Well I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah


Andrew plays a chord while Valerie listens.

As our eldest son, Andrew, played the chords of Leonard Cohen’s song, Hallellujah, in the backyard of our Phoenix-area rented home, Betty & I enjoyed the company of our family for a belated Christmas celebration. We were in a community appropriately named Anthem, Arizona!  Our fabulous week together can best be summed up in one word: Hallellujah!

Our belated Christmas family gathering. Back row: Graham,Adam, Lisa, Valerie, Andrew, Allon.
Front row: Kevin, Georgia, Betty, Isabella, Luke & James, with the wrong end of Charlie in front.

For the first time in 40 years, we had not been together with our family for end-of-December festivities. Betty & I were anxious for a happy gathering to take place.

Before our family’s plane landed, Betty & I enjoyed an Arizona sunset over our backyard bbq area.

We didn’t want to drive our motorhome back to Winnipeg, necessitating winterizing and de-winterizing, and we didn’t want to put our aging golden doodle, Charlie, in a kennel and fly home. So we said to our family: “If we rent a house in Phoenix, will you come and spend a belated Christmas with us in January, when flights are cheaper again?” They all answered “yes”, and our gathering last week was the result. As a bonus, my brother, Allon, was able to fly down from the Yukon to spend a couple of days with us as well.  A great time was had by all, with the following pictures providing some evidence. 

Our now 12 year old Isabella chills in a backyard seating area with her Nana and Uncle Andrew. That’s not real grass, btw, this is Arizona…
Luke and James try a game of bocce ball, while Adam, Georgia, Valerie & Lisa relax in the sunshine.
Our yard also included a putting green, with some holes more difficult than others… Not pictured are the beanbag toss game and tetherball court.
Andrew lines up a shot in the billiards room.
Lisa takes a break in the backyard hammock.
James, Isabella & Georgia challenge Nana to a game of Monopoly in the family room, while Charlie watches the fun. Note the home owners left the Christmas tree and some decorations up for us – much thanks!
For one of our day trips, family members went fruit-picking on a local farm. The various types of fresh oranges and grapefruit were delicious!
Another day trip was to the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. Here a 1967 Volkswagen bus is on the block.
I missed out on buying this 1961 Nash Metropolitan. Back in the day, I owned two of them – a 1957 & 1959, purchased for $75. for both. I think this one went for a little more…
Andrew & Kevin check out this hot yellow Bugatti. I would have bought it, but didn’t like the colour. lol
We also went for a hike around nearby Lake Pleasant.
Lisa & Adam stand amazed by the giant cactus, on a clear blue sunny Saturday in January.
A variety of plants, not seen in Manitoba, caught our attention along the path.
This cactus reminded me of directions from our navigator: Which way do we go?
Kevin and Valerie share a kiss along the path.
Andrew finds himself deep in conversation with his niece, Georgia.
Back at our home, it’s time to cool off in the pool. Here James and his dad splash it up.
Valerie checks her phone by the pool.
Betty takes a break in one of the quiet outdoor seating areas, while Charlie naps nearby. The home had comfortable outdoor seating for approximately 40 people.
Bet, Lisa & Valerie consult on meal preparations in the spacious kitchen, while Isabella passes on the way from the pool.
For Christmas dinner, Kevin did the honours of carving the birds. And of course, before we began, I had a captive audience for the traditional playing of the Queen’s Christmas message, and the reading of the story of Jesus’ birth from my new NET Bible. As the Queen says: “A happy Christmas to all!”
After dinner, Uncle Allon examines a number of family pictures brought by Andrew for the occasion, while Georgia, Betty, Valerie & Andrew look on.
Lisa, Andrew, Adam & Betty take on a challenging puzzle, while Uncle Allon tells a story.
The northern lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see… Betty, Andrew, Adam & Lisa celebrate completing a challenging puzzle.
Lisa plays a late night game of bocce ball.
In the evening, we all retired to the patio, warmed by our love for each other and the overhead heater.
Andrew gives his older sister, Valerie, a hug.
Betty has some snuggle time with her granddaughter, Isabella.
Keeping us alive with the sound of music.
Andrew plays another chord, while Uncle Allon, Valerie, Betty, Lisa, Georgia and James catch up. Hallelujah!

Overall, it was a wonderful experience for a couple of full-time RVers to spend some quality time with their family.  We hope that all who wander this earth can find opportunities to connect in ways that inspire and evoke the response of King George II, on hearing George Frideric Handel’s Messiah: Stand up and sing Hallelujah!

Andrew stretches his long arms for a group hug.

Belated Merry Christmas & Cheers!

Fun In The Desert Sun

When Betty & I were planning our travels, we were keenly aware of how much natural water has played an important visual role in our vacations. Our destinations have usually included oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams, with many preferred choices including a combination of these.  Water has also played an audio roll, as we have been pacified by the gentle sound of lake waves on the shore; electrified by the crash of ocean waves or waterfalls; and lulled to sleep near babbling brooks.

These dry creek beds, or “washes” are common in the desert. Despite signs everywhere warning of flash flooding, we have yet to see a drop of water there.

So how would we handle up to four months in the desert? Betty & I knew from our earlier two week visit that water is a scarcity here. There are no car washes, and we haven’t seen a swimming pool yet, in Quartzsite, Arizona. Grass is non-existent in this arid land, except as previously noted in the artificially created oasis from Parker to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Yes, there is fertile growing land down in Yuma, but after spending time in Quartzsite, it appears to all the senses as an extreme novelty! Did you see that big tree? Did you smell that field? Did you feel that grass? Check out all those colourful flowers!

One of our hikes took us to the top of this hill behind our campsite. It doesn’t look that steep, but you must step carefully over loose rocks on parts of the climb.

As a result of our past experience, and inability to predict our reaction to a seemingly desolate space, we created a Plan B. Betty & I decided that if we could not hack a full winter in the desert, we would either travel one day to the Pacific Ocean out west, or a few days back east to one of the free beach camping spots on the Gulf of Mexico.

Betty nears the top of one of the hills by our campsite.

Well I can’t use the saying that “the bloom is (not) off the rose”, because this climate is a little too dry for growing roses, or any other flora and fauna anyway. We are extremely happy with our choice so far! BTW, when we first arrived, I went around gathering rocks to create a fire pit. Usually when one picks up a large rock, all kinds of little creatures scurry out from underneath. Here in the desert – not so much: I didn’t see one bug under any of the 20+ stones collected.  And on a related subject, last year in Florida we had to keep our screen door closed, so that our motorhome wouldn’t be filled with flies, mosquitos, and other nuisance insects. While we keep our screen door closed here out of habit, and to keep Charlie in or out, it is not really necessary. Flies and other such bugs appear few and far between in the desert.  Bonus!

The view from the top shows a growing number of RVs on the BLM land around Quartzsite.
This pic shows the white roof of “the big tent” that draws many thousands of RVers to Quartzsite for the last two weeks of January. The population grows from about 3600 year-round to sometimes over a million in January.
In addition to the big tent, there are dozens of smaller tents set up, selling almost anything you can think of. While we went for the novelty of it – not intending to buy – we came away with 3 new Persian carpets for our entry stairs. They were $5. each – no tax.
I had to pick up another $5. carpet to replace the scrap that I used in front of our motorhome’s driver’s seat.
I also added a new strip of LED lights over our cook-top, to replace the light that was removed when our old microwave came out.
A last view of Quartzsite, from our mountaintop experience. An abandoned mine is in the foreground.
Back to our home in the desert, after our hike up the hill.

So far, Betty & I have found lots to do, and we are far from bored with our choice of winter destination. Apart from a couple of overcast and light rainy days over Christmas in Lake Havasu City, we have seen nothing but blue skies and beautiful days here. Nights turn cold as soon as the sun goes down, but we prefer sleeping under warm blankets in the cool night air, without the need for air conditioners like last winter in Florida.

In addition to hiking, Betty has been joining our next door neighbour, Helen (and 50 other women), at the Tuesday quilting guild in Quartzsite. Thanks to our solar panels and lithium batteries, Betty has been able to run her sewing machine and iron all day, making new creations, including this colourful bag.
Another night warmed by the kindness of our neighbours around a communal fire.

This week we are headed to Phoenix to spend a “Christmas week” with our family. It will be another unique experience for us – and for them – and we look forward to sharing some of it in a future post.

How can I express just how fantastic my wife is? For dinner last night she prepared my favourite Italian meal: saltimbocca alla romana! Fabulous!!! And it’s not even my birthday yet!


On the first part of the journey 
I was looking at all the life 
There were plants and birds and rocks and things 
There was sand and hills and rings 
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz 
And the sky with no clouds 
The heat was hot and the ground was dry 
But the air was full of sound 

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name 
It felt good to be out of the rain 
In the desert you can remember your name 
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain 
La, la … 

After two days in the desert sun 
My skin began to turn red 
After three days in the desert fun 
I was looking at a river bed 
And the story it told of a river that flowed 
Made me sad to think it was dead 

You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name 
It felt good to be out of the rain 
In the desert you can remember your name 
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain 
La, la … 

Written by Dewey Bunnell, ©1971 and recorded by America.

Another typical dry wash in the desert, usually bordered by hardy bushes. Where’s the water?

There. Not There.

Those who follow our posts will know that Betty & I have been counting down (or up, depending on your perspective on life – lol) the number of provinces and states visited on our overlandish odyssey. We have a sticker map of North America on our entry door, with Betty or I usually pictured pasting another jurisdiction for our post. May 8, 2019 was the last such entry, with Betty sticking to Illinois (state # 36), while I added Wisconsin (state # 37). That’s a full eight months with no new additions. Are we falling down on the job or what?!!

Betty walks down the road in our current campground at Quartzsite, Arizona. Well, on BLM land, it’s more of a dirt path through the desert, than a road. There are no assigned campsites. People park wherever they like, as long as it is not too close to a neighbour, or in a dry creek bed. Once off the beaten path (or beatnik path as I have coined it) one can drive as far into the desert as they like. But if your vehicle isn’t a raised 4×4, you may not want to venture too far afield.

Well yes, we have been travelling quite a bit since then – adding 5,500 miles (not kms) to our motorhome’s odometer – but it has all been to states previously visited on this adventure.

For New Year’s Eve, we joined our neighbours at a campfire hosted by a couple from Osoyoos, British Columbia. Fellow campers come from all over North America, with a fair number of Canadians represented in this warm patch of Arizona desert.

Until last week… 

We were in Yuma, Arizona paying our pay-as-you-go Verizon jetpack bill, and picking up a few groceries. When it was time to return to Quartzsite, we asked Samantha (our gps) for the most direct route from our location. As she took us over a bridge, Samantha announced that we were crossing a state border into California. She then told us we were entering a different time zone. Samantha next advised us to turn right at the end of the bridge. She then reported we were crossing a state border into Arizona, and entering another time zone.  This whole process took less than 90 seconds!

Every night we see amazing sunsets from our campsite. If you look closely, you can just make out our Smart, our beach tent to moderate the sun, and a tilted solar panel on our roof, to capture the warmth from that big ball in the sky. Apologies to my photography course instructor for not adjusting the aperture on this one…

So yes, Betty & I were there in California – our 38th state. But we were not really there long enough to count. 

As previously mentioned, because there are no electrical hook-ups in the desert, solar is the way to go. This unit has 4,860 watts of electricity coming from at least 20 solar panels on the motorhome and trailer.

At the end of March, we hope to cross over to Palm Springs, California and make our way up the eastern side of the state, through Joshua Tree National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Yosemite National Park, on our way to the state capitol of Sacramento, before heading back to Winnipeg. Next year – 2021 now – we hope to drive down the Pacific Coast all the way from Port Angeles, Washington, to San Diego, California

Another colourful sky surrounds our motorhome, as the sun drops over the horizon.

So we definitely want to see more of our 38th state than the 90 seconds last week. As with all of our travels, we never really know what to expect. But we’re very much looking forward to visiting this one state with a larger population than all of Canada! And I’m sure that will take more than two minutes next time…

You can just make out our campsite sign in the bottom right of this shot.


These dry creek beds – called “washes” are everywhere in the Arizona desert. So far we haven’t witnessed any heavy rains, but are told that flash flooding can occur, with up to 5 feet of water surging through these otherwise dry beds.
Apologies if you are bored with sunset pics, but Betty & I marvel at the evening sky every day. It’s simply stunning!