Mesa Marketplace

10/15/16 (Saturday) in Mesa, AZ (Val Vista Villages)

Our friends told us about the Mesa Marketplace, how it was similar to the Arizona Marketplace, so we wanted to check it out, see if they had LED lights to replace the broken one. Because of the heat, we headed there (about 12 miles away) right after breakfast. Voila! They had the LED light we needed, plus John found the phone cases he’d been looking for and I found card holder that I’d been looking for. Back home to wash the sheets and get some crock pot cooked (using the Instant Pot) Cranberry Pork Roast for dinner. After that we went to the laundry to get on the WiFi. Yup, the laundry. It’s also super cold there!


10/16/16 (Sunday)

After church we stopped at CVS to find out about their flu shots. In just moments we both got ours! Boy were they efficient. Then we had lunch, enjoyed taped TV shows, I napped, then more TV and supper. This night the moon was not only at it fullest, it was really close to Earth, so we capped our day off with a lovely walk around Val Vista in the moonlight. November’s full moon will be the closest to the earth until 2038, so we can’t miss that!

Exercises and Neighbors

10/17/16 (Monday)

We took another walk to the other end of Val Vista for a photo of the entrance. When we got home I took another of our site, for good measure. I’d like to note some differences between this place and our Palm Springs-TT campground: here we have asphalt, gravel and very little wind, whereas there we have sand, goat’s heads (terrible stickery plant bits) and wind. This place is much larger, neater, with many more, newer, facilities. It also costs, of course. Most activities are free. They have lots of blooming flowers. I’ve never seen these cacti blooms! They have birds that look sort of like thrashers that congregate in 2 trees by our pool and just jabber like crazy for a few hours in the evening. Need to find out what kind they are.

First thing, while it was somewhat cool, I did some light housecleaning. Later I went to the 10am water aerobics class listed on the schedule, except there was no instructor. Thank goodness a couple other gals showed up (Cathy and Cindy). They’d brought instruction reminders with them, so we made up our own class and had lots of fun doing it. Apparently many of the instructors dribble in at the end of October. Cathy/Cindy said they planned to come at 9 Tuesday, because that’s the class they usually attended, so I agreed. Starting earlier sounded better anyway. Meanwhile John swam several laps in a different pool (there are 4 here-3 outdoors and 1 indoor). Their Salon was having a grand opening, so we came to check it out. Wow, they didn’t provide a few nibbles, it was a meal – including sandwiches and beer and wine. So even though it was really hot (every day has been in the 90’s), it was a lot of fun. After that swell party, we came home. I napped while John watched TV, then we both watched more TV until supper. Then, naturally, we watched “Dancing With The Stars.”

Next Door Neighbors

10/18/16 (Tuesday)

9 am water aerobics with friends. Several more ladies showed up (Sue, Kay and Cindy). This time THEY led the instructions (Sue, actually), saying they loved the regular 9 am class and that “Bob”, the teacher should be showing up by November. They also said there was a fitness class in the same building as the yoga at 10:30, so we would have time to get home and change for that class. So I went there only to find out that it had started at 10. I guess last year it had started at 10:30 (it was not on this October schedule at all), but now the teacher was doing it at 10:30. I did get about 5 minutes of it! As I was coming back home from that almost class, I noticed our neighbor across the street vacuuming his roof, or so it seemed. Apparently park model homes have a small, covered gutter that fills with mud which becomes clumped dirt in time, so that’s what he was cleaning out. That began a lively conversation, so pretty soon I got John to join us and Jim’s wife Cindy did as well. They’re Canadians from Manitoba. They love golf and pickleball, so that sounds like fun times for John. After lunch we went to Costco for groceries, then continued on a search for pool noodles. Wouldn’t you know, we’d given our last ones to the grandkids this past summer, since we didn’t seem to use them the 4 years we’d been in our RV. Well, they use them in the water aerobics classes AND everyone in the pool where John was hanging out also used them. We searched at Walmart, the 99 cents. store. We tried Fry’s and the Dollar Tree. No luck. We came home, out of the 90+ heat for TV, then supper, then at 5 when to enjoy “Sam and the Band”. Guess what? He’s from Spokane!!! We had a wonderful time listening to his cowboy songs.

Yoga and Massage Therapy

10/19/16 (Wednesday)

Today I had to get out the checkbook. The first yoga class was free, but then they cost, so I took the 16 class package for $100. They are Wednesdays and Fridays, so this should pretty much last until we leave January 1st. Then I treated myself to a Massage Therapy session ($35 for ½ hour). I needed it for my neck but I could tell my right arm sure had some sore muscles. John got his swim time in while I was getting my body stretched. We did venture out to Target, hoping to find those elusive “pool noodles”.  Yes!! they had them.  It seems that Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas have taken up shelf space, thus the noodles are “yesterday’s news”.  Hard to believe when this place is SO hot all the time now.  Once more we spent the hot afternoon relaxing in Miss Journey, staying out of the heat.

Haircut and Dancing

10/20/16 (Thursday)

Donuts and Coffee, with Resort information. Mmm more free goodies, plus we learned a lot about the sales (John’s been looking at their park models) and activities (The Association (band) will be here even). Things really pick up in November, then the place is really hopping from January until March when the prices are much steeper to rent a spot here.

Fitness class for me with pool laps for John. We got numerous chores handled today: the laundry, grocery shopping and a haircut for me. We signed up for a few get togethers (Octoberfest, Thanksgiving, and Potato Bar). After a restful afternoon we went to another fun music activity with Harry Mathews where we met Bill and Jan, who said he’s one of their favorites. The crazy thing is they happen to be in an RV parked next to Norma/Mike who are next to Linda and Ron, the 4 people we played dominoes with on Friday! Aren’t coincidences amazing? We had a great time.

Another Quiet Day in the Heat

10/21/16 (Friday)

My day for yoga while John swam his pool laps. While it was still relatively cool (in the 70’s) we went shopping for a new water pressure regulator. We didn’t find what we wanted at Camping World, but we did find the wipers we’ve been needing. Next door, at a different RV place, we had excellent help and got a good regulator for a great price. Back at home it was time for lunch, then reading and a nap. We talked a bit with our son, then supper and TV for the night.

I may continue sharing our weekly activities, to give a sense of our days, but then it may become sort of repetitious and thus not so interesting for whoever may be reading this….

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Yoga, Music and New Friends

10/14/16 (Friday) in Mesa, AZ (Val Vista Villages)

What a joy to actually be here knowing we aren’t moving for 80 days. I really like that. We’ll see how I feel at the end of our time here. I joined a yoga class ($10/class or you can pay for 8 or 16 and get a discount). Nice. They have free WiFi, best reception at the Community Center or in the Laundry room, though. Dang! So I worked on the blog in the morning. John similarly was on the Internet, then tackled our LED light over the sink issue. He found that it was the light itself, not the fixture holding it that was the problem, so we’ll need to get another one.

It’s terribly hot – in the 90’s, so we’re really using the electricity we’ll need to pay for. I imagine that’s part of why so few people are actually here now. The yoga teacher (4 in today’s class) said that there will be 15 in the class in November, and 30 in it during February, the most popular month.

After Yoga I worked on the blog, then we had lunch.

I needed new slippers (John had lost one of my old ones when we moved out of LaQuinta), so we found a Walmart and purchased them, along with a few grocery items. I couldn’t resist a long nap after that. I hadn’t slept well the last several days-that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

With all this heat, we just felt like cold things for supper: a smoothie for me and cold beans and raw potato for John.

At 6:30 we walked over the courtyard to enjoy the band playing. In time another couple joined us and we had the best of times getting to know one another: Ron/Linda from North Dakota. They were so excited because they’d just purchased one of the park model homes here. They’ve been coming here for the last 7 years, so they knew what they wanted. When the music ended we walked across the street to McDonald’s for ice cream cones. Yum ending to a lovely, warm night. There was even a full moon to walk home to.

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Moving on – to Mesa, AZ

10/13/16 (Thursday) in Mesa, AZ (Val Vista Villages)

Even though it was in the 60’s in Mesa where we were headed it was in the 30’s here in Flagstaff. Brrr. After a nice warm breakfast (we had the generator on) we started departure procedures. All went smoothly except for 2 incidents: our jacks took 6 minutes to come up. John had just cleaned them 4 days ago. It was cold, but that normally didn’t stall them that much. Later, on our trip, the “jacks down” indicator came on for a while. Hmm. Then towards the end of the process with the CRV for towing, I walked to check that the front tires would roll as John moved the RV forward. Except they didn’t. Whoa! So I dashed to the driver’s seat and discovered that the transmission was set to Park. Yikes. I can’t remember how in the heck it happened. I’m sure I set it in Neutral while I let it run for 3 minutes. What the heck, did I have some sort of mental lapse and put it into Park after that? I tried to get it out of Park and got frantic when it didn’t. John knew the wheels hadn’t rolled so he backed up a bit, taking the pressure off the transmission. By this time I started the engine and easily got it out of park. NOTE: I don’t do well under pressure, the opposite of John. So we gave it another 3 minutes of running as it sits in Neutral, just in case I had it in Park for that time and everything when well after that.

At this point we go to the restroom before leaving. John realized he wanted a mechanic to reset his service settings given at the dash, so he asked. The lady said when someone was free in a minute they’d help him. 15 minutes later I’m asking her about it. She said she told John it would take a minute. So we stood in front of an open bay door watching the mechanics meander around. Sure seemed like they were free enough to stop for a couple minutes. The Operations Manager (I think) could see us from his office and came out to ask what was up. We explained. He said someone will help when they’re freed up, in about 10-15 minutes. Hmm. Their idea of 10 minutes seems to stretch into an hour. John really didn’t want to sit around that long, so we left- at 9:15. Now maybe we were trying to push ourselves over someone else but it didn’t feel like it. If that was the case then it was probably best that we left.

This trip was pretty basic: take I-40 W to I-17 S, then SR 101 E (around Phoenix), then SR 202 to Val Vista Dr. I like simple! There was a wrinkle: much of the way was downhill, 6-8% grades, since we were going from Flagstaff in the mountains to Phoenix in the valley. We saw lots of Saguaro cacti south of Prescott. As we entered Phoenix, traffic was heavy but not so congested to slow down any. There was great signage for getting onto Loop/SR 101and SR/Loop 202. A one point 101 had 10 lanes including the HOV lane. As we exited to SR 202 E “Convoy” started playing. We’d talked about that song with the truckers a couple days ago.. How cool. Apparently Flagtown is Flagstaff.  I love how they use a form of sand painting for images along the overpasses, as you see below.

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While Waiting – Walnut Canyon National Monument (NPS) and Sunset Crater Volcanic National Monument (NPS)

10/12/16 (Wednesday) in Mesa, AZ (Val Vista Villages)

We sure enjoy LaQuinta’s breakfast. John’s favorite part is the waffles you make yourself. I love the hard boiled eggs. So few hotel breakfasts include protein. They also have orange juice, hot chocolate along with coffee plus lots of fruit and cereals/muffins/rolls. After that great start to our day, knowing that the part wouldn’t even arrive until noon or so, we decided to enjoy some natural features.

Walnut Canyon National Monument. Yes, Walnut trees grew here as well as Pinion Pine and Prickly Pear Cactus


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Above is an artist’s rendition of early Sinagua Indian cave dwellers. Note the river below. They’d collect and store the water in the spring. They practiced dry land farming at the rimtop, where it was relatively flat with pockets of deep soil.

Artist’s rendition of early Sinagua Indian cave dwellers. Note the river below. They’d collect and store the water in the spring. They practiced dry land farming at the rimtop, where it was relatively flat with pockets of deep soil.


This trail was steep: 185 ft at 6,900 ft altitude, with about 240 stairs. As we began, descending from the rimtop, we saw people seriously breathing hard as they passed us, ascending! With that warning, we went slowly as we ascended. Great exercise. We saw this tarantula scramble from the steps to the side as we were coming up.

Our good part came in somewhere around noon, when, it seems, the mechanics take their lunch. We stopped in after having our lunch at LaFonda to ask for an update. With the rig torn down already and this being a 2 hour job you’d think they’d only have an hour or so left to work on it. Well they confirmed that our part came in and someone was working on it. Considering how it seems they take way longer to do anything here, we went to another feature, Sunset Crater Volcanic National Monument.

When we arrived at the Visitor Center we were vastly entertained by 2 cute Abert’s squirrels, at one point chasing each other even into the road, as squirrels are likely to do.

Below, Volcanic rock called “a’a” along a small Lava Flow Trail.


Along another trail through cinder cones.


This image is of a line of cinder cones that ran from the Sunset Crater Volcano.


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This image is of the volcano just to the right of the line of cones.


It was around 3:30 when we left. John figured if we took our time getting the car fueled we should get to Freightliner by 4 and surely they’d be done then. Not exactly. They still needed to do a Quality Control check. OK. So we went to their lounge where I laid down on their huge comfy man sized recliners. An hour later we hadn’t heard anything so I went to the office. Hmm our RV neighbor was getting his paperwork. They’d gotten his part when they got ours. So while I waited until they were finished with his I went out back to see what was happening at our rig. It was just sitting there, with the power cords still connected. Once our RV neighbor left I then pressed for our status. Yes, they said it was ready and he would have called us sooner but that gentleman had rather rudely insisted on getting his paperwork first. Ah, this happened to us before at Camping World, where work on our rig was redirected to another’s rig because those owners were firmly insistent. Even though this upsets me it still reconfirms my resolve not to be the one who pushes aside others in line for my own desires/needs. Because it was after 5 now, only this one guy was handling all the office work. I noted how hard it must be, to have this shift when people are irritated and they have only one person to peal their case. He said he’d just been informed that he could start the morning shift on Monday, so I high fived him. The whole office staff seemed helpful, but he was especially. He even noted that he’d volunteered to fill in when they needed someone on that late shift. I said “Really?”. He said he was a team player. Nice guy. The manager wasn’t there, nor the lady who’d communicated that he’d reimburse us for the hotel receipt. So Rick (our nice guy) called the manager (at home?) to get verification. Interestingly, the way the manager’s handling it is by sending us a check to our home address. So we’ll see. Still, I appreciate the manager offering the reimbursement without even hearing my argument for it. As for the mechanics, they may be doing a good job but we’ve been seriously underwhelmed by their efforts. Sort of like the Les Schwab mechanics are rabbits while the Freightliner mechanics are turtles. You can even see them amble from one place to another. We wonder if they’re union. I believe unions once had their place but when their power is abused, that upsets me.

Finally!! After 3 days our 2 hour job has been completed. We can leave. Of course now it was 5:30 and the sun was set when John moved the coach back to our site. Such a relief, knowing we’re at home for the night and can leave in the morning. Plus, since there were no other RVs in this RV parking place, John connected our power cord to their 20 amp cord that had been in use for a rig next to us that was uninhabited.

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Waiting For Repairs

10/11/16 (Tuesday) in Flagstaff, AZ (Freightliner)

Didn’t sleep all that well last night, but that just happens sometimes. We ran our generator while we had breakfast. I did a quick clean of the floors. Then we took showers in the facility (really nice!). We pulled in the slides and brought up the jacks. We went grocery shopping. For lunch we treated ourselves to LaFonda. When we returned we noted that they still hadn’t moved Miss Journey. We gathered our books and computers and headed for the lounge. There we met another RV couple. Wonderful. So all afternoon we Rvers and a couple truckers had some great conversations.

At 2 we saw they’d taken our coach away, but at around 3:30 they told us that the wrong part had arrived and they’d already taken apart our rig to insert the new part. Thus we had to stay in a hotel. We were shown a list of likely hotels. I got to thinking that this was THEIR fault, tearing down our coach before they realized the part they’d received wasn’t the right one. I asked to speak to the manager. The lady we’d been communicating with went to the manager and returned telling me that when we showed them our hotel receipt they would reimburse us. Whew!

We called LaQuinta then, getting their LAST room! We said goodby to our RV and trucker friends, got our clothes and personal items out of Miss Journey as well as made sure they had good power connected, to keep our refrigerator cool without running down our batteries.

Once we checked in (4 people were being told the hotel was full) we walked to a “Five Guys” burger joint and shared a yummy burger. Everything felt more like a vacation at that point.

I wonder what tomorrow will hold for us.

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Moving on – to Flagstaff, AZ

10/10/16 (Monday) in Flagstaff, AZ (Freightliner)

On our way by 9. We’ve been having issues with our coolant leaking. John put the last antifreeze he had in the overflow at Sky City. We looked for some there, but they didn’t have the kind we need. He put a ½ gallon of water in yesterday before we left. This morning the engine reported that the coolant was low, so he put another ½ gallon of water in. We’re hoping to get antifreeze in Camp Verde. Meanwhile we’re crossing our fingers that this problem will hold off until we get to Val Vista where there is a Freightliner Service Center near Phoenix. On top of that, John’s computer just stayed dark, so he shut it down and started it up to get a brighter picture. Dang, we’d been relatively free of adventures in this rush to get to Val Vista.

Our first road, Hwy 180, had lots of “rodeo” moments, when the rig is tossed about by swells in the asphalt. Once on I-40W we got a coolant low reading. Sheesh, John had JUST filled the reservoir. When we neared Winslow he asked me to look for nearby Freightliner shops. I found one in Flagstaff, so after stopping at a rest area to fill the coolant, we continued on to exit 201 and that facility. We arrived at 11:30, got a recommendation for a mexican restaurant: LaFonda. Wonderful food, service and great prices. When we got back to Freightliner they said they guy would be looking at our rig in a while, like 1:30. Hmm that was their 2 hours in which they were to let us know what was needed to be done. Oh well. It was after 4 before we found out that the coolant line had a pinhole in it, created by rubbing against something else. Later they said they’d need to order the part, that it’ll come in tomorrow between 11 & 2.

So we spent our day in the lounge, trying to rest. I had to let our campground know we weren’t going to make it there, at 4 pm, when we finally knew what was up. Thus we had to pay their cancellation fee. Then we got the estimate for the job: over $800. Not covered by our extended warranty. So it goes. We met an RV neighbor who’s here with his new Tiffin that had a massive fuel leak.

We enjoyed a little supper while the generator was running. This time we played “13” before going to bed.

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Moving on – to Holbrook, AZ

10/9/16 (Sunday) in Holbrook, AZ (Crystal Forest Gift Shop Campground – free)

Since the gas station here had great prices ($2.29/gallon diesel), we stopped to fuel up. On our way out of the station John realized he’d forgotten retrieve his credit card from the clerk, so he got stopped before we were out on the road and ran back to get it! This place was really crowded with trucks, so naturally there was a constant line of them trying to get around our stopped rig. They managed. A beautiful rainbow greeted as we headed towards rain, growing to a full half circle as we drove toward it. Then the road turned and the rainbow was at our left. It was SO cool to see the one end flowing along the ground.


We were on I-40W by 8:18, having saved ourselves a stop along this route for fuel. The nice part of this trip is it’s on I-40W until exit 311, for the Petrified Forest National Park. Then we follow the park road to the south entrance.


Just outside that park’s south entrance gate is the Crystal Forest Gift Shop & Campground, on the east side of the road. The Gift Shop is made of and contains many wonderful petrified wood and crystallized stone specimens. Alongside of it is a level gravel lot with several sites marked by pedestals (non functioning) and some have picnic tables, plus more space for campers if needed. First come, first serve and it usually fills up as the day goes by. This time we were the only ones there until late at night a class C pulled in. They also left before we did the next morning.

So this is dry camping, much like you’d experience on BLM land, except you have a level gravel area (plus picnic table and maybe shelter). There is another camping opportunity across the road, on the west side. They have 30 amp electricity that didn’t look very reliable, for $10. Also, you need to back into the sites there while you can pull through the sites at Crystal Forest. We debated and over the convenience of the power and inconvenience of unhooking the car. John wanted the power, I just wanted to stay put. I won.

Once that decision was made and we put down jacks and slides out I realized that if we wanted to spend some time hiking in the park, we’d need to unhook the car anyway. Oh well, I took this as a challenge to conserve battery power. We must be more careful than those prepared for lots of dry camping. We don’t have the solar power that they do (we just have 100 watts) plus our residential refrigerator is only electric.

Thus I’d say our day would be described as very lazy/quiet and frugal. After our lunch of peanut butter sandwiches we read, then I napped as John read, then we played “Fast Track”. For our walk around the campground we walked up the road to the park entrance then turned back because we hadn’t brought our Senior Pass to get in. Along the edge of the road was feces. We surmised it was from coyotes, because it looked more like dog poo, with lots of grass in it. Really can’t see many people walking their dogs on this road. There were cute rabbits in the campground.

We turned the generator on for supper, watched the Presidential Debate, then went to bed early, at least by Arizona time. New Mexico time (stomach time as we put it) was 10 then, but for Arizona (MST) it was 9.

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