Snowbirds take off

We left the house by 5:30am. Dragged the garbage to the street — the neighbours will look after our house again this winter. I left the water main on — unfortunately the Krentz boys will be in our house this coming week to fix the water issue under the sunroom, so Nathan will close down the water once they are done.

We have a long day of driving ahead of us: We want to get to Gold Canyon by Wednesday afternoon so we can make it for a planned BBQ with the Bishops at the house we’ve rented in Gold Canyon. The Bishops are leaving for home on Thursday so that is when we will take possession of their house. We’ve pre-booked our hotels for the next 3 nights (something we NEVER do!). We have 13 hours to get to North Platte, Nebraska tonight. Then another 9.5 hours to Albuquerque, New Mexico for night number 2. Then 6.5 hours to the Best Western in Gold Canyon, Arizona.

This whole business of renting a house from the Bishops has a back story as well. We had actually planned to go to Texas for our winter get-away this year. Then Jill approached us and offered her house in Gold Canyon to us for Nov-January. Too good a deal to pass up. So we agreed. Our kids booked Allegiant Air tickets so they could join us here for their 2-week Christmas break. We were all looking forward to it. The Driedgers would be in Gold Canyon in their own rented home for January and February. Ed and Val would be at their Gold Canyon home for a month in mid-November and again in February. We would try to find a second Phoenix-area location for February and March, and we hoped there might even be a possibility of Jill’s house being available for those months. All set. And then we left for a month-long bicycle trip along the Danube with our friends Ed and Millie. We were set to return home on October 9, have 3 weeks to get ready for 5 months in Arizona, beginning November 1.

We were one week into our cycling trip when we got an email from Jill: “Due to our own requirements we will NOT be renting out our home this winter. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.” What?!? I fired an email right back: “Yes, this is VERY inconvenient! What happened? Any suggestions? Any chance we can at least have your place for November while we try to find an alternative?” No reply. What have we done? What has happened? And now we’re in another timezone, pedalling our bikes all day every day, and sketchy internet access at best in the little ‘gasthauses’ we stay at each night. NINE days later we finally get another email from Jill. “Due to our own requirements we will NOT be renting out our home this winter. No, I do not know of any other rental possibilities for you. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.” That was it. Well, we could only imagine what circumstances might have changed our relationship so quickly. And now we are screwed. We can’t find anything while we’re on the bike trip, so we’ll have to scramble once we get home — maybe even just drive down to Phoenix and stay in a hotel while we look for something. Our kids have booked their flights to Mesa — we pretty much have to have something in that area that will work for us at Christmas.

And then one night, while searching kijiji using my phone and another poor internet connection in an Austrian hotel, I found the posting for the Bishops’ home in Gold Canyon. I sent an email to them: “Very interested. Two seniors, very neat, like to cycle, golf, and go for walks.” And they responded that they too were currently in Europe, but we should call them when we got home. Which we did. And we met them at their home in Winnipeg!! and made the deal.

So it’s early morning as we leave Steinbach. Well, not as early as we had thought — for the past couple of weeks Sue and I have been waking up at around 3am — the effects of jetlag from our Danube cycling trip. But THIS morning we need our alarm to wake us up at 4:30. Our ‘new’ Honda van was packed to the gills — we’ve NEVER taken this much stuff with us before. But as we headed down Hwy 59 I was pleased to note that there was no clanking and rattling behind me. We were watching our ‘new’ built-in Honda GPS as we took the turnoff to Hwy 23 to Morris. Oh, oh. Detour. Oh no! now had to drive a gravel road back up to Aubigny, then cross the Red River, and back down on the 75 through Morris. An hour wasted and we weren’t even across the border. At the border I expected at least a bit of a wait, enough for me to swap my MTS SIM card out of my phone and put in my new Roam-Mobility ‘Snowbird Plan’ SIM card. But no, there’s no wait. Partially dismantled phone in hand, I pull up to the customs gate. “When is the last time either of you have been arrested?” What? “How much cash do you have? Any fruits or vegetables?” None. “None?” Oh wait, we have a couple of oranges and bananas. Unimpressed look on the agent’s face. “Any rice?” Oh, oh. We’ve been here before. Yes, a small bag of basmati rice. “Pull up to gate number 4. The inspector there will return your passports to you.” I pull into the garage, phone in hand. The inspector tells us to open the tailgate and get out of the van. He looks at me holding my phone in my hand and asks, accusingly, “Are you recording this?” I sheepishly put my phone and open SIM card tray back on the console of the van. So once again, Sue and I are sitting in a small closed-off room while a customs inspector rummages through my carefully-packed (and I mean PACKED) van. Nice way to start off a long day of driving! Finally, rice-less, we continue on our way.

We stopped for gas and a McDonald’s “breakfast” in Fargo. Weather was cold but the roads were great. After breakfast Sue took a turn at the wheel. Good thing, too, because around that time I had a serious nosebleed. Wouldn’t stop. Big wads of blood-soaked paper towel in the empty chip bag on the floor. Don’t know how this will turn out — hopefully I don’t have to go to the doctor and get a blood vessel cauterized. After a late, late lunch, I returned to the driver’s seat. We drove across South Dakota, and turned south, squinting into the setting sun before arriving at our hotel in North Platte after dark. Didn’t even check in — just registered and then headed straight for an Applebee’s to watch Monday Night Football. Saw opening kickoff and ordered our supper. The game was a terrible disappointment — my Giants (3-5) played horribly and lost 40-24 to the Colts (6-3). By halftime we had seen enough and headed back to our hotel. Watched the rest of the game and then fell asleep and slept well. It had been a long and tiring Day One of this trip.

North Platte to Albuquerque

Left our hotel at 6:30, heading west toward Denver. Our new Honda GPS wasn’t quite jiving with our old trusty Garmin, so we ignored both of them and turned south at Brush (before Denver) and took a quiet two-lane highway down towards Limon. We continued south, stopping at a Sonic drive-in for a burger in Rocky Ford, Colorado. The road was great. We came into Albuquerque once again fighting the sun in our eyes at around supper time — rush hour. We checked in at the same Best Western we’ve now used for several earlier trips through Albuquerque. Nachos and a cold beer (hey, those Fort Garry beers I put in the cooler before leaving home sure are a nice treat) and then walked across the parking lot to the Village Inn for supper. Back in our hotel room we opted NOT to watch the reporting from the US mid-term elections (Republicans won the Congress and the Senate in an anti-Obama vote), and watched a couple of HBO talk shows instead (John Oliver and Bill Maher). Fell asleep early. One more day of driving ahead.

Route 60

After an almost leisurely breakfast at the Best Western in Albuquerque, we stepped outside into the clean, sunny, almost warm 10 degree air and pointed our van westward. We decided to take a route into Gold Canyon that we’d not done before: We left Interstate 40 just before Grants, New Mexico, and headed south through the El Malpais National Monument and Conservation area. What gorgeous scenery! Almost like Sedona. Once again, simple two-lane highway, virtually no traffic, and interesting sights. Quite a bit of climbing on Hwy 60 up to Show Low and Globe, and then down into the valley towards “home”. And by 4:00 we could see the familiar profile of Superstition Mountain, and, as we got closer to Gold Canyon, Dinosaur and Silly Mountain too. An odd feeling of “home”. We stopped at Bashas to pick up some beer and wine to bring to the Bishops for supper, then checked into the Best Western on King’s Ranch Road. We called the Bishops to confirm — we’d be about 15 minutes late for our 5pm supper. I called Sue’s brother Dave for an update about our sunroom issue back home. I’d received a few photos of the project from one of the Krentz guys, who had called Dave to come take a look as well. Now Dave explained what they found and how they had ‘fixed’ the leak. It sounds like everything went better than expected. That’s a relief.

We changed into shorts and sandals, YES, shorts and sandals! Then we drove around the corner, through the security gate, and parked on the driveway of our ‘new’ Gold Canyon home. The Bishops met us at the door — they were very friendly and greeted us warmly. And the place? Well, for all the ‘what-ifs’ and fears and trepidations we’d worried about in the last couple of weeks, the place was perfect. Exactly what it looked like in the photos. And the Bishops made us feel quite at home.

We toured the outside of the house. The Bishops had spent much of the past two weeks painting the outside, 2 coats, hard work — but they had the tans to show for it. And it looks like new. Inside, the extra bedroom closets are empty, ready for visitors. The Sony TV in the living room has Shaw cable hooked up, lots of sports channels including Jets games. Susan was cooking in the kitchen, and ended up barbecuing the chicken because John was too busy showing me around. We enjoyed a delicious supper, visited a bit, discussed plans for the next 5 months. We left just before 8pm — they gave us the keys to the place, and we’re welcome to move in after they leave tomorrow afternoon at around 2:00.

Back in our room at the Best Western, we opened up the balcony door to let in some cooler Arizona air and shared our last Fort Garry beer from home. Fell asleep early. Tomorrow we’ll wile away the morning after a breakfast in the hotel. Maybe we’ll go to the Fruit and Vegetable Market in Apache Junction before going back to the house and moving in.

We’ve moved in

Sue actually switched on the A/C last night! We had a leisurely breakfast at the Best Western in GC and then went back to our room. Sue was already making a shopping list while I updated my journal. At around 11 we checked out and walked down the road to the Wells Fargo bank. We opened up an account there and now we each have a debit card that we will use for our stay here. Well, you’d think that all we had to do was hand over a cheque to deposit in the bank and we’d be good to go — oh no, that whole business of ‘opening up an account’ took us nearly 2 hours!

After a quick lunch at the Subway it was 2:00 and time to ‘move in’ to our home on Flint Drive. That took us all afternoon — Sue put away all the clothes, the groceries, the toiletries. I put our bikes together, sorted out the golf clubs and bags, put my ‘office’ chair together and set up the old card table we’d brought along from home to use as my ‘computer desk’. Got all the electronic devices configured and connected — looks like it will work just fine. Our place is quite a bit brighter than our previous place in Gold Canyon and it ‘feels’ warmer.

Sue sent me out to pick up chinese food and some bread and peanut butter for tomorrow’s breakfast (okay, the chinese is for TODAY’S supper!) so I did that. After a ‘great’ supper of spicy shrimp and fried rice I sat down to watch Thursday Night Football. The game was over by halftime so I did my best to find a CBC channel so we could watch The National. Yikes, too many channels — and I had quite a time finding the “At Issue” panel. But I did. And I fell asleep on the couch before it was over. Sue hied me off to bed. First night in our new home — man, it’s quiet, an almost full moon lighting up the dark streetlight-free street. Feels good.


Woke up early (what else is new?) and checked things on my computer. We had a moment of panic when it appeared that an important part of my Aeropress coffee maker had been forgotten at home — but then it ‘appeared’ in the coffee grinder basket. So we enjoyed a great cup of coffee — hadn’t had that for quite a few days. Sue had TWO cups, shakes be damned.

By 10am Sue had reworked her massive grocery list for the seventh time and it was time to get outta here. We headed to the Fresh Fruit Market and checked off most of the fruits and vegetables on our list. Next stop, the Dollar Store, to get a few ‘serving trays’ and other kitchen thingys that were not in the house. And then to Fry’s, the big discount grocer. The van was full by the time we got home for a late 2 o’clock lunch. We took our sandwiches out to the shade on the patio and relaxed.

After lunch Sue continued to pack away groceries. I tried to set up the remotes for the garage door and the security to work with the ‘HomeLink’ buttons in the van. I finally got the garage door to work, but no luck with the security gate. Then I took the van to the car wash. Back at the house I finished the job by scrubbing the bugs off the front bumper and license plate by hand.

At around 4:30 we decided to go for a walk to Mountain Brook Golf Course. The sun was low in the sky — it gets dark really early and really quickly here — and we’d have to hurry to be back before dark. We had some trouble getting out of our gated community — I hadn’t taken the little fob along, and assumed that if we walked up to the exit gate it would open, just like it does for the car. Nope. We danced around and stamped our feet like idiots, but couldn’t open the gate. Just when it looked like we’d have to jump OVER the fence, I tried to squeeze THROUGH the grille. Hmmm, I guess all that cycling this fall has paid off — I fit through the gate.

First stop was the Gold Canyon Golf Resort to pick up the discount passes I’d bought online. All good. Free driving range anytime and one free round at either Sidewinder or Dinosaur included. Great. I’ll be able to take a few clubs, walk from our house across the main drag and be at the driving range for an hour every day if I choose.

Sunset on the armpitsThe sun was already reflecting gold and red off of Superstition Mountain as we headed down the road to Mountain Brook. It was actually quite a long walk! By the time we got to the golf course the shadows were long and the parking lot was nearly empty. The pro shop looked closed, but there was a guy vacuuming and the door was open. We asked about a twilight 9-hole walking rate. Oh yeah, no problem, $20.00, anytime after 3pm. Do we need to make a booking for tomorrow? No, just show up at around 2:30 and I’ll get you on. Great!

We walked back home in the dark. Looks like lots of folks are having a garage sale tomorrow — we’ll cycle around and look for a lounger for Sue.

Leftover Chinese for supper. Then we spent about an hour going through the thousand channels, Sue writing down where we might find the ones we’ll want to watch so we don’t waste all our time flipping through the guide. Watched the CBC National. Then Bill Maher on HBO, although I missed that — fell asleep on the couch. Went to bed at 10.

Mountain Brook — Our old stompin’ grounds

Bacon and eggs — it must be Saturday. I had my first coffee shortly after 6am while Sue did her best to try to catch a few winks in the morning after not falling asleep until after 3. I watched the sun come up. Sue finally got out of bed and made us bacon and eggs. Then we had a FaceTime call from the kids — which was great! Good connection, and Max seemed quite interested in watching a tour of our place here.

We wanted to get an early start today — it’s ‘garage sale’ day here — but when we finally got all ready to go I noticed a problem with Sue’s bike and had to fix that first. We cycled around Mountain Brook — we were sort of looking for a lounger for Sue to enjoy in the sun in our backyard. We were also looking for some different cutlery — the cutlery here is VERY basic. So we scouted out the garage sales. And, although it seemed that most people were winding things down, having sold stuff yesterday and early this morning, we still managed to find the things we were looking for. Sue bought a serving tray, a lounger, and I bought (another) golf pull-cart. Then we went to an ‘estate sale’ we’d heard about — and there we found some pretty good cutlery and another lounger. So we hurried home and traded our bikes for the van and went back to collect our purchases.

sue_with_clubsWe had lunch at around 1pm. Sue had a bit of a snooze while I sorted out our golf clubs and balls. Then, at 2:30, we headed to Mountain Brook. Not a lot of golfers out today, in spite of the great weather! 30 degrees, sunny. I put some lotion on my schnoss and Sue bought a snazzy new ‘Mountain Brook’ visor. Then off we were. No one ahead of us, no one behind. Started off not so hot. But a crazy feeling of deja vu as we walked the front nine — this is where we first started to golf 4 years ago and it felt eerily familiar.

rudy_at_the_teeWe were finished in record time; probably a bit TOO early! It was really too early for us to head to the Hitching Post to pick up a pizza. Plus, we really wanted to have a gin and tonic and watch the sun go down, but we didn’t have any gin. So we went to Bashas and bought a bottle and a pre-fab uncooked pizza. Back at the Flint house we had a sundowner and watched the sun paint Superstition Mountain. It was beautiful outside — a coolish breeze blew in from the east just as the sun set. Then I showered and Sue cooked the pizza. After supper we sat ourselves down in front of the TV and watched a movie.

NFL Sunday – what channels do we get?

I got out of bed at around 4:30 and read my blogs and made coffee while Sue snoozed for a few more hours. By 7 we were having our toast and fruit. We had another visit with Max in the morning — he seems quite happy to talk on FaceTime. We drank our coffee and watched CBS Sunday Morning. Sue went to sit outside while I watched some pre-game NFL talk shows. Because we’re an hour ahead of Steinbach, but our Shaw on-screen TV Guide is on ‘Steinbach’ time, I had to try to figure out which NFL games we could watch and when. By 11:00 I was ready for a day of football. We probably should have gone to the Cardinals’ game here in Phoenix — they played the Rams and won, even though they lost their quarterback to a season-ending injury. But my Giants were playing the Seahawks at the same time and although I didn’t have much hope for them — you never know! Well, now I know. Another blowout! Although not as bad as the Bears were blown-out by the Packers in the Sunday night game! By halftime we switched over to 60 Minutes, and by the time the CBC National News was on I had already dozed off a few times.

We Can’t Shop Like This Everyday!

After morning toast and fruit I loaded my bike into the van and we went to the Santan Village Shopping Center in Gilbert, about 25 miles from our place. I took my bike to a bike shop there to have the chain replaced. Then, while the guy repaired my bike, Sue and I went to the Costco nearby. Yikes. A short grocery list doesn’t work at a place like that! Even the shopping carts are so oversized that you feel like a little kid pushing them around the maze of double-wide aisles. So we walked out with huge ‘econo-size’ containers of things. The van was full! After a quick lunch we went back to pick up the bike. Then a stop at Total Wine. More ‘deals’. I loaded up on Pilsner Urquell, the Czech beer we had on our European bike trip. On the way back home we made yet another stop. A ‘Super’ Target store. Sue bought a few more toiletries and I found the extension cords I wanted to get.

Hole #9 at Mountain Brook Golf CourseBack at home Sue barely had time to carve up the massive hunks of pork from Costco and put away the groceries while I strung our living room wall lamps together with those afore-mentioned extension cords. We had to hurry to get to Mountain Brook for our 3:00 tee time. We needn’t have hurried. We still finished before the shadows were too long to find our ball — although, as you can see from the photo, by the last hole the mountain was looking pretty good.

Back at the ranch Sue got supper ready — our first barbecue — and then I watched Monday Night Football (another blow-out) while Sue visited on the phone. After the news and a bit of late night talk shows (yeah, we’re managing to stay up past 9:00pm) we went to bed.

Veteran’s Day

sue_on_hikeThat’s what they call Remembrance Day here in the U.S. I started off the morning working on the MTG website. Then Sue declared that if we’re going to go for a hike today we’d better go now, before it gets too hot. We put on our hiking boots and went up the little hill (Vista Point?) behind our house. There were a few marked paths going up. It’s not a very long climb. But, amazingly, the view from up there is pretty impressive. We can see Sidewinder Golf Course, Peralta, and lots of desert with mountains in the distance.

Well, that was hardly a workout. Let’s go for a bike ride. Our old ‘loop’ around Gold Canyon. Which we did. My new chain and cassette on the bike was a bit of a disappointment as it still clunked with every turn of the pedals. I’ll have to make a return trip to the bike shop.

sue_on_bikeIt was lunch time by the time we got home. After lunch we doddled around — Sue made sauce for the spaghetti supper for tonight, I played on the computer. Then we used the clothes line I’d bought to re-string the old lounger we got on the garage sale. I fixed up the water line from the sink to the fridge and stabbed my finger in the process. Happy hour, with a bit of putting on our putting green. Supper. Skype call from Mom. (Now they’ve got snow and cold at home. My sister Linda from BC is coming for a visit on Thursday.)

What’s on TV? Hey, half the channels we got on Sunday are now ‘unavailable’! What’s with that? How does that work? Finally Sue put one of the DVDs from the collection into the player. It’s Complicated. Well, not really. I fell asleep by halftime, woke up once for part of the news, was in bed just before 10. Oh boy, this is getting ridiculous.

Getting ‘fixed up’

Going for a walkWhile I went for my first golf clinic at Mountain Brook today, Sue went to get her hair done. First Sue dropped me off at the golf course for 9 am. As we’re unloading the clubs, another Manitoba car pulls up behind us and the guy says something about ‘Steinbachers’. It’s Brian Reimer, Bob Kehler, and Vic Reimer — and they’re golf here this morning. No, I’m not golfing — I’m going to try the ‘Fairway woods and hybrids’ clinic. There are 5 of us who will get a 90 minute lesson from Curt Miles, the resident pro and co-manager of this golf club. And it’s helpful, although I’ll have to wait and see how it pays off in a real game.

After my lesson I waited for Sue to come pick me up. When she arrived she was in a hurry to get to her 11 o’clock appointment for a haircut at a salon near Bashas. So she dropped me off on King’s Ranch Road and took off for her appointment. And as soon as I’d walked about 10 steps I realized that I didn’t have a key to get into the house. Shoot! Well, I took my time walking, and ended up sitting in the shade in our backyard, waiting for Sue to come home. Which she did, an hour and a half later. Well, both of us had had a successful morning — Sue’s got her hair fixed, I got my golf swing fixed.

After lunch I did a couple of computer jobs for Koop. Sue went to the pool. Mid-afternoon our Amazon order arrived — books for Sue, coffee filters and new guitar strings for me. Just before sunset we went for a walk, to Walgreen’s and back. Sue had a lot to talk about — she hadn’t been able to read at all at the pool because of the entertaining conversations she’d overheard at the pool.

After supper we watched some TV. By 9pm I was drifting off pretty regularly. Sue too. She went to bed, I went to work on the computer — did that from 10 to midnight and then had a bit of trouble falling asleep.

Thursday Night Football at the Hitching Post

I worked on the Prov project for Koop for a couple of hours in the morning. Sue did laundry. Then we went for a bike ride — ‘our loop’ with a detour through Mountain Brook. After lunch I restrung my guitar while Sue finished doing laundry and went to the pool. I wanted to try an antenna on our bedroom TV but I need a cable adaptor — a project for another day. After sundowners and a bit of putting in the backyard we had supper (shrimp) and I thought I’d watch Thursday Night Football. Oh no, now we don’t get Sportsnet on our Shaw! So I emailed the Bishops and headed out to the Hitching Post, a pizzeria and bar just across the road from Vista Point (our ‘community’). Yep, they had about 6 TVs showing the game. There were about 4 tables with customers, and a couple of guys sitting at the bar discussing the Buffalo Bills of days gone by. I sat down at the bar and ordered a Bud! I fit right in! No sound. Well, no TV sound. Everyone is looking up at the big flat screen TVs but way back in the far corner of the restaurant, far removed from any occupied tables, stands a sad-looking weary old ‘cowpoke’, holding a guitar and singing along with a ‘karaoke’ soundtrack. One table applauds sympathetically after each ‘song’. So I’m listening to the football fans next to me with one ear, focussing on the TV, and trying not to cringe too much every time old Hank there goes for one of those high lonesome wails! An email from the Bishops hints that they are going to try to get my channels back for me. I ‘facetime’ call Sue to find out if there’s any luck with our TV. Yes! By now the game looks like it will be an easy win for Miami, and I pay for my beer and walk back home. A million stars but it’s dark as pitch out here in this unlit development. Back home the game is on TV, although not in HD. Oh well, neither of these teams deserve HD. Sue makes an ice cream concoction with our Costco-sized barrel of Grand Marnier and the day ends on a happy note. No, EVERY day here ends on a happy note.

Meet the Peterses

rudy_on_silly_mtnWe wanted to go hiking Silly Mountain at 10, but were delayed by an old guy who spotted our Manitoba license plate on our driveway and came over to visit with us for about half an hour. We parked on the Silly Mountain parking lot and hiked up. Just like old times. When we got to the highest point I tried to Skype Mom — and although it rang and she tried to answer, our connection wasn’t good enough to talk, much less show her ‘the view’. So I took a couple of photos and sent them to her later. We walked for just over an hour and then hurried home to have a quick lunch. We sat outside for lunch, and then I skyped Mom again — Linda was there visiting, and so I gave them a look at our backyard.

sue_on_silly_mtnAfter a quick shower I had to hurry out of the house to get to the golf course at Mountain Brook for the 1:15 tee time with Ed and Art Peters. The two Peters couples had arrived in Gold Canyon late last night — Art and Wendy will be staying with Ed and Val for a week. Sue had already decided NOT to join us today since we’re golfing the same course tomorrow with Robert and Arlene and she didn’t think she needed the extra practice.

Ed and Art were already on the driving range. I got my own cart and after quick hellos we headed out to the tee at Hole number 1. The golfing was good. Not so hot today — in fact it’s cloudy for the first time since we arrived here a week ago. My game was pretty good — parred the first hole and finished the front nine with a 45. Not quite that good on the back nine — shot a 53 for a total of 98. Had fun. Finished before the sunset.

We invited the Peterses to come over for a drink — which they did. When I got home the phone was ringing (Brigitta), then Alex and Max FaceTimed, and then I see I’ve missed a phone call from Arlene who has just arrived in Gold Canyon today. Busy place! Oh well, we’ll catch up.

The visitors left at around 7. We barbecued cheeseburgers and watched TV. Went to bed tired.

Golfing with the Dycks

robert_at_the_teeBacon and eggs for breakfast. We met Robert and Arlene at Mountain Brook Golf Course for our 1:15 tee time. The day was perfect, weather-wise. And golf was good too — no one chasing us, no one to wait for ahead of us. Good thing too, because we were not always taking the shortest route to the pin. And we were VISITING — tough to continue a ‘story’ when you have to chase your ball all over the course.
sue_and_arlene_at_mtn_brookAfter golf the Dycks came to our place for supper and we continued our visiting until we all were too tired to say anything more than ‘good night’. Tomorrow again.

A Change of Plans

We THOUGHT we were going for a little hike with Robert and Arlene this afternoon — but that all changed when we got a text message this morning. Arlene has injured her ankle during their morning walk and she and Robert are sitting at the Urgent Care Clinic waiting to see a doctor!


We watched our Sunday Morning shows — and skyped with Alex and Max for a while. At 11 o’clock the football games started. That’s what I did all day — watched the Vikings and the Giants both lose, and the Packers and the Patriots both win. OUCH! Well, at least the Arizona Cardinals continue to win and at least the Bengals beat the Saints, and the Chiefs beat the Seahawks. I guess I’ll cheer for the Cardinals.

Sue hung out at the pool all afternoon — finished reading the Miriam Toews ‘Puny Sorrows’ book.

Looks like Arlene will be laid up in the motorhome until at least Tuesday afternoon, when she will see a specialist and find out what’s next for her ankle. At least for now, hiking and golfing is out for her.

Hiking, Shopping, Golfing

Robert_and_Rudy_on_Silly_MtnAfter breakfast we picked up Robert at the motorhome and headed out to Silly Mountain for a hike. Another nice day here. We had to hurry our morning a bit because Robert and I were going to join Ed and Art at Mountain Brook for a 1:15 tee time. shopping_at_the_marketplaceAfter our hike we headed out to Apache Junction to the Fresh Fruit Market to do a bit of grocery shopping. Then we skipped the trip to the grocery store and hurried back home to have lunch and get ready for our afternoon golf game.
Sue went to the grocery store and then to visit Arlene in the motorhome in the afternoon. The boys golfed. Started off not that great, but by the time we got to the last two holes we had shot some good holes. And by the time we got to the last two holes it was getting quite dark, and quite cool. Jackets came out. If we’d packed flashlights we might have hauled those out too.
Robert headed home and I joined Ed and Art for the walk back to Ed’s place for supper. Sue was already there — actually, she was there BEFORE Val and Wendy got back from their own afternoon of shopping! We had a fine supper with the Peters couples — and I probably overdid it with my tale of ‘almost sailing’. (Art and Wendy are planning to go sailing in the BVI this February. Robert and Arlene and the group are going in late December. Seems like we’re the only ones NOT going!) We got home just before 11:00 and after a bit of channel surfing we went to bed.

Cables and casts

Sue and I went for a bike ride in the morning. After lunch Sue went to the pool to read and I ‘went shopping’ for TV antenna stuff. By happy hour I was deep into stringing up coax cable and scanning for digital TV signals. I had hoped to get the big TV in the bedroom hooked up, but I need a digital converter for that — so my little computer room TV is now sitting on the ledge in the bedroom closet. BUT IT WORKS! NBC, PBS, FOX, CBS, and a bunch of Spanish channels all come in crystal clear, better than cable! Happy days — no, happy nights, because now I can fall asleep to the sound of Jimmy Fallon’s crappy jokes.

Arlene sporting her new walking castAfter supper we were sitting and watching TV (and I was now trying to get the living room TV hooked up to an antenna as well!) when we had a text message from Arlene — happy days, no surgery, got a walking cast, having dinner at the mexican restaurant behind Bashas. Great news. The Dycks came by after dinner and we had drinks and conversation until it was time for the aforementioned Jimmy Fallon to joke me to sleep. Which he did.

Battling with the Dinosaur

Art, Ed, Robert, and Rudy
Art, Ed, Robert, and Rudy
Spent part of the morning cleaning up stuff in the garage. Worked on the newsletter project for Koop. Had to hurry lunch so I would be ready for our 1:00 tee time at Dinosaur Golf Course. Robert and Arlene arrived at our house at 12:30 — Sue and Arlene would while away the afternoon reading at the pool. Robert and I met Ed and Art and their wives at the golf course. We hit a few balls on the driving range (turned out that I wasted ALL my good shots there!) and then rode our carts up to the tee blocks at Hole #1. Rudy’s up first. Ka-BANG! The ball flies low into a cactus bush. Mulligan. Ka-BANG #2. The ball slices right over the nearby hill of desert bushes. Hmmm… off to a rip-roaring start!

As the afternoon progressed I became more and more convinced that the spectacular scenery on this course is in fact a HUGE distraction. I was losing at least one ball per hole. I was seeing A LOT of the course — WAY more than Robert, whose drives were ALWAYS straight and on the fairway (and hardly saw any of the interesting flora and fauna that I was discovering along the way). Well, as I so often say (lie?) after a game like that, ‘I may not have had a GOOD game, but I had FUN’.

We said adieu to Art and Wendy — they’re heading home tomorrow — and went back to our house. After drinks and a short skype with Alex and Max, we got the barbecue going. Robert checked on the pork and Sue apologized for the potatoes. Arlene rested her cast on an upside-down pail and I talked way too much. After bidding goodnight to the Dycks we barely made it into bed before sleep overcame us.

(Thanks to Ed Peters for the great photo!)

Walmart on Bike

I worked on the newsletter all morning. I had bought two TV antennas at Walmart a couple of days ago — one for $10 and one for $45. Since the $10 one worked so well (actually, a makeshift coax cable worked quite well!) I needed to return the other antenna. So after lunch I tied the box onto the carrier on my bike and Sue and I cycled into Apache Junction to return it. The shoulder on Hwy 60 has been repaved almost all the way to Apache Junction so the ride was quite easy. No wind. Got to Walmart and stood in line at the ‘Customer Service’ for a while. After the refund we cycled back home. Had a shower and a quick ‘sundowner’ drink. Then just after 5 we went to the ‘trailer park’ to the Dycks for dinner. The evenings are cooling off! Robert had correctly guessed that Sue really wanted barbecued salmon and it was delicious. After supper Robert found the Thursday Night Football game on TV. We got home just in time to see the Raiders win their first game in over a year, shocking the KC Chiefs. Wow.

The Silly, The Scary, and The Sublime

Not in that order.

Had a lazy morning. Sue phoned almost all her friends all morning. I phoned my mom and dad. Fiddled a bit more with my TV antenna — I now get NINETEEN channels over the air, originating from Tucson, some are even in English! After lunch Robert came by and we drove out to the parking lot at Superstition. It was a bit cloudy, not too hot, perfect for a hike. So, instead of NO photos today, I have a whole gallery!

We decided to go out for pizza and a movie on our descent. When we got home and checked the movie times online I realized the movie I had chosen wasn’t even being shown until mid-December. Plan B. Sue chose another movie — “Gone Girl” — a movie she’d seen before and thought we would all find entertaining. The showtimes for “Gone Girl” meant we would have to hurry to the pizza place, eat an early supper, then get to the theatre in time for the 6:30 show. We called the Dycks and it was arranged.

Line up at the Organ Stop PizzaWe’d heard about the Organ Stop Pizza place from others who had been there. I was a little leery about it, but I figured we should at least check it out. It had been described as a big pizza restaurant built around a huge Wurlitzer organ, with hourly performances. When we got there the sign said it opened at 5:00pm. We were 5 minutes early! And there was a lineup! This MUST be a good place!

Organ_Pizza_2Once inside all our worst fears were realized. After ordering at the counter (first your pizza, then another line for drinks, then another line for ice cream) we entered a large hall with rows of picnic tables and sat down to wait for our order number to appear on the overhead display. And while we were waiting for our number to come up, the show began! Up from the stage arose a over-sized ‘Liberace-style’ organ. The organist took requests and then played various movie themes and 80’s love songs accompanied by lights and pipes and drums and keyboards around the hall danced along. Chuck-E-Cheese for seniors!

Too bad we didn’t have time for the ice cream dessert! We had a movie to catch. We drove back along Hwy 60 to the Harkins movie theatre. Had to hurry there too — the theatre was almost full. Luckily Sue found us four seats in a row on the far left, row 2. And for the next two-and-a-half hours we lay back in our chairs, necks craned back, and watched “the most elegant, exquisitely made trash”. Twists and turns and sex and violence all rolled into one big beautiful entertainment package.

Robert delivered us to our place after the movie. Not too much discussion on the ride home — we would need some time to process all we had heard and seen tonight. We said goodnight and soon headed off to bed. Tomorrow’s Saturday — we’ll have bacon and eggs.

Back on (the) course

Spent most of the morning cropping my photos from the hieroglyphic hike into those cool ‘Arizona’ web banners. I had to hurry my lunch.

dycks-at-mtn-brookWhen we pulled into the parking lot at Mountain Brook Golf Course the Dycks’ little black rental car with the Texas plates was already there. We putted a bit and then headed to the tee blocks. While Arlene looked for meaning in her book of word searches the rest of us looked for pars and birdies. Robert continued to quietly hit his drives down the middle. Rudy and Sue both finished the front nine with 50s.

sue-at-the-teeAfter the turn Sue cranked it up a notch. An amazing TWO on the par three 14th hole helped put her at 4 over after 7 holes on the back nine. Unfortunately things came apart a bit on the final two holes. Still, even with an 8 on the final par 4, she finished with a 46 on the back nine — and so did Rudy! We golf together!

After the game we all went back to our house for chips and G&Ts. Lots of visiting — so much that I neglected my duties at the barbecue and got the cheeseburgers a bit crispy.

After the Dycks left I promptly fell asleep in front of the TV. What else is new?

so on the seventh day we rested…

sunday-morning-tvCrepes with fruit and great coffee for breakfast. Skyped with Alex and Max. Watched ‘our shows’ in the morning — CBS Sunday Morning and Fareed. In fact, I had to try to see over the top of those feet ALL DAY! Because we’re in Mountain Time Zone, Sunday afternoon NFL starts BEFORE NOON. And, as is becoming more and more the custom, pretty much ALL my teams lost again. If learning how to handle losing builds character I’ve got character to spare. The Lions got destroyed by the Patriots. Then (my ‘new’ adopted favorite team) the Arizona Cardinals lost to the Seahawks. And in between those games I checked the Winnipeg Jets hockey game during commercials — the Jets were winning 2-1 when I first flicked that way, but quickly fell behind as soon as they realized I was watching and ultimately lost another one. If I had had any interest at all in the CFL I could easily have influenced the Eastern and Western Finals — but I don’t even follow that league enough to know whom to ‘hex’. Sue called up Val and the two of them spent the afternoon ‘reading’ (not a page — too much to ‘discuss’) at the pool.

Beckham_catchAfter supper (leftovers) Sue joined me in the living room to watch Sunday Night Football. Cowboys at New York. Even though the Giants are more-or-less out of it, you gotta have hope. And what do you know — Manning and the offence was having a great game! In fact, Giants rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. made a ridiculous catch which put the Giants up 14-3 in the second quarter. Unfortunately the Giants’ defence couldn’t stop Dallas from ultimately winning the game 31-28.


Golfing at SidewinderIt was cool here this morning — too cool for a bike ride. So we went for a long walk instead, all the way to the end of Sleepy Hollow and back, about 1.5 hours. We got home just in time for lunch; we had a 12:30 tee time at the Sidewinder Golf Course just across the street from our place, and we need to be at the course by 12:15. Arlene was already well into her wordsearch by the time we’d loaded our clubs into the cart. We hit a few balls on the driving range and then we were off. Golfing at SidewinderOnce again it seemed that all my best shots were wasted on the driving range — or maybe it’s just that the driving range doesn’t have one of those little holes that you’re supposed to get the ball into. Or maybe it’s just that I’m not half as good as I think I am. Well, for sure I should NOT be trying to hit the ball out of the gravel.

After golf Val joined us and we all came to our house for happy hour. We were going to all meet at the Mexican restaurant behind Bashas, but when we got there we realized they are closed Mondays. Oh oh. Well, how about the Hitching Post? Ed and Val at the Hitching PostHey, they were open and they were busy! We really couldn’t even hear the two NFL games on the TV because the table next to ours was SO LOUD! To add to the din in the room, a young Stevie Nicks wanna-be was trying her best to ‘entertain’ from the corner. We washed down our food with a couple of pitchers of Arizona ‘Kilt Lifter’. Robert told us about how he got to be in the restaurant business. By 9:30 we were back home — and too tired to watch the news.

Adieu to the Dycks

We had another lazy day here. I had some web fix-ups to do in the morning. Sue was madly reading her book, hoping to finish it today. We were waiting to hear how Arlene’s visit with the doctor would go, and maybe go down to the Arboretum with the Dycks after that. At noon Robert emailed to invite us for happy hour and supper out — according to the doctor, Arlene’s ankle will be fine by the time they’re scheduled to go sailing just after Christmas, but I guess the ‘hike’ around the nature park is out. I looked for books to read in JP’s Dropbox and downloaded a few to my Kindle. Sue sat in the garage and read (we get the warm southern sun there in the afternoon). When she finally finished her book (“A House in the Sky”) we went for an hour-long walk. We got to the Dycks  at around 5:00 and after an hour of drinks and snacks we went to the Mexican restaurant for supper. The restaurant was busy — I guess being closed on Monday nights means folks here are extra hungry by Tuesday! We had a very fine evening, visiting with Robert and Arlene. They say they are packing up the motorhome bright and early tomorrow morning and heading out to Goodyear for a couple of days before leaving Arizona on Friday. We said our goodbyes at around 9:30. It’s been great spending time with them these past days — Arlene’s unfortunate ankle-break turned out to be a blessing when they decided to extend their stay here in Gold Canyon — and we’ll miss them.

Wednesday: Shopping and Golf

The Dycks have left. We read and computed in the morning. After lunch we went to Mountain Brook — Sue hopped into Val’s van and the two of them headed out to Kierland Commons, a shopping mall up in Scottsdale. Ed and I golfed. We were teamed up with a couple of retired guys who had sold their homes and were now living permanently in their motorhomes — on the road. The visiting went better than my golf game, although by the time we were on the last two holes things seemed to improve. I guess it might have been because we HAD to hit our shots straight — it was too dark to see the flight of the ball and the only way we could find it was to drive down the fairway and hope to see it where we thought it had gone. Yikes. It’s getting dark early here — we can’t really golf after 5:30 anymore.

I gave Ed a ride back to his house and was just about to go in for a drink when Val and Sue drive up the driveway. So the Nikkels went home and had a lovely supper. Sue phoned Alex for a while and we watched last week’s episode of Frontline (AirPlay from the computer to the TV). After the CBC National News I was done. Off to bed.

Thanksgiving Day

Today is American Thanksgiving. Our mailbox is full of flyers advertising Black Friday Sales. It’s a big holiday here.

Rudy hiking on Silly MountainSue and I went for a hike up Silly Mountain in the morning. We parked the van at Bashas and walked ‘the old route’ behind Jill’s house, up the mountain. I found a ‘new’ way down from one of the trails — Sue wasn’t too impressed as she inched her way downward. It was another hot day here — probably too hot to golf. We stopped at Bashas on the way home and Sue picked up a roasted chicken (our turkey dinner) and a box of stuffing.

By the time we got home the first of three-in-a-row NFL games was already over half finished. The neighbour across the wash in the backyard was entertaining a few friends — we don’t see a lot of him otherwise. It’s a holiday today! Sue spent part of the afternoon taking that roasted chicken apart and getting her supper ready. I watched the second NFL game.

Ed, Val, and Sue toasting the Thanksgiving holidayThe Peters arrived at 5:30pm. Happy hour and snacks. More football. I played the Loudon Wainwright “Thanksgiving” song and took a photo of the table. Dinner was great — not turkey and ham, but close! We watched the evening football game and visited. Of course, my predictions for who would would today’s games were WRONG — ALL THREE GAMES! I certainly am learning how to be a good loser.

Said goodnight to Ed and Val at around 10:30 and went to bed feeling very thankful.

Friday Night at the Mall

Sue on her bicycleToday is Black Friday. A good day to stay away from shopping centers. Another warm day in Gold Canyon. Twenty eight degrees. A good day to go for a bike ride. We went for a spin around ‘our loop’ this morning. We think Superstition Mountain is almost as beautiful in the morning sunshine as it is at sunset. The ride felt great. We got home just after eleven — not quite time for lunch — maybe I should Skype my mom. Had a long Skype — showed Mom and Dad the house. Although I did my best to persuade her otherwise, Mom was convinced that we were NOT having a good time here. And anyway, we SHOULDN’T be enjoying ourselves — why don’t we just come home and take care of them and ‘be normal’. The usual. But it’s good to know that my parents are content where they are; they have a busy life socializing with friends and neighbours.

After lunch Sue went to the pool to read. I stayed home to do the same. Sue ended up napping more than reading and I spent most of the time at the computer — organizing photos from previous trips and ordering a new garage door keypad online.

We skipped happy hour and had an early supper. Then at 5:30 we hopped into the van and headed out to Mesa, to the Superstition Springs Mall. We ran around in Macy’s for almost an hour — tried on a few new pairs of shorts — and then got in the lineup at the cheap theatre for movie tickets. Wow! This place is rockin’! Not like it was a few years ago. When I finally got to the cashier she says the movie we want to see is ‘sold out’. Really? Well actually, almost sold out. Oh no. There isn’t really any other movie playing here right now that we want to see. We’ll take our chances and if we can’t find two seats together we’ll come back for a refund ($4.00). We hurry into the theatre and find three empty seats in a row about 5 rows from the front. Great. And for the next two and a half hours we sit there in that dark theatre and enjoy a movie. “The Judge”, starring Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall. It was a very good movie! We didn’t even need the little bag of smarties that Sue had packed in her purse to help us to stay awake. We didn’t NEED them — but we still ate them.

We got home in time for the CBC National and were in bed by eleven.

Saturday Routine

Bacon and eggs for breakfast. Skype with Max. We read for much of the day — sitting outside in the lounger or inside on the couch. We had talked about going to the Mesa Market this weekend, but when the time arrived we couldn’t think of anything that we really wanted to shop for so we stayed home instead. I finished my book (Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home by Laura and Lisa Ling). Sue is almost finished hers (The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion).

Rudy putting on Hole #2Just before 3:00 we packed up and went to the Mountain Brook golf course. I put our bags back on our pull carts and off we were — just like old times. Walking nine holes on ‘our’ course just before sunset. We both had mostly good shots but scored poorly. But the evening was lovely and although we often had to wait for the foursome ahead of us, we finished ‘early’. So we went back to the first hole and played 1, 2 and 9 again. And got to watch the sun setting against Superstition Mountain.

After golf we went to the ‘Great Wall’ Chinese restaurant at our corner and ordered takeout. While that was getting made we went across the road to Walgreens to pick up some things. Then home for supper. I’d picked up our first DVD from the Redbox in Walgreens. We watched “Begin Again” — sappy ‘tiet fedrief’. When it was over we switched to the PBS special on Peter, Paul, and Mary, which was quite a bit better than the movie.

Another Sunday on the couch

Sunday morning — watched our Sunday morning shows. I even missed an hour of Sunday NFL Countdown to watch Fareed, who had a special on “Innovators”, including a story on the Casper mattress. After that things went pretty much as they usually do. There were plenty of good games on the schedule today — and, as usual, most of the teams I was cheering for LOST! The New York Giants found a way to lose to the Jaguars (the Jaguars!) after being up by 3 touchdowns at the half. The Steelers lost to the Saints. Okay, the Vikings won, but they are out of it. And then my “new” favorite team, the Arizona Cardinals, lost to the Atlanta Falcons. Is that what happens when I start rooting for a team? A first place team proceeds to lose two in a row, and look like they may not even make the playoffs! Well, at least the Patriots lost, but they lost to the Packers!

After a full day of football we watched some news and went to bed. Oh, I forgot — today was the Grey Cup — but I don’t know who won. Actually, I don’t even know who was in it! Sad.

MNF at the Hitching Post

Went for a walk for an hour in the morning. When we got home we hopped into the van and headed out to the Fruit and Vegetable Market and loaded up. We stopped at Bashas on the way home and had a late lunch. Did some reading in the afternoon and Sue went to the pool. Then, after sunset, we found a flashlight and took a short walk to the Hitching Post restaurant across the main road. Same singer as last week. Maybe even the same customers. We ordered chicken strips and fries and watched the first half of the Monday Night game on TV. When we got home I watched the last half — a game that the Dolphins won over the Jets. Those NY Jets are just about as lousy as the Giants!

Golfing Longbow

I went to Mountain Brook in the morning — they were having a free ‘Demo Day’ where 4 or 5 golf club companies were showing their new products. I wanted to find a driver that would feel similar to Sue’s Callaway driver, which I have started using all the time. So I hit a bucket’s worth of balls with a new ‘Big Bertha’ — and it felt good. But I didn’t buy the club. Ed and Lyle showed up too. Lyle was hitting balls off the end of the driving range with an Adams driver! The day was cool and cloudy — really the first REAL cloudy day we’ve had here. But a good day to golf.

Ed and Lyle at LongbowI went home for lunch and left just after 12 noon to pick up the Peters boys. We drove out to the Longbow Golf Course. Ed bought a discount card which gave us each a $20 savings on green fees. We had a 1 o’clock tee time and probably got on a bit early. I managed to dribble my first shot just over the desert scrub onto the grass. Not a great start. I continued to make my way down the first fairway from side to side until I got to the green. I criss-crossed the green. Holed out the first hole with a nine. Well, at least my play made the Peters boys look like pros.

We wore sweaters all day and no sunglasses. And the course was very nice — so nice that airplanes were flying low overhead all the time. I don’t think my nephew Matt Penner would have been able to golf here at all — he’d be looking up too much. Actually, I was looking up a fair bit too — at least that’s the critique I got every time I shanked another shot! But things got better as the afternoon progressed. And anyway, we had fun.

By the time we were done we’d even had a few (a VERY few) droplets of rain. And the cloud cover made it seem darker than usual. All three of us ended up with respectable scores — I think I shot a 96, which is very good for me these days. I dropped the boys off at their house and headed home.

Supper was ready when I got home. After supper I watched the CBC news a few times. After Jon Stewart and Jimmy Fallon I went to bed.