Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Tales of Two Suns

12193877_10206606010642152_7122875860990445339_n(Jan) In the last 2 weeks we have visited friends in Sun Lakes and Sun City, Arizona. Both are retirement communities with very nice homes and facilities and lots of active seniors. While Sun Lakes is on the southeast corner of Phoenix, Sun City is on the northwest side.

First stop; Sun Lakes where our RV friends Betty and Duane have a lovely home. It a gorgeous place and great place to be when they’re not out traveling. We had a great time going to Open Houses and looking at properties. We also had a fun lunch with their 12193817_10206589699994396_2357676194266362222_nneighbor Barbra and cousin & friends Teresa and Ishmael at their Rec Center facility. There were also some wonderful meals shared at B&D’s as well as Pegs & Jokers played. One afternoon our friends Connie came overIMG_20151112_102024456 (Larry was sick). Duane grilled burgers and we brought salads and dessert. It was a nice time but missed getting a photo. We love their home and their neighborhood!

IMG_20151112_092430742_HDRWe spent one night between the two ‘Suns’ at the Cabela’s in Glendale where I had a pair of Merrell shoes to return. It turned out to be a fun stop. The Phoenix NASCAR race was that coming week-end and quite a few huge NASCAR race trailers sharing the RV/Truck parking with us. They had Kevin Harvick’s car out of the trailer working on it and I couldn’t resist taking a shot with me and Danica Patrick’s race trailer.

12249952_1049968921701312_3984033145463855839_nIMG_20151112_143625762The Elks Club in Sun City has RV parking so we were able to stay there for several days as we visited RV friends Bobbie & Jim. They have a  very nice condo in Sun City and are enjoying living there in the winter months with a trip here and there in their RV. Jim grilled burgers & brats and paired with great salads we had a fest. After lunch they took us on a tour of some of their favorite spots. Here we are in the Train Room at the Fairway Rec Center. The following day we went to visit Manning friends Jim & Sarah who also have a great condo in Sun City. We had lunch at George’s, a good restaurant that is part of the bowling alley. We got to see IMG_20151114_141003289_HDRthe Sun Bowl, Lakeview Rec Center and visited a wood work shop with them. Missed another photo op w/Jim & Sarah.

On Saturday we joined friends Jim IMG_20151115_155610718and Diane. We had intended to see their house in Sun City last year but missed that opportunity. Their house is wonderful! And since we all love touring houses and Open Houses, we spent the day running around with a stop for lunch at Senor Taco. Sunday afternoon was much the same. Both evening we returned to Jim & Diane’s for Happy Hour and wonderful meals by Diane. We had a couple of fun games of Pegs & Jokers. J&D are our RV friends that taught us the game back in Boomerville in 2008!IMG_20151117_174045432_HDR

IMG_20151119_133014260On Monday we moved on to Wickenburg to stay at the Rodeo Grounds overlooking the city from the east. Time to do projects and enjoy a little down time. The sunsets here were beautiful. We also headed up over the ‘hill’ toward Prescott to meet friendsIMG_20151119_135917157 Dean & Judy for lunch and a visit at the Historic Kirkland Tavern that was a Wells Fargo stop back in the later 1800’s. It was chilly day and cool in the tavern until the wood stove started warming us up but the burgers and fries were very good. So nice to see these two long time buddies.

12235042_10207083553641217_7367394795426116930_n - CopyThe week-end found us back down in Sun City. Jim and Diane were hosting a Boomer Happy Hour on Saturday afternoon. We were joined by new Boomers Bob & Denise and Rick & Mary plus ‘old’ Boomers Betty & Duane, Bobbie & Jim and Connie & Larry. Jim grilled brats & polish dogs and there was a wonderful array of side dishes shared by all. It was such a fun time! Great stories of adventures and new places to travel followed by a hilarious game of The Whole Enchilada for 14 filled the afternoon! Our last day in Sun City found us attending church services in the morning, going to a few Open Houses in the afternoon and sharing Pizza and Pegs & Jokers games with J&D. Such good times! It’s been a great time visiting both here, Kirkland and in Sun Lakes.

Tonight we are back out in the desert near Quartzsite. It’s very quiet here and we’re once again dedicating our time to getting fixit projects and cleaning taken care of. We’ve also been out walking. We’re hoping to get back into the habit of regular exercise.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Twelve Productive Days

IMG_20151028_180204835_HDR(Jan) Vacation is over! We’re back in Yuma. Time to get lots of needs and projects taken care of. First thing on Monday morning we drove over to Los Algodones, Mexico to visit my dentist. Dr. Hector did a surgical procedure to implant a post in my upper jaw. He did the Novocain shots very gently and there was little pain or discomfort. I was sent home with antibiotics to guard against infection and will go back in four months to have the tooth screwed into the post. We are now ten days along in the recovery and things are doing very well.

As anyone living in any kind of house knows, there are always repair projects and routine cleaning to be done. Chuck fixed a leak in our water pump and the control on our kitchen fantastic fan. The motorhome and Jeep got washed and waxed and lots of cleaning got done on the insides of both. And we got new area rugs! They are the same pattern but very much brighter and clean. Another good project started is that we ordered carpet for our main living room slide. The binding was starting to fray and after 9 years of IMG_20151103_132426780heavy use, it just needs replacing. We ordered the carpet from Yuma Carpets where they will do the binding and then Chuck will do the installing. It’s going to look so nice!

The mail was ordered and received, bookwork taken care of and laundry done. But there was time for Pegs and Jokers games to be played at Dan & Jenny’s house one Sunday evening. The girls tried very hard but the guys took all four games. Tuesday found us eating lunch with old friends Mickey & Karen and Kaaren & Bill at Eat Chinese Buffet. It was great to catch up with them. We had a good visit with Joey & Carl at coffee after church and this Wednesday we joined a Boomer group for dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Wednesday is Boomer movie and a dinner day; just the dinner portion for us this week. Here’s Barbara & Soren, Dan & Jenny, us and Nancy. We missed Gary for the photo. IMG_20151104_172052316

(Chuck) Today we stopped in at Starlight Solar in Yuma to have our batteries re-arranged. I know that sounds suspicious, but it should be a good arrangement for our RV lifestyle. We boondock about 230 days per year. We have averaged that for the last five or six years. That means no hookups to the motorhome. We have 900 watts of solar on the roof which provide us with a great deal of electrical power. This power is stored in batteries for use in the motorhome. In the past we have had four golf cart batteries and two starting batteries.  House batteries are for the house and starting batteries are used to start the diesel motor.  Last year my buddy Dean switched hisIMG_20151106_090734313_HDR motorhome over to combine both banks into one larger battery pack. This gives a much larger reserve for living and will allow enough reserve for starting. Dean did it the correct way by using six new AGM batteries. I found that my four T105 flooded acid house batteries tested very good with a load test and I did not want to discard them. I added two new T105’s to my two year old set. The book says that you should not do this and all experts will shudder at the thought, but that is what I did. I spent $240 plus labor and cables instead of $2,000 for a new set of AGM Lifelines. I know that I will assume more maintenance.  The other OMG concern is “What if you run your batteries dead?”  Well, experienced boondockers generally watch their resources closely. Worst case, I carry a good set of jumper cables and if necessary, I know how to use them. IMG_20151106_090653995We rarely bring our batteries below 60%. We measure this by amps in and amps out, not by voltage. This should allow us to keep the batteries well above that level which allows for longer battery life.

Tonight we are staying in Gila Bend at the Elks Lodge in the same spot that we stayed the first night with our new-to-us Motorhome. We are on our way to the Phoenix area to visit more friends! Yay!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Sun, heading back to San Diego

1445524006_IMG_1302 - CopyIMG_20151021_092357667_HDRIMG_20151022_133002662(Jan) A big part of the fun of cruising is joining in all of the activities on board & of course, the Food. The Sun features two main dining rooms on deck 5, and on Deck 11 there’s a huge buffet, two smaller buffets on the back deck and breakfast available near the Pool area plus Bar food at the Sports Bar and on Sea days the crew is out by the pool grilling up featured lunches. We IMG_20151020_090906267enjoyed all of them! There are also six gourmet restaurants to choose from for an extra fee. Our usual schedule was eating breakfast, (usually fruit) on the back deck, lunch from one of the buffets and dinner in one of the dining rooms. We joined John & Cathy many times as well as eating dinner with new friends Tom & Robbie. For dinner one evening we were seated with well traveled sisters Diane, Jane and Linda. On the last day we ate lunch with a group from Cruise Critic, where we had a good time sharing a table with Joan, Michelle, Randall & Ron.

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IMG_20151023_152323787Views from around the ship; a three deck tall stained glass, the six deck open atrium & the brass sculpture near the Seven Seas Dining Room

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12043103_10205255248802910_1071597243751317189_nChuck tried his hand at Black Jack in the Casino and I played Bingo several times. This first time at Bingo I luckily won $110, a free drink of the day & a Norwegian T-shirt! We also played Deal or No Deal. Each day the Library offered a new Sudoku, Crossword Puzzle and a 20 Questions Quiz. If you chose there were also trivia games (John was whiz with Beach Boys music) and contestant games such as Not so Married, 55 to Stay Alive and Golf Putting Challenges among many. There was always live music at several different places aboard the ship as well as a main performance at the Stardust Theatre each night.  We saw a IMG_20151019_064359010_HDRcomedian, a hypnotist and a Juggler as well as a 4 Seasons tribute group; all were very highly entertaining. There is also a group that does Music/Dance Themed shows. Above are the Officers and some of the crew from the NCL Sun on stage on the last night.

IMG_20151022_204726470For this cruise our inside Cabin was on Deck 6.  We had a terrific room Steward, Jhonas, who took very good care of us. The promenade Deck was also on Deck 6 and we took many walks around the ship at all hours of the day. Often we would see dolphins playing in the ships waves and even saw a turtle. One day we saw whales spouting in the distance.

Unbeknownst to us, we had a near miss with Hurricane Patricia as it was building in the Pacific Ocean, barreling toward the Mexican Coast that we had just left days earlier.  We did have rough seas after we left Cabo but never really had any problems. We are concerned for those wonderful Mexican people and cities we had just visited, however. It was very hard on the agricultural and mountainous peoples & regions around Colima but luckily it came ashore between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta and missed these two very populated city ports.12122747_10205255247922888_2528353378864200156_n

We had our final breakfast on the Back Deck in beautiful San Diego’s Harbor. It IMG_20151020_155850895_HDRwas nice to have internet again!  Cathy snapped this photo of us as they joined us on our last morning on board. It was a fun cruise and we were happy to share it with these two good friends. The weather was a little too hot and humid but everything went well. And as always, It’s good to be Home!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mexican Riviera Cruise II

IMG_20151020_110726615_HDRIMG_20151020_110519605(Jan) Our cruise fun continued in Mazatlan.  After a leisurely breakfast on board the Sun we decided to walk to the Old Market about a mile away. Of course, many Taxi drivers insisted it was a very long way so for $4 we found ourselves supporting the local economy and riding in one of their Open Air Taxis. From the very pretty town square we walked several blocks to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral which is an active church and in use daily. Finished in 1889 with eclectic architectural elements, it is said to resemble Spanish churches in Toledo & Cordoba. The Old City Market, spanning an entire city block, was close by. With everything from clothing to meat markets, fresh vegetables to pottery, we had a fun time wandering & shopping.

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Our next port Cabo San Lucas was just beautiful! Our ship docked out in the bay and we were tendered into shore. When we were in Winchester Bay this fall with friends Connie & Larry, we discovered that we were both going to be in Cabo at the same time; us on the Sun and them on a family vacation. Cathy suggested that we all meet at ‘The Office’ for lunch. We could have taken a water taxi from the dock but wanted to do some walking and shopping. What a beautiful place with fun things to see. Even found internet to down load messages at the local Burger King.

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Seeing Connie & Larry and their daughter Cindy at the Office was fabulous! We had such a fun Lunch. Great food & margaritas. The first day of the Bisbee Marlin Fishing Tournament was that day so we also got to see some of the fish being weighed as we walked back toward our dock. The biggest one we saw weighed 345 pounds.

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It was a long walk back to the Sun but with one more Margarita/Cerveza/Water stop, we made it! We walked 5+ miles._20151023_153617B-ScubaDiveCabo-DiveLocations9-large_20151023_153425Our ship stayed in port overnight so we had until 2 p.m. on Thursday to enjoy Cabo. Chuck & I had signed up for another ship’s excursion to Snorkel at Santa Maria Cove aboard the catamaran Pez Gato. It was gorgeous weather to be out on the water. We saw many sea lions and one humpback whale spouting. Snorkeling was……..an adventure! Once we got our masks tight enough, got our mouth breathing figured out and were no longer in danger of drowning, we had a great time! The brightly colored fish were amazing. Our guide attracted them with bits of bread and at times we were surrounded by them. It was truly an incredible experience! The crew of the Pez Gato plied us with drinks, snacks and music, then hoisted the sail for an hour’s leisurely sail back to the Sun. We watched people parasailing (next time?) and loved the views of the coast and the famed El Arco at Lands End.

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Next up; a few photos and tales from around the Norwegian Sun.

 
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