Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A funny thing happened on our way to winter travels...

We’re writing again from Tecopa CA where we’ve taken up residence for the winter. Not so much a change of plan as more a change in outlook. Normally, we’re quite positive about life and our prospects, and like many this year, we’ve had our spirits lifted by the election outcome. Yet we’re challenged by our perceptions of the economy. Nancy and I have debated at length our travel plans, various budget scenarios and family responsibilities. Perhaps like many, we decided that a cautious approach to spending was in order, along with serious reconsiderations for our travel plans and ways to reduce expenses/maintain income. We see it as trying to be realistic and not panicked by the very real drop in projected income. While stopped for an overnight drycamp and a soak at the Tecopa Hot Springs and armed with a resume, a smile and willingness to work I asked if they needed any help for the rest of the season. I was greeted with a “maybe, but you’ll need to check with the supervisor in the morning.” The long and short is here we are still after my first full week in the campground and hot springs operation business. Who knows where it might lead, but for the time being we’re both feeling relieved by reducing expenses because our site costs are included and it’s 40 miles to anywhere, increased income for a few months and daily hot springs soaks, a good area for bikes and hikes, and all of Death Valley to explore. Did we mention date shakes at the nearby China Ranch Date Farm?

We just spent the winter solstice and our 29th anniversary in nearby LasVegas, a long way from where it all began at our little cabin in the woods at Big Pond, PA. We’re not gamblers but did enjoy some good meals of Ethiopian and Thai food. We also did some food shopping, watched stormy clouds on the snow-capped mountains surrounding the LasVegas valley, enjoyed(?) the famous (and hideously inefficient) casino lights and watched the many families with children from around the world descend on our hotel (Circus-Circus) and the many family-centered activities available there. There was still a lot of gambling and shopping going on, too! We also had a great visit with old friends, Kim and Rick Swords, who are in town visiting their daughter’s family for the holidays. But, it's nice to back home where it's quiet and the stars are brilliant jewels in the black desert sky.
Happy trails, and holidays, too!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fall, 2008 Update

Live from Tecopa, California…gateway to hot springs and the DeathValley NP

Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is upon us. I’ve often thought of a blog update and as many times done something else. Perhaps it should be fewer thoughts and more frequency. Just do it. Let’s see if 2009 is any better:) Not sure if anyone is still out there to read these updates anyway. No matter, if you’re there, we hope you’ll enjoy these musings.

Our European trip seems so long ago, but the other night we pulled out the CD and relived that trip again. With the economic and financial turmoil we’re all experiencing, it makes us doubly grateful that we went in spite of the expense. The money would have disappeared by now anyway, even if we’d stayed home! Same can be said for our purchase of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Prius. And with the many trips to visit a convalescing mother it was really a saver @ $4.50+gasoline. We remained in the Corona, CA area through the middle of November. And there was plenty to do there, too.

Tom worked on many energy efficiency and water wise type projects around the park at Glen Eden and still managed to enjoy the pool, spa and hiking. He also worked at a nearby organic garden at Glen Ivy Hot Springs and was paid in fresh fruit and vegetables all summer long! He was even able to work with his sister Mary’s husband, Bruce and help out with his garage door business. All the while Ms. Nancy participated daily in hydrotherapy, pool-time exercizing and improving from her back and sciatic difficulties. Yes, we’re all feeling the weight and wear of the years.

We also found time early in the spring to get to our annual dental and drug checkup in Algodones, BC, Mexico. We joined the rest of snowbirds flocking to the relatively inexpensive (but quality) dental care and prescription drugs over the border. The irony is never lost on us as we venture there to exploit the difference in standard of living, while thousands of Mexicans struggle to come here to do the same…work for a more decent wage. However, our passage across the border is a lot easier and safer than theirs. Ah justice, or is it Just Us?

We also managed a trip through the four corners area to visit daughter Cathy in Cortez, CO. She’s set up in a new restaurant and bar business with her father there and appears to be making a good go of it even in the off-season. It was also near Mesa Verde National Park where we spent a day touring a few of the many Anasazi ruins from the 7th to 13th centuries. These ruins were of the probable ancestors of the Pueblo peoples of modern New Mexico and the Hopi of Arizona.

And what a year for a presidential election! We both kept busy with GOTV(GetOutTheVote) in the Corona area and online, helped with canvassing and phone support. Needless to say, we were both rewarded with the result, the first in too many years!

Thanksgiving was great this year with continuation of the "trash can turkey" main course. The main event was hosted by Gerry and Sally, long time friends from Alberta with 7 other fulltimer RVers in attendance. They did the most work dressing the bird and preparing it for the "can". The sequence shows the 17 lb bird in preparation with its aluminum foil "coat", under the thoroughly clean and degalvanized can with charcoal atop and around and those late comers who arrive for the feast!