Monthly Archives: February 2015

Fish Tales

Things have been pretty low key around here. I’m still resting and allowing my torn calf muscle some recuperation time. Living the full-time RV lifestyle can be much like living in a sticks-and-bricks environment, where things sometimes settle into a blasé routine.

I continue to eat like a king though. I grilled wild Alaskan sockeye salmon on Thursday. I started by grilling sliced red onion with a little apple cider vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper in a foil packet to caramelize the onions. Donna served the salmon topped with the onions, fresh parsley, and lemon juice over a bed of arugula. The caramelized red onions were so sweet.

Sockeye salmon with carmelized onions

Sockeye salmon with caramelized onions

Donna took her bicycle out for interval training yesterday. She has a duathlon race scheduled on Sunday. She’s planning to race as a 2-person team. Angie Hill from the Orangewood Shadows RV Resort will do the running portions of the race while Donna will do the 25-mile bicycle leg. Donna entered last year, but the race was rained out. Wouldn’t you know it, the weather guessers are calling for rain to move into the area on Saturday and continue until Monday!

Donna was stretching outside after her bicycle ride when a guy stopped at our site. He was handing out flyers for the annual Orangewood Shadows St. Patrick’s Day fish fry. Apparently one of the residents of the park comes down from Alaska every year with fresh Alaskan halibut and they have a big fish fry. Tickets are $12 per person. We don’t often go to this type of event, but it will be our last day in the park and it sounds too good to pass up.

When I lived in the Northwest, I made numerous trips to Alaska, mostly for business. I also went fishing there. The fishing trips were mostly to the Chatham Strait in southeast Alaska. We would fly to Sitka. In Sitka, we would transfer to a DeHavilland Beaver float plane. DeHavilland Beavers are legendary bush planes and I always enjoyed flying in one. The plane could take five passengers. The flight would carry us over Baranof Island to the Bay of Pillars on Kuiu Island. This is a remote and absolutely beautiful location.

In the bay, there was a dock with freezer equipment, two 35′ sport fishing boats and the Sea Ranger. The Sea Ranger is an old 115′ navy tug that’s been converted to a floating lodge. The Sea Ranger had electricity, hot and cold water, staterooms, a large salon and restaurant-grade dining. The location on Chatham Strait meant we were minutes away from fantastic fishing. Other charters coming from Sitka would have to leave port at dark-thirty and sail for hours to get to the good fishing grounds.

Kuiu Island is uninhabited. We would often see black bears on the shore. Whales were common in the strait. With no phones and no Internet for four days, we would fish and forget about the rest of the world. Chatham Strait is chock full of salmon – kings, silvers, pinks, sockeyes and also halibut. The abundance of wildlife in the area and the lack of development made it a wonderful experience.

Fishing near Kuiu Island

Fishing near Kuiu Island

120 pound halibut from the Chatham Strait

120-pound halibut I caught in the Chatham Strait

Our catch for the day

Our catch for the day

We always packed light for the trip – just a backpack or carry-on bag. The fish we caught were immediately filleted and flash frozen. When we left, the fish were vacuum-packed in plastic and placed in a waxed cardboard container the size of a medium suitcase. Alaska Airlines allowed each passenger to check two 55-lb. suitcases in those days. We would check the containers as baggage and come home with 110 lbs. of salmon and halibut each.

Another time we went fishing on the Kenai River. This is a famous fishing destination. I’d read many stories about the Kenai since I was a kid. Three of us – Greg Schmeer, Ed King and I went. We knew a guy in Anchorage who guided on the Kenai. He took us down to the river in his truck pulling a sport fishing boat.

I was dismayed to find the Kenai wasn’t as pristine as I expected. It was crowded with boats floating down the river like cars on the interstate. Everyone would float along through their favorite areas, then fire up their engines and blast upstream to make another pass.

Our guide had a lot of experience on the Kenai. He knew the river intimately and also knew which lures would work best. He moved us around to different areas that he knew were productive. We pulled in fish after fish while others around us were getting skunked. We caught kings, silvers, sockeyes and pinks.

Me with a silver (coho) salmon on the Kenai

Me with a silver (coho) salmon on the Kenai

A nice king (chinook) salmon on the Kenai

A nice king (chinook) salmon on the Kenai

Ed King with his namesake salmon on the Kenai

Ed King with his namesake salmon on the Kenai

So much for the fish tales. I’ll continue to rest my injured leg and read. I picked up three more Vince Flynn espionage thrillers that should keep me occupied for a few more days.

Racing in the Rain

After a few more days of convalescing, I feel some progress with my right calf. Muscle tears are slow to heal. At first I thought I would be okay after a week or so. Now, 10 days later, I realize it’s going to take longer.

Over the past three days, I’ve limited the amount of time standing or walking. I’m trying to keep weight off my leg as much as possible. At the same time, I started applying essential oils to my calf. The thing is, when you change two variables at the same time, it’s hard to tell which one is most effective.

It’s like racing in the rain. When I used to race motorcycles, if it started raining and the track was wet, we would change to special wet tires and soften the suspension settings. We knew without a doubt that the wet tires were a big help. But how much did the soft suspension help? Without a baseline, it was a shot in the dark. Changing two things at once made it hard if not impossible to quantify how much each change helped.

Getting set for a wet race

Getting set for a wet race

I never liked racing in the rain

I never liked racing in the rain

My point is, I don’t know if the essential oils are helping my leg to heal or is it just a matter of rest and time. The skeptic in me wonders if a few drops of oil can make a difference. However, I’m not taking any chances. Just like softening the suspension settings on my race bike, I’ll continue to apply the oils even though I can’t measure the effect.

I’ve been spending time reading and relaxing. Yesterday was a good day for it as we had sporadic showers in the late morning. Donna has been active. On Sunday, she rode a 33-mile loop through the Tonto National Forest, including a climb over Usery Pass. Monday she rested. We had rain showers so it was a good day to rest. Yesterday she planned to hike at Bartlett Lake with the Orangewood Shadows group, but the hike was cancelled due to weather up that way. Instead, she walked around the RV park with her hiking pals, Lowell and Debi. They power walked a circuitous route and covered over four and a half miles while the rain held off.

The afternoon was dry with partly cloudy skies. The wind kicked up and I had to roll the awning in. The temperature was cool all day. The thermometer flirted with 60 but I don’t think the high temperature ever got out of the 50s.

Donna prepared a new to us dish last night. It was Malaysian chicken sate (pronounced SAH-tay) with peanut sauce. She rode the scooter over to an Asian market on Dobson Road in the afternoon to pick up some special ingredients including Masman curry paste (a shrimp-based paste) and tamarind juice.

Chicken Satay skewers on the grill

Chicken sate skewers on the grill

Malaysian chicken satay with peanut sauce and bok choy

Malaysian chicken sate with peanut sauce and bok choy

The peanut sauce was fabulous. Donna served the chicken with one of my favorite veggies – steamed bok choy.

I’ll relax and read another book today. Donna picked up a few more books for me at the Orangewood Shadows library. On Monday, she downloaded the Kindle version of the sequel to the James Patterson novel I read – the one that I finished earlier only to discover that  the story was continued in a second volume. I finished that story. I started another novel yesterday by Vince Flynn called The Last Man. It’s a good read and I’m sure I’ll finish it today.

We have sunny skies and the forecast calls for temperatures in the low 70s with a light breeze. Maybe I’ll relax and read outside. Donna is headed to the pickleball court.

Essential Oils Therapy

I want to thank everyone for the suggestions regarding my calf injury. A brief description of the nature of the injury can be found here. The area of the  tear in my case is a little higher than what is shown on that site.

After one week, I’ve come to realize I was trying to do too much, too soon. I spent most of the day yesterday resting, reading a book and limiting the amount of time standing or walking. I also started treating my calf with essential oils. I’m using a concoction of a few drops of marjoram oil and lemon grass oil mixed with tea tree oil as a carrier. I’m massaging this into the affected area. We’ll see if it helps.

I mentioned reading. I read Cross My Heart by James Patterson. It’s a suspense/crime novel, part of the Alex Cross detective series set in Washington D.C. This story is a psycho-thriller with a Hannibal Lecter type going after Cross. The thing is, after reading over 400 pages, the book ended without finishing the story. I need to get Hope to Die to finish the story (I hope it ends the story). Donna checked the park library yesterday, where I found the first book, but it wasn’t there.

Last night, Donna prepared a new dish for dinner. She made roasted chicken thighs with fresh fennel (anise) and lemon. She served it over brown rice with a side of broccoli. Another keeper.

There are beaked chicken thighs under there

There are roasted chicken thighs under the fennel

The weather guessers called for rain overnight and continuing today. I only heard a smattering of rain drops on the roof last night. The ground isn’t wet this morning. The skies are mostly clear, but it’s windy. Now they say thunder showers will move in between noon and 5pm. We’ll see.

Another Member of the Saturday Club

Donna started Friday with warm-up exercises before she hit the pickleball court. I did some gentle stretches on my right calf. It remains very sore and my mobility is limited.

In the afternoon, I rode the scooter to Red, White and Brew to have a cold one with Leendert Hartoog and welcome him to the Saturday Club. After 30 years as an engineer at Boeing, he retired. Friday was his last day at the office. I told him every day is Saturday now, so there’s no good reason to go to Home Depot or Costco on the weekend anymore. I sat and visited with Mike and Jodi Hall before heading back home.

Donna and I went down to the pickleball court yesterday at 11am. I rode the scooter – it was too far for me to walk. We attended a pickleball strategy session. A couple of experienced players, Paul and Ellen, gave a demonstration and lecture to a group of people interested in improving their pickleball game. It was interesting and we learned a lot. I couldn’t put any of it into practice yet, but sooner or later my leg will heal and I’ll be back on the court.

We’ve had warm, sunny weather. After a few days’ trial, I can say the new sunshades on the windshield and front windows are well worth it. The coach stays cooler inside and it feels more open than when we used interior curtains to close off the front windows and windshield.

Sun Dancer Shades

Sun Dancer Shades

When we used interior curtains, the sunlight would come through the windshield before it was blocked by the curtain. This would create a zone of hot air between the window and curtain, heating the interior of the coach. The sunlight would also heat the dashboard area and subject the vinyl covering to UV degradation. And with interior curtains closed, we couldn’t see out, making the coach seem smaller. The exterior sunshades prevent all this from happening.

Here's an example of interior curtains

Here’s an example of interior curtains

Donna rode the scooter to Bed, Bath and Beyond in the afternoon to buy new bed sheets. While she was out, she picked up fresh citrus at Apache Wells RV Resort, where we stayed last year. They have an abundance of citrus that is put out on tables. We give a small donation and bring home fresh grapefruit, oranges and lemons.

In the evening, Donna used her Vitamix to puree a fresh grapefruit and made a Greyhound cocktail. We sat outside and enjoyed happy hour and the pleasant weather.

Donna enjoying a fresh squeezed Greyhound

Donna enjoying a fresh squeezed Greyhound

While we sat outside, Donna had a flank steak marinading in orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and smashed garlic cloves. I grilled it and it was sensational. Donna served it over herb salad alongside yam slices topped with herbed garlic butter.

Marinated flank steak with herb salad

Marinated flank steak with herb salad

I think I overused my leg standing at the pickleball demonstration. My leg was sore in the afternoon and evening. I woke up several times in the night with leg pain. I’ll take it easy today and rest with my leg elevated.

Happy Hour at Sun Life

Donna went out for bike ride Thursday morning and worked on interval training. While she was out, I wrote my blog post. I did some gentle calf movement, pivoting my foot to stretch and contract the calf muscle. It’s still sore and I can’t walk without limping. I’ve stopped icing it and will work on stretches and range of motion.

I finished reading a novel that was a total waste of  time and effort. I was resting on the sofa when there was knock on the door. It was Pat from Sun Dancer Shades. He was running ahead of schedule and arrived early for our appointment. He had our new custom-made front window and windshield shades ready for installation.

Paul's assistant, Hunter aligning the sunshade

Pat’s assistant, Hunter, aligning the sunshade

I opted for twist locks instead of snaps. I think the twist locks are more durable. Sun Dancer Shades uses Dot twist-lock hardware. Dot hardware is made by Scovill. Their twist locks are high-quality marine-grade nickle-plated brass. They should outlast the coach.

Dot twist lock

Dot twist lock

Pat and his assistant, Hunter, took their time aligning the windshield shade before they drilled and riveted the fasteners to the coach. I stood and watched them work for a while, but it was too much for my injured leg, so I went inside while they completed the job. The fit of the shade is excellent.

Nice fit

Nice fit

The sun shades block 90% of the UV from sunlight. This will keep the interior of the coach cooler and protect interior components from UV degradation. The really cool thing is it also blocks prying eyes from peering into the coach during daylight hours, but we can see out from the inside.

Inside looking out through the sun shade

Inside looking out through the sun shade

After he finished the installation, Pat walked me through the best way to remove the shades and roll them into the storage bag that came with them. He also included windshield wiper covers.

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading and doing light leg exercises. Donna took the scooter and went grocery shopping. After she returned, I got on the scooter and Donna got on back. We had a happy hour to go to at Sun Life RV Resort. Brett and Cheri had invited us to come over.  Our friends, John and Sharon from Texas (On the Road of Retirement), who we met in San Diego at Mission Bay RV Resort, are also at Sun Life and joined us for happy hour.

Donna brought veggies, crackers and smoked trout pate, Cheri and Brett had a spread of hors d’oeuvres on the table when we arrived.

Happy hour snacks

Happy hour snacks

We had a tour of Brett and Cheri’s Montana fifth-wheel trailer and then sat outside. John and Sharon arrived and we all sat around enjoying snacks, drinks and good company. Our travel plans include a lot of the same areas over the summer, but it seems like our timing is off. We don’t know when we’ll meet up again, but I’m sure we will sooner or later.

Cheri, Donna, John, Sharon and Brett

Cheri, Donna, John, Sharon and Brett

We had a great time visiting for a couple of hours. It was getting dark when we rode the scooter home. It was another great day in the life.


Reading and RICE

Donna was up early on Tuesday morning. She went hiking on South Mountain with a group from Orangewood Shadows RV Resort. South Mounatin Park/Preserve is a City of Phoenix park. It encompasses more than 16,000 acres, making it one of the largest municipally operated parks in the country. There are 51 miles of hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails in the park. Here are some photos from her hike.

Orangewood Shadows hiking group

Orangewood Shadows hiking group

Inside the remains of building built in the 1930s by the WPA

Inside the remains of building built in the 1930s by the WPA

Petroglyphs on a rock in South Mountain Park/Preserve

Petroglyphs on a rock in South Mountain Park/Preserve

View north toward Phoenix from high on South Mountain

View north toward Phoenix from high on South Mountain

When Donna and I first met, we were members of the Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club (PMBC). The club had organized rides every Saturday morning. Sometimes we would ride to South Mountain and enter the park from Central Avenue and then climb 5.5 miles to the summit at Dobbins Lookout – 2,330 feet above sea level. Coming back down was always fun. After our Saturday morning rides, many of the PMBC members would stop for breakfast together. That’s how Donna and I became acquainted.

Back at the RV park, I spent 90% of the day on the sofa continuing the R.I.C.E. (Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation) treatment on my injured right calf. Other than eating and bathroom breaks, the only time I was on my feet was when I hobbled around the coach to dump and flush our holding tanks. I spent the day with my leg up on the sofa reading another Lee Child book, Bad Luck & Trouble. It was another story in the Jack Reacher series. I read the entire 480-page novel.

I’ve always been an avid reader. When I was in grade school, I liked to read stories about the early American explorers – Kit Carson, Daniel Boone and others. Later, I read about the mountain man era and the exploration of the West. When I was in sixth grade, I had surgery for acute appendicitis. The surgery involved a six-inch incision in my lower abdomen. In those days, extended hospital stays were the norm. I was hospitalized for a week. It was boring. I remember my sister, Cori, brought me a big book to read – it was Charlemane. I alternated sleeping and reading for days.

When each of my three daughters reached kindergarten age, I took them to the library. Monday nights were nights with dad at the library. I got them library cards and taught them to borrow, respect and read books. They all became good readers. It was great way to spend time together and I think it helped them throughout their school years and beyond.

Yesterday was more of the same. Donna went to play pickleball in the morning. I continued the R.I.C.E. and started reading another book. By the afternoon, after three days on the sofa, I was going bonkers with cabin fever. I went outside and tested my calf by walking about 50 feet. It wasn’t good. At 4pm, I climbed aboard the scooter anyway and rode to Red, White and Brew. Riding the scooter wasn’t too bad. Getting on and off was a little tricky. The hardest part was walking from the parking lot into the Brew. I sat with Pat and Leendert and had a cold one. I told them about my injury and had to bail out on our plans to attend the NHRA drag races on Saturday. We went to the race last year and I planned to go again, but it would mean too much walking for me.

I came back home and laid out on the sofa again. The trip to the Brew probably wasn’t the best idea. Donna made Thai Curry Shrimp with noodles for dinner.

Thai Curry Shrimp with noodles

Thai Curry Shrimp with noodles

I’ll rest and recover again today.


That Really Hurt

Donna went out for a long bike ride Sunday morning. She rode through the Red Mountain neighborhood then climbed up through Las Sendas to the top of the mountain. Her route brought her downhill on Hawes before she headed back on McKellips. It was a 27-mile loop with some long climbs.

While she was out, I went to the pickleball courts. No one was there, but that was okay. I wanted to work on my serve. I spent a full hour practicing and improved my serve significantly.

Later, after Donna returned, she wanted to practice serving. I went back to courts with her. She would hit half a dozen serves across to me, then I would hit them back. We practiced like this for half an hour, then we practiced serve and return. The idea was to work on a strong return of serve, hitting the ball deep to the baseline. It was a good workout and we enjoyed the time on the court together.

We were on the courts again at 9am Monday. This is when the more experienced players show up. We are competitive with some, not quite up to the level of others. Because we are new players, we play separately to even the teams out.

We were a few points into our first game. It was me and Vaughn against Donna and Sally. Sally was serving to me when it happened. I was playing back at the baseline – this is the typical position to return a serve. If you play too far forward, a deep ball to the baseline will have you scrambling back for a difficult shot. By rule, you must allow the serve to bounce before you can return it. If you play back at the baseline and the serve is short, it’s easier to move up to the ball than it is to scramble backwards.

The serve came short and low. I lunged forward, pushing off with my right foot. I felt the calf muscle tighten up on my right leg, then suddenly release. It was quite a strange sensation. It was like stretching a bungee to its maximum extension, then having some of the elastic cords inside break and the bungee suddenly extends another inch.

I hit the return low and deep to the baseline and won the point. I was aware of this as I stumbled to my left and found myself on the ground next to the court, holding my right calf. The pain was intense. After a few minutes, I got up and limped to a chair. I kept hoping it was a cramp that would pass, but I knew better.

About ten minutes later, I knew I wasn’t going to play any more. I told Donna to stay and play and I hobbled painfully home. I looked up calf strain on the Internet. The information I found seems to indicate I have a grade 2 calf muscle (gastrocnemius) tear. Further reading said this injury occurs fairly frequently among middle-aged weekend warriors competing in tennis, squash, basketball and so on. The usual treatment is known as R.I.C.E. (Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation).

I spent the rest of the day on the sofa, icing my calf for 20 minutes every hour, then elevating my leg with slight compression on my calf. I read all afternoon. I read over 400 pages and finished a novel by Lee Child called Persuader. It’s part of his Jack Reacher series of mystery shoot-em-up books.

Last night, Donna prepared wild Alaskan cod meuniere. Served with steamed green beans, it was an absolutely delicious and nutritious meal!

Wild Alaskan cod meuniere

Wild Alaskan cod meuniere

This morning I found our toilet wouldn’t flush. I tried to manually open the flush valve, but it didn’t seem to work. I thought we might be in for trouble. On a whim, I limped outside and opened the black water valve. Sure enough, the tank was full. It was only 10 days since I last dumped and flushed. I was surprised that it was so full.

Today I’ll do the full dump and flush routine. Other than that, I’ll stay on the sofa, continue the R.I.C.E. treatment and read another book.

Hiking and Sightseeing

Donna and I hit the pickleball courts in the morning again on Thursday. We joined others on the court and played four or five games. I’m becoming obsessed with the game. Our goal is to play at least three times a week.

Here at Orangewood Shadows RV Resort, our monthly rate doesn’t include electricity. The electricity is metered and billed separately. Thursday was the end of our first month here and the maintenance guy came by to read our meter. When we first set up in site 22, I took a picture of the electric meter. On Thursday, I shot another photo after the maintenance guy read the meter. I think this is a good idea, I had a problem with our bill at another park in the past and I’ve heard others complain that they think they were overcharged. With photos of the meter, you can open the photo properties and the meta data will show the date and time the photo was taken.

Our electric meter on the 12th. I'll take another photo when we check out.

Our electric meter on the 12th. I’ll take another photo when we check out.

I spent the rest of the day puttering around. I started reading a Tony Hillerman novel. He’s written a large series of novels set in the Navajo country of northern Arizona, western New Mexico and southern Utah. They’re fun mystery stories that are easy to read and entertaining.

Friday was more of the same. I went to play pickleball, but Donna passed this time. I played hard for an hour and a half. One of the things I noticed is that the more experienced players are more relaxed and don’t work nearly as hard as I do. They rely on experience to be in the proper position most of the time while I’m constantly on the move chasing the ball. I’ll get this! I just need to keep at it and learn to anticipate my opponents’ moves. I finished reading The First Eagle by Tony Hillerman in the afternoon. My legs and hips were sore from playing pickleball three days in a row.

On Friday evening, I grilled chicken breasts. I haven’t made brick-grilled chicken in a long time. I think the last time was in San Diego, October 2013. It’s a great way to grill chicken breasts – I wrote about it in this post.

Turning the chicken breasts - the bricks will go back on top

Turning the chicken breasts – the bricks will go back on top

Donna served it with lemon and herb butter, baked yam slices and asparagus.

Brick grilled chicken with baked yams and asparagus

Brick-grilled chicken with baked yam and asparagus

I mentioned in my last post that our friends, Brett Miller and his wife Cheri Alguire, are staying at an RV park near us. Yesterday morning, they swung by our place at 8:30am and picked us up in their Ford F350 Super Duty crew cab pickup truck. We drove to Usery Regional Park and paid the $6 daily use fee. Our intention was to hike up the Wind Cave trail.

Brett, Donna and Cheri at the trailhead

Brett, Donna and Cheri at the trailhead

Although the trail is just over one and a half miles long, it’s challenging as it climbs over 800 feet in elevation up Pass Mountain. Most of the elevation gain comes in a steep section about two-thirds of the way up.

Lichen covered cliffs on Pass Mountain

Lichen-covered cliffs on Pass Mountain

As we climbed up the trail, I began suffering from pollen allergies. I’ve been taking daily doses of local honey as an immunotherapy, but it was no match for the blooming brittlebush on the mountain.

Look closely - you'll see a bee collecting pollen from the brittlebush flower

Look closely – you’ll see a bee collecting pollen from the brittlebush flower

My eyes were burning and watering while my throat dried out. My sinuses were clogging and I had to breathe through my mouth. About ten minutes from the top, I called it good. Donna, Cheri and Brett continued up. I made my way slowly back down the mountain. I stopped several times to enjoy the view. I expected them to catch up with me near the trailhead, which they did.

Wind erosion on a cliff by the Wind Cave trail

Wind erosion on a cliff by the Wind Cave trail

View to the south from the Wind Cave trail - you can barely make out the cars in the parking lot below

View to the south from the Wind Cave trail – you can barely make out the cars in the parking lot below by the first hill

We left Usery Regional Park and did some sightseeing. We directed Brett and Cheri to Saguaro Lake where we stopped for ice cream. Then we backtracked on Bush Highway to Phon D Sutton recreational area. We boondocked there last year. I wrote several posts about the place, beginning with this one. The header photo for our blog was shot by Mark Fagan at Phon D Sutton with Red Mountain the background. The first parking area at Phon D Sutton was packed with RVs, including two Alpine Coaches. The back lot had more available space although it was more crowded than last year. We stopped and chatted with the owner of one of the Alpine Coaches. He was there with the same singles group that showed up last year. That’s why the first lot was so full – they had about 40 rigs in their group.

From there, we drove over to Singh Farms on Thomas Road in East Scottsdale. Singh Farms is an operational farm that has a market on Saturday from 9am to 2pm. They have groomed trails through the farm and garden areas. It’s a cool place and you can get the freshest produce around as well as fresh-baked breads, goat cheese, and a variety of jams and preserves. They also sell compost. Donna purchased a chia seed pudding with pineapple, cardamon and coconut.

Brett, Donna and Cheri at Singh Farms

Brett, Donna and Cheri at the entrance to Singh Farms

We thought about having lunch there, but decided to go to a restaurant. We found Baja Joe’s at McKellips and Gilbert Road. I enjoyed a margarita while Donna, Cheri and Brett had Pacifico beer with their entrees. We sat out on the patio. It was warmer than I expected even though we sat in the shade. The food was good – I’d go back there again.

We ended an excellent day by grilling lobster tails that Donna found at Sprouts Market.

Grilled lobster tail

Grilled lobster tail


Pickleball-Weary Legs

On Tuesday, I rode the scooter over to Donna’s doctor’s office to pick a prescription for her. She has a procedure scheduled and needed a sedative. While I was out, I stopped at the NAPA auto parts and picked up spray sealant for the battery terminals and tray on our coach. It was lunch time, so I stopped for a taco before I returned home. I stopped at an old favorite, Seňor Taco. I stopped here once a few weeks ago and ordered the two taco plate. I’d forgotten how big the tacos were. This time I ordered one carnitas taco and it was more than enough.

Carnitas soft taco

Carnitas soft taco

By the time I returned, Donna was back from her bike ride. She had to remove her right foot from her shoe while it was still attached to the pedal because she couldn’t get the cleat to release. I adjusted the tension on the pedal, then I took care of the batteries in our coach. I think the sealant I bought should work fine.

We were on the last day of our data plan cycle and had five gigabytes to spare. So, I downloaded and installed Microsoft Office. I found a good deal online and purchased Office Home and Student for one PC for $86.89. Downloading and setting up the program used about a gig of data. Later, in the evening, I could see we had more than three gigabytes left on our plan, so I downloaded Adobe Photoshop Elements 2013. I purchased it on special for $74.19 –  a savings of about $15. I remembered seeing this was a three-gigabyte download. I had problems with the download and had to restart it. In the end, the download was more than 3GB and I went over our data limit. This will cost me $15 – so much for the discount price I found!

Donna prepared glazed drumsticks with rice noodles and shredded cabbage for dinner. You might wonder why I describe and photograph so many of our meals. It gives me something to write about, but it also allows me to illustrate the fact that full-time RVing doesn’t mean burgers on the grill or eating out all the time. This particular dish was yummier than it looks.

Glazed drumsticks with rice noodles and shredded cabbage

Glazed drumsticks with rice noodles and shredded cabbage

We hit the pickleball courts at 9am yesterday. There were people playing doubles on one court, the other court was empty. From 8am to 11am the courts are open for people who know the rules and are capable of sustaining a rally.  From 11am to 2pm, court time is set aside for people just learning the rules and practicing. We took the open court and warmed up by dinking the ball back and forth. We were ready to start a singles game when two other players came over and asked if they could join us. They were experienced players. We played three games with them. Donna was a little intimidated by their level of play, but we had fun.

At 10am, Donna had to leave to prepare for appointments she had scheduled. I hung around and played four more games. These were more or less scramble games where we switched partners. I had a blast, but playing a total of seven games wore me out. I came back to the coach at 11am.

Pickleball action at Venture Out

Pickleball action at Venture Out

I scootered Donna over to Lana Jansen’s house. Lana lent her car to Donna so she could drive to Scottsdale for a meeting with Joshua Becker, the author of Clutter Free with Kids among other titles. They had lunch together at Wildflower Bread Company and talked about their shared interest in spreading the word about minimalism and how less stuff creates space for more of what’s really important in life.

I rested my pickleball-weary legs and read while she was out. After Donna returned, we headed over to Red, White and Brew to meet our friends, Brett Miller and Cheri Alguire. We met them over a year ago when they visited us at Mission Bay. I wrote about that in this post. They hit the road in May last year and have been traveling in their Ford F350 pulling a Montana fifth-wheel trailer. Currently they’re at the Sun Life RV Park a couple of miles away from our site. This is the second time our paths have crossed on the road – I hooked up with them in Salt Lake City while Donna was at a convention in Phoenix.

We caught up with each other over appetizers. I also enjoyed a couple of Black and Tans made with Guinness Stout over 8th Street Pale Ale. We had a surprise visitor at our table. My friend from my high school days, Andy King, was at the restaurant with his wife Donna and her dad. It was pleasant surprise! We lingered at the Red, White and Brew for about two and half hours before calling it a night.

Cheri snapped this photo of me, Donna and Brett

Cheri snapped this photo of me, Donna and Brett

I’m a glutton for punishment, so we’re going to hit the pickleball court again this morning.


Getting into Pickleball

After being out all day on Saturday, Donna wanted to catch up on some work on Sunday. She went for a 25-mile bike ride up to Usery Park in the morning, then buckled down at her computer for a few hours before finally taking a break to read. She’s now well into reading North to the Night, the book I just finished.

I took the rental car and drove to the Pavilions in Scottsdale where I met up with Ed and Martha King. Ed is an old friend, former colleague and fellow Volkswagen of America retiree. We worked together for 15 years in the Pacific Northwest. They were visiting a friend in Scottsdale. Ed, Martha and I had lunch together at YC’s Mongolian Grill – thanks again Ed for treating me to lunch!

At the Mongolian Grill, you fill a bowl with various sliced meats, vegetables and noodles. Then you add seasonings to make a sauce – they have recipes on a board for mixing a variety of sauces. The bowl is given to a cook who stir fries each individual order. I made sure I had my bowl packed full. The lunch also included soup and rice. I guess I packed my bowl too full – I could barely finish my meal. It was more than I usually eat for lunch. We spent a couple of hours together, talking about life in retirement.  Ed and Martha have a home on Camano Island, north of Everett, Washington. Next time we’re up there, we’ll have to pay them a visit.

I drove over to the Venture Out RV Resort yesterday morning. It’s about two miles from Orangewood Shadows RV Resort. We were told that we could buy pickleball supplies at Venture Out. I got a day pass from the security guy there and he told me where to find the pickleball stuff. They’re pretty serious about pickleball at Venture Out. They have six courts and an area where you can buy paddles, balls and clothing. The courts were full and there were about a dozen people sitting in a covered breezeway either waiting to play or visiting together after their match.

Donna and I have decided to pursue pickleball as a sport we can enjoy together. It’s a fun game and great exercise. I had already read reviews on various pickleball paddles. I wanted to buy paddles instead of using the wood loaner (beginner) paddles at the Orangewood Shadows courts. Venture Out has the best prices on pickleball gear, better than anything I found online. I bought a Pro Lite Magnum composite paddle for Donna. This paddle is lightweight at 7.4 ounces and well-balanced for easy manueverability. I bought a Pro Lite Rocket XL for myself. It’s slightly heavier than the Magnum and built for power.

We took our new paddles down to the pickleball courts and worked on drills. Then we played full-court games without keeping score. We just wanted to work on our technique. Donna loves her new paddle. I like mine as well, but I need to adjust to the power of this paddle. I hit the ball long several times.

Paddle pictures from the Pro Lite site - ours are yellow, not green

Paddle pictures from the Pro Lite site – ours are yellow, not green


We spent a full hour on the court with one five-minute break after the first 25 minutes. We had fun and it was a great workout. We plan to play at least three times a week.

Later, I returned the rental car to Enterprise. They gave me a ride down the street to Red, White and Brew where I enjoyed a couple of cold ones. I sat with Pat and shot the breeze with the guys. For a change of pace, Pamela, the bartender suggested a black and tan with 8th Street Pale Ale and Guinness Stout.

Guinness floating on 8th Street pale ale

Guinness floating on 8th Street pale ale

Pat dropped me off at the RV park on his way home.

Donna prepared pan-seared salmon – just like she made last week with a ginger-scallion topping. But this time, she served it over creamy avocado cauliflower mash. Delicious!

Pan seared salmon with creamy avocado cauliflower mash

Pan-seared salmon with creamy avocado cauliflower mash

We have another warm day ahead with the high temperature expected to reach 83 degrees. I have a few errands to run, but no big projects planned.