Tuesday, December 31, 2013

1st Year of Fulltiming Summation

Casa Grande, AZ

It's the time of the year when so many bloggers post a "year in review" or a summation of what occurred during the year.  Well, I've decided to follow the leads of others and do a summary of a few of the "key" points during our first year of fulltiming.

I'm not going to re-hash the places we've been, nor show pictures of significant stops. Hey, that's what the past blog entries are all about.  Please feel free to look back at our blog during the first year if looking for something specific.

Ok, here goes.

First, I truly cannot believe that we've already been on the road for an entire year.  We departed VA on 1/1/2012 (where it was pretty chilly) and headed south.  To steal a phrase from someone whose name I cannot recall "We wake up with nothing on the agenda, and by the time we go to bed we've only accomplished half of the things on the list".  The year has just flown by.

One of the good things about visiting many new to us places is that we've already discovered sights and attractions which we'll definitely put onto our list to return.
Because I'm a bit anal when it comes to numbers and statistics here's a breakdown of our first year on the road:

Transportation Related

Motorhome:                     Miles Traveled                   9095 miles
                                         Ave. MPG                          8.58
                                         Total Cost of Diesel Fuel   $4162.53
                                         Ave. Price per Gallon        $3.61

Honda Fit:                       Miles Traveled                    8592 miles
                                         Ave. MPG                          39.34
                                         Total Cost of Gasoline        $777.66
                                         Ave. Price per Gallon         $3.56

Camping Related  (Figures include all utilities as well)

                              Total Cost                            $7387.21
                              Ave. Price per Day              $20.24
                              Shortest Stay                        1 night
                              Longest Stay                        60 days

        Types of facilities (separate locations, not nights)

                             Private/Commercial/Fairgrounds        18
                             State Parks/COE/County Parks           7
                             Membership Parks (TT, SKP)              9
                             Tiffin Service Center                             1
                             Dry Camp (Boondock)                         1
                             Total Locations                                   36

We actually camped in a total of 15 different states during the year of 2013 and stayed an average of 10.14 days in each location.

I have all of the budget line item figures for the year as well, but because this varies so much from person to person I've decided not to post charts for these figures.

Should anyone be interested in a "budget" item please do not hesitate to either leave a request in the "comment" section below or send us an email at the address listed in the top left portion of this blog page.

Summation and General Comments Pertaining to the First Year on the Road

The phrase "we've had a blast" really sums up our first year as fulltimers. We have visited so many places we'd only read about prior to being able to retire.  We've found that you really can't get to know a totally new place until you spend at least a couple of weeks in one location.  You really need to get to know the area by visiting the downtown areas, going to the grocery stores, and stopping to talk with folks who actually live in an area.

We've visited some very small towns this year, but found that there are things to see, places to visit, and new things to discover about each and every area we were in.  Other than the freedom to go basically wherever we chose, probably the best thing about fulltiming is meeting new people.  With few exceptions, almost everyone we met was "upbeat" and loved to take a chair and relate some of their traveling experiences.

I hate to say this about our past "working" life and living location, but in the 25 years that we lived in our last stick and bricks location, we never really got to meet our neighbors.  We lived in a "bedroom community" where usually both adults worked during the day and had long commutes.  By the time everyone got home, it was late and not much socializing occurred.

Fulltiming has created a refreshing change.  We've met new folks (and have remained friends either thru blogging or emails) as we've traveled the country.  It really is amazing how many folks you will eventually meet up with again at a location clear on the other side of the country.

While I will agree with the statement that "fulltiming is not for everyone", it certainly is for us.  I would encourage anyone who truly believes that this is the lifestyle which they would like to pursue, to go for it.  One of the many reasons that Karen and I decided to begin fulltiming as early as we could is because we did not want to look back 20 years from now and "wish" that we had done this. We are very thankful to be able to actually live our fulltiming dream NOW.

Here's wishing everyone a safe travel year in the coming year.
Hopefully, we'll meet up with a few of you on the road this year.

(OF NOTE) We began writing this blog in December 2012, just prior to our fulltiming life on the road. We've now had over 50,000 pageviews to date. We never thought that so many people cared about what, and where we were.  We began this blog just as a "diary" for ourselves and to let our family know a bit more about our travels on the road.  THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HAS READ OUR BLOG!

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve As a Fulltimer

Casa Grande, AZ                   (Please click on pics to enlarge)

This is our first true Christmas eve after becoming fulltimers.  (We don't count last year as we were still in the area of our "previous life" due to still working until the end of last December).

There are many differences between this year and years past, but we are certainly not wanting for friends and activities. 

Even our cat Willie seems to be pretty content laying beside our Christmas tree on the dash of our motorhome.  He loves to play (meaning swat) the ornamental presents which surround the tree.

A lot of folks in the park have gone home for Christmas, or many have family members visiting, but for the rest of us who are fulltimers, we are having a great time. 

One couple, who has been coming to Palm Creek for years, has an annual tradition of organizing a pre-Christmas "block party" dinner in one of the rooms at the club house. We had just barely met them, but they very graciously asked us to attend.  They provided the entrée and everyone brought a side or dessert to share. There were approximately 70 people in attendance this year.

Prior to dinner our host asked everyone to stand and give their names and to tell where they were from.  It was interesting to listen to the wide diversity of areas where people reside.  The largest number were from Canada, but the US was represented from as far away as FL and PA.  There was even a couple visiting from Scotland.

We had a wonderful time visiting and getting to know people we had just met.  Our table was made up of Alan and Brenda (Washington State) and Ken and Jill (British Columbia). They are immediately across the street from our rig and strangely enough we all three arrived in the park at exactly the same time back in early November. Both couples are RVers and I think this just gives everyone a common bond to strike up a conversation and friendship.

Just prior to eating, our host asked a few gentleman in the crowd to come forward.  No one else had any idea what was to come, but it certainly was amusing.  Please take a look at the short video below to see what I mean.

Another activity which brought the immediate community together was the construction and placing of luminaries on the streets.  The group gathered around 4 PM today under the guise of constructing the luminaries, but I think a bit of "happy hour" was the driving force as well.

Here's a picture of the luminaries before the sun set.

After darkness fell and the luminaries were lit, a true feeling of the holiday season was definitely in order.  Our rig is on the right side in this picture.

The night sky is clear and temps are in the high-40s as I write this blog.  It really is very beautiful in this part of the country at night.

We would like to wish all of our readers of our blog a very Happy Holiday Season and the best of wishes for a New Year.  Please be safe in your travels during this time of the year as it can be a bit maddening for those having to travel.  Fortunately, we are settled in for the winter and very happy in our "winter home".

Thanks for stopping by once again to take a look!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas in the Park

Casa Grande, AZ                   (Please select pics to enlarge)

It's been awhile since our last post (2 weeks).  Actually, there hasn't been a lot of "blog worthy" things to talk about.  Steve is continuing his physical therapy for the calf muscle tear and is progressing nicely. It was exactly 3 weeks yesterday since the injury occurred and I can get around pretty well already.  Now, it's just a matter of re-strengthening the muscles in the lower leg.  Pickleball here we come!

Karen has gotten a chance to play Pickleball many times now without Steve.  Something she enjoys, I suspect.  She also began a drawing with colored pencils class a few weeks ago.  For a first timer, I will admit that she's doing a pretty nice job.

Since I'm still limited in the amount of walking I can do, we decided to drive around the Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort the other night and view some of the Christmas decorations.  Since this is our first Christmas away from the traditional sticks and bricks house, coupled with a totally new geographical area (Virginia vs. Arizona), Christmas will "look" very different for us this year.

Here's a "daylight" view of some of the decorations cropping up around the park.

It seems that everyone, including the Resort, likes to wrap the palm trees in lights. This is the area near the Activities Center, and  the patio leading to the swimming pool.

Folks decorate everything.  Palm trees, sheds, houses.

 There's also conventional decorating around the houses.
Here's a look at the decorations in front of the same house, just different times of the day.

 Casa Grande's temperature today is supposed to reach 77 degrees with clear and bright skies.  I'll apologize to all of my family and friends back East, but we really don't miss all of that ice, snow, and freezing rain that I used to have to work in only one short year ago. This really is what the fulltime lifestyle should be all about.
Thanks for stopping by to take a look!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Trip to the Orthopedist

Casa Grande, AZ

Well, it's been 8 days since my injury and I was finally able to get in and see the Orthopedic Doctor today.  Of course, you don't really get to see the "Doctor", but rather the Physician's Assistant (PA)

After a brief discussion of the cause of the injury, and what I would call a cursory physical exam at best, he concluded that I most likely have a minor tear in the calf muscle.  (No mention of scheduling an MRI, btw.)

He gave me a list of Physical Therapists to select from and indicated that I'd probably be "out of pickleball" for at least 6 weeks.  I intend to do a bit of verbal research with my fellow pickleballers here at the resort to get a consensus on which physical therapists they've used, but more importantly, which ones they have had success with.

At this point I'm still using crutches to walk around with, but just elevating the leg at night (without compression), and taking some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs throughout the day.

In conclusion, not a whole lot learned, but at least it doesn't appear to be a major tear (which would entail a surgical repair).

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Not-So-Happy Blog Update

Casa Grande, AZ

I know that it's been awhile since we've updated the blog, but we really haven't had a lot of "new and exciting" information to report.  We've just been settling in to our winter home and doing some domestic chores which still come with the fulltiming lifestyle.

Oh, yes, and playing more pickleball. Karen and I both attended a 2-day clinic given by Prim Carnot last week and learned a LOT more about the game and its nuances.

Then we had a somewhat unusual occurence.  It rained beginning Friday and lasted until Sunday afternoon. This part of AZ has had about 250% of its normal precipitation for the month of November. By Monday morning it was beautiful (weather-wise) again.

I try to play pickleball at least three times a week, so I went to the courts at 10:00 AM to play a round robin event of equally skilled players.  Everything was going well for the first hour. We were midway through a game, then it happened. I made a routine return of a ball and suddenly it felt like somewhat had hit me in the back of the right calf.  I really didn't think too much about it until I tried to take the next step.  Then *?&* as I grabbed my calf and sank to the court.

It turns out that I torn a calf muscle. Now, I've played sports my entire life and have never had this happen before.  Possibly something to do with older age?  Not sure, but I do know that there will be no more pickleball (or any strenuous activity for that matter) in my future for the coming weeks.  I went to the hospital shortly after getting back to the MH, but all they really did was give me a pain pill and wrapped and splinted my lower leg.  I can't even get in to see an orthopedic doctor until a week from today.

At least we're parked in one spot for awhile and not trying to travel around.

BTW, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

No Plans, But We Never Seem to Finish

Casa Grande, AZ

Let me first apologize for not getting our blogs out quicker, but now that we're settled in for the next four months I might not write as often unless we visit some interesting sights.

Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort is really feeling very comfortable to us.  Although there are still some vacant spots around us, the snowbirders are slowly returning for the winter months. There are many Canadians who come south for the winter.  We have a  rig from Quebec on our right side, then a couple from British Columbia and Washington state across from us.  Everyone we've met has been super friendly. We've already made an observation about the general health of folks here.  They seem to be in a lot better shape physically than the people in most RV parks and campgrounds we've visited.  The vast majority of folks do something to keep active. It could be walking, riding bicycles, water aerobics, pickleball, tennis, or golf.

Speaking of pickleball.........nice lead in, huh?  The pickleball national tournament is being held this week in Buckeye, AZ (just west of Phoenix).  It's about a two hour drive from us, so yesterday we attended the event.  Very cool to be able to watch really good players for someone like me who is just starting out.

We specifically went to watch a husband-wife team who instructed in our beginner's class last week. In the picture they are the ones in the matching yellow shirts.  (In their early 60's).

Yesterday's session was just for mixed doubles and the ages ranged from the 19+ group to the 80+ group. A wide range of ages and quickness there, but we were VERY surprised by the reaction times and quickness of some of the "older" folks.  I just hope that I can move that well when I'm their age.

We've also been catching up on some of the more mundane things in life.  I was all set to play pickleball here last Tuesday, but found out that Karen had scheduled me for a dental check-up.   GRRRHHHH!  Well, it turned out to be pretty good news for me.  I just needed a routine cleaning, but Karen wound up needing 2 fillings replaced and a third tooth filled. Overall, the experience was very pleasant.

There is never a shortage of activities to do here inside Palm Creek.  On days when not playing some pickleball (and Karen is NOT an addict, btw), she's been able to participate in a colored-pencil drawing class. She really enjoys the "artsy" things. We also want to get out and do some exploring in this part of Arizona.

For our friends back in the colder climes, please allow me to gloat a bit.  Temps have been in the mid 70s to around 83 since we arrived here on the 1st.  It rained for a few hours one night, but the skies have been clear and bright blue for the most part.  I COULD REALLY LEARN TO LIKE THIS!

Ok, it's midday.  Time to grab some lunch and head over to the pool for a few hours.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day

Casa Grande, AZ

Today is a special day to thank all of those who have served throughout the many years to allow us the freedom we enjoy to express ourselves in blogs such as these.

Say thank you to a veteran, and to those currently protecting our country today.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Settled in for the Winter

Casa Grande, AZ      (Click on Pictures to Enlarge)

We left the SKP Co-Op in Benson, AZ last Friday and drove two hours to Casa Grande to the Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort.  We made a reservation (sight unseen, I might add) last July while we were visiting Yellowstone Park.  A woman working the information desk for the NPS suggested we give this park a try after we told her that we'd like to "winter over" in AZ this year.  She has a permanent residence at Palm Creek and we found out later that they were running a "first time visitor" promotion which gave both the referring party and us a $100 per month discount during our stay.

We originally made a reservation for November 1st thru February 1st, but after only 4 days we've already decided to extend our stay for another month.  Although we haven't stayed in a lot of the really "high end" RV resorts across the county, we both agreed that this is the nicest one we've stayed in to date.

The maintenance is first rate and the landscaping here is beautiful.

I'm not going to list all of the amenities here (you can visit their website if interested), but I'll show a few pictures of the areas we've visited around the resort so far.

I know a few of our readers are golfers (sorry, I've never picked up a club), but I do love the looks of a golf course. The resort has an 18-hole course (which is also open to the public) and a pro shop.

There is literally an activity calendar which has events scheduled every day of the week.  The resort is a 55-plus community and I honestly don't know how us "old folks" can muster up the stamina.

Our first dealings with the resort, after passing through the gate, was check-in. There is plenty of space to stop, unhook our toad, and complete the very well choreographed check-in procedures.

We had a "ranger" lead us to our site via golf cart. Usually, I'm not too thrilled by this, but this resort is so large that it turned out to be very helpful.  I'll have to post pictures of our site and the variety of properties within the resort on a future blog (sorry, no pictures taken yet).

After getting the rig set up, we took a ride around the park on our bicycles. These will come in very handy over the next few months I'm sure.  For tennis players, there are 8 very nice courts.

Sixteen shuffleboard courts.

Ten horseshoe pits.

A lawn bowling green. I will admit that I know absolutely nothing about lawn bowling, except that the "diehards" here apparently take it very seriously and dress in a whole lot of white clothing.  I just like to look at the beautiful grass.

For dog lovers and owners there are four separate areas throughout the park to take the dogs for exercise and to do their "business".

The resort has a softball league during the winter months and outside teams also come in to play in tournaments.  The field is in better shape than any field I ever played on throughout high school. This view is looking toward home plate from extreme left field.

Main Swimming Pool
The central activity complex houses one of the two swimming pools and hot tubs (hear that, Paul?) plus a bistro, the resort's activity office, registration desk, and mail room.

Hot Tub

Registration Desk

Also in the area is a mail room, billiard room, and library.

Mail Room

Billiard Room


I've saved the best for last.  Karen and I have found a new "addiction".  For those of you who have tried this activity, I think you'll agree.  The new activity is PICKLEBALL!  I had seen this played a bit at other RV places we'd stayed, but neither of us had even picked up a paddle, much less played.

Let me say that pickleball at Palm Creek is very big.  They recently built a beautiful complex (in 2012, I believe) that consists of 24 top notch courts. 
We've already taken a beginner's class (this past Monday) and purchased our own paddles. Yeah, we're sucked in! Many of the pickleballers haven't returned to the resort yet for the winter, so any type of organized playing doesn't begin until mid-November.  The good thing is that we'll get a chance to practice at our leisure without looking too uncoordinated when we begin playing in a few of the structured events.  WARNING!  Do not begin playing pickleball. Most who do, really enjoy it.  It is not only a great physical workout, but a great social event as well. Everyone we've met are anxious to help the "newbies".  There are people in their mid-80s playing pickleball here.  I say good for them!   Sorry, just realized that I was doing a PSA for pickleball. I'll climb down off my box now.
Casa Grande is located approximately midway between Phoenix and Tucson.  We haven't even begun to explore all of the sights we'd like to visit in these areas yet.  I guess it's a good thing we decided to add another month here.
Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Friday, November 1, 2013

"The Town Too Tough to Die"

Benson, AZ                      (Click on Pictures to Enlarge)

......well that would be Tombstone, AZ, of course.

We visited Tombstone on Tuesday and Wednesday and learned a lot about western history, and had a great time to boot!  For those not familiar with Tombstone, probably the most famous (or infamous) event occurred here on October 26, 1881.  That was the gunfight at the OK Corral.

First, a bit of factual history about Tombstone.  The town was founded in 1877 by Ed Schieffelin, a prospector who found a rich vein of silver.  Because the Arizona Territory was such a harsh environment at that time, soldiers at nearby Camp Huachuca (later became Ft. Huachuca) told Schieffelin that the only thing he would find in this area was his own tombstone.  The name stuck with Schieffelin and the town became known as Tombstone.

In 1879 a town site was laid out in the area previously known as Goose Flats.  With word of the silver strike, people flocked to the region.  By the mid-1880's the population had grown to around 7500 people. (Keep in mind that only white males over the age of 21 were counted in the census of the day.)  Total population estimates range from 15,000 to 20,000 persons.  At one time, Tombstone was the fastest growing town between St. Louis and San Francisco.  That fact alone was a shocker to us.

Tombstone was quite a town.  It had over 100 saloons during the mining days.  It had a huge "red light" district where prostitution was legal at that time (and taxed, I might add). It had one of the first swimming pools in the southwest which is still used today. The Tombstone Epitaph was the town's first newspaper and is still in publication today.

One of the measures of a town's "sophistication" in the early days was the presence of a theater.  Tombstone had two notable theaters. The first was Schieffelin Hall built in June, 1881 by Ed Schielffelin's brother Al.  This is where the respectable people in town attended the theater. At the time, it was the largest adobe structure in the southwest.

The other theater was the Bird Cage. It opened on December 25, 1881 and also contained a saloon, gambling hall, and brothel.  It was open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The Bird Cage closed in 1889. It survived one of the fires which destroyed many of the wooden structures in Tombstone because of the adobe building material.  The unique thing about the Bird Cage is that it today is a very accurate look back into Tombstone's history because once it closed in 1889 nothing was disturbed prior to 1934 when new owners purchased the property and opened it as a tourist stop.

Today much of Tombstone has been re-built (because of the two fires in 1881 and 1882) to portray the Tombstone of the era.  A good place to get oriented is the building which today houses the Visitor Center. This building was originally the site of a bank.

After picking up a few brochures we decided to take an "overview" tour on the trolley.  This tour was pretty informative, but we learned by the end of our second day that "true history" is sometimes a bit slanted depending upon who is giving the talk.  If you really would like to learn as much as possible in a short period of time, we would advise you to take one of Dr. Jay's Tombstone Walking Tours.  We took the 2-hour tour and he was excellent.  This is the "slow" time in Tombstone (before all of the snowbirds start to arrive for the winter) and we were the only two taking the tour on Tuesday afternoon.

One of the best museums in Tombstone is located in the old Cochise County Courthouse.  The courthouse was built in 1882 at a cost of approximately $45,000.  It remained the courthouse until 1929 when the county seat was moved to Bisbee, a significant copper mining town. Today, the former Courthouse is administered by the Arizona State Parks.

Seven people were hanged during the Courthouse's tenure in town. These are the reconstructed gallows at the rear of the Courthouse.

Here's a look at the court room located upstairs in the Courthouse.

The Tombstone City Hall was built in 1882. It is located on Fremont Street (today's Hwy. 80).

One street over is Allen Street. This is the area closed to vehicular traffic and attempts to recreate the "feeling" of the 1880s.

This is also the street to take a tour of the town in a stagecoach.

We ate lunch on Wednesday at Big Nose Kate's Saloon. Big Nose Kate was the "girlfriend" of Doc Holliday. This place was pretty interesting and you could really get a sense of what it must have been like on a bustling day back in the Old West.  There is live music and the food is really pretty good. The bar is as is would have been back in the 1880's with the addition, however, of bar stools for today's population.

Lots of fun things to see in Big Nose Kate's.

Of course, a trip to Tombstone wouldn't be complete without learning about the shootout at the OK Corral. Let me just say that Hollywood movies have greatly distorted the factual account of the shootout. The shootout took place in the alley off of Fremont Street leading into the area of the OK Corral.  It was a gunfight between Wyatt, Morgan, and Virgil Earp and Doc Holliday against Billy and Ike Clanton and Frank and Tom McLaury. The fight lasted 30 seconds and between 25-30 bullets were fired.  In the end, Billy Clanton and Frank and Tom McLaury lie dead in the street. Morgan and Virgil Earp were wounded and Doc Holliday received a minor injury.  Only Wyatt Earp was uninjured.

The three casualties were buried nearby in Boot Hill Graveyard.  The cemetery was opened in 1879 and used until 1884 when the new city cemetery was opened on the west end of  Allen Street.

Some of the headstones are amusing, some sad.  Many graves are only marked as "unknown". 

The visit to Tombstone was very enjoyable.  Let me warn in advance that the "touristy" attractions can become expensive.  We did a few things, but left several others for another visit.  For those interested, here are the current ticket prices as of this blog writing.  (Each ticket price is listed as per person.)  Listed in order of best value for the money.    (MY OPINION ONLY HERE.)

Dr. Jay's Tombstone Walking Tour (2 hour)     $25
Cochise County Court House Museum      $5
OK Corral/Historama Combination Ticket   $10
Combination Trolley Tour and Helldorado Town  $10
Trolley Tour    $7

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!