5/27/06: Apache Junction, AZ: Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Please take a few moments to remember all of those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom and way of life. We must never forget.
Do you know what an Arizona Dust Devil is? It's a desert mini tornado. Dust devils are created when air near the surface becomes much warmer than the air above. This creates an instability in which the warm air rises. For a better explanation and some good photos, check this web site. So why do I mention dust devils? Because they are attracted to RV awnings! A week ago, we were attacked by one of these sneaky devils. It came REAL close to us, as the motor home felt like it was going to tip over. All of our awnings acted like kites and were being shaken loose from our home. Especially the large patio awning. We were lucky, as our awning was tightened down pretty good and we were using "de-flappers". But the motor home 2 doors down wasn't so lucky. The dust devil must have gone directly over him. In a couple seconds, his large awning had ripped off from his motor home and was blown over the top of the rig. It tore off from the motorhome and put a hole in the other side. His TV antenna was also ripped off. All he could do was cut it off, take photos for insurance and have a new one installed. We've been pretty careful to put up our awning when we leave and keep an eye on it when home. But yesterday, we almost bit the bullet also. We were home and all of a sudden another dust devil attacked us. Before we knew it, our main awning was billowing up and almost ripped off. Again, we were lucky and there wasn't any damage done. One of the arms on the awning wasn't as tight as it should be and loosened in the intense wind. That's what caused the billowing. Sine we were home and saw what was happening, we immediately ran out and grabbed the awning, preventing any further billowing. We survived unscathed, only to tell others about the dangers of the Arizona Dust Devil. But we have another month here.
Speaking of awnings billowing out and getting ripped off, have you seen my home-made awning lock? We've known many people who have had their awning ripped off while driving. It happened to my dad a couple years ago. Don't be fooled into thinking because your awning is rolled up and the screws are tightened down that your safe. The only thing keeping your awning rolled up is spring tension. If wind (from driving and/or gusts) gets caught inside of your rolled up awning, it WILL billow out and could get ripped from your RV. I made a couple of simple awning locks (only one is needed) that locks the awning from unrolling. A true awning lock, not relying on spring tension. A few years ago, I wrote this article with full details.
Otherwise, life here has been pretty stable. Our granddaughter's birth is getting closer every day. Plans for Cynthia's wedding are also slowly coming together. Connie and I have been playing with hobbies. Connie even took the sewing machine out of the basement and used it on a baby comforter. First time since we started full-timing! We also recently watched the movie, "RV". Although not realistic, it is funny. It's destined to be a RV'ers favorite movie, the same as Lucille Balls' old movie "The Long, Long Trailer". We also recently watched "The DeVinci Code". Good movie, but the book was much better (isn't that always the case?).
5/19/06: Apache Junction, AZ: We've got mixed emotions right now. We're happy to be near our daughters and see them a few times a week. Connie has been helping Cynthia make wedding plans and look for a dress. She finally has reserved a location, so the new wedding date (3rd change) is December 10th of this year. This date is pretty firm, as we've made a deposit on the site. This date works out good for Connie and I, as we'll be done with a summer workamping, and will be back in Arizona for the winter. Leslie is within 2 weeks of her baby's due date, and it sure shows on her! Every time we see her, it looks like she enlarged by a couple more inches. She's going to burst!
Leslie's friends threw her a Baby shower, which Connie had a great time attending. Connie's also had dinner with a bunch of her previous co-workers. Otherwise, we've been mainly hibernating in our air conditioned home. The Arizona heat precludes us from doing much outdoors. Since we're near family, we cut back on doing other "fun stuff" to help make the finances even out. Most of our free time has been working on the computers. We completely redesigned and upgraded our other web site, www.MilitaryCampgrounds.us. Connie's been a big help working on verification of all the data used there. Larry also worked on a programming project, making a very nice (if I say so myself) application for the Escapee's Boomers group. It may not be as exciting as playing tourist, but it saves money and we're inside from the heat. It's reaching 104° today! Our dual RV air conditioners keep our motor home in the mid 80's when it's that hot outside.
Over the past few years of keeping these logs, I know I've mentioned Norm and Linda Payne. They're full timing RV'ers who started in their early 50's. I started following their adventures on their web site at SeeYa-DownTheRoad.com in 2001. They had been full timing for 2 years then, which is about where we are now. They've been an inspiration for us over these many years. They're still going strong with their adventures, which we continue to follow. With us always running into friends all around this nation, I'm surprised we've never run into Norm and Linda. Some day, I'll finally get to meet and thank them in person for (indirectly) helping us get started full timing. A few days ago, I checked back on their web site and learned they were just here! I think we missed them by a few days, if I knew they were going to be here. Oh well, someday.. someplace we'll finally meet.
While reading on their web site some of the things they did while here, they reminded us of a place we once visited. When we lived in this area, we visited Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa with some friends. So we made another visit there for dinner last night. They have good pizza, but that's not the main attraction. The HUGE Wurlitzer pipe organ is the main attraction. You listen to some WONDERFUL pipe organ music while enjoying pizza. When I say this is a HUGE pipe organ, I'm not exaggerating. This rebuilt organ system from the early 1900's has 276 Keys, with 798 Stops and Controls. Our organist for the night had lightening fast hands to control all 1074 of those buttons while never missing a beat. And this isn't no simple circus music either. There's nothing like hearing a "Phantom of the Opera" medley on this organ, complete with special effects and lighting. Of course, we had to make this request, which he turned into a 15 minute spectacular! But it's not just the organ itself that's amazing. There's over 5500 pipes of every size (I think the largest is 32' high), all controlled by compressed air. A very enjoyable show, all for the price of pizza and beer.
5/7/06: Apache Junction, AZ: We arrived in Apache Junction a week ago. This town is in the suburbs of Phoenix, and once used to be considered "way out there". Not anymore! It's an older town on the edge of the Superstition Mountains. Development has gone wild and now extends another 10 miles SE. This area is a very popular "snowbird" destination. There must be over 50 RV parks within 25 square miles. Since winter is now past us, and the temperatures have reached 100° already, you would think we'd have our choice of nice parks to stay at. Not so, for us. The nicer and newer RV parks are asking $450 a month, plus electric! With the need to run the A/C almost all day, the electric bill would be another $100+ per month! Although we haven't tried to gain access yet, almost all of the parks here advertise 55+. We don't yet meet that age requirement.
So we're staying at the one Passport America discount park that doesn't have the age restriction. It's an "okay" park, a little old with mostly park models for the snowbirds. But we do have a pool and hot tub. With the 50% discounted rate, we're paying $10 a day. But they still sneak in an additional $2 a day "for utilities". Since our daily rate is lower than the regular monthly rate here, we're paying $366 a month. Not the best rate for a month in this type of park, but it's the best for this area. We LOVE our Passport America membership. For the $45 yearly subscription, we saved that much here in less than a week. Passport America is the oldest 50% membership club and has thousands of RV parks that honor this 50% discount. Although we don't have first hand experience, I've heard the Happy Campers club is also good (also a 50% discount club). Camping World used to sell Passport America, but recently started selling Camping Club instead. It's a new 50% discount club owned by The Affinity Group, which owns much of the RV service industry (including Camping World). Only time will tell if this large conglomerate will bully out the smaller discount clubs.