In Loma Linda, California where Lisa and I spent the winter months – I discovered walking to be a tremendous way to stay in shape and save on fuel for our gas guzzling SUV we needed to haul our stuff out west for three months. At one point I managed to average about eight miles per day – which will never get me ready for a triathlon, I realize, but not bad for a 53 year old with an arthritic knee and really bad feet.
By the time Lisa and I had returned home – my feet were a mess and a doctor informed me following an exam that foot surgery would be necessary soon. That will have to wait until our return to Kentucky – whenever that will be. In the meantime – I miss walking but the heat here in Arizona coupled with my foot problems have forced me to find other ways to stay in shape.
There is a really nice pool here at the KOA campground where we live in Kingman and I will use that as much as possible. However, I have never been a really good swimmer and I don’t believe sinking in a pool is really going to get my heart rate up. As I was taking Lisa to work one morning – we passed a sign indicating a walking trail and noticed people taking advantage of the cooler morning temperatures heading down the concrete path. Because of my walking problems I decided to check out bicycles at the local Wal-Mart thinking that may be the best alternative for me as far as exercise.
Years ago (probably twenty) I invested in an expensive mountain bike that I still own. I never really used it for mountain biking – just rode the Owensboro “Greenbelt” trail or occasionally rode it to work and back. I got plenty of use out of it over the years – but really paid way too much. So I was looking for something plain and simple in a bike that would allow me to sit upright and just stroll along on this new found path here in Kingman. Sitting upright was my priority consideration. I am done with any bicycle that forces me to lean over until the blood has filled the top of my head and my hands have turned numb and blue from the strain of all my weight. Also I refuse to turn myself into one of those Lance Armstrong acting, spandex wearing, piston legged club riders that lean across bikes with pencil thin tires worth more than the RV we live in. I wanted something with wide tires and fenders and one of those spring loaded carriers on the back. I wanted something with a wide seat and old fashioned coaster brakes. I wanted a Schwinn “Heavy Duty”.
Upon arriving at Wal-Mart I noticed many bikes that fit that description and settled on a blue Schwinn that would make me look more like Pee Wee Herman than any serious street biker. This one was perfect – wide, whitewall tires, coaster brake, fenders, and when I rode it for the first time I thought of Ms. Gulch in the Wizard of Oz carrying Toto away from Dorothy. I could not look more ridiculous – but I love my new bike.
But the amazing thing about this whole experience is that I only spent $88. I remember when the bikes we rode as kids cost more than that. How did we manage to keep the prices of bicycles so low? I mean $88 – really? This bike is certainly not top of the line and has no hand brakes or gears. But for that price – I may not bother locking the thing up. Don’t get me wrong – $88 is a lot of money and I am glad I could afford to buy it. There was a time in my life that would not have been possible – something I am not ashamed to say. But in an age where we can easily spend $88 at a nice restaurant with our family – I bought a bicycle – and it was a Schwinn.
Now if I can just find some of those tassels.
Steve and Lisa
It gets hot in Kentucky. Don’t be fooled by all that nonsense about the cool bluegrass fields where horses run and children play. Forget Jesse Stuart’s picturesque portrayal of the breezes that flow through the mountain Laurel or the water that cascades down the hills in the east. Kentucky is hot in the summer – dang hot! It is a place where you sweat opening the door to pick up the morning paper. Humid? How about 90%! Yes – Kentucky is a hot place in the summer.
But I cannot remember it ever being 111 degrees there. That is the projected temperature this weekend here in Kingman Arizona. ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN. Lisa and I are about to experience those temperatures for the first time during this summer stay in western Arizona. Many have told us about the heat but always use the term – “dry heat”. Not sure what that means other than it is lower humidity than one may experience in Kentucky or the south. But come on – 111 degrees? I think I will cook our eggs on a rock to save on our propane. Forget the hot water heater – water will be practically boiling in the tanks without any help.
Lisa and I just do not know how we will react to those temperatures. Furthermore we are not sure how to talk about the heat with the locals. Do we go up and say something about how hot it is? That seems stupid to even say. It is like turning to a Sherpa on the way up Mt. Everest and asking, “Is it cold enough for you?” I may try that line out with one of the Kingman residents here this weekend – just as an experiment. “Hey, you with the leathery skin wearing the ‘Arizona State University’ baseball cap! Is it hot enough for you?” What will be their response? “Nope – I don’t take off my jacket until it hits 130. It got down to 96 yesterday and we turned on the furnace.”
So Lisa and I are about to experience Arizona summer temperatures that everyone warned us about. If the keys on my laptop have not melted I will do my best to describe 111 degrees to those who, like us, have never experienced those temperatures. Maybe by doing that people back home in humid Kentucky will find themselves feeling a little cooler after all.
But come to think about it – before this summer is over we may look back and long for those cool days when the temperature was just 111.
Steve and Lisa
Lisa’s first day at the Kingman (AZ) Regional Medical Center was a smooth one for her and learned she will work into a schedule of twelve-hour days and a “seven on – seven off” rotation. This will allow us to possibly travel home occasionally for a week at a time as well as spend more time for friends and family to come out for a visit. Lisa also learned that it was highly likely that this assignment will go into October. It has been our wish that we can be home this year in November and December – unlike last year.
We are still trying to get use to the desert weather but so far the temperatures have been tolerable in the mid 90s. That may change this weekend with temps hitting 107. If you smell burning flesh – it may be mine. The wind keeps the dry air stirring and helps with the temperatures but everything is so dusty it will be impossible to keep our truck clean. I saw two hitchhikers the other day out here and they were so dusty they reminded me of the sand people from Star Wars. Our RV sits next to a large field (or desert looking area – not sure what to call it) and blows dust onto everything but does afford us a beautiful view of the sunrise. The sunrises and sunsets here are breathtaking.
Lisa and I traveled to Hoover Dam on Sunday and did the tour of the power plant – something we did not get to do when we drove through on our way to Loma Linda CA back in December. What an amazing engineering accomplishment! Later we traveled to Las Vegas for supper. Vegas will be the best airport to fly in and out of as it is only about an hour and half from Kingman.
We hope to go to Lake Havasu City this weekend (sixty miles away) and see that area which includes the London Bridge that was moved here in 1971. We both are also looking forward to taking a train from Williams AZ. to the Grand Canyon.
Weather reports here are preparing residents for what they call “Monsoon Season”. Apparently rains can fall here in biblical levels and we have already scouted out ways to get Lisa to work should our back roads become flooded. I may price some two-man canoes. I’m sure the rain would be welcomed here – no matter how intense it may come. We noticed how trenches are dug around the small trees here in the campground with water piped in to keep them alive.
Still looking for Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner to make an appearance.
Stay in touch!
Steve and Lisa
We made it! After four days traveling 1750 miles we arrived at the Kingman, Arizona KOA campground yesterday around 3:00PM. It was good to finally unhitch our camper and settle in to where we will live for the next eight weeks.
We left out of Holbrook Az. yesterday about 9:00AM after breakfast at their “Chuck Wagon” with our new friends Doug and Erin Monk from Houston. The trip was about 400 miles through Flagstaff and it’s higher elevation (over 7000 feet) and across some of the prettiest parts of the state we have seen as well as over the worst roads we have driven on during the trip. At one point the jarring tore a panel loose on our RV but we duct taped it and kept going. To see for the first time the place you will live for two months (or longer) can lead to a “what have we got into here” kind of response. We experienced that in Hanover Pa. when we first arrived there last summer. We have learned from all our travel to not let first impressions derail you emotionally. It is hot, dusty, bland, windy and (did I mention?) hot. But this is where God planted us for now – so it will be great.
Lisa and I drove around to find the hospital where she will be working and were glad to see that it was just a couple of miles away. It was also important to locate the nearest gas station, grocery store and Wal-Mart. Kingman has some historic places we discovered including some sections of the original Route 66 including famous restaurants and museums. We also learned that we are an hour from Hoover Dam – an hour and half from the Grand Canyon “Skywalk” and about the same to Las Vegas.
We met and talked to a couple from Vancouver British Columbia who were staying out our campground while vacationing to the Grand Canyon. He worked on a loading dock for 44 years (starting at the age of 16) and just recently retired. We talked under the light of a “super moon”. The temperature here was in the mid 90s during the day but a near perfect evening with the large full moon and temps in the 60s. They are predicting temperatures next weekend to get as high as 110.
We were both exhausted last night as the adrenaline finally drained away after finally getting settled in. This was our first significant trip pulling our RV and it is a little stressful. I found myself mentally thinking through all the steps of securing everything on our camper as we moved down the road. I became more and more comfortable but never really relaxed. I would hear something and think our entire RV had broke free and was careening out of control in the other direction. It was always a small relief to see it was still attached. At one point it occurred to me that I had not put the cap on our black water tank. Fortunately I had closed the valve or else we would have left a poop trail all the way down Interstate 40. Later, while fueling up, something caught my eye and I noticed the keys were still in the camper door. Guess I need to add to our checklist – “remove keys from door before traveling 300 miles down the highway”.
Thanks for following our blog as we traveled west and we hope to be more frequent in sharing our adventures here in Kingman.
Steve and Lisa
Good Bye Amarillo! The wind finally died down and we pulled out of Texas early Friday morning heading to Holbrook, Arizona. Our travel day was another long one (eight hours) but we were excited knowing the final leg of our trip would be just three hours on Saturday. New Mexico landscape is a little more pleasing to the eyes than the Texas panhandle and it was easy to see that it was probably the inspiration for Disney artists conceptualizing “Radiator Springs”.
We made it to our campground in Holbrook around 6:00PM. It was hot – but not overwhelmingly and we were surprised to find the temperature drop to 57 last night. The campground manager said it is typically hot as Hades during the day and cool at night. We are not sure how the weather will be in Kingman – but we are soon to find out.
Last night we ate at the campground (they called it their “Cowboy Cookout”) and enjoyed talking to a couple from Houston who were vacationing to the Grand Canyon. They were huge Disney fans which gave us plenty to talk about. Like us they also were in Amarillo during the wind storm on Thursday and actually had to move to a hotel room when the door to their pop-up camper blew off. Really nice people.
Lisa and I have learned to take our chance and go talk to people in our travels. Campers are generally very friendly folks and in the end – the people you meet and friends you make are what we remember most. We will add those two to our list.
See you in Kingman!
Steve and Lisa.