October 2011
Spending the first week of October in Abilene, Texas near our grandchildren and our daughter, we were on the lookout for activities and adventures that were new to
us.  One morning we found ourselves at the Taylor County Expo Center watching the seniors calf roping competition.  These cowboys AND cowgirls obviously have a lot
of horseback riding experience!  And to the untrained 'city folk' it looked almost cruel.  But it was amazing to watch the roping efforts.  A calf was let loose into the arena,
and then two riders on horseback came racing out of the chute.  One rider was in charge of roping the front horns of the calf and as soon as that was accomplished, the
second rider would rope the hind legs of the calf.  It looked like the horseback riders were playing 'tug-of-war.'  All this was going on while the animals were going full
speed around the arena!  We will say that as soon as the calf was roped, the riders loosened the ropes and the calf was allowed to run back to the corral.  Then the
calves and the riders would get in line to try it all again.        A much more tame event was taking our youngest granddaughter to her own horseback riding lesson.  She
had been taking lessons in Pennsylvania and is pleased to have found a place in Abilene to continue.  She also climbed up on the buffalo in downtown Abilene to see
how that would feel, but it didn't move!  The Abilene area was once home to many herds of buffalo so there is reference to that fact all over the place.
Before we left town, we made it to a couple more softball games to watch the two oldest granddaughters play, and to another high school football game to cheer on the
Wylie Bulldogs and the Pure Gold Marching Band.  Our son-in-law was able to make a week-end trip down from Pennsylvania so it was a great family weekend.  We even
got to help celebrate Matt's birthday.  Unfortunately, it was a cool rainy weekend, so we weren't able to do much outdoors.
All good things must come to an end, they say.  Before we left last spring, we had made appointments for several doctor visits in Arizona in October.  So, on Monday,
October 10 we pulled out of Abilene and continued our journey west.  That part of the United States is pretty desolate, but we set our goal that day for the town of
Sierra Blanca, Texas and a Passport America campground.  When we got there, we found that it was abandoned.  A friendly gas station clerk directed us to another
place down the road, which didn't look much better, but did have a lockbox to deposit our overnight fee and the electricity to run our air-conditioning was working.  We
had made several stops on our trip that day and once again in Sierra Blanca, Tom went out to follow Ford Motor Company's instructions to start the Escape and run
through the gears.    This time he found that the gear shift would not move, and the key would not come out of the ignition, although the engine would start.  After
some frustrating cell phone calls (because we were far from a tower) help arrived well after dark through our AAA service.  The driver felt that the transmission was
"fried" and he would return in the morning with a flat-bed truck to take the Escape into a dealership in El Paso - 80 miles away.
In El Paso, Shamalley Ford confirmed that the transmission had totally failed and would need to be replaced.  We spent two days documenting our prior preparations
and our travel procedures following the directions in the owner's manual with the service department, but they continued to tell us that Ford would not cover the
warranty on our 8-week old car with 2000 miles on the odometer.  Not looking forward to continuing our RV stay in the alley behind the dealership in El Paso or paying
the $5000 they wanted for repairs which would take at least a week, we asked if it was possible to continue towing the car to Arizona so that we could work on the
situation from our winter home.  They agreed to "make that possible" and charged us $210 for that!    Meanwhile, we had made some phone calls to the dealer in Ohio
where we had purchased the car and to a dealership in Arizona where friends had good service in the past.  All of a sudden we had return calls that told us that there
had been some major mis-communication someplace because the computer system showed that our warranty coverage had been approved on the first request to
Ford.  We were off to Arizona!  We towed the Escape right into the service center at San Tan Ford in Gilbert, Arizona on Thursday afternoon, October 13 and were
greeted by the Service Manager, the Fixed Operations Manager, and a Service Writer who were expecting us and had already started the paperwork for the work we
needed done.  We were given a rental car and they got to work on our Escape.  We headed on to Palm Creek in Casa Grande and got the RV settled in our site.
We were happy to be back at Palm Creek.  It definitely feels like home!  Our neighborhood was still a little empty, but we found plenty of people to play tennis and golf
with and were both put on the schedule for our volunteer jobs in the park.  After several days we noticed that our lights were dimming every time we used them.  Tom
checked the batteries and discovered that a large cable between the batteries and the coach electrical system had broken.  So, another repairman was called and
luckily, an easy repair was made.  Another scheduled repairman arrived another day to install a major part in our washer/dryer which had been out of commission for
about a month.  We had a great visit with friends from the Tri-State Bounders who were in Casa Grade to attend a "fly-in" at the local airport.   Meanwhile, up in Gilbert,
the transmission on our Escape had been replaced and several days later we exchanged the rental car for our own vehicle so that we could drive it around for a few
days to make sure it was operating properly.  The next week more parts had arrived at the dealer, so we drove the Escape and the motor home back to Gilbert.  It took
several workers all day (7am to 6pm) to install the new transmission lube pump on the Escape and run wiring for power and an alarm to the coach.  It was a short drive
back home, but towing went well for our first trip.  There are still a couple of issues to deal with before we'll feel a little more confident about towing again, and the
dealership will "be in touch."  We can't say enough good things about San Tan Ford Customer Service!
We finished out the month enjoying the company of newly arrived neighbors at our traditional "happy hour" each afternoon and
celebrating our 44th wedding anniversary.  We're looking forward to more of both!
Ride 'em cowboy!  It was "2 against 1" but quite often, the calf
Merrick atop the giant buffalo.
This one moves a little better...Merrick taking a turn around
the corral on her first visit with a new horse.
SAFE!  Close taking one for the team...
...and Coffey doing her best to add to the dirty laundry.
Coffey playing her sax in the "Pure Gold Marching Band."
It was "Breast Cancer Awareness" night at the stadium,
so the team taped their feet in pink!
Happy Birthday, Matt!
Greater downtown Sierra Blanca, Texas
One way to get good gas mileage!
You can tell by the smiles that we had a tasty lunch with
Bob and Gwen.
The golf course is a green oasis in the desert and
looking pretty good after re-seeding.
Tom hard at work as a starter on the 10th tee.
Our tennis matches are early in the morning for a while
because of the heat...yes, that's Tom and Mary.
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