Thursday, February 25, 2010

busy week

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 the college campus when we drove back from the monastery so I thought I would find out more about it off the internet on Monday night. Coincidentally they were hosting a public event for Tuesday - a fundraising lunch for local foodbanks - ceramic artists made 300 bowls and each person picked a bowl and had it filled with delicious soup - plus sides of cornbread, brownie and beverage - done by their culinary students - $10 donation per person and you take the bowl home. We meet a couple from Peterborough in the lunch line and another one from Toronto. I meet a Dutch couple and their 12 year old son who were visiting from Purmerend Holland - I stopped to talk to them because I heard them conversing in Dutch. They were visiting their daughter (Ginger DeWeert) who was a pitcher for the college softball team at this campus - on full scholarship. She is also on the Dutch national team.

Wednesday, Feb 24/10

Off to the Arizona - Sonora Desert Museum outside of Tuscon (75 minutes south on I-10) for this bright sunny 65 degree day. Although it is called a museum, it is really part zoo, part museum and part botanical garden. It was founded in 1952 to preserve the natural vegetation of the Sonoran Desert and its ecosystem. There is so much to see here that you can't do it in one day. They have a Hummingbird Aviary that has the little birds flying all around you. We watched the Raptor Free Flight Program with 3 Harris Hawks flying for the crowds.
Thursday, Feb 25/10 - My day to be nurse to look after Lynn after she had her central line catheter removed today - no longer necessary since she has had her 6 chemo treatments. Don gets a rest too. We do keep cheering for the Canadians at the Olympics!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Skydiving Arizona

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 check out skydive arizona.
The picture is not Bill but shows a tandem jump like Bill had and a photographer filming it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Olive Grove and Indian Parade

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 plaques crops in Italy, Spain and Greece. Olive trees produce olives in 3 to 5 years and can live for hundreds of years.

Just to let you know the peach and pear trees are blooming here now and the harvest happens in May.

On Saturday Lynn and I went to the O'Odham Tash Indian Days Parade in Casa Grande. Casa Grande has several large Indian Reservations in its surrounding area and it hosts one of the largest Indian Festivals in USA. The Festival has a rodeo, carnival, arts and crafts market and a parade that all take place this weekend. Lynn and Tom have lived in Casa Grande for almost 6 years now and this was the first time Lynn has gone to the parade and since it wasn't too thrilling and very slow paced - it will probably be the last.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Superbowl Weekend

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.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Casa Grande Gourdfest

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 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 trips. It does have internet access but we are parked a bit too far from the office for the signal so we walk down to the clubhouse with our computers. There is a small pool - temp of 94 degrees and then a hot tub which is hotter than that!

We bought a 3 day pass for the gourdfest so we will get out to see all we can of it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Travel to Casa Grande Arizona

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 night parked in their RV area (no charge).
Wednesday took us through El Paso and finally out of Texas and into New Mexico for 200 miles and then into Arizona, through Tuscon to Casa Grande. Most of the day we travelled through rainy drizzle and temperatures in the 40s but when we arrived in Casa Grande, the temperature climbed to over 60 degrees and the sun was shining. We are in Leisure Valley RV Resort in a temporary spot for the night and will find a better location to stay the month of February and spend quality time with our good friends - Lynn and Tom Brudnicki.