great ‘home-cooked’ meals!

Speaking of which, tomorrow the kids arrive! I’m so looking forward to that. It’s the reason I’m here! It will be great to spend another ‘holiday’ together.

After ‘dinner’ I tried watching a subtitled Swedish movie on Netflix again. I started it a couple of nights ago and quickly fell asleep. I made it about 30 minutes further into the show tonight but in the end all that fresh air and exercise took its toll and I surrendered to the night.

Enns ‘frindschaft’ hike to the heiroglyphics

As per our earlier arrangement, this morning I’m expecting Eric and Anne Froese and some of Anne’s “jeschwister” to join me for a hike up to the ‘heiroglphics’ on Superstition Mountain. The Enns sisters and their spouses book suites in Tempe for a few months every winter.

It’s ten o’clock and the doorbell rings. Nettie and her husband Mark arrive. Earl and Mary and Eric and Anne arrive a few minutes later. We have a quick house tour and then we’re off. Earl and Mark will not be hiking; they will idle around the area for the next few hours, “house-shopping”, while the rest of us get a bit of exercise.

We pile into my van and drive up to the parking lot at the trail head. The forecast for today was for HOT weather, but there are clouds and a gentle breeze so it’s really quite comfortable. We gather an assortment of water bottles and walking sticks and go through the iron gate at the entrance. I’m not surprised that the biggest challenge today will not be the walk; the biggest challenge will be to avoid serious collisions with the hundreds of like-minded tourists on the trail. It’s high season here in sun country.

Rudy, Mary, Nettie, Anne, Eric

The wide path and gentle incline make for a relatively easy hike, and as we set off it is soon apparent that I will talk more than walk today. A captive audience. I really haven’t visited with these ‘cousins’ for a very long time and I do my best to make up for lost time today!

It’s a bit tricky picking a level of difficulty for a group you don’t really know very well. I’m am assured that the trail and the pace is okay, but not all of them are quite as keen by the time we reach the last section where the path narrows and the incline increases. Some of them decide to take a break and wait for a couple of us while we go to the ‘end’ of the trail.

Nettie and I keep going. It’s just a short climb and we’re there. And who do I see standing next to the slimey pools of water up here? Hey, that’s Hans and Ken! I join them for a couple of photos.

Nettie and I are just about to descend when Anne comes around the bend. She too is going to see those ‘heiroglyphs’! We take a few more minutes and then the three of us return to where Mary and Eric are waiting for us. Back down we go. The sun is warmer now. Must drink water or we’ll suffer later.

Earl and Mark are waiting for us at the Jack-in-the-Box near Basha’s, where we have agreed to meet for lunch at around 12:30. We are going to be a bit late. The wait is too long for Mark; he has decided to go back to the condo and look after their pet dog. Mary texts Earl that we will be a bit late.

Earl, Rudy, Eric, Nettie, and Mary. Photo by Anne.

We get to the restaurant about 20 minutes late. No problem, says Earl. He buys lunch and we push two tables together so we can sit as a group. The visit continues well past lunch. It’s happy hour by the time we say goodbye and head back to our respective homes.

Back home I cut up an apple and sit down to work on my blog. SERIOUSLY. Gonna bring it right up-to-date today. And I do.

For supper I have the leftover pizza in the fridge. I’ll have some of that cherry ice cream for a ‘night snack’. I watch a bit of Trumpy news. I flick through the channels and end the day with Colbert and Kimmel. 

A Farewell and a ‘Menno’ supper

Tuesday. The Dycks are packing up. They’re going back to Palm Desert, a four-and-a-half hour drive west from here. We had coffee and toast. Arlene put the sheets in the laundry and the dishes in the dishwasher — and then showed me how to use both machines. As it turns out the machines are not so different from what I have at home — I will manage. 

After Arlene has made the bed and restored the room to better-than-new, Robert backs his Honda up to mine and we move the clubs from one vehicle to the other. Load up the suitcases too. And say good-bye. Come again. It’s been fun. Drive safely.

I am alone again. I have a call from Ingrid who is getting her TV and internet re-configured. Then I get an email from Hans, inviting me and Ken Loewen to a ‘Mennonite dinner of farmer sausage and wine’ that Chris will cook tonight. Huh? That doesn’t exactly sound like a ‘Mennonite’ dinner. But I’m in.

I look at my Yahoo weather app, which gives me the current weather conditions for the places I select. Here are my three places, and the ‘Flickr’ photos that the app links to for each place. Looks like I’m in the right place. Nineteen degrees isn’t all that warm, and even Portugal, where my friends Dave and MaryLou have been rained on for the last couple of weeks doesn’t look so bad. But look at that photo for Steinbach! The temperature is PLUS 2, but the photo looks like it’s ‘schteeming’! I sure hope the snow is gone by the time I get home a month from now.

I work on updating my blog. Shoot! I should have taken some more and some better photos. Oh well. I want to go for a little bike ride. I need to finish my crossword puzzle. I should really check out the movie I didn’t watch last night and see if I can watch it again before my iTunes rental expires. I do that. Yeah, it’s a pretty good movie. 

I’ve volunteered to bring dessert to the dinner tonight. What will I get? Oh, I’ll stop at Basha’s on the way and see what the bakery has made today. But I end up Facetiming with Tim and Max and when I hang up I really have to hurry to make it to Hans and Chris’s for the 5 o’clock invitation. 

Google maps sends me south down the 60, to the Florence turn-off, and then back up on the Arizona Farms Road. It’s supposed to take 45 minutes, but it’s rush hour. I get caught in rush hour and road construction once I’m in the San Tan Valley. Plus I still have to get to a grocery store and buy my dessert. There’s a big Fry’s store not too far out of the way. I select a cherry pie and some cherry ice cream to go with it. And then I wait and wait in the turning lane out of that parking lot.

I arrive at Hans and Chris’s nearly half an hour late. No problem. It’s Arizona. We’re all on ‘holidays’. We sit in the backyard, next to the pool, and just across from the 17th fairway of the golf course around which this neighbourhood is built. The evening is warm. The sun is setting. The music from the dance hall about a mile away is wafting across the golf course. 

Chris has made a delicious ‘Menno’ meal. Bothwell farmer sausage and scalloped potatoes. I guess there is a Mennonite sausage smuggler who sources these things! It is a fine evening of laughter and story-telling. Chris is a good cook. The Neufelds are excellent hosts.

I drive back home via a different route — basically zip right up along Ironwood Road all the way to the 60. No traffic issues now — these retired snowbirds all go to bed by 8:30.

When I get home I feel a bit bad about not getting much done today — especially as it pertains to my blog. So I will try again. Shoot! the internet is down. (What else is new — it’s the same Mediacom flaky service that I endured when we were here in previous years.) Oh well, I tried. Might as well go to bed. So I do.

And Ken makes it a foursome

Monday. You know it’s going to be a red-letter day when it begins with bacon and eggs. As Robert and I were enjoying our morning coffee it was clear that Robert’s lower back was giving him some serious discomfort. What to do? I wondered if Robert would or should be golfing today, but he insisted he’d be fine. I suggested a combination of pain killer and muscle relaxant. He agreed. I volunteered to the drugstore for some Robaxacet if he would fry up bacon and eggs for breakfast. Deal.

When I asked the pharmacist for some Robaxacet he looked at me and said, “Maybe in Canada, but not here.” What? “You can’t buy that without a prescription in the USA.” Huh? But this is the land of the free and the home of the brave. “Yes, and our scientists develop the drugs and then you Canadians make generic copies and sell it for cheap.” His tone was one of derision. I returned without the remedy. Robert was gracious and made bacon and eggs anyway.

Can you sit up if I press down here?

It seems that Robert has more resources that he can draw on in such a situation. That iPad of his soon connected with family ‘experts’ who prescribed a series of exercises that should loosen up those tight muscles. Robert recited the instructions and Arlene got into the act, helping him with his stretches.

I got a text message from Ken Loewen. When he learned that we had a 1:38 pm tee time he messaged back that he was at the Mexican border but would try to be here in time to join us. I called the golf course and added a fourth to our group booking. Great!

In the mean time Robert had called the Gold Canyon Golf Resort spa, and was off for a massage treatment before lunch. He returned feeling MUCH better. Things were looking up.

Robert made sandwiches to take along and we headed to the course. We were just registering when Ken pulled up. He’d parked his motorhome at an RV park in Mesa and was here and ready for a game of golf. The sun was shining warmly and there wasn’t a breath of wind. Things are definitely looking up!

Robert on the fairway, while a very bright red-orange bird tweets away in the branch above.

Each of us shot some great shots and mixed in a few not-so-good as well. The course was busy — it’s spring break in some states and provinces, and this is definitely ‘high season’ here in Gold Canyon. We often had to wait for the group ahead, but we enjoyed the day and all finished the day with ‘decent’ if not great scores. 

After the game Robert asked one of the cart boys for a supper recommendation; he directed us to the Hub Grill in Mesa. We got into our vehicles and drove a few miles down Baseline Road and found the pub in a corner strip mall. 

She really wanted to sell me a pedicure! Maybe next time. I had no idea you could get a nail ‘rebuilt’!

When we pulled into the parking lot I noticed a ‘Nail Salon’ in the same strip mall. I had torn my thumbnail on the edge of the cup when I reached in to retrieve a putt, and I was worried that the nail would tear further unless I could ‘glue’ it back together. So while the group waited for a table, I had a lovely Filipino girl repair my nail — not just ‘glue’ it, but totally rebuild it! Who knew?

We enjoyed quesadillas and craft beers and conversation in the comfortable night air. Then we said goodnight to Ken, who was going back to his motorhome while we headed back home. 

It really wasn’t very late, so I selected a movie for us to watch (“I, Tonya”) while we sipped our evening glass of port. Unfortunately I am unable to give a proper ‘review’ of the movie since I only saw the beginning and the very end of it. The Dycks both claimed to have enjoyed it. I guess I will need to re-view it sometime. For now, I stumbled up the stairs to the bedroom and continued the snooze I’d begun in the living room. A good day; and good-night!