Still at Palm Creek in Casa Grande, we were having some really "laid back" days.
According to management, there were about 300 people still staying in the park...quite a
difference from February when there over 3000 residents. We enjoyed the peace and
quiet and the lack of traffic in the park as well as in town. There were still a few of our
neighborhood "gang" around, so we weren't "alone."
We did have a few sparks of activity in the park, however. On May 5 there was a "Cinco de
Mayo" celebration with about 150 people gathered in the ballroom to share their favorite
Mexican foods. As usual, there were far too many options. On Mother's Day, the park
provided a roast beef dinner with around 75 of us providing the side dishes. Once again
we had a great meal and enjoyed the company of friends and neighbors.
As of May 1, the Palm Creek Pro Shop was closed for the season, but residents are
allowed to play the course for free. So, guess what? Tom and neighbors Dennis and Dick
were out there every morning by about 6:15am. They walked the 18 holes and were back
home before 9:00 when the temperature began to rise. Several days Tom played another
18 after lunch, but as it got warmer, he discovered that wasn't a good idea. A couple of
Mary's tennis buddies have decided to take up golf as well, so the ladies played a good
many mornings as well. Char and Marion will be playing at Palm Creek all summer, so
they'll likely be way ahead of Mary by the time we get back to Casa Grande.
We had noticed some bales of hay stacked up in the
undeveloped land next to the 14th hole of the golf course.
So, one day we went over to check it out and discovered
that there is a little experiment going on. The bales were
stacked two high and in a rectangle of four bales by two
bales and in the center was soil and vegetable plants. The
height of the garden makes it easy to weed and pick and
also to hopefully keep the rabbits out. An irrigation system
had been installed and several times we noticed workers
using a hose to water the peppers, tomatoes, squash and
cucumbers, among others. We're told that they are trying
to see how well things grow and perhaps will offer garden
plots to residents in the future. We'll see what happens, as
we think things would grow better earlier in the year.
We also noticed that right near the garden we always see a
burrowing owl...either sitting in one of the tree planters or
on an old tile down into the ground. They don't tend to
move away quickly and are always watching! There is
another nest of the burrowing owls just outside the front
gate of the park that residents have been watching for
The weather had remained totally wonderful. We still had no days reaching 100* in temperature, although later in the month there were some in the high 90s.
There were a few days of wind, but usually it was quite comfortable to sit in the shade in the afternoon and continue our neighborhood "happy hour." Since we
had no definite schedule or commitments we couldn't decide when we should head east, but we finally picked Friday, May 21 as the departure day. During the
month, we had slowly worked on the "To Do" list and after getting that accomplished and playing one last early morning round of golf, checking out at the office
and saying good-by to the remaining neighbors, we unhooked our utilities and were ready to roll. And, it was the first day of recorded 100* temperature! Our
only problem -- the engine wouldn't start! We'd had the coach running several times over the winter, but the 7 year-old batteries just didn't want to work any
more! It took us another day to go over all our options and then purchase and install new chassis batteries. That did the trick, and we were finally on the road
on Saturday, May 22.
Before leaving the area, we made several "side trips." Going into the Phoenix area we made a few last trips to Costco and for doctor check-ups for Tom.
Another trip, to Tucson, found us at the huge Veterans Administration Medical Complex. Tom had attended a meeting last fall where the speaker was from the
VA and told about a new program that was allowing benefits to Viet Nam Veterans who now are affected with Prostate Cancer and/ or Parkinson's Disease. Since
that time, Tom has begun the application process for the program and it was requested that he come to Tucson for several medical appointments. We met with
a couple different doctors and he had blood work done. Time will tell if they determine he is eligible for any benefits. And, boy, what a complex of Spanish style
buildings that place is!
We made our annual first stop at the Welcome Center in Lordsburg,
New Mexico and on Sunday arrived in Las Cruces and parked in the
driveway of Mary's cousin's house. Sadly, Geoff and Beth have moved
to Virginia, but hope to return to Las Cruces. We met the property
manager and the new renters who will be moving in to the house
shortly, but in the meantime we took our usual spot near the RV
hookups. We ran some errands for Beth and Geoff...stocked up on
some southwestern foods they haven't been able to find in Virginia,
and picked up a new piece of furniture they have been wanting. Its a
good thing we don't have a house to furnish...Mary could have bought
a good number of things at "Casa Decor." (We're thinking of
advertising our delivery service :-) We are also carrying a box of hand
made pottery for some Palm Creek friends who fly back and forth to
From Las Cruces we headed into Texas for the long drive across the Lone Star State. We have visited many places in Texas in past years so just continued
driving across I-10. The further east we got the greener the landscape became, however. We certainly noticed the rise in humidity as we moved on to the east
and after boondocking one night, decided we would find campgrounds with power for the air-conditioning after that. We also discovered problems with our
electrical system and vehicle lights. Tom worked on the problem over several days and at a stop at the Camping World near Houston were told it would be a
week before they could fit us in for service. So, we continued on our way making sure we drove only in sunshine and stayed away from traffic as much as
possible. We spied another Camping World in Hammond, Louisiana and made another stop. The very busy techs were kind enough to talk to Tom and to make
a quick repair to our cable, but we still had some problems. Tom reviewed everything step-by-step and FINALLY the lights were working again. We certainly
appreciated having them as we drove through our first heavy rainstorm of the season near the Louisiana/Mississippi border.
|Dick and Alice Wells and Connie and Dennis Shafer
joined us for "Cinco de Mayo"
|It must be summer if the peppers, tomatoes and
zucchini are growing!
|He's guarding the garden!
The hard-working maintenance crew at Palm Creek was busy
doing all the things that many of the residents never get to
see happen. We sometimes take for granted what a great
place our park is to stay and how clean and beautiful it is. As
the lovely flower beds began to fade in the hot sun, crews
pulled up the annuals and raked the gardens clean. It was sad
to see the colors go. Some of the crew then tackled the big
job of trimming the blooming oleanders along the several
miles of block wall surrounding the park. What a job! It took a
king-sized hedge trimmer to cut the branches back to about 2
feet above the wall and many loads to the dumpster with all
the trimmings. The hundreds of palm trees and other shrubs
will get their turn a little later in the summer. The park was
looking pretty spiffy.
|The man had to balance himself as he walked along
the wall, 8 ft. off the ground, wielding the long trimmer.
Of course, they did the section of wall near us around
6am one morning...vroom, vroom!
|We always enjoyed parking here in the desert with a
beautiful view of the mountains. I know Beth and Geoff
really miss this place.
|We're taking this cabinet with
a bit of "southwest flavor" to
We made a one-night stop in Mississippi just a few miles from the Gulf Coast. After we got settled in the campground we took a drive in the car along the
beaches in the Gulfport to Bay St. Louis/Waveland area. The beaches are beautiful white sand that go for miles, but in this area there is still very little
developed property on land across from the water. That can be good, I guess, but what it means is that the devastation from Hurricane Katrina has still not
been overcome. Debris has been cleared and green vegetation has taken over the land. Occasionally one can see an abandoned foundation or parking lot,
and every once in a while there is a beautiful home or two looking newly built and up on "stilts." Walmart, McDonald's, Burger King, Waffle House and Holiday
Inn Express are also up and running in shiny new buildings. We passed a couple of lots of parked trailers and old RVs...some looked like they were still being
used. We found our way to a couple of casinos that are also back in business and used some free slot play to pay for a seafood buffet for dinner. It was dark
and rainy as we made our drive, so we weren't able to take any photos.
The campground we stayed at in Mississippi was
listed in our "Passport America" discount camping
directory. We had called ahead and they told us
there was space on the holiday weekend. When we
got there we could find no sign of management, but
we took a spot as a sign directed. A neighboring
camper told us to drive down the road to pay at the
Passport America office. There was nobody there,
either, so we left an envelope. Although our directory
lists their office in Florida, this appears to be some
sort of office for Passport America.
From Mississippi, on May 30, we moved on to Alabama and found a space at
the "Rainbow Plantation" operated by the Escapees organization. The
Escapees was started 50 years ago as a support group for fulltime RVers and
has grown over the years to include 19 RV parks across the country and has
their headquarters in Livingston, Texas where they operate a huge mail
forwarding service and an assisted living center. Several of the Escapees
parks have sites for "sticks and bricks" homes as well as RVs, and Rainbow
Plantation is one of them. When we first started out on the road in 2000 we
had followed a great website (Seeya-downtheroad.com) and eventually met
the owners, Norm and Linda Payne. We've crossed paths with them several
times since, including our week in Mexico in 2006. Since then Norm and
Linda have built a house here at the Plantation and stay here for the winter.
During the summers they travel in their Dutch Star. We got to the Plantation
just in time, as they were leaving within a couple of days for their summer
journey, but we had time for a great visit, a tour of their new home, and a
|It looks like a remodeled old gas station, but people at the
campground told us this was the office in Long Beach,
Mississippi, of the discount camping organization.
Driving across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama we
were once again amazed at the miles of freeway built
over swamp land. The working conditions getting
I-10 built across the southern states must have been
|This was our view in all directions on portions of I-10. The
road was built on stilts for miles.
|Linda and Norm Payne showed us around Rainbow
Plantation and a few sights in town before they left on
their summer adventures.
Our summer is just beginning, so look forward to more adventures as we go along!
sunset at Palm Creek