Sunday, March 31, 2013

Moving onward ....again

We've had a wonderful stay here in North Ranch.  It's a very friendly park and everyone makes you feel very welcome.

some of the funkier art work in the park made of recycled soda (or beer?) cans
But, it's time to move on again.  So after doing a bunch of laundry (how can two old people dirty so many clothes) and packing up, we're on the move again.
everywhere we look there is art of some sort

Next stop is Cave Creek State Park north of Phoenix.  I've heard friends speak of this place and it sounded very interesting.

Often the cost of staying at a State Park is higher than other RV parks, but you do get to be closer to nature.  

This place looked like there was a lot of hiking trails.

We were also informed of some fun places to eat and visit as well...two of our favorite activities.

So, we'll keep you posted after we arrive.

Long Live the Queen of the Road

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Pleasant living in Congress AZ

We had no aspirations as to what we would find in this SKP park in Congress AZ. 

Maybe that's the way to do it, have no expectations and you'll never be disappointed.

In our case we were pleasantly surprised.  The landscaping is beautiful as you can see from yesterday's blog post. 

And it keeps changing each day as more and more cactus begin to bloom.

I've always wanted to experience the desert in bloom and am so glad we stayed here to see this. 

I don't know why people run back to the Midwest so early only to deal with dirty snow and mud.

Imagine!  a cactus named after Left Brain!
They have lots of activities here and this morning I took in some line dancing.  It felt good to bootscoot my boogie again. 

Then Left Brain and I went into Wickenburg, about 15 miles from here to take in the town. 

We found an Ace Hardware to get a key made and some supplies for our towing bag. 

Then we had lunch at Anita's Cocina before driving around to see the rest of the town and head home. 

This is such a departure from Las Vegas with the constant sound of sirens and the never ending light.  How delightful to have the quiet nights and see the stars instead of neon flashing annoyances.

We like to sit in front of the RV in the early afternoon and read.  The air is perfumed with the sweet scent of orange blossoms, the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing and the birds are singing. 

It was so enjoyable I needed to turn off the book and go rest my eyes for a bit.

I've never been a napper before and I don't know as though I actually fall asleep or not, but it feels heavenly to just be able to sprawl out on the bed in the middle of the day and doze.

We'll enjoy a round of Pickleball this afternoon after our naps and then gird ourselves for another intense night of doing nothing. 

Long Live the Queen of Decadence

Friday, March 29, 2013

North Ranch Escapee's Park

We arrived yesterday in Congress AZ to spend our four days here at the North Ranch SKP park.  They situated us on a corner with a lovely view out the front window of some cactus landscaping.

This seems to be one of the undiscovered gems in the park system.  There aren't any big towns nearby, but the landscaping is gorgeous and the people are friendly.

I started the morning by attending the tai chi session held outside.  What a great way to get muscles stretched out and minds calmed.

After lunch I went over to play pickleball.  They have one court in a large building which is nice.  No worry about overhead sun glare or wind interference.  It felt so good to get to play again.

Left Brain and I took a walk around the perimeter of the park, we still haven't delved into all the streets yet.

Tomorrow there is line dance, so I will have to check that out as well. 

There are a lot of activities here in the park and so far we've had no desire to leave to run into town or check anything else out.

It's nice to have the down time to enjoy playing pickleball and reading.

Long Live Queen of North Ranch

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Camping World shopping

When Left Brain said he needed a hook to hang the ladder on the back of the motorhome I got so excited.  That meant a trip to Camping World, one of my favorite places to shop.

We found the ladder hook right away so in theory he was ready to go.  But I wanted to browse slowly and see everything.  So he found a nice furniture display and made himself comfortable.

Oh and the treasures I found!  So many kitchen gadgets, so little time.

Our first find coming in the door was this collapsible insulated basket.  We have found recently that when doing outings to parks to go hiking there usually isn't much in the way of food to be had.  So we had just talked about packing a picnic lunch to take with us and here this shows up. 

During our stay with the kids my daughter cooked up some English muffins with eggs and cheese, my favorite offering from McDonalds. 

So I just had to grab one of these cool microwave egg makers.

I like my bacon crispy and it seems to take forever to fry up in a pan, so I got one of these microwave grills for bacon. 

It also showed how to make homemade potato chips with it.

Then there was the fish and vegetable steamer for the microwave.  I miss my old steamer but gave it away because it was too large.  So this will be a nice way to add in some steamed veggies with our meals.

Living in an RV always makes me consider where I will store things due to the lack of space, so all these collapsible products are such a blessing.
This is a mini collander that hangs over the center part of the sink for washing rice, berries, etc.  Now I don't have to drag out the larger one, even though that is collapsible also, it's still overkill for small jobs.

We tend to have a lot of fresh veggies and fruits in our fridge, so this collapsible storage container looked cool to me.  You can either store things in the container when it is flat or expand it for more space.  There is a vent you can open or close depending on what you have in there, as well as a small resevoir at the bottom for water.

They all store nicely in the cabinet over the microwave, a spot that was under utilized by storing the good wine glasses.  Those have been relegated to a lesser area since they are seldom ever used.  I'd rather have these babies close at hand.

Long Live the Queen of Kitchen Gadgets

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ready to roll onward

After our visit back home to see the kids we returned to King's Row to rest and recover before heading onward.

We've enjoyed our stay here in Las Vegas but it's time to go again.  Some call it Hitch Itch.  I've named it Nomadic Fever.
Another favorite name is Restless Wheels Syndrome.

As per usual Left Brain did most of the driving, but I took a stint for a stretch until I couldn't stand it any more.  For me, driving the rig is an anaerobic exercise as it literally seems to take my breath away.  I don't think it's too easy on him either.

We arrived here in Congress AZ to settle in to the North Ranch Escapees park for four days.  It was my turn to take the wheel again to back it into the campsite.  This was my first time backing it up.

He also let me lower the jacks and put out the slides.  Then I gave the inside a good scrubbing to remove a layer of dust and grime.

Now we're getting ready to put some ribs on the grill for supper.  Ah, life is good!

Long Live the Queen of North Ranch


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The airline experience

Okay, this photo has nothing to do with the post - but it just struck me as funny.
It had been a while since we've flown anywhere. But when we returned to the home area for Left Brain's award driving was not an option given the freezing temperatures and cost of gas.  That and we just aren't ready to give up the southwest yet to return to Wisconsin with the dirty snow and mud stage of spring.

Our flight out of Las Vegas was normal enough and just the way we like our flights...uneventful.

Returning from Minneapolis to Las Vegas was quite a bit different.  The only thing similar was that I was stuck in the middle seat again.  This was easier when I was a thin person, but I still believe the seats are shrinking.  But then again, this is my theory for what's happening to my clothes in the laundry, so I could be wrong.  Shocker, I know...but it has been known to happen.

We arrived at the airport the two hours in advance they recommend and it was like walking into a mall.  As airports go the Minneapolis airport is a beauty.  Lots of shops to browse through and restaurants to enjoy.

Next to the Information Desk were signs telling us that indoor bathroom spaces were available for your pets.  Now that's a cool idea.  I'm not sure what people did before this option.  I know I would have trouble waiting throughout the entire procedure.

The major change we noticed was when arriving at the appointed gate.  Where were the standard rows and rows of chairs to sit on?  These seem to have disappeared.  But in their place were some exciting options. 

There were multitudes of booths for one or two people to sit at with tables and computer screens.  This scenario was replayed in the nearby restaurant and again in a higher barstool type seating.

You selected your flight on the screen to monitor your flight and then could either play games or order food and beverages which were then brought to you.  The prices on these options were pretty inflated, as can be expected when you are held as a captive audience.  However, the waitress did come around and provide water to anyone waiting.

When we boarded the plane and got settled in they did the standard schpiel about safety procautions and then announced the movie.  Movie?  I thought those were only on overseas flights.  And the movie was Hitchcock, one I wanted to see but seemed to be announced in the movies but never actually shown anywhere we were.

The lady next to me had her Kindle and was watching a movie on it.  I sat quietly next to her with my first edition dinosaur of a Kindle and read.  My how things have changed!  I wonder how I could "accidentally" destroy mine to get a new one.  Perhaps I could slip it under the tires and have Left Brain run over it with See-More.

It is true, the times they are a changing.

Long Live the Queen

Monday, March 25, 2013

Visiting with the kids

We had a fun time, but an extremely busy time with the family. This is why the blog had such a lengthy gap between postings.

The girls have nice long hair so I can play with making braids in their hair.

This one is called a "fishtail" braid and turned out pretty good.

This one was harder, it's called the "waterfall" braid and I have yet to perfect it.

During our stay we got to watch Em receive a guitar lesson from her Dad, a very talented musician in his own right and a patient teacher.

And of course there's always the happy slobbering from Zeke, our granddog.

Kiersten is a very good piano player and we got to listen to some of her medlies.

this is her patented "crazy llama" face

And just in case you think she's all serious in her music, rest assured...she's as goofy as the rest of our family.

This family packs in more activities than two old people can keep up with, so the blog posts have been few ...actually missing for several days.  We've had dance lessons, volleyball tournaments, guitar and piano lessons, playing with the dogs, and much that I've already forgotten.

Call it what you will, confusion, chaos, sensory overload...this is our family.

Long live the Queen of Family Fun


Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Queen is still alive....barely

This will be an extremely short and quick post while I am having a lucid moment.

All is well, it's just that we are with the kids and grandkids who are babysitting a golden there are two large rambuctions dogs and kids.

I appreciate all those who have been concerned about my absense and expressed their concerned.  It's nice to know I was missed.

We can't wait to return to our RV and our normal quiet life.  We're trusting that Seymour and the car are still there...actually haven't had any time to think aboutit.

Long Live the Queen

Monday, March 18, 2013

Playing Cowboys and Indians

As a child of the 50’s it was natural to play cowboys and Indians. 
Being one of the first generation to have television available, I cut my teeth on watching Roy Rogers and Dale Evens, Gene Autry, The Cisco Kid, Paladin, Wyatt Earp, Gunsmoke, Bonanza and probably several more I’m forgetting.
It was pretty much the genre of the generation - six shooters and gun fights, stagecoach robberies, barroom brawls, any kind of violence you could ask for.
And we can’t forget the Marlboro Man, back in the days when television promoted cancer as a death option. 
I'm sure this is where my love of candy cigarettes began, which fortunately only evolved into a sugar addiction and not one for tobacco.
Cowboys were an image to aspire to and I wasn’t the only one in the hood wearing cowboy boots, shirts with fringe and a ten gallon hat.  Maybe that's why becoming a Texan late in life seemed so natural for me.

And the guns!  We can’t forget that every little boy and girl had a six shooter strapped to their scrawny bodies loaded with caps to create smoke and noise.  If you lacked a gun you smacked the caps with a hammer on the concrete, but it wasn’t as cool as pointing a pistol at your friends head and yelling “you’re dead!”  And then breaking into a fight as to who really lived and died.

A boy across the street was routinely tethered to the back steps with a padlock on his holster to keep him in the yard.  Somehow that didn’t seem strange to me at the time.  Scotty was a wild one and there’s no knowing what dangers he’d have found without some parameters.  I was generally walked with a leash as I was prone to suddenly darting from the sidewalk between cars or up a tree.  Hmmm.  I think Scotty and I may have been the as yet undiagnosed ADHD kids on the block. Squirrel!!!!

We grew up in a politically incorrect culture where it was normal to point and shoot a gun at another kid and take turns playing dead.  And yet we knew that the .22 sitting on the porch was the real thing and left it alone.

But BB guns were okay to shoot with and were a rite of passage into the next logical phase of a single shot .22.  I don’t recall a lot of warnings that we could shoot our eyes out,  our parents were usually just glad to have us whooping and hollering outside and out from underfoot.

I remember the day I ran home with the news that my cousin had been shot and was dying in the yard next door.  And he had been shot…with rock salt.  We were climbing into the plum trees again searching for food and the neighbor had had just about enough of us and opened fire.

He lay on the ground grabbing his backside and valiantly telling me to run…to save myself.  It was the most courageous thing I’d ever seen in real life.  Of course I was all of five years old. The real pain was when he got home and confessed what we had been doing and had to return to the neighbor to apologize.  The fact the man shot him with rock salt?  Not an issue.

Always one to promote Equal Opportunity even at that innocent age, I would play the Indian.  And even though my arrow came with suction cups on the end, they could still deliver a twang and leave a mark.  This was far cooler than shooting a cap pistol in my mind.  When I hit my mark I knew it.

Apparently I took it just a tad too far for my Grandmother one day when she caught me with my freshly scalped doll.  She wasn’t only upset that I had cut the doll’s hair off; it was the rest of the scenario.  In hindsight I guess tying the doll to a stake and preparing to burn it did appear a bit gruesome.  But I knew it wasn’t real and she wouldn’t feel a thing anyway…sheesh.

I mean it’s not like I buried it in an ant hole and poured honey on its head to torture it to death, or staked it out spread eagle with wet rawhide bands that would shrink in the sun.  Sorry, but I was just imitating what I saw on television.  Perhaps TV does shape the mind?

But the good news is that I did not continue on the way to becoming a psychopath that tortures small animals or anything.  In fact I am the first to defend those who are without power. 
I think what really warped me the most was watching the test pattern early in the morning waiting for TV to “sign on”.  Yeah, I’ve tried to explain to my 24/7 generation granddaughters about that, but I don’t think they believe me and chalk it up as yet another of my jokes.  I didn't even bother telling them that when my Grandmother would come into the room and asked me what I was doing...standing there next to the TV like that, I'd explain that it said to "stand by" and that's what I was doing.  Yup, I was an obnoxious little comedian at a tender age.

I really did believe that I would be a cowboy when I grew up.  Then my beloved Grandmother did the unspeakable to quash that dream.  She told me I was a little girl and I would grow up to be a cowgirl and would have to ride sidesaddle like a lady.  I cried for days over that pronouncement.

This is what led me to my new desire…to become an Indian when I grew up.  But that’s another story for another day.

Long Live the Queen of Cowboys and Indians


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Short post today

Today was a most memorable day for me as I watched my friend achieve another one of her goals.  Our goals are SO different.

She has always wanted to skydive.  And while I can't fathom that thought for myself, I applaud her for making it a reality.

We woke early this morning to join her and her husband at the little airport in Jean NV for this adventure.

The group she went with is called Vegas Extreme Skydiving and it looked like a lot of least from where I stood.

These are tandem jumps and the guy she was paired with was a hoot.  But then again you probably have to be a bit crazy to do this for a living.

There will be photos and video coming in the future but right now we are having a trippus interruptus and I can't work on that part of this blog.  I do plan to continue blogging while on our trip as time permits, but there are no guarantees.

Left Brain has been awarded the honor of being named Citizen Diplomat of the Year from World Services in La Crosse WI.  He has done a great deal of work with the Russian student exchanges and work programs over the years and this award is quite an honor.

So tomorrow morning we will be flying back to Wisconsin to see the family and receive this award.  It seems so wrong to be flying into the snow and cold when it's in the 80's here, but that's just the way it is.

And unlike the Divine Miss M, I plan to stay in my airplane seat the entire duration of the trip.  The Queen does not even use the top step on her step stool thank you very much.  There will be no sudden leaps from any airplanes, even if I am asked to leave.

Long Live the Queen of Cowards

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

She's a bookish sort of woman....

Yesterdays blog about feeling blue at the end of a good series inspired some questions as to what I've been reading.

Left Brain and I read all sorts of things from the classics to the stupid.  We read for entertainment mostly but love historical novels where some history lessons are woven into a good story.

The series I've been reading lately were the Lena Jones series by Betty Webb.  The heroine reminded me a bit of Stephanie Plum in the Janet Evonovich series.  I adore her wacky ways and it never fails to make me laugh.

Right now I'm working my way through the Tess Monaghan series by Laura Lippman.  I know I've read some of these before, but since I can't recall which one I'm just plugging my way through the series.  It never hurts to reread a book you enjoyed in the past and often I glean new perspectives as I age and mature.  Well, maybe mature is too strong a term.

I've started to write up my adventures as an Indian Squaw and plan to release it in small snippets in the blogs to get feedback on writing style and is this anything that people would have an interest in reading more of.

It has been my goal to be a writer at some point and the blog has been a great warm up as if forces me to write almost every day, getting me into one of my better habits I've developed.  If only it could counter so many of the bad habits I've developed over my lifetime.

So that's what's been on my Kindle lately.  If anyone has books (especially series) they have enjoyed, please let me know.  We are always looking for new authors and are open to anything short of zombies and vampires or out and out horror.

Long Live the Queen of the Kindle

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The downfall of reading

Both Left Brain and I love to read and it has been a saving grace for us as we navigate our life in close proximity.

I have found a downfall to being an avid reader and perhaps you suffer from this also.

After getting to know the characters in a good storyline, especially in a series...I hate to say goodbye.

I find myself getting to the end of the book and slowing down to draw it out because I don't want it to be over.  Well, except for those that are not terribly well written and I just want it to end so I can move on to the next book.

There seems to be a little depression that follows and it's hard to jump into a new storyline and get to know yet another character.  I call it my post-perusal depression.

Maybe this is hitting me harder than before as it seems to be my new way of life...saying goodbye.  It's a natural phenomonia when you are constantly on the move.  By the time you know the names of the people next door it's time to pack up and roll again. 

Hmmm.  Gypsies always seemed to be such happy people, but maybe it's because they traveled in larger groups and kept their immediate family intact.

Perhaps if we had more than just the two of us in our gypsy wagon.  I think I'm feeling the need for feline companionship but our agreement of living without pets for one year isn't up yet.  But it's getting closer!

Long Live the Gypsy Queen

Monday, March 11, 2013

Another benefit of growing older

There have to be some benefits of getting old and I'm determined to find them.

How often have you found yourself watching a television show and saying "I've seen that one".  But then you watch it again because you can't remember how it ends.

There have even been times we've said this during a new episode because it sounds so familiar.  So we just keep enjoying the same old shows over and over again.  I mean, who can get sick of watching "Mash" reruns?

And then there's our Kindle.  We tend to read the same books for the most part as our reading intersts are similar.  But still there is a sense of deja vue during some of the stories.  But once again, we can't recall how it ends so it gets read again.

Thankfully Amazon has a good memory and if we try to actually purchase the same book again it will issue a warning to us.

Now that we have a vast collection in our archives I suppose we could just keep reading and rereading the sames books.  We'd probably not even realize it and just think of the money we'd save.

Maybe it's just a natural part of the aging process - every experience seems to be a "been there done that" kind of thing after a while.  It's pretty hard to surprise old folks.

Long Live the Queen of Something...I forget

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hanging with the Big Cats

Today was a most fun day.  My friend the Divine Miss M informed me she would pick me up and we’d go see Cats.  I love that musical and couldn’t wait.  She told me to bring my camera which surprised me because you can never shoot during plays.  But I figured we must be stopping somewhere en route to the performance.

So I fixed my hair, packed my stuff and headed down to the office area to await her arrival.  Soon we were off and running with her GPS, Miss Garmin, as our scout.

We stopped at a huge casino and I figured this must be where the play was to be, but nope.  This was a lunch stop and we chowed down on some lovely etouffee.  Then we jumped back into the car and headed further south.

Oh.  My misunderstanding.  We were going to see cats all right! Real ones.  Big ones.  We were at The Lion Habitat Ranch.

Our tour of the facility started with watching the seven lion cubs romping about and playing.  The two caretakers worked with them constantly, tossing balls and interacting with them. 
they loved being in this half ball even though it was originally meant as a "time out" for bad behaviour
sometimes they had their brother join them to play
If they exhibited signs of aggression( the cubs that is) they were taken by the scruff and held down with a stern “no”, in simulation of the way the mother lion would act…except for the verbal “no”, of course. 

I asked if they had any children and they responded no.  I explained my asking by telling them that in my opinion they would both make wonderful parents since wild animal training and childcare are quite closely related. 

The young ones are in the process of being weaned from the bottle and today’s soup du jour was milk with horsemeat. 
I asked if they had the same source of horsemeat as Ikea.  Hey…my thought has always been that those meatballs showed horsemeat as the ingredients but with all the signs in Swedish who knew?

The runt of the litter and the female also got to have the bottle at the end of the feeding as they need a bit more to catch up with the others.

All of a sudden there was a deafening roaring sound that physically vibrated through us.  It’s hard to describe the volume and timbre of the sound and the awe it inspired. 

It was explained that this was how they communicated with each other.  In no time the entire compound of forty large cats were vocalizing their input.  Think of it as tweeting but with a ferocious sounding roar. 

I failed to get any good roaring photos, but as you can see here, a yawn looks very similar.  My other regret was not being able to get close enough to the chain link fence to shoot through it.  At times I could get most of the fence to blur out and then fix it a tad more in Photoshop.  But other shots it just wasn’t working.
I added a filter to this one, not sure why.  You might say it just screamed for it?
The Lion Habitat was designed and constructed by Keith Evans, an exotic animal trainer with more than 39 years of flight.  He had been associated with the MGM Grand since the 1980’s, arranging the live displays and photos of the lions. 

He has used his trained animals on television shows such as Fantasy Island, national television ads for Uniroyal, the Tonight Show, as well as in print including the cover of Las Vegas Magazine, the National Enquirer and Tennis Magazine.

The Divine Miss M and I had a fun day renewing our bond since our separation.  It’s always good to see old friends again and catch up.  And if there’s big cats involved…perfect.  She sure knows how to deliver a rip roaring good time.
Long Live the Queen of the Big Cats