And the road goes on forever...

Monday, December 29, 2008


We celebrated Christmas with our neighbors across the street, Bill and Rosemary, plus other neighbors Pete and Betty as we all gathered in Bill’s new home. Bill is a great chef and he outdid himself with a succulent turkey and ham topped with freshly made raspberry glaze. Of course, their “to die for kitchen” didn’t hurt the efforts at all either! They also graciously invited our tenants, Dallas and Lawanna and this couple from the Oregon beach melded seamlessly with the group.

The next morning bright and early Marc (with help from Dallas) decided it was time to drain and move the spa onto its new pad. Refilled, we had to wait a day for the water to heat up enough again to use it. We have made it our new habit to spend every morning early dipping our old bones.

Last evening, antsy to try out his new barbecue Marc finally made his beer can chicken as a treat for Dallas and Lawanna. We had wanted to have it earlier but the Yuma weather has not been cooperative lately with its low temps and wind. We finally gave up and decided to get fortified with plenty of wine to offset the low wind chill temperatures as we ate al fresco. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it!

Coming up this week, we will be joined by Marc’s long time friends from high school days, coming to visit and stay awhile in their RVs. In honor of (mostly) completing the work on the lot, we are throwing a big party on Saturday so stay tuned for the rollicking good times.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From the desert...Christmas Wishes

From our desert abode, we wish you all a very happy holiday season, filled with friendships and joy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ya Win One, Ya Lose Another

I should have figured it out when I was allowed to win the window episode, that the price to pay would be an even bigger win for what Marc wanted-ha. I soon found out however, when he and the neighbor drove up with a new barbecue in the box. I will admit that the corner of our courtyard was just begging to be filled with one, but I had hoped to skip the expense this trip given that we are out of work.

The paver-laying projects are finally completed. Wanting to use up all the pavers if we could, Marc decided to extend the work around the new spa pad as far as they would go. He finalized all the cuts necessary on the front patio portion and also laid some edgers around the palms. With the exception of completion of the palm irrigation our courtyard patio is complete for this stage. Eventually years from now, we have hopes to build an outdoor kitchen. Meanwhile, I’m pleased as punch! It has turned out better than I envisioned so many years ago. Outdoor entertaining? Bring it on!

Speaking of parties, they have started in the neighborhood, where last evening we stepped across the street to good friends Ron & Jan’s new home for some Christmas spirit. It was great reuniting and catching up with friends we haven’t seen in years. Thanks for a great time, Ron & Jan!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Blue Window or White?

The days go marching on to a beat played totally by how much work is on tap and how our backs and Marc’s leg feel. Actually, we’ve made quite a bit of progress but much of it is little piddly stuff that only shows if one is aware of the “pre” state of our lot. Things like cutting off our third sewer connection to ground level and connecting up the electric which runs from the newly installed outlet on the wall all the way over to the electrical post a good sixty feet away. And lots and lots of digging for some odd reason.

My fountain arrived on Friday—a fiberglass twenty pound affair which was simple for Marc to hang; wasn’t too costly on the pocketbook, and will be easy for us to remove into the storage shed when we leave. Luckily however, it makes a soothingly loud melodious sound which was what I was after. Once Marc gets a ground outlet installed (instead of using the wall plug) the cord can be run straight down to it and covered with a plant and it will look much nicer.

It sits next to the old leaded window which he also temporarily installed. I purchased this window, reputed to be over 100 years old (and likely is since the glass is wavy) off EBay in 2005, when it arrived heartbreakingly broken due to poor packing. After several go-rounds with the seller and threats of negative feedback, she refunded my money since she had also received an insurance payoff from UPS. It didn’t seem fair she should get paid twice while I was stuck with a broken window. Marc is fairly certain he will be able to repair the window, albeit the design will have to change since we will likely add colored wavy glass and only keep the original beveled portions of the inside of the design. But that is for a later time. Meanwhile, it brings me joy to see the hole in the wall completed as was meant even though if with a broken window it appears a tad rustic.

One side of the window is chippy, old, full-of-lead white paint and the other side is chippy, old, full-of-lead blue paint. Marc wants it all painted blue, which would lose the character of the piece I think; I want the one side to remain white. Since it was my original idea to begin with guess who is going to win this one?

The major accomplishment this week was getting the new pad poured and finished for the spa. Right now the spa occupies one corner of our main patio but we determined it took up too much space so we are moving it to its own pad which abuts the patio. Since we are planning a major party the first week in January having the additional patio space will be crucial for entertaining.

So, we end the week with Marc finishing up the paver project next to the privacy wall, cutting the final pieces with a rental wet saw. No, Marc is not a lazy man as he sits here doing this; with his knee operations he is now unable to kneel or squat so his only choice as he works is to sit. Next will come some type of edgers to surround the palm. But that’s next week.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Aches of Planting the Palm

Early the next morning we started digging the hole to plant the palm, all 3’x3’x3’ of it through the deep layer of rock-filled strata that passes for sand here. There’s no shoveling this stuff; it is pick work first, and then shovel. Marc and I took turns as the pile of soil on the patio grew. Finally tired of being bent over and picking, Marc sat down and went at dislodging the rocks with a claw hammer. Much easier on the back although within an hour I came to find out my work had thrown mine out. Later, it would require sifting to remove the rocks, leaving nice loamy sand.

Once we had the hole complete, Marc placed about one third of the soil back in the ground around two sewer PVC pipes with drilled holes run deep into the soil. This forces roots to go deep and is a great landscaping tip for transplanting any kind of tree. They thrive with this system of irrigation. Marc positioned the pot on some two by fours and slid it down into its hole, turning it to face the way I wanted and thence commenced snipping off the container. That done; he then buried it in a combination of palm soil and native soil and finally watered it thoroughly using Vitamin B1. So far, all our palm transplants have been successful and even though this type of palm can have problems with transplant shock, we expect none. For one thing, not many people are willing to dig an adequately sized hole for trees but we need have no worry about that. My back told me so for the next two days!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Crown Jewel

Just like a pretty woman knows how one important piece of jewelry can make or break her ensemble, so I too, have been on the lookout for that one “something” we needed inside the patio area in terms of landscaping. It was down to knowing I wanted a palm when I waltzed down the Home Depot nursery aisles after picking up some special colored paint I needed for the window surround in the wall.

I knew it as soon as I came across it—the perfect sized seemingly miniature, feathery palm—actually more a clump of palms. I checked the price—ouch—and drove away determined to mention it to Marc. Marc was working on more trenching to bury electric lines (why is it everything we do here seems to involve such digging all the time?) and didn’t seem very interested once I told him the price (“Damn, that’s a lot for a tree!”). However, I haven’t been married to this man for 20 years and not learned a thing or two about getting him to see reason and the rationale behind the things I want. (grin)

By 3 p.m. we had borrowed the neighbor’s truck and were headed back to Home Depot to buy the palm. I had done some internet research and found out it was commonly termed a Pygmy Palm, a small tropical date palm that is a slow grower not reaching over 15-17’ in height and often used in container and indoor mall applications because of its small size. The boys at Home Depot did a good job of shrink-wrapping the palm for its slow ride home which took us about an hour traveling at 25 mph.

Once we arrived, the neighbors gathered as if by magic to help Marc unload and then oohed and aahed as we placed it where it was intended to go. Everyone was so taken by its perfectness for its spot—this truly is going to be the crown jewel of our patio. Now, what was I saying about digging?

Friday, December 12, 2008

On Our Lot

As is our usual modus operandi, we have hit the ground running. Marc’s efforts have been a little scattered in that were several things he wanted to accomplish quickly, plus he got sidetracked a bit by helping out others with some tasks not on our list. The weather has been great and time is passing very quickly.
We mounted our post lights on the privacy wall and Marc has been connecting the electric to get them running. In addition, we removed the gravel between the patio and the privacy wall in anticipation of laying the leftover pallet of pavers we had on the lot. Since this needed a bed of sand, he and neighbor Ron did some sifting of the dirt from the back of our lot with a makeshift sifter to remove the rocks. Dirt here is mostly sand. We have made and remade additional landscape plans, settling on a palm tree for the area inside the privacy wall and nothing on the outside. He will need to run irrigation to this area from the new faucet he installed—complete with a Y to allow for the wall hung fountain we have just ordered.

In walking though the neighborhood I noted these striking blue pots against the stucco walls of this home and liked it so much I decided to copy-cat. I had five old pots lying around so spray painted them and added some annuals. I will spread these against the privacy wall once the pavers are complete to add some color. Today we also got the Hot Springs spa cleaned and fired up and it should be ready for use by tomorrow. Oh boy!

Lastly, our tenants have a very nice cat named Lucky who loves to play with our cat Tucker so we all have fun watching the two boys roam the lot.
Tomorrow and through the weekend much of the west is having severe weather. Even here in Yuma we have lost our sunshine and will dip to the low 60’s. Oh, yes, life is tough here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Trip South

My mother made us a great Thanksgiving turkey dinner with a bird that weighed in at 25 pounds. We took a break from all the work we were doing to get the RV ready to roll and enjoyed our time with my folks. After a week in Bend, we left for our Yuma destination on a bright Tuesday morning which proceeded to fog up as we neared Burns. Our first night was spent at the Flying J in Winnemucca, NV where it got down to about 14 degrees.
Wednesday, with the car hitched to the trailer since we were in Nevada where it’s legal to double tow, we headed south from Battle Mountain in the early a.m. towards the cute old historic town of Austin, which sits at 7000 feet elevation just below a hellacious pass. We have never stopped to look the town over although we’ve frequently passed through. Part of the problem is that there really isn’t adequate parking anywhere in town for a rig our size plus it is very hilly, which makes for a hard start up for us being so loaded. Later at lunch, just before reaching Tonopah, our cat really wanted out to walk around so we took a nice break.

The trouble started on the long downgrade exiting Tonopah, where our speed built up to about 65 mph and the rig decided to start doing the hula. It took all Marc’s truck-driving abilities and experience to bring it back under control without a horrific accident. We immediately pulled over and checked all systems and tires and he noted everything looked fine. Even with keeping speed down, it happened again before we pulled in early for the day at Bailey’s Hot Springs RV Park in Beatty, NV so Marc could pull the hubcaps and thoroughly check the truck tires with the gauge. He found an inside dual at only 40 pounds. Since we have air brakes on the truck he has the ability to air up tires anywhere so he took them all up to 110 pounds. It was perplexing since we had just purchased these tires all new not 1000 miles ago.

We have passed by Bailey’s many times in the past and not given much thought to staying since we always boondock on our trips south. But at $18/night for 30 amp electric and water (no sewer) and unlimited use of the hot springs baths, it seemed like an appealing thing to do this day with us so shook-up from our near accident. The three private bathhouses of natural artesian hot springs (98-105 degrees) were built in 1906 and the hot water originally powered the steam engines of the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad. Today the clear, sulfur free water percolates up through a gravel bottom and is constantly refreshed in each bath house where it’s about a foot and a half deep. Bailey’s is short on amenities (gravel-dirt parking, no grass, right on the highway & fairly funky looking) but long on character and relaxation. We’ll stop again.

By morning the dual tire was again at only about 30 pounds of air so we limped our way to Las Vegas, pulling over about every 25 minutes to pump it up. In Vegas, we found a Purcell Tire Shop (specializing in big rigs) off I-15 which was off route for us, and pulled in. After a stay of about three hours and pulling the tire it was determined that the value stem was leaking air. Purcell did a wonderful job of customer service, providing pulling the tire, replacing the value stem, balancing the tire and remount all at no charge. We had originally purchased the tires at Les Schwab in Bend and were nonplussed when we called and they informed us we were “on our own as there was no warranty with truck tires”. Now, to tell a customer they are “on your own” after they have just spent $3000 on tires that have problems from their personnel’s mounting inefficiency did not sit at all well! After many years of doing business with this company this will be the last time they ever see us. But if ever you are in Las Vegas and need tires, we can heartily recommend Purcell Tires at I-15 and E. Cheyenne Blvd.

Dodging afternoon crazy Las Vegas traffic, we made our escape south to spend another night boondocking at a wide spot in Searchlight, NV. This is the third time we’ve stayed here; it’s convenient, if noisy. We had by now unhitched the car, since it was determined at the tire shop that very likely the trouble we were encountering was because all the rear tires were steer tires, rather than traction tires and they were not handling the load. This will be something we need to address in the coming days before we travel again. Leaving Searchlight early I followed Marc south through Needles and onto AZ 95 which flows through the growing city of Lake Havasu and along the Colorado River through Parker. In the afternoon, we rendezvoused for a couple hours with my cousin and his gal who were boondocking in Quartszite. A quick run of another 90 miles put us into Yuma and our lot by late afternoon. We were greeted by all the neighbors with hugs all around and treated to dinner by one set who always take such good care of us and our lot. Thanks Ron & Jan! It was good to be home and the lot looks great.