Monday, March 4, 2013

The Arizona Beat Goes On…

This winter in Arizona North Ranch RV Park, Congress, AZcontinues to be active and interesting.  We moved back to the Thomas’s lot in Congress at the North Ranch Escapees RV Park about a month ago.  Our friends, Dee and Jerry Thomas, once again, are the nicest hosts you could imagine.  And there are more friendly folks that keep coming into our lives here, sharing their activities.  It’s about time that I blogged about it.  Where to start?

First, our music fests…..Several times during the month groups of friends have been involved in Jerry Thomas’s version of “Name That Tune.”  He uses his iPad Pandora app through his home stereo to play pieces of selected songs for us and we try to guess the artist and the song.  This sounds pretty simple and, perhaps, uneventful, right?!   Not with this group.   Somehow it turns out to be hilarious!  People of a variety of ages, musical preferences and personalities seem to shake it up.  It doesn’t matter how it develops into our evenings of laughs.  It just does.   There’s a lot of wrong guesses, half guesses, “I knew that” responses, etc.  Maybe it’s one of those times when “you just had to be there.”  Whatever this particular combo has been, the results are good times with tunes!

And, of course, there are the food events to talk about over these past few weeks.   The TBird Café in Peeples Valley on Highway 89, about 13 miles up the mountain from Congress,  is now on our list for great pizza and atmosphere.  On this visit we’ve had two yummy evenings there, one when Dee’s sister and brother-in-law were visiting from St. Louis and the other for Jerry T’s birthday. Again we were pleased to be included by our North Ranch friends, Val and Tom, Rick and Marla and Barb and Bill.  The TBird Cafe is a family-owned place with scrumptious wood-fired pizza or other menu selections. Hopefully, there’s enough drive-by and local business to keep them operating for a long time.  Our gatherings of six or ten of us at this small, friendly café were memorable and we’ll be there again, I’m sure.

While I’m on the topic of food, we’ve been introduced by friends to a few restaurants and entertainment in nearby Wickenburg as well.  Recently Jerry and Dee took us to a local, family-owned hamburger joint called Screamers where we had truly outstanding handmade hamburgers in the vintage diner.   And last Saturday was Bill DiLenge’s birthday at the western-themed restaurant, Tumbleweeds.  The eight of us were in time for the $2.00 Margaritas. The entertainment for the evening was a western/country guitar player singing JohnnyBlending drinks with friends. Cash, Waylon and Marty Robbins-type selections.   Again, the camaraderie for Bill’s birthday party was exceptional.

And there was the delicious elk feast, too.  We were happy to be included in the local gathering at Jim and Linda William’s lovely home here in North Ranch to sample Jim’s elk from his hunting trip in Northern Arizona  They fed elk burgers, elk sausage and a crockpot dish that Linda created to about 20 happy and hungry people.   Jerry and I liked all three types of the elk, probably putting the crockpot dish as our favorite. It was tender and juicy.  Of course, everybody pitched-in with the accompaniments.  One of those contributing was our friend, Barb Slott, who just returned from a trip to South America (along with Bill, but he was sick for the elk dinner).  Serving utensils with beaded accents.Barb whipped up several batches of Pisco Sours, a drink she learned of on their trip. The smooth concoction similar to a Pina Colada includes lime juice, simple syrup, Pisco and ice in the blender.  Many of us enjoyed them tremendously and had to have the recipe.   Of course, there have already followed a couple of additional occasions for blending them, too.  Thanks Barb.

Linda and Barb (above) have also become beading pals recently and helped me to expand my creations.  There’s a group that gathers twice a week in the clubhouse here at North Ranch and I decided to see who and what it was all about.  Everyone there welcomed me, asking if there was something I would like to learn. Linda showed me a few tips on making memory wire bracelets.  Then, last week Linda brought all the supplies for another project.  She and Barb shared their expertise on making beaded serving utensils. They are impressive and fun to make.  My beading juices are flowing thanks to these ladies at North Ranch.


Moving right along, we were invited on a boat outing last week on Lake Pleasant, about 30 miles north of Phoenix.  Friends of Jerry and Chris, Mark an Dee enjoying our boat trip on Lake Pleasant.Dee’s that we met a couple of years ago, Kris and Mark Kelley, put together this event.  More nice people!  (To the left are Kris, Mark and Dee in a “hat” pose during our cruise.)

We took off about 11a.m. for a six-hour jaunt on a comfy, 45-foot pontoon boat in the sunshine.  Our guide and boat captain, A. J., was an interesting young man who owns this lake tour business. He entertained us with information on Arizona, the fishing in the lake,  the terrain, wildlife and a variety of trivia.

Our group of ten included Kris’s sister and brother-in-law visiting from Rhode Island and two more of their old friends originally from Michigan, now living in Arizona.  I got a kick out of Harry, who repeated that he wasn’t sure that he was returning to R. I. after this vacation.   There was interesting conversation and excellent scenery as we explored the numerous coves of this beautiful 10,000-acre lake surrounded with desert cacti and mountains.  Lake Pleasant in Arizona.

And finally, I have a few more comments on some fun festivities here at North Ranch this past weekend called La Fiesta.  On Saturday the festivities began with a parade, exploded with a bean bag baseball tournament, all complimented by several other events, such as a cake-baking contest, hand created woodcarvings, baskets and jewelry and vintage cars and local fire engines on display.  Again uproarious fun took place just because of people who know how to enjoy whatever.

So, let’s talk about the Bean Bag Baseball tournament!  Several people that we’ve met here at the park joined a team.  But of course, we were cheering for the Minnows team that included Jerry and Dee and Rick and Marla.Bases Loaded  In this type of baseball, the point is to get on base and score runs  by tossing the bean bag into the holes on the board (reminds me somewhat of the corn hole game). Of course, the game is designed for us old folks to take part. As you can see from the photo on the left, the bean bag is tossed through a hole in the board, determining howMarla's Up many bases or a foul or out.  If the player gets a hit, they walk to the bases where they sit down until time to advance or three outs.  You see, it’s really just like “real” baseball.

So don’t think there’s any less competition or rivalry or the elements of any team sport!  Above you can see the bases loaded with Dee, Rick and Marla.  Meanwhile, Jerry T. was in the batter box and hit (tossed) a grand The Minnows Team wins the tournament.slam home run.  Wow! 

On the right you can see Marla showing her batting technique (tossing technique, that is).  It was an exciting morning as the Minnows demonstrated their hand-eye coordination and teamwork, advancing through to the final game. That championship game was close and had some pretty tense moments….then the Minnows were victorious!!! (See celebration on left.)  Congratulations to all the teams for another good day on the field of play!

On that upbeat note I think I’ll stop with our current Arizona adventures!  Again, many thanks to Jerry and Dee for being such good friends and social organizers. We appreciate them and all these nice folks here in Congress.

We are planning to move along somewhat southerly soon.   Stay tuned for more news.  Thanks for visiting with us at Hurley Travels.  Stay safe.

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