Changes continue

Nothing is easy anymore. Well, that’s not entirely true, but when we were younger, things got done a lot faster for sure.

Now what used to be a one day job turns into a one week job. More rest breaks, more re-tracing our steps to go back and get what we forgot we were going there for in the first place, more thinking, planning, contemplating about the completion of the project instead of just “doing”.

Our latest change in our lives is the decision to stop traveling full time while workamping and camp hosting.

The first couple of years after we sold our home in Ohio were full 12 month years of workamping and camp hosting in RV parks and campgrounds as we traveled.  It was a wonderful time being in new places and making lots of new friends.  We worked doing mostly simple light-duty jobs in campgrounds like being greeters, selling ice and firewood, sometimes being tour guides along with being an extra set of eyes for the campgrounds manager or ranger.

And our camp site and utilities were always free in exchange for 12-15 hours of work per week. It was a win-win.  No W2, no 1099, no income to claim and no taxes to pay.

But after 2 or 3 years of traveling and working, we decided we’d appreciate a break. We obtained our lot at the Escapees RV Club RV park in Casa Grande Arizona where we could come back to “rest” in between our campground gigs.  It gave us a chance to take a breath and catch up on things like car repairs and medical needs.

As time went on, we came to realize that we’d like to stop working altogether.  I mean, after all we’d done that for 40+ years and we had now come to enjoy the slower pace.

The park here at Casa Grande is a Co-Op park meaning that all of us who are lessees are co-owners of this not-for-profit corporation.  And because we all volunteer in running and maintaining the operation, it keeps everyone’s costs down.

Over the last few years Kathy and I have assumed different responsibilities at the park. We’ve chaired the Veterans Day Recognition Lunch, the annual road cleanup, the Christmas party, the Brown Bag Raffle at our annual Follies fundraiser, and now currently stock and maintain the canteen in the clubhouse in addition to serving on the Marketing committee and the Lot Wait List committee.

So being that we’ve become more involved around here, we decided to not travel full time and volunteer in campgrounds around the country but instead become snowbirds.

You might remember that in early 2022, we went back to Ohio to take care of our daughter Sara who had become seriously ill.  Since it was the dead of winter, we left the motorhome in Arizona and had to ask one of our renters back in Mt Gilead to move out so we could move in.  We spent the next few months helping Sara.

Sara and husband Stu

In September, Sara was finally well, and she and Stu moved into their own place about a half hour north of us. 

Kathy and I decided to stay in Mt Gilead for the winter and get a couple surgeries taken care of.  By the time we were fully recovered and feeling pretty good, spring ’23 had sprung.  Might as well stay in Ohio for the summer, right?

So we had the opportunity to spend time with our family and our wonderful Mt Gilead friends who we hadn’t seen for months, or in some cases years. And I went back to my part-time job as a medical transport driver for Morrow County Area Transit 3 days a week.

Ultimately fall was upon us and we climbed back in to our Airstream motorhome and headed back to our winter home in Casa Grande, Arizona.

We traveled slowly spending at least a couple days up to a week in any single location, so it took us almost a month to make the trip. We talked a lot on that trip about what changes we might make to our lifestyle and ultimately we decided that when we got to Arizona we’d sell the motorhome and look for a travel trailer or 5th wheel that we could leave on our lot and just drive the car back and forth.

The implementation of our plan moved along quickly and before we knew it (around Christmas time) we had the motorhome sold, a commitment to purchase a used 5th wheel trailer from someone here in our park, and we traded in our lot for one along the northern wall overlooking the desert to the north.

Here’s the new (old) fifth wheel trailer parked next to the motorhome while we transferred our belongings from one to the other.

We also bought a 2nd car that will stay here in Arizona while the Explorer will stay in Ohio and we will fly back and forth in the future. We discovered that Allegiant Air can fly us for as low as $56 per person one-way, (if you’re not picky about dates!)

I advertised the motorhome on the Phoenix Craigslist along with posting a You Tube video describing the rig and we had it sold in about 3 hours.

Airstream motorhome for sale video

So there you have it.  Changes in our lives lead to changes in lifestyle, but we’re OK with that.

We are so thankful to have had the opportunity to be full time RVers on the road over the last 7 or 8 years.  Not only are we grateful for being g able to visit all the places we’ve been, but more. Than that we ack owledge we’ve been blessed to meet so many wonderful people and make so many nee friends.  Lots of these friends we will stay in touch with for years to come.

As our winter season in Arizona winds down, we look forward to heading back to Ohio and spending the summer with friends and family.

Stay tuned for more …

Giving Back to Our Hosts

NOTE: This post was started about a week earlier but I ran out of data on my Mexican (Telcel) phone and so I no longer had a hot spot for wifi to my computer, so I’m finishing up this post while we are back at Rover’s Roost in Casa Grande Arizona where my Visible phone service and hot spot (with no data cap) is working great.

Now, back to the story …

Yes, we’re really enjoying our visit to the Baja with our new Escapee friends. Although we’ve been members of the club about 5 years now, there’s no way you can get to know everybody as there are currently (I think) over 50,000 members nationwide.

The main entrance to La Jolla Beach Camp

To find out more about Chapter 8, visit their web site at this link. And here is the link to the Chapter 8 Facebook page.

And although Chapter 8 has been coming to Mexico for 37 years, the people that travel with them change from year to year. Some have been coming for years while others (like us) have made this their first trip with the chapter and very likely the first trip to Mexico. They don’t always travel to this side of the Baja. Sometimes it’s San Felipe, Rocky Pointe, or even Mexico City.

We’ve been given the opportunity to give back to the communities in which we stay. At our stay at the zoo in Guadalupe Valley we were offered reduced camping fees and free admittance to the zoo (even when they were closed to the public) and in return we helped the keepers in the care and feeding of the animals and their habitats.

We learned that the zoo was founded by Mr. Jiminez and his wife Perla as a service to the forgotten and abandoned animals and the children of the community. They wanted a place that all families could come and enjoy wholesome family time together not only to learn a little about the wildlife kingdom but also to enjoy some recreation together.

The Jiminez family also owned the Jersey Dairy and for many years the dairy supported the zoo financially. Recently the dairy was sold to another corporation and the zoo is now a stand-alone non-profit zoo. It still has Perla (Mrs.) Jiminez as Director and the family is still involved in the management and operation, but the funding is FAR below where it was just a few years ago.

As a result they are struggling to feed and care for the animals. A lot of their “residents” are brought to the zoo by the government that has confiscated these illegally owned animals at ports of entry. Although the government delivers the animals to the zoo to be cared for, they provide NO financial assistance for their care and can come and remove these same animals at any time. That’s a real frustration for the keepers.

We (Chapter 8) members will also help the zoo by ordering items from their Amazon Wish List and some of us brought items down and hand delivered these things to the keepers while we were there. The keepers here are much like our teachers back in the states in that they buy a lot of their own supplies to care for their “flock”. Many of the 13 employees at the zoo are single and are so attached that they think of the animals in their care as their “family”.

In case you are interested in seeing what sorts of things the keepers need – and maybe you’re even moved to help as well, you can check out the Amazon Wish List link here.

When we arrived here at La Jolla Beach Camp, our hosts the Pabloff Family introduced us to the need at a local “Grandparents House” about 10 miles away from our camp. Our Wagon-master and Charity Committee had previously arranged to have us form a work party and provide them with about 200 man hours work to insulate one of their new living units.

When we arrived on site we were introduced to the husband and wife team, Angelica and Nicholas (both pastors) who started this mission along with the help of Justin who’s family is doing mission work both at this home and another one a few miles down the road.

We arrive at the site about 10am and greet some of the residents who were waiting to meet us outside.
Justin gives us an overview of the home and the history of the Pastors and their work

It’s really a pretty remarkable story. Mrs. Pastor fourteen years ago found an old woman sitting on her front lawn. The lady looked to be alone and unfortunate so Angelica invited her into her home for lunch. They chatted and got to know each other. At the end of the lunch, Angelica told the lady she was welcome to return for lunch again the next day. The lady thanked her and asked if she could possibly bring a friend …. and so the beginning.

One friend led to another and another and another. Pretty soon Angelica was feeding 20 homeless old people on buckets and tree stumps in her front yard.

In Mexico there is very little money for programs like we have in the states and further these people that Angelica was meeting were mostly forgotten. They have no family that will admit to being related to them, they have little or no education, they have no way to travel, and they have not the knowledge or experience of how to ask for help. They are typically migrant farm workers who historically have lived the nomadic lifestyle traveling from farm to farm working in the fields and living on what little meager existence they can eek out with the wages their farmer pays.

Angelica knew there must be some public assistance available for these poor souls. She took one of them into a government office and introduced her as her grandmother. The agreed that Grandma qualified for a pension of $25 every other month. She then took another and introduced him as Grandfather. Then another and then another. You know what happened next … by the 5th time they knew something was up. She told the government agents the truth. They told Angelica that they were going to make a surprise visit to see for themselves.

When they arrived and saw what she was doing – unfortunately they couldn’t help financially with anything more than the $25 per person every other month. But the COULD provide her with a building close by where she could prepare and serve the meals. Soon after and still today, she and her volunteer helpers are serving meals to about 200 forgotten souls on a daily basis.

But she knew there was still more to be done. These people needed homes. They were living under sheets of cardboard under trees. The more fortunate ones had acquired plastic tarps to live under and were begging on the streets. These are sick and aged people in their 70’s and 80’s who could no longer do manual labor.

That’s where our new friend Miguel Pabloff comes in. Mike helped them obtain the land on which to start a small community of nice clean stick-built homes for these people. All the work and all the materials have been donated. Angelica and her husband Nickolas receive no government funding except the $25 previously mentioned.

We will be insulating the orange building. The purple and green buildings are completed and occupied with 5 residents in each building – each with their own room

Currently there are 15 residents and the Pastors do all the cooking, cleaning, bathing, activities and more. The do get volunteer help as well. The day we were there two student nurses came to check on all the residents and will be coming weekly for the next six months while they are still in school. Other volunteers come (unsolicited) from churches and neighborhoods in the area to help because they’ve heard of the unselfish work that Nicholas and Angelica are doing and want to help.

One of the 5 resident rooms in each of the finished buildings. Each resident has a bed, a chair, a toilet, sink, a small table, and a clothes closet

Although the resident rooms are very plain, we were told that to these folks, it’s a castle. Most of them had been living on the streets.

The rooms are spartan and very clean. There is one very large shower (to accommodate a wheelchair) in each building. When the residents want community or meals, they need to get over to the community dining room. Some are ambulatory with the help of canes or walkers while others need to be pushed along in wheelchairs.

The dining hall / community room where we ate beef quesadillas for lunch
The new kitchen under construction – currently Angelica prepares ALL the meals for the 15 residents and her own family on-site in her home

Remember, clicking on any of the thumbnail photo will open a larger picture so you can see more detail.

Our own Malcolm Russ entertained the residents with his violin and beautiful singing voice

The pictures in the gallery below show tables filled with donation items (food and clothing) for the Grandparents home and also to distribute to some of the less fortunate out in the country.

We collected (from ourselves) the donations and then on Saturday night we had an auction where we got lubed up with $2 Margaritas beforehand and then bid on items given by ourselves to our “other” selves. We raised about $4000 in the auction. This is just part of the monies that Chapter 8 will be giving back to four different Service Projects (charities) here in Baja California before we leave.

Thanks for riding along … More to come in our next post.

Cactus in Casa Grande

We took a drive over to Avocado Nursery near Coolidge, AZ – only about 20 minutes or so northeast of our spot at Rover’s Roost RV Park.  Kathy had a small Barrel Cactus that she had bought at Kroger in 2016 and it’s been on the dashboard of the coach ever since.  She’s re-potted it a couple of times and our daughter Sara had given her others to add to her collection when we were visiting Ohio back in the spring of 2018.

The (now brown) larger spiky cactus turned brown seemingly pretty fast.  We weren’t sure if it just got too much sun, was infected by some sort of bug, or was just root-bound.

The Barrel Cactus along with the others seemed to be doing ok, but we decided it might be a good thing to get some larger containers and re-pot them into fresh soil with larger surroundings so they could flourish.  We don’t know what we’re doing when it comes to plants and flowers, so that’s why we hit the road — besides, we like road trips – no matter how long or short they might be!

They couldn’t tell us definitively what had caused the one plant to go brown all of a sudden, but they offered to get us some other containers and also do the planting for us.  Ordinarily this would be something we’d do ourselves but living on the road in an RV means if we bought a 5# bag of soil, and some gravel for the bottom we’d still have to lay out a tarp at our site (all gravel and concrete) and we’d most certainly have leftover soil and gravel to deal with getting rid of.

It was just so much easier to let them do it for us.

While we were watching and visiting with the ladies doing the re-potting, I took the opportunity to talk with the owner, Phil.

Phil and his wife bought the 10 acre property in 1980, built their home, and began to build the nursery.  They were both school teachers (Phil taught vocational agriculture and horticulture for 30+ years) and had the summers off and although the southern Arizona summers can be brutal, these two forged ahead and built their home, the greenhouses, and all the other little buildings on the property, all while building the nursery business at the same time.

Although Phil’s wife passed away a few years ago, he and his 6 employees work 6 days a week to keep this retail garden nursery open along with working at their 300 acre wholesale nursery up near Douglas, Arizona.

Kathy and I walked throughout much of the 10 acre grounds and wanted to share some of what we saw.  Here’s a sampling of what we found at this rare find in the desert.  And as always, you can click on any photo to see an enlarged view.

Although you don’t see a lot of pretty multi-colored flowers like those of us from the mid-west are so accustomed to, when we look closely we can see the buds and blossoms on the cactus and see the beauty that the desert has to offer.

 

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Entrance to the compound with the Great House in the background. Note the bird nest holes in the cactus on the right.

Throughout the southwest, and specifically Arizona, there are many sites of ruins from early native peoples.

Last week we took a short drive from our winter home at Rover’s Roost RV Park in Casa Grande, Arizona on over to Coolidge where we visited the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.

The other ruins we’ve visited in Arizona have been home to cliff-dwelling peoples (see this link to our other visits) while this one was home to Sonoran Desert farmers.  In the center of the community is the “Great House” and the foundations of other smaller buildings and meeting and work areas surround the larger structure.  Further out from the walls of the community were an impressive network of large and small canals for crop irrigation.

The Sonoran people abandoned (for unknown reasons) the area about 1450 A.D. archeologists tell us while the area was first visited by non-native people around 1690.

Here are some pictures of our visit, but you can find more information about the ruins by clicking here.

As always, you can click on any picture to get an enlarged view to see more detail.

The wood beam and metal bar are recent efforts to reinforce the wall to keep it from falling

Thanks for riding along with us.

Take Care of yourselves and our best wishes to you wherever you might be.

Deming, NM to Casa Grande, AZ

A cool night in Deming, (we left the windows open) and enjoyed breakfast in our home and hit the road for Rover’s Roost at Casa Grande, AZ the next morning.  Here’s a few pix.  Actually, the pix of the pool is here at Shangri-La RV Resort in Yuma, AZ where Kathy and I are spending the night and we took a dip in the pool a little earlier – how refreshing!

When we were at Dream Catcher RV Park (doing laundry) we met Henry and Shirley and struck up a conversation.  Turns out, we had both been at TRA-Park in Pecos, TX the night before, and as we talked we discovered we were both going to be heading to Rover’s Roost in Casa Grande, AZ the next day as well.

Of course, we had more opportunity to talk over the next couple of days and learned that Henry has been full-timing (RV’ing that is) for 20 years now, initially with his first wife who passed on in 2003, and now with his 2nd wife Shirley since they got married.  (We got a kick out of the fact that Shirley had been his brother’s wife before the brother died!)

Over that twenty year period, they have been strictly volunteering.  They have been connected with a group called Campers On Mission and they volunteer their time and talents all over the country.  Sometimes they might work for a few days to a few weeks.  Only recently have they found a plot of land in east Texas where they are able to have a regular “home base” with a park model home, but when they get the urge to move on, they climb in the pick-up and hook up the travel trailer and out they go.  They’re on a 7 week trip right now visiting family all over the country.

I’m sorry I didn’t think to take pictures of them that I could share with you.  One of Shirley’s passions is to make sleeping mats literally out of plastic grocery bags!  She makes these mats (crochet) out of all colors of bags and they measure 3’x6′.  She then turns them in to their church and they are sent overseas to orphanages that use them for the children to sleep on.  I know it doesn’t sound very comfortable, but the finished product is about 3/4″ thick and will afford a child a lot more comfort than lying or sitting on a hard dirt floor.

Henry also crochets, but he showed us these cute little stocking caps he makes and then donates to hospital children’s nurseries around the country.  He figures he’s donated about 1000 or so of these over the years to hospitals around the country as they’ve traveled.

What a wonderful, giving and unselfish couple they are, if only we could all be as generous and humble as they are.  We meet the nicest people as we travel.