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Sunrise at Tombstone, AZ

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Christmas at Casa Grande, AZ

Friday, December 23rd, we arrived at High Chaparral RV Park in Arizona City by 11:30 am and were met by our friends Wayne and Karen. It was great to see them as we had not been able to connect since American Thanksgiving last year. Our other friends, the travelling Auzzies Laurel and Derek, arrived by 3:30 and we all participated in Happy Hour over at Wayne and Karen's with their friends John and Sandy. A lovely evening enjoying the clear skies before the rain event tomorrow.

Saturday morning, Christmas Eve day, so far sunny and windy. I decided to do one last grocery shop in Casa Grande while it was not raining. Once I got back after talking with Derek and Laurel, we decided to go back to Casa Grande and partake in the food at the Golden Corral as tonight's event is only appetizers at 7 pm. After lunch we made a few more stops for Derek and Laurel. We made it back at 2:30 and the rainstorm had just begun. Only Ray got wet taking the dog for a walk. I finished up my appetizer for tonight and Ray and I spent the next few hours relaxing. I drug out the dehumidifier as the windows were getting steamed up with the wet dog, and me doing the dishes. It sure took us back down to 50% in no time. By 5 pm as Wayne had predicted, the skies cleared so we got a peak at the sun just before it set! At 6:30 we were all gathered in the hall for Christmas Eve Gift Exchange. It was great having Laurel and Derek with us this year as well as seeing Wayne and Karen.

My appetizer, Festive Cheeseball Christmas Tree

Sandy and Karen

The gifts for the exchange

Wayne, John and Deb

Derek and Laurel
Sunday, Christmas Day, Laurel and Derek came over at 8:00 am for coffee and Irish Creme Liquor and then it was Eggs Benedict with Mimosa's. We ate early as the park's Christmas Dinner was scheduled for 1 pm. The gang met up at 12:30 in the hall and we had a wonderful potluck dinner with the park contributing the turkey, ham, buns and potatoes and gravy. Everyone went their separate ways for an hour and then it was time to have Happy Hour over at Karen and Wayne's to try out a bunch of liqueurs. It was a little cold out though and by 5 pm everyone disbanded. I think everyone was happy to have a quiet evening in their perspective homes.

Back at home Dad's caregiver Larny, getting Dad into the Christmas spirit whether he likes it or not. LOL Christmas Eve, Kristi picked them up and took them to my Aunt Norma's and Uncle Ken's for Christmas Eve dinner (9 for dinner) Jason stayed and helped prepare the food. Thanks for helping Jason. Dad and Larny were also invited over for brunch on Christmas Day with Betty's daughter and son-in-law. Nice to see they are keeping in touch with him.

Garrett and Kat spending Christmas at Kat's parents in Kamloops.

Garrett and Kat with Kira on their way to Kamloops

Definitely a white Christmas up there.

Having fun in the snow.

Garrett's dog Kira, enjoying her Christmas present.

Kat's mom and dad and brother with Garrett. Looks yummy.
So it looks like everyone had a good Christmas. Ray's mom had a brief stint in the hospital for de-hydration but was back at her assisted living apartment and was able to enjoy a wonderful dinner there. Kristi managed to visit her as well before picking up my dad, while Jason was helping my aunt with dinner.

Friday, 23 December 2016

A Christmas Visit with Malcolm and Kathy in Queen Valley, AZ

Our annual visit with Malcolm and Kathy at Queen Valley RV Park. We tried to catch up with them several times while we were in New Mexico but it just did not happen, so here were are for three days to catch up on the past years travels for both of us.

Freya keeping an eye out for all of the dog walkers.

Tuesday I spent the day doing laundry. We did manage to get together with Malc and Kath for a hot tub later in the afternoon with plans for them to come to dinner at our house Wednesday night for Roast Beast. They are both getting over colds so one more day will be good for them to recover and not be contagious to us. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, I spent the day finishing up our laundry, making bread and preparing our dinner. Ray took a drive back into Mesa for a few last minute items we had forgotten to buy and then had another hot tub . Kathy made a wonderful appetizer of bree cheese with cranberries and we all enjoyed the roast beef dinner with lots of wine. A great evening. The rain showers began off and on for the rest of the evening but it sure was warm out 60 F.

Thursday we woke up later than usual to the sound of rain on the roof. Kathy and Malc are hosting dinner tonight so I just have to do yesterday's dishes and even managed to make a batch of shortbread.  I also made the appetizer, pineapple, shrimp skewers with bacon. Yumm. We had a lovely evening, Kathy had made some lovely chicken and roast potatoes. Thanks for dinner guys.

Friday it's pack up and off to our Christmas destination, Casa Grande, to spend the next ten days with our friends Wayne and Karen and Derek and Laurel.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

A Week at Lost Dutchman State Park, AZ

Not a lot of pictures this week as we stayed mostly at camp enjoying the warm weather outside and doing much needed maintenance chores.

Nice and warm out to barbecue our dinner in shorts! What a view of the Superstition Mountains.

A little different weather back home. Larny put up a Christmas tree for Dad. Notice the snow out the window.

Most of this post is to remind me next year what we actually did this year!

Tuesday morning we were packed up by 9:30 and on our way to the Lost Dutchman State Park for the week. It sure was a long drive .... 1/2 hour! lol. (Good thing I reserved 2 weeks ago, the place is packed and there were only a couple of sites then to book that were open for a whole week.)

This week should be a more restful week so Ray can recover from all of the walking we have been doing, he is pretty sore. It did not take too long for us to get set-up with the Christmas stuff. Inside stuff for me and Ray has our outside pop-up Christmas trees up and the strobe light for the bushes. By 11:00 am we were done. Our Santa Hats on the mirrors were attracting lots of action from the hummingbirds so I put up two feeders to keep them happy. There is usually lots of quail here as well so the birdseed feeder went up too with a dish of water. (By Friday have not seen any quail but all sorts of other birds are enjoying the bird seed.)

The rest of the day, other than a few short walks with Freya, we spent outside on the shady side of the coach reading. The dog is pretty sore too and is limping. I think that the gravel at the "relief station" from Good Life RV Park may have contributed to her soreness. She will need to rest this week as well although her attitude says run ... her body says no.  Ray and I finished off the day with a lovely campfire watching the gorgeous Arizona sunset while I BBQ'd a steak for dinner. Another great day in the Arizona warmth.

Wednesday, another quiet day doing a few chores and relaxing outside in the warmth.

Thursday morning I sent a quick Thank You to Gerry and FranCeen for our lovely dinner a few days ago. I suggested maybe they could come and visit us here for dinner and a campfire. Before I knew it they said yes and what time tonight should they come. (I wasn't really thinking today ... lol) As tonight was the last warm night for a while it all worked out and I got my butt in gear to come up with a plan for dinner. We ended up having grilled shrimp and pineapple skewers to start and then pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw. FranCeen brought a cherry pie for dessert. Yummm. As it was so warm we were able to sit outside with a nice campfire for the rest of the evening. Another great visit. The only downside was that the Lost Dutchman Park charged them $7.00 (day pass) to come and see us for dinner. I have never had to pay for guests to come visit before at any park, Provincial or State when they are not using any trails or park services.

Overnight the forecast rain began and it continued into early in the morning. When we got up at 6 am it had mostly stopped. Went outside to make sure things were not blowing away and noticed that it was a pretty warm wind. I guess tomorrow is the day that the temperatures will drop to the high 50's.

Our longtime friends Derek and Laurel contacted us last week and are going to stay in Casa Grande the same time as us to enjoy Christmas with us. So looking forward to that. When they left Palm Springs we suggested that they might like Fountain of Youth Spa and to check in with some other friends of ours staying there. Just received an email from Elke and Bill Marriott that Laurel and Derek indeed checked in with them and Elke and Bill graciously took them to Slab City and Bombay Beach for a drive. Thanks guys for showing them around. It was quite an experience for them I am sure.

Friday we took a trip into Mesa Market ... kind of like Tyson Wells at Quartszite but all under tents. Nothing too interesting, came home with our money still in our pocket. After that it was time to dig out my small carpet cleaner, the "Spotbot"for it's first trial. Somehow our little fryer got tipped in the basement 2 days ago so I had a bunch of peanut oil to deal with so everything had to come out of that tray to clean it. Fortunately the oil did not travel all the way under Ray's boat. Once I had that dealt with I figured since it was out of its hiding spot to tackle a bunch of the carpet areas inside. Started all of this project at 11 am and did not turn the machine off until 5:30 pm. How time flies when you are having fun! Not! Anyways the carpet areas I did sure look like brand new so it was worth it. I wanted to get it done, especially the basement tray, while it was still warm (70 F) as the weather after today is forecast to only be high 50's for the next week.

As the weather report indicated overnight we had quite a bit of rain and it blew all night with all of awning toppers happily flapping in the wind. I was so tired I barely noticed anything.:) Saturday morning we woke to clearing skies but still breezy. A freeze warning has been issued for Casa Grande for temps dipping overnight to the high 20's. Fortunately when we get there the lows will only be the low 40's. I am pretty sore this morning from all my crawling around on the floor yesterday so probably stay pretty quiet, maybe make some cookies for Ray.

Change of plan .... went to Safeway to pick up a few things and saw this!!!! $200 off Choice bone-in Strip Loin. $3.97 /lb. Total price $74.00 for all of that meat. All of our friends will get a roast beef dinner for Christmas when I entertain them! Beef is usually so expensive down here plus exchange so we do not usually buy it. Trying out a small one rib roast tonight to see how tender it is. Took Ray a little while to process it into smaller portions.

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and turn it into this!
Take this

The carpet cleaning took a toll on my back. I think I tweaked it crawling under the bed to reach an area of old drink spills from Ray having to stay lying on his back after surgery.  I was pretty sore today and spent the afternoon sitting or laying on our bed. On a good note though the roast beast turned out beautiful, tender and moist and we will have leftovers tomorrow.

Sunday morning woke up to clear sunny skies but cold. Temps down to 34 F. This is the coldest day forecast for the next week or so. My back is still real touchy so I think I will be real careful of what I do today as we are going to the Arizona Oprey tomorrow for their dinner and show. Freya appears to be feeling better as we have been only taking her for short walks (basically because she only goes so far and refuses to go any further. She continues to go banana's in the coach running back and forth from the bedroom to the front with her toy in her mouth to burn off her excess energy however. It always amazes me that she never hits anything.

Monday morning was much warmer. We putted about, went into Apache Junction for a little shopping. Today was the Arizona Opry. We heard nothing but good things from other friends that have gone there. This was their holiday show. It was fabulous. for $40 a person you receive a huge dinner and 2 hours of entertainment. They played a wonderful selection of new and old Christmas favorites, including Ray's song about THE GRINCH. It is a definite do again next year and see one of their other shows, Rock'n Roll and Country. A very talented family.

Tuesday we had a late start packing up as we were only going 40 minutes further to Queen Valley for the next three days to visit with our friends Malcolm and Kathy from Victoria, BC. It definitely feels more like Christmas this year with attending events and visiting friends.

Here are some pictures that Ray took with my camera, of the Barleen's Arizona Opry. Hopefully they turned out okay in the dark environment.

Old police car in front of the Opry

They seat lots of people.

Elvis singing a Christmas Song

Doing the Grinch song ... see the green hands and hat.

That sums up our week at the Lost Dutchman State Park.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Organ Stop Pizza and the Arizona Mormon Temple

Yesterday, Monday Dec 12th, was our last day here in Mesa. On this date 34 years ago, our daughter Kristi was born. Love ya Kristi! Hope you had a fantastic day on your mini-vacation with Jason.

My day was spent grocery shopping and cleaning chores and Ray also did a few maintenance things. By 1:30 pm it was time for our last hot tub and we spent the next few hours sitting in the shade outside enjoying the balmy weather.

Several people said we must go to the Organ Stop Pizza and also see the light display at the Mormon Temple, so tonight would be the night as it was fairly close to where we are currently staying.

5:30 pm found us at the Organ Stop Pizza for dinner. Good thing we came early so had no trouble finding a seat up close. By 6:30 the place was getting packed with families. Seeing all of the kids dancing around to the music was very cute. Even an old dude who arrived in a wheel chair got up and was swaying to the music with his arms doing most of the dancing with his daughter and grandchildren. Great to see.


" Organ Stop Pizza, home to The Mighty Wurlitzer. Organ Stop’s Mighty Wurlitzer is one of the largest and finest theater organs in the world today. Its nearly 6000 pipes, numerous percussions, and countless traps are masterfully presented by The Musical Staff who are world class musicians."

"In 1972, the original Organ Stop Pizza restaurant premiered in Phoenix, Arizona at the corner of 7th Street and Missouri Avenue with a Wurlitzer pipe organ which was originally built for Grauman’s Hollywood Egyptian Theater. This unique concept of a pizza parlor with a pipe organ was envisioned by William P. Brown, a Phoenix real estate developer whose enthusiasm for the theater pipe organ and its music led to the creation of this landmark attraction.
The phenomenal success of the Phoenix restaurant prompted plans to open another Organ Stop in Mesa. It opened in 1975 near the corner of Dobson and Southern Avenue with a Wurlitzer organ from the Denver Theater in Denver, Colorado. In the theater, the Denver instrument had 15 ranks, or sets of pipes. The instrument was totally rebuilt, and the decision was made to enlarge the organ to 23 ranks for its debut in the new Mesa Organ Stop."
"The success and popularity of the new Organ Stop Pizza mirrored that of the Phoenix location. In 1984, Bill Brown decided to retire from the restaurant business. The Phoenix Organ Stop was sold to a real estate developer, who sold the pipe organ and demolished the building in favor of an office complex. Incidentally, that instrument was sold to a couple in Downers Grove, Illinois, for installation in their home! The Mesa Organ Stop was sold to longtime employee and manager Mike Everitt and his business partner Brad Bishop. Under the new ownership, improvement of the pipe organ became a high priority. Over the course of the ensuing years, careful acquisition of rare pipework and percussions were made, culminating in what is now the largest Wurlitzer pipe organ in the world. With the change in ownership, the restaurant continued to gain in popularity. Inevitably plans were made to move into a facility twice the size of the original in order to accommodate the ever increasing number of patrons and ever-expanding organ. This new mega facility, located at the corner of Stapley Drive and Southern Avenue, was designed specifically to accommodate the expanding scope and size of the Organ Stop Wurlitzer. Construction of the new facility began in May of 1995 and the grand opening was Thanksgiving weekend of that same year."

Needless to say we were amazed at this wonderful music making machine. The music was so rich and full that it made your heart sore. Just like being at a symphony. You felt it in your chest. The pizza was great and they served beer on tap, including two of our favorites, Michelob Amber Bock and Twin Peaks Kiltlifter. Everything was very reasonably priced and was self-serve, cash only. A medium Pizza and 2 beer $30. Ray and I were enjoying our pizza 20 minutes after ordering. The seating consisted of long tables with benches that had the best view although you could go up into the balcony and sit in a proper chair. We stayed downstairs with a great view but could not stay too long with Ray's back situation.

Ray taking a picture of me from the balcony.

The organ comes up from under the floor with the organist. They have puppets, sing-a-longs and keep your thoroughly entertained. The whole front wall of the restaurant is the "pipes". The organist takes requests and plays a wide variety of music including old pop songs, like "Play that Funky Music". Ray and I will definitely visit this place again next year. What a memory.

View from the balcony of the whole wall of pipes.

There are all sizes of pipes behind the purple walls and smaller ones hanging from the ceiling.

The puppets above.

Some of the funky percussion instruments.

           These are the organ's baffles and they vibrate like crazy.

With full bellies off we went to the Arizona Mormon Temple. We arrived by about 6:45... good thing as we managed to get a parking spot close to the display. By the time we left an hour later, the place was packed. Note .... if you go to a light display get there just after dark before the majority of the people arrive!

The Mormon Temple display is really magical. Their gardens have groups of lights that mimic planted flowers. Pretty cool. They have concerts every evening by different groups. As this is a Mormon Church there were several religious displays including a huge Nativity Scene. Not that we are very religious, but it was nice to see the "Christ" in Christmas. 

As we were leaving the display we noticed this in the parking lot, taking people for light tours in the area. A great end to a great day and great week here at The Good Life RV Park.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Loop of Lights, San Tan Valley

Friday and Saturday we stayed pretty close to home doing some much needed chores. Sunday we had made arrangements for dinner with friends we met last year at Peace Arch RV Park. Gerry and FranCeen own a home in the San Tan Valley and graciously invited us to dinner and then we walked the Loop of Lights, located 1/2 mile from their house.

Great Margarita's Gerry and your Thai Chicken is awesome Fran. Thanks again. You have a beautiful house.

The loop of lights comprised of about 4 streets they close to traffic every evening after 6:30 pm for about 3 weeks for pedestrians only. The last house on the route was done up with synchronized music, served up popcorn to everyone and all the kids just loved it. Here is a sampling of the decorated houses. Most houses sported some lights but there were about 1/2 dozen scrooges that kept their houses dark. You would think that they would be guilted into it!

Ray, Deb, FranCeen and Gerry

The last house (above) with the huge spotlights on the roof top. Awesome. It was hard for Ray to get a good picture of this one as the lights kept going on and off to the music and with his shutter speed set to take a few seconds it was challenging.
A lovely hour's walk. It certainly gives you that Christmas feeling.