Friday, April 1, 2016

April, done Fooling around in Texas, gone to Ruidoso GOAZ, & Sedona

30 Apr:  In North Phoenix, Arizona: "Whaaat???  It is already the end of the week?  April is over?  No fooling?"  Thank God we woke up this morning, thank God for renewed health, the astounding beauty of creation, the miracle of our life together, and a new bike.  Ron again visited Jewel in "Rehab to Home" and mailed seven post cards to "lighten the load" on the new bike.  Unfortunately his return to the hotel wasn't as quick as usual because the skies over the expressways looked far too foreboding, so he used slower surface streets - and stopped at Trader Joe's and backtracked a mile to find a Post Office; consequently Cynthia became worried.  To his credit, he was able to walk in the back entrance to the restaurant unseen and drop a small bouquet of very fragrant Trader Joe's purple flowers in front of Cynthia.  Monday, son Paul Forde and Cheryl Schulke-Forde (Stash bags) will be featured on the Green section of Good Morning America, and on ABC in Houston interview.

29 Apr:  We enjoyed a great overnight, a marvelous day, good food and delightful conversations with Cynthia's Iowa friends Dan & Donna.  Ron especially enjoyed Dan, a retired mechanical engineer and fellow iconoclastic thinker.  Dan assisted as Ron attached the helmet locking license plate holder to the new bike.  Ron re-packed to lower the center of gravity by moving more heavy items into luggage carried lower on the bike.  We relocated to a hotel a bit closer to cousin Jewel, and Ron motored off alone to visit her for an hour until dark.  Tonight, we are thinking about Mary and Vince.  Although she found no obituary, Cynthia did find three touching tributes: from stephendsullivan, from cinemaretro, and from themoviewaffler.

28 Apr:  As happy owners of a brand-new BMW K1600GTL, we now need a new plug for Cynthia's Gerbings heated clothing and an AeroFlow fairing.  Ron was prepared to buy a K1600 if it proved easier for Cynthia to mount, but Cynthia was hugely surprised with a new bike.  Ron hadn't planned to buy a brand-new bike, but the dealer financing was just too attractive.  (Our monthly payments are based on paying off half the value in four years with a balloon for the other half due then.)  We are off to visit Jewel Mc. in the rehab center, then to overnight with Cynthia's high school cheerleading comrade.
Jewel was named Miss America at age 101.90
27 Apr:  In Scottsdale, Arizona, the hotel shuttle took us the mile and a half to Go AZ motorcycles, and Chris filled out the paperwork to give us a demo K1600 for the day.  First stop was Mescal Street to visit Jewel, now an amazing 102 years young.  She is quite an inspiration, still bright, quick, cheerful and welcoming despite the grievous loss of Kenny, her husband of 73 years who passed away in December.  Next we rode to Lake Saguaro and beyond (Ron missed the turn and went 20 miles beyond).  Lake Saguaro is surrounded by cliffs and the marina sports a reasonable restaurant where we enjoyed a lovely lunch.  Upon our return, Ron committed to the purchase of a brand-new K1600GTL, and Chris and Jason stayed late to get everything done so that we rode the new bike back to the hotel at 8 pm, an hour after closing.  Good news: son Paul Forde, his wife Cheryl, and their unique fine leather purse company (Stash Bags) will be discussed on Good Morning America on May 2nd.  We will have to figure out how to turn on the TV???  
Very bad news: our long-time friend Vince R. passed away this morning while jogging.

26 Apr:  In Springerville, Arizona, we arose early after a night of sound sleep and marched next door to the restaurant for breakfast of egg white veggie omelets and a stack of pancakes (nothing but water and dry mix - unfortunately a 4" dry mix pancake has 1 gram of fat - good thing I didn't check before eating them).  Oh - and ditto for the coconut cream pudding at the Inn of the Mountain Gods - the crust almost certainly was way overboard in fat grams.  Back to the point, Ron thoroughly enjoyed his now-verboten pancakes drenched in syrup, and we got the motorcycle on the road around 10:15 AM, but didn't see a Chevron gas station in the first few miles leaving Springerville.  After a brief 40-mile ride across the browning grasslands and hills, we passed through the town of Show Low and bought gas at a circle K.  Cynthia was glad to be warm with her heated gear and the other three layers top and and four bottom.  As we headed south from Show Low, the scenery changed to more canyons, more rocks, more trees with a little bit of water showing occasionally. Sometimes we descended steeply into a canyon, and sometimes we noticed the winds in the more level areas.  As we approached the Salt River Canyon, Ron deliberately passed an RV and pickup that were making good time through the gentler curves.  Ron's heart & soul jumped for joy as we flowed through the marvelous rocks and scenery towards the bottom of that canyon.  The ride back up out of the canyon was more of the same.  Reaching the desert floor again was anti-climactic, but we still had miles to ride to make our appointment in North Scottsdale.  There were still several more fun and scenic sights along the highway south to Globe, AZ, among them being the sudden appearance of hillsides covered with saguaro cactus, barrel cactus and ocotillo cactus.  In Globe, Ron remembered the Copper Bistro from a few years ago.  They did not disappoint and served us gigantic luncheon salads with grilled chicken.  Fifty of the remaining 100 miles into Phoenix also had worthwhile, interesting scenery, but the last sixty miles of freeway just got busier and busier until we pulled into the GOAZ motorcycle dealership.  We asked the first salesman to allow us to sit Cynthia on a BMW K1600 GTL.  His name is Chris, and he told me that Cynthia's facial expression as she seated herself would sell that bike in a heartbeat.  Cynthia tells me that she LOVES that bike and that it is SOOooo much easier to get on it, and it is SOOooo comfortable.  As we looked at the two used K1600 bikes in stock, Chris told us about BMWs new pseudo-leasing plan whereby they will finance a new bike at half price for four years since most new bike purchasers will trade for a new one then.  I.e. we could make payments for a $14,000 bike for four years and ride a $28,000 bike that entire time.  After four years we've paid off half the bike and either refinance, trade or come up with the remaining $14,000.  Seems to me that compares very favorably with coming up with $16,600 or $19,900 to buy one of the used ones.  Next we will have to see what kind of a trade in we can get on our current 2009 BMW R1200RT. When we told Chris that we have reservations at the nearby Holiday Inn & Suites, he called them and asked them to send their shuttle to pick us up - so we dropped off the bike for servicing and rode in comfort to the hotel.  Tomorrow we've arranged with Chris to lend us a 2014 demo K1600 GTL for a couple of hours to ride to Saguaro Lake.  It has indeed been an excellently good day.  Now Ron will go foraging for food nearby - Wally World is within walking distance.

25 Apr:  This was one Windy Day!  The wind whipped us good and tried to flatten us, but Ron's philosophy is to always stay upright; there is NEVER any reason to drop a motorcycle (except when stopped). We are weary from the WORST wind ever; even Ron cannot remember riding through stronger gusts (but then let's not get into a discussion about Ron's memory).  We left the Inn of the Mountain Gods about 10:30 and meandered downhill on NM 48 & 37 until we rejoined U.S. highway 380.  The wind soon became a factor, so much so that we merely rode through the Valley of Fires lava fields (near Carrazozo) instead of stopping to enjoy walking amongst the youngest lava fields in the continental USA, only 5,000 years old. (  The wind turned the 60-mile ride to Socorro into a veritable struggle, so upon arrival, we rested at the Socorro Springs tap house for a salad w/ chicken and a root beer.  We were told that tours of the VLA radio telescope are given only once a month.  After talking to John, we did decide to ride through the plaza as we left town but did not detour soon enough to see New Mexico Tech.  Soon after Socorro disappeared from the rear view mirrors, we saw a herd of 15-20 antelope close within 100 yards of the road; it is unusual to see them so clearly and so close to the road at mid-day.  By then the wind had strengthened considerably and that continued with gusts clocked up to 62 MPH !!  Some of those sudden gusts were quite frightening as they pushed the bike a foot or two from Ron's intended path.  We enjoyed our view of the VLA from the highway.  The last 25 miles to Datil were horrendous, so we stopped at the Eagle Guest Ranch for a rest and gasoline.  Ron felt like he had been through the wringer, but the 20-minute stop rejuvenated him. From Datil, we traveled west through a canyon, and the wind lessened, giving us an hour's respite; then it grew stronger again.  We continued riding through Quemado and thought to stop in Red Hill, but never imagined that a town could consist of one single house beside the road.  Somewhere in that 20-mile stretch between Quemado and Red Hill the wind regained its frightening power.  Fortunately Ron was less disturbed by the recurrence and remained relaxed despite the fluctuations.  The second interesting observation was that in New Mexico there were next to no trees in the landscape whereas as soon as we crossed the border into Arizona, trees again re-emerged in the landscaping.  By the time we arrived at the Best Western (advertising Free Horse Parking) in Springerville, AZ, Cynthia found herself permanently torqued right, and we are chilled to the bone.  As we unloaded our luggage, several gossamer showers fell putting wet dots on said luggage and providing the magnificent spectacle of a "snow shower" of dazzlingly bright raindrops.  (Previously a local had joked that recently three inches of rain fell - the drops were three inches apart.)  Cynthia read that 62 miles of I-10 are closed in New Mexico and AZ due to accidents caused by the dust/wind storm and that the wind is severe at the Phoenix airport.  Accuweather forecasts an overnight low for Springerville of 24 degrees with winds lessening by morning; Thank God.  Good Night.

24 April, Sunday:  One last memorable day at the Inn of the Mountain Gods - we hiked 6.2 miles roundtrip at 7000 feet elevation in 3 hours, including several challenging uphills on the return trip.  The wind blew coming and going, but the temperature was a perfect 64 degrees. Our FitBits say we have 18,000 steps.  Sad to learn we won't see Kenneth McFarland, Ron's Mechem cousin who passed away last December at age 100.  We will visit his wife who is still living in Scottsdale, AZ.   The bags are packed for a sunrise ride towards Phoenix on a old U.S. highways 380 and 60, great motorcycling roads. The forecast high is 72 degrees.
milepost Zero of our 6.2 mile round trip hike
23 April, Sat: The price of the breakfast buffet increased with the hotel weekend rate, but we aren't complaining; the luscious fruit, vegetables and fat-free fare are worth the cost. The trekking goal decreased today - we slept instead. The history of the Mescalero Apache Tribe is a fascinating read, especially the construction of the resort and golf course at a time (1975) when many Indians were living in abject poverty - some yet in canvas tents. The hotel is filled to capacity - many wheelchairs, walkers, oxygen tanks, the silver- haired tribe swaying to the rhythm of casino ker-chunka. Ron hiked 6.2 miles instead of dinner.
22 April, Fri: Ron, refreshed, feeling fit, thankful to hike uphill not winded, trekked 14,000 steps before being done in by the buffet lunch: a nap is necessary. Ron's 2006 Christmas letter is updated on the back (by hand) to mail in the morning, along with post cards to friends in Santa Fe about a sometime arrival - and a newsy letter to Oke. Ron has 22,700 steps, Cynthia has 16,003. WooHoo! We do have fun - this is what hiking in the mountains with Ron looks like:

21 April, Thurs: The Gathering of Nations Buffet offers mouthwatering cuisine so good an intense need for a nap occurred a second day - only this time we were a mile out on the trail - zzzzz. Ron racked up 22,000 steps on his FitBit after an evening walkity talkity to cousin Kay in PHX. Cynthia decided after 11,500 steps to try the casino instead. She gambled successfully once security explained the first machine rejected her dollar bills because it was for large bills only. After losing and winning at a machine for dollar bills, she returned with a net loss of .93 cents. Ron successfully downloaded our Picasa albums to the Mac. The restful, relaxing environs are providing 12 hours sleep at night for weary us n's.

20 April, Wed: After two breakfasts we accomplished only one mile on the Carrizo Walking Path with 8 - 13 % grade. The tranquil setting, panoramic views, fine artwork, and marvelous cuisine led us to extend our stay to Monday. Lunch was light salad fare, except for sugar free - fat free coconut cream pudding with vanilla wafers creating an intense need to nap. Ron watched the YouTube Chino Hills basketball clips of three brothers on the same team winning the state basketball championship. Instead of gorging on dinner and pudding, we inhaled the clean mountain air with a two mile hike. Our FitBits hit 16,000 plus steps. Curtis, at GOAZ Motorcycles in PHX, will service the bike Wednesday; we met Curtis at the Inn at Long Trail in Vermont; Ron (surprisingly) found his name penciled on a comic Oke sent him. Prayers for friends in Houston.
Sierra Blanca Mountain, 12,000 elev.
19 April, Tues: The Inn of the Mountain Gods, ,, New Mexico mid-afternoon. We almost stayed another day in Post, Texas to see the Santa Village and OS Museum but rain was forecast mid-day - instead of staying, - we scarfed down hotel food, packed and rode away early. Ron was happy to ride away with da wee-fee enjoying the ride, too. West Texas appears to be thriving economically due to large cattle and ag-ranch lands with oil and gas business in abundance. We hit two light showers at Brownfield and Plain, and then it was dry the rest of the ride. The Cattle Barons Restaurant in Roswell had a magnificent salad bar and salmon. The ride up to Ruidoso was exhilarating; the hotel boasts the best views in New Mexico. Dinner at Wendell's Fine Dining was divine - the sea bass delicious. We will enjoy the ambiance for two days before riding to Phoenix. (Our Houston family is fine and dry). Here is the view from our room:
Cynthia loved the view from our balcony, room 269
18 April, Mon: Mighty glad we missed the foot of rain that hit Houston/ Montgomery yesterday. With a break in the rain, we departed Denton at 10:00 AM riding west on 380 through a kaleidoscope of changing scenery: bluebonnets, Indian paint, flat-land flooded fields, hills with views, bigger hills with thousands of acres of scrubland and mesquite trees, towns gasping their last, to arrive in Post, Texas by 3:30 PM. This small town was founded in 1907 by C.W. Post, described as the most beautiful spot in west Texas, nestled in the caprock of the Llano Estacado. The ride was windy and chilly until the sun broke through overcast skies at 1:30. We are laughing at the thought we would be hot driving across Texas this time of year. Dinner at George's Greek/Mexican/Fried Food Restaurant was ok fare by eating egg white vegetable omelets and pancakes made without oil.
17 April, Soggy Sunday Surprise: severe thunderstorms are forecast for three days; the Hilton Garden Inn, upon hearing our request for an extension, said they were fully booked, thereupon the clerk checked our room number and said we were confirmed to the 19th. What??? Cynthia asked him to verify because our emailed checkout receipt showed checkout today. Whatever... WooHoo! We keep the same room at the same price. To stay active we walked the halls of four floors twice using stairs, ultimately we reached the fitness center on the main floor and worked out for ten minutes, then we repeated the entire cycle. Lack of fitness was most apparent climbing the last round of stairs. A nap was a good idea.

16 April, Sat: Denton, Texas... We are listening in awe to our 99 year old Rambo cousin Dorothy W. Bertine describe the struggle she had getting a college education in the midst of the depression. She received board and room for taking care of four children, doing all of the housework with no pay, taking classes early AM and from 5P.M. to dark; at night, in the midst of the depression, the college could not afford to turn on electric lights. Dorothy became the first female CPA in the state of Texas, and the first female hired by a national accounting firm. When her CPA husband proposed she didn't tell him she made more money than he did. She retired in her mid fifties to become an acclaimed watercolorist.
15 Apr, Fri: Many delays - Departure at 1:30PM to Denton, Texas to see 99 year old cousin Dorothy for three days. We stopped at Pappadeaux for dinner in Fort Worth, arriving at our hotel by 7:30 P.M. The ride seemed long despite a stellar day. Ron is delighted to be back on the bike but feels the impact of moving so many boxes into the car and storage unit. Here is a photo of the bike loaded:
And here is a photo of our granddaughter Lauren rejoicing with her first new car purchase.
14 Apr, Thurs: Packing the condo will continue to morning. Bluebonnets near Ennis, Texas:
13 April, Wed: The bike might be packed.
12 April, Tues: Fooey! After four hours last night, Ron realized he had completed the wrong family group sheets for the SCS, complete with watermark, ready to email. Arising at 5:00 AM, the project was tackled once again and now it is completed. Bev, the cardiac monitor, phoned with great news we can travel on the motorcycle this Friday, albeit, limited in fully exercising, lifting or fully extending the left arm for another two weeks. The pacemaker modem can be shipped ahead of us as we travel; the next report is due in June. Three days remain to test-pack the bike, pack a box to ship to us, and move our belongings into the storage unit. The battery was dead when we picked up the bike, stored at Barb's, but Jon had extra long jumper cables; it started and took off, a huge smile on the face of the rider. Ron found the title for the old Bike; Jon found the title for the Featherlite trailer. And Ron found three more boxes of documents to photograph. Time to smell the roses:
11 April, Mon: The pacemaker report was transmitted to Beverly (monitor for the cardiac device) by 10:30 AM, followed up with a list of questions. We had a 3:00 appointment with Dr, Margolis in the Woodlands, a trip to the recycling center, and on to projects for the day. Ron is preparing family group sheets for the Swedish Colonial Society sale. Cynthia is enthused to now have her maternal aunts' DNA, their daughters' DNA and now one of her two sisters ordered a test. Of great interest is the matches on chromosome 7. And now, the day is done, with a three mile walk completed, we are tired. Good Night

10 April, Sun: Ron finished photographing (with good sun lighting on the patio) before we attended our last service at Grace Lutheran and the last brunch at the Walden Yacht Club until next winter. It was fun to watch four great blue heron "fishing" along the water's edge. Cynthia's Facebook account was hacked, the site displayed in French blocked from reverting to English; ultimately, the problem is resolved, but it is dismaying to discover hackers can buy tools online to steal passwords, guaranteed to work 97% of the time. Ron talked to Walter who was assuring: "riding the motorcycle will be fine; the pacemaker leads in the heart won't become loose/moved." Walt advised using the Garmin to mark routes on the maps that can be saved to the Mac. Nice to know Garmin has great customer service, too. Steve P. phoned from Maine to share the good news his daughter is being married. After winding up a three mile walk roundtrip from the marina to the lake we are hungry.

9 April, Sat: Watching a stellar sunrise is a great way to greet the day. Most of Ron's photography is finished. A good find: a website to map, mark, and save our routes to a folder on the Mac. No more Atlas or hard copy maps to carry around. Friday - Departure Day- is approaching like a high speed train. Anticipating the doctor will release Ron to ride a motorcycle, hence, we are crazy busy packing. Here is a photo of bluebonnets in Texas by Sandra W:
8 April, Fri: From photography to DNA, dinner with Jon at the Caddy Shack, walking 3 miles, it was a good day. The "alien" on Ron's shoulder is beginning to feel at home.

7 April, Thurs: The Toasted Yolk is the home of our favorite breakfasts. We drove east on TX 105 and south on I-45 to medical appointments with Dr. Bashai, Dr. Margolis. We were met with a surprising turn of events: neither Doctor had informed us they were not in their Woodlands offices on Thursdays. Uff. Da. Off to recycling and an early lunch at the Yolk. We saw Dr. Troyer at 2:00 PM. Another Uff.da: the IRS is auditing our joint 2013 return, which isn't an issue apart from mailing the receipts and cancelled checks to the CPA; he ran figures on the tax owed which totaled only $4000. without any of the questioned deduction. Of course, we will still owe the CPA. The IRS is in bed with accountants. We walked four mikes tonight, and saw a road runner who got away before we could take a photo. 13 deer darted out from the woods. Cynthia will post a photo. Good night
6 April, Wed: Breakfast with Ben M. Discussing stocks and family was most enjoyable. Ron is photographing documents, maps and recording receipts. Ron's cardiac issues are resolved successfully for now, the house sold, and the IRS form is in the mail before the buzzer rings April 18th.

5 April, Tues: Cynthia has a girlie day mani and pedi curing. Ron is left alone without adult supervision to pursue recycling and research merger acquisitions. 2.5 mile walk in the afternoon-Ron walked and talked to friends in the evening.

4 April, Monday: Walden on Lake Conroe woke up to a 61 degree dawn. By 12 noon, it was "Texas hot" while we transferred our belongings from the Lodge condo to the Point condo (our nest for the next two weeks). We made umpteen trips unpacking the car (have recycling will travel). Speaking of recycling, the "water" in the empty Tide bottle didn't get Cynthia's white clothes clean. Of course, Cynthia has very dirty white clothes; but the "water" Tide will get Ron's clothes clean when they get dirty next year. Ron connected the framed slideshow of our wedding, a gift from Pam and Walter. Ron phoned and mailed the doctors about a blood pressure concern. WooHoo! Our FitBits hit 10,000 steps early today. We like the view from our condo; Ron is waiting for the bikini show at the pool.
3 Apr, Sunday: Awake with a stellar smile. Best wishes to Y'all from beautiful Lake Conroe: The great blue heron winged past our window at brunch to hold court for a flotilla of duckies. We enjoyed a nice afternoon nap followed by a four mile walk and then dinner at the diner. Low blood pressure is apparently an issue. Ron will phone the electrophysiologist tomorrow.

2 Apr: Temperature at dawn was hovering around 50 degrees; forecast calls for slow warming into the 70's. The rain has retreated for a few days, the sky is powder blue and sunlight glistens on the water like diamonds. "On such a glorious day we will be outdoors" (the writer thereof is now snoozing on the couch.) We ran errands after breakfast. The physical puzzle exhibited a new facet this morning when Ron suddenly lost his balance while entering the elevator; no fall, no pain, just puzzle - no rhyme or reason apparent; Ron was carrying about 12 pounds of computer & groceries with his right arm, and we had walked briskly from car to elevator. In the room, Cynthia checked his BP (110/70) & heart rate (84); no explanation there. Ron has finished reading about Verizon's acquisition of AOL, ATKs merger with Orbital, and Comcast's attempt to purchase Time Warner Cable. Good God, but these documents are filled with minutiae. The Charter purchase of Time Warner Cable is even thicker and still pending regulatory approval. One internet blogger opines that after any such merger, competition evaporates and costs to consumers increase despite the lies used to justify the merger or acquisition. Sounds to me just like political campaign promises. HA, there is a new play on words quite appealingly akin to "political party" - "campaign promises" (Yes, they really do PARTY; yes, promises encouraged by champagne are more likely honest than those made by politicians.) We walked almost 4 miles followed by dinner at Magnolia Diner. Smooch: I love you!

1 April - No fooling, in 15 days we expect Dr. Dougherty (electrophysiologist) to release Ron to ride the motorcycle and continue his life's passion for travel that has been severely thwarted for the past 8.5 months of cardiac & dental procedures. Progress continues: he wears the sling only at night, but the left elbow is still restricted from being lifted more than shoulder-high. The pacemaker is uncomfortable; it will probably take months for the discomfort to vanish. The Brilinta (RX) causes breathlessness at times. Cynthia also causes breathlessness in a much better way. We walked 4 miles before dining inside at the Cafe on the Green; it was too chilly and windy to eat outside. Ron is reading about acquisitions and mergers, recording receipts and product information in spreadsheets, and piling papers to take to church on Sunday (for the Lutheran school's Papertriever).