Saturday, April 10, 2021—Sad, but it needs to be done!

After many wonderful trips, Kay and I have decided to part ways with our beloved motorhome. It’s for sale! It has been kept in enclosed storage when not being used (less than 30,000 miles), and waxed each year. My back no longer tolerates sitting in the driver’s seat for the long trips we like to make, and I’m not disciplined enough to stop for the day after a hundred miles or so. Every single trip made in the motorhome is captured in this blog, beginning with our intent to buy in the summer of 2011 and driving it home November 2011 after having it custom built. PLEASE, pass this information on to those you think may be interested.

Photo made December 13, 2020
Photo made December 13, 2020

It’s a 2012 Adventurer 35J, consistently maintained and in near immaculate condition, driven by a non-smoking, no pets couples; it has been kept in enclosed storage.  REASON FOR SELLING: Medical (back issues while driving); WEIGHTS/MEASURES: Length 35’6″, Ext Height 12’8″, Ext Width 8’5.5″, Int Height 7′, Int Width 8′.5″, Ext Storage 107.6 cuft; Fresh Wat 85gal, Wat Heater 10gal, Gray Wat 60gal, Black Wat 43gal, Propane 28gal, LP 28gal, Fuel 80gal, Wheelbase 228″, Power Awning 17’, GCWR 30,000lbs; CHASSIS: Ford F53 24,000-lb, 362-hp V10 SEFI Triton engine; Full-body paint; 5-sp auto trans w/tow haul; 22.5″ Aluminum wheels, Michelin tires (low miles, 2 years old), hydraulic auto leveling jacks; Hydro-Max brakes w/ABS; 175-amp alternator; CAB CONVENIENCES: Upgraded Jensen System, Touch color screen; Blu-Ray home theater sound system; Rear and side view color cameras w/color touch screen; Cruise control; Power chrome side mirrors/heated; Fog lamps; TriMark KeyOne lock system; Digital HDTV Amplified TV antenna system; Solid wood cabinets; Corian countertops; Microwave/convection oven; Filtration System; 3-burner gas range; Refrigerator/freezer with ice maker/4 door; OnePlace System control center; Resteasy dual control Ultraleather (power queen) couch; Swivel adjustable cab seats, passenger w/footrests; Vinyl floors (except in MBR); MCD solar/blackout roller shades; LED lighting; Dash desk/workstation; Tinted Dual-glazed/thermo-insulated windows; Two powered roof fans; Safe–Integrated; TRC Surge Guard–Integrated. BEDROOM: Queen bed, Bedside night stands, Ceiling Fan; HEAT & COOL: 40,000 BTU low-profile furnace; TrueAir (2) 13,500 BTU AC w/heat pumps; ELECTRICAL: 55-amp converter/charger; PowerLine Energy Management System; 5,500-watt Cummins Onan Auto Generator Start System; 1,000-watt inverter; Battery Disconnect System; Automatic dual battery charge control; PLUMBING: Exterior Service Center; TrueLevel holding tank monitoring system; Permanent mount LP tank w/gauge; On-demand water pump;10-gallon water heater w/instant-on

Condition: Used
Year: 2012
Make: Winnebago
Class: Class A
Location: Hot Springs Village, AR
Mileage: Less than 30,000
Fuel Type: GAS
Gross Vehicle Weight: 24,000
VIN Number: Supplied upon request
Engine Type: V10
Sleeping Capacity: 5
Sleep Options: MBR Queen; Rest Easy Queen; Dinette
Air Conditioners: 2, heat pumps
Awnings: yes
Slide Outs: 3, including full wall slide, all with covers
Length: 35
Engine Manufacture: Ford
Fresh Water Capacity: 85
Leveling Jacks: yes
Exterior Color: Brown, Beige, Tan
Interior Color: Beige
Price: To Be Negotiated (similar units selling for approximately $75,000; we’ll sell for less but don’t want to be taken advantage of)

Friday through Wednesday, March 26-31—Photo Cycling and a Back Ache

Perhaps it was raking pine straw, just everyday life, or residual effects from the second COVID19 injection, but my back began aching again a couple of days ago. It’s tolerable, but very uncomfortable. Oh, to be young again.

For several years now, a camera accompanies me on just about every bicycle ride, short or long. A macro photographer on YouTube, Mike Moats, specializes in photo cycling, carrying his gear on a bicycle and riding trails until he finds something he wants to photograph. Dan Olson and I have watched his videos and believe it gives one an opportunity to cover more ground than covered on foot. Consequently, we planned to give it a try a couple of weekends ago on the Delta Heritage Trail near Helena, Arkansas, but weather prevented us from going. On Friday, we loaded up bicycles and photography gear, and drove to Two Rivers Park in Pulaski County just west of Little Rock. Loaded down with photography gear, we began our first photo ride.

Early morning spiderweb encased with water droplets
Dan Olson preparing for a shot
Deer grazing in the fog along the trail

It was a good time for wildflowers on both the north and south sides of the Arkansas River.

The trail through Burns Park offered even more photo opportunities, and a few butterflies were flittering about.

Eastern Tailed Blue

We road a total of 12.28 miles, with many stops. When time allows, we’ll do it again.

Saturday was a quiet day for us as the back ache worsened. We attended church on Palm Sunday, my first time in over a year and only Kay’s second. Fortunately, the church has taken safeguards to optimize social distancing, and it felt safe to be a congregant. 

Kay’s cut and color did not happen previously as I reported—an error on the calendar. However, she was able to get it the beautification procedure done on Monday. Though she is always pretty, she was extra special pretty after returning home from the stylist. She played pickleball Tuesday afternoon, and spent most of Wednesday morning working with the Duffer’s orientation. Also of note was returning her remaining diamond earring to its seller for a replacement match for the one lost when she was removing a “COVID” mask

Wednesday and Thursday, March 24-25—Busy, Busy, Busy

With our “schedule” of activities, it appears that we’re back in the full swing of things here at home in Hot Springs Village. What with golf, pickleball, photography, church activities, neighborhood gatherings, medical appointments, etc., there is hardly time to do anything “fun”—just kidding—about all we do is have fun, despite the aches and pains of aging!

In addition to everything else, Kay was quite busy Wednesday with all her recreational and social activities. I escaped to Cedar Creek Trail in the Village to check out the wildflowers.

Thursday was pickleball day, and relatively quiet.

Check out these photos of yellow blooms from Cedar Creek Trail made on Wednesday.

These white blooms proved difficult to photograph, but are beautiful.

Blooms of other colors were almost breathtaking.

And even a few butterflies flitted about.

Spring Azure Butterfly
Juvenal’s Duskywing Butterfly

Sunday through Tuesday, March 21-23—Rediscovering Hot Springs Village

Photography, pickleball, and haircuts were the order of the early part of the week. Kay was so glad to get a “cut and color”, and of course it looked nice, but then Kay always looks nice. I, on the other hand, was not able to schedule an appointment until mid-April!

Sunday provided an opportunity to visit Middle Fork Barrens Natural Area with good friend, Dan Olson. A few wildflowers had bloomed near the old woods road.

And, as the morning warmed, a few butterflies made their presence known, though they were flitting about with reckless abandon. In that regard, only this Spring Azure sat still long enough for a photograph.

Spring Azure Butterfly

Sue and Pam had been kind enough to ask for a photo show of our winter in Arizona. I tried to put them off as I know how boring and disinterested it is looking at someone’s vacation photos. Nevertheless, they persisted, so I put together a show, complete with music and effects. Monday evening was show night, and we all intently watched the pseudo “movie”.

I played partners pickleball with Bev Graham on Tuesday, joining two other ladies for a foursome, rotating partners after each game. It was extremely fast and competitive; Bev is a slammer and had a good soft game as well, and the other ladies were rated as 4.0, a step above Bev and me. The last game went to 18-16. After two hours, my butt was dragging. Kay joined several others to play as well, before driving to her appointment for a “cut and color”, something very important to her!

Wednesday through Saturday, March 17-20—Blessed Beyond Measure

Kay is so glad to be home; she adores her house on the lake! I enjoy it too, but after just arriving home, there are so many chores that need to be done; oh well, one at a time. In reflection, we are so blessed to be able to enjoy the best of both worlds—home for spring, most of summer, and fall, and winter in sunny Arizona—blessed beyond measure even including the innumerable blessings heaped upon us each day.

On Wednesday, Kay and Sue finished packing temporary items from inside the motorhome, and defrosted the freezer; I removed additional items from the outside storage compartments. It’s time for the old Winnebago to rest. Neither of us did much else, except enjoy being home. As it was St. Patrick’s Day, we had an outstanding corned beef and cabbage dinner at Diamante Country Club.

Thursday and Friday were “catch-up” days. A new modem/router from Suddenlink was installed, all the computers, iPads, and iPhones were reset and updated, mail was sorted, clothes were washed, cars were brought out of mothballs, outside plants were pruned, stuff from the winter was put away, and a bunch of other little chores were completed. Catfish dinners from Mulligan’s were the highlight of day on Friday; thanks, Troy and Patty.

I finally made enough time on Friday to photograph newly emerged wildflowers at McClellan Beaver Dam Trail in Hot Springs Village. While not a great flower photographer, it is immensely enjoyable.

Rue Anemone
Another Rue Anemone
Trout Lily (one of my favorites)
Confederate Violet

Sunday through Tuesday, March 14-16—Returning Home

We both woke up early Sunday morning, about 3 am, some 15 hours after receiving the injections with sore muscles and joint pain. Interestingly, all of my reaction was on the left side from shoulder to ankle. Kay’s reaction was not so discriminatory. In fact she said even her toenails hurt. Fortunately, her reaction was gone fairly quickly. 

Since we were all packed up, we left for home at daylight. Kay was over her Moderna 2nd injection reaction, except for a sore arm at the site of the shot. Early in the drive my reaction worsened. We took turns driving through eastern Arizona and New Mexico. However, we experienced 45+ mph winds and dust storms most of the way; fortunately it was a tailwind. Kay reported, “We stopped to fill up and it took both of us to shut the door on our coach!  We stopped a little earlier than usual because of the gusts.  These plains must have been brutal years ago.” We opted to stop at a nice rest area near El Paso to overnight. Reaction to the 2nd injection continued to worsen with a temperature of 99.9° (normal is 97.2), headache, and joint and muscle aches and pains. A couple of Tylenol helped. Reactions began about 15 hours after injection; it was now 30 hours post injection. Kay is doing great.

Beginning our journey towards home, north of Pacacho Peak State Park, Arizona (Photo by Kay Dunn)
It could have been worse (photo by Kay Dunn)

Thank goodness for Mondays. On Monday, March 15, reactions to the 2nd injection have ended, about 25 hours after they had begun. We are both now feeling great (except for the aches and pains of age). Thanks to all of you who went before us and provided a timeline and reactions as we had some idea of what to expect. We drove through wind gusts of 58 mph, with blowing dust. It’s supposed to be worse tomorrow. If it is in fact worse along our route, we’ll hunker down! We stopped at another rest area along Interstate 20 in Texas, just west of Fort Worth.

Blowing dust as we travel Interstate 10 just east of El Paso (photo by Kay Dunn)
Finally out of the wind, west of Fort Worth (photo by Kay Dunn)

Despite the close proximity of the highway, and nearby semis, Kay slept reasonably well, and I slept great last evening. The forecast for today, Tuesday, for the portion of the route home indicates less wind than the previous two days. Consequently, we opted to continue eastward. Again taking turns, we drove the 400+ miles home, arriving around 5:00 PM. We unhooked the old Honda CRV at a nearby shopping center, and parked the RV at the boat launching ramp parking area adjacent to our house. There, we loaded all available cars, including Sue’s (Sue is Kay’s longtime friend and our FABULOUS house sitter), and returned the near empty motorhome to it storage garage. We were both exhausted and swore to never RV again (same old story after every long trip). A long hot shower welcomed us home!

Friday through Saturday, March 5-13—Wrapping up Winter in Arizona

While we’re awaiting our final Covid injection, Kay continues playing golf and pickleball, while I look for something to do, non-invasive to the left knee. It’s getting better, but ever so gradually. It is windy here in Casa Grande, and has been so all winter! Given our situation with social distancing and sports injuries, we’re both ready to return to Hot Springs Village, though dreading the wet spring weather and soggy golf courses there.

We did venture out on Sunday, making a loop south of Tucson to Madera Canyon, Lake Patagonia, and the Paton Hummingbird Center in the small village of Patagonia. Our first stop was at the Santa Rita Lodge where they maintain lots of various types of feeders. Surprisingly, there were only a couple of hummingbirds nectaring at the feeders, but no other birds—somewhat disquieting. And then, after several minutes this Cooper’s Hawk flew in—explaining the silence.

Cooper’s hawk at Santa Rita Lodge, Madera Canyon

With no prey in sight, it flew away, and immediately a myriad of birds returned to feed.

Cooper’s hawk flying away empty “handed”

Even a butterfly (Mourning Cloak) appeared.

Mourning Cloak

And, I finally got a good look at some Broad-billed Hummingbirds, a quest all winter.

From Santa Rita Lodge, we drove to the Whitehouse Picnic Area, parked, and hiked an almost two-mile loop along Madera Creek to the Proctor Parking Area and return. Birds were scarce as I photographed only a Hermit Thrush, but a a couple of wildflowers “posed” for photographs.

Hermit Thrush

Our next stop was at Patagonia Lake State Park where we had a late picnic lunch. Patagonia Lake is a man-made reservoir in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, United States, located southwest of the town of Patagonia, Arizona, and northeast of Nogales on the Mexico border. The small lake, at only 240 acres, was created by damming Sonoita Creek, and is a popular area for boating and sport fishing. The state park as packed!

The final stop of the day was at the Paton Center for Hummingbirds. Some 14 to 15 species of hummingbirds visit annually. However, due to COVID 19 and the lack of sufficient medical facilities in the area, the Center was closed. They do maintain a couple of hummingbird feeders near the parking area, and we were able to enjoy a couple of hummingbirds flitting back and forth, including this relatively rare Violet-crowned Hummingbird.

Violet-crowned Hummingbird

Thursday afternoon late, Helen and Don Baggett hosted a going away happy hour for us at their place in Palm Creek. It was lovely, and we decided to continue our weekly happy hours back in the Village when everyone returns from winter.

On Saturday morning, Kay and I received the 2nd Moderna injection. In two weeks we should be able to return to some semblance of normality, including hugging friends and family who have also been vaccinated. This marked the last obligation for us for our winter at Palm Creek in Casa Grande, Arizona. Consequently, we decided to leave a day early. Tomorrow, we begin our journey home.

Monday through Thursday, March 1-4, 2021–Same Old, Same Old

Monday was a big day, pickleball wise. I was “observed” (graded) to determine advancement to the 3.5 level. The 3.5 level is considered to be advanced intermediate. Generally speaking, the 3.5 level is the level at which one leaves “social” pickleball and enters “serious” pickleball. Despite my being a bit handicapped with a bad left knee, the two observers recommended advancement! I immediately went to the RV and iced the knee. Kay also played pickleball, and continues to improve. Many beginning pickleball players come to the game with a tennis background and make a fairly smooth transition; Kay never played sports and thus handicapped, particularly regarding hand/eye coordination. What she lacks in experience, she more than makes up for with grit, determination, and perseverance. And, she practices several times a week!

Tuesday was an uneventful day for us, though we did enjoy some spa and pool time.

Kay played golf Wednesday afternoon, joined by a couple of men midway through the 9-hole round (their wives were joining them on the back nine). She shot near bogey golf, and is playing so good now that I’m afraid to compete with her. 

Dropping me off at the Riparian Preserve at Gilbert, Arizona, Thursday morning, Kay ran errands and shopped at Sam’s Club and Costco. It was our last trip to the greater Phoenix area this season. The Riparian Preserve is the Go To place in central Arizona for bird photographers. The irrigation ponds for reclaiming irrigation water is an attractant to a wide range of shore birds, and migrating song birds travel through the area as well. Today, the usual birds cooperated, and “posed” for photos. Some of the more common birds included the Curve-billed Thrasher, White-crowned Sparrow, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Shorebirds make for some of the most interesting subjects, and most are either too far away, or hidden among the shoreline shrubs. These include the Least Sandpiper, Black-crowned Night Heron, Great Egret, and American White Pelican.

Some of the more commonly found birds included the Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler, European Starling, Great-tailed Grackle, and Verdin.

Hummingbirds, particularly those nectaring, are an all-time favorite. The most common in this area is the Anna’s Hummingbird.

And, for some reason, I’m drawn to the Snowy Egret, most often hidden among the shoreline shrubs, but occasional close by searching for food.

Snowy Egret

Wednesday through Sunday, February 24-28—Sort of Back into Action

Kay and I both returned to the pickleball courts Wednesday. It was my 10th day since the left knee injury. Both stamina and agility were impaired! Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were much the same with pickleball being the featured event. Saturday was “Paddle Day” at Palm Creek; Kay tried out several paddles and settled on a lightweight Selkirk AMPED EPIC. This is an extraordinary paddle and will help take her game to another level.

Kay’s new paddle

Our day trip of the week, Sunday, was to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. The garden blooms year round with some 50,000 plants and five thematic trails—Desert Wildflower Loop Trail, Center for Desert Living Trail, Desert Discovery Loop Trail, Sonoran Desert Nature Loop Trail, and Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail. Masking was strictly enforced and social distancing was acceptable considering the size of the crowd (despite reservations limiting attendance). We really enjoyed all the trails, cacti, and wildflowers.

Unusual and rare Saguaro Cactus fan
Portion of Barrel Cactus

Though the cool temps and wind kept the birds at bay, this beautiful Costa’s Hummingbird posed for us.

Costa’s Hummingbird

Of the various “gardens” in southeast Arizona, we would rate this third behind Tucson Sonoran Desert Museum (our favorite by far) and the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Surprise, Arizona. We have yet to visit these this season!

Thursday through Tuesday, February 18-23—Renewing Friendships

Another uneventful few days for me was on the calendar while still recovering from a partially blown-out knee. Meanwhile, Kay continued playing pickleball and golf—Thursday was one of her pickleball days.

Having read that walking was good for a torn or partially torn knee ligament, I drove to the Riparian Preserve on Friday for a few photo opportunities. Luckily, a few “new to me” species and some not so often seen presented themselves for photos. Night herons are one of my favorites (all birds are favorites) and this one was partially concealed.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Shorebirds were actively feeding along the pond edges including a Black-necked Stilt, Long-billed Dowitcher, American Avocet, and Least Sandpiper.

Another favorite, the Snowy Egret, posed for a picture.

Snowy Egret

A now regionally famous Roseate Spoonbill, “Rosie”, was quietly resting on shrubs on a small island in one of the ponds. She has spent all winter at the Riparian Preserve.

Rosie, the Roseate Spoonbill

The big find of the day and the season was a Streak-backed Oriole, a lifer and unlikely “capture”. It is a native to Central America and Mexico, and an occasional visitor to the southwestern US.

Streak-backed Oriole

Saturday was another pickleball day fort Kay. Sunday was our turn to feed the weekly happy hour group from Arkansas. The menu was beer-cooked and grilled brats, German potato salad, sour kraut, and accompanying condiments. Good times were enjoyed by all after Sunday afternoon golf for all but me.

Monday was another pickleball day for Kay—yeah, she’s going to beat me some day—and I used the extra time to work on this blog and edit photos.

Tuesday was a special day as Ralph and Debra from Olympia, Washington, visited. Friends of Nan and George, we met them on a Viking ocean cruise to the northern capitals including Norway, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Russia. They had never seen Saguara National Park and we had not visited there this year, so we made a day of it, including a couple short hikes and a picnic lunch from Subway. On the return trip to Casa Grande, we stopped at Skydive Arizona and watched a planeload of daredevils jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. After happy hour, they returned to a Phoenix suburb where they spend the winter. We sure enjoyed visiting with them, and enjoy their company.