Thursday, November 27, 2008
Thanksgiving in Paradise
And I’m really not passing any judgment. I’m just observing. The restaurant/bar around which the rv park sprung up (I think that was the chain of events; I don’t think the rv park came first) is apparently known as a ‘biker bar’. Neither Gary nor I have actually been in the bar/restaurant before (I didn’t even know where to drop off my pies…), but given the number of Harleys that are parked in the parking lot, combined with the number of Harleys parked in the RV park, I don’t doubt the ‘biker bar’ part. And apparently (if today’s dinner was any indication), the bikers range from the 60-something retirees with long white (or grey) beards, riding the full-dress touring bikes, to the more blue collar, grease-under-their-fingernails guys. (There was an extended family group behind me, and the women were comparing nail polishes, while the guys were talking about how they had ‘Valvoline’ on….)
Interestingly, this was generally a family-oriented group. Lots of people drinking beer, and whatever else, lots of tattoos, and lots big family groups. You’ve got all these biker people who have been coming to this Event (an apparently Thanksgiving dinner at Fox’s is An Event; you bring a side dish to feed your party and 6 other people, and you are welcome) for years, and bring their kids, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, etc. along, and then you got the park residents, who range from an older couple (apparently with health issues, so says the helpful Canuk block organizer, but who are able to move their 38 foot class A motorhome twice a year, and who, I might add, didn’t seem fazed by the tattoo crowd), to the retired Navy, Marines and UEW (electrical workers, for those of us who had to get close to the emblem to puzzle it out…), most of whom seem to have Harleys, to the younger bikers (and family) who come from Havasu City, and then, well, us.
Again, not scary people, just, well, lots of tattoos. And handlebar moustaches.
I REALLY wish I had brought the camera. Because there was this HUGE line for dinner (again, Gary stayed in the motorhome watching football) I got into conversation with the people around me, including one woman who was talking to a friend of hers about ‘someone they rode with’ who (and I quote, because this is too good for words) “if you’re drunk, and it’s dark, and you squint, he looks like Willie Nelson”. Willie Nelson? C’mon. If you are going to be drunk, and look at someone in the dark, and be squinting, why shouldn’t he look like a 40 year old Sean Connery? Willie Nelson? Eesh. But, I guess.... Naw... I just can't see it. Under any circumstances, and no matter how cheap the tequila was. Willie Nelson? I guess this is why the band director at North Forsyth High School called me an elitist snob. Gotta go with your strengths, I guess!
I’m telling ya’, I should have brought the camera. HOWEVER, all is not completely lost on Saturday night (I think, I have to check the bulletin board) there is a ‘parade of carts’; most people in the park have golf carts to get around (even though the park isn’t that big… it’s a status thing, I think). And most of then have been ‘suped up’ one way or another. One guy has (and I’m not kidding…. Again, I’d get pictures, but I think he’d be offended… at least until the parade) spinny things on his hubcaps (so when the wheels stop moving the hubcaps spin). Really. Others have different motors, special paint jobs (the guy next to us has flames on his golf cart/dune buggy – which seems to be a popular contraption), and/or lights.
While I doubt that Gary will join me for the parade of carts (apparently they go through several of the local RV parks before ending up here), I think I’ll be down at the dock to snap some pictures. This is truly a culture like I’ve never seen.
Anyway, after spending 45+ minutes in line for dinner (and talking with some really INTERESTING people…. Including a wife who was completely with me on the idea of using all of our assets upon our death to create the Dranow Home for Wayward Poodles (in our estate, actually), while the husband was mystified as to why you WOULDN’T have kids to have someone to pass it all along to…. Arguing that the poodles were our kids seemed out of line with someone who had the likeness of his youngest daughter at age 4 tattooed on his forearm. (Again, no, really.)
I wouldn’t want to meet 99% of these people in a dark alley, but under the auspices of Thanksgiving, it was fascinating (and probably would be fine in a dark alley, as long as you just said, “Dude, cool tattoo of your daughter there!”).
Anyway, the phone signal has been non-existent, so I didn’t get a chance to call anyone, but Happy Thanksgiving to all, and I promise you pictures from the rest of the weekend. This could really be quite entertaining!
And all that said, I really enjoyed myself; dinner was great, the people watching was out of this world, and I now have two doggies schnoozling in the living room, while Ben and the cat and in the bedroom with Gary watching football.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
A bit of a culture shock, but not a bad thing
Hopefully we’ll get reliable internet on Monday, and Gary will feel a little more settled. Me? Heh. I’m enjoying the ‘vacation’ from the world. I’ve got an ATT wireless card that works fairly well (interestingly, Gary’s, which is newer and supposedly better, doesn’t get the signal mine does…), so I can check emails, and my phone gets intermittent service, so I can check voice mails. Calls out, not so much, but on the 9th, we’ll have a local phone line (VOIP, I think… which could be good or bad, depending on the internet service!).
But in the meantime, I’m enjoying the break.
Tonight is the pre-Thanksgiving beer and pizza night at the restaurant (on the river at the RV park); I’ve elected to pass on that. Gary wanted me to sneak down and grab a few slices of pizza, but given the level of sociability of the place, I don’t think I’d be able to escape quickly, and I really don’t want to be stuck being social in a bar/restaurant while Gary is at home relaxing with the kids. So we’re having hamburgers at home, instead.
Tomorrow, however, is the Thanskgiving dinner thing, and we are pretty much obligated to go to that. It is an afternoon/evening-long event, but I doubt we’ll stay that long. As it is, our ‘block activity organizer’ (a very nice lady who comes from British Columbia with her husband, and lives two doors down), gave me the social run-down of activities, and suggested that since no one had volunteered to bring pies to the dinner (the resort provides the turkey and important stuff…. Residents bring the extras), I could maybe bring a pie or two, if I was interested. Recognizing the Northern “a guy could….. if you want to” statement, I immediately signed up to bring a couple of pies.
(And I think I got the rookie-sucker ruse; the local Safeway (another entry in and of itself) charges $7/pie….. I’m used to the $4/pie at Albertsons (and usually $3/pie at the holidays)). Anyhoo, we’ve got pie and whipped cream in a can, so I think my duty is done. Between 2 pumpkin pies and an apple pie, I think we’ve earned the right to grab out food and go at any time….)
Besides, I did make it clear to Mary, the Canuk-block-organizer (in her early 70’s likely, and far too cheery…. As is her husband), that we aren’t really ‘joiners’. After hearing the schedule of poker games, womens’ pool tournaments against the local VFW (no, really…. Gods how I wish Granny Shively were alive and could visit – she’d LOVE this place!!!), womens’ walks (at 8am MWF….. we’ll see… and only because I’d like to get to know the area…), golf foursomes (one guy in the park works at the scheduling desk at the local golf course, and gets everyone the tee times they desire…. Not 100% kosher, but much appreciated), shuffleboard (really), and horseshoes (apparently there are some pretty fierce team rivalries…), I think we are going to be pretty much staying to ourselves.
That said, we’ve got some ‘family obligations’; Gary’s aunt and uncle (his mothers’ brother) came her for close to 20 years, and are WELL remembered. Gary is known as ‘Ernie’s nephew’ to a great many of the ‘old timers’, and we’ve already received a table for the patio that belonged to Ernie and Joanne. So, we’ve got some eyes on us, to some extent. Which isn’t all bad; people come to this resort year after year (as opposed to the 30 others on the same 15 mile stretch of river) for the sense of community. And while we aren’t looking to make life-long friends, you never know. And we certainly won’t be able to ‘hibernate’. Again, not a bad thing.
The road biking looks promising; we may be riding on a freeway for some of our rides, but the place has very wide shoulders, and a 55mph speed limit, so I think it will be good.
As it is, it is raining (should clear up by the weekend), and by then we should be ready to start to ride. I did one very short ride on the mountain bike up to the local state park (one of them), and am quite excited to get out riding again.
In the meantime, Fiona has made quite a name for herself (generally good, I think!), and is starting to see that not all dogs are sick/geriatric. Speaking of which, I took Ben to the vet today; about a 15 minute drive (no biggie), a small operation (husband and wife team, which, ironically, makes them easier to get ahold of in emergencies, but they seem well-suited to deal with our kids. I am comfortable with them, and I think all of the kids will get great care. They are members of the same Animal Hospital Associate as the vets in Park City were, which adds another level of confidence. Ben is holding his own; he’s not doing great, and we have had to up his pain-meds, but he’s comfortable.
And that’s all the news that is fit to print, right now!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
All that said, today was spent running around; me getting the dogs to the vet, us picking up Larry from knee surgery (he drove himself down at 7am, so Gary and I both went to pick him up so Gary could drive Larry’s truck while I drove Larry), a doctor’s appointment for Gary, and a couple of trips to the motorhome. Which meant that I really didn’t get the final packing and shopping done. Gary’s got some business to take care of, as well, so we have opted to leave on Thursday. We’ll arrive Friday night (spending Thursday in St. George), and be ready to start the whole vacation thing.
Which is fine; the weather is supposed to be warm for the next 7 days (much to the dismay of the skiers who were happy with the early start to the season), so one more day in Park City won’t matter, and it will make for a more relaxing departure on Thursday (we’ll just have to bring down the kids, and the tow car, and we’ll be ready to go).
Again, this is all good. But I AM really looking forward to a few days of snoozing in the sun.
Monday, November 17, 2008
On the one hand, I’m encouraged; I actually think that we’ll make the Wednesday departure date; all we’ve got to do is load the bikes on/in the Saturn, and we’ll be ready to pull out, hook up the car and head south.
There are a few things, like a trip to the market, a vet visit, a doctor visit, and a few business ends to tie up before we can go, but that should all get wrapped up tomorrow.
So, that’s all good. Or it will be, when we are in Parker, with everything hooked up, the slides out, the dogs resting quietly, the cat eating (the sign that he has adjusted to the motorhome) and us relaxing. That’s a few days out, but we’ll get there.
I’m just worried about the standard poodle. We’ve upped his pain meds, and he still seems to be having kidney pain. He’s been on antibiotics for ages now, and while he doesn’t seem to appear to have an active infection, he’s got pain. Which likely means that the other kidney is going. If that is the case, then we’ve got to act so he doesn’t suffer. (And personally, I’d just as soon stay here a few days longer if we have to put him down soon. The veterinary staff (vets and staff) here have become like family, and I’d rather be with people who know him, rather than at a strange clinic, where he’s just one more dog with cancer.) I won’t know what’s going on until tomorrow, and I’m not going to waste my energy on speculation; it either is his time or it isn’t.
So yeah, pluth. I really want to get out of town, but I don’t want to travel if Ben is really going to be struggling. At this point, a couple of days won’t matter to us, if it matters to Ben.
(Okay, that was a depressing entry. I’m actually okay; I’ve accepted the inevitable. Not that it won’t be hard when the time comes, but we’ve been lucky to have him as long as we have had him. And if he’s in pain, we’re not doing him any favors by keeping him around. But, I’m tired. We’ll see how he’s doing tomorrow, and what the vet has to say about him then. Until then, I’m going to try to relax.)
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The sun is over the yardarm somewhere, right?!?
Okay, so I spent about 5 hours in the motorhome today packing (or unpacking things packed at the house, as the case may be) for the winter in Arizona. And I just have to say, I blame my parents for my packing skills. I’ve somehow got this idea that I’m entering the Rub al-Khali on every single trip; I’ve got enough clothes for the next year, food to feed an army, cases of water, refills of every medication under the sun, etc., etc. (In hindsight, I probably WOULD have made a very good geologist with the USGS in Saudi Arabia….) Christ. I’m going to ARIZONA. Even our ‘man-servant’ (no better way to describe him, as he does EVERYTHING, is there is any crisis, and is just a down-right fantastic guy) commented today, “Uh, Don’t they have grocery stores in Arizona?” Yeah. Whatever. Shutup. And Hell, I don’t know. I mean, they don’t even do the daylight savings time thing. For all I know, I’m really going to a recently annexed part of Mexico.
Of course, my parents are likely saying “But dear, we also taught you to travel across the Western Hemisphere with nothing but your passport, your airline travel ID (term pass), an American Express card, a toothbrush and a clean set of underwear. (And a TWA schedule so you could call and book yourself on the next flight going whichever direction you desired.)” Because you never knew if you were going to end up in the same time zone as your real luggage or not. (And often it didn’t matter. If the luggage didn’t show up, you bought what you needed, and kept trying to get to your destination.)
So, I’m caught between trying to pack everything into my house on wheels that I can (and we’ve got skis (and everything that goes with that – clothes, boots, poles, helmets, etc., etc.), golf clubs (and all that entails), tennis rackets, a really cool Weber BBQ, coolers, cases of water, bicycles (and spare wheels, all of which will be with the Saturn Vue that we tow behind the motorhome), cycling clothes for all weather conditions, etc.), and thinking that if we don’t have it, we are ONLY going to Arizona, and can get it there.
I’m erring on the Rub al-Khali mindset, but am relying on the American Express-as-backup-plan, as well. Luz (my house keeper, body servant, lifter-of-heavy-things, and Organizer-of-All-Things), and I spent 5 hours today organizing the space in the motorhome, getting things loaded, and getting ready for the (mostly) final assault tomorrow. Tomorrow the rest of the clothes, the food, and the pet things will all go in and get stowed. Luz has been invaluable because, well, as my family can well attest, my organizational skills, are sub-par at best, and non-existent, if we are going to be honest. Luz takes all my stuff that has been jammed into cupboards, and makes it so that you can a) actually get to it, and b) put it back where it belongs. (I blame this failing on my mother. I have a psychiatrist, so I get to blame things on my mother. So there! *grin. Oh, and just so you don’t take this too seriously, Mom, my psychiatrist doesn’t really care about things being anyone’s fault – he’s just trying to get me to recognize my failings and make them better – he’s really not a blame guy! )
Tomorrow will see the errand running (more trips to PetCo, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Wally World, the vet, and the liquor store (yes, coals to Newcastle, but we are stopping in Cedar City, UT, to make the trip more bearable, and if we both can’t have a dram of something, when we stop on the first night, well…, just well…).
With any luck, Tuesday will simply be the ‘everything we forgot’ day, and we’ll be able to de-winterize (take the antifreeze out of the pipes) on Wednesday before we leave.
In the meantime? I need a shower, a massage, and some to take the dogs out at 2am and 4am (and 6am, given that I have to be up and moving by 7:30am….).
All I can say is that when we get to Parker, I plan on spending about a week in a lounge chair, conveniently located toward the sun, with a series of fluff-filled novels at hand, and the dogs stowed with the husband.
I just want WARM weather. I want to bask in the sun, wear shorts and t-shirts, and lose that pasty-white look (complimented with the dark circles under my eyes) that I have cultivated so well, as of late.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Regression therapy. (Or not.)
Actually, I really could care less about the clothes. There is this amazing thing called the internet, and this other amazing thing called UPS. If it isn't packed, it could be on my doorstep in 3 days.
I'm really more just freaked out about the mental preparation. I'm. Leaving. For. 5. Months. No doubt I'm going to forget something catastrophic, like my wallet, or dog food, or insulin for the cat, or the husband's meds, or something.
Eh. It will all be fine. But it's the packing of the phone chargers, and the firewires, and the dog treats, and the cycling shorts, jerseys, jackets, gloves, helmets, etc., that is starting to make me feel overwhelmed. Probably because I'm also packing ski gear (no, really.... although I hope it stays in the basement of the motorhome until we get back next May), tennis gear, golf clubs, shoes, carts, etc.
I know. I really shouldn't be complaining. And I'm really not, other than just the sheer work of arranging a small home for a puppy, an incontinent dog, an old dog, and an old diabetic cat, that won't leave us with permanent carpet messes (already had the small Bissel for 'small' messes). Basically, I'm worried about where I'm going to store 15 bath towels.
My husband would argue that I worry too much.
Of course, once we get there, and get settled, all will be cool. (I've done the important checking: wireless internet, mail service, a pharmacy that will take Utah prescriptions, storage for the Corvette/trailer, and relatively close high-level vet care. ) Everything else is flexible.
But I'll still be stressed until we leave. So I am REALLY hoping for HOT weather when we get to Arizona, as I want to spend the first couple of days in the lounge chairs with a couple of brainless books, cool drinks, and much sun.
Of course, there will be pictures!
Friday, November 14, 2008
I'm also worried about the vet situation. There is a 'traveling' vet who is available on a daily basis, but for a full animal hospital, we have to drive 40 miles north. The driving part isn't THAT big a deal. I'm just more worried about getting a new vet who doesn't know the family history.
Ben, the standard poodle, was diagnosed with bladder cancer this summer, and as it blocked one of his kidneys, he got an experimental procedure to stent his kidney to allow it to move fluids. Good thing, as his other kidney shut down, and he would have died without the stent. However, his last blood test showed things going not so well; could be a point-in-time thing, or could be that his one kidney is failing. The only good thing (if you can call it that), is that we'll know quickly, and if he's going, we can make sure that he doesn't suffer. A tough time to change vets, but it is what it is.
On the other hand, Fiona, our 16 week old goldendoodle puppy (father is a red golden retriever, the mother is an apricot poodle), is healthy as a horse, a wild child (but within reason), and possibly the best puppy ever; exciteable but not crazy, and very tolerant of Ben being cranky with her (she SO wants to play with him - or with TaiChi, the 17 year old miniature, who shows signs of wanting to play, until she gets knocked down by the twice-her-size puppy). She's very smart, she's mellow, and she's just a fantastic dog. We couldn't be happier with her.
So, despite worries, I am REALLY looking forward to spending a winter in the sun. I moved to Utah 20 years ago, and have done the winter thing every year since. This will be the first year since I was a child that I will spend the winter in warm weather. And I am THRILLED beyond words. We'll take the dogs, the cat (Mr. 18-Year-Old Maine Coon travels well - he loves the bedroom when we drive, because the engine is right behind the bedroom, and the 525hp diesel engine makes the room really warm - and perfect for the kitty (yes, he's got access to food, water, and his litter box - for an 18 year old guy, he's very agile in getting on and off the bed while driving)), the golf clubs, the road bikes, the mountain bikes, and we'll meet the Corvette to race in December (we'll keep it after December). It's almost like re-making the summer we missed.
And yeah, I'm thrilled for that!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
This afternoon, I spent a couple of hours sorting through some boxes that I haven't opened in 15 (or more!) years. Most of it was junk; old bills, empty checkbooks, long-since expired credit cards, etc. But there were a few gems in there, including a pre-scrapbook scrapbook that my mother had put together for me that followed a very short trip that my father and I had taken to Rome and Athens in 1987.
I never forgot the trip - father and 16 year old daughter flying halfway across the world to 're-do' trips that we had made when we lived in Saudi Arabia, while I could still fly for free on TWA (part of my dad's retirement package). It took about a day and a half to get to Athens, and a day-ish to get back from Rome, and I think we spent a grand total of 5 days in the Mediterranean. We weren't going to see anything new, but to revisit places we had traveled to for many years when I was younger. I guess it was a bit of a nostalgic trip, in and of itself.
My mother didn't go (I honestly don't remember why, now), but she had prepared an itinerary and shopping list for us, complete with entries copied from guidebooks. (My parents LOVE to travel, and I have indelible memories of my mother in a London Fog trench coat, with thin brown Isotoner gloves on, pointing at an entry in a guidebook, or at a spot on a map. The typed itinerary was to replace the gloves and trenchcoat on this trip.) She clearly had a good time writing the itinerary; the day that had been scheduled to go to the Forum, collesium, and other ancient Roman sites was referred to as 'Rubble Day'. There were also a number of joking asides about how I had a fancy prep-school education but likely couldn't read the German descriptions in the museums.
Anyway, the trip is one of those things that I remember fondly, but the details had grown hazy over the years. I remember traveling with my father on many occasions, but this trip had sort of blended into many. The album my mother made for the trip makes this trip a one-of-a-kind. Between the TWA 'special service' tickets (i.e. employee tickets), the money changer receipts at both the Rome and Athens airports, as well as the tickets for entrance to the different monuments, the entire trip is there.
My mother is not the 'scrap-booking' sort of person, so the fact that she put this together at all amazes me. Maybe it was to make sure that I appreciated the trip.
Let's just say that if I didn't appreciate it as a 15 year old who was used to flying around the world for nothing, as a 37 year old who hasn't left the US since she was, well, 19, I appreicate it like hell. (And before you think that sounds as obnoxious as it reads, I grew up overseas, traveled overseas, and really didn't see anything of the US until I settled in Utah; my husband and I have traveled all over the western US since then, and maybe because I DID travel so much overseas, I am fascinated by all we've got to see within our borders. (Yes, the Great Wall of China is cool, but so it the continental divide, especially in Yellowstone, and being able to see it with our 'family' (our dogs and our cat), at our own pace? I love it. I love the fact that I was able to travel overseas so much, but I love being able to travel 'at home' in the motorhome even more.)
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Of course, being in Utah, it really doesn't matter who I vote for for president, but there was just No Way I could vote for anyone else on the ballot. I actually pondered a write-in for a few minutes, but couldn't come up with anything more creative than Mickey Mouse.
Anyhoo, it's started to snow, and I'm really looking forward to warm weather. It's pretty for a day, but I just can't envision another winter of freezing, doing the driveway (or watching the husband kill himself doing it, which is more like it), and just generally doing nothing other than skiing for a few hours and going home.
I REALLY hear Arizona calling me.