Getting in the Spirit

Last night we took up the offer from our friend Heidy to come on down to her home at Green Valley. We met Heidy a few years ago when we and she were both members of the Escapees RV Club Chapter 8 Mexican Connection trip.

Since Heidy’s kitchen is kind of torn apart for new paint and countertops, we all had supper at one of her favorite local family-owned restaurants and then drove on up to Tucson to visit the Tucson Botanical Gardens for their holiday light display.

The weather was perfect, in the 50’s and the hour or so we spent there walking through the gardens was beautiful. The gardens opened at 6 pm and admittance was by prepaid tickets at specific times. This way large groups came in at staggered times as the previous group(s) left. I’d say they let in about 300-400 visitors at a time.

Here’s a gallery of pictures and videos. We talked with one of the employees and he told us that many of the larger trees take weeks to install all the lights and they have to remove them every year so as not to grow into the bark.

Many of the lights changed color as you walked through and many others were timed to coincide with the music that played throughout the gardens. It was a great way to enjoy the holiday and reminisce about how we’ve spent Christmas pasts.

Right now we’re all up and showered enjoying our morning coffee and a little later this morning were going to head over to the Country Fair White Elephant, a local resale shop to see what kind of goodies they might have that would work either in our new rig in Arizona or the house back in Ohio. Now that we’ve decided to keep the house for our summer home, we will be more comfortable with spending some on furnishings and decorating.

I was too awe struck to think about taking any pictures of the White Elephant resale shop in Green Valley, Arizona south of Tucson. It’s a huge building where they must have at least 40 volunteers on duty every day of the week. The parking lot was packed, probably a hundred or so cars and this was on a TUESDAY! Heidy told us it’s like this every day.

All of the “merchandise” is sorted/grouped by type; furniture, rugs, tools, shoes, sports equipment, etc. If you find an item you like, just flag down one of the roaming clerks (who are very friendly and helpful by the way) and they’ll write up the item, lead you to the check out counter where you pay for the item(s), and then one of their “pickers” moves your purchases to the loading dock where you’ll have them loaded for your trip home.

Heidy found a great little solid walnut drop-leaf table. It’s got a drop leaf on each side so when it’s folded it’ll go in her hallway and only take up a space about 1 foot by 3 feet. The spindle legs are lathe-turned and fold out to support the table on all four sides. It looks like something that was made in the ’30’s or ’40’s. Once Heidy gets it cleaned up, it’ll be a wonderful addition to her home there in Green Valley.

Heidy's table is similar to this one except that hers has rectangular leafs

Heidy’s table looks similar to this one I grabbed off Google Images except that hers has rectangular leafs instead of half-round. That way her table is square when it’s opened instead of round.

The special thing about this store is that all of the items are donated and the $1,500,000 plus annual sales are donated to local charities and food banks. It’s quite an operation and it’s fun to see how everyone there (buyers and volunteers alike) are having such a good time.

Here’s the link to their “About” page on their web site

Since we only took the Lexus down to her place, once we fit the table in the trunk there wasn’t a whole lot of room left, but we did manage to push in a cute little lamp we bought for $10

along with a western style hat for Kathy ($6) that’ll fit her just fine for our upcoming “Western Days” here at the park along with a pretty large wall hanging ($25) that’ll be a nice accent to the living room area rug and loveseat that are in our home back in Mt Gilead.

As we drove away I joked (maybe not) to the girls that if/when we come back next year I’ll rent a U-haul!

Motorhome Sold In One Day!

Life is full of change. Back in 2015 we bought a motorhome and in 2016 we decided that we would sell our home in Ohio, quit work, buy a motorhome, and hit the road.

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you know that we’ve had a lot of new and wonderful experiences, saw sights that we never imagined we’d visit, and made a lot of fantastic new friends, a lot of which we stay in touch with to this day. We really are so thankful that we had the courage to make the big step back in 2016.

But we’ve decided it’s time to make another change. We’ve not lived in the coach full time since early 2022. And since we are not living in the coach full-time, we’ve decided to buy a smaller travel trailer or 5th wheel that we can leave on our lot in Arizona and just become “Sno-birds” and either drive the car or fly back and forth from Arizona to Ohio.

To that end, we are putting our beautiful 2002 Airstream motorhome up for sale. If you happen to know somebody who might be interested, feel free to send them this link.

Asking $40,000

2002 Airstream 365XC 36′ Diesel Motorhome – $40,000 (SOLD)

Here’s more detailed information:

2002 Airstream 365 XC Diesel Pusher Motorhome For Sale

Beautiful full body Sherwin Williams Auto paint w/ 3 layers clear coat 

(3 colors green, 1 gold small stripe)

36’ length, 2 slides, Freightliner XC chassis, Caterpillar 3126 300hp diesel engine

Just over 100,000 original miles (avg under 5,000 miles per year)

See separate Airstream Freightliner chassis data sheet included with this information

See separate 365 XL Floor plan included with this information

See separate 365 XC Standard Features sheet included with this information

  • 95 gallon fuel tank (fill from EITHER side)
  • 70 gallon fresh water tank
  • 52 gallon gray tank
  • 52 gallon black tank
  • 10 gallon hot water heater 110vac or propane fired with Motorade
  • Cummins Onan 8000 watt diesel generator located in front drawer w/ 3 location remote start/stop switch (cockpit, kitchen, bedroom)
  • 110 vac engine block heater (switchable from the bedroom)
  • Vinyl plank flooring in living room and bedroom
  • Ceramic tile flooring in kitchen and bath
  • Pocket doors separating kitchen from bath and bath from bedroom
  • (2) 13,500 BTU Penguin ducted a/c units w/ heat pumps
  • (3) Roof mounted Fantastic Fan vents with hinged smoke covers (kitchen, toilet, bedroom)
  • (3) Skylights – 1 in kitchen/living area, 1 in bathroom, 1 in shower
  • (6) 200 watt solar panels on roof, (2) Blue Sky controllers,  (2) 100 amp hour Battle Born Lithium batteries
  • 30” Samsung Flat Screen TV w/ surround sound 
  • (4) large basement storage compartments (2 each side) & (2) smaller basement storage compartments (1 each side at rear)
  • 105# propane tank with Extend-A-Stay adapter installed
  • All solid oak cabinetry throughout
  • All polished brass lighting fixtures and cabinet hardware has been updated to burnished bronze
  • Real leather (not vinyl or pleather) captains chairs & jackknife sofa excellent condition
  • Upholstered residential grade swivel rocker-recliner
  • Dinette table extends with stored leaf underneath (includes 2 oak upholstered dining chairs
  • Solid oak Amish made window boxes conceal MCD style day and nite roller shades on all windows
  • Motorized roller day and night shades on front window
  • Custom made ShadePro sunscreens for windshield and front side windows
  • Spring loaded pull-down outside acrylic (cloth) shades on all windows.
  • All windows are shade tinted and double pane for energy efficiency
  • Heated basement wet bays and water tanks
  • 13’ road side slide holds couch and kitchen range/microwave/convection oven and sink
  • 5’ curb side slide holds clothes closet and drawers below
  • Custom made black vinyl bra to protect the front from stone chips when highway driving
  • Electronic (customizable) dash on an 8” table for instant reference of engine operation
  • TireEez 10 tire TPMS system provides constant monitoring of coach and toad pressure & temp

Campground Review – Kendall Campground USACE Jamestown KY

Kendall is a United States Army Corp of Engineers campground.  USACE campgrounds are most often built as a recreation feature upon completion of a flood project such as the building of a reservoir, dam and/or hydroelectric powerhouse facility.  Such is the case here.  Kendall campground is laid out immediately adjacent to Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery (and Visitor Center) and just a few hundred feet downstream of the Wolf Creek Dam.

There are actually two campgrounds here, Kendall and the Kendall Annex.  Kendall has 77 electric only sites laid out in two heavily wooded loops with 2 bathhouses and 2 dump stations. The sites are packed gravel, mostly 50-60 feet long, and level.  There are a few pull through sites but the vast majority are back-in sites. 

The annex loop is about a half mile to the north (you will pass the road to the annex when you come to the main camp entrance or the Visitor Center).  The annex has 40 electric only sites, a dump station, a bath house, and a free laundry facility.

Site 13 at Kendall Campground-Wolf Creek Dam-Jamestown, KY

The video below shows water being released through the sluice. Even though the lake level is down, they release water that subsequently hits the concrete wall and forces the water up into the air. This aerated water is then sent downstream to keep the fish healthy.

From the main Kendall camp it’s a short walk to the dam, splash pad, the snack bar, the hatchery, and the Visitor Center.

The pictures below show us enjoying our walk to the snack bar.

We’ve stayed here twice (once in 2020 and now in September of ’23) and appreciate the calm quiet. Now that school is back in session, campers here are mostly “senior citizen” fishermen (and women). However, when Thursday afternoon came around, the families with all their little ones came in and “took over”! The rest of the weekend was filled with kids on bicycles (w/ training wheels), tricycles, skateboards. And dogs along with Mom & Dad riding their golf carts all over. The lesson learned is … don’t go camping on a weekend!

And remember, all the Army Corp campgrounds qualify for the “America the Beautiful” Senior Interagency Lifetime 50% discount. This park, and the next one we are going to camp at (Defeated Creek TN) cost us only $18/night vs the standard $36 nightly fee while Maumelle in Little Rock is only $12/night with the Senior Interagency Lifetime Pass.

Seniors can buy the lifetime discount pass for only $80.  When we bought ours a few years ago, the cost was only $10, but they’ve since raised it to $80.  If you think you MIGHT camp a couple nights in a National park, US Forest Service park, or other national inter-agency park, you’d better buy your pass now before they raise the price again. Here’s the discount pass link again.

Here at Jamestown, there’s the Wolf Creek Dam that holds back the water that forms the man-made resevoir Lake Cumberland. Not only does Lake Cumberland provide miles and miles of recreation water, but also flood control and electric power for the area provided by the six hydro-electric generators. Although the powerhouse is only open on a very limited basis for pre-arranged tours, you can drive across the top of the dam on U.S. Route 127 and get a pretty good view of the dam from either side. Continuing on down south on 127 will get you to a couple different routes to Dale Hollow Lake State Park at Burkesville KY where we volunteer camp hosted spring of 2021.

Here’s the link to the Wikipedia link about Wolf Creek Dam and some pictures of the dam from the overlook on the south side.

Here’s a link to The Visitor Center and National Fish Hatchery. They have some nice interactive displays inside not only about the hatchery, but also about wildlife in the area and a little about the dam & powerhouse. Here’s a few pictures from inside. Click on any of the pictures to get a larger view.

And lastly, if you’d like to get more of any idea of the layout and the sites at Kendall, go ahead and watch this short video shot by the dashcam as we head to the dump station.

That’s all for now. Until next time, be good to one another and to yourself.

A great visit from family

I have two sisters (along with two brothers-in-law) and when we talked a few months back about our volunteer gig up here at the lighthouse, we all decided it would be a great place to get together for a couple days.

Betsy and Bob live in Owosso Michigan while Marilynn and Rick came up from Jacksonville Florida.

The lighthouse is closed on Mondays and we asked for Tuesday as our other day off this week so we had two days with all of us together.

Rick, Marilynn, Kathy, me, Betsy, and Bob

Although their visit was short, we all enjoyed our time together. Kathy and I gave them a private tour of the lighthouse, the tower, and the pilot house. Later in the day we drove on in to the beautiful town of Rogers City where we stopped at the quarry overlook at the Calcite Limestone Mine.

After that we headed back into town to give them a treat at The Painted Lady, an eclectic shop offering unique hand painted pottery, ladies sun dresses and lakeside accessories, jewelry, picture framing service, children’s toys, and my favorite Ashby’s Ice Cream and all sorts of coffee drinks.

Michigan Pot Hole

It’s always great being with family and we all look forward to the next time in the spring of ’24 in Jacksonville.

We made it to the light!

Getting ready Friday morning to leave Campers Cove at Alpena and move a little west to Eckert Park at Hamlin, I received an email from Leonard at the lighthouse that we could just come ahead now rather than have to wait until Monday due to one of the couples working here had to leave due to a medical issue.

It was only a 45 minute drive and we were here and settled by about noon. There are three other rigs here (all motorhomes) and as the volunteers each came and went to/from their lunch break they all stopped to introduce themselves and welcome us.

We continued to set up camp. We connected our electric, water, and sewer lines, took our e-bikes off the back of the car, set up our little Weber propane grill, brought out the bungee chairs and side tables, and rolled out the side awning.  All this takes about a half hour and now we can sit and relax a bit! There was a nice breeze off the lake, but it was pretty warm and humid.

Our home in the trees for the next couple weeks

All four sites are nestled in the woods (lots of shade) and there’s a community fire pit with plenty of firewood, two large picnic tables, and a large propane BBQ grill.

Just beyond the fire pit there’s a trail going down to Lake Huron.  Kathy and I took off our socks and shoes, put on other more appropriate footwear for trudging through the sand, and headed down to the water to check it out.  Surprisingly, the water is warmer than I had imagined it would be this far north!

See the freighter in the distance?

Our supervisors Leonard and Carrie came by on their bicycles to greet us, they live just down U.S. 23 a bit and there’s a nice paved bike path alongside the road and the lake that goes all the way to Rogers City about 7 miles south.

Kathy and I ran into town for a bit to pick up a couple things.  Shortly after we returned, the crew had finished their day (4:00pm) and we all settled at the picnic tables.  Each of us had our favorite drink and we had the opportunity to get to know each other.

Our first nights supper with new friends

All of a sudden an instant pot showed up and we all shared a great time enjoying homemade vegetable beef soup and Texas toast.  Ok, one side was a “little” overdone on the grill, but the other side was great 😃

Our first night backed up a couple hundred feet from the waves of Lake Huron was cool, breezy and SO comfortable we were lulled to sleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.

Although we had visited the lighthouse last year, the next day we visited each venue to hear how the “pros” tell the story to visitors. Leonard had emailed us lots of info for us to study about the history, but it’s always good to see and hear how other docents share the story.

That’s the report for now. Today we’ll take a drive into town to get some groceries, stop at one of the local produce stands, hit the laundromat and then when we get back we’ll visit the venues again to hear how others tell the story. The volunteers rotate assignments each day so that each gets an opportunity to work everywhere.

In the meantime, be good and stay safe.

Back to Northern Michigan

Although we’ve hit a lot of our beautiful country over the last six years on the road, it seems that our hearts often lead us back to northern Michigan.

Michigan (the Detroit area) is where Kathy and I were raised, married, bought our first home, and saw our children through their early years in grade school.

Our early vacations often involved throwing the kids and the dog in the van and driving up to Kalkaska where Grandma and Grandpa Baldwin had retired to. It was a low cost trip away from work and the hectic city downstate and provided my mom and dad with a handyman (me) to take care of the list of tasks that dad kept adding to that he could no longer take care of himself.

But when we have the opportunity to revisit the memories in Michigan, we always choose to do so. We have a lot of fond memories of great times with family and friends.

You might remember that we got off the road in early 2022 to head back to Mt Gilead Ohio from Arizona to help our daughter Sara heal from her sudden serious illness.

That took us through September of ’22 when we could have returned to Arizona for the winter, but we decided we’d stay in Ohio for the winter and get our hip surgeries completed.

In October of ’22 our son in law Stu wanted to make a fishing trip to northern Michigan so we naturally tagged along in our motorhome and made a family trip of it. You can read the post on that trip here. Norm and Alice, our old friends from my Xerox days came along and camped with us. We all had a great time catching up and telling stories.

Then in December of ’22 Kathy and I both had our hip surgeries. Mine was a new total right hip with a pretty quick recovery and hers was a torn left hip tendon repair which required nearly two full months of healing and rehab taking us through February of ’23. By that time we were well into winter and decided we would stay in OH through the summer and into fall ’23 when we would head back to Arizona for the winter.

To keep from getting bored and to give me a little spending money, during our time in Ohio I work part time for the county transporting patients to medical appointments.

Mid June of ’23 we decided to get the coach out of storage and make a trip up to see my sister Betsy and brother in law Bob in Owosso, Michigan. It’s about a 5 hour trip. Since the coach had been in storage for more than a year at this point, we thought it wise to take it on a short shake-down cruise. And we’re so glad we did!

On our way back from Owosso the last 50 miles or so found us in “limp mode” barely doing 30 mph. Ugh!

So into the shop she went. We drove the car back to Mt Gilead and waited (me not so patiently). Two more shops and three weeks later we finally had a resolution. Turns out the fuel tank (95 gallons) had a lot of rust and algae in it. Both are caused by excess moisture sitting in the tank during extended periods of storage. The rust and algae plugged up not only the fuel filter but the lines as well. The solution to this problem is to always top off the tank just before placing your rig in storage.

But by mid-July and thanks to Great Lakes Truck Center in Monroeville, Ohio where we were in the shop for about four days waiting on parts. New fuel tank and associated parts. We finally got back on the road headed to Ludington Michigan.

We then moved on to Ludington to attend an RV rally sponsored by our Escapees RV Club Great Lakes Chapter. There were about 30 rigs there from all over the tri-state. We had the opportunity to meet some new friends and visit with “old” friends we’ve met across the country too.

Larry & Robyn along with their son (home from college) Caleb

After the Ludington rally we moved 4 hours over to the east side of the state. We settled in at Alpena where we could stay until Friday morning when the “weekend warriors” descend on the campground. This is a very common occurrence as most folks have only the weekends to take a break with the family and head to the local camp or lake cottage.

Our site at Campers Cove, Alpena

This was a stop to give us time to catch up on our grocery shopping (we have a small 9 cu ft fridge) and find the local laundromat. We did take a drive over to the Thunder Bay Marina and enjoyed looking at all the yachts along with a large cruise ship in the distance heading south on Lake Huron.

As we walked the downtown streets of Alpena we came across a nice little park in between a couple businesses. I wanted to share this picture of the wall mural. Note the large 3D fish in the mural! Pretty cool, eh?

We got a really special and pleasant surprise after we arrived here at Alpena. I had posted on my Facebook page that we were here and almost immediately I received a message from an “old” friend of ours when we lived in Redford Twp MI pre-1984. What a blast from the past! Tim reached out to us to let us know that he and his wife Nancy now have a home near Harrisville, MI about 40 miles south of here. We made arrangements to enjoy a beautiful evening re-kindling our friendship over a wonderful dinner at an upscale Italian restaurant in Alpena. It was great to spend time with them both and we look forward to seeing them again when we will very likely be back up here in a few years.

I’m usually pretty good about taking pictures, but we were so busy talking that I totally forgot – my bad.

We were intending to move tomorrow morning over to Emerick Park Campground at Hillman MI while we wait until we can get into our spot at the lighthouse, but I just got an email from our supervisor at the lighthouse and he has an empty spot now so we are going to head on up to 40 Mile Point Lighthouse tomorrow.

More to follow after we settle in up there.

Summer camping in Michigan with friends and family

This is a post I wrote back in late October and THOUGHT I had published, but just found it in my DRAFTS folder. Better late than never.

When our daughter Sara became seriously ill in early 2022, we made a bee-line trip back to Ohio from Arizona to help her through the recovery process.

It’s now summer and Sara is doing so much better. She’s the best and happiest we’ve seen her in 20 years.

Sara and Stu

Since Stu and Sara sold their Mt Gilead home in April, we’ve all been living together in one of our small two bedroom rental homes in the village. It’s “cozy” but it’s got a great attached garage for the guys to play in and a fenced yard for the dogs w/a concrete patio so the girls can sun themselves while keeping an eye on the little 4 legged mischief makers.

Our Mt Gilead home where the four of us lived May to September 2022

As our lives got more and more back to normal, we yearned for more “normal” activities. One of these was Stu’s desire to go fishing in northern Michigan again as he had the year before.

Sara wanted to go along, but the idea of being out on the lake all day really wasn’t her idea of fun – nor was waiting in the motel room all day for Stu to come back with the car towing the boat. Quite the conundrum.

Kathy and I proposed the idea of us tagging along and setting up camp in a local campground that could also provide a rental camper for the two of them and the dogs. We found a great little campground called Campers Cove RV Park & Canoe Livery where we got sites just a few hundred feet apart. As an added bonus Stu’s mom Barb came along as well!

Our site along the canal heading out to the lake
Location of Campers Cove near Alpena Michigan

We set our camping trip for October and when I mentioned that to a Facebook friend, another one of our “old friends” (not THAT kind of “old” really but friends we’ve been since the early 70’s) suggested they might come along since we hadn’t seen each other in a few years. Great idea!

Kathy at Stu, Sara and Barb’s camper. The little gal is Dulaney

What a great time we had camping in northern Michigan enjoying the fall colors, the cool weather, the nearly empty campground, the crackling of the campfire every day and night, along with great food provided and cooked by our friends Norm and Alice. What a treat!

Chef Norm grilling up the innards for our burrito dinner while Sara awaits

Our relationship with Norm & Alice started when Norm and I hired in at Xerox as copier service reps in 1973 (I think). We soon became fast friends as we both worked covering the downtown Detroit big office buildings servicing copiers in law firms, government offices, stock brokerages, banks, and others. Back in those days it was only Xerox, Kodak, and IBM in the copier business. It would be a few more years before the influx of the Toshibas, Minoltas, Canons and other Japanese brands into the market.

Norm, Alice, Sara, Stu, Barb, & Kathy

As our friendship grew, the four of us partied together, got married about the same time, went on some trips together, each brought our children into the world (each with a boy and a girl) about the same time. We bought our first homes the same year. They, however have done the smart thing and stayed in that home for nearly 50 years while we’ve moved in and out of nine homes before finally selling the last one and hitting the road in our motorhome in 2016.

Everybody’s favorite pastime at the fire
Ooooh … S’mores Sticky fingers

We didn’t just sit around the campfire and feed our faces for three days however. While Stu went off fishing, we made a couple day trips to see the Mackinac Bridge and visit a couple lighthouses too.

Herb, Alice, Norm, Barb, Kathy, and Sara @ The Old Mackinac Lighthouse

Kathy and I are going to be volunteering late summer of ’23 as guest lighthouse keepers at 40 Mile Point Light near Rogers City, MI. Since we were pretty darn close, we decided to swing on by and scope out the place!

Sara and Barb getting ready to head on in for their self-guided tour of the lighthouse

We couldn’t have asked for better weather. The sunny warm days faded to cooler afternoons and evenings. Time together with wonderful old friends and our family really was a special time telling stories of times past and just enjoying each other’s company.

Stu and Barb enjoying some time together playing golf

As we prepare to stay in Mt Gilead for the winter so that I can get my second hip replacement, we reminisce about our six years on the road workamping and camp hosting.

We’re so glad that we made the decision to quit working early (at 62), sell the house and hit the road. The places we’ve gone and especially the wonderful lasting friendships we’ve made along the way would never have happened if we stayed home – working or retired.

Some of the places we’ve at least spent the night along the way

But for now we will be content to stay in Ohio to get some medical issues taken care of, spend the summer of ’23 in/near here and then head to Arizona and spend next winter with our “other” family there.

Christmas in Mexico

We left our winter home at Rovers Roost on Saturday December 18th and met up with our friend Heidy at her home in Green Valley AZ for the night.

Sunday morning bright and early (still dark) we left her place about 6:30 and headed down I-10 and I-19 to the border crossing at Nogales.

Once we crossed the border onto MX15 we still had an inspection station, an immagration station, and 3 tolls booths to get through.

We stayed on MX15 (a four lane divided highway) down to Hermosillo where we then headed west about 60 more miles on MX100 to Bahia de Kino (Kino Bay) where we then pulled in to Islandia Marina and RV Park.

Our host Martita greeted us with a smile and pointed out two possible sites for us. We chose the one nestled under a big tree overlooking the Sea of Cortez.

We have a large site with plenty of shade over the coach, 1000′ of sandy beach, sun and water out our front window

The nights are cool, in the 40’s and 50’s and the days are breezy and in the low 80’s with lots of sunshine.

Our first full day found us keeping busy going about 20 minutes east to San Miguel Aleman to exchange our dollars for pesos, to pick up a few groceries, and to a local Telcel agent to get a 30 day MX sim card for my phone.

Just to give you an idea of how money works here, $100 American is about 2000 MX pesos.

Our groceries at a super market cost us $8.90, my 30 day unlimited talk and text (4.5gb data) sim card cost me $11.50, and our 30 amp full hookup site overlooking the beach at the Sea of Cortez costs $15/night.

While last night we cooked brats on the grill at our home by the beach, tonight we ate at Pulpo Loco (Crazy Octopus) in town. We got 3 combo plates of fried fish, bacon wrapped cheese stuffed shrimp, salad, fries, and fried shrimp. All 3 meals along with two bottles of Coke and a huge bottled water was 520 pesos (about $26)

Our first day here at Islandia RV Park we had the pleasure of meeting Julio, one of the regulars whose been spending winters here since 2007. A retired NYC firefighter, he’s quite a character. Although he doesn’t own or even manage the park, he loves to play host and invited us to join the gang at his place anytime we see anyone there.

Julio and others invited us down for Ray’s 89th birthday party complete with pizza and birthday cake

Thursday morning came too soon and it was time to say goodbye to our host Martita and head further south about 120 miles to Totonaka RV Park at San Carlos, also on the east side of the Sea of Cortez.

Saying goodbye to our host Martita at Islandia RV Park (Bahia de Kino, Sonora, MX)

San Carlos is a much larger town that Kino Bay and is more a tourist area loaded with restaurants and curio shops.

The park is very nice with over 140 FHU RV sites and about 25 motel rooms. Heidy is in one of their rooms and we are in the coach. They have a pool, hot tub, pickleball courts and they run a clean tight ship here, they’re always cleaning, raking, and checking the property. At this park our FHU site cost $26/nite (tourist area pricing).

Map of our route ending at San Carlos, Guaymas Sonora, MX

The day after Christmas, there is the annual lighted boat parade right off the beach and we walked down to watch as about twenty five or thirty large vessels dressed in hundreds of Christmas lights paraded by. It was a fun (and free) evening.

I’m sorry the pictures are blurry, it was dark and the camera had a hard time focusing.

Now the weather turned cool. Gray skies after Christmas and temps in the 50’s and 60’s so no beach time for now. But there ARE still PLENTY of places to eat that many of our neighbors here at Totonaka have told us that we need to check out.

The girls went shopping today, they were gone about 4 hours and came back all excited about what they stumbled across … a place where Heidy and/or Kathy and I could rent an RV spot either monthly or year-round and at a very attractive price!

We talked at some length about the possibilities and decided that all three of us would make a 2nd visit tomorrow. In the meantime … what else? It’s dinner time!

We went back to Daniel’s place the day after Christmas to “scope it out” a little more. He has four covered RV spots that are 60+ feet deep and about 30′ wide with an add’l 12’x60′ concrete patio. All sites are Full Hook-Up (water, electric, and sewer). The property is fenced and gated and Daniel and his wife live full-time on the property. He made Heidy a really sweet deal ($250/month) to park her rig there year round and stay in it full-time or for a few months at a time. Two of the four sites are occupied by folks who live there year-round. NOTE: Take a look at the supports for the roof. These are NOT trees but actually they are BRANCHES from giant eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus is a very dense and heavy wood and makes for an excellent building material in this dry climate.

While visiting Daniel he drew a map for us to check out the “lookout” and one of the high-end new home developments on the bay.

To round out the afternoon (and our last day in Mexico) we decided to …. what else? Try out another restaurant of course!

The restaurant celebrates the “Day of the Dead” which is a Mexican holiday on November 1st and 2nd. It celebrates the lives of loved ones who have died over the last year.

From Google: “Ancient Mesoamericans believed that death was part of the journey of life. Rather than death ending life, they believed that new life came from death. This cycle is often associated with the cyclical nature of agriculture, whereby crops grow from the ground where the last crop lies buried.”

All in all, we had a great time visiting Mexico and making new friends. In a nutshell we have to say that;

  1. The Mexican people are gracious, friendly, accommodating, and thankful that we were there spending our money in their communities.
  2. The food cost is about one-half of what a meal (restaurant or grocery store) would cost in the states.
  3. Fuel is about the same cost or even a little more than here in the states,
  4. and the roads are generally terrible. Certainly not everywhere, but there are plenty of areas where you have to wonder if the RV is just going to shake apart right there on the spot.
  5. And the poverty is nearly everywhere, at least it’s not at all hard to find. We say plenty of people living in tin and cardboard shacks with no electricity and no running water. It’s sad to see such distress.

We drove our last day straight through from San Carlos to Casa Grande AZ (395 miles) and we have to say it’s “good to be back”.

Until next time, we wish you and yours a Happy New Year. We hope it’s a safe and healthy one for all of us.

Herb and Kathy

Uh-Oh Transmission slips

While we were in Yuma for a few days getting a new bra made and installed for the front of the coach (to protect the paint from flying stones and road debris), we noticed the coach transmission was slipping only occasionally when shifting from 4th to 5th gear. It happened three times over a three day period. Oh Crap …

I went to my good friends (Google and You Tube) and discovered that Allison (Transmissions) recommends trans fluid change (along with filters) every 40,000 miles or four years.

We’ve had our rig five years now and have put 60,000 miles on it. It was already 15 years old with 40,000 milles when we bought it. Guess I better get on the stick, eh?

So we went on up I-10 about 30 miles to Velocity Truck Center where they are both Freightliner and Allison Certified shops. We got in the evening before so we could be at the door at 7am when they opened.

Ready for first thing in the morning

We checked in at 7 and then ran a few small errands while we were “in the big city”.

Besides eating the previous night’s dinner at the great little family owned Italian restaurant, and breakfast the next day at Waffle House, we still needed to kill some time before the coach would be ready.

Drug store, jewelry store, coffee shop, and then what? Neither one of us are used to just having nothing to do so we Googled “Things to do near me” and found the Eddie Basha Art Gallery.

I could tell Kathy wanted to go and it would be a good way to kill off a couple of hours. I figured if I found it to be not exactly my cup of tea, they must have a seat or bench I could relax on and check emails, Facebook and such.

But WOW what a collection! Eddie Basha (1932-2013) was the fourth generation of Lebanese immagrants that owned and operated the family grocery store chain that started as one store and has grown to over 130 stores with 9000+ employees here in Arizona.

The gallery is Eddie’s private collection that the family continues to display free of charge to the public. The collection is mostly early western American (cowboy) art and early native American art.

It includes very large assortments of bronze castings, wood sculpture, oil paintings, stone sculpture, and woven baskets.

The picture gallery below shows just SOME of the hallways and alcoves dedicated to various artists

Eddie’s real joy in collecting these pieces was that he was often able to meet the artist personally and he took pride in developing life-long relationships with many of them.

So if you find yourself in the Phoenix are with a few hours available, we both highly recommend that you visit the gallery located inside the Basha’s corporate office in Chandler.

If you can’t make it there personally, here’s the link to the gallery web site with more info and photos.

We got our coach back about 2:30 and hooked up the car and headed right back to Casa Grande just in time for the afternoon social hour.

Thanks for following along, we look forward to meeting up with you somewhere down the road.

Herb and Kathy

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Greetings from Herb and Kathy


To all our family and friends, we are writing to wish you the best of the holiday season.

We write this now as we are readying to depart to Mexico for a couple weeks and will not return to our Arizona winter home until the first of the New Year.

Wow what a busy year Herb and I have had! As you may be aware, we spent March of 2020 through March of 2021 in Ohio living in the bunkhouse above the garage at Sara and Stu’s home.

It was good to be off the road during the Covid outbreak and we were so fortunate to be able to spend some quality time with both our children and their families.

Herb drove a bus for the county starting in May of ’20 and finished that job this past March when he had his rotator cuff surgery. We then went on down to Dale Hollow Lake State Park in Kentucky to camp host for 3 months and he recuperated with physical therapy at the local hospital. While we were there, it was great to welcome visiting friends Mark and Cindy, Mike and Kim, Chuck and Della, and Forrest and Mary. We all spent 3 days together gathering around the campfire, eating out, and we rented a double-deck pontoon boat for a day of fun on Dale Hollow Lake too! We also enjoyed a week-long visit from Stu and Sara – they rented a camper and parked right next to us!

We finished our KY gig July 4th and came back to Ohio so that Herb could get his hip replaced July 22nd. That surgery went well too (same doc as the shoulder) and we were able to hit the road westbound on Aug 20th.

We timed our departure from Ohio so we could join my sister’s family in celebration of her daughter’s wedding. Although the wedding was a small one last year during Covid, this reception in the Groom’s parents back yard in Michigan was a fun and beautiful event. We got to sit with my cousin Kristin and her husband Ed who we hadn’t seen in probably 20 years or so and had a great time reminiscing.

After that we traveled on to Owosso Michigan where we spent a couple days with Herb’s two sisters and their husbands. Another great meetup, we always have fun together. From Owosso we made our way further west in Michigan where we visited with friends we made while working at a camp in Baldwin Michigan. We also met up with a high school classmate who we hadn’t seen (or talked to) since 1972. Another great visit!

After that we loaded the coach onto the S.S. Badger Auto Ferry at Ludington Michigan and took the 4 hour cruise across Lake Michigan. Once we arrived at Manitowoc Wisconsin we met up again for dinner with Forrest and Mary at Green Bay.

Making our way further west found us meeting with Paul and Chris at Mason City Iowa and visiting the Surf Dance Hall where Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valenz and The Big Bopper made their final show before the fatal plane crash in a nearby corn field.

We then moved on down to the Kansas City Missouri area to spend a couple days with Ron and Judy who we had worked with at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in 2019 and we all took a tour of a private family mauseleum that our friend Carl (who we met in Mexico a couple years back) had inherited. What an interesting tour that was!

From Kansas City (now early September) we moved on to Spearfish SD so that we could reconnect with Matt and Sherry who we worked with at DC Booth Fish Hatchery in 2019. We spent a week there and during that time Jim and Brenda came by for a couple nights stay and David and Susan came up for a visit from where they were working at Custer State Park.

Since David and Susan also have a lot where we winter at Rover’s Roost in Casa Grande, Arizona we talked and decided it would be fun for the four of us to caravan together back to AZ once they were done with their gig at Custer.

We moved on just south of Custer to a two week stay at Angostura State Recreation Area while we waited for David and Susan to meet up with us October 1st. We enjoyed getting to enjoy Hot Springs SD while we were in the area.

Starting October 1st we made our way south to northwest Nebraska, then west into Wyoming and through Cheyenne, Laramie, Rock Springs and then down Route 191 through Flaming Gorge and on down across the Snowy Ridge (9114′ elev) through beautiful eastern Utah.

Nearing the middle of October got us back into northeast Arizona where we visited Winslow and Meteor Crater and ultimately down just east of Phoenix and we all four pulled into “the Roost” October 19th.

Early November we were delighted to have a visit from our Ohio friends Chuck and Della. They rented a VRBO nearby and we spent about a week together sightseeing some of the local sights. It was great to see them again and play “tour guide” a little.

Although we arrived here mid-October, it takes a couple months before everyone is back. It’s fun welcoming old friends back “home” with a big SKP hug, (but not so much today with Covid – we tend to smile and shake hands more often than before)

Our plan at this point is to be back in Ohio this summer (arriving March/April) depending on which way we go on the way back. We look forward to seeing all of you in the summer. To our RV’ing friends .. we look forward to meeting up again with you real soon. To each of you we wish you only the most wonderful Christmas celebration and a Happy and Joyous New Year to you all!

Herb and Kathy