A Change of Plans! Time to Be Tourists!

Jan 21st – Jan 27

We backtracked from Yuma to Tempe Az. We wanted to check out the Tempe, Pheonix, Mesa area. We’ve decided to postpone our trip to New Mexico to another season – we just couldn’t get excited about cold days and freezing nights when we’re in summer sun in Arizona. So there’s a change in itinerary – because we can!

Our Tempe camp spot at Apache Palms RV in Tempe was a very city location. We aren’t far from downtown and there was a Metro Stop right down the street. The park is kind of hidden away but right off a main street. We got the spot next to the pool and hot tub. How nice was that? 

Arizona Museum of Natural History

Our first trip was a visit to Mesa’s Arizona Museum of Natural History. It’s not a huge museum but has a great variety of stuff in it. There were sections on fossil, dinosaurs, rocks and gems, space, and even a room to celebrate the movies made in Arizona. There was a 3 cell jail there (yeah, we keep finding those) that was in use from the 1930’s to the 1970’s. It was well put together, interesting and a little bit quirky – just up our alley! My favorite was the dinosaur near the ORIGINS sign that is apparently doing the Hokey Pokey. I loved a sign that read “Does this crest make my head look big?” that went on to tell all about crested creatures. I love a museum with a sense of humor! 

The Musical Instrument Museum 

Our next trip was to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. It’s one of the top 20 museums in the US and boasts 10,000 musical instruments and music from all over the world. We spent the whole day there and still didn’t get it all in. It would be hard to describe all the clever and elaborate displays – all accompanied by the music they represent (you wear a headset that automatically starts up when you are in front of the display screen in each exhibit). Every kind of music and musical instrument you could imagine.

JP’s favorite was the Johnny Cash exhibit. What made it stand out was the video. Johnny Cash singing “Hurt” as June looked on. June would die three years after filming, and Johnny seven. You can find the video online, just in case you need a good cry.

MIM FThe Belle of the Ball though was APOLLONIA the 25 foot, 2 ton dance organ that plays 2 songs twice daily. It was loud and brassy and a crowd pleaser!

My favorite was the clown automaton that had a face on the sole of his shoe. It’s music played and the clowns eyes opened and closed while the shoe face stuck its tongue out. The masks hanging from the clown’s hand had moving eyes, eyebrows, mustaches and tongues too! It was in pristine shape for an oldie but goodie from the late 1800’s!

My other favorite was the exhibit from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. If you missed it in 2008 like I did – you might want to look it up on YouTube. The 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony – 2,800 drummers! A sight to behold! 

It truly was an experience and since we didn’t actually see EVERYTHING and because there are exhibitions and displays that rotate through, I am sure we will come back again! 


Our next tourist stop was the ODYSEA Aquarium in Scottsdale. It was awesome! ODYSEA was beautiful and the folks that work there were upbeat to say the least! There was a sloth named Squidney. I know! Not an aquatic creature but more of an ambassador, although with his schedule of sleeping 22 hours a day he doesn’t have much time for schmoozing with the crowds! That’s him in the little swing and his stuffed version snuggled up to JP.

When you first enter the aquarium, they send you directly to the restroom – because instead of mirrors above the sink counters – there is a SHARK TANK! Yeah, wash your hands while you stare into the face of a shark! They won the 2017 America’s Best Restroom in the US. Come on! How could they not with 5 different species of sharks and a grand master that measures 10 feet in length! 

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The aquarium had a carousel auditorium what rotated to the different tanks so you could see the full tank and all its inhabitants. The displays were beautiful!

After lunch we headed to Old Towne Scottsdale. It was sunny and the streets were busy with foot traffic. There were lots of Galleries and shops but I love it when the art is on the street! 

By the end of the day I think JP was about done! He was a great sport though! 

We spent our last tourists day back in Old Town Tempe. The Tempe Municipal Building is an unusual inverted pyramid-shaped structure. It  was created from 1969 to 1971 by Michael Goodwin and Kemper Goodwin. It was designed as a structure that would shade itself in summer but let sunlight heat it in the winter. Pretty cool and a little ahead of its time! 

Tempe is a nice college town with red brick streets and a ton of cool places to eat with odd names.

There is art on the recycling bin and some fun statues around town. JP found a couple of places to try some local beers but I held out for lunch later at the Wildflower Bakery and Restaurant. So worth the wait!

The week went by in a flash! Being tourists was fun! Next leg of the trip will be a change of pace. A little off the beaten path near Safford AZ. Roper State Park – here we come!

New Territory – Yuma AZ

Jan 14th – Jan 20th, 2018

In just over two and a half hours we were in all new territory to the West. The temperatures are rumored to be sunny and warm here 339 days of the year with less than 3″ of rain a year. Yuma is also considered the most RV friendly town in America and there’s proof everywhere! We saw some RV parks that were acres and acres of RVs all set up and looking right at home! We stayed at Blue Sky Ranch in Yuma which was friendly and clean and just the right size! In the evening the pool and hot tub double as the Happy Hour hangout so it gave us a chance to visit with some of the snow birds and full timers in the park. 

I was surprised at how small Old Town Yuma was. Its only a few blocks with an antique store or two, a few specialty shops, brewery and some eateries. We were there on a Monday (also MLK Holiday) so not much was open.

We popped into Lutes Casino (which is not actually a casino but a restaurant) and it was packed, not just with customers but with all kinds of “stuff”! We had wondered why there were so many cars downtown when the stores were closed and this hoppin’ place was the answer.

Afterwards we went to Yuma Territorial State Prison park. We spent a good chunk of time there reading all the info and checking out the grounds. The cells were 9 x 12 and held up to 6 prisoners. The prison was regarded as the Alcatraz of the Desert. There was tons of info on the inmates themselves and the whole museum was really well put together. 

There were women prisoners as well. It seems adultery was a punishable crime as well as seduction as a sentence for men. Their cells were just about as awful as the men’s.

Our friends Jeanie and Randy from Surprise came over to Yuma with our other new friends Shirley and Gary and stayed at the Quechan Casino and Resort in Winterhaven CA ,which is just a hop skip and a jump from us. We had dinner at the casino with them and our other new friends – Patty and Dale. A whole crew from the Valley! We played a bit at the slots and I came away with enough of a win to pay for another casino visit – its always more fun to play with their money!

The next day the eight of us headed over the border to Algodones Mexico. It really wasn’t too busy and the weather was perfect. The girls shopped and the fellas had beers and visited. We shopped the liquor store and pharmacy for some steals and window shopped the immense array of jewelry and just about anything else you could think of! Patty and Dale are regulars in town so they were great tourist guides. 

We had an awesome lunch with a killer grande margarita! Dale is a musician and singer (as well as a regular) so he took the stage and sang along with his friend. Patty had Jeanie, Shirley, Gary and I crowd around Dale for a photo op. We weren’t the kind of back up singers they probably hoped for but it was fun. Once we were back in the USA we grabbed dessert at the casino and gambled a little before calling it a night. It was a great day!

The gang met up on Thursday to go to the Yuma Market Place. It had just about anything you would need – but we were mostly just looking since none of us really needs all that much anymore. We spent a couple hours and then said goodbye to Jean and Randy and Shirley and Gary until we come through Surprise at the end of February.

Afterward JP and I took our winnings to Cocopah Casino where we had lunch and played for most of the afternoon and yet… still left with casino money! They kindly gave us a free meal so we had to return the following day for breakfast and a bit more gambling. 

It was a fun stop from start to finish. We head to Tempe next and after that we aren’t quite sure yet. It will be hard to leave this perfect weather!

Side Note: There have been over 65 movies shot in the Yuma area since 1913. Here are just a few:

  • 1930 Morocco
  • 1942 Road to Morocco 
  • 1943 Sahara
  • 1957 3:10 to Yuma
  • 1977 Stars Wars 
  • 1983 Return of the Jedi
  • 1987 Spaceballs 
  • 1993 The Getaway 
  • 1993 True Lies’ with Arnold Swartzinegger
  • 1993 Stargate
  • 2005 Jarhead
  • 2011 To Kill a Memory


White Tank Regional Park / Surprise AZ

Jan 7th- Jan 13th 2018

It’s been almost a year since we were here at White Tank in 2017. It was another great stay in the desert with warm sunny days and cool nights. We went on a few hikes in the park and on the last night had a campfire with the city lights sparkling on the horizon. JP’s favorite part was the pairs of jets that flew overhead each day. 

We had a great time with our friends Jeanie and Randy at their 2nd home at Happy Trails in Surprise every evening. They took us to their monthly neighborhood Happy Hour get together and a Happy Hour at their place so we got to meet their “Happyland” Tribe. Really nice folks! We even fit in a double date to the movies to see Molly’s Game (we liked it!) and finished the night at Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers known for its shoestring fries and late 50’s – early 60’s decor. All in all – fun every night! And it doesn’t end there – looks like we will be meeting up with them again at our next stop in Yuma for some field trips!

Side Note: JP and I did some shopping at Costco near Surprise and saw something we hadn’t come across before. There was a locked glass case with beautiful decanters of cognac that fit into amazing lacquered boxes with stunning price tags! The high end boxed sets was $7,999.00!

costco 1

Its hard to imagine the person who can afford and enjoy these items coming to Costco to find them. I guess anyone can appreciate the Costco discount even if they can afford not to!




Blythe California – Cotton Country

Dec 31st 2017 – Jan 6th 2018

We pulled into Blythe and had a quiet New Years. The park is nothing to write home about but is just what we needed to take care of some business and chores. Its a small town without any large stores but lots of fast food places. There is an Albertson’s, Rite Aid and Dollar General. There area a bunch of empty store fronts and from what I read the close of Kmart was the  final blow for the town.

Our park was clean and on the Colorado River (which is terribly low right now). We did some driving to scope out the area. There seems to be a lot of farm land, especially cotton.

Blythe 4

We spent almost three and half hours at the local ER to get something for JP’s Bronchitis. It was an experience and a reminder of just how lucky we are. He started feeling much better before we  pulled out of Blythe, which was a relief for both of us!Blythe Colorado River

I’ts not very likely we will be come through here again. Though much later in the year there is good bass fishing here on the Colorado. Fishing alludes us on the road during the times of year we are traveling, but JP is always hopeful!

JP fish

Palm Springs – Ahhhhh!

Dec 28th – Dec 30th, 2017

We picked up Lucky in Lancaster and headed to Palm Springs to visit with JP’s cousin Patsy and and her husband Peter. Once we were there – we wished we had longer to stay!

The RV park was right next to the community where they lived so we were a short walk away from Patsy’s great home cooking and their lovely home. Our first night was a little cocktail hour, catching up and making an AM plan.

Next day we headed to The Living Desert. Its the Year of the Giraffe! 


I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I’d been anywhere with this type of wildlife. Decades! Yet the giraffes looked exactly the same. Adorable!

They have an onsite Hospital/Medial Center where the animals have their check ups as well as an operating room (with a hoist of course).

We spent the day walking the park in perfect weather. They had a great variety of animals, all in fenced but open spaces – so not like a zoo at all.

After our Living Desert trip we cooled off with Margaritas and Nachos. Later that evening it was off to the movies (The Shape of Water – thumbs up for all of us)! 

Saturday JP caught a cold bug and was down for the count. So I hung out with Patsy and Peter at the pool. We did the “bobblehead” on pool noodles for almost 2 hours and then warmed up in the hot tub which was lovely. It begs 2 questions though . . .

1. How will I ever live without a pool and hot tub and the weather to go with it?       2. Why have I not had a “cran-tini before now?

It was a short but sweet visit and Patsy and Peter are going to do a bit of the gypsy life themselves so we are bound to cross paths again. I really likes Palm Springs and try to weave another visit in before we head back up North!

Family time is the best!

Dec 19th –  Dec 27th,  2017

What a great 9 days! It was so nice to have time with the kids! We stayed in LA at Ben’s place. First family outing was to Genghis Cohen (yep! I got that right) to watch Amanda’s comic friends perform (so funny!) and finished the up the night with a Genghis Cohen Chinese dinner.

LA Dec 16We window shopped the Century City Mall, cruised the Santa Monica Pier and the 3rd St Promenade nearby. All under the sun and still in the Holiday Spirit!

We tried some new restaurants and hit a few we’d liked from our last trip. New to me was POKE, a salad version of sushi that everyone loves. Me not so much – I must be having a hard time with change – what’s wrong with sushi being – well sushi?

poke I had a 2 night sleepover at Amanda’s for some girl time. She has a cute new apartment in Pasadena not far from the Shade Store where she works.

Downtown Pasadena was cool and I’ll definitely want to spend more time there next go round.

We did lots of shopping, went to the movies (saw The Worlds Greatest Showman – poor fellas – it was a musical and we were unaware).  JP and Ben did a drive to the Getty, we watched movies at home and had great family time!

LA Dec 2
Christmas Eve Day we headed South. We stopped on our way to San Diego to meet Amanda’s friends Cristi and Todd and their family from out of town. It was donuts, coffee (+ Baileys) and Holiday Cheer! Cristi was lovely and excited about her upcoming wedding. Amanda is officiating- how cool is that?


After a slight buzz and a bit of a sugar high we were off to San Diego to spend Christmas with JP’s Brother Harry and his wife Suzanne. 

LA Dec 1

Harry and Suzanne took us out and about around San Diego. We went to the Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park. Totally my cup of tea!

We saw the sunset at La Jolla and headed to Mount Soledad which is one of the most unique National Veterans Memorials in America. In the evening  you can see the city lights forever  . . .

We also went to Ocean Beach to see one of the longest piers on the west coast at 1971 feet its pretty amazing!

The downtown near the pier is full of antique stores and little restaurants. We stopped in at Lighthouse Ice Cream for a waffle cone – that was not the usual waffle cone. It was even better! Ice cream sandwiched between actual waffles! New fav!

ice cream


All this and a movie (Downsizing – which we liked) and then of course Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! The San Diego Pomeroy’s made our short visit just full of fun stuff and fed us like mad! 

San Diego Christmas

Christmas was really lovely . We hadn’t been with the kids for a holiday in decades and Harry and Suzanne certainly made it memorable! It couldn’t have been a nicer Christmas!San Diego 2

Side Note!                                                                                                                                Amanda and I were headed home at the end of our day and what to our wondering eyes should appear? Yes! It was the night before Christmas Eve and COULD possibly have been Santa on a test drive  (our first thoughts of course!) We settled into the idea that it was more likely an alien ship but alas . . . . it was just a satellite launch but truly was amazing to see!