Susan’s new grab bars

It’s been a year since Susan first starting getting vertigo and although it doesn’t happen as often as it used to, her balance is still poor.  To make it easier for her to get around inside the motor home I decided to install a couple more grab bars.

The problem is that the kind of grab bars you can buy at Home Depot have wide bases, usually 4 inches or so across.  The interior cabinetry and walls of the motor home don’t have 2 x 4 studs to screw things into.  In fact, in order to keep weight down the structural elements are only at the corners and in between is very thin veneer plywood. Two years ago I made grab bars out of 1″ x 3″ oak that got around this problem by being narrow enough to install at the edge of the cabinets over and beside the bed.

This time I started with two pieces of 1″ x 3″ x 24″ oak and used a jig saw to round the outer corners and a bandsaw to cut out the interior space, leaving a handle shape.  I used my router to round the edges and a belt sander in the RV park’s workshop to smooth everything.  I then drilled and countersunk holes for screws using the workshop’s drill press.  I then gave them two coats of polyurethane and stain (sanding lightly in between coats).  Finally I used 4″ brass wood screws (that I had to order on-line because nobody carries brass screws that long locally) to fasten one just inside the doorway to the bedroom and one just inside the hallway.

Grab bar to the left of the doorway in the bedroom.
Grab bar to the left of the doorway in the bedroom.
Grab bar in the hallway (other side of the doorway to the bedroom).

I am pleased to say that they’re very sturdy.  I’ve put my full weight on them and they don’t budge.  Susan has used them several times already and says they are a real help so I think it was worth the time I put into them.

A Sunset that was better than average

Yesterday the monsoon season let us know that it wasn’t done with us.  We had rain on and off all day and sometimes it was very intense.  Surprisingly the official rainfall total for Benson was only 0.15″ but we may have gotten more rain here than where the weather is recorded.  Today was much nicer, with blue skies and temperatures in the upper 80’s, but about 4 PM the power went out.  We later learned that power was out all through Benson and the surrounding communities out to a fair distance.  We got the generator in the motor home going and were able to keep the air conditioners and satellite TV’s on.

I went out a couple minutes ago to check and see if the power was back on (there’s nothing inside the motor home that lets us know one way or the other) and saw that our neighbor’s lights were back on.  But there was also a spectacular sunset going on so I waited to see it finish before going back inside and turning the generator off.

What first caught my eye was the view north of the park, which is the direction our front door faces.  There were a lot of sculptured clouds lit from the side.


Towards west the setting sun the sky was on fire.


And in the opposite direction the sunset colors were reflecting off a cloud east of us.


Certainly a better than average sunset.

A double rainbow in Benson

The monsoon is not done with us yet.  This afternoon a very intense thunderstorm came through Benson, mostly to the northeast of us.  We got about 5 minutes of rain and wind but then the sun came out where we were while it continued to rain elsewhere.  I went outside to grill our dinner and saw one of the brightest rainbows, particularly the blue and purple parts, that I’ve seen in a while.  It was a complete circular rainbow and there was a lighter second rainbow outside of it but unfortunately my camera doesn’t have a wide enough field of view to see it all.  I tried stitching the photos together in a panorama but it came out looking real odd, so here’s the northern (left hand) side of it.


And here’s the southern (right hand) side of it.


Fort Huachuca Aerostat

Fort Huachuca is a US Army base in Sierra Vista, about 25 mile south of us.  The base regularly flies a tethered aerostat (blimp) that contains a radar system and is used to look at the US-Mexican border airspace.  I first saw it a couple of years ago from our RV site in Benson.  We go to Sierra Vista somewhat regularly and see it flying every so often.  I’ve tried to get pictures of it several times and most of the time the photos haven’t come out very well which is usually because the lighting has been bad.  This time I got a reasonably good photo of it.


A half hour later a thunderstorm suddenly came off the mountains that form a backdrop southwest of Sierra Vista and they quickly reeled it down.

Remnants of Hurricane Newton

Last week the remnants of Hurricane Newton came through Benson.  We had been warned about torrential downpours and winds up to 60 MPH.  What we got was a steady rain that started during the night and lasted through mid-afternoon.  It did give us a good soaking.


We got 1-1/2 inches of rain and I went to take a look at a wash that runs through the SKP Saguaro RV Park.  I expected to see the wash full of water, but what I saw was



I will admit its the first time I’ve seen any water in the wash at all but I really expected more.  On the plus side though, we’ve had a lot of wildflowers and butterflies since then.


Them’s the breaks

A week ago, while getting Susan back to bed after a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night her left arm got caught under her as I was trying to move her.  We heard a pop and suddenly her arm hurt a lot.  She toughed it out over the weekend, with both of us hoping it was just sprained or something but by Monday it still wasn’t feeling any better so I asked her primary physician to order an x-ray.  We drove into Tucson for the x-ray yesterday, got back, had some lunch and then her doctor’s office called and said get back to the ER, her arm is broken.  We spent a good part of Wednesday in the ER and they ended up putting a brace, not a cast on it.  They said it would take 5-6 weeks for it to heal and we already have a couple follow-up appointments scheduled.  Susan has osteoporosis so I guess we’ll have to be even more careful in the future.  As you may guess, it hurts but other than the brace and taking pain med there’s not much she can do about it.  She is telling everybody it’s my fault and I guess since I was the one trying to move her there’s at least some truth to that.  My response however, is that if I had intended to hurt her I wouldn’t have left any marks or bruises and that she should keep that in mind.  Hasn’t stopped her though.


What a difference the monsoon makes

This is our first summer in Arizona.  We didn’t plan on staying here this long but we didn’t really have a choice so we’re making the best of it.  We’ve officially been in the monsoon season for over a month and have gotten a number of downpours during this time.  The rain is almost always very localized.  It can be fascinating to look over the San Pedro Valley and see an area mile or two across getting rain (often with lightening) but just over next to it is in sunshine.  The rain has made one distinct change in the landscape around us.

The Whetstone Mountains near Kartchner Caverns state park

The difference is that it’s green everywhere.  Normally the mountains are brown but starting a couple of weeks ago they greened up and have been that way since.  We’ll be interested to see how long this lasts.

Our new RV site and casita

This is our third winter at the SKP Saguaro Coop RV Park in Benson, Arizona and we’ve been on the “hot list” (waiting list) for a permanent site for over three years.  When we started on the hot list we were number 292 and since then we moved up to number 144.

Site 6 is just down the street from site 702 where we’ve stayed the last three years, and it was vacated earlier this year.  The previous leaseholder had passed away last Fall and it had taken her family almost half a year to remove her belongings and her fifth-wheel trailer from the site.  Since I could see site 6 from my desk I watched them refurbish the casita (small house) on the site and when they were done, it was put on the leaseholder availability list.  Leaseholders (those that already lease an existing site) have first crack at any new sites that become available and many of them take this as an opportunity to move to a better site.  To our great surprise, particularly since #6 is one of the very nicest sites in the entire park, no leaseholder requested it and it became available to hot list members. We spoke up for it, and again to our great surprise, we had the lowest number of those who called in and we got it.

Just so you know, you don’t own sites in the SKP Saguaro Coop, you lease them.  We had to pay a lump sum for the lease on site 6 but the way it works is that if and when we leave we get that money back (and probably some extra for the improvements we’ve made).  We were able to “pass papers” on the site and move onto it about a week later.

Front view of Site 6. Front door opens only to the workshop.

One of the reasons we think this site is so nice is that it has a view across the San Pedro River Valley to the Dragoon Mountains, which are about 18 miles away.

View from the back porch of the casita looking east to the Dragoon Mountains

Continue reading Our new RV site and casita

Staying in Arizona for the Summer

And not really because we intended to.  This seems to be a year devoted to health issues.  I never wanted to be the kind of person that would immediately bore you to death about all their health problems and their operations when you asked them how they were doing, but there’s not much else to tell you about what’s been going on with us lately.

To make a long story short, Susan fell and broke her hip last November.  She spent a week in an acute care hospital and then a month in a rehab hospital after a partial hip replacement.  Although she is better her recovery has been slow.  She fell because of vertigo and when they started doing tests to find out why she has vertigo they first thing they found was that she had heart problems.  So, during late spring and early summer, she had two arteries in her heart stented and her aortic valve was replaced.  She is better than she was but again recovery has been slow.

For myself, my right hip was replaced in March and my left hip was replaced in July. Fortunately my recovery has been swift and I am now walking and climbing stairs pain-free (what a novel sensation!) for the first time in over five years.

When we first hit the road five years ago both I and some of Susan’s close relatives had some concerns about our health care when we were going to travel full time.  The fact is that we’ve been able to deal with all of our health issues very well no matter where we’ve been.  I’d even add that changing our doctors and health systems may have saved Susan’s life.  Two years ago we switched all of our medical care to the University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson (now the Banner University Medical Center) and from the beginning Susan’s doctors have been very aggressive about diagnosing and treating her problems. It’s quite possible that without this her heart problems would have been overlooked.

So we’re spending the summer (and really the entire year) in Arizona because of the health issues we’ve had to deal with.  That’s the way it goes and we’re making the best of it we can.  Hopefully we can resume our normal traveling next year.

Not something you expect to see every day

We were on our way to Tucson for (another) doctor’s appointment and got stuck in traffic near the Empirita Road exit around mile 292 on Interstate 10 because of road work.  I noticed something odd in the sky to our left.


When it got closer I was able to see it was a blimp and specifically, the Hendrick’s Gin blimp.


It was flying due East a couple hundred feet off the ground and was porpoising (steadily rising and falling) as it went by.  Whether that was to get our attention or because that’s the way it flies, I don’t know.  I later learned that its nickname is the “flying pickle” and had left San Diego a couple days before.  It was on a nationwide tour for National Pickle Day (May 15).

Not something you see every day while driving to Tucson.