In our years of travel, this was the fourth time we have left Arizona and spent time in Las Vegas. This trip we decided to spend the whole month of April in Sin City. We saw 4 shows while we were here. The first show we saw was Ray Romono and David Spade. We were very disappointed because we saw Ray a few years ago and this show was just a repeat of that one. We really did enjoy the Donny and Marie show. They were both very entertaining and put a lot of energy into their performance. After the show,we dined on Shrimp Tacos and Guacamole at Carlos and Charlies. The third show we attended was the Righteous Brothers. At 78 years old Bill Medley still has a great voice and along with his new partner and daughter took us down a memory lane of great hits. Our last show was a tribute to old Las Vegas and the many headliners that have graced the stages over the years. An energetic cast of young singers and dancers did a fantastic job of reliving those days of Show Girls, Sinatra and Elvis. We did not spend any time walking the Strip as we have been here so many times. We did visit the Fashion Show Mall one afternoon and had lunch at the Capital Grill. On our last night in town, we had dinner with our full time RV friends, Lee and Carol, who we met in Arizona a few years ago. We have visited with them in Florida, and Michigan and now in Nevada. We plan to see them again in Florida next fall.
On our first Sunday in town, we went to the NHRA Four Wide Drag Races. Josie had never been to a drag race before so I thought she might like to experience it at least once. Of course, it was loud so we wore ear protection. It was a long day but Josie was a trooper. We bought tickets that included breakfast, lunch and refreshments, so we had a tent we could go to get away from the noise for a while.
I went to a game at the new Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin, a suburb on the west side of Vegas. This will revitalize baseball in this area and that evening we were treated to a spectacular sunset. I also played a couple of rounds of golf, one at the Paiute, Snow Mountain Course and another at Bears Best, an 18-hole grouping of holes that were copied from various Jack Nicklaus courses around the world.
Tomorrow we drive only 60 miles to Palm Creek an oasis in the desert.
We left the Coach in Las Vegas and flew to Dunedin, Florida to celebrate the life of our dear friend Bob Joseph. Josie and her children have know Bob and his wife Pat since they were neighbors in Virginia Beach in the early 1970's. I met Bob and Pat through their daughter Susie in the 1990's. They are important people in our live's in that they introduced us to each other.
Susie and her husband Tom hosted the event and did an outstanding job. We all drank Bob's favorite beer, Old Milwaukee and ate his favorite foods' Chorizo Hot Dogs and Stuffed Quahog Clams. We told stories and watched a video that was produced by one of his grandsons. He will be missed by all of us.
Josie's son' Michael, flew in from Michigan and her daughter, Cathy came in from Boca Raton for the weekend. It was nice touching base with them as we do not get to see them often enough.
The New Year in Arizona started out cool and got cooler all through January and February. We had a lot of rain and saw snow on all the mountain tops that surround the Phoenix Valley. Because of all the rain, the desert this year is in full bloom. The cooler weather however did not keep us from staying active and enjoying events with friends. Josie played Mah Jongg at least twice a week and worked out at Silver Sneakers three times each week.
She and a large group of the ladies went to the movies every Wednesday after the Oscar nominations were announced and saw all of the nominated films and many of the ones that had best actor or actress nominees in them. Then they had a "Jeans and Bling " party as they watched Oscars and made their own guesses as who would win.
Josie and her friend Gloria keep alive their yearly tradition of having tea at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale. One afternoon they had lunch in Glendale and then visited the Cerreta Candy Company and sampled their delicious chocolate. One evening, Josie and friend Diane had dinner in downtown Phoenix and then attend a presentation of "Shen Yun" classical Chinese dance,.
We had many of our weekly dinners with both the group from El Mirage and our friends from out side the park. We also had a few gatherings in the park at the park models our friends Larry and Debbie, BJ and Karen, and Tom and Diane. The Bybee's had a clean out your freezer party at their place, right before we all left for the season.
I played a lot of golf this year. Every Wednesday I played with the Pueblo El Mirage Men's Group and did very well, even winning my flight in the Club Championship. I also played all over the valley with Gerry, Tom and BJ and Karen. We also went to the Thursday round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Again this winter Tom and I along with BJ and Gerry went to 5 Arizona Coyote's hockey games. The Yotes are playing well this year and it was fun to see them win a few games.
I also went to the races again this year with my race buddy, Gene and two new comers to the park, Bob and Wayne. Gene and I also went to the NHRA Drag Races, something I had not done in over 50 years.
Despite the cold start we did attend 10 Spring Training Games this season. One afternoon Josie and I, along with our friend Gloria drove over to Mesa for an Oakland game and then made our annual visit to Organ Stop Pizza. We attended games with Gene and Ruby, and we were invited to a game at Camelback Stadium, where we celebrated our friend Donny's birthday.
Josie's friend Gwen, invited us to join a group from here in the park at the horse races as guest's of Pink Cloud Stables, which are owned by her brother. He had one of his many horses running that day and we had a lot of fun making group wagers on the races. We also went to the track with Gene and Ruby. After the races Ruby made a desert salsa that she served over ice cream, that was absolutely delicious.
Tomorrow we leave for a month in Las Vegas. From there we will head north and east eventually ending up in Virginia Beach in September.
Josie and I just returned from an eleven day trip to Hawaii. We have now been to all of the 50 states together. We sailed aboard the Norwegian Cruise Liner, The Pride of America. But before we boarded the ship, we stayed three nights at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel right on Waikiki Beach. We toured Pearl Harbor, which included the Arizona Monument, the Battleship Missouri, submarine Bowfin, and the Aviation Museum of the Pacific which is housed in a hanger that dates back to December 7th, 1941. It still has bullet holes in the windows from that day.
In the City of Honolulu we visited the State Capital, the Royal Palace, The National Cemetery of the Pacific and a Buddhist Temple, where we fed the Zebra Doves by hand.
On the third day we boarded the ship and our first port of call was the Island of Maui. We took the road to Hana which is considered one of the top five most scenic drives in the USA, but also one of the most dangerous. It has over 600 turns and 50 one lane bridges. Our driver Keith had driven this road over 300 times so we sat back and enjoyed the scenery. At every stop we were greeted by feral chickens. They are all over the islands but more so in Kauai where there are no Mongoose to keep them in check. At the Black Sand Beach the local teenagers entertained us by diving off the 60 foot cliffs. The flowers and waterfalls in the rain forest were everywhere. We also tasted local coconut, red bananas and poi which tastes like paste or maybe worse.
Our next stop was in Hilo on the Big Island Of Hawaii. We took a helicopter tour of the lava fields but we were about two months to late to see any flowing lava. We did see a few craters and lots of steam vents. The next day we anchored out in Kona, and we took a submarine ride down to 10 feet. My camera was just not good enough to get good pictures of the colorful fish on the coral reefs. It was however quite a unique experience.
Our final port before returning to Honolulu was the Island of Kauai. It is the oldest of the islands and we believe the most scenic. We again took a helicopter tour of the island. The Na Pali Coast and the Grand Canyon of the Pacific were beautiful and our pilot, Beth, took us right up to many waterfalls and even into an extinct volcano. This was the highlight of our trip. Back in town we got in a little beach time and shared an Hawaiian shaved ice over ice cream. There were chickens everywhere even on the beach.
We also had a great time on the ship. We had great views and sunsets from our aft facing cabin balcony. The food was excellent and we had scenic places to eat it. Our room steward made towel animals to decorate our bed almost every day. There was a wide variety of entertainment every night, from local dancers, comics, variety shows, lounge singers and even bingo. As we were heading to the airport a rainbow over or ship was a great way to our trip.
We arrived at the resort on October first and that evening the remnants of Hurricane Rosa hit our area and we had very heavy rain for two days. The road's here in the park were flooded and all the ponds on the golf course overflowed into each other and out into fairways. A few nights later we had a quick thunder storm roll through and lightning struck a palm tree just one block behind us. October was the wettest one on record with over 5 inches of rain. That is almost as much rain as they get here in a year. But after the storms we had a nice rainbow and now the flowers are blooming like we have never seen them before.
In early October my daughter Missy was in town on business and we were able to meet her for dinner one evening on her first visit and then she and I attended a Phoenix Suns basketball game. We are keeping active as usual. Josie is going to the Y with Gloria and Diane three days a week for various exercise classes. This year they have bingo once every two weeks or so and Josie won twice the first night. The ladies go to the movies every Wednesday evening and then out to dinner. I attended 14 Arizona Fall League baseball games, most of them with Gene and his wife Ruby and our friend Gloria. Josie, Gloria and I also went over to Scottsdale for the Championship game, and ten to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Ling And Louie's. Gene and I also went to the horse track on a very rainy Saturday, complements of the remnants of Hurricane Sergio. It was the first opening day race in the 75 year history of the track that the track was listed as sloppy. One weekend, Josie and I drove across the valley to Apache Junction and spent the weekend over there. I attended the races two evenings and on Saturday we walked all two miles of the Mesa Market. I did all the buying this time and Josie did not buy a thing.
We have not been able to get the whole gang together for our weekly dinners yet but some of us have gone out to a few of our favorite places and a few new ones.
BJ and Karin had all of us over to their new winter home on the 4th hole of the golf course for Thanksgiving Dinner. They supplied the turkey, dressing and of course since they are from Idaho, the mashed potatoes. Everyone else brought various dishes and desserts. We had a great feast and a good time. The night before Thanksgiving BJ, Tom and I attended the Phoenix vs Vegas hockey game. Then the night after Thanksgiving BJ and I went out to Canyon Speedway and met our friend Gene for dirt track racing under an almost full moon.
Of course, I have been spending as much time as possible on the golf course. I play at least one time a week with Gerry and on Wednesdays I play with the resort men's group. Tom was not able to play for the first few weeks due to his carpel tunnel surgery. But once he healed, we have been hitting the course regularly. BJ, Tom and I attended the Friday round of the Charles Schwab Cup which was eventually won by ViJay Singh
We left Montana on our way to Arizona. We stopped in Idaho Falls. Idaho for two nights and caught up with our friends, BJ, Karin, Larry and Debbie. We will see them again soon as we all winter in Arizona. From there we drove to Fillmore, Utah for one night and then on to Mesquite, Nevada for three nights. We then drove to Prescott, AZ and stayed for a week. In Prescott we had the RV serviced, and did a few small repairs on our own. We cleaned out drawers and storage compartments and got rid of things we were not using anymore. We have a rule (that I break more often than Josie when I buy golf shirts) that if we buy new clothes we have to get rid of an item we already have in the RV. Josie brought back a lot of clothes from storage and she did a great job of donating the ones she replaced to Goodwill. Tomorrow we will check in to Pueblo El Mirage for another season, and we will stay a full six months this time.
The past month has been a very busy one. We arrived in Laurel, Montana on August 23rd and spent two weeks parked in the driveway of my Cousin Mike and his wife Jeannie's home. They have fantastic views of the Beartooth Mountains from their back window. (first picture below) They also have very green thumbs, and and we enjoyed the fruits and vegetables of their labor. Jeannie is a fantastic cook and she fed us like royalty. Her Tomato Pie was so good we had her make it twice during our stay. Cousin Mike was not satisfied riding around his yard on his lawn mower so he recently bought a Triumph motorcycle. He also is an accomplished pianist and he entertained us in the evenings. Josie and Jeannie visited a few antique stores in the area and Josie was able to add another piece of Hall Pottery to her collection.
Mike and Jeannie extended their hospitaqlity to our good friend Aaron who flew out from Virginia and joined us for 10 days. Mike and Aaron humored me by attending a sprint car race at Big Sky Speedway on one of our first evenings together. The following day we visited Pompeys Pillar on the Yellowstone River. Clark's signature carved in the rock is the only documented sign of Lewis and Clark's famous expedition. We ate out at a few memorable restaurants in the area. The Burger Dive in downtown Billings is the number one rated restaurant in the city and for good cause. They have won the World Burger Championship three times. We also had a great meal in Red Lodge, Montana, and then over the Labor Day weekend their neighbors at the cabin on the Stillwater River, had us all over for a fish fry.
Mike, Aaron and I did a lot of birding out on the high plains and up into the Beartooth Mountains. We were rewarded with spectacular views and Aaron was able to get four life birds
Of course it would not be a visit with Cousin Mike if we did not play a lot of golf. We got in 4 rounds, with one of the highlights being able to play with Mike and Dave, who had joined us on our Myrtle Beach golf trips a few times over the years.
Josie's daughter, Cathy and he husband Scott have been gracious enough to let us store a lot of our possessions in their basement for the five years we have been on the road. They will be moving soon since Scott has been promoted in his job with Microsoft to Boca Raton, Florida. So we stored the RV in Montana and flew back to Rhode Island and had a company move us into a local storage facility. It was also a great catching up with Scott and Cathy since the last time we saw them was a year ago in Arizona for the river trip. Scott treated us to a great Lobster dinner one evening and we also had a prime rib dinner one evening, finished off with a decadent Apple Crumble over a Cinnamon Donut with a drizzle of chocolate bourbon sauce.
We flew back to Montana after spending 9 days in Rhode Island. We just left the RV in storage and stayed with Mike and Jeannie for a couple of days, before saying our goodbyes and heading south towards our winter home in Arizona.
We have spent the last two weeks making our way from Vancouver Island, British Columbia to my cousin's home in Laurel, Montana. We took the ferry from the island and entered the USA in Anacortes, Washington. A Customs Officer and a Department of Agriculture Inspector boarded the RV and went straight to the refrigerator, and confiscated our cherry tomatoes. We must have miss-read the rules because we thought that as long as they were in the original package we could bring them into the US. They also confiscated the Christmas Cactus that Josie has raised for five years from a small cutting her daughter gave her. Something about the soil might be contaminated was the reason given, but when they returned the planter it still had a lot of potting soil in it. We did not find any of this in the current customs regulations that we had looked over before we came back into the USA and when we re-read them after they confiscated the cactus. This plant had been in and out of the USA to Canada and back with us three times before, so I guess we were repeat offenders, part of the notorious Christmas Cactus Cartel.
In Anacordes, we stayed six nights at the Fildago Bay RV Park which is owned by the Samish Indian Nation. We had a fantastic site that looked out on Fildago Bay. There was a three mile walking path along the waterfront and we walked 3 miles every morning. The park encourages folks to pick up things they might find on the beach and add to an "Art' project in the park. We celebrated Josie's birthday with a great dinner overlooking one of the many marinas on the waterfront.
From Antecordes we drove over the Cascades to Coeur d Alene, Idaho. Along the way we saw many areas that had recently been burned by brush and forest fires. There were air quality alerts all across the Northwest and visibility was very low in many places. We had planned on driving for two days and staying in Missoula, Montana for a week but I waited too long to make reservations and could not find any RV park in the Missoula area that had room for a week. So we booked a site in Coeur d Alene for only three nights since that was all they had available. We did not do a lot of sight seeing this stop since we had visited here a few years ago. We did need to make a stop at Camping World to pick up a few things for the RV. I was able to play, Circling Raven, a nice golf course that a winter friend in Texas had recommended I play. It is part of the Coeur d Alene Nations Hotel and Casino. It was a great course but the distant views of the Idaho Rockies were obscured by the persistent smoke from the fires.
We made the 50 mile drive to our next stop Wallace, Idaho which claims to be the Center of the Universe. Seems the mayor declared it to be that a few years ago and since no one can prove it is not it has become a tourist attraction. We were here for only one night but we kept busy the whole time. We did not know the Huckleberry Festival was this weekend so we checked it out and enjoyed a Huckleberry Shake. They had already sold out of Huckleberry Pie. We dropped into a collectibles store on Main Street and Josie found a treasure trove of the Hall Orange Poppy Pottery she is collecting. She has a Doughnut shaped tea kettle that was an anniversary gift to her parents in the 1940's and we are always looking for matching pieces. Wallace was founded during the Gold and Silver rush in late 1800's. The Oasis Hotel in downtown was opened as a brothel to service the many miners that swarmed into the area. We stopped in to take the tour, and they say that it operated until 1988. The Wallace RV Park is also part of the City Limits Cafe and Northern Idaho Brewery. We had a great dinner with a couple of beers at what has to be the only RV Park and Brewery in the nation. While walking around town, we saw that they had a Melodrama that evening at the local Theater so we attended and had a fun time. We were in Wallace for less than 24 hours but had a ton of fun. We are adding Wallace to the list of places we are going to return to and spend more time.
Our next stop was in Missoula, Montana. On the first night in town I went to a Missoula Osprey baseball game in their new stadium. Not many teams can say they have a real mascot nesting in center field. The young Osprey could be heard calling throughout the game. The next day we had our first rainy day in over three months. The lady who checked us in told us to go see the museum that was inside a local store. The AXMEN store sells all kinds of home and ranch supplies but the owners have a great collection of antiques hanging from the ceiling and on the walls. We then took the tour of the Smokejumpers Training Center, which was very informative. Josie was so moved that she decided to take a training jump. On our last day in town we rode the Missoula Carousel, one of the fastest Carousels in the world. We really liked the sign on the ticket booth. We then walked around along the river and into downtown for dinner. We were amused by the sculpture entitled Squashed Cat on one of the sidewalks.
Tomorrow we drive east.
We have spent the past three weeks on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. We took the ferry over form Port Angeles, Washington and it was quite an adventure driving the RV with the Jeep behind it on and off the ferry.
We were on the island to visit with our friends, Tom and Diane Murphy and their dog Pepper. We spend the winters with them down in Arizona and we parked the RV near their home in the small town of Cowichan Bay, for the first and third week of our stay. We enjoyed visiting with them and had great meals at their home and one evening at the local seafood place down on the water. Josie and Diane would go out exploring in their new Smart Car while Tom and I would play golf. On one of those days Josie had her hair cut short again, and donated it to "Children With Hair Loss"
We all visited the town of Chemainus which is known for its murals. We also toured the town of Duncan which is famous for its totem poles. Duncan also has the worlds largest hockey stick attached to the front of their Hockey Arena. We shopped at the Duncan Market and one evening we attended an outdoor concert in the town square.
We started the third week of our stay with a happy hour at the Murphy's house, where we met their friends, Cliff and Joanne and Linda and Gord. August third was Tom and Diane's 39th anniversary and we shared a great meal with them at a scenic restaurant on the water in Mill Bay. Cliff and Joanne invited us to their home on Cowichan Lake one evening and we enjoyed a great dinner and an unusual sunset due to forest fires farther up the island.
We visited the BC Forest Museum and rode the old logging train and took in the exhibits about the history of logging in the area. On our final day on the island the ladies attended a matinee performance of the musical "Grease" while Tom and I played golf. Later that evening we had dinner at the Cowichan Bay Hotel on the waterfront.
We spent our second week on the island 100 kilometers up the coast in the town of Parksville. The RV park was right on the ocean and the tide would come in and go out over 1 kilometer each change. You can see the difference in the tide in the first two pictures below taken from the same spot. The Parksville Beach Fest was going on and there was music everyday on the boardwalk. As part of the festival, they had a sand sculptor contest. and they were all very good. We visited the Cathedral Trail with Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar trees that are over 800 years old, and then checked out two of the local waterfalls. On our way home from the big trees, we stopped at the Coombs Marketplace where we saw their "Goats on a Roof" The market was built by a Norwegian immigrant who copied the style of the roofs of his home town in Norway where the houses are built into the side of hills and the goats wander freely over the tops and eat the grass on the roofs. Tom and Diane drove up from Cowichan Bay twice. The first time we looked over the sand sculptures and then had a nice lunch at a beach side restaurant. The second time it was my birthday and Tom and I played golf while the ladies went to the beach. Later we had a cookout and pigged out on the four types of cake Tom and Diane brought for my birthday.
Tom and I played seven rounds of golf at seven different courses during our three week visit. All of the courses had fantastic scenery and wildlife. For our last round, we played Bear Mountain, a Jack Nickolas course with spectacular views of Victoria, the Straights and the Olympic Mountains. Many of the courses had wild blackberries growing in the rough and I could not help but eat a few.
We had a great time on the island and want to thank Tom and Diane for their wonderful hospitality. We can't wait to see them in Arizona in October.