2015/03/27 (F) Queen Creek Olive Mill
This is really Linda’s post more than mine. Lou and I stayed in camp all day working with our information technologies while Linda and Val went on an explore. I have been using my iPad2 to go through drafts of blog posts dating back to March 1st filling in details, turning notes into complete sentences, and then e-mailing them to myself. I got caught up as far as that goes and then started writing drafts of posts for the last few days.
Linda and Val made a day if it away from camp. Linda took our car and drove them to the Queen Creek Olive Mill (QCOM) in Queen Creek, Arizona just beyond the southeast limits of the Phoenix metropolitan area. QCOM is a large olive grove producing 17 different varieties of olives. (Technically it is an orchard as olives are a stone fruit.) The hot, dry desert conditions in this part of the U. S. turn out to be ideal for growing olives. They are harvested by spreading tarps on the ground around each tree and stripping the olives off. Olives that fall to the ground naturally are past ripe and are not used.
Once harvested olives are processed within 24 hours. For pressing into olive oil they are simply washed to remove dust and then pressed (ground or milled, actually), pits and all, to extract the oil. The mash that remains is used as fertilizer for the trees. Olives that are destined to be sold whole may be packaged whole in a brine or have the pits removed and replaced with a piece of garlic or habanero pepper and preserved in a brine.
QCOM has a restaurant so the ladies stayed for lunch. Val had a chopped Italian salad and Linda had a quinoa and kale salad, both of which they said were ‘excellent’. The Mill also had a gift shop and Linda picked up several things there.
It was late afternoon by the time they returned and neither of them felt like cooking so Lou suggested we go out for dinner and try the Chinese restaurant we intended to eat at a few nights ago when we ended up at the Golden Corral. We piled into Lou and Val’s pickup truck and set off in search of Big Wa. Linda had checked the menu online so we knew they had several vegetarian dishes we could probably eat.
Lou and Val had been to Big Wa before and knew approximately where it was but Linda pulled it up on her smartphone and guided us in for a soft landing. Big Wa was a small mom and pop Chinese restaurant; the kind we used to patronize a lot back home once upon a time. We rarely go to Chinese restaurants anymore because it is essentially impossible to get anything vegan. We ordered vegetable Kung Pao stir fry and Moo Shu vegetable dishes. We suspect that chicken broth was involved in the stir fry and I think the Moo Shu, which was already made up when it came to the table, contained eggs. We rarely stray from our chosen diet and although doing so doesn’t kill us our systems do not always react well either. In this case our dishes were mostly vegetables and it was very tasty.
We stopped at Home Depot so I could look for a GE Water filter cartridge and then stopped at Walgreen’s so Val could pick up some things. It was well past dark by the time we got back and we retired to our respective rigs for the night. Linda and I watched some TV (Big Bang Theory) and she played online word games while I responded to some e-mails. Linda liked Queen Creek Olive Mill well enough to enter it in the RVillage Marketplace and recommend it.
2015/03/28 (S) Haircuts
Linda was awake by 6 AM and read quietly in bed. I was awake before 7 AM and got up, put on my sweats, and made a pot of coffee. Our two cats climbed up on us to be adored and when they’d had enough of our attention we had some granola for breakfast. Linda got our last bag out of the freezer so if we want this to last until we get home we will not be having it for breakfast every day.
I have been overdue for a haircut for a while so this morning we finally got the clippers out and Linda lightened the load. Not that my hair was long, but the daytime temperatures have risen into the 90’s and it is much cooler and more comfortable with my buzz cut. As long as the clippers were out I trimmed up my beard and shaved. Linda said I cleaned up pretty well. 🙂
Linda is also way overdue for a haircut but I am not about to attempt that. She and Val had planned to go to the mall in Casa Grande today anyway, so she did a quick online search and located a hair salon at the mall. She assembled a short shopping list and added the haircut to it.
While they were gone I pulled together all of my blog post drafts for the period before, during, and after the Escapees RV Club Escapade rally into a single Word doc and attached it to an e-mail to Lou. He plans to use it as the starting point for an article about the Escapade in the next edition of our SKP Photographers BOF newsletter.
Lou and I needed a break from working with our technology so we put two of our camp chairs in a shady spot with a nice northeast breeze and just sat and relaxed and chatted. Lou asked about the barn we plan to build and I described the three approaches I am considering. We were still doing that when the ladies returned home late in the afternoon. They had both done some shopping so I helped carry bags of stuff into our rig.
Linda made a nice salad for our dinner and Val heated up leftovers for them. There is a period of time in the late afternoon when the sun shines into the covered porch of the house and is so hot it us uncomfortable to sit there. Small ants have also appeared with the hot weather so we ate inside at the dining room table. We lingered for a long time talking before finally retiring to our rigs for the night.
2015/03/29 (N) Mexico Connection
I made arrangements on Friday for us to visit with Larry and Orene Brown today. We left at 10 AM to drive to their place northwest of Florence, Arizona. Larry and Orene are members of both FMCA and Escapees and belong to the Freethinker groups of both clubs, along with several related RVillage groups. We crossed paths with them most recently at the Escapade and agreed to get together after we returned to Arizona City. We stopped briefly in Coolidge to buy flowers at the local Safeway and arrived at their place in the Del Webb (Pulte) developed Anthem communities at 11:10 AM.
Larry and Orene are also active in SKP Chapter 8 — Mexican Connection, and will be the wagonmasters for the Chapter’s February 2016 caravan/rally to Puerto Penasco, Mexico on the mainland shore of the Sea of Cortez. We have not had any desire to travel to/in Mexico, but after chatting with Larry and Orene at Escapade we became intrigued with the possibility of traveling with a good sized group and wanted to know more about it.
Larry gave us a tour of their house and Orene poured small glasses of wine which we enjoyed sitting outside under their Ramada. Orene made a green salad and vegan chili for lunch. Both were delicious and enjoyed with some iced tea. By the time we were done eating the air temperature had warmed past comfortable so we went inside where Orene served fresh strawberries and cantaloupe for desert.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in pleasantly stimulating conversation on a wide range of subjects including, but not limited to, the outing to Mexico next year. We got a lot of important insights, most of which furthered our interest in going. We have enjoyed getting to know everyone from our Freethinkers chapter we have had the opportunity to meet and hope to cross paths with Larry and Orene many times in the years to come.
As we wrapped up our visit at 4 PM I got a call from Curtis letting me know that he would probably be arriving tonight between 11 PM and midnight unless he decided to pull in to rest area, in which case he would arrive early tomorrow morning. Either way it meant that Lou would have to move their 5th wheel trailer so Curtis could park his bus in its usual place. It also meant someone, most likely me, would have to open the gate when he got here. I tend to stay up late anyway, but we would obviously do whatever was required to get him in and settled.
As we were getting back to our encampment around 5:30 PM Linda called Lou to have him open the gate. After we were in and settled we let him know that Curtis would be returning late this evening. They were in the spot where Curtis parks his bus, so before it got dark Lou hitched up their 5th wheel and pulled it around 180 degrees to the east side of the driveway and pointed towards the gate. He plans to take their rig to Casa Grande tomorrow morning to buy some tires for the truck and the trailer and have them installed so the rig is positioned for an easy exit.
Having had a nice lunch Linda and I just had hummus with chips and grapes for dinner and watched several episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Curtis called at 9 PM to let me know he would be arriving around 11 PM. Linda headed off to bed while I let Lou and Val know that Curtis was definitely arriving yet this evening. I then settled in to watch TV while I waited for the call to open the gate. That call came a little before 11 PM. I opened the gate, waited for Curtis to pull in, closed the gate, and helped him get parked. I returned the gate fob and house key and we chatted about RVillage and the FMCA rally while Augie got reacquainted with his yard. Curtis asked if I would take some interior and exterior photographs of his Fleetwood Bounder before we left so he could use them to help advertise it for rent and of course I agreed. I then retired just before midnight, leaving him to finish unpacking a few things from his bus and car
2015/03/30 (M) Re-Tired
Since we knew at 4 PM yesterday that Curtis would be returning late last night, Linda started doing several loads of laundry as soon as we got back to camp. We watched TV and snacked for dinner while the loads washed and dried. She took the last load out of the dryer around 9 PM and we then folded clothes and made the bed. She turned in while I waited up to let Curtis in the gate.
I slept in until 8 AM his morning and finally got up when I heard (and smelled) the grinding of coffee beans. Breakfast was toast and fruit juice. As planned, Lou and Val left around 9:30 AM to take their truck/trailer to Discount Tire in Casa Grande. He needed two tires for the truck and two for the trailer.
Although Curtis did not leave Pomona, California until 4 PM yesterday he managed to make the 400 mile drive back to Arizona City in seven hours. In spite of what was obviously a long day for him he was up and working this morning, although we did not see him until later than usual. Launching a company is exciting but hard work.
Linda sat at the outside table and chatted with Curtis while I worked on blog posts at my computer in our bus. By 11:45 AM the temperature in the bus was 85 degrees so I turned the generator on, turned on all three air-conditioners, and closed up the coach. That kept it cool enough for the cats but I decided to take my computer into the house and work at the dining room table as the house is air-conditioned and quite comfortable.
I had copied all of the posts for January 15 – 21, 2015 into a single Word doc but by the time I finished editing it I decided it was way too long so I split it back up into individual daily posts. The other reason for doing this was that this was a very busy week during which I took a lot of photographs. I managed to upload posts to our WordPress blog for the 15th through the 19th. It was a small dent in what I need to accomplish, but it was something.
Val brought over a glass of fresh squeezed lemonade at 4:30 PM. By that time my computer battery was run down a bit and I was tired of staring at the screen so I took the computer back to our bus and plugged it in and then joined the others on the veranda to enjoy my glass of lemonade.
Although it gets pleasantly cool after the sun sets, and a bit chilly by sunrise, the hot days have brought out ants and midge flies, compounding the notion that we have probably lingered a bit longer in southern Arizona than is ideal. On the other hand, we are experiencing this for ourselves rather than trying to understand it second hand. Also, highs in the mid-to-upper 90’s are not typical for late March in this area, running 15 or more degrees above normal. That is the old (historical) normal, of course, not the new normal.
Curtis eventually rejoined use around 5:30 PM. We asked if he wanted to go out to dinner but he was not up for it so we all made and ate our own dinners. While Linda was cooking and I was wrapping up a conversation with Lou and Curtis I got a call from Butch Williams. He and Fonda had just arrived home having driven all the way from the Wal-Mart in Forest City, Arkansas. That same drive took us two days on the way out west in December. It was 7:30 PM here and 10:30 PM there.
Linda had the TV on while she was cooking and we watched NCIS Los Angeles and other Monday evening programs during and after dinner. She made a red beans and rice dish and added greens (kale) and crushed red pepper flakes which definitely kicked it up a notch. I continued working on blog posts while half paying attention to the TV programs.
2015/03/31 (T) Farewell Arizona
As March draws to a close so does our time in Arizona. We have, and more specifically our motorhome has, been here since December 11, 2014 when we drove from the Escapees Dreamcatcher RV Park in Deming, New Mexico to the RoVers Roost SKP CO-OP near Casa Grande, Arizona. From there it was on to our winter “home” in Quartzsite where the bus remained parked until March 3rd.
On March 3rd we said our “so long, see ya down the road” to Butch/Fonda, Jim/Barb, and Jim Liebherr, our host/landlord while we were in Quartzsite. We drove to Arizona City and boondocked at the rental house of Curtis Coleman, founder and CEO of the RVillage social networking website for RVers. From there we relocated to an RV park in Tucson for a night and then went to the Escapees RV Club Escapade at the Pima County Fairgrounds where we worked very hard as event staff.
After the Escapade we drove back to Arizona City with Lou and Val Petkus, stayed three nights, and then drove over to Why, Arizona for a week to visit Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The four of us then went back to Arizona City to decompress for a week and try to catch up on some computer/Internet-based work.
While we were in Arizona City we managed to drive the Florence-to-Kelvin scenic road with Lou and Val Petkus, tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West (just the two of us), visit an Olive grove/mill (Linda and Val only), visit with fellow FMCA/SKP Freethinkers Larry and Orene Brown (me and Linda), and visit with Curtis when he was there as much as his work permitted. The daily high temperatures the last few days have been in the mid-to-upper 90’s while only a couple of hundred miles to the north they were just reaching 70 degrees F with lows at or just below freezing. Our Aqua-Hot is working better than our air-conditioners and we are ready to start moving east and north.
Lou and Val pulled out today at noon for the short drive to Tucson and checked into the Prince of Tucson RV Park where we stayed for one night just before going to the Escapade. We will depart tomorrow and head to Deming, New Mexico, or thereabouts. From there we plan to head over to Las Cruces and up I-25 to Albuquerque where we will look for a full-hookup RV park for a few nights so we can explore the area a bit.
From Albuquerque we will push on to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to visit my only uncle. A long day’s drive from there will put is in an RV Park near Edwardsville, Illinois not far from where Linda’s sister (Marilyn) and her housemate (Linda) live and a reasonable driving distance from my sister (Patty), niece (Amanda), and her family. We plan to hang out in the area for a while if folks can make time to visit with us and keep an eye on the weather and road restrictions in southeast Michigan.
Another day’s drive will put us at Butch and Fonda Williams’ place in Twelve Mile, Indiana; the place from which our two two-bus caravan departed for the southwest on December 3rd, 2014. We will likely linger there a few days and try to figure out what is going on with our two front air-conditioners. Once we leave there our final stop will probably be an overnight at the Turkeyville Campground south of Lansing, Michigan where we can dump our holding tanks in the morning before driving the last 80 miles to our house.
With the hot temperatures have come bugs so we spent a long evening inside the house having a relaxed conversation with Curtis and getting to know each other better. It was the first time we have had a chance to talk to him without RVillage being the focus of the conversation. We opened the bottle of Black Currant wine we bought at the Forestedge Winery in Laporte, Minnesota in July 2013 and remembered why we bought it and why we brought it along. It was nice to share it with our new friend. We finally went back to our coach at 9:30 PM, had an easy, light supper, and went to bed.