Thursday, March 9, 2017

2017 Southwest CHRPA Trek - CHRPA Days!

Tuesday, 3.7.17
Edgewood, NM to Shalom CHRPALand, Tucson, AZ
483  miles
            Today was a LONG day.  We got up and basically packed up the trailer to be ready for our much hoped for phone call that the truck oil pan had arrived!  Around 11am we drove into Mom’s, sat with her for about a half hour and then headed over to the Toyota dealership.  Truck not quite ready, but it would be.  We grabbed lunch at the Wendy’s next door and then at 1:15 we finally were able to leave Albuquerque for good!!  Back out to Edgewood to pick up the trailer.  We were officially ‘on our way’ by 2:15. 
            Since we are later in the day on a weekday, we decided to take the alternate rural route down to the freeway north of Socorro.  It adds only a few miles and keeps one out of traffic.  Still it is two hours to pull into Socorro, gas up, and then I drive down to Hatch.  The sun sets behind the western mountains just before we arrive in Hatch, where we fuel ourselves up with burritos and a green chili sandwich (Rick!).  The vistas from Hatch to Tucson we have seen plenty of times, and quite frankly, it is gorgeous driving on a clear night, with a ¾ moon in the sky and plenty of stars. 
            I take a brief 50 mile shift to relieve Rick from Lordsburg to Safford, and we pull into the Shalom lot a few minutes before midnight.  They’ve been landscaping, but there is ONE RV spot left on the end of the row!  We back in quickly, figuring we can adjust in the morning.  Plug in and go to bed!!  (Well, Rick takes awhile to unwind ….. both of us had plenty of coffee since Hatch!)
            Much of the rest of the drive I was busy texting siblings, sending emails, doing FB updates, etc. regarding Mom’s status and her now pending surgery for Wednesday in Portland.  Prayers.  Lots of prayers. 
            I also took ZERO pictures today.  ZERO!  The best photo opportunities were while I was driving, sadly enough.  :(

Wednesday, 3.8.17
A Day of Rest
We are the last in the lineup at CHRPAland RV Park! 

            Well, I can’t say Rick and I actually DID very much today!  We listened to the click click of the bikes going over the RV hookup metal plates at 7:15, the parade of cars and trucks coming in for the 7:30 CHRPA start time.  And we didn’t get out of bed after our midnight arrival! 
            Rick spent much of the day trying to get the hot water heater to stop leaking after the repairs that were made in Edgewood.  Finally enough for him to take a shower by evening….we are hoping the minerals in the Tucson water will plug up the few remaining occasional drips! 
            We grabbed some groceries mid-day to tide us over for awhile.  Afternoon slightly napping and talking with the many people who came over to introduce themselves, investigate the new trailer, etc.
The first of our Arizona sunsets. 
      Conversations with Liz confirmed that Mom wouldn’t be operated on today, as the cardiologist wanted more information prior to the surgery.  Mac was traveling on up to Allen to drop off his puppy and then will return Thursday morning in time to be with Liz during surgery.
            We joined the CHRPA crew at end of day to celebrate Kat’s birthday.  I can’t get internet at the trailer, since we are at the far end, but I can sit outside the CHRPA office and connect there.  A little more uncomfortable and inconvenient, but the price you pay for inexpensive lodging! 

THURSDAY, 3.9.17
CHRPA Day 1 – Mom’s Hip Surgery

This has nothing to do with our Flooring CHRPA
lesson, but I really liked the front of the Shalom
            Scott scheduled Rick and I to work together today at the CHRPA headquarters.  I had indicated a willingness to do so yesterday when I overheard him saying how many people would be working Thursday (often a popular day with the locals as well due to CHRPA-School).  Our School this morning was on floor repairs, taught by Dustin.  I thought he did a good job – we went over to the church to watch a PowerPoint on it! 
            Scott had a list of things that need to be done in the new office space.  (No, they are NOT moved into the addition that Rick and I painted last fall! Still much to be done!)  We spent the morning cutting corrugated sheet metal to fit into place for soffits (a portion had been done already) and installing the panels.  The electric tin snip work very much like the cement board cutter I used up in Bozeman, MT!  And I
Rick installs one of the soffit panels. 
have a wonderful supply now of metal ¼” curly cues to make into ‘stuff’!  (Rick just rolls his eyes on this acquisitions!)  Also got the assessments done and materials ordered (and later delivered!) to finish the molding around the utility closet and to install the sheetrock corner bead in the new entry between old and new.  I patched a section of damaged sheetrock in one of the offices – to paint later when the mud is dry.  And we cut and painted 10 8 foot sections of trim to put up in the gap between soffit and wall on the exterior.  Not a bad day’s work! 
A star made from my sheet metal scraps!
Rick and Scott discuss trim.  
    Liz called at 7am to update me on Mom.  She had had a rough night pulling on her tubes and IV lines, disrobing etc.  A little disoriented for sure!  The surgery was scheduled for 11:30a, so I was anxiously awaiting news of the surgery most of the afternoon while we painted. But, Mom came through the operation ok, just a little low Blood Pressure, and was in recovery being monitored by her cardiologist. 

Tonight's sunset as I sit by the office working online! 
            A warm day… Tucson has so graciously waited to ‘warm up’ until we arrived.  Seriously.  It has been in the mid 70’s up until Wednesday, when the temps jumped nearly 20 degrees to the high 80’s.  Tomorrow, my birthday, it is supposed to top 90 for the first time this year.  Grrrr.  We can’t win – spring or fall! 
Cacti at Tucson Botanical Gardens

FRIDAY, 3.10.17
Ginger’s 63rd Birthday

Flowers at TBGardens
            A good day, albeit a warm one!!  We took off for the Tucson Botanical Gardens around 9:30 – my second choice, but we couldn’t get tickets at Kartner Caverns.  I didn’t really want to drive that far, anyway!  The gardens are supposed to be a hidden secret!  An old estate that was given to the city in the late 1970’s.  A Freida Kahlo exhibit was also underway which was interesting.  We toured through shady arbor covered areas with herb gardens, citrus trees, eucalyptus trees and myrtle trees.  Plenty of mesquite and palo verde as well!  Cactus gardens and a butterfly/orchid house which was amazing.  A model railroad layout, café, gift shop (of course!), and plenty of information about zeriscape gardening in the desert climate.  Enjoyable and educational! 
Garden pictures
            We left around 1 to grab lunch at Mariscos de Matzatlan – I wanted Spanish seafood!  I ended up with a shrimp quesadilla and Rick had a smoked marlin quesadilla, only his looked much more like marlin fish tacos!  They were good – and I still have half of mine leftover! 
            Back to trailer for a VERY lazy afternoon.  Eventually I went over to the SOOP lounge and found a puzzle!  Spent 3 hours working on it!  Talked with Luke, text with Mac concerning mom.  Saw oodles of wonderful birthday wishes on Facebook! 
In the butterfly house
            Afternoon was warm but overall a nice breeze blowing if you were in the shade and outside.  The trailer reached 98 degrees at some point, but it is back down to 85 now at 7 pm.  

Saturday, March 11
A Little Work, A Little Play

          A good night’s sleep, although both of us work up at one point to the sound of shots being fired – 8-10 of them!  We never heard sirens, so we think it was just someone nearby having a little fun into the air.  Hope so, anyway!!  A little disconcerting, however! 

          A beautiful sunrise this morning which pulled me out of bed to take a picture, although I was a little late for the best show.  Glad I got up, however, because Liz called shortly after that!  She is always up early and hospitals don’t bring out the best in sleep patterns, anyway!!  Mom was doing well – staff keeping on top of potential bed sores, infection, bladder, etc.  Liz anticipates Mom might get to move to the rehab center by Tuesday or Wednesday.
          Conversations this morning with Marge, Ted, and later Bob who rode his bike in to use the internet.  Neighbor Joe stopped by, whom we hadn’t seen for over a year (he had suffered through a few medical issues too – seems to be a common theme with all our ‘old’ friends!) And during it all, Rick worked hard once again to fix the water system.  Ted loaned him a heat gun which is supposed to make the plexitubes soft enough to mold together.  As of 4pm this afternoon, 95% success rate! 
My patch job! 
Side view of soffit and trim. 
          We decided to finish up a couple of our CHRPA jobs today – eg.  I painted my sheetrock patching in one of the offices, and both of us installed the trim molding under the soffits outside.  We can write down another 2 ½ hours of work now! 
          Rest of afternoon spent in SOOP lounge doing my map puzzle and catching up on some drawing.  Pleased to find I have marginal wifi there – might not have to sit outside the office every night!   (Cancel that last paragraph – lost it!)  Rick came over and made popcorn for his dinner!  I eventually ate salad!  Lazy day overall! 

Sunday, 3.12.17
Worship and SOOP Time!

          Another beautiful morning out.  Tucson can be downright pleasant when it is 52 degrees outside in the mornings AND we have that giant tree shading the trailer until 9:30am or so!! 

          We went to church across the parking lot, which from our current spot is REALLY close – had to walk, perhaps, a total of 40 steps….maybe!  Did feel like we were a little in the middle of the parking lot at times as cars pulled in. 

          Recognized two other SOOPS, Peter and Viola, who sat behind us.  They invited us as well to the gathering after church which Marge had mentioned on Friday.  We just didn’t know when and where!  Well, Viola came over to the trailer after church to make sure we knew the details!  Olive Garden!    (when have I been to Olive Garden TWICE in one week in my whole life??)  We ended up with a group of 13!!  Most of us just ordered the soup and salad lunch menu – you can’t go wrong with that! 

          Shopping at Harbor Freight and then groceries at WalMart to wrap up our ‘outing’.  Afternoon on phone or internet catching up.  After dinner I went over to the SOOP Lounge for game night – we finished the global map puzzle, others played Mexican train.  

 Monday, 3.13.17

          Another beautiful cool morning, but slated to heat up to the 90’s again today!  Rick is going out with our ‘neighbor’ from Alberta, Bob, on several jobs.  I am assigned to Dan Wilhelm and a tub conversion job, which basically means rip out the bathtub, and install a shower base, frame in walls, etc. 
          The demolition goes easily, followed by a trip to Home Depot to pick up a shower pan, tiles, plumbing fixture, etc.  Upon return, I worked on building a small frame to finish off the wall while Dan did the plumbing connections.  Unfortunately, we struggled to get the connections to stop leaking, but were FINALLY successful.  Then we couldn’t get the shower pan to sit level because of the height of the drain.  So….a frustrating afternoon in some ways. 
          Rick and Bob had a good day, got their ‘list’ done, and worked together well.  Rick is scheduled to help with a handicap ramp tomorrow, and I will be back with Dan, hopefully getting started on the tile process! 
          I rasped and sanded the corner edges in the office when we got back, prior to taking a shower!  Hope to get those corners covered and plastered sometime this week. 

Tuesday, 3.14.17
          Rick is on the north side of town today with a four-person ramp crew!  Abi and Kara, Rick and Hugh.  They completed a huge ramp for a mobile home, all but the railings.  Abi and Mary will return tomorrow to finish it up. 
          I went out again with Dan to hopefully make better progress on our shower conversion!  We decided to frame off the tiny remaining part of the wall, so I worked on that while Dan still struggled for awhile to make the drain system work.  He finally had to drive over to Naughton’s for some parts and we had success!  I even installed my frame section myself.  It fit tight! 
          Before lunch we got all the cement board up – not nearly as easy as sheetrock to install.  I finally started hammering in the screws to get them started and then drilled them in the rest of the way. 
          After lunch….tile time!!!  Dan got started and then let me set about three rows of the back wall in myself – he buttered and I placed the tiles.  After that, I went out to the tile saw and made all the cuts, including the cut out for the shower head!  We were all done shortly after 2:30!  (Except for the small section of wall where we ran out of tiles….it wasn’t part of our initial estimate.)
          Rick had started the laundry already, so I grabbed the black paint and a small brush and went out and touched up the paint jobs on about 6 of the trucks.  Nothing major on most, just MAYA that needed a bit more.  Puzzle time, and a long phone conversation with Liz round out the evening.  

Wednesday, March 15

          Another beautiful sunrise!  Temps in the trailer have been in the upper 50’s most mornings – just pleasantly cool!  (Unfortunately temps have been near 100 degrees in the trailer when we get back from the job! AC time!)
          Rick has been changed to go back out with Abi and finish the rail.  They also did a rail assessment, so Rick was able to see the process from the very beginning.  He is hoping to get enough skills to be able to offer to build ramps for Baker City residents. 
          I originally was scheduled to go out with Dan again, then changed to Don, then changed back again to Dan.  I was glad because I really wanted to see the shower conversion through to the finish line.  We stopped and picked up the tile we needed, got it installed (I again doing the cutting), and then drilled the holes for the safety bars.  Dan was using a diamond drill bit and I sprayed with water every 4-5 seconds and STILL each hole took nearly 2 minutes!  We had 12 to drill!  Not a fast process.  Then I installed the toilet safety rails while Dan began grouting.  Finally we caulked all the corners, etc., installed the rails and shower fixtures, and finally, put up the new curtain rod.  We proclaimed it done and Maria and Adina came to admire!  (BYW, Maria did deliver more breakfast burritos and OJ this morning!) 
          Lunch, and then up to the rooftop to service the swamp cooler!  I cleaned the pan while Dan put in new pads, we tested the water system and motor, installed a new fuse, and switched the vents blockers from furnace to cooler. It was hot up there, but a nice view of the Tucson Mts. to the west! 
          Last stop was another cooler service and a furnace assessment.  Over near the airport and RIGHT under the flight path!  The homeowner was at work and her daughter did not speak a lick of English.  We struggled at times.  Some cute kids!  It was a different kind of cooler, so we had to make a trip to Naughton’s to pick up giant size cooler pads (extra thick ones).  By this time clouds had obscured the intense sun and a nice breeze was blowing up on the roof!  We didn’t get back to CHRPA HQ until 4:30!  A full 9 hour day! 
          We walked down to Taco Giro for dinner, with a conversation with Liz enroute!  BIG dinner meals that will be tomorrow’s as well!  Beautiful sunset to the west while we walked home.  Puzzle and computer time, then bed time!! 

Thursday, March 16

          Thursday is CHRPA School Day!  This morning Ted and Elinor led some reminder hints about electric boxes and fuse boxes, etc.  I learn just enough about electricity to be dangerous!  I still would never feel comfortable doing much on my own concerning electricity, but I learn a little more each time we come!  
          Rick goes out again with Abi today, but no ramps – they are fixing an awning that is preventing a front door from opening smoothly.  Also had a few water heater assessments to make. 
          I am with Dustin and we are bound for the far reaches of the county in Marana and beyond!  But first Home Depot, stops at Dustin’s house and a potential house to buy, then drop off some roof sealant for Abi and Rick, and THEN house to do our assessment for a lady living in a small mobile home out in the desert.  She is definitely in need of assistance, and while Dustin does the assessment, I get the figures and facts for the paperwork from her. 
          Then on up the freeway some more and out toward Saguaro West National Park.  Dustin has been working here all week installing a new swamp cooler.  We have to install the duct work into the trailer heating system UNDER the trailer.  We struggle at times to get the pieces to fit together, and then we discover we are 10 inches short.  We brought a few extra pieces with us (just in case this happened), but didn’t have one big enough for the second large section.  Scrounge in the yard, which was filled with debris, and Dustin found the underpan for an old BBQ – the right size and very well corroded, so usable for our purposes!  I cut everything with the electric tin snips, and then we BOTH went under the house to maneuver the pieces into place and attach them.  Dirty work! 
          While Dustin then checked the swamp cooler function, I installed two posts out by the front steps under the railings. 
          Enroute home I talked with Luke briefly as he wanted to discuss putting money down on a condo unit!  Hopefully it proves to be a good choice. 
          Quiet evening – Rick watching March Madness Basketball.  I got caught up on some of my drawings.  We are packing for our adventure tomorrow up to Phoenix area and Carefree, AZ – Ron and Lynne Rutter! 

Friday, March 17
Visit with Ron and Lynn Rutter
Carefree, Arizona

          We are off on a beautiful St. Patrick’s Day around 8:30 to drive up to Carefree, north of Phoenix, for an overnight visit with Ron Rutter, Rick’s college roommate from Wooster.  They haven’t seen each other in over 40 years! 
          The sides of the freeway are ablazed with bright yellow flowering bushes – I think I identified them as brittlebush.  We follow our map and Google maps on the phone to take us up to Ron and Lynn’s beautiful home among the desert flora.  Wow.  I feel like I am in a resort of sorts!  Landscaped back yard with pool and Jacuzzi, barbeque fire spot with covered roof, saguaros and ocotillo, agave olants and bouganvillia.  A huge covered patio with plenty of furniture to curl up and listen to the morning music of birds.  (Can you tell where I am sitting right now?)  The house is decorated with artwork and memories from around the world.  Ron spent 20 years in the military and his oldest son is a Marine who has been stationed throughout AND travels to various countries as well.  They also have some incredible family antiques in the way of furniture which help round out the rustic, old look. 
          Ron Barbequed some chicken for lunch along with fresh fruit, and then we headed down to the Carefree town center which was having an art and wine show.  We declined on the wine portion, but thoroughly enjoyed wandering thru the booths and admiring some very upscale (and expensive art!)  Carefree was established as an artsy community about 50 years ago.  Some wise city planning went into it with commercial areas hidden within the desert growth, street names of Nonchalant and Ho Hum!  It is a beautiful retirement area for the Rutters, away from the harsh Ohio winters and closer to the San Diego climate Lynn grew up in and they both enjoyed for years while Ron was stationed there. 
          Back for a superb Mexican meal Lynn prepared – chile relenos, enchiladas, fresh salsa and guacamole, chips, rice and beans – the whole thing!  Add a few glasses of wine around the patio table and it was 11pm before we wrapped it up for the evening.  (Oh, I forgot the lemon bars Lynn had prepared ahead from their lemon tree!)
          Needless to say, our visit has been an escape from the tiny living quarters of the trailer, a warm hospitality and sharing of old stories, catching up on lives, etc.  Lynn and I felt like we knew each other ahead of time from our Christmas cards over the years! 

Saturday, March 18
Back to Tucson!

          A beautiful leisurely morning with good coffee, breakfast, and more conversation before Rick and I take off around 10:30am.  We will come back to this little oasis in the dessert and wonderful people!
          For an alternate route back down to Tucson, we head east on US 60 toward Apache Junction, then south on Hwy 79 toward Florence and the north side of the Catalina Mts.  NEW ROAD!  The mountains are much more impressive driving south rather than when we came past them a couple years ago and were heading north toward Globe.  Florence is set out in the middle of the desert with a state prison.  Some nice saguaros dotting the landscape, but the desert got dryer looking the further south we went, compared to the lush green desert around Carefree. 
          Discovered the location of Gold Canyon, a town at the base of the Superstition Mts east of Apache Junction.  Carl and Arletta often winter there and I think the Freemans were there right now!  Mostly we found a traffic jam for 15 miles as it is the current site of a Rennaisance Festival taking place!  While Rick drove thru the mess, I enjoyed a phone call with my mom (and Liz in the background!)  A good 15 minute call and she sounded MUCH better!!  Encouraging. 
          Back around the edge of the Catalinas and into Tucson around 2 pm.  A stop for groceries at WalMart and back to a very warm trailer (101!!) at 3, ready to make some lunch/dinner!!! 
          I spent next few hours in SOOP lounge on computer and puzzling while the laundry processed.  Rick watching basketball games. 
          A lazy night!

Sunday, 3.19.17
CHRPA work

          Both of us felt the desire to get a few more of the tasks on the New Addition list done prior to our departure, so we skipped church this morning and headed over to the office instead.  Over the course of 4 ½ hours, we got the utility closet trimmed and painted and the exposed sheetrock corner between old and new covered and two layers of mud applied.  I wanted to paint, but it needs another layer! 
          A hot day, basketball, computer time, and then puzzling with the SOOPS in the evening. 

Monday, 3.20.17

          Another hot one!!  Just when we are getting ready to leave at the end of this week, the weather is due to change to something a little more tolerable! 
          Rick went out with YAV Mary to pick up and install a gas stove unit, and then did some plumbing work on showers and faucets.  Touchy stuff to sweat a plumbing connection in close quarters and flammable walls.  But they got ‘er done! 
          I went with Abi and Hugh to build the ramp that Rick helped assess last week.  Our client was an older man who kept falling on his stairs from the mobile home and then calling 911 when he needed to go to the grocery store because he couldn’t get down the stairs safely!!  He looked a bit like Einstein!  I put in a couple dozen lag bolts and uncountable screws!  Did some of the cuts for the decking planks.  Fortunately as we worked down the ramp, the shade also moved in the same direction.  Thank goodness as it was 95 degrees outside! 
          A social date this evening!  Abi and Alli have invited us over for dinner, joined by Carrie and Josh.  An adventuresome meal of falafel, pita pockets, feta cheese, and cucumber yogurt sauce!  We brought wine and ice cream!  Always fun to just sit and visit with these amazing young adults.  Abi is starting to get wedding stressed, as she and Josh are marrying on the 3rd of June in Minnesota! 

Tuesday, 3.21.17

          Today is Scott’s birthday!  We all signed the outside of a package Ted wrapped up in cardboard (a map of Tuscon valley trails that was given to Ted by a client, but perfect for Scott!  It will look great in his new office….when said office is ever finished!)
          Rick and Don head out to do a little roof assessment, and then a major floor repair.  It sounded like a huge chunk of the floor needed to be replaced.  NOT a clean job, according to Rick.  Grubs, dirt, gray water, etc.  But the owner was finally able to safely access his kitchen again!
          Hugh and I went back to the Keller (Einstein) home to finish up the railing of the ramp and then patch a small hole he had in his bedroom floor.  We had some equipment issues since we weren’t in the ‘ramp’ truck, but we got it done!  I sanded it all after lunch while Hugh worked on the floor repair.  Then we loaded up Lenny with all the discarded step lumber and trash. 
          It is always interesting to work with Hugh.  He can share stories from a varied and interesting life in many places.  Hugh seems to seek out the marginalized and learn their stories.  He works for CHRPA a couple days a week, but then I think he spends much of the rest of his time doing repairs for former clients on his own! 
          A quick trip to the post office and battery store after work.  Packages to mail and a new battery for the trailer.  (This has not been an inexpensive trip repair wise!)

Wednesday, 3.22.17

          Roof Day!!  Rick and I are both working together today in a team with Josh and Tim (Scott’s brother in law)  Tim formerly owned a roofing company, and Josh worked roofing every summer during college, so Rick and I were in good company!!  Josh and I stopped to pick up plywood while Rick and Tim went over to Scott’s mom’s house to do a quick repair there.  Basically we put 10 pieces of plywood down, broke for lunch, and then put TPO (a rubberized roofing ‘fabric’) down.  Josh uses a heat gun to melt and seal the seams.  Edges are anchored with lots of screws and plates.  Plenty of work for everyone.  A nice breeze came up during the afternoon which cut the heat somewhat.  Our clients brought us out cold water three different times!  Nice!  A good day and we were all pleased with the results. 
          We got back by 2:45!  Earliest day yet!!  Decided to go out to Beyond Bread and Bookmans since we had the time.  A good dinner and then spent far too much at Bookmans – audio books for the truck travel, puzzles for Ginger, music for church, etc. 
          I spent a little time working on the puzzle while doing the laundry.  Quiet evening.  Much cooler and a chance for some rain this evening. 

Thursday, 3.23.17

          Our last day for this ‘go-round’!  CHRPA School today is Cooler Repair 101, which means the Cooler season is upon Tucson, so it must be time to leave!  I think we have had cooler training three times and then we leave!  This one was interesting because basically Dan went over just the tools and parts necessary to have on the truck during cooler season. 
          Rick and Mary are off for a couple of different jobs – potential water leaks and cracks in wall and cupboards pulling off walls.  They are back early after a frustrating time not being able to help people in the manner they wished.  Some of it was just misunderstandings with what CHRPA can and does do.  Cosmetic repairs are not our business!  So when they got home they worked on the final checkoff for the new addition – washing the windows and putting up the screens! 
          I was on another four person crew assigned to a modular home out in the SW corner of the city to replace some of the siding.  We took two rigs and I worked with three men I had not worked with before: Al (local from Tucson), Ken (a new Mennonite volunteer) and Bob H (our neighbor in the CHRPA campground).  We drove clear out to the home, assessed materials needed, and then Ken and I drove back in to Home Depot to pick up the necessary items.  By the time we returned, Bob and Al had cut off the deteriorating siding and were waiting for our arrival!  Basically I caulked the rest of the day!  The guys cut and screwed up new siding and I caulked all the seams!  (Plus any other holes I could see in the side of the home, of which there were plenty!)
          Back to CHRPA headquarters to say our goodbyes to folks!  Cleaning of the trailer and a relaxing evening.  I finished the puzzle in the SOOP lounge and Rick watched a couple of basketball games.  We will try to make our ‘getaway’ by 7:30am tomorrow morning. 

          Cooler today!!  We even had a few raindrops while driving out to the job site.  The wind picked up but wasn’t really a problem.  

Thursday, March 2, 2017

2017 Southwest CHRPA Trek - ABQ

2017 Southwest CHRPA Trek

Thursday, 2.23.17
Baker City to Ely, NV
502 miles

            Well, we are off again…. In spite of the weather forecast!  We knew it might not be a smooth day…and it wasn’t in the middle!  We left Baker a little before 6am with temps in the high 20’s.  After a week of ‘spring-like’ weather in the 40’s which melted 80% of the snow, we awoke Wednesday morning to an inch dusting of white stuff and colder temps again.  But most of that melted by later in the day. 
            Rick drove until the Travel America on the far side of Boise where I took over.  In and out of light blowing snow and some drifting across the road due to some high winds.  By the time we passed Glenn’s Ferry and Bliss, however, it was getting a little more serious.  Twin Falls was forecast for 3-5 inches today and Salt Lake was snowstorms both today and tomorrow.  We figured if we got through Twin, we wouldn’t follow the storm all the way, and instead turn south towards Jackpot and Wells, hoping we would drive out of the mess.  I drove 100 miles to the exit for Buhl and gratefully gave Rick the wheel.  It was getting uglier than I wanted to drive in!  One exit too soon which involved a turn around in some ranchers driveway!  (NOTE:  Exit 157 is the one you take for the shortcut to Buhl and Filer and Hwy 93 south!) 
South of Buhl...
          The shortcut was NOT great!  Drifting snow, very bumpy, and not always plowed well.  But….we got to Buhl, gassed up, and headed south on 93.  It wasn’t snowing anymore, but the wind was so strong the light powder was blowing all over the road.  Rick will tell you that I can’t comment much about the road here because I wasn’t looking!!  I deliberately had my needlepoint on so I could concentrate on that.  Keeps my blood pressure down!    We put Toby Mac CD on to keep Rick’s spirits up! 
China Mt south of Jackpot
Snow accumulation in Buhl - later spare
time was completely covered! 
            By Jackpot we had dry pavement for the most part and fairly clear sailing the rest of the way!  Even patches of blue sky and sunshine at times!  The Nevada mountains and their snowy peaks were beautiful.  Cloud banks over the mountains were thick – in one place over the Ruby Range it looked like ocean waves of clouds breaking into the valley.  The sun was bursting through the clouds in rays of light.  I really don’t mind the drive through the valleys of Nevada this time of year. 
Loved the patterns of the snow on foothills.

    We had made reservations last night at the Jailhouse Hotel and Casino in Ely.  The forecast for the night was 7 degrees, colder than we wanted to endure in our still-winterized trailer!  Hadn’t expected to make it two nights, but with the change in route and an added 200 miles, two days of travel only just wasn’t going to make it. 
            I drove from Wells to Ely, we stopped for gas, and checked in to the Hotel, located on Hwy 50 West.  We’ll have to backtrack a few blocks to get to Route 6 and our road south in the morning. 
I thought these clouds looking like an ocean breaker. 
            A typical older small town hotel and casino, but everything is clean and quiet.  We are able to park the trailer in a parking lot within view of our window.  Rather than go out to dinner, we enjoy cheese, wine, bread, and some hummus and dip. 
Friday, 2.24.17
Ely, NV to Flagstaff, AZ
501 miles


            Another early morning!  We got up around 5:15am Pacific time and were on the road by 5:50, deciding to skip the small discount on the breakfast at the motel.  We had cakebread with us, afterall! 
Driving down 318
            Rick drove up Hwy 6 to the summit and the beautiful vista that awaits you of rolling mountains and juniper covered hills, all snowy patched.  In fact, it snowed last night lightly while we slept, but no problem with the roads this morning. 
            Yesterday was a first for us in traveling with this fridge in the trailer.  It measured 32 degrees when we left Baker.  We did NOT have the gas turned on to run the fridge while we traveled, figuring it was a cool enough day.  Well, for the first time, the fridge got COLDER without any help at all!  It was 31 degrees when we arrived in Ely!  Better yet, when I checked this morning it was 25 degrees!!!  (Hope those little mandarin oranges don’t rot too fast!)  (Note, when we got to Flagstaff it was 33 degrees, with a forecast below 20 for the night – it will NOT be turned on yet!)
Vista west from 318 rest area. 
At times the Nevada highways can appear
rather empty! 

        At the junction of 6 and Hwy 318 I took over the wheel for the 120 miles down to Alamo.  The first half was a beautiful drive of snowy mountains to the east and the west, sunrise tinted clouds all around.  But when the sun came up, the light was quite bothersome coming in the side driver’s window!  Rick finally put his jacket up in the window to help me out.  I just don’t sit up tall enough for the window shade to help very quickly! 
            We stop in Alamo to gas up at the Sinclair and grab a couple of Bacon and Cheese Egg Bagels for breakfast at the little grill located inside.  Nothing too fancy, but they hit the spot!  As we headed south, the vista gradually lost snow and gained more and more yucca plants along the way! 
Mts. just north of Vegas
            Into Vegas around noon with a quick stop at the Pilot on I-15 for gas and to weave our way through all the traffic and construction of the city.  Not our favorite part of the trip, but it beats Salt Lake City in the snow!  Rick drove to Kingman, where we gassed up, ate at Burger King, AND found a car wash to give the truck and trailer and quick hose down – SO DIRTY from all the snow and slush and road grime.  While Rick hosed, I called ahead to the Rodeway Inn and got us a room for the night in Flagstaff. 
            I drove from Kingman to Williams (around 120 miles) and Rick took us the rest of the way in.  Interstate 40 from Kingman to Flagstaff leave a great deal to be desired in terms of quality highway.  I couldn’t count how many ‘Rough Road’ signs we passed.  Needless to say, I didn’t miss numerous potholes and the truck and trailer got a good shakedown by Williams.  Rick didn’t fare much better, although he tends to see the holes faster than I do and is better at avoiding them. 
Humphreys Peak as you approach Flagstaff from west. 
            Humphreys Peak at 12,000 plus feet dominates the skyline to the north of Flagstaff and is beautiful to see as you approach the city with its snow laden summits.  The juniper forests near town were covered with snow buried deep under the trees.  We got off at Exit 198 and found our Rodeway Inn on old Route 66 east of town.  Nothing fancy, but I think it will work for the night. 

Saturday, 2.25.17
Flagstaff, AZ to Camp Rembold, Edgewood, NM
352 miles

AZ-NM border rest area - typical NM rocks! 
            The final leg of our journey today!  We are up around 6:15, having gone to bed relatively early!  Decide to just shower and hit the road, so by 7:30 we are on our way!  Rick drives to Winslow, AZ where we gas up again and switch to make the long haul across the rest of AZ to Gallup.  After passing Meteor Crater to our south, we see some rock formations and mesas to the north, otherwise LOTS of dry grasslands and no trees!!  As we near the New Mexico border, the vistas improve considerably!  Unfortunately, except for a few smoother stretches, I-40 road quality did NOT improve to a great degree! 
Walmart Sunset
   Gas, Subway sandwiches, etc. at the Flying J travel center 16 miles east of Gallup, NM.  Rick drives us on in to Albuquerque and through to Edgewood.  A few texts with Rachael and Patty and it is clear that we’ll have dinner with them tonight.  A later call to Mom R indicates she doesn’t want to go to church in the morning.  L  Just too early!  (Editor’s note: Time for Mom and her friends to find a new church with later service hours!) 
            Visits with Rach, Patty, and Ryan, hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner, and a trip to Wal-Mart round out our day.  We are back in the trailer early with the heater running and our blankets all cozy around us!  Forecast tonight should be in the 20’s. 

Morning sunrise in Edgewood
Sunday in Albuquerque

            Wow!  Rick says there is nothing like 11 hours of sleep to create a new being!  He was in bed before 9 and didn’t get up until after 8am.  I did a little work on the internet downstairs in the house before breakfast.  Plus a little visit time with Rachael. 
Moving Grandma's chair into Luke's storage unit. 
            We drive in to Mom’s around 10am and are met by Luke at 11.  Time to chat and catch up before we take the recliner Mom is giving Luke over to his storage unit.  Then out to lunch at Bangkok Bite, a Thai restaurant.  Good food!  Luke takes off for a 3pm rendezvous in Las Placitas to investigate a house that has been offered to him for the month of March while the owners are in Mexico.  They are parishioners in the church where Luke’s steering committee chairmen is the pastor.  Luke will move up there on Wednesday. 
            Overall, a pretty lazy day, although I did get a King done in Needlepoint and got some postcards off in the mail! 
            It is 42 in the trailer when we get back to Edgewood!  Could be a pretty cold hike in the morning with Luke!! 
Sunset leaving Mom's Sunday night

SUNDAY, 2.27.17
Hike with Luke – Waterfall Canyon

            Brrr! As I write this morning with hat and gloves on, it is 21 degrees outside and 43 in the trailer with the heater going full blast.  But….the sun is shining!  Last night the sky was so clear and beautiful – the stars so bright.  (The air so cold!)

            We meet Luke at Sprouts at 10, drop off his car, and then head out Tramway to the north end of the Sandia Mts.  Luke has directions to the trailhead, but from there on we are at the mercy of the short conversation he had Saturday with a man who had hiked it that day.  Our destination is Waterfall Canyon and the ice falls….or just a nice hike in the mountains!  Whichever comes first! 
            This was a new area for us to explore as well which made the outing fun and adventuresome!  It ended up about a 3 mile hike with over 1000’ foot elevation gain (at least! It FELT like 4000’!!)   We finally found the canyon, but no waterfalls.  We didn’t exactly take the easiest or most direct route (understatement!), due to the fact we cut off the main trail a little too soon and ended up high on the ridge above the canyon.  But….we got a great view of the hidden little niche of the Sandias, a view you can’t see from the valley floor.  We found plenty of pinyon and ponderosa pines, cholla cactus, prickly pears, mesquite and wild roses.  A little snow, plenty of loose rock, and LOTS of dried oak leaves covering the forest floor.  It was exhausting, but fun. 
            Back to pick up Luke’s car and then down to G-Ma’s for dinner out at Papa Felipe’s.  Good meal.  By 6pm we were fading fast so said our goodbyes and headed home. 
            Shouldn’t be as cold tonight as the clouds have come in for the predicted snow and rain tonight and tomorrow. 
Views up Waterfall Canyon - Rick is holding on to make sure I didn't fall downhill!  
Tuesday - Friday, 2.28.17 – 3.3.17
Lazy days in ABQ

Tuesday.  A lazy morning, then a movie with Mom.  We saw Hidden Figures (good movie!) and then took mom shopping at Walmart.  Dinner together at the apartment and we left around 7.  VERY windy in Edgewood this am – we closed up the front end of the trailer just to make sure the 50 mph gusts didn’t do any damage! 

Wednesday.  Laundry and walks this morning, then Dom brought Jaxon over for the day!  We headed into town in time to pick up Grandma for a little shopping! Rick and Jax played in the mall while Mom and I checked out the pj’s and underwear section of Penneys!  Rachael met us as she got off work at Cheesecake Factory (right next door to Penneys!).  Back to Mom’s where Luke joined us shortly afterwards.  First time for Luke to meet Jaxon!  Finally dinner together at Wendys!  Rach then took Jax back into town and we stayed just a little longer at Moms.  Luke was moving out to Placitas tonight. 
Rick and Jax model their 'shades'

At Wendys! 

Jax and Grandma read a story.

Thursday.  We had very simple plans for today.  Trailer part fix.  Oil change. Walmart run.  Maybe visit Luke office.  Luke was going to leave for Phoenix after work.  Well….ended up with a loaner car as the truck is at the dealership waiting for a new oil pan to arrive.  Still working on trailer parts fix.  Ran out of time to visit office, but Luke turned back an hour into his trip to Phoenix saying, ‘this is not the time to do this!’  (Smart kid!)  I did pick up a new pair of jeans at Walmart!  We had dinner at Mom’s apartment with Luke before he headed out to Placitas. 

Sunrise walking into Rand's.
Reg cuts Rick's hair
Luke in his new office
Friday.  Morning in Edgewood.  Regan and Jax came over and Reg cut Rick’s hair.  A little visit time.  Stop at hardware to pick up part for trailer water heater.  There we found out the bad news: Honda sent the wrong part and truck won’t be fixed until Tuesday noon at earliest.  ARGH!  In to see Luke at his office and meet his ‘boss’ lady (so to speak, not really).  Didn’t get to Mom’s until 3:30!!  Rick and I walked over to Subway and Twisters for dinner items.  Sat and visited until 7 when Rachael texted me – do you want to watch ‘Arrival’?  So we headed back out and watched the alien movie Luke recommended so highly.  Interesting show!  
View from recliner in Rand's living
room of South Mt. 
Outside Presbytery office
Classy new business card!

Saturday, 3-4-17
Old Town Albuquerque!

Modeling the goods
San Felipe de Niro
What a fun day in Old Town with Luke and Mom R!  We met at the Plaza and the San Felipe de Neri Church, the oldest in Albuquerque around 11am.  We spent the next 4 hours poking around in little shops,
Wanted to eat here, but
no room!
spending money, and finding treasures!  We tried to eat at a different little café, but the tables outside were full, so we went back to one we had tried previously (only with different owners).  Had our fill, but disappointed the musicians hadn’t arrived for the ‘season’ yet!   Picked up some gifts, and plenty of postcards to last awhile!  We didn’t get back to Mom’s apartment until 4pm.  Luke was looking forward to getting back out to Placitas much earlier than the previous two nights!  He sent us beautiful sunset pictures! 
The wheelchair worked perfectly!
Luke in one of the squares. 

            It was a beautiful day in Albuquerque!  Warmed up to the mid 70’s – perfect!!  But during our 7pm drive back out to Edgewood, we once again watched the temperature drop from mid 50’s in town to 40 degrees as we turned into Randy’s gate.  Clear and cool, but the stars and the moon are gorgeous!  I took out my phone with its star app for a little bit to play around.  It worked!!  

Sunday, 3.5.17
Family time –Fence Building!    

            After a bit of a confusing morning, Rick and Randy headed over to Regan’s house around 10 to begin helping Dom with work on the new fence for their house. (Fence building was our trade-off for having to stay a few extra days!)   Regan had to work all day today.  Luke went to church up in Placitas (8:30 service!), then picked up Grandma and brought her out, arriving at 11:30.  We all went over to join the guys, partly to check out the inside of Regan’s place and to see Jax!  Mom and I came back to Rand’s after Patty and I picked up trash from the fence line.  Luke, Rick, Rachael, Randy, and Dom worked until 3:45 trying to dig fence post holes through the clay hard colleechee soil….unsuccessfully. 
Dinner at Denney's
            The seven of us went out to dinner at Denney’s (Ryan declined to go, and Dom and Jax were waiting for Regan).  The fence builders were famished, having basically skipped any sense of lunch.  We sat around the table until nearly 6 pm, visiting and talking!  A good time. 

            Luke drove Grandma back to her place, and then went on home to Placitas.  We should see him one more time tomorrow and we also have a final visit with Mom.  A little TV time with Rand’s and then we head out to our little house.  

Monday, 3.6.17
One More Day….

            Laundry this morning while the wind outside raged at 35 mph or so.  I told Rick I didn’t want to live where the wind was this bad for this much of the time!! 
            Into town around 12:30 to pick up Mom and head over to the Olive Garden for a late lunch.  Luke drove up from work to join us.  At the end of the meal, Rick realized he had a voice mail, which turned out to be from Liz.  Evidently Mom had taken a fall and ambulanced to hospital.  Later learned broken hip and taken to Coos Bay instead.  Lots of communications rest of the day on this, including two conversations with Liz, one with Sabra, and tons of text messages! 
            Got MomR a seat for her shower tub and Rick installed the handheld shower head.  Back out to Rand’s for evening. 

            Tough saying goodbye to Luke while concerned about Mom!