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January in Mesa - 2015

MESA IS THE PLACE TO BE IN JANUARY!

I'm sorry for those in the Midwest and East that have been hit with horrible weather and I really don't mean to gloat but 60's and 70's in January is pretty darn nice!  

We remember snow - 2-2-2011

I haven't written in a while so you get a whole month of our adventures in one post.  Hope it's not too long and rambling but if you're in Chicago you have nothing better to do today anyway except watch some football game.
 
The very first thing we did when we checked in to the park was to ask about services that clean rigs.  Driving on I-40 thru the snow in New Mexico really got our rig dirty, the dirtiest that it's ever been.   It was a little embarrassing when people recognized us by saying "oh, you're the ones with the dirty Montana".  (nobody actually said that but we know they were thinking it!)  We had it cleaned on Monday and we are all much happier. 

 
My very favorite dessert is an old family recipe - Ice Box Cake. It's a very old family recipe (from my great-grandmother) and it's very unhealthy (isn't everything good?).  It's made with raw eggs, 1 pound of powdered sugar,  1 pound of butter, lots of chocolate and lady fingers.  It takes two days to make and my brother Joe has become the master of making it.   When I heard they were coming to Arizona I immediately started begging Joe to make one because I was really  craving it.  We visited them at their rented condo on their last full day in Arizona (Tuesday 12/30); Joe and Jim were out golfing but someone (who wishes to remain nameless) spilled the beans that Joe was making the cake!  When he got back from golfing I started my whining about how much I missed ice box cake and even offered to go out and buy him what he needed.  He soon realized that I knew he was working on it but he finished making it anyway.  YAY!!!
The Ice Box Cake King

Licking the bowl is almost as good as eating the cake!













Waiting at Outback





Before we could get to dessert we needed to eat dinner so we headed over to Outback where we caught up with Roseanne's aunt and uncle.  Finally we finished eating and drove to Uncle Tom's house and had some Ice Box Cake.  YUM!!!!  Thanks Joe!!!
Finally!!
My family left on New Year's Eve and as soon as they left the weather turned warm.  I can't imagine a better place to spend the month of January than Mesa, Arizona.  The weather is sunny and in the 60's and 70's, absolutely perfect temps!  The park we are at is at least half Canadian and they don't care what the temperature is, they are in the pool every day.  I'm waiting for the 80's before I take a dip. 

Marty and I work 12 hours a week, the rest of the time is ours to do whatever we want.  The work is easy and we've had fun exploring the resort and the Mesa area.

Would you like some broccoli?
Our first job was working the New Year's Eve Party, all work campers were required to work and we had to wear white shirts, black pants, and black shoes - very professional looking.   Marty and I were both put on the buffet line, it was fun and people were very nice.  Marty dished out the lasagna and I got to dish out the broccoli.  

Our normal schedule is working on Thursday, Friday and Saturday setting up chairs and tables for various activities.  Our work on Thursday and Friday varies but a typical Saturday is:

We start at 7:30 a.m. and  meticulously clean the shuffleboard courts to the Shuffleboarders very exacting standards.  Then we stop in the Saguaro room to set up for the Weight Watchers meeting.  From there we go to the card room and put away the card tables and chairs so the morning exercisers have room to exercise.  After that we check to see if anybody has ordered from the "Party Wagon", if so we are off to deliver the order. At 9:30 we go into the ballroom and take down the long tables which are used on Friday night for Bingo and on Saturday mornings for the pancake breakfast.   All the long tables and about 1/2 the chairs are put away and round tables are set up for the Saturday night dance.   We have to finish up before 10:30 because that's when the "Walking with Leslie" class starts.   We then check in with our boss to see if there is anything else to do.  We are usually finished by 11:00.
When setting up for Bingo it's very important that the tables are equal distance apart!

It sounds like a lot of work but we are working with at least 3-4 other people and we get it done pretty effortlessly.  After working at Amazon this job is a breeze and we are still getting a decent workout doing it.
Taking down Christmas Decorations
Putting up Dance Decorations





















Some of our days off have been spent photographing rental homes throughout the area.  Marty has done almost 30 jobs since we got here, he started out busy but the work has slowed down so now we have  more time for sightseeing.


During our first year on the road Maddie would ride/wait in the car with her head under the seat.  Recently, after 15 months of traveling, she has discovered that it is actually more comfortable on the seat.   She still gets under the seat when the car is in motion.  The only problem now is that sometimes while she's waiting for us she thinks the front seat is even better than the back. 



About 150 miles west of Mesa on I-10 is the town of Quartzsite, Arizona.  Quartzsite has a population of about 3600 people which swells to around a million during the winter, especially in January and February.   Rv'rs come to this desert town and camp on the free BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land surrounding it, spending their winter enjoying the abundant sunshine, amazing sunsets and the Sonoran Desert landscape.  Their is a RV show in mid-January and a swap meet and rock show that run in January and February.  We took a drive out there on Monday, 1/19 to see what it was all about.  We toured a few Montana 5th wheels to see if they had done any upgrades from when we bought ours, there weren't.  Then we visited the "Big Tent" which had vendors selling all kinds of products for the RV and also booths with people promoting their RV parks and some looking for work campers to spend the summer with them.  Amazon was even there recruiting, we ignored that booth!  We bought a few things including some pretty cool shirts (see picture of Marty below).   We spent about 4 hours walking around the tent and outside area before stopping to grab a bite to eat (did you know you can deep fry avocado?).  We did a little more exploring and then headed back to Mesa.  I was a little disappointed, expecting there to be more vendors.  Once we got back in the truck and turned the corner we realized that we had only covered about 1/2 of the show, there was a whole other flea market across the road!   I guess we'll have to wait until next year to check that out.

Seriously?  Would you eat this?  


Doggie Stroller?  No Maddie, you can walk





Another day off was spent driving the Joshua Forest Scenic Road which runs from Wickenburg north to Wikieup on US Route 93.



Joshua Tree
Along our drive we saw the town of Nothing - with a population of 4 there really is nothing there.

One afternoon we took a drive thru the Superstition Mountains which are just northeast of Mesa and found Saguaro Lake.   We will go back there for some hiking and more photos.  Did I mention that I love Mesa in January?  

Saguaro Lake
Superstition Mountains at Sunset
Last Sunday (1/25) we got together with our fellow work campers to share snacks and stories.  Some of these people have been on the road 10-15 years!  We got lots of ideas for future work camping jobs and had a good time just talking.  We are all on different schedules so Sunday is the one day we can all get together.  
Our fellow work campers


After the party, Sunset on the Shuffleboard Courts.
We have also taken advantage of some of the activities here at the resort.  Marty uses the Music room to practice his guitar and has also visited the woodshop.  Every Monday morning the bike club meets for a 20 mile bike ride, I rode with them last week and Marty and I will both be riding this week.  


There is a nice billiards room here with about 10 tables and Marty tries to get me to play but I'm not very good, he's better off playing against our fellow work campers.  They also have a pretty decent library - that I enjoy!

I've been crocheting a lot lately but since I'm not very good at following patterns all I've made are scarves and rugs.  There is a crochet class that I'm hoping to join so maybe there will be a oval rug or maybe even a hat to go with all the scarves.  I guess they are going to need those scarves since I hear there is a blizzard going on right now in Illinois.






We had another "all hands" party last week, a Manager's Happy Hour.  There are probably between 1500 - 2000 people staying at this park and they all get invited to the Manager's Happy Hour which occurs once a month.   We pretty much worked all day - setting up tables in the morning and then working the party in the afternoon.  We served ribs, chicken wings, and chicken on a stick along with fruit cups, veggies and dip and cookies.  We get to eat after everyone has been served and there was a lot of food left so we were "happy campers". 

Karen and I filling fruit cups

Who says it doesn't rain in the desert?
The party was on Thursday and all day it threatened to rain.  Luckily it held off for most of the party but then it poured all night Thursday, all day Friday and a good part of Saturday.  That's a shame since the Super Bowl is nearby and people probably thought they'd get to enjoy the sunshine.  Of course today is Sunny and it's expected to be nice for the next week. 
GO SEAHAWKS!!






Well, I think that pretty much covers our January in Mesa.  We will be here until the end of March and we still have lots of exploring to do so stay tuned.
Ernie Banks, 1931 - 2015
 Rest in Peace Mr. Cub - All of Chicago will miss you and your unending optimism.  
You were an inspiration to us all and will truly be missed!
GO CUBS!!!

The Cubs will reign supreme in 2015