Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays! We are settled into our winter home here in Blythe. A little back tracking to get all caught up............

We began our trek Nov. 30 and spent the night in Deming, NM. Unfortunately we had a little mishap with a gate post and ended up with another ding on the rig. We decided two dings was enough and we would get it fixed in Tucson when we arrived.  We left the next day and went straight to a repair shop in Tucson who quoted $3500!!!! Horrible! Sean did some research on some blogs and we found another shop right around the corner who did it for half that price.  Now our rig is mishap free!

We stayed at the fairgrounds in Tucson which is near where we use to live in Sahuarita.  We got together with some of my counseling girlfriends and had dinner at the casino one evening. It was so great to see all of them. I miss the camaraderie and friendship of my fellow counselors!  We went through quite a bit together and they were always there when I needed a shoulder to cry on. Everyone should have counselors as friends. Great listeners!!

                                                                Lynda and Dave

                                                                    Pat and George


We also met some other good friends, Gaynor and Jeff Christensen and Gregg and Lynn Sneyd for dinner but I forgot to take any photos! I wouldn't have any from the casino dinner if Jessica hadn't posted them on Facebook. I am not good at remembering to grab a few snapshots in the evening. My mind is on good friends and food/drink!

From Tucson we headed to Casa Grande for a few days where we visited with my sister and her husband and my brother who also lives near by. We hadn't planned on stopping there for more then a day but a cold front had moved in and Sedona was looking a little chilly for us.  We got the opportunity while we were there to hike Picacho Peak.  We have driven by it a 100 times but never had the opportunity to hike it. I knew it was going to be somewhat challenging as my mother in law, Lou, hiked it and talked about some spots where you had to use cables to keep going up.  But, I sort of envisioned a stair like situation and the cables would be just to steady you. Ha! I was wrong! You couldn't have made it to the top without rock climbing gear if those cables weren't in place.  You had to use them to pull yourself up at some points and stop yourself from tumbling over the side in others. All in all, a great hike and it was challenging.  At least for me...and I am certainly not an expert hiker!

We eventually made it to Sedona and our timeshare resort for a week of hiking and relaxing. We also had a nice dinner with my brother Kent and his wife Kathy.

Before we left for Arizona, Meghan gave us a gift certificate for a wine tour in Sedona for an early xmas present. We had a great time and bought several bottles of delicious Arizona wines. Who would have ever predicted Arizona to become a wine mecca! Maybe mecca is too strong of a word but the wines were delicious and the vineyard was really gorgeous.  The Verde Valley area is really getting a strong reputation for its wine making.

While in Sedona I also celebrated my 50th birthday. Sean had arranged a surprise ballon ride but the winds were too strong and they had to cancel. We had a great day anyway...

Sean and I have had dogs in our life since we were married. We always had at least one dog and we have had as many as three.  We have been dog less since I moved into the RV in Texas. Sean Jr. adopted our last dog, Mo and we started our adventure, for the first time, without a furry friend.  We had every intention of taking Mo on our adventures but she is large, getting old (11 or 12) and does not like other dogs! However, we would have worked around those issues but Sean Jr. and his family fell in love with her while I was living there and asked if they could keep her. She loves his family and he has an acre that she runs around on, happily chasing chickens.  I knew she was in a good place and we still see her when we visit so she is still a big part of our family.

We started looking around on different websites for a rescue dog but we felt as if the right dog for us would sort of "happen" when the time was right. We had certain criteria for our RV partner and the list was long! The dog needed to be a rescue animal, smallish but not too small, adult but not too old, house trained, an active dog but one that would settle once inside, likes to cuddle, a non or low shedder, not yappy but who would alert if someone comes to the door, friendly to other dogs and one that does NOT get car sick!  And somehow this dog would just sort of appear.......hmmm tough to do! Well, a dog did not walk up to our RV but did appear on Facebook! My cousin is a groomer and she posted some photos of a dog that a client found and was looking for a good home for. I contacted my cousin and everything she said about this dog fit the bill!  We met with the foster mom before we headed to Blythe and met the pup. It seemed to be a match made in heaven! And the foster mom agreed to hold onto the pooch until after the holidays since we would be staying in a condo in San Diego that was not pet friendly. She has even gotten him his shots, neutered, heart wormed, chipped, groomed and started calling him "Remi" which is the name we had picked out for our next dog.  She has been just wonderful and how much better could you get? He didn't walk up to my RV but he did wander up to her house and she did all the hard work of getting him cleaned up and ready for us! We are picking him up New Years day. It is going to be wonderful having a little guy around the house again!! We are not sure but we think he is a cockapoo and around two years old but know one is sure. But he doesn't shed and fits every criteria we had!

                                      Remi after he was rescued and before he was groomed

                                                                         Meet Remi!

After visiting with our future pup, we got to Blythe and set up our rig. We met our new boss, Brandon who is as laid back as you can get. We got settled in, walked around the area a bit and then got packed to head out to San Diego the next day.

                                                      Nightfall on the Colorado river

                                                   We decorated our mantle with lights.

We rented a condo near the beach but spent our days either in Alpine with all the kids, or they came to the beach and we hung out there. We got to have Aislynn with us a couple of nights and one night we had Carson too. They are both so adorable and easy to care for. Aislynn is getting so grown up! She is only in kindergarten and already reads like a much older child. Carson is a non stop talker and all boy! He loves to wrestle and rough house but then will cuddle up to you the next.  We had a great time with both of them.  We celebrated our "christmas" on December 26 as Sean Jr. had to work December 25.  As you can see by the photos there was a ton of presents for the little guys to unwrap and they had a blast!  All the adults had some presents to unwrap too and I know Sean and I loved all of our gifts.  We continued the festivities with our family tradition of eating large Alaskan crab legs!! And of course, Christmas cookies.  At the end of the day I decided to swear off sugar for the New Year.  But NOT crab legs.
                Flashback to when Carson was just born. Even Aislynn looks so much younger!

We checked out on December 27th and got back to our little home on the desert.  It is always nice to be in your own little home no matter where you are and how wonderful your trip was. Home sweet home!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

November 28, 2013

I am thankful for many things but right now, I am thankful to be leaving the DFW area on Saturday!!!  I haven’t posted anything since we left Corpus Christi, because to be perfectly honest, the most fun and exciting things we did this late summer/fall was to watch Meghan play volleyball.  And that was maybe twice a week! So, here is our latest blog update to get you up to speed before we hit the road. We have hitch itch something fierce!

First, I just want to bitch a bit about the weather here.  We got back to the area mid/late August and it was hot as hell and humid.  This went on until October sometime. Oh, we had a nice day here and there but they were brief and far between. Then one day, as we had the air blasting, the temperature dropped and we shut the air off! Woohoo!! We opened our windows and welcomed the cool breeze…..then within less then 12 hours, we had to shut the windows and about 8 hours later we had to turn the heater on!!! Yes our fall lasted about 24 hours.  To be honest, we did eventually shut the heat off for a week or two but then we hit more cold and the heaters have been on non-stop for at least a week. Needless to say, I am not a fan.   So because of this horrid weather, Sean and I spent a lot of time in our RV, running the air, or going somewhere there was air conditioning. We joined a gym so we could exercise but other then that and a few adventures here or there, we just tried not to sweat….profusely. And poor Sean! He sweats like know one you can imagine! He couldn’t get through the day without changing his clothes because they would be drenched. And he is also extremely appetizing to mosquitos.  So, besides sweating all the time, he was always trying to get away from biting bugs. I don’t sweat near as much and mostly mosquitos do not find me very appetizing so it wasn’t as miserable for me. I could be fairly comfortable outside once the sun set. 

                                                                    Texas State Fair

                                                                     Haunted House

Meg’s season was up and down. They have a new coach who everyone likes much better but they still seem to be either hot or cold. The ended up in the middle of the pack and did not advance to the NAIA finals. The last tournament that would have seated them was the best I have ever seen Meghan play. However, it was just not enough. So far, her shoulder has held but they still want to do an MRI to make sure she does not have a tear.  She made second team all conference but if the votes had been cast based on that tournament, I know she would have been first team without question.

                                                           Birthday girl! 21!!!

I continued working a few days a week for the marketing company that I have been working for about a year.  Sean looked for something temporary that paid a little better then awful but that is not easy. He was getting a bit frustrated when we saw a job in that was looking for someone short term near us. They would provide a camping spot with full hook ups and pay $10 an hour. Not a fortune but when you are sitting around twirling your thumbs, it all works.  The employer is called Allegro Plaques. They make plaques and t-shirts for various secondary high school band competitions.  We called the owner and went out to visit the site in Midlothian. Midlothian is about 25 minutes from where we were in Arlington.  He was re-opening up his business after having sold it five years before.  He had a non-compete when he sold it five years before and the five years was up. In his heyday, he had dozens of employees and about 10 work camper couples. He is in his late 60’s but decided to open the business again but at a smaller level. Who would know that a business making t-shirts and plaques could be so profitable?! He didn’t tell us what he sold it for but did say that the broker who handled the deal made $125,000 off the deal. That tells me he must have sold it for a million or more. Plaques and t-shirts…..who knew?  He said he had a few jobs that could keep us busy for about 6 weeks if we were interested. It fit perfectly into our schedule of leaving and we said we would do it.  So, we have been making plaques and t-shirts for the past six weeks!

                                                      Sean working the press for plaques

                                                                    Sample plaque

Susan and Simon working in the t-shirt area

He also hired another work camper couple, Simon and Susan.  They actually like to do security site jobs but were waiting to be placed somewhere so they came out to join us in Midlothian until there security job became available. They were a really fun, experienced work camping couple and we learned much from them.  They were placed in a security job after about a month and we said our good byes. 

Now the jobs are complete and Sean and I can add plaque makers, t-shirt folder and whatever else is needed experts to our resume! It was actually pretty laborious work and we were both glad to be done at the end of the day. Neither of our backs is great and standing mostly all day can be a bit painful.  We were both glad that it wasn’t our careers.

We will be enjoying our Thanksgiving feast with Meghan, getting the rig ready, and then heading out on Saturday.  We will head towards Tucson where we will see some doctors, friends and family. Then we will head to Sedona for a week or so where we can park for free at our resort.  We will visit more family and make a day trip or two to Phoenix and see more friends and family. Then we head to Blythe where we will park the rig at our next work camping job.  We will drive onto Alpine/San Diego where we will spend the holidays with our children and grand children. Then we will stay at the Blythe job until we feel like leaving and heading towards Colorado.  We have another work camping job at a campground called Chalk Creek where we will spend the summer then back to DFW for Meghan’s final year of college volleyball! 

                                                                   Cute grandkids!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Home from the beach


We are back from Corpus Christi and the Padre Islands. It was a nice break from Arlington but still very hot. We had a good time walking the beach every day, playing in the waves and watching all the people.  As a side note, this may be "great state of Texas" but the great people of Texas are very litter prone.  I have never lived in a state where there is so much trash! I hate it. Especially on the beach.  I think they need to quit threatening to secede from the nation and start a campaign to pick up their trash. Yuck.
 Our beach view

 Sand Art

Jelly fish in the sand

 The trucks first ferry ride

One day we did a tour of the USS Lexington which is a huge ship that has been made into a museum. Lots of world war memorabilia and just interesting stuff to see. We spent a good three hours walking its decks and looking at all the displays.

Another day we took a very short boat ride to a deserted island called Saint Joe's. It is a very small island and the family that owns it doesn't live there. The 5 minute boat ride there and back again was $12! We spent several hours there but it wasn't really worth the price since the beach wasn't much different the any of the others and it actually had more trash. Oh well, at least now I can say I have been on a deserted island.
St. Joe's island 

A crab we saw that I thought was dead until he moved after this photo. Scared me to death.

We got back to Arlington August 19 guessed it, more heat.  We were only here a few days before we took off for Meg's tournament in Oklahoma. We didn't take the rig but got a motel for the one night. The girls played well and we had a good weekend. I've started back to work here for Interactions Marketing company doing promos at the local Costco's.  Its kind of fun, easy work and I can pick and choose when I want to work.  Sean has been spending the time I am at work doing various maintenance tasks that we need to get done.

We also decided not to work at Amazon for the Christmas rush. We wouldn't be able to get there before the end of November which would only give us 5 or 6 weeks to work. We decided it just wasn't worth rushing there for that little bit of time.  Maybe we can do that once we are not committed to Texas for the volleyball season. On the other hand, we did accept a job on the Colorado River to work camp for the winter. We were going to hang out in that area anyway and now are site will be paid for. We just need to work 18 hours a week combined as a couple. Sounds easy and maybe we can learn how to fish!  This will put us close to Arizona and to California so we can see our kids and Arizona family and friends. We will start there around December 29.

Other news in the Finley family.....Our baby girl, Aislynn has started Kindergarten! I am not sure where time goes as I was just holding her in my arms as a newborn the other day.  Sean Jr. has been sent to fight the Yosemite fire. He has been working long days with little rest. I hope he gets home soon....
 Aislynn's first day in Kinder!

Sean's staging area near the Yosemite fire. Those aren't fluffy rain clouds in the back.

Cory and April moved back to California as April got her first full time job as a speech pathologist teacher! Cory is finishing up his degree and doing his Coast Guard duties.

We aren't doing much exciting traveling right now but we still manage to stay busy and have fun!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Back to the Lone Star State


As we left northern Arizona and headed onto Albuquerque, the weather just got hotter and hotter. We spent two days in Albuquerque and other then a nice bike ride, we didn’t do much. From there we headed to Amarillo and then to Wichita Falls. Not to be negative but neither one of these towns had much to offer but more HEAT and humidity. I got more and more depressed as we headed to Arlington as I knew it would not get any better.  We arrived where we started from on August 1, 2013.  We parked and got ourselves situated.  Other then getting to see Meg, I can think of a hundred other places I would rather have been.

Meg flew back from her summer camp job at Camp Victory Junction around 10:00 p.m. August 2.  We got there and met her as she got off the plane. Sean hadn’t seen her since her knee surgery and subsequent blood clots back in February.  It was a great reunion. By the way, she got cleared from her blood clots over the summer so she also got to quit taking her blood thinners! So, we headed to the carousel to get her big bags of luggage.  As we were waiting a worker came out with the most mangled piece of luggage we had ever seen! We were all shocked when we realized it was one of Meg’s pieces of luggage.

After taking it to the luggage security area and after a rather long conversation, Southwest Airlines agreed to pay her on the spot for a new piece of luggage and a $250 travel voucher for the rest of the things that were ruined. However, there was a wonderful quilt that her best friends grandma made her out of t-shirts that had much sentimental value to it and it now had several big wholes. There was no amount of money that could replace that. Poor Meg! She got a little upset about the whole thing but handled it with grace.  The Southwest customer service representative thanked her for all the control she showed.  We got home late and went to bed. The next day was going to be long, hot and hard as we planned to get her moved back into her dorms.

The day started slowly as Meg slept in.  We got over to Texas Wesleyan in time to get her checked into her dorm. However, it was a huge mess! It seems a male RA spent the summer in there and did not deem it necessary to clean it. The rugs were disgusting, paint was chipped, the floor filthy and I don’t even want to tell you what the bathroom looked like! Meg went and talked to the dorm supervisor and she came over and saw the disgusting mess and was abhorred! She apologized and promised to have a cleaning crew come through but we had to get her in the dorms that day as practice started the next!  We worked around the gross carpet and I scrubbed the floors and bathroom. Meg had way too many things for the small dorm room and we spent part of the day purging out what was not needed. I am not sure where my oldest and youngest got these hoarder tendencies but they sure like a lot of STUFF. 

After getting her moved in, we headed to the gym for her first volleyball meeting. It was a meet and greet so that the players and parents could meet the new coach.  She seemed very friendly and we ended the day on a positive note.  The next day Meg had another meeting and fitness test that went well but before she could practice, she had to be cleared by both her surgeon and physical therapist.  She had appointments with both of them for that Monday, August 5.  Those appointments went well with her getting clearance but orders to start slow and work her way back into a full practice. So far, she seems to be holding her own.  Her coach is very anxious to get her back to 100% as her blocking and offensive skills are greatly needed.  So far, Meghan is very positive about her new coach and all of her teammates.

Sean and I decided to head out and go to Corpus Christi for a while. Though it is certainly not any cooler then Arlington, at least there is some ocean to play in and catch a bit of a breeze from.  We stopped in San Antonio on August 8, before heading into Corpus Christi.  We walked around on the River Walk and took a boat through the waterways there and had dinner. I liked San Antonio quite a bit. I think I could hang out there for a while once it cools down. It was a really nice city with lots to do and see.

We got to Corpus on August 9 and when we were cruising around trip advisor that night to see what we should do, we saw there was going to be a turtle release the next day! We set our alarms and headed out before the sun came up to watch all these tiny little turtles go scrambling back into the ocean.  It was really interesting and fun and we felt lucky that we just happened to get there the night before the release.

We have spent the next few days hanging out at the beach and walking as many miles as we can take in the heat. Again, still hot but a little ocean breeze does help!  We are staying until August 19 when we will head back to Arlington and get ready for Meg’s first tourney in Oklahoma. We aren’t going to drive the rig up but just take the truck and get a motel for one night. Paying the gas to go all that way with the RV doesn’t make much sense!