This ‘Is’ Our First Rodeo

I have read almost every novel by Louis L’ Amour, the prolific western novelist.  His stories are a great escape for me into a world of the rough and tumble old west.  The easy to read books are predictable with always a ‘tougher than the other guy’ main character and I always appreciated his treatment of women in his stories which was respectful and dignified.

That being said – I have never had a desire for the western lifestyle.  I love horses – but really am uncomfortable riding them.  Once at Disney World we did a trail ride on probably the most docile horses on the planet and I was scared to death.  Furthermore – I have never really looked good in Wrangler jeans and those giant belt buckles just seem awkward.

So going to the “Andy Devine Days Rodeo” here in Kingman over the past two days was an experience I was really looking forward to.  People here are a mix of cowboy, heavy metal rocker, and sixties throw-backs.  Walk into any restaurant and you would be unsure if you were in the wild west or a ‘Metallica’ concert.  But upon arriving at the rodeo – Lisa and I knew we were really ‘out west’.  A co-worker of Lisa’s invited her to go and support her daughter who was in the ‘Barrel Race’ competition.  Always looking for that unique experience in our travels – not going to a rodeo while in Arizona seemed practically sinful.

We took our seats on Saturday about the same time everyone else was standing up for the opening, patriotic ceremonies that included a girl in a sparkling red, white and blue outfit riding around the dirt arena carrying an American flag.  She was followed by a parade of all the rodeo participants including one handicapped person riding his horse proudly on a special made saddle.  There was a recognition of a local soldier and then a stirring rendition of the national anthem by a local girl who works at the “Boot Barn”.  It is hard not to be impressed with the love of country and western culture here in this little town of Arizona that we have called home since June.  These are hard-working blue-collar folks who should be admired for their love of a way of life quite foreign to Lisa and I.  Making jokes about my observations of life across the US is never intended to disparage a community.  We love these people.  This is the essence of small town  ‘Americana’ – western style.

The rodeo clown was introduced to the crowd and began telling jokes between the different events.  Rodeos have a lot of set up delays between events and it was apparent early on that the clown would be busy most of the day trying to keep everyone engaged.  His best joke of the day was about shopping with his wife who told him he could not buy the ten-dollar case of beer but insisted on her own purchase of some beauty cream for twenty.  When the husband complained about her purchase she argued that with the twenty-dollar cream she could make herself beautiful for him.  He countered that the ten-dollar case of beer could do the same thing.  (Ba-boom!)

The first event was the bronco riding and most of the riders were thrown off practically before they got out of their “shoot”.  We hardly got to see any action until one rider managed to stay on for about five seconds and win.  I did notice that every rider limped after each attempt.  Thank goodness they had two ambulances waiting in the wings and the EMTs stayed busy all afternoon.

One of our favorite events was the “Mutton Buster” races where little kids were invited to try to ride sheep.  The kids were fitted with protective vests and helmets.  One of the riders was three years old (that’s right – three years old). Most of the kids flew off in just a couple of seconds but one managed to cling to the sheep wool with all his little might – eventually sliding toward the side of the animal and hanging there for several seconds as the sheep scurried across the arena to the cheers of the excited crowd.  I admit that I do not understand animal husbandry – but they had a stubborn ram on a rope in the center of the arena during this event – I suppose to entice the sheep out of their pen.  When the event was over – Lisa and I laughed out loud at their attempt to drag the thing away.  It looked liked the ram had no front legs since they were tucked underneath him as they dragged it across the dirt.  Again, the crowd went wild.

One thing we have learned about Kingman is that beer is available everywhere except maybe the Baptist church (and I am not sure they don’t serve brew during their pot-lucks or communion).  The rodeo was no exception.  This is beer guzzling country if ever there was one.  People were up and down buying brews throughout the two and half hour event and by the second hour I noticed more ‘hoopin and hollerin’ than before.

The barrel races were enjoyable to watch as the girl riders were impressive in their ability to maneuver their horses around the three barrels and then sprint to the finish.  I am always impressed with people who can ride horses – since it is so traumatic for me.  And these cow-girls could really ride.

During the second hour – we were entertained by a one-armed cowboy herding a couple of enormous bison onto the top of a tractor-trailer that had been moved into the arena.  (I had to go back and re-read that sentence – yes that is what he did).  I was just glad PETA wasn’t anywhere near this place – they would be going nuts.   Of course, out here a person can buy a gun without any waiting period or background check – so I doubt PETA wants anything to do with these folks in Kingman.  I am quite certain everybody here is packing – all the time.

Calf roping was another big hit with the crowd and impressive rope work and physical strength is required for this event.  Unfortunately, one participant did a great job of roping the calf but could never manage to lift him off the ground and tie up his legs.  He strained and strained to lift the beast but never succeeded before the thirty-second horn sounded.  I have to say that maybe the most entertaining moment of the day was when one of the calves broke free and refused to go into the holding area.  After about fifteen minutes and about ten cowboys – he was finally dragged away. The crowd cheered when they finally shut the gate!

The final event of day was the bull riding and I have to say that was something to see.  Every rider got thrown and trampled by these 2,000 pound animals and every rider was limping or holding something that hurt after each attempt.  They finally moved the ambulance to the rear of the bull riding area – just to save time.  I am fairly certain one of the riders either dislocated his hip or broke his pelvis – but he was able to wave to the crowd as he dragged his leg behind him on his way to the ambulance.

The event ended with one final parade of horses and riders to the cheers of  the slightly tipsy crowd and we made our way home.

Mark rodeo of our list of things to see before we die.  We can’t wait to see what happens on day two.

Ride ’em Cowboy!


Andy Devine and Autumn in Arizona

Cool temperatures are a welcome relief for Lisa and I as we rapidly approach our final month here in Kingman Arizona.  With the monsoon season finally ending and sunny days returning – we have enjoyed the high temperatures being a moderate 85 and have hit into the 40s at night several times.  We have even been forced to turn our furnace on in our RV the last several nights – something we could not imagine in June when temperatures were breaking record highs.  The rains have left everything much greener here in the desert and locals say it seems greener now than they can ever remember.  We have also experienced a bizarre invasion of caterpillars.  Thousands and thousands are moving to mate or spawn or hatch eggs or morph into butterflies or moths or something.  (Where is Joe Ford or Marlin Perkins when you need them?) They squirt this nasty green juice on you if you touch them and though they say it is harmless to humans – I don’t want to get near them.  As for Lisa – if one makes its way into our RV – it’s good-bye Kingman.  We have experienced tarantulas, lizards, jack rabbits, and now caterpillars in biblical proportions.  Life in the desert is a bizarre world but the fall here feels more like home.  We will miss the colorful changing leaves  Kentucky brings.  But won’t miss all the raking that will follow.  Here – there are no trees to speak of and I don’t know if they change colors or not.  They have not yet.  This will be the third time we have been away through changing seasons and that always makes our travels seem longer.  It feels like a long, long time ago when we arrived to record high temperatures hitting 110 and 115 degrees.

This week we will be saying good-bye to Carol and JC Harshman, friends we made here at the campground.  I will be particularly sad seeing JC leave as he and I have become good friends playing golf twice a week.  I will be writing more about JC and his story as a retired craps dealer.  He is quite a character.  The Harshmans are full-time RV’rs who live in Las Vegas.  As the temperatures start to drop around the area – even the lower elevations cities like Vegas are experiencing comfortable temperatures and people are starting to return to those places – leaving Kingman behind.  Our camp friends gathered last night to send JC and Carol home in style with dinner at the ‘Hualapai Resort’.

Today Lisa and I are going to the 29th Annual “Andy Devine Days” Rodeo here in Kingman – another first for us.  I am looking forward to writing about that experience.  We have no idea what to expect.  Neither one of us have anything close to cowboy attire – I do have a ‘Chicago Bears’ cap and some jeans.  I will probably look more like Billy Crystal in “City Slickers” than Andy Devine.  Who is Andy Devine – you ask?  He is the most famous native son of Kingman and was an actor who starred in many old westerns.  If you ever hear him talk – you will recognize him immediately.  Along with a parade and rodeo they have a major road named for him here which is actually part of the original Route 66.

Just about six weeks from now we will head home – but we will have much to write about before that happens.  Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Steve and Lisa

“It’s a Small World and I Hope This Boat Don’t Sink”

Each year at the middle school where I worked for twenty years, we had a student health assessment day in which students were checked for basic health issues.  With the help of our local hospital staff, students were checked for their flexibility, hand strength, heart rates and other health indicators using basic, non-invasive tests.  As part of that assessment I annually assisted with heights and weights.  After checking the weights of about a hundred kids – I found myself getting bored and started messing with the students.  Middle schoolers can be difficult to deal with but they are also fun to mess with because they are so gullible.  As the students stepped onto the scales I would ask that they hold their breath as I recorded their weights. Without hesitation they would inhale real big and wait until I said they could breathe.  When that got boring I asked that they stand on their tip toes.  Sometimes I would say we needed them to step on the scale and face the other direction.  It was hard for me to not laugh out loud.  Those were fun days.

But, here is another good example.  During my tenure at the school, I secured my bus driver license and would occasionally drive students to various events and activities.  Each year I would take a group to a campground for a day long retreat.  The drive included a very steep hill that required the bus to climb on our return trip.  School buses tend to move very slow up a steep hill and I convinced the students to lean forward in their seats to help the bus negotiate the climb.  It was a hoot watching them in my rear view mirror follow my directions without question.  The serious look on their faces and the silence on the bus while they leaned forward was indication that they really believed they were making a difference.  Finally, one of them would notice me laughing and realize I was playing a joke on them.  Gosh, I almost miss those days.

People will follow directions – sometimes to a fault.  There was an episode of one of our favorite shows, “The Office”,  in which the company boss, Michael Scott, and his idiot assistant, Dwight Shrute, go on a sales call using directions provided by their GPS.  Following those directions to the letter – they drove right into a lake.  As funny and idiotic as that is – I have to admit that, although I hope I would never follow directions to that degree, I am prone to do as people say – sometimes without question.  A good example of that was this past weekend during the most hilarious boat ride of our lives.

“It’s A Small World” is probably the most obnoxious of all Disney attractions.  This classic boat ride has been around since Disneyland opened and as one of the original attractions – will probably never be removed.  Some people love it.  Some believe it would be better if each rider was given three softballs to throw at the evil little figures that sing non-stop.  While at Disneyland last weekend – two other couples who we came to know while in Loma Linda (Amy and her boyfriend, Mark, Marcello and Martha) joined Lisa and I on this mind-numbing ride.  After a long day in the parks it seemed like a good way to take a break and rest our tired legs.  As we lined up to board the vehicles, the Disney “Cast Member” instructed all six of us to enter the boat via lines “4” and “5”.  Okay – those were the directions and so like good cattle – we mooed our way through the turnstiles obediently.

After we were seated, having squeezed our fat asses into these two small rows, we realized the comedy of the moment.  Only a few other people were in the boat and they sat in the front two rows.  Between us and them was one empty row and we realized the cast member had made a mistake in loading our boat.  We had room for one row per couple – but here we were pressed into the two back rows – looking like idiots.

As soon as the boat left the docking area and the round-headed dolls began singing their obnoxious song, we felt the front of the boat raise out of the water.  I would think that one of the important aspects to working this ride is understanding basic theories of water distribution.  To say the least – our boat was not ‘weight distributed’ evenly.  None of us are really small, light-weights and as soon as the water started rising just outside our seats, Martha screamed, Lisa grabbed my arm and the few people in the front of the boat turned around to see what the commotion was.  They had to notice we were much lower in the water than they were.  We continued down the long-winding canal laughing and screaming at our predicament.  One of our friends, Mark, is a rather large, muscular guy and it was toward his side of the boat that water rose steadily.  We tried leaning in the opposite direction to even out the weight distribution – but it did little good in leveling out our boat.  In the meantime we could hardly see anything ahead of us as the front of the boat had lifted enough to block a clear view of anything to the front.

“It’s a world of laughter – a world of tears…,” over and over the song played as we tried everything we could to stay afloat – I even suggested that we use my old bus trick and lean forward and we laughed even harder.  Finally, we neared the end and (wouldn’t you know it) the ride broke down.  We could see the unloading area just around the corner – but all the boats were stopped for reasons we never understood.  We continued to laugh, squirm and lean away from the rising water while waiting to be set free.  In the meantime the evil little devil dolls kept singing,

“It’s a world where boats sink and people cry – If we don’t stay afloat then we all may die.”

At one point I offered one of the cast members ten bucks if they would let me get out.  That only provoked a frown from the worker but everyone in our boat cracked up – including the strangers in the front of the boat who we were about five feet in the air.

Well – all good things must come to an end and finally, mercifully, thankfully, we pried ourselves loose from the boat and walked free.  We were alive!  The rest of the night we all had the song ringing in our head.

I think it finally stopped playing in my head sometime Tuesday afternoon.

Sometimes it is good to follow directions.  Ask anybody who has ever put together a child’s toy.  Better follow those instructions or something just won’t work.  But, there may be times in life that a person needs to question things.  We should have asked why we were being seated in those two back rows.  It should have been apparent to at least one of us that we had enough poundage in our group to warrant a boat all to ourselves.

Next time you go to Disney – ride “It’s a Small World”.  But, I suggest you sit in the front and take some softballs.  The view is much better up there.

 Have a magical day!                          

The Long Beach Lobster-Fest

During our highly eventful trip to southern California this past weekend (including the well documented run-in with the police – see “Racing With the Pigs”) we joined our friends Martha and Marcello for a night out at the Long Beach Lobster-Fest.  For Lisa and I it would be another unusual event among many others we have experienced in our travels.  Marcello had never eaten lobster – or even crab for that matter.  So, it was an event we were all excited about attending.

We arrived at their home in Highland, California in the middle of the afternoon having driven the four and half hours from Kingman.  Highland is very near Loma Linda where Lisa and I lived during the winter months while she worked for the Loma Linda hospital.  It was there that we met Martha and Marcello and we have stayed in contact with the two over the past months.  These are two of the sweetest people we have met in our travels and we would love for them to get to Owensboro soon to meet our family.  Although they are closer to our children’s ages, we had a blast during our long weekend with them – one we will never forget.

Marcello, Lisa and I picked Martha up at her work and headed to Long Beach – just about an hour drive from Highland.  We laughed all weekend about how it seemed everywhere we went was about an hour away.  I stole the line from “O’ Brother Where Art Thou” saying the place was a “geographic oddity – an hour from everywhere”.  It was not hard getting Martha to bust out in a side-splitting laugh that would have all of us cracking up.  Southern California seems like one giant city that connects one city or beach to the next.  I was glad Marcello did the driving as he knew how to get around and Lisa and I could just sit back and take in the sites.

By the time we arrived in Long Beach it was getting dark and we arrived at the Port of Long Beach around 8:30PM.  Never in our lives had we seen anything like the terminal port area we drove through.  Lighted crane after lighted crane dotted the landscape and the shipping containers waiting to be loaded onto trains and ships must have numbered in the hundreds of thousands.  It was dazzling seeing this operation and we learned that this port is one of the largest in the United States.  We also were able to see the WWII battleship “USS Iowa” that is permanently docked there and caught a glimpse of the Disney “Wonder” cruise ship.

We finally managed to find a parking space and walked along the docks where fishing boats were moored as we made our way to the festival.  Crowds were starting to thin out by the time we arrived but they were still serving lobster and that was all we cared about.  We stood in line to buy tickets for the food and another line for drinks.  Separate tickets were sold for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.  We were even made to buy tickets for water.  I suggested to Marcello that you probably needed a ticket for first-aid.

On our way to the where the lobster was being served, Marcello and I purchased a couple of “Panama Jack” style hats that made him look like a member of the Cuban mafia.  I looked like an idiot from Owensboro, Kentucky.

We finally sat down to feast on the lobster meals ($34 for a two person meal).  We tore into our lobster like we had not eaten in days and pieces of shell, meat, skin from our own hands and lobster juices went flying everywhere.  None of us really knew how to get inside the shell so I finally laid mine down and hammered it with my fist.  I wasn’t sure if the cracking sound was the lobster shell or small bones in my hand breaking – but I didn’t really care – I was hungry.  Our friends laughed at my approach but soon tried that method for themselves.  It was a blast.

After stuffing ourselves with lobster we left and headed back to Highland (about an hour away) and crashed at Martha and Marcello’s house.  We all wanted to return to the port on Saturday to see the place in the daylight.  Our plans changed and (again) you can read about all that happened on Saturday in that previous post.

I know that I have said this numerous times – but I repeat what I believe is a truth.  It is not about the places you go – it is about the people you meet.  We won’t remember much about the Port of Long Beach or the USS Iowa or the Lobster-Fest in years to come.  Maybe we will be able to recall some of what those places and things were like.  But I can promise you we will never forget Martha and Marcello.  We will remember Marcello in his Cuban hat and will remember Martha’s hearty laughter.  We will remember the day we spent together chasing crooks through Long Beach and the fun we had together at Disneyland.

Life is people and the best people are our friends.

Thanks Marcello and Martha for a weekend we will never forget.

Your friends, Steve and Lisa.

Is a 622 Series Good?

The story I am about to tell you is absolutely true.  I could not make this up if I tried.  Well, maybe I could make it up – but it would not be a story even remotely believable.  I suppose sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.  And this true story is strange.  Here goes.

A few weeks ago I blogged about our bowling with some senior adult friends of ours who live here in our campground.  I mentioned that Lisa and I have learned the importance of connecting with people on their territory – even if it is something we are not necessarily fond of.  A really nice couple here, Tom and Diane, are big bowlers and to spend time with them Lisa and I bowled with them during “senior day’.  You can read about that experience in that previous post.  Neither of us did particularly well in terms of score – about normal for us.  I scored my average of around 140.  Which brings me to yesterday.

We decided to get a group together and return to the bowling lanes and along with Tom and Diane we were joined by my golf buddy, J.C., and another couple, Glen and Kaye, who were there just to watch.  I mention them so that you know I do have witnesses to what transpired.

I have never been a good bowler.  As I mentioned in that previous story, it is a game that looks easy – but is really not.  The best I have ever bowled is around 160.  Until yesterday.  Don’t think I am about to start bragging – that is not what this is.  This story is so surreal I am certain it had more to do with the stars alignment than my bowling ability.

We bowled three games each during the senior special and it was my first game that was the highlight.  After finding a pair of shoes to fit and locating a ball that felt good enough to use (since I don’t have one of my own and never have) I rolled for the first frame.  It felt pretty good as I released the ball and the result was a “9” with a good chance for a spare.  Got it!  And I was off to a pretty good start – for me.  Frame number two – a “6” and a spare.  At this point I was thinking it would be just another normal round for me with maybe three spares (on a good day) and, who knows,  maybe two strikes.  That would be exceptional.  But here is where it gets weird.

My third ball could not have hit the sweet spot any better and it resulted in a strike.  Wow! Two spares and strike.  I was really on my game.  The fourth frame was much the same.  My ball struck perfect again and I had two strikes in a row.  Now I need to say here that I have never bowled three strikes consecutively and maybe only on a handful of occasions have bowled two.  So this was really something.

Frame five.  People are starting to now notice what is happening and paying more attention.  I roll again – it looks good – like all the rest – could it be? It is – three strikes in a row.  Okay – its is about time to get back to reality.  I am thinking my luck has finally run out.  People are laughing and ‘high-fiving’ and shaking their heads and doubting I’m telling the truth about my bowling game.  What is going on?

Number six.  I try not to think about my string of strikes and am interested in just keeping the ball out of the gutter at this point.  I roll – it looks good – I can’t believe it – it has a chance – STRIKE number four.  I think I may pass out at this point.  This is just not happening.

On to frame number seven and I have two spares and four consecutive strikes.  I try not to think about what I am doing – just do like before and I can’t believe the results are the same – STRIKE.  Five strikes in a row and the crowd behind me is going nuts.  At this point I am speechless – just shake my head and sit down.

Now I am getting near the end.  Will I keep this going any longer or will the karma of the moment fade away as fast as it arrived?  I take up my position with the scratched up red/pink ball that I found on one of the racks.  I eye the target and let it fly.  STRIKE! That is six strikes in a row.  What is happening here?

My string of strikes ends on the ninth frame with another “9” and a spare.  Now I have only the tenth frame remaining and to this point six strikes and three spares.  It is time to end this thing and I bowl two more strikes and a “9” on the tenth frame.  Our friends are cheering and laughing at my score.  254.

254.  I just bowled a 254.  But, even more amazing I was seven pins from a perfect score. SEVEN!  I have never been close to 200.  180 would be a lifetime goal for me.  But never, never in my wildest dreams would I think I could bowl a 254.  My next game was more the norm for me – though actually a score I would be proud of – 168.  But with my last game of the day I got back into my earlier groove and bowled a 200.  What a day!

Diane had my scores printed off and told me I had a 622 series.  I asked if that was good.  By her reaction I suppose it is.  I actually asked the bowling ally if I could purchase that pink ball – but they said no.  The way I was feeling I would have paid a hundred dollars.

After we left the bowling ally – we all had lunch together and then walked over and bought a ‘Powerball’ ticket for the big 400 million dollar give away last night.  J.C asked me to touch his ticket hoping my luck would continue for a few more hours at least.  But, someone in South Carolina won the 400 million so I suppose my good karma has come and gone.  But I bet they didn’t bowl a 622.  So take that!

Maybe here is where I should wax on about some life lesson learned through all this.  I suppose I could say something like – keep trying you never know what may happen as long as you don’t quit.  Or maybe something more spiritual like: the unexpected blessings of God come in various shapes, sizes and scores.  But really I can only conclude one thing about yesterday.  I bowled really good.

And if you are looking for me – I’ll be at the bowling alley.

Racing With the Pigs

They were racing pigs at the Los Angeles County Fair this past Saturday.  At least that is what we understood was taking place on the day we had planned to attend with our friends Martha and Marcello .  Martha and Lisa met while she worked in California and although they are young enough to be our children – we hit it off well and visited them this weekend.

Our plan was to meet up with them on Friday and drive to Long Beach for their famous “Lobster-Fest” and then on to the LA County Fair on Saturday.  We got a little sidetracked and this is the story of how we did not see pigs run but actually ran with them.

How to begin?  Because we had plans to top our weekend off with a trip with Martha and Marcello to Disneyland – we were interested in finding some cheap tickets to the park for Sunday.  Lisa and I checked on ‘Craigslist’ and found some available but not enough of a discount to bother with.  On Saturday morning as we were preparing to drive to LA, Lisa checked again and found a good deal being offered and we began calling the number.  We did not get a response for a couple of hours but finally a text message informed Lisa that the tickets were still available and they would be willing to sell four of the five they had.  The price was only $75 each which is about half the cost of a one-day hopper pass when purchased at the gate.  Our text dialogue continued and we learned that they were in Long Beach and could meet up with us for an exchange.  The woman texting us said she had won the tickets at a church raffle but would have to send her daughter to make the exchange since she was working.

It all sounded too good to be true and, well – hang on.  We made plans to meet the daughter at a “Jack-In-The-Box” restaurant on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in Long Beach.  All of us were excited about this great deal and we made our way to our rendezvous point.  On the way Lisa continued to text the woman and assured her we were “church going” adults who her daughter would be safe with.  The mom sounded relieved.

We arrived at our meeting place and sat down for something to drink and waited for the sixteen year old to arrive.  Not long after sitting down we saw her in the pink top and black shorts her mother said she would be wearing and we waved to her as she crossed the parking lot and entered the place.  She came over to our table and had the four “E-tickets” for Disneyland with her.  She explained that they did not expire until late December and that Disney would scan the bar codes of each for entry to the parks.  We handed over three hundred in cash and told her to be careful with the money as we had promised her mom we would be sure she was safe.

I’m not sure at what point we all began to suspect something was a little sketchy about this transaction.  But I do know the moment the girl stuck the money in her bra I started feeling a little uneasy.  She left and we looked over the tickets which seemed at first glance completely legit and headed to our car and to the LA Fair.  On the way I noticed that the confirmation numbers were all the same.  RED FLAG!  RED FLAG!  But, being the trusting souls that we are – we thought maybe they were bought as a package deal which would explain the same numbers.  My worries grew by the minute despite everyone’s attempt at trying to convince themselves they were real.  Finally, I decided to call Disneyland and ask if each E-ticket should have a different bar code.  “YES!” was the emphatic response of the Disney customer service person I spoke with.  We were deflated, depressed, despondent, down-right dumbfounded and duped.  Our day was ruined knowing we had just lost three hundred dollars.  We did our best to shake the whole thing off – but it just wasn’t working.  Finally I suggested we contact the Long Beach police.  It was then that this story turns.

While I was explaining the scam to the police on the phone Lisa, Marcello, and Martha decided to try to contact the girl using one of their phones since they had a different area code and phone number.  Perhaps the girl would get greedy and try to scam someone else and we could have the police meet us to have her arrested.  Martha and the girl started texting and the girl said she did have five tickets left and we could have all five.  Martha said we were a good distance away but they agreed to meet at a “Burger King” just a little ways from the original contact point we had made earlier.  In the meantime the Long Beach policeman I was speaking with suggested we go to the police department and speak to an officer in person.  Marcello drove as fast as possible to the station while Martha tried to stall the thief at the drop point.  It was all starting to feel a little like we were in an episode of “CSI: Long Beach”.

We finally made it to the police station and spoke to an officer.  After lecturing me about ‘Craigslist’ being the devils playground – he gave me another phone number to call and have them meet us where the girl was waiting.  (I need to say here that we have purchased several items via ‘Craigslist’ in the past including baseball tickets and had never been scammed) We ran back to our car and I called the number and (again) explained our situation.  The officer on the phone decided that we should go to a location across from the “Burger King” and wait there for an officer to arrive.  He said we would have to be present to identify the girl as it could not be done over the phone.  I gave him a description of her and we headed out.

I don’t know at what point adrenaline levels can be dangerous but I think we were all nearing that level as we sped down the PCH.  Martha said her skin felt “clammy” and poor Marcello was perspiring in heart attack levels as he weaved his little Toyota through the Long Beach traffic.  The girl was starting to question where we were as we were now almost fifty minutes past our first contact with her.  We were afraid she would bolt before we got the police there.

Finally we arrived and drove past the Burger King to the designated spot to meet the police. Fortunately the greedy little thief was still there and we watched her pacing around the restaurant nervously.  After what seemed an eternity we noticed two police cars arrive.  One entered to the rear of the Burger King and the other from the front.  Cornered –  with nowhere to go – the little girl we were afraid would have the cash stolen from her was now in custody  Justice was about to be served.

A short time later the dispatcher called me and said the police needed to talk to us and Marcello and I walked across the lot to show them the bogus tickets and give them the full story.  The girl was sitting in the back of the squad car.  What a beautiful sight.  We gave them the tickets and told them the sordid story.  One of the officers told us that it was almost impossible to get money back in these situations and that the girl had told them she was just the middle man in the deal and did not have the money.  No big surprise there – but it still felt good seeing her in the back of that police car.  The officer went on to say we had one of two choices.  Either we could drop the whole thing and let her go or we could have her arrested.  Hmm, what should we do?,  “Arrest her!”

We were told to go back to our car and wait since they would need more information after they spoke to the girl.  Soon we were called back to give our full statements and while we were doing that a stranger approached and excused himself for interrupting.  He told the officers that he had spotted a ratty looking RV parked on a side street and that the person inside seemed to be watching this drama unfold with unusual interest.  As we turned to see who he was talking about – we noticed the man walking up to the police car where the girl was being held.  Not long after that – the man was laying across the hood of the patrol car – spread eagle.  Enter the accomplice in this high drama.  Gotcha!

After being asked to return to our car and wait so they could question these two further, we notice them wave for us to return after just a couple of minutes.  One of the officers approached and said our money had been recovered and that the two thieves admitted it was ours.  Victory!  We had been scammed for three hundred dollars and three hours later had our money back and two thieves put away – we had scammed the scammers.  I apologized to the officers for putting them through this but they told us they were glad to finally catch these two as they had been scamming people for some time.  Wow! Not a bad day.

We were so happy we hugged and high-fived each other for ten minutes while the officers finished up some paper work.  We followed one of the officers to a nearby station for him to photocopy the currency as evidence and hand it over to us.  Marcello and I waited in the police station while Lisa and Martha waited in the car.  Here we are at the Long Beach police station – again.  What a way to spend a day.

But there would be more drama to come.

The officer finally handed over our money and after thanking them for their work – we walked to our car.  On the way I counted the money and realized that sixty dollars was missing.  We returned to the station door and knocked to get the officer’s attention.  He returned and I told him we were short sixty.  “You’re kidding?”, he said and paused and then told us he must have left some of the bills in the copier.  I joked that we had been scammed by a couple of petty thieves and now by the Long Beach police – all in one day.  Fortunately – the officer had a good sense of humor and retrieved the missing sixty bucks – and we were finally on our way.

What a day!  Marcello and Martha are two of the sweetest people we have met in our travels and I doubt they will ever forget the day these two Kentucky rednecks came to town. I will be blogging more about those two and our visit with them this past weekend. The highlight of which was our day running with the ‘pigs’ in Long Beach.

But before anyone gets the wrong idea – the Long Beach police did an amazing job and I would never disrespectfully refer to them as “pigs”.  In this drama playing the part of the pigs were two idiot petty thieves who thought they could pull one over on these Kentucky rednecks.  In this pig race – the ‘hillbillys’ won.

Buyer Beware!

Never Knew Bowling Could Hurt So Bad

We have made friends here in Kingman with Tom and Diane from Redding California.  They are really terrific people who have been here in Kingman this summer caring for Diane’s father who had been under hospice care.  (We learned this past week that he passed away)

Tom and Diane are big bowlers who compete in bowling leagues here in Kingman a couple of times per week.  One thing that Lisa and I have learned in our travels is that it sometimes becomes necessary to participate with others in their hobbies or interests just to make a connection.  Recently we decided to join them for a morning of “Senior Bowling” at the local bowling alley.  “Senior bowling” is on Friday mornings and those over fifty can bowl three games with free shoes for five bucks.  What a deal!  So we met Tom and Diane at the “Cerbat Lanes” for our leisurely morning of senior citizen bowling.

The first order of business was finding shoes to fit.  Lisa wears a size ‘2’ or something like that and most of her shoes light up.  I, on the other hand, need something in a ‘EEEE’ width and should come with built-in flares or “Wide Load” signs attached.  We both had little confidence that we would find proper fitting shoes and were fully prepared to play in our sock feet – which is what we do most of the time when we bowl.  Surprisingly we both found shoes that fit reasonably well.  Mine only made my feet bleed a couple drops – which is an indication I did OK.  Lisa’s never went flying down the lane and actually looked nicer than most of the “Powerpuff Girls’ shoes she is forced to wear.

Bowling is one of those things that is deceptively difficult and Tom and Diane really make it look easy.  Tom’s hands are the size of pie plates and he had no problem spinning the ball at just the right angle and location to get strike after strike.  He had a way of laying his ball down without it making a sound.  Diane was smooth and controlled as her ball seemed to always find the straight path to really good scores.  Lisa and I are a different story entirely.

Lisa uses the lightest ball she can find.  I have had basketballs that were heavier.  Her ball is so light it hardly has enough momentum to tip over the pins and I swear on one of her throws the pin bumped her ball into the gutter without moving.  It just sat there sort of making fun of her.  I don’t think she noticed.

As for me – I have never learned how to lay the ball down on the lane without it sounding like the scoreboard just fell from the ceiling.  When I bowl it seems like  everything stops for a split second and people look in my direction to see what horrible event caused such a sonic boom.  Once my ball is making its way down the lane – it is anybody’s guess what will happen.  I have learned to spin the ball and look like I know what I am doing.  Unfortunately the spin I use also causes my wrist to practically torque itself in two and I am certain I am not doing it correctly.  By the third game I am needing to bowl with my left hand.

Our scores were about average for us – both really bad – but we enjoyed spending time with our new friends.  We could both tell they were glad we had gotten involved with something they love so much.  So all in all it was a good day.

The next day I noticed Lisa limping and she said her right hip was hurting.  Apparently the movement of bending down to bowl put extra strain on her right side and two nights later it was so bad she could hardly sleep.  As for me I began to feel a little pain in my right shoulder almost immediately after we finished bowling and by the next morning was convinced I had a torn rotator cuff or dislocated shoulder.  We limped and moaned and groaned for two days after our outing.  How bad a shape could one be in when they can’t hardly get of bed after bowling?

As soon as we get healed up we may try to bowl again.  But I’m not sure if the medical bills including surgery and physical therapy will be worth the five dollar senior bowling deal.  I’m just glad Tom and Diane are not into kick boxing.



Eric’s Story

Everybody has a story.  Whenever I have taken the time to talk to people – to show interest in their lives – I am amazed at how willing they are to tell me their story.  Traveling has provided Lisa and I an opportunity to meet some fascinating people who have lived really amazing lives in places all over the world.  Often we are surprised to learn the fascinating stories people can tell about themselves.  Most of the time – we pass by people with no knowledge of where they came from or the incredible hardships most have endured.  But everyone has a story.

For the past couple of days I noticed a man sitting in a parking lot here in Kingman that I was interested in talking to.  The bicycle he was sitting on was a homemade contraption that served as both transportation and living quarters.  A sign on the back said he needed part-time work and/or bicycle parts.  I watched as some people stopped to offer some money and he seemed appreciative.

Today I stopped to talk to him and find out about his story.  My first comment was regarding his bicycle and he told me he had made it himself.  He went on to say that he had traveled 1300 miles on the bike from Bellingham, Washington and was on his way to somewhere in New York to see his girlfriend.  He left Bellingham on May 1st and had been in Kingman for a couple of days.  I asked how long it would take him to get to New York and he said six months.  We talked some and I asked if I could get a picture of his unique ride.  He was friendly, well spoken and even smiled for the camera.  I noticed he was reading a little New Testament when I first walked up and after a few minutes I gave him a little money, shook his hand and wished him good luck.  He told me his name was Eric.

I don’t know if he was telling me the truth or not.  He may be scamming people with a different story each time someone asks.  It seems a little out of the way to be coming from Washington state to Arizona on one’s way to New York.  But I liked Eric.  I liked his demeanor – the way he smiled – the way he sat back on his bicycle like there was no concern in the world.  And I’m glad I stopped and talked to him.  He may not have a home and he may be six months away from his final destination.

But he has a story.


Into November

“We will be home in mid-August.”  At least that was what we told everyone since it was  the original plan when Lisa and I traveled west here to Kingman AZ.  Not a week after being on the job the hospital asked her to extend two more months.  So – it was thought we would leave here on October 24th.  Nope.  Lisa agreed yesterday to give them until November 6th.  With our son’s wedding coming up in late November – that will be all we can do here for now.

There is a distinct possibility that Lisa will be asked back here after Christmas.  Will we return?  Who knows?

So we will at least be able to enjoy what everyone here says is the best time to be in Arizona – October and November.  But we have learned to not get ahead of ourselves in hoping for cooler weather.  Something tells us that we may have record high fall temperatures here since we are hanging around until then.  These poor people had to deal with one hundred year record highs in June when we arrived.  Now we are cursing them with possible record temperatures through October. 

But, please don’t let anyone know here in Arizona that it is the McFarland’s that caused this.  Just a few miles from here in Oatman they stage daily (fake) shoot-outs.  If they find out we are the cause of all this strange weather – they may stage one with us as the main players.  But this time with real bullets. 

See you in November! (we think)

Steve and Lisa


“It’s a long road before us – and its a hard road indeed.  But darling I swear I’ll get us there – wherever the trail may lead.”  Tim McGraw

It began with the statement: “And then we drove away” and was born.  Now I am writing our 100th blog describing our travels and experiences over the last year.  And what a year it has been. I retired, we began traveling with Lisa’s job with stops in Hanover Pa., Loma Linda, Ca. and Kingman, Az. and along the way became grandparents.  Yes – this has definitely been an eventful year.  From Gettysburg to the Grand Canyon our travels have given us a lifetime of experiences that we have attempted to chronicle with this blog site.  We are honored that people have faithfully read about our adventures and, we hope, have enjoyed the journey along with us.

I’m not sure what I expected when we began blogging on June 30, 2012.  I do remember we were still at the “Altland House” in Abbottstown Pa. waiting for our RV to be readied when I typed out that first blog.  It is hard to believe I have managed to hammer out 99 more since then.  Reaching 100 is more a testament to the encouragement I have received from faithful readers than my writing endurance.  Writing is not always an easy thing.  I often struggled to find things to write about and sat for hours trying to create a single post only to delete the entire thing and begin again.  Other times the writing came quickly as the stories and experiences generated in our travels poured out on the pages with ease.  The “Tarantula Story” (7/13/13) was written less than an hour after it happened while other stories idled in my mind for weeks.

Our kids have teased us about the name, “trippin with steve and lisa”. To them it sounds like a couple of hippies in Colorado – living “high” – high on some mountaintop.  I don’t know why that name was chosen – but trust us – we are not “high” on anything.  It is hard enough to keep up with our lives now without the aid of the wacky weed.  We are high on life – man!

To date over 7,000 hits have been recorded on this little blog site and though that is small compared to some – I am overwhelmed by people who stop by and catch up with our lives.  Some have commented that they live their lives vicariously through ours and dream of being able to travel in their future.  I hope we have inspired people to live out their dreams.  It has also been interesting hearing from people who do not know us personally – but happened upon our blog and visit regularly. Traveling with Lisa’s job has been something we have dreamed of doing for years and God has granted us a wonderful opportunity to live out that dream.  Because of that we feel compelled to share our experiences with others.

Writing has helped me in many ways.  It has been good to have a record of the events in our lives and I hope my children and grandchildren will someday enjoy reading these stories.  Furthermore as I get older I find it harder and harder to remember certain events in my life and this has allowed me to go back and relive moments I would have otherwise forgotten.  It’s tough getting old.  But mainly this blog has forced me to keep writing – something I have a passion for and although may never be paid for anything I  write, I want to improve as a writer and storyteller.  And who knows? – there may be writing opportunities for me somewhere down the road.

Of the one hundred posts archived here – some stand out more for me than others.  One of my favorite posts was the second one called “GPS or God’s Positioning System” and it told about how our navigational system directed us to the wrong church in Hanover one Sunday in June 2012.  Our plan was to attend the First Baptist Church of Hanover but our GPS directed us to the Nazarene church instead.  We did not realize our mistake until the service was well underway.  But, we loved the little Nazarene church so much – we decided it must have been God’s plan for us to be there – so we continued to attend having never made it to the Baptist church.  Other posts included our stay in Gettysburg which inspired me to write numerous posts about the historic battlefield.  One favorite was, “A New Birth of Freedom” (8/30/12), which described the location of Lincoln’s famous “Gettysburg Address”.  Others detailed my observations of the battlefield and its famous monuments.

While in Pennsylvania Lisa spent a weekend in New York City and her trip resulted in my writing “Lisa and the Big Apple” (10/9/12) and it turned out being one of her favorites.  Another favorite of ours was written after returning home in March 2013 from our four-month stay in Loma Linda.  It was at home I wrote “God’s Perfect Timing” which described our arriving home just hours before our daughter, Heather, went into labor with Conner Jack.

One of the most popular posts of our readers was a self-deprecating description of my experience trying to repair a leak in our RV bathroom.  Many posts involved stories of living in our RV but none funnier perhaps than one titled “Knots on My Noggin” (7/24/12).  The story is about getting my head stuck in the tight spaces of our bathroom and how I manage to bang my head on anything and everything.  Many readers responded that it was their favorite.

My stories are often about people we meet.  I wrote about ‘John’ in Hanover who I met while shooting basketball in his neighborhood near the hospital where Lisa worked.  John was taking care of his wife and mother-in-law both of whom suffered from Alzheimer’s.  He was carrying a heavy cross and I think about John often and hope to visit him again someday.

In October 2012 Lisa’s parents visited us in Gettysburg and during that visit we came upon a little Amish food stand where we met a little eight year old boy and his unforgettable older sister.  They sold “Whoopie Pies” and other homemade items as part of their family income.  In that blog (10/15/12) I described her telling of their newborn sibling who was born premature –  but, (thankfully) slowly gaining weight and strength.  Her words, “Every once counts”, will stick with me forever as will the wisdom of that remarkable middle school aged girl.

On average most of our posts are read by forty to sixty people.  Some have been read by nearly one hundred or more.  Without a doubt the most read blog was “A Painful Day and a Future Glory” (7/26/13) telling the story of my late brother, Gary.  In a twenty-four hour period that post was viewed over five hundred times.  I thought his story was worth the telling although it was one of the most painful for me to write.  I knew it would have powerful impact and hoped it would be read by many.  Knowing it was read by more people than anything else posted on our blog was personally satisfying.

Writing is a vulnerable business.  I put my heart into all I write and have had my share of random and anonymous criticism.  Criticism is not easy to digest – but it has made me a better writer. If something written made people laugh or think or cry or feel something – it will have been worth the struggle.

So Lisa and I will keep writing and telling our little stories for as long as God allows.  Thank you readers for following our blog and “trippin” with us!  We hope you will stick around a while longer.  After Kingman, Arizona we have no way of knowing where we will be next.  But you are invited to join us – wherever the trail may lead.


Steve and Lisa