Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas From Jan and Chuck

(Jan) Merry Christmas from both of us; where ever you are, home or traveling, with family or friends or out enjoying this beautiful country of ours, we wish you the very best.

Weather report…. -12 degrees and beautifully sunny. Sat. it snowed again and then the wind howled until Sunday night. It reminded me of the dust storms in Arizona; just change the dust to snow and make it life threateningly cold. When you live in the Midwest many conversations begin and end with what is going on with the weather. Lives, work, school and family celebrations all get planned or cancelled by ‘what’s the weather like today’?

Life inside the house is going right along. Christmas cards and e-mails are being sent, end-of year bookwork is being done. As we are here for a short time, meal preparation has been interesting as we try to eat nutritiously but not buy too many groceries that we will have to cart back to AZ or give away before we go. We’ve been seeing my parents in neighboring Halbur quite a bit. We will join them at my brother’s house for a Christmas Day celebration. On Saturday we will be at our son Brent’s house in Ames with our immediate family of 18! Eric and family will be coming in from Chicagoland, Josh and family are flying in from Seattle, We’re praying for decent weather and safe travel for them and for all who are traveling to be with family and friends. Can’t wait to see and hug everybody!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Let it Snow!

(Jan) It looks like it's going to be a white Christmas here in Iowa! We've had about three inches of snow so far today with an ice/snow storm predicted for Thursday. Oh! And it's about 5 degrees right now!
We left Yuma last Thursday morning after storing our rig and having a cup of coffee and some wonderful cinnamon raisin bread with Joanne. It was about 70 degrees and sunny. As we drove east and then north it got progressively cooler. We stayed over night in Alamogordo, New Mexico and then the next day headed up Hwy 54 through Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Next we headed north on I135 and Hwy 81 to I80 in York, Nebraska where we stopped for the night. It was 31 degrees! It warmed as we drove east to the farm and the weather was fairly nice at 57 degrees for a December day in the Midwest.
But wait! Since then it has been colder than 'billy hell'!! Sunday morning it was 5 degrees with a 35-40 mph wind blowing and by that night it was -10. So what are we doing here? Visiting family and friends!
Saturday afternoon I got to spend the afternoon with my mom and dad. We brought the Christmas tree up from downstairs and decorated the house. They are both slow but doing well. On Sunday Chuck and I took them to church, had a nice visit and then ran some errands for them. It's so cold here, I'm glad their house is toasty warm.
Last night some of my local girlfriends and I went to a friend's house in Carroll for a Birthday/Christmas party. We had a wonderful time chatting and catching up on each other's lives. Good wine, good food, great company. It was good to see 'the girls' again!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Arizona Friends

(Jan) Before we left Mittry Lake, we met our neighbors who had moved their rig in near ours by the Gila Canal. Tom and Virginia are from Texas and invited us to join them for lunch the next day. Virginia made us a wonderful roast beef and mashed potatoes meal and Tom showed us some of the great renovations to their RV space including a wonderful foldable table and I’m hoping Chuck will make one like it for us!!

We met Gary and Nancy last summer in Colorado and have gone to visit a couple of times at their RV Park. We played Mexican Train and Pegs and Jokers with them and then got to pop over to their swimming pool and hot tub for a leisurely hour. Very nice!

We met Dan and Jenny briefly last January and then again this fall at a Boomer friend’s party. Carl and Joey were in Colorado and we got to see them again at Mittry. A couple of weeks ago Carl and Joey invited Gary and Nancy, Dan and Jenny and Chuck and I over to play golf and barbeque burgers. What a fun time!

The following week we gathered again at Dan and Jenny’s casita in the Foothills. We played Nickels that evening, had great hors’ douvers and laughed a lot! Pictured at right are Chuck, Nancy, Carl, Jan, Dan, Joey, Gary and Jenny. Thanks for sharing the pics, Jenny!

And last but not least, we spent many days with one of our favorites, Chuck’s mom! Lunches, playing cards, doing laundry, cooking together, etc., etc. It will be fun seeing everyone again in January!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Gila Main Canal

(Chuck) The Colorado River is the lifeblood of this area. Without the river there would be no agriculture, and probably no Yuma , Arizona. There have been several dams built on the river to facilitate water distribution for agriculture. Before the dams were built, early in the twentieth century, river steamers would travel up the river during periods of high water all the way to Nevada. Things have changed since then; most of the water is siphoned from the river for humans and agriculture leaving only a shadow of what it once was. One of the minor canals is the Gila Main Canal and it is the east boundry of where the Boomers gather near Lake Mittry. The Gila Main Canal is engineered so that it goes through a series of “mountains” by a system of tunnels. Jan and I set out to find where the canal entered the mountain above the Boomer area. It was a 3.1 mile hike with a 703 foot elevation gain and it took us through some rugged country. We found the tunnel entrance, where is out flows by the Boomer area and also where it again goes through the mountain as it flows south.

On another hike we checked Ken and Sue Paces Geocach. That is a serious hike, with real bushwacking, that stopped several men the week before. I am proud to report that Jan made the trip with me.

This photo is for our good friends Dean and Judy Scheeley. They were some of the first to go on cross country hikes with us in Arizona . Dean told me of the names of several plants that are native to Arizona . One plant that always makes me think of him is the “Wait A Minute Bush”. I don’t think it is an official name, but it is the name that a person uses. When you are hiking through the brush and your shirt gets hung up on this bush that has big thorns on it, you tell your partner “Wait A Minute”. Then you unhook yourself and continue on your journey. Thanks Dean, we always smile when it happens to us.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


(Jan) The agricultural valley immediately north of Yuma is like being in an amazingly large vegetable garden. There are thousands of acres of broccoli, cabbage, different varieties of lettuce and other vegetables. Each time we drove into town from Mittry Lake we would see fields in varying degrees of production; lettuce being harvested, vegetables just planted, crop residue being disked up or some with planting beds just being prepared. 80% of the winter lettuce and 90% of the country’s winter vegetable crops are grown here in Yuma.
We watched lettuce being harvested recently. It is done mostly by hand. As a farm worker cuts the lettuce head at ground level, he discards the outer leaves, bags it and then lays it on the ground. Another worker comes and collects the bagged lettuce and puts it in a box on the bottom tier of a two tiered platform; the empty boxes are on the top tier. As the boxes are filled it goes up a short conveyor belt where the boxes are stacked. As you can see from the picture it’s powered by a tractor that backs up slowly as the workers harvest the lettuce. The crops are brought to a packing shed which cools the produce and immediately loads it on a truck which is delivered to your grocery store. Two of the labels from this area you may recognize are Foxy and Dole.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Float Planes at Mittry Lake

(Chuck) There is a small fisherman pier and boat access about a mile down the road from our site at Mittry Lake. Each Tuesday morning a group of avid model airplane enthusiasts gather at the waters edge and project their skills by wireless remote control. They are members of the Yuma Aeromodelers. I have not seen model float planes before and it was another unusual sight that we seem to stumble upon once in a while. Most of the planes are powered with .61 cubic inch engines. They seem to run a methanol and 15% nitro blend for fuel. There are 85 active members of the organization. These boys fly everyday at a land based runway at another part of town. One member has a model jet which I want to see. On another day of the week they go to another pond in town and they sail model sailboats. No powerplants, only controls for the sail and rudder.
This is Don Lawrence with his Four Star 60. I don’t know much about it but it is a beautiful model. Don was a very good pilot. Apparently the pontoons require extra skill. The plane wants to hug the water when the surface is smooth. Sometimes they need to circle the plane through their own wake on the water to assist the plane to become airborne. All of this was new to us and we enjoyed the morning. I had to think of my friend Ron Odendahl who is in Iowa. He has flown models for many years and I wish he could have had a chance to bring his plane here. We could have duct taped pontoons on one of his planes.

We were watching the action this morning a plane rose off the water about six feet, then it seemed to cartwheel into the drink with a thud and a splash. We all shuddered at the sight. Jan asked one of the members who was standing next to us “What was the problem?” He answered with the wit of an old pilot, “The water.”
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