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Showing posts from 2010
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We have experienced our first Christmas as Winter Texans (WT). On Christmas Eve we attended a Candlelight Service in the Trophy Gardens Clubhouse - followed by fingerfoods - yummy. On Christmas Day, we had a potluck Christmas Lunch with 300 other WTs in the Clubhouse. There were 12 large tables set with each table having their own potluck - ours had ham and turkey. The food was great and plenty of it so we went back at 5:30 for leftovers. We did manage to take a walk inbetween the feasts.
My Christmas present from Don was an hour lesson with a golf pro at a local golf course that our neighbour here arranged. I learned alot but time will tell if anything sunk in. Don must have been watching because he almost had a hole in one yesterday. The little ball stopped 4 inches in front of the hole on the 7th green.
Today I took off for an adventure to the coast - a 2 hour boat tour out of a marina on South Padre Island. The tour was arranged with the tour bus that is onsite at Trophy Gardens …
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Wed. Dec 22/10

Thought you might be wondering if we are keeping busy - and yes we are. We go golfing on the 9 hole Par 3 golf course that is attached to our park every day - no charge and noone laughs at our pathetic strokes. The weather has been lovely with mid day temps in the 80s so we spend some of the afternoon at the pool and may get back in some time in the evening. I have been teaching a morning exercise class 2 x per week. An exercise class runs Mon-Friday but when I don't do it, it is Richard Simmons or Debbie Reynolds so mine is a change for the ladies here.

We are in a new site in the park this year so we get to meet new people - most people are older than us - alot from Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Minnesota, The Dakotas - very friendly. Yesterday Don gave me an early Christmas present - my first golf lesson with a pro at a nearby club. This was arranged by a neighbour here who works parttime as a marshall at that club. It is amazing how many things I was doing wrong. The neig…

Greetings from Alamo, Texas

Yes we have been here for a day now. It is windy but it is a warm wind. We started out at 6AM on Saturday morning and headed down the 401 and crossed over at Sarnia. We were ahead of the bad weather predicted. We travelled through Michigan and rain started in the late afternoon - but the temperature was above freezing so we were fortunate. We stopped for the night in Seymour Indiana. On the road again the next morning at 8 AM and the predicted cold temperatures had moved in but it wasn't snowing when we got going. The snow caught up with us before Nashville and the road to Memphis was hazardous with many cars in ditches due to slippery conditions. We were fortunate to be able to go around a pileup thanks to following a trucker down an off ramp and up the other side - the collision was on that overpass bridge.
By the time we reached Memphis, the sun was out and there was no more snow. We spent Sunday night in Grenada, Mississippi - in a hotel room still because the temperature was w…

Don and Mary's travels Dec 2010

In 2 days we leave for the southern USA. Stay tuned.

McKenzie Tessel Wedding

Back Home

Friday, April 9/10 Lakefield, ON Canada

After a lovely Easter visit with Tom and Diana in Virginia and an overnight hotel in Altoona and a wonderful bed and breakfast stop in St Catherines on Tuesday night we arrived back in Lakefield on Wednesday.

We calculated we travelled over 10,000 miles (16,000 km) since we started this journey on Dec. 19/09. Our Ford truck gets 10 miles to a gallon of diesel fuel when it pulls the trailer so that is over 1000 gallons - at around$3 a gallon - you do the math. Our campground fees totalled about $2000. But the memories of the places we visited and the wonderful people we got to spend time with is priceless. Looking forward to our next journey! We are still rookie RVers but we have learned a few things on this trip which will make the next one easier.
Thanks to everyone who had the patience to travel with us via this blog.
Mary and Don signing off. Adios amigos!

New Bern NC - April 1/10

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Thursday, April 1/10 New Bern, NC

We enjoyed the beautiful sunny day today to look around the historic downtown are of New Bern, North Carolina. We are parked for these 2 nights in a small RV Park outside of New Bern.

New Bern is a town of 28,000 on the East Coast at the mouth of the Trent and Neuse Rivers. It is celebrating it's 300th anniversary of its settlement by Swiss explorers. New Bern is named after Bern, Switzerland. "Bern is Swiss for bear so there are decorated fiberglass bears around the town for the anniversary. Also there are "historical hydrants" painted like historical characters important to the town. They also have a Firefighter's Museum here but we didn't tour it.

We walked around the historic downtown area viewing the historical homes. It's most famous attraction is the Tryon Palace. This North Carolina government house, built between 1767 and 1770 by Royal Governor Wm. Tryon represented the British crown and became NC's first perma…

Jekyll Island Georgia

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March 29 - 31/10 Brunswick Georgia

We have moved into Georgia on our way up the East Coast. The weather gods were smiling on us and we spent a beautiful sunny warm day exploring Jekyll Island with our bicycles. Jekyll Island was once a favoured resort for an array of wealthy and well-known figures in Amercan history - including the Rockefellers, Pulitzers, Morgans and Vanderbilts. Their winter cottages and club house hotel compose a 240 acre historic site museum. There are over 20 miles of paved trails that circle the island. We had a delicious lunch in the Grand Dining Room of the Club Hotel. The picture on the left is of the Goodyear cottage (Goodyear was a lumbar baron from Buffalo). The picture on the right is an alligator that was sunning itself beside the bicycle path. There are more pictures posted at www.themarsdens.ca if you are interested. We had the camera with us today.

Weekend around Summerfield

Saturday and Sunday March 27 and 28/10



We moved a couple of hours north and landed in a new RV park - Southern Oaks RV Resort - south of Ocala, Florida. Through Passport America we have half price camping in this park - $15 for a night. On Saturday afternoon we biked over to a big Flea Market - which was really a gigantic dollar store.

On Sunday morning, Mary biked over 5 miles down the road to check out "The Villages". The Villages has a population of over 75,000 now. It started in the 1960's as a Census Designated Community with lots of regulations and is now the largest residential development in Central Florida - 98% white and mostly republicans. It is a golf cart community with special golf cart lanes on its roads, golf cart only parking lots at shops and restaurants and a golf cart only bridge over their main highway and a couple of tunnels at other spots. By December 2008, the residents had over 38,000 golf carts. (info from Wikipedia in The Villages, Florida). We …

Friends time in Florida

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To March 25/10
We really haven't done too much exciting touristy sight-seeing stuff this past week but we have enjoyed time with friends. We attended a Chili Blaze event put on by the Pinellas Park Fire Department at a local park. The next day there was a "Country in the Park" event in the same park and Mary visited in the afternoon.

Sunday night we enjoyed a St Patrick's dinner at Brian and Thery's friends - Jane and Diane and their dog Fuzzy. Jane has a thing for cows and there are hundreds around in her home. We were dressed up for the occasion from Thery's tickle trunk.

On Monday we had a field trip over to the Orlando area to visit Gord and Jill Hill from Belleville who had rented a house with a pool. Gord is another retired firefighter and friend of Don and Brian's. On arrival back at the campground, Thery strained her ankle and had to unforturately back out of the week's line dancing classes with Mary. On Tuesday, Diana and Dave Twiner from Lake…

First Week in St Petersburg

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To March 18/10
It has been a pretty quiet week. We have been enjoying spending time with Brian and Thery King (Brian was a firefighter Don worked with) who have a mobile home here. On Sunday we went together to Sawgrass Park nearby and admired the critters, which included turtles - hard and soft shelled, armadillos, alligators and many birds. Thery and Mary have gone to 2 line dancing sessions and some shopping too. Don and Brian rummaged up some old golf and fishing equipment for Don from a mobile home that was being cleaned out. We have been biking and walking and have warmed ourselves in the park hottub because we would like the weather to be a bit warmer but we can't complain. Thursday we journeyed down to Sarasota and on the way back took some photos of a big cruise ship (Carnival Inspiration) going under the long bridge south of St. Petersburg.

To St Petersburg Florida

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Update as of March 13/10

It took 5 days of driving, through 5 states and as of tonight 4 hours of time change (with tonight's jump forward time change) but we made it from Arizona to Florida. You don't want to know how many gallons of diesel fuel we went through. It took 3 days to make it through Texas. We spent 3 nights in Texas, one in Alabama and now in Florida. We at in Robert's RV Resort in St. Petersburg. This park has over 600 sites and lots of activities. It is March Break now so I think there are some extra family members around too. Florida seems very soggy from all the rain they have received lately - Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are all soggy right now. We are hoping we brought lots of sunshine with us and this week's forecast is for sunny weather.

Bye Arizona - to East Coast

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Sunday to Tuesday March 7 to 9/10



Packed up on Sunday after a lovely lunch at the famous Francisco Grande Hotel outside of Casa Grande with Tom and Lynn. This is a famous hotel and John Wayne had the penthouse suite there for many years. It was built as part of a spring training base for the San Francisco Giants but now is used more by soccer teams. It has a swimming pool that is the shape of a bat and the hot tub is the ball.


Rainy Monday morning we were on the road by 9:30 AM headed for the East Coast and more sunshine for March. South of Tuscon Arizona we travelled through the Texas Canyon - giant rocks mark the landscape - like a scene from The Flintstones. More pictures of the canyon on themarsdens.ca website. We passed through New Mexico and spent the night past El Paso Texas in the old town of Sierra Blanca (run down campground beside the railway and the highway - ear plugs needed to sleep).

Tuesday we had a bright sunny day with a tailwind and stopped for the night about an hour …

Friend Tom Retires and Shamrock Farm Tour

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Friday and Saturday March 5 and 6/10

Our good friend Tom Brudnicki retired from his job as Office Manager for a Compressor Company here is Casa Grande. He worked for that company for 5.5 years and is now happy to spend his time at the projects he wants to accomplish around home. We joined Tom and Lynn for a celebration retirement dinner at a local Mexican restuarant called Rubio's on Friday night.
On Saturday morning we went with our Oshawa frends (Charmaine and Lou) on a tour of a 10,000 holstein cow dairy operation nearby called Shamrock Farms. It is family owned - started by the McClelland family in 1922 - as a guersey cow farm outside of Tuscon. Pictures of the tour can be accessed on the http://www.themarsdens.ca/ website. It was a very well organized tour that took about 90 minutes on a tram around the farm buildings. The Shamrock Farm dairy products are available in grocery stores in Arizona. On Saturday afternoon, Charmaine and I took in the local Chili Championship Competit…

Casino adventure

Wednesday March 3/10 Beautiful sunshine this week - pool time.
It has been a quiet week but we did visit the Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino Resort by Maricopa (about 15 miles from Casa Grande). Of course there was a deal. You had to sign up for their Total Rewards Program and you received a voucher for lunch or dinner at their buffett and they gave you $15 to gamble with. We had a delicious dinner and then spend a few minutes to feed their machines their free money. I did cash out with $8.75 and Don came out with $5. We did go with another couple - Dick and Kathy from Wisconsin - so we didn't even have to drive.

We also have fun shopping at our local grocery store called Fry's. On the first Wednesday of the month they offer seniors (over 55) 10 % off on their grocery bill. That is the day to shop. It is only 2 miles away so I can bike there. Fry's also has gas pumps and you shop there often enough you accumulate 100 points and then you get 10 cents off per gallon. They have d…

Last weekend of Feb 2010

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Friday to Sunday Feb 26 to 28/10

Quiet weekend under that exciting times watching the last events of the Olympics and the closing Gala and Ceremonies. We did make it out to Arizona College on Saturday morning for a Wellness and Craft Fair for seniors. Don and I had our glucose, cholesterol and BPreadings done and expect to be around for many more years to come thankfully. We were with Charmaine and Lou from Oshawa and took a little tour of the neighbouring desert after visiting the college. In this picture I am having them blow into some Creosote bushes and then inhale the fragrance. The scent is the smell of the desert after rain. We did get rain on Sunday morning and there has been more rain in Arizona so far this year than has fallen in all of 2009 - but that was too dry a year. The desert floor is greening up and some wildflowers are appearing and the octilla cactus are blooming too.
Saturday afternoon I took a bike ride around our neighbourhood and came upon a cattle roping competi…

busy week

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Monday to Thursday Feb 22-24/10
On a rainy Monday morning we drove out in the desert to visit St Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery. I had visited the monastery 3 years ago with Lynn but now another chapel has been added and their gardens have matured. This monastery was started in 1993 when 6 monks from Greece started building chapels and gardens in the middle of the desert. Along with the chapels, now there are orange, lemon and grapefruit orchards, olive trees and grapevines. Note in the picture on the right that I am dressed up. The women must wear a kerchief and long skirts, long sleeves and closed toed shoes with socks. Men have to wear long sleeved shirts, long pants and closed toed shoes with socks too. The chapels are beautiful with amazing woodwork, brick and stonework. They are just completing their latest one which is built on a hill.

Tuesday, Feb 23/10
Another adventure to drag Don to. Our park is about 5 miles from the Central Arizona Campus at Signal Hill. I noticed t…

Skydiving Arizona

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Week of Feb 14 -21/10 Casa Grande Arizona

We have had a pretty quiet week of fun in the sun but the highlight was watching our friend Bill Ratke make his first skydiving jump out of a perfectly good airplane at Skydive Arizona which is located close to here at the Eloy Municipal Airfield. Bill is a good friend of Lynn and Tom's from Wisconsin and is a pilot himself but wanted the skydiving experience. $300 later he had a great thrill jumping tandem and has a 5 minute video to prove it. Skydive Arizona is the world's largest skydiving school with over 150,000 jumps. People from all over the world come to skydive here plus US Military and Germany and Dutch military too. We watched for a couple of hours and parachutes continually come down and plane loads of jumpers go up every few minutes. Their airplanes can put 170 skydivers in the air at one time with 500 jumps possible in an hour. The clear desert weather allows for around 340 jumping days a year. For more interesting info ch…

The Olive Grove and Indian Parade

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Wednesday to Saturday Feb 10 to 13/10
Enjoying the beautiful Arizona sunshine and visiting with our friends Lynn and Tom. On Thursday I did go for a tag-along adventure with other people from our RV Park to the Queen Creek Olive Mill outside of Phoenix. It was started by a guy from Ontario in 1998 when he moved down to the Phoenix area. He settled around Phoenix because there was a hockey league in Phoenix he could play in. It is the only Olive Glove Mill in Arizona and makes high quality extra virgin oil - the only kind anyone should be using apparently. From a ton of olives they harvest between October and December, they get 40 gallons of extra virgin olive oil. They also have a wonderful restaurant attached to the mill and gift shop where you can buy their oils - You have to pay the high prices for the good stuff. The Arizona climate is great for growing olives and no pesticides are needed because the temperatures of over 100 degrees here in the summer kill the olive fly that plaque…

Superbowl Weekend

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Saturday to Tuesday February 6-9/10

Enjoying the lovely Arizona sun these days. Saturday and Sunday we visited the Gourdfest again to keep filling up the trailer with gourds which we have doing a good job of. I even had my picture taken with one of the gurus of gourding here - Bonnie Gibson as she was instructing a class. She does amazing work and here is a picture of one of her expensive pieces that you could purchase.We hoped for 1/2 price works of art at the close of the show on Sunday but that didn't happen.
We spent Sunday night cheering for the Saints at the Superbowl with our friends Lynn and Tom.
Monday and Tuesday have been quiet with time spent biking and relaxing at the little pool. I have instructed the water aerobics class for the ladies twice now and will continue to do it 2x/week while I am here.

Casa Grande Gourdfest

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Friday February 4/10 Beautiful sunny 80 degree day

Today was the first day of a 3 day Gourd Festival at the Casa Grande Fairgrounds and it was incredible. Don and I were the purchase agents of the President of the Canadian Gourd Society (Barbara Bellchambers of Lakefield) and aspiring gourd artist Katie Marsden. Their goal is to fill up our trailer with gourds for their artwork. This gourd show is the largest in the USA with over 100 vendors and a large judging contest and other fun things like a gourd sailing regatta on the pond there and the racing of little gourd cars (like boy scout cars) and the kindergourden which teaches the public about gourds. Don took 250 pictures and you can view them through the http://www.themarsdens.ca/ website and link to the 3rd picture site - merry marsden travels.
We are in a small RV park with 125 sites. The people are very friendly - not too many Canadians and there are activities - art and craft classes, dinners and luncheons, bocce ball and field …

Travel to Casa Grande Arizona

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Monday to Wednesday Feb 1-3/10 1200 miles driven


Packed up and travelled up the road to San Antonio and then got on Interstate I-10 for many miles. Monday night we stopped at Segovia Texas - was an EconoLodge that had a few RV sites in a field beside it. Only $16 for the night but we had to go to the lodge lobby to use the internet and the restrooms were not pretty. The Lodge was run by an East Indian family which seemed out to place in Texas ranch land.
Tuesday we almost made it out of Texas but stopped on the east side of El Paso and ventured to the Cattleman's Steakhouse. This place was 5 miles off the highway and had all kinds of attractions with the restaurant - little zoo with rabbits, goats, peacocks, deer, llamas, buffalo, cattle and rattlesnakes; a lake complete with some Canadian geese; western movie set - a list of 10 movies were partially filmed on this site. Their largest steak in the Steakhouse was called the Cowboy - a 2lb T-bone. We did eat there ($50) and stayed the …

Visit to Mexico

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Thursday to Saturday Jan 28 to 30/10

So I did venture across the Rio Grande River into Mexico at the town of Progresso which is about 15 miles from Alamo with two Manitobans - Bob and Judy. You can see in this first picture, the big fence that is being put up in the distance. The second picture is taken from the bridge that we walked across into Mexico. We parked the car on the US side for $2 and paid 25 cents each to walk across. We were not checked as we walked into town with all the other winter Texans but Mexican soldiers stand guard. There was a shooting on the main street in December but that was at a drug smuggler trying to drive across the border. That put a dent into tourism for a while but people forget easily. The main attactions are the dentists and the drug stores for cheap prescription drugs. The main street is long and filled with shops of Mexican trinkets. I did buy some Vanilla - everybody does. Bob had his haircut for $3. I saw a sign for teeth cleaning for $5 and den…

Checking out the birds again

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Sunday to Wednesday January 24 to 27/2010



We didn't accomplish too much this week but we ventured out of the resort today to visit Estero Llano Grande State Park in nearby Westlaco with our new friends John and Bonnie - Rvers from Kincardine Ontario. We Ontario people have to stick together because there aren't too many of us down here in southern Texas. The Winter Texans in this RV resort mostly come from the mid west states and mid western provinces. So back to the park we were at today. We arrived there at 8:30 so we could go out with a naturalist to learn about the birds that are there. About 80 different species of birds were spotted in that time. This park is 176 acres on the site of an old rv resort and is special for its large wetland environment so there are lots of waterfowl to see and an alligator too.


This photo is of a Pauraque - special to the Rio Grande Valley. You would walk right past it and not notice it because it looks like a piece of wood on the forest floo…

Exploring the Rio Grande Valley

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Tuesday to Saturday, January 23, 2010
Such a nice week I didn't get over to the Clubhouse to post a blog all week. Cousin Don and Maureen drove us over to check out South Padre Island on the Gulf of Mexico (an hour drive from here in Alamo) on Wednesday. The weather was sunny and warm but windy so our walk on the beach was like getting slightly sandblasted. We lunched on a platter of shrimp, fish, chicken and fries at Dirty Al's. We toured the World Birding Center on the Island enjoying their boardwalk and new viewing tower. Para-surfers, windsurfers and sand sail buggies were enjoying the windy conditions which the island experiences most of the time. We were advised not to bring the RV to camp here because the salt water and the sand cause alot of damage to your rig.


Yesterday Don and I visited another park for birding - Bentsen Rio Grande State Park. We did see some lovely birds and javelinas (look like wild pigs but they aren't in the pig family at all). This park is ri…