Scooter racing

Scooter racing
After parking for the night, we'll still have time for a little racing

Monday, 28 December 2015

Memories of Christmas

Christmas was so much fun!  Our brother and sister-in-law, Don and Lou, flew in on the 20th to spend a week with us in Yuma.  We spent a great week sightseeing, eating, playing board games, eating, playing card games, eating, and even bowling, followed by eating.  We decorated the Beast up in hopes that Santa would come.  We must have been good or Santa is demented - we opened christmas gifts for nearly 3 hours.

The first visit was to the Yuma Territorial Prison (check out the film 3:10 from Yuma).  Very interesting.  The view from the grounds is spectacular.  You can see why very few of them escaped though - there is a whole lot of nothing once you hit the desert.

Christmas Eve saw us going on a tour of Candy Cane Lane and the 'Night Before Christmas' themed neighbourhood.  Everyone decks their place out, have fires going and hand out candy canes and candy to the hordes of visitors that come through.  My favorite was the Arizona Snowman - a snowman made out of tumbleweeds.  Then we came back and sat around the fire with our friends before going back to the Beast to open presents.  Don decided to get comfy in his new PJs.  He asked Santa for longer legs but no luck.

Christmas day saw Don, Lou and I going out geocaching!  Don't get to do that very often on Christmas day.  We found 9 of them - a personal best for me.

And then, all too soon, it was over and we were waving goodbye to them as they headed back to Langley.

By then Carm was getting over her cold (which I gave her) but Jackie was starting on hers (which she got from Carm)  And so the cycle continues.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and all best wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Becoming Yuman Again

I got back to Yuma on December 7th, which is a good thing.  I’ve never been the type to get homesick, but I have to admit that I was missing a) sunshine and b) my clothes.  I had decided not to bring luggage back to BC and just live with what I have at home.  Turns out, I didn’t have much.

Anyhow, the first couple of weeks back were busy.  Between replenishing supplies, getting the RV washed inside and out, catching up with my sisters and old friends and Christmas shopping, I didn't have a lot of down time.  Add to this that I came back with cold #4 (the first one was in late August and I’ve had a cold a month ever since), and you’ll understand why I didn’t post. 

So, here I am, ready to be a full-fledged winter Yuman and looking forward to some heat!  Yay!

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Road Rage Rita Returns

That's right....Road Rage Rita is packing up her bathing suit and will be heading back to the sunny south.  She decided that SNOW (defined as Sh*t No One Wants) is not going to be part of her vocabulary this year.

Regular readers will remember RRR as my 86-year old aunt who acted as co-pilot and communications engineer on the first trip to Yuma.  She is tasked with giving appropriate hand gestures to anyone who cuts us off or otherwise irritates the heck out of us when we're on the road. She's really good at that!

She was relieved to learn that another of her tasks has been rendered obsolete.  On our last trip, she was required to hang out the window, holding onto the passenger side-mirror, while I drove down a 5-lane highway in Chicago at rush-hour.  This time, the mirrors have been anchored so she's likely to get pretty bored, with nothing to do but count churches in the Bible Belt.

I predict that we'll be playing a lot of that f*&^(&* game.  And we're still going to try to get up in a hot air balloon.  I mean, you've gotta do something, right?

Monday, 2 November 2015

Catching up on TV and Making Lists

I'm a bad, bad girl.  I got back to BC in mid-September and have spent the past two months watching TV and making lists of things I really have to do.  Being a world-class procrastinator (There really should be an award show for that, but everyone would be late), I haven't actually gotten past the list-making stage.

Slitheen - Courtesy of Dr. Who
The TV really is an idiot IQ has slipped into the single digits, I'm sure.  On the plus side, I can hold a conversation for hours on what Kylie and David are doing on Coronation Street.  And, of course, I did find out the crucial info that Klom is the twin planet of Raxacoricofallapatorius (home of the Slitheen).  And how telling is it that I can not only spell it, but I can pronounce it.  Sigh....

As for the lists:  I have a list of things due, things past due, things way past due and things beyond doing.   I like to think I'm an adrenaline junkie and that is why I procrastinate - I wait until the last possible second to tackle everything that needs doing.  That way, I arrive at the finishing line totally exhausted and vowing to be better organized next time.  The latter involves (you guessed it), making lists.

Ah well - only one month to go and I'll be back in Arizona for the winter.  My sisters are getting the last of the repairs done on the rolling outhouse (the name of their RV) and will be staying there too.  Lots of fun on the horizon!  I'd better make a list of things to do.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Made It!

I made it to Yuma in one piece.  Very easy drive but a tad hot!  It's 10 pm and still 97 degrees out.  Humid too.  I didn't know toes could sweat.  Thank god for swimming pools.

Tomorrow will be a busy day - got to get the Beast all tucked away for 3 months and catch a flight at 6 pm.  Went grocery shopping today and the cashier immediately asked if I was Canadian.  Seems we have an accent.  Who knew?

Friday, 11 September 2015

The El Paso Curse Has Lifted!

I made it through El Paso without any undue delays.  This makes a nice change from the previous two visits;  in the first, we were stuck for 3 hours on the side of the road when a spark plug blew out and then we had to spend 2 days in town waiting for repairs; in the second, they shut down the freeway and rerouted us through town, leaving us to guess how to get back onto the freeway.  Today, the GPS said there were delays everywhere but nothing materialised.  Yay!  It was a longish day (9 hours of driving) but I made it to Benson in one piece and found out that I gained 2 hours!  So now I'm really tired but it's only 8 pm so I don't dare go to bed.

Tomorrow, I arrive in Yuma and will be heading home on Sunday.  It's been a good trip overall - slightly rushed but good roads and good weather.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

The Kindness of Strangers

Wow it's been a good day....with a few moments of terror thrown in.  My mirrors have been a problem since I left Sudbury.  As a precaution, I was tightening them before driving anywhere and would touch them up whenever I stopped.  So, I stopped outside Indianapolis, tightened the two mirrors and off I went.  Naturally, the right side mirror waited until I was on a five-lane highway and had to make numerous lane changes to catch various exits to begin to spin around.  Just to make things really interesting, the GPS told me to stay in a far left lane and then, at the last minute, told me to take a right-hand exit.  Naturally this necessitated a short tour around Indianapolis to get back to the right exit.   Sigh....I came close to clipping one guy but otherwise I got out of there unscathed and made it to Effingham, IL.

That's where the day took a dramatic turn for the better.  I called Chad, who runs a mobile RV service.  He came out within 20 minutes, fixed the mirrors and, for good measure, fixed my fridge (which hasn't been working on gas since Sudbury).  He remembered me from the last time I was here. Then my neighbours, who arrived at the same time I did, came over and invited me for dinner:  steak, mashed potatoes and corn.  Yummmmy!!!!  They are a very interesting couple from Missouri who gave me all kinds of tips on what to see and do out there.  Definitely have to go out to Silver Dollar City now!

So, I have a working fridge, stable mirrors and a full tummy.  The weather is beautiful, the roads are good and the travelling has been fairly easy.  Oh yes, and I gained an hour somewhere along the way.  Tomorrow, Arkansas!

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Sitting in a Parking Lot, Sweating

That's what I'm doing right now.....It's been a very long day.

I forgot to mention in my last post that I met a lovely family at the Soo KOA.  Karen and Brent and their kids, Bri and Jordan, invited me over for a fire and we talked and talked.  It was such a nice evening!  The kids are provincial champion figure skaters (you can tell, because they are Fit!!!)  Brent even came over to look at my batteries, which are not sparking enough juice to keep the fridge going when I travel.  Doesn't matter - I have no food in there anyhow.  Which also doesn't matter because I have no appetite - this stupid bought of bronchitis is excellent as a diet aid.

I left the Soo at 9:10 a.m. and was through the border by 10:10, which I thought was pretty good for a holiday weekend.  The trip south, according to mapquest was going to take 6 hours.  Maybe in a Ferrari.  In a beat up old RV, it took just a tad longer.  Especially when you have to stop every few miles to tighten the mirrors, which keep coming loose.  I didn't bother stopping for lunch.  All I have left is a taco shell and one slice of baloney - and that's for breakfast tomorrow.  The 2 frozen meals are completely thawed but I'm saving them for dinner.

So, by 6:15, I arrived at the campground that I had to beg for 2 days to reserve.  I got there and found a dirt road with a sign saying that big rigs should not go down into the gully.  There were 4 derelict RVs parked at the top of a small hill, across from a porta potty.  I called the office, told them where I was and they told me to go to the top of the hill and park in spot #18.  There was no spot #18.  I found 16, which would have fit a hamster cage.  The look of the place did not inspire confidence.  The road out was a swamp and I almost got stuck in the muck on my 3rd trip around the loop looking for #18.  Fortunately, I had seen a sign for Yogi's Jellystone camp just a couple of miles up the road.  Unfortunately (this being a holiday weekend), they were full up.  But they did allow me to camp in their parking lot, which also has electric and water hookups.  And WiFi.  It's 90 degrees out and humid.  I finally got settled by 7:30.    But then they wouldn't let me take my mobility scooter into the park to go for a dip in the pool.  Might have been the homicidal look in my eyes.

So here I am, sitting in a parking lot and sweating.  But I feel much happier being here than in a field full of muck and a porta potty.   My quest for tomorrow will be to find a campground which is near a grocery store.

Tomorrow, I'll be in Effingham, IL.  I'm hoping to get my fridge fixed.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, 4 September 2015

On The Road Again

Well, I'm off.  I left Grundy this morning and am heading for Arizona to store the Beast until I can get back later this winter.  Of course, on reflection, it might have been better to wait until after the holiday weekend but I do love a challenge.  I hope to make it in 9 days.  Good thing I have audiobooks.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

In Need of an Exorcism

We have decided that my sisters' RV is under the influence of demonic possession.  This first manifested on the trip to Texas, when the outside door would suddenly burst open even though the door was securely locked.  This necessitated having her passenger lean out of the RV at 75 mph to try to close it before the cat got out.  Then, of course, the unit was flooded with black water (aka sewage) in the only place in the Northern Hemisphere where the people were a) completely unaware of the dangers of contaminated water and b) too stupid to care.  It took 7 months to get the RV repaired and my sisters had to make a quick trip to Texas in mid-summer to retrieve it - only to find out that the toilet hoses had been grouted up, the sink wasn't connected properly and the dinette seats weren't bolted down.   This required another full month of repairs in Ontario.  But the demon wasn't through with them yet....on the way to Texas they had a high-speed blowout.  But then, in Ontario, the same car developed a slow leak which was from a unique bulge in one tire.  The tire tech said he had never seen anything like it.  So - 2 tires replaced.  Then, on the way back from the repair shop, another tire on a different car they were in went flat.  Come to think of it, I also developed a flat on my car after my sister and I went for dinner.  The tech said there was a screw in it but he had never seen one go into the side of the tire like that one did.  Hmmmmm.....One could be bad luck, but 4 tires????  We need intervention.  Anyone have the phone number for the pope?

Friday, 21 August 2015

Chairs, Stairs and Bears

Well, it was bound to happen..... I was sitting by the fire, minding my own business, when I heard a twig snap in the bush behind me.  I turned around and found a bear sniffing around under my awning.  The good news is that there was a picnic table between me and the bear.  The bad news is that I had to run towards him if I wanted to get into the RV.  I started banging on the table and on a cast iron frying pan that we had used to cook dinner and yelling at him at the top of my lungs.  My sister was inside the RV and opened the door, and I got up those stairs in record time.  Maybe I should consider attaching a small grizzly to the back of a stair climber, as motivation for exercise.

Anyhow, that same night, the weather man finally got it right and we had rain for the second time this summer.  Naturally, I wasn't about to go out and retrieve the stuff that I'd left out there in my race to the stairs.  So, that is how all the chairs, the kindling and the thermacell got wet.  Sigh.....stupid bears.

Friday, 14 August 2015

How To Get Rid of Raccoons

Easy!  Get a bear or, in our case, several bears.

In 48 years of camping at Grundy, I've seen one bear but dozens of raccoons.  So far this year, I've seen 4 bears, heard 3 others but I've only seen one raccoon.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.

Waiting for dinner
 The bears are getting pretty aggressive because there are very few berries this year.  They've been wandering around the campgrounds all summer.  So far, the rangers have trapped 12 of them but they just keep on coming.  They appeared on the lot right next to me (the one I used to be on).  The one big male went under the campers' awning and munched on some citronella candles while the people were sitting around their campfire only about 15 feet away. Needless to say, the campers were guilty of making some "excessive noise" that night.  The next night, a younger bear came trotting through the same campsite and the guy had to throw a chair at it.  A few days before, a bear tore the back window off a truck cab to get at some dog food.  I'm beginning to wonder if I should get the box full of zucchini out of my car.

We've already had some
Speaking of zucchini.... you have to watch what you say around here.  We had friends over the other night and they mentioned that their garden was producing very well.  They asked if we'd like some zucchini and we said sure.  The next day, we found a box full of zucchini, cucumbers and peppers on our picnic table.  Looks like I'll be turning vegetarian now.  Anyone got a good recipe for zucchini bread?

Friday, 7 August 2015

Vole-au-Vent and Chips

Where's a camera when you need it?  Tessa the cat loves being at Grundy because her inner huntress can be given free rein.  And speaking of reins, we have her tethered to a 20 foot leash because otherwise we'd never catch her.  She's pretty good about following the rules, though:  we tell her she can't go out without her bra on, so she obediently turns away from the door and patiently waits while we put her harness on her.

We've discovered that the animals at Grundy are not the brightest.  On our first day, Tessa encountered a bunch of grackles and stood calmly by while they stole all her food.  But she's made up for it since then.  Her favorite thing to hunt are chipmunks.  Thank heavens that she's a "catch and release" type of hunter.  She caught the first one by the belly but let it go immediately.  The second one had a bit more undignified fate.

She caught the poor thing by the butt and had it dangling from her mouth for several minutes.  Every time she lowered her head, the poor chippie tried to walk away.  It looked like they were playing a game of "wheelbarrow".  She finally let it go, but then promptly sat on it.  All we could see was this poor little chipper's head poking out from under Tessa.

The weird thing is that, when they were finally released, both chipmunks walked away in slow motion.  You would think that they would high tail it out of there.  That one poor guy probably still can't sit down.  Strangely enough, there have been no other chipmunks on our lot in recent days.  Guess the chippie herd got the memo.

Tessa, undeterred, has now turned her attention to the many voles that live in the bush.  They don't seem to notice her and will carry on doing vole-like things right under her nose.  It's only a matter of time before something bites them in the ass.

Homeless People and Missionaries

Well, summer at Grundy has been fabulous and a little hectic.  By hectic, I mean kind of insane.  Both of my sisters are now officially homeless – they sold their houses and plan to move into their gorgeous new RV.  Plan is the operative word.  This is the RV that was badly damaged back in Texas in December.  Finally, after seven months of waiting, they got word that it was ready, so off they went to Texas to pick it up.  The weather there was a balmy 105 degrees so they didn’t linger.  They made the round trip in just over 10 days!  When they got back to Grundy, they learned that the repair people in Mission (Missionaries?) needed a bit more specific directions when completing their work, e.g.  Put the sink in AND hook it up AND put a washer in there.  Then put the toilet in AND hook up the pipes AND maybe don’t fill the pipes with grout.  Put the banquette seats in AND bolt them down so people don’t flip off them when they sit.  And when you put the carpet in, cut off the extra stuff; don’t just tuck it back in and tack in down so there’s a big lump when you go into the bedroom.   You get the idea…..   So, after only a few days, they sent the rig off for repairs to Sudbury and moved in with me.  They’ve been waiting 2 weeks for an estimate that was supposed to be done in 3 days.  This is not looking promising.  

Meanwhile, our cars our loaded with stuff, my RV is wall to wall clothes and stuff but we’re having fun playing Dominoes, Super Tock and watching Coronation Street.  

The weather has cooperated and we’ve had very little rain, which is a nice change from the past two years.  And the weather is nothing….not hot, not cold, not windy, not still….just nothing.   We’re kinda hoping for something soon.  Just to be clear….something good.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Attacked by TurtAl Capone!

There IS a Turtle Mafia...I've got proof!

Many people think me paranoid because I’m convinced that there is a conspiracy afoot, led by the turtle I accidentally smacked into several years ago when I was out for a swim.  Immediately after that, I noticed that turtles started popping up wherever I was – just staring at me.  Coincidence, I thought.  Then I moved to a different section of the park, on a completely new lake, and within 10 minutes there was a giant snapping turtle heading towards me.  No one else ever had close encounters of the aquatic reptilian kind; but it got to the point that people on the beach would start looking for a turtle whenever I went into the water.

I even had a fortune teller tell me that there were a lot of turtles that seemed to surround me…..little did she know.

I have been here for two weeks so far and was very surprised that I hadn’t seen a turtle yet.  To be honest, it’s probably because I haven’t been swimming that much.  I thought that TurtAl Capone – the capo di tutti of the turtle mafia – had decided to end his vendetta against me.   I was wrong.  On Sunday I was sitting on the beach and a very tiny turtle popped out of the water, slunk around a canoe, peered over at me and high-tailed it for the reeds.   Blissfully ignorant of what was to come, I swam across the lake but I had an eerie feeling that I was not alone.  When I made it back to the beach, I put my foot down to make sure I was in shallow water, and stepped on the biggest turtle this lake has ever produced.  That’s right…. TurtAl Capone was directly under me and probably had been the whole time!  That little runt of a turtle was probably one of his enforcers, come to check on my whereabouts and report back to the godturtle.

Maybe smacking a turtle is a type of foreplay and he thinks we’re engaged.  Or perhaps it’s the worst insult you can do to a turtle.  Either way, I’m doomed.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Poplar Bluff....

Because of thunderstorm and high wind warnings, we decided to head north to the town of Poplar Bluff, Missouri and booked a site for 2 nights at the one and only RV park in the area.  Upon arrival, we were greeted by a very unkempt man in a dirty undershirt who told us to follow him to our site.  Now, this may be the local hot spot for camping in summer, but in April there were exactly 3 other campers there.  So where did Billy-Bob take us?  To a lot which left the RV at an upward tilt and the car at a 45 degree angle in back.  I could hear the poor tow bars groaning in protest.  He then proceeded to give us an in depth lecture on how to plug into the electrical box and turn on the water.  Maybe these were new-fangled modern improvements for him and he wanted to make sure we furriners knew how to use them.  We gave him all our attention.

Naturally we told him we wanted a different lot and asked if we could just move to the next one over, which was level.  This threw the poor man into such confusion that he was barely able to function.  After a few minutes, he retreated to the office, to discuss the matter with higher authority.  He then informed us that we could not stay on the other lot for 2 nights, as requested, because someone else had already reserved it (why is anybody's guess).  I then asked if we could move to any other of the 100 or so empty lots in the park, and he lost it.  That required decision-making way beyond his pay grade.  So, we had to follow him back to the park office where we met the charming Lula-Mae.

Now Lula-Mae and Billy-Bob had a grand total of 6 teeth between them - all in varying shades of black, grey or green.  Lula-Mae was dumbfounded that we wanted to move.  Since the car and RV together total almost 50 feet, I suggested she let us have a lot on the flats, right next to another large RV.  She then told us that those large lots were reserved for big busloads of people who apparently descend on Poplar Bluff in droves at random intervals and without prior notice.  It remains a mystery as to why so many people feel the need to go there and sleep in buses, since we couldn't even find a restaurant within 5 miles of the place. It's almost certain they don't come for the dental work.  Anyhow.....

After checking with the park owner, she finally agreed to let us use the big pull-thru lot but she made it very clear that there would be "no more moves".  Billy-Bob then led us back there and gave us another run-down on how to plug in and turn on the water.

In the 2 days we stayed there, no other campers came in and we were not swarmed by busloads of people arriving in Poplar Bluff for an impromptu vacation of a lifetime.

Lucky for us, the weather cleared and we headed for Terry Haute, IN, where we were greeted with warm cookies and a petting zoo.  We won't be heading back to Poplar Bluff anytime soon.


And lo, it came to pass that the great god of the tribe called Snowbirds – the allmighty US Internal Revenue Service – did decree that those wandering in the deserts of the southern US should return to their own country lest they exceed their 182 day maximum stay and incur the wrath of the tax man. And so, in March, the great northern Snowbird migration began.

We left on March 30th, heading north to San Antonio.  Amazingly, in less than 100 miles, the drivers all stopped being psychotic, suicidal maniacs and the driving became quite pleasant.  Not a single one of them stopped suddenly and threw his car into reverse.  I guess that must be a Mission thing.

Notice the capris
Anyhow, the trip was uneventful although my teeth were on edge.  One of Tessa’s toys got stuck under a bolt near the driver’s seat and I endured 5 long hours of squeaking until we got to the Rv park.  I don’t know who makes those toys but I want those batteries.  They last forever!  We made a quick trip to Buc-ee's to gaze at their wall of candy and pick up dinner.  Yummmmm!

From there we headed to Tyler, and then Little Rock, which were non-remarkable, although we did get a good thunder storm in Arkansas.  In order to stay behind the line of storms we decided to head for Poplar Bluff, Missouri.  More on that later…

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A Heart Attack In A Bowl

As a single person, I don't cook a lot.  In fact, my fridge is usually full of stuff to put on stuff that I don't have.

Well, here in South Texas, they've figured out what to do with all those condiments.  It's called "street corn".  It looks disgusting, but it is addictive!

First you take a huge bowlful of roasted corn, then you top it with a heaping tablespoon of mayonnaise (that's right....mayo!), then you add an equally large tablespoon of butter.  At this point, you can hear your arteries slamming shut.  Then, last but not least, you cover the whole works with parmesan cheese!  Mush it all together and there you have it.... a heart attack in a bowl!  And it's worth every calorie.

Try it - you'll like it.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Project Runway..... for the budget minded

Earlier, I mentioned about the Ropas stores - huge mounds of used clothing, piled to the ceiling, which sell by the pound.  If you wear your name badge (which, by now, we almost always remember to do), you get a discount.  You can buy a pound of clothes for 25 cents (that's $1.80 Canadian).

Although it wasn't immediately apparent to our untrained eyes, apparently these Ropas are a treasure trove of haute couture.  In fact, every year the Park has a two-hour fashion show, with the models wearing the gems they've found at Ropas - everything from nightgowns to ballgowns.  The most expensive thing on the runway was a full-length, fur-trimmed leather coat which cost $10.00.  I guess it was pretty heavy.

Delta Don is all his finery
Note the armpit hair
Not to be outdone by their wives, several of the men dolled themselves up too.... because you just never know when you're going to need a special outfit for one of the nightclubs around here.

Following the fashion show, we had a high stakes auction, with bidding going as high as two or three dollars.  I was going to bid on a hula outfit, but it turns out I already had one.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Great Annual Thundermug Races are Over!

Another fun day!  And a little bit of deja vu too!

I could hear a lot of cheering and peeked outside just as a man sitting on a blue toilet seat mounted on a cart crashed into a crowd of people over near the rec hall.  The reason he crashed was because the person "driving" the cart was blindfolded and apparently didn't know his left from his right.  There must have been some Canadians in there because others were yelling "hurry hard"!!!

Teams of two took turns racing around a set of pylons.  I'm not sure who won - it was getting too cold to stay outdoors.
 This brought me back my youth. At Queen's University,
 they used to kick off the year with thundermug races on campus streets.  The racers were quite a bit faster but our crowd was just as enthusiastic!

There are going to be some very sore knees and backs tonight!

Hurry Hard!!!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

OMG! I'm in the clutches of the Stepford Syndrome

As I mentioned in a much earlier post, there appears to be a dress code at RV parks:  women wear capris, cap-sleeved t-shirts and they cut their hair short and spike it up.  The only variation is in colour (capris, shirts and hair).

I've successfully resisted this for the past 3 years.  My philosophy has always been that if it's hot enough for capris, then it's hot enough for shorts.  And, if it's hot enough for shorts, then it's hot enough for a bathing suit and I head for the beach.

Well, they've worn me down.  I went to KMart the other day and, without even giving it a second thought, I bought 7 pairs of Capris!  I'm still resisting cap-sleeved t-shirts - mostly because the entire winter has been so cold.  I've even given some serious thought to cutting my hair!

Thank heavens we're heading home soon before the Stepford Syndrome really takes effect!

Meanwhile, Tessa has made herself right at home in the RV.  She's even learning to play cribbage.  It keeps her mind off eating, since we've put her on a diet.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Umami this is bad.... er.... ummmmm

They say that there are 5 basic tastes:  sweet, sour, salty, bitter and "umami" (pronounced ooo mommy).

On our continuing quest to excite our palates. we took ourselves off to the Candy Jungle today. Actually we came upon it accidentally in our search for a liquor store - an event we've been putting off for 4 months but that's another story.

So there we were, faced with dozens of bins with all sorts of candies in them, most of them appearing to be covered in chili powder.  All of the bins were helpfully labelled - which would have been fortunate for us if only we spoke Spanish.  Luckily, the clerk was also very helpful and told us we could sample. Then, in the face of our overwhelming stupidity, she became an eager ambassador to the joys of Mexican sweets.  We tried Xquinkles (basically chili covered gummy worms), golos (gummy flavored chili cat treats), and something that looked like a catholic communion wafer but with caramel.  The catholic church should pay attention to these - it might improve attendance.

The clerk was an excellent sales person and we bought a lot more than we normally would have because, as she said, everything we tried was "her favorite".  Who are we to ignore such high praise from an expert?  Maybe our first clue should have been that she was skinny.

So we bought dragoncito - tiny packages of powdered something that tastes like, ummm.... nothing.  They are sweet and salty but that's it.

We bought chili covered mango slices which tasted like gummy dragoncito (which tastes like nothing).

We thought we'd be safe with chocolate covered cherries.  I don't know where Mexican cherries come from, but obviously they are grown on the same trees that grow dragoncitos.

Ditto with the chocolate covered cranberries and raisins.  There's texture in your mouth but no taste.  It's like chewing on a wet kleenex.

The chocolate covered pretzels were a whole other experience.  How do you describe crunchy nothing?  It crunches and makes noise so you know something is happening in your mouth but there's nothing there.  You have to check with your tongue to make sure that you've swallowed.

So, that's the definition of Umami..... it's not sweet, salty, bitter or sour.  It's just....nothing.  And ooo mommy it's a very disturbing experience on many levels, not least of which is that you have all of the calories from eating sweets with none of the pleasure.

On a more positive note, Jackie and I have an enormous amount of candy to bring to the next "snacker" event, which should be within the next 24 hours.

Friday, 27 February 2015

I Hope He Got an A+

Written by a third grader, on what his grandparents do.

 After Christmas , a teacher asked her young pupils how they spent their holiday away from school.
One child wrote the following:

We always used to spend the holidays with Grandma and Grandpa. They used to live in a big brick house. but Grandpa got retarded and they moved to Florida. Now they live in a tin box that has wheels, but its strapped to the ground. They ride around on their bicycles , and wear name tags , because they don't know who they are anymore. They go to a building called a wreck center, but they must have got it fixed because it is all okay now, they do exercises there , but they don't do them very well. There is a swimming pool too, but they all just jump up and down in it with hats on.

At their gate, there is a doll house with a little old man sitting in it. He watches all day so nobody can escape. Sometimes they sneak out, and go cruising in their golf carts. Nobody there cooks, they just eat out. And, they eat the same thing every night - early birds. Some of the people can't get out past the man in the doll house. The ones who do get out, bring food back to the wrecked center for pot luck.

My Grandma says that Grandpa worked all his life to earn his retardment and  says I should work hard so I can be retarded someday too. When I earn my retardment, I want to be the man in the doll house. Then I will let people out, so they can visit their grandchildren.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Everything's Big in Texas....except Geocaches

Those of you who know me should be prepared to sit down soon.

We had several days of hot, sunny weather last week.  Winter in Texas is a lot like winter in Vancouver, but with palm trees.  So, when the sun finally appeared, there wasn't even a hint of a remnant of my perma-tan.  It got so bad that the locals started addressing me in English rather than Spanish.  After two or three days of serious tan maintenance, though, both Jackie and I are no longer fish-belly white.  That's when it happened.  We were outside and it was so hot that....this is where you should sit down.... I pulled my chair into the shade!!!  Yes, you read that right!  Not only that, but we decided to go out geocaching on another sunny afternoon, completely missing the traditonal afternoon pool bobbing session.

You would think that Texans would make geocaches the size of caskets.  Nope!  Six out of the eight we found were so small that they were barely visible.  There are still over a thousand caches in the immediate area so we'll keep hunting.  It's hard to find a free afternoon though - there is just so much going on all the time.  Tomorrow, for instance, we have a soup dinner, followed by Card Elimination and a rousing game of Left Centre Right.

 Meanwhiile, Tessa has just been laying back and enjoying the life in an RV.
 She is the hit of the park - people are even coming by to take photos of her.  She's bigger than most of the dogs around here and just loves all the attention.

For those who didn't read my previous blog, pool bobbing is the Texan version of swimming.  Everyone just grabs a pool noodle and bobs around the pool for a couple of hours, talking to assorted groups both in and out of the water.  After that, you sit in the hot tub for 10 minutes (if you have high blood pressure) or 20 minutes (if you have a bad back) or 30 minutes if you're a young'un like Jackie and me, who are considered rebels because we stay up and play board games sometimes as late as 10:30 p.m.  Yup....wild women.

Yesterday, we waited a little too long for pool bobbing.  Tessa wanted to be outdoors so we didn't leave for the pool until 3:30.  At about that time, the wind kicked up and the temperature dropped 20 degrees in one half hour.  We went from 86F to 65F in a matter of minutes.  They have some seriously weird weather around here.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Poodle Skirts and Pool Noodles

We've had a fun few weeks.  We were told that the park routinely enters a float in the annual Citrus Fiesta parade which is a big deal in these parts.  Last year's float took first place, so there was some pressure to keep the flag up.  Jackie was especially eager to work on the committee since she a) has never been to a parade and b)has never seen a float.  It's one of the hazards of being the youngest in a large family - by the time she came along, our parents were so over the whole child enrichment thing that she kind of missed out.  So, naturally, she was happy to accept the nomination to be chairperson of the float committee.  If you're gonna go, go BIG!  If the darn meetings weren't so early in the morning, I would have helped too but no amount of fruit juice is going to get me out of bed before 9 a.m.

The theme was "Old Time Rock 'N Roll" and, of course, citrus.  At least two thirds of the float had to be covered in citrus fruit.  This might explain why there are so many citrus trees around here - certainly no one ever seems to eat any.   It never occurred to me that they might actually be for construction materials.

At any rate, last Friday a bunch of us arrived at the float to start assembling the displays. Ten hours and 4,000 screws later and the float was ready.  It was amazing!  It was a 50s diner scene complete with jukebox that was crafted out of plywood and pool noodles.  Someone even made giant papier mache saddle shoes.  Our Park King and Queen dressed up in 50s gear and the truck drivers dressed as soda jerks.  Jackie did a great job in keeping everyone focused (try getting a bunch of old people to do what you tell 'em to do - it's like herding cats!)

Long story short.... the float took first place in its category!  Woohooo.....way to go Jackie!

The parade must have pleased the weather gods because we've had 2 weeks of reasonably warm weather.  For the first time in two months, we can actually see sunshine.  Those jukebox pool noodles are going to come in handy, propping up all the retirees bobbing in the pool.  That's another phenomenon - no one swims....they just bob.  Must be a Texas thing.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Another Mystery Solved!

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that I've discovered where all the socks go when they disappear from the dryer.

The bad news is that you’ll never see those socks again.  Sorry.....

Down here in Texas, everything is big but what we saw last week made my jaw drop!  They call them “Ropas” which is Spanish for clothes.  That is an understatement!!!  These are massive warehouses that are filled almost to the ceiling with clothes.  People scale these mounds of clothes like they are crawling up Everest.  When you have a pillow case full (you have to bring your own pillow case), they weigh the clothes and charge you by the pound.  Most is 25 cents a pound but the really high end stuff can go as high as 60 cents – depends on the pile you climb.  Oh yeah – and you get a 5 cent discount if you wear your badge.  So, if you have the agility of a billy goat, a high tolerance for the smell of dirty clothes, a name badge and 20 cents, you too can outfit yourself for the foreseeable future.

Just don’t expect to find your old socks.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Walk of Shame

We’re still having trouble with our timing.  Jackie and I felt quite smug that we had planned our schedules to the point where we could arrive at all of the scheduled events at least 10 minutes early.  So it came as quite a shock to find out that we were always the last to arrive.  Nothing compares to walking into a room and having 150 people stop talking en masse and stare at you as you do the walk of shame to try to find a seat.

In theory, every activity starts at 6:30 p.m.  In reality, most people arrive around 6 pm. (or earlier).  This explains why old people all seem to have dinner at 4 p.m.  I always thought it was just a sign of old age and felt kind of sorry for them.  I was wrong!   It turns out that all these old people have secret lives and the party starts at 6:30 (and ends promptly at 8 p.m.).  And if you want a seat, you’d better be there by 6 p.m. by golly.

In the last couple of weeks, Jackie and I have actually gone out to dinner at 4 p.m.  We have also given new meaning to the term “dine and dash”.  Crock pot cooking is now almost mandatory.  We’ve mastered the art of eating, cleaning up and getting out the door within 15 minutes.  This retirement business is exhausting!

Another skill we've (almost) mastered is the "wearing of the badge".  When we arrived, we were issued a name tag which is to be worn at all times and particularly if you are playing games that involve money (it's a law in Texas).  And we're talking serious money here - last night, for instance, I won $1.80 (USD) in two games of 31.  Jackie is the all time winner, though - she won $13.75 in quarters at Card Elimination.  And our big discussion, at Tripoli, was how pennies can get moldy in a sealed container and should you wash them or not.  Mind-numbing discussions, I know. No wonder we're exhausted!  Seriously, we've calculated that it costs us about $7.00 a week to pay for all the games.  Sadly we had not factored this into the budget but we're making do.

After a few (a lot) of false starts where we had to do a second walk of shame to go write our names on little scaps of paper, we've finally gotten to the point where we remember the badge 90% of the time.  Especially when we don't actually need it - like for ice cream, dominoes and snackers.

We still haven't mastered the concept of "snackers".  They just mysteriously appear at random events.  Obviously some people are getting the memo but we still never know if, where or when to bring snacks.  We are given a lot of leeway, though, since Jackie and I are considered the "young'uns" around here.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

December - Part 2.... Where did it go?

In mid-December, our sister Carm joined us here in Texas and we hit the ground running.  First stop was the Don-Wes Flea Market, one of the biggest in Texas.  The next day, we were off to see the Hidalgo Festival of Lights.  For $12 we got a roast beef dinner, a Christmas concert and a trolley ride around town to see over 3 million lights.  It was so spectacular that we went around a second time by trolley and then we went around by car!  Wow!

When we weren’t at potlucks, card games or Christmas shopping, we were busy sightseeing.  We enjoyed a “secret santa” gift exchange party, went Christmas carolling on a hay ride through both RV parks, followed of course by snackers.  Everything is always followed by snackers, it seems.   We even found time to decorate a gingerbread house.

Sand casle
forget snow drifts - we have sand drifts
One of our favorite side trips, of course, was South Padre Island (which, btw, was the last warm and sunny day we had…. More on this later).  We booked a harbor cruise to see the bottle nose dolphins and were treated to views of dozens of them.  That’s one thing off my bucket list.

Then it was Christmas eve and we spent over 3 hours opening gifts.  Christmas day was another spectacular dinner sponsored by the park.

Between snackers, potlucks and special event parties, we’re gaining weight at an alarming rate!

Carm left for home on Boxing Day or, as they call it around here, the “day after Christmas”.  She took the sunshine with her because we haven’t seen it since she left.  Carm – we want it back!

December - Part 1

Dang last month went fast! After Jackie’s friend left, she and I started getting ready for Christmas and the arrival of our other sister, Carm.  First priority – finding and decorating a Christmas tree that would a) fit in the RV and b) not block the TV.  I found a little four footer and it took us about an hour to decorate the place.  The Beast looked pretty good once we had decorated it all up and put some presents under the tree!

Of course, every job needs a foreman so Jackie’s cat Tessa oversaw the work.

And every job needs a critic….. Tessa expressed her admiration of our handiwork.  She may have been put out because the xmas tree blocked her access to my dashboard.


The rest of the two weeks PC (pre-Carm) were spent just getting to know the place, playing lots of card games, Bingo and learning to play dominoes.  There is something going on all the time around here and it’s a lot of fun.