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Touring Arizona

Well as I mentioned in my last post, we have sold our San Juan Island cabin in what will be our first small step on the road to retirement. Now we need to investigate where we want to end up when we do, and it won’t be remaining in the Seattle area! The region has grown too large and continues to do so as people are just flocking to the area left and right. Along with this rampant growth comes a higher cost of living with a lower quality of life, in my own humble opinion and it is time to get the hell out! Our first destination on the list is Arizona. As a heat hating person, I had my sights set on Flagstaff where it’s elevation provides all four seasons, not scorching hot in the summer, and Debbie gets her sunshine! We used our timeshare at the Wyndham Flagstaff Resort as our base of operations and we enjoyed the comfy accommodations! Along with looking around the area and checking out housing, we also had the opportunity to hook up with friends, and old friends at that! Our first hook up was with Jeff and Jamie Simon. I have known Jeff for many years as we used to work together at S.E. Rykoff in my old restaurant supply sales career life back in the early 80’s. We have been friends ever since. They joined us on a drive down to Sedona to have a look-see. We LOVE Sedona, however, the home prices seem a bit steep for us there and are not exactly looking to retire in a tourist town. It is a beautiful place and we looked at many homes and walked the shops and enjoyed the scenery. Before it got too late we decided to make a trip down to Jerome since we were close. Now that town is a trip! Once a thriving copper mining town, it is now a tourist town and claims to be the largest ghost town in America. It has a weird vibe to it, but very cool nonetheless. We stopped in an old hotel, The Connor, for a drink in its old bar. The place was hopping for a Sunday afternoon and a very good band was playing. It was a good time and we jetted back to Flagstaff for dinner and a light snow was falling……loved it! They had to head back to So Cal the next day to face reality and we had the rest of the week for vacation and it was good seeing them again!

Our next visit with friends was with our good friends Bob and Patti McEvoy. They are close by down in Surprise and drove up to spend a couple of days with us doing some sight-seeing. Our first stop was up to the Grand Canyon’s south rim. In all her years of life, Debbie had never been or seen the Grand Canyon and as you can imagine, she was awestruck. I hadn’t been in years and had forgotten the majesty of the place. Let us hope that any proposed development of the area is stopped in its tracks. Must money ruin everything? We spent most of the day there and drove the south rim road and stopped at a few of the vantage spots. Some of the pictures are shown below.

Mostly Grand Canyon Pictures

 


We had another day with the McEvoys sightseeing. Bob is a great tour guide and does his research on things to do and places to see. He will find places that we would have never thought of checking out. The first place on the day’s tour was Two Guns Ghost Town. It was an old abandoned town along old Route 66 that I am sure had stories to tell. It was a very weird place that you could see had numerous attempts of being a viable place but failed. We love old stuff like this! We then jaunted out to the Meteor Crater, which looked like…….well…….a big crater! Being in Arizona with little rainfall, it is the best preserved meteorite impact on Earth and believe it or not, is not a National Park or landmark, but is family owned for many generations! Heading back towards Flagstaff, we took a short detour down to the Walnut Canyon Cliff Dwellings. These are old relics of an ancient Indian village built into the underside of cliffs very similar to Mesa Verde. Brought back memories of my life in New Mexico. It was a nice hike down into the “island” where many of the dwellings are located. Fun times with friends!!!

Two Guns Ghost Town


 

Walnut Canyon Cliff Dwellings


Now the time spent on our own was looking around Flagstaff at neighborhoods, different areas of town, and homes. Most of what we found just didn’t hit a home run with us. While I loved the beauty and all of the trees, Debbie just didn’t click with the housing options we saw for sale. Prices seemed high for what you got and many homes were a bit older for our liking. I was a bit depressed at that point. Then we drove down to Prescott!!! The minute we pulled into town, we knew we loved it there. As a matter of fact, we drove down twice in the week we were in AZ and looked all over the place and saw many homes. The town square was quaint and vibrant and everyone seemed nice and friendly. We were a little aghast of so many gated communities that had houses for sale that we couldn’t see unless we had a realtor get us in. It is a bit too early in our search to engage in services from a realtor just yet as we are still a few years out from anything. Still, it doesn’t hurt to start scouting out areas ahead of time. Also on our list of possible destinations are Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and also maybe Sequim if we decide to stay in Washington. Wherever, whatever, can’t wait!!!!!!!

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Big Changes At The Estate

Another View

The Entry View

 

Well after enjoying our little cabin aka “Givens Grove” for four years, it is time to move on! We have sold our little getaway in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We had many great times there and created wonderful memories with our friends who live up there and for the ones that made a visit. Our retirement plans have morphed into something different and it just wasn’t going to happen there. One of the reasons is being reliant on a ferry schedule that in some times of the year, isn’t too forgiving. I am sure if we had planted ourselves there full time we would have made the adjustment. Another reason….Island politics and attitudes……..didn’t mesh with ours, simple as that! Fun times and no regrets and now our search for our retirement location begins! Stay tuned!

New Year Catch Up

I guess I better write an update with the goings on in the Givens’ household. I am so used to posting on Facebook and Twitter, that I sometimes forget about the blog here. If you aren’t on Facebook or Twitter and are not following us there, you are missing quite a bit. It is 2016, get with the program! I am also assuming that you even care, how narcissistic of me!

Let’s see, where to begin, one of the things I forget to mention in earlier posts was my bout with shingles back in the summer! Wow that was painful and in encompassed the whole right side of my scalp and in the heat of the summer too! It sidelined me for three weeks and I hid in the house from the sun and heat as best I could. My hiatal hernia surgery in 2014 didn’t hurt as bad!!! A miserable ordeal it was, and I still have phantom itching on my scalp at times. I will definitely be getting a shingles shot when my doctor says it is okay!

My Aching Neck!

My Aching Neck!

The rest of the summer saw us taking a few camping trips locally in our trailer so we could scout out real estate and possible retirement locations that we could settle our work weary asses down. This brings up the next item of interest, we have put up our San Juan Island house aka Givens Grove up for sale. We have shifted gears on living there full-time and are going to decide on other places. Getting to and from an island is too much of a headache and the politics there suck! We still have a couple of years before Debbie can retire and as for me at that point, we will have to see where we stand financially! The one decision we have made is to get out of King County and the Seattle area. It has become too crowded and too expensive to enjoy life here in retirement…….period!

In October we went down to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary once again to volunteer with the animals. We fed pigs, groomed horses, and walked dogs. One dog really tugged at my heart and almost brought her home but resisted the temptation, barely! We just aren’t ready for two dogs in the house. Debbie wants another one badly so Cordell can teach it how to behave……ummm…….yeah! It is always such a spiritual reconnection when we visit there!

Joe's New Friend

Joe’s New Friend

Debbie and her Piggy Friends

Debbie and her Piggy Friends

After our stint there, we drove down to the Phoenix area to visit our friends the McEvoy’s who were joined by our other friends the Kelly’s! These are our trailer buddies if you didn’t already know! We visited Superstition Mountain and went over to Tortilla Flats for lunch. Another day we took in the sights of Sedona. Deb loved it there……. a possible retirement spot?!?! I love Arizona too, but don’t want to be in the heat, maybe Flagstaff is more to my liking, we are going back in March to have a look around!

The Six Finger Drunkards

The Six Finger Drunkards

The six of us were then to head to Las Vegas where we had a timeshare booked, but poor Patty Belle was sick which turned out to be pneumonia so it was just us and the Kelly’s. She is fine now! We drove up, stopping by the Hoover Dam to take a walk and have a look and be tourists! The water was very low and if it gets any lower, it won’t be enough to turn the turbines for the electricity Las Vegas needs to stay lit up! We had a great time with Rich and Pam and did lots of walking on the Strip! We saw Cirque du Soleil O and what a show, unbelievable!! We spent Halloween night walking Fremont Street and that was a show in itself……wild!!! It was a great time like always with old friends like these!

Debbie Photobombing!

Debbie Photobombing!

Vegas

Debbie and Pam Hitting The Slots!

Speaking of old friends, in early December, we hooked up with a very old friend of mine I used to work with in my restaurant sales life, Jeff Simon and wife Jamie! We met in Oakland for the Packer/Raider game. Since we were staying in Oakland near the airport and stadium, we took the BART into San Francisco on the Saturday and spent the afternoon walking around, hitting local watering holes and having dinner at John’s Grill. For the most part, Jeff and I spent a lot of time catching up since we hadn’t seen each other in years! Debbie and Jamie also get along just great too! The game was awesome and the Packers got a win and the Raider Fans were pretty cool too! It was a fun trip and look forward to hanging with them again!

Joe And Jeff

Joe and Jeff surrounded by Raider Gear!

Shots

The Boys Doing Shots!

Dinner

Dinner At John’s Grill

And there you have it, a catch up with the Givens’! A new year has begun and new adventures to have and let’s hope that we all stay happy and healthy and have a wonderful 2016!! Let the show begin!!!

Wine, Women, and Smoke

Yep, that’s right, another camping vacation in the books and it was another fun one of course! This one took us to the wine country of Eastern Washington and into the foothills of the Blue Mountains of Northeast Oregon. Four couples and four trailers involved, us, Rich and Pam, Bob and Patty, and Rob and Ursie, otherwise known as “The Gang of Six”! The ride over was a white knuckled extravaganza due to high winds blowing and reduced visibility to to blowing dust and smokey skies. It was also a boys(Cordell and I) solo journey without Debbie. See got her calendars crossed and signed up for a half marathon in Vancouver, BC during the same weekend as the beginning of the vacation. It was all good and we arranged it so she could still go up, by herself, do the run and then fly into Walla Walla the second night and join in the vacation fun! So after the trailer blowing from side to side most of the way into Walla Walla, the boy and I made it to the first stop RV Resort Four Seasons safe and sound.

Now there is Bob McEvoy, one of the unluckiest and in the same note, luckiest guys we know! As I arrived and started backing in, there he stood blood all over his hands, arms, dripping down his clothes with his permanent grin plastered on his face. He looked like a scene from a horror movie. Seems their camping cat they rescued some time ago and may still be a bit feral, escaped from the truck when they pulled in. Afraid the cat might just take off for good, he and Patty made a mad rush after it. When Bob got his hands on the crazed feline, it went catnip crazy on his extremities. The result was a bloodied Bob but a captured cat! These injuries hampered him throughout the trip, requiring a trip to an urgent care then surgery back home as sever infection set it! It could only happen to him.

The second night, Debbie flew in from Vancouver, BC at the large international air hub that is Walla Walla Regional Airport and the following two days we spent indulging in the region’s many many wineries. Wine tasting all day, four women, many bottles purchased, well you might take an educated guess how the nights went. We found Walla Walla to be way more interesting than imagined. I don’t recall ever actually being in downtown Walla Walla although have driven by and near it many times. The downtown core is bustling with many cool shops, restaurants and many tasting rooms. One restaurant we stopped for lunch was the Red Monkey, a funky little place with some really good food, and you can see the tasting tour list we did at the end of the post. It was a very nice town, but would we live there…….naw!

The next half of the trip was just over the border into Oregon, taking a road from Milton-Freewater into a canyon along the south fork of the Walla Walla River to a campground called Harris Park. It was a nice clean place and we had it all to ourselves for the first two nights. They had a group camp section and that’s where we all gathered.

Camp Crazy!

Camp Crazy!

We really wanted to do some hiking and that we did. The only problem there was really only two good trails and one was closed due to the large number of rattlesnakes infesting the hillside around the trail. Debbie does NOT do snakes………of any kind! We ended up doing two days of hiking the same hike. That is kind of boring but on the second day we went a bit further and stumbled on a very cool cluster of cabins at the end of the trail. It probably could only be accessed on the other side of the range by ATVs or four wheelers. The place looked like an old homestead, but was being visited and kept up. We let our imaginations run wild. Our campground was totally off the grid, no cell or phone service was to be had. We actually had to look at and talk to each other the whole time we were there….imagine that! The closest town was Milton-Freewater about 12 miles back the way we came in. We had to go there to get ice and also had to hit their only laundromat to do some washing because our boy Cordell decided to blow bits into the bed one early morning. We have only one set of bedding in the trailer(make note to buy another). Now unlike Walla Walla, the town isn’t so….well…..bustling! It is actually kind of depressing, but one weird thing, there are statues of frogs all over town and Debbie was fascinated with them.

Debbie and the Frog!

Debbie and the Frog!

There are over 40 of them placed throughout the town and do you know why? Well you can read why here! The one gem we did discover was the El Sirloin Mexican Restaurant. They had a mexican food lunch buffet and it was very authentic and excellent. Do not pass it up if you ever find yourself in town. The only downside to the whole trip was the constant haze and smoke in the air. As you might have heard, Washington State has had one of it’s hottest and driest summers on record. That has not bode well for Eastern Washington and it’s fire season. It has been horrible with hundreds of thousands of acres burned and many homes lost! We were surrounded by fires while there and the hazy skies and the smell of smoke reminded us daily. As we slide into Fall please help us with your prayers for rain, we need it! There you have it, our fun vacation filled with wine, women, and smoke! I should add blood to the list! Happy trails until we write again!

WINERY TOUR LIST!

Woodward Canyon Winery
Lodmell Cellars
Three Rivers Winery
L’ Ecole No. 41
Sleight of Hands Cellars
Otis Kenyon
Cougar Crest Winery
Henry Earl Estates

The Ant And The Grasshopper

This  one is a little different….
Two  Different Versions …
Two  Different Morals

OLD  VERSION

The  ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The  grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come  winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The  grasshopper has no  food or shelter, so he dies  out in the cold.

MORAL  OF THE OLD STORY:

Be responsible for yourself!

MODERN  VERSION

The ant works hard in the withering heat and the rain all summer long, building his house
and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come  winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while he is cold and starving.

CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide  pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit  the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody cries when they sing, ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green …’

Occupy the Anthill stages a demonstration in front of the ant’s house where the news stations film the SEIU group singing, ‘We Shall Overcome’.

Then Rev Al Sharpton’s assistant has the group kneel down to pray for the grasshopper
while he damns the ants. The Reverend Al cannot attend as he has contractual commitments to appear on his MSNBC show for which he is paid over two million dollars a year to complain that rich people do not care.

President Obama condemns the ant and blames President Bush 43, President Bush 41, President Reagan, Christopher Columbus, and the Pope for the grasshopper’s plight.

Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid exclaim in an interview on ‘The View’ that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.

Finally, the EEOC drafts the ‘Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act’ retroactive to the beginning of
the  summer.

The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government Green Czar and given to the grasshopper.

The  story ends as we see the grasshopper and his free-loading friends finishing up the last bits of the ant’s food while the government house he is in, which, as you recall, just happens to be the ant’s old house, crumbles around them because the grasshopper doesn’t maintain it.

The ant has disappeared in the snow, never to be seen again.

The grasshopper  is found dead in a drug related incident, and the house, now abandoned, is taken
over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the ramshackle, once prosperous, and peaceful neighborhood.

The entire Nation collapses bringing the rest of  the free world with it.

MORAL OF THE STORY:

Befree lo careful how you vote in 2016.

Hawaii 2015

Yes it has been awhile since or last post and it has also been awhile since our last vacation, so here goes! Back to Hawaii we went, our second visit and my second birthday spent there! Our last time in Hawaii saw us in Maui, this time we tried the island of Kauai! It is gorgeous and of course we loved it! The first thing I did was bitch about the humidity…..but that is just me! We drove up to Princeville where our condo was located. We stayed at the Makai Beach Club Cottages which was part of our timeshare network! They were a bit older, but all remodeled and very accommodating and the staff was excellent!

Our first couple of days were spent getting food and supplies, figuring out what activities we wanted to schedule, and getting our bearings and exploring the island. We decided to drive all the way around to the island to the west side which we did and went all the way to the end of the road to Polihale State Park! Absolutely beautiful and the longest stretch of beach in Hawaii. Go there if you visit Kauai, but be prepared for a long drive down a very rough old dirt road. On the way back, we just looked and stopped at anything that interested us. We drove down into Poipu and wow!!!! That is a very cool place and is on the mark for a future stay! We strolled the beach and found our way to the beach bar at the Marriot Waiochai Beach Club. We could only stay for a couple of drinks as we had to head back and get our activity schedule, but we planned to return later in the week for a hang out on the beach there! The next day we went and got some snorkeling gear and hit the beaches of the north coast, Anini Beach and Hideaway Beach. It was fun, but the tide was low so the water was shallow and you had to be very careful not getting yourself banged up against the reefs! We then dropped back into the town of Hanalei Bay and hit one of the local restaurants for dinner. It was a great vacation so far!

Our first excursion was sooooo much fun! We did the kayaking trip up the Wailua River. We kayaked for awhile then hiked into the back country and ended up at a magical place called the Secret Falls! You can only get there by boat and hike, there are no roads! It was beautiful. I have videos on our YouTube Page, go check it out! We ate lunch in front of the falls then hiked back out and kayaked back down the river! Very fun trip! Another cool and very fun trip we did was a catamaran ride on the Na Pali coast. We saw some beautiful sights and went snorkeling at the Lehua rock, part of an extinct volcano cone. After, they served us lunch and we had an “exciting ride” back to the dock. We headed back to Poipu for another look around and came across The Spouting Horn, a blowhole that shoots water out of the rocky coast……beautiful! Our last organized excursion was a tubing trip through the old Lihue Plantation! This is an old sugar plantation that was in use in the 1800’s. You don a lighted helmet and tube through irrigation canals and tunnels that were hand dug by plantation workers in 1870. It was finished off by a picnic lunch next to a river in a serene park. Again, money well spent on another fun excursion.

Aside from excursions, we did A LOT of driving around the island. We saw the Kilauea Lighthouse, drove to the end of the north road at Ke’ e Beach, hit some of the many various roadside farmers markets, ate at some of the local eateries: Tiki Iniki, Kalypso, Bouchons, Olympic Cafe, caught some rays at a couple of different beaches, and spent the last day (my birthday, second one in Hawaii) sipping cocktails and eating a wonderful assortment of pupus at the St Regis Resort. What a gorgeous place. If we can ever afford it, we are staying there! We watched our last sunset as a duo played genuine Hawaiian music in the lounge, a very emotional point! So we have now been to Kauai and Maui and we have decided we like Kauai much better. It is just so beautiful there!

And so our wonderful Hawaiian vacation came to end and once again having to face reality, we loaded up and headed off to the airport! On the way, disaster almost struck. A construction truck made an abrupt stop on the road ahead of us. The car in front saw it, we saw it, but the guy behind me didn’t! There we are, two small cars watching what is going on in front of us and here comes an inattentive tard in a Toyota Tundra that can see over both of us barreling toward our rear end. I thought in the split seconds I had, that he was going to blast us and ruin the end of paradise. Last day, on the way to the airport, in a rental car, in a no fault state, and possibly injured, just great!!!! Luckily he came to a screeching halt just inches away from our bumper. I thought briefly about getting out and taking the phone he was probably looking at and shoving it up his rectum, but figured against it after swallowing my stomach that was in the back of my throat and regaining my composure! The best thing about coming back home, was seeing the excitement of our boy Cordell upon seeing us come through the door. Thanks for reading our post and pictures coming soon……Mahalo!

Our New Trailer

Well after four years in our little 19 foot Salem Trailer, it was time to upgrade! It worked very well as an entry-level trailer and we had no problems with it. It just became too small for us and was time to trade it in. A few weeks back, we went to the Tacoma RV Show and looked around to find out what we liked and didn’t like! This next trailer was just going to be an interim one to keep for 5 years or so until Debbie possibly retires. Then at that point we would decide what and where to go from there. We decided to just look at mid level quality trailers then that were inexpensive but NOT cheap! That changed our plans when we went down to the Valley RV Supercenter to have a look at the Jayco trailers and stumbled on this one! It was a little more luxurious and higher priced than what we originally intended, but we fell in love with it. They gave us a great deal on it and paid us generously for our Salem and the deal was inked!!! So now, we are the proud owners of a 2015 30′ Jayco Eagle Trailer and the next chapter of camping trips begin! We will bid a fond farewell to our Salem which did us good for many years and hopefully, it will be enjoyed by some new campers in the near future!

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