January 14 to March 14th



Well, just what is Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort?? As I mentioned in the previous epistle, it is a huge resort just on the outskirts of Casa Grande. You are minutes away from a Safeway, Albertsons, Home Depot, Lowe's, umpteen dozens of restaurants etc. Of course, it is gated, with 24 hour security and a very large wall around it. It is in fact, a city within a city. At about 1 mile long and 1/2 mile wide, it has 1916 sites the preponderance or which are RV sites. But they are selling a large number of Park Model homes for those people who just want to drive here by car, and stay in a more permanent structure. If you figure that each site has 2 people, you are looking at 1916 x 2 = 3832 people living here at the height of the season. On our arrival, we got the last spot available ... the place was jammed full. Since then (Feb.. 14th) people are leaving slowly and now it must be 75% full.

In their own words:

"Country Club living means golf and so much more at Palm Creek. There are a vast array of sports, activities and spa features to tempt you. Centrally located in the heart of the community is the Administration and Crafts Building, Swimming Pool, Activity Building, Ballroom, Arts and Crafts Building and Laundry. Our onsite Activities Director is available daily to help you join in the fun. You'll find shuffleboard, billiards, horseshoes, water volleyball, soft ball, tennis and a putting green as well as aerobics, water exercise, weight room, Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates. Crafts classes include ceramics, pottery, sewing, quilting, oil and watercolor painting, woodshop and carving, lapidary, silversmith, stained glass, computer, crafts fun and fairs. Palm Creek sponsors all kinds of dancing from cabaret, western, and variety to couples dancing, line dancing, and square dancing. And, there is no shortage of special nights to show off your new dancing skills with good friends! Special parties, BBQ's, pot lucks, ice cream socials, Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners, New Year's Eve party, St Pat's Day Celebration, a Luau, State Days, Mexican Fiesta, Pool Party, Talent Show and even The Palm Creek Chorus all to entertain you and spice up your social life! If you like to play games, we have bridge, pinochle, cribbage, poker, euchre, dominoes, hand and foot, and, of course, bingo! "

And don't forget the Golf Club all within the property walls:

"One amenity that sets Palm Creek apart from other resorts and provides a beautiful greenbelt meandering throughout the property is our eighteen hole golf course. This is a player friendly executive-styled course featuring well-manicured greens, lush landscaping and highlighted by two lakes and a creek that crosses the fairway on the Ninth Hole. The course is surrounded by tillable farmland and mountain views to the north, providing an oasis in the desert for all. Residents of Palm Creek enjoy special reduced rates and can purchase 10 play punch cards for an even greater value! Effective 2003, residents pay $11.00 to play nine holes and only $15.00 to play eighteen. Punch cards allow golfers to play (12) twelve times for $120."

Many people come down here for the entire season -- November 1st to April 1st. -- either in RV's (none older than 10 years, please) or in the Park Model areas. These Park Models are getting so large, that some people are buying them and living here year round. Though just that the heck they will do when it gets to weeks upon weeks of 117 + F ( 47.2 C ) but then, that's the way it is around here, I guess.

Another interesting thing going on around here is occurring just at the entrance to the Park. Across the street was empty fields until the Hospital was enlarged to take up much of the space. We wondered last year, why the road was not enlarged and made into a boulevard as it was just a couple of hundred yards north. Well, we found out this year, that a family of Burrowing Owls had taken up residence and, as they are an endangered species, nothing more can be done to improve the road. Last year they had four chicks, and this year they apparently have two. As a species, they last 8 to 10 years, so it will be interesting just what happens to more development. Click this link to see what they look like about 10 feet from the edge of a busy road..... Our Burrowing Owl Pictures .

For more extensive information Click .... Information on Burrowing Owls

Just while I'm rambling on here about nothing really, the Satellite Rally did provide some interesting programs for the computer. One of which gives you the ongoing signal strength at the bottom of your screen. Currently, we have a "72" strength which is quite high. The signal parameters range from 30 (no connection) to 80+ (if you are sitting underneath the Satellite in Texas. In Bellingham we should be getting a 60 + quality. Why do I mention all this satellite arcanum? Well, it seems that twice a year, there is significant signal degradation when the satellite itself passes between the earth-station location and the sun. When I was told that my reaction was ... yeah ... ok ... whatever.

Well, lo and behold, here in Palm Creek, we had one of those two occurrences, and now I had the programme to monitor it ... so ...

Yeah ... but what does all this mean, you ask? Well if you remember the signal strength parameters ... 30 meaning "Nothing" and 70 the average in Casa Grande ..

Tuesday March 6th 2007

Wednesday March 7th 2007

You can see the passing of the satellite between the sun and the ground receiving station as the signal strength drops to 30. Yeah, yeah, I know, get a life ... but I thought it was sorta neat!!!

Anyway, here we are back in Casa Grande. We were here for two weeks over Christmas at the Western Horizon Park on the other side of town, and here we are now in total luxury.

Well, seeing that we both don't golf, we both are loath to join organized activities, just what will we do here? It doesn't take long for the old "relaxation syndrome" to reassert itself. Up in the morning by 8:30 for coffee and breakfast. Read for a bit, play with the computer, and it is already 11:30 ... time to hit the grocery stores to find something enticing for dinner. Back in time for a small lunch, read for a bit, maybe even a snooze and guess what ... its HAPPY HOUR!!! By 6:30 it is getting dark so time to head in to watch the news and good old Jeopardy. Dinner time is next, dish washing follows and then it is bed time! What a way of life!!!!

Before you totally dismiss us as "lazy n'er do wells", we did do some interesting things here. As you undoubtedly have heard, the weather has been weird all over North America. In the South West, we have had cooler temperatures with more rain than usual. Well finally, in mid February the weather changed slowly. We had clear skys, but more often than not, there was a strong wind blowing. This nonsense finally gave way around the end of February to warmer weather. The temperatures soared to the mid 90's during the day and dropped to the mid 60's at night. (Yeah I know, for you Canadian Celsius fans -- 35 to 15 C)

Now this I like!!! The dogs, though, sure slow down ... both of them head to the ceramic tile floor and flop for most of the afternoon. Of course, this just means that the bottled up energy is let loose at night.... sigh!!!

So this time we decided to do the things that we have been putting off from our last visit here. Also March is a busy time in Casa Grande:

        1. drive the Apache Trail from Apache Junction (suburb of Phoenix) to Tortilla Flats, on to the Roosevelt Dam, then on to Globe.
        2. take in one of the International Arizona Sky Jump competitions
        3. attend the "Cactus Fly In" here in Casa Grande
        4. attend the Civil War re-enactment that takes place in Picacho Peak just south of us.
        5. test drive the new Honda in some very "trying" desert roads

All this while sharing some time with our good friends Bruce and Geri Conard from Washington State and Ken and Betty Oka from the Sechelt Peninsula.

The month actually sped by quite quickly!!!

The first junket was the Apache Trail drive Wednesday Feb. 21st. Now this drive has us leaving Casa Grande by 8:00 AM, driving north towards Phoenix on the 4 lane, I 10, where the speed limit is 75 mph. Obviously, this means that the car traffic flows at 80 mph plus. Once you hit the trail, it is about 50 miles of single lane gravel road full of bumps, holes, single lane bridges etc. You know what you do? You get up in the morning, hop into the car, and just drive, right? Well, here is where the comment I made in the past epistle about the value of the Pressure Pro Tire Monitoring System we just installed for $690.00 US.

In the middle of the night, before the trip, we are awakened to a "beep, beep" incessantly chiming from somewhere in the front of Harvey. As we were lying there, the thoughts ran through our little heads ... this could be, the cell phone telling us it needs charging; the propane detector saying that we have a serious problem with gas; the CO2 detector telling us that carbon monoxide is filling Harvey, or any other of the myriad detectors we have to keep us safe. Just what will be the cause????

So, up we get and start hunting for he culprit. It turned out to be the Tire Monitor on the dash board. A quick check and what the hell ... the front left tire on the Toad has dropped 12% since installation of the detector. It is almost with a sense of relief that it was only the tire monitor and not something imminently life threatening. A quick unplug and back to bed.

The next morning, instead of leaving for the Trail at 8:00, I'm sitting in a tire repair shop waiting for the bad news. I had a quick look before I left harvey but could see nothing ... I guess the problem was on the bottom of the tire, because the Tire Guy came out and showed me an 1 1/2" self tapping aluminum bolt that I had picked up somewhere. Fortunately, it had gone through the tread portion and not the sidewall, so the tire could be repaired. Whew ... can you imagine what could have happened at 80+ mph if the tire suddenly blew!!!! All of a sudden, the price paid for the Monitoring system seems not too bad, eh?

Just an hour and a half late, and off we go to the Apache Trail with the sun shining, the sky bright blue, the tires a'humin' and the temperature a'risin'.



Apache Junction is a suburb of Phoenix and about an hour's drive from Casa Grande. The whole drive would take us over 6 hours so the "Lords" had to accompany us. Rather than recount the trip here, I will include a tourist department description of the drive and direct the reader's attention to the Apache Picture link at the bottom of this page. The pictures and comments will explain the trip.


There are several scenic drives close to Phoenix that can be explored in a day or less.

One of the best is the historic Apache Trail, a 48-mile route that snakes along a chain of man-made lakes on the Salt River. The lakes include Canyon Lake, Apache Lake and Roosevelt Lake, the latter being the largest of the three.

Following the Apache Trail, AZ 88 passes through Tonto National Forest, Lost Dutchman State Park, Tortilla Flat and Roosevelt Lake. Your drive will end in Apache Junction or Globe, depending on which end you use as a starting point.

For more information on the drive, click on the Arizona Tourist Route icon:



Eloy is a tiny town just a few miles south of Casa Grande. Before this trip, the only two things we thought that were in Eloy was a Flying J Fuel Plaza and Eva's a great Mexican restaurant. You know .... sort of .... a food for us and food for Harvey spot. Elsie, talking to the neighbours as usual, found out that there was a International Quality Sky Diving facility also in Eloy that just happened to be hosting this weekend an international competition. This school is open all year around, and given the constantly beautiful weather, it attracts hundreds of jumpers from all over the world.

So, off we go on Saturday to see -- we were not sure what. Our friends, Ken and Betty Oka were staying at the Western Horizon Park in Casa Grande so we went as group. The weather the day before has been quite windy so we were pleased that the wind was much calmer as we approached the facility. You must understand that all this is totally free for observers. The facility was huge, complete with camp grounds for tents and RVs, stores, restaurant, campfire site and two beautiful, large, grassy landing sites for the sky divers.


It really is a large site. On our arrival, we wandered over to the landing zone and watched as groups of jumpers landed all together. I suppose that there is a traffic pattern assigned, but to the untrained eye, it all looked chaotic! On our left hand side, the jumpers were getting ready to hop on the shuttle to go to the planes and were practicing just what they would do during their free fall. A group of them ( 10 to 20) would be sitting in a mockup of the plane fuselage just on the field side, and then suddenly jump out and begin what appeared to be a weird, primitive dance regime. One person would be counting aloud, and when he/she moved their hand, everyone spun and grabbed on to their neighbour in a different place. This would be repeated several times with each move a new formation being created. I was thinking that it was too bad that we couldn't see just what happened way up in the sky when we noticed for each group that landed, there would be at least one jumper with a camera on his/her head. We quickly learned that in the building behind us where the jumpers repacked their chutes, were TV's all over the walls. As each group came into repack, the photographer would attach his camera to a TV, and the group would stand around and critique the "dance". We just stood and watched with our mouths on our chests.

Back at the landing zone it was getting scary. Some of the jumpers would approach the ground at a crazy speed and then suddenly, pull up and hit at a walking speed. Pretty impressive!!! Others would land and tumble while still others would skid on their feet for several yards before collapsing the chute. You could tell though when the beginners were landing as many of them undershot or overshot the landing zone. Now this doesn't sound like much until you remember that this is in the desert so if you missed ... you contended with cactus, rocks and small bushes. Not a comfortable landing spot!

You also could do a "buddy jump" which means you are strapped to the front of an experienced jumper and then you just went for the ride. I tried to talk Elsie into this, but she refused.... I don't know why ... it only cost $75.00...

Anyway, a group of buddy jumpers landed at the same time and it did look OK. But, one poor guy, when he hit the ground, he stayed there. His buddy was up, gathering the chute, and still he did not move. You must remember that there were groups of approaching landers, and he was in the way!!! His "buddy" went up to him, and was talking to him for several minutes before he finally stirred, got up, and staggered to the sidelines. As he got closer to us, we could see his face was pasty white and his legs were shaky. Just what horrors he had just gone through are know to only himself ... but we could guess!!!

The landing zone was not the only neat place at this facility. They have a practice skydiving machine. Now this too was a free thing to see. About 500 yards from the landing zone, you could see this building that had three large stacks sticking up into the air. The way this works is that on ground level are three huge fans that force air upwards at a high speed. In the brown building about 30 feet in the air is a observation room that looks right into a small Plexiglas room in which "flyers" are absolutely horizontal to you. They are actually flying about a foot away from your face. This is what the building looks like, and I include a copy of their description of the experience.....


The feeling of flying in the wind tunnel is identical to being in freefall. You feel like a bird, flying. You feel supported by the wind and you can use the air to move all around the tunnel, you can go really high up in the chamber if you want to or stay down low if you prefer. You can do turns or move from side to side, you can fly to anywhere in the tunnel when you learn how to fly your body. It's an amazing feeling.

It’s 14 feet in diameter, which therefore makes it the largest tunnel so far and it is about 15 feet tall. It simulates regular freefall speeds from 120 mph to over 150mph.

It will cost $50.00 for adults and $40.00 for children.
This includes your training class, use of flight gear, two 1 minute flights in the tunnel with one on one attention from your instructor, a flight certificate and a souvenir T-shirt.
(FYI, a skydive from 13.000 feet is about 1 minute long). The entire process takes about one hour.

Go to the pictures ... you won't believe it!!!

This was another GOOD DAY!!!!


3. Cactus Fly In

This is the second time we had made it to the Casa Grande Cactus Fly In. We were here in '04 and were looking forward to this!! Again our friends Ken and Betty Oka came along with us, and we made a day of it. The event happens at the Casa Grande local airport just down the road from the Western Horizon Park, Desert Shadows.

I won't tell more about the day except that we drove, parked, hopped the shuttle to the airplanes and enjoyed ourselves!!!

Take a look at the pictures ... some of them, Elsie says, are not too bad. That will give a good "picture" of the day.


4. Civil War re-enactment -- Picacho Peak

In their own words...

The prominent landmark Picacho Peak rises majestically 1,500 feet above the Sonoran Desert floor about 35 miles northwest of Tucson just off Interstate 10. Even though bizarre-looking Picacho Peak looks much like a volcanic neck, it is actually the faulted, tilted and eroded remains of a sequence of lava flows, except for the summit, which contains a large block of Precambrian granite . Hiking, camping and picnicking are the preferred pastimes here. Hikers enjoy the climb to the top of Picacho Peak, while the less adventurous can stroll along a trail at its base and marvel at the vibrant spectacle of the season's blooming wildflowers.

Civil War Re-Enactment
Every year in March, (MARCH 10-11, 2001) the park sponsors a Re-enactment of the Battle of Picacho Pass. Arizona State Parks sponsors many re-enactments of history throughout its 25 park system. Since many people only know of the battles that were fought in the eastern states, this desert battle becomes another history lesson.

The clothing, camp lifestyle, food, and stories told by the soldiers in the southwest during the 1860s make this event even more intriguing. More than 150 re-enactors from the Southwestern area camp at Picacho Peak State Park.

Spectators are welcome to tour the recreated military camps which will include demonstrations such as laundering, candle making, sewing, cooking and the fashions of the era. This is a family oriented event and will have handicap access.

As many of you know, Elsie and I are avid history buffs. So, when we saw this event advertised, it was a "must see". A couple of years back, we were wandering around on the East Coast and managed to visit many of the major Civil War sites there: Antietam, Gettysburg, Harper's Ferry, etc. But, I never knew that the Civil War reached this far west. In fact, Arizona, as a Territory, was the 7th area to join the Confederacy before Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Why, you ask? Well, there are several reasons as related to me by the Union Colonel after the battle. ( of course, I went right to the top to get the answer... )

The then Mayor of Phoenix (or Tucson, I can't remember which) was a good friend of Abe Lincoln so you would expect that he would be a Northern Supporter. No! He owned farm land, and that was upon what his wealth was based. What crop did he farm??? ... COTTON! In order to market his crop, he required a large source of cheap labour. Remember that the world cotton sources were Egypt and India where labour is very, very cheap. So in his mind, slavery was required if Arizona was ever to become a successful venture and acquire Statehood. The more history one reads, the bigger a cynic one becomes!!!

If you want a quick snapshot of the Battle of Picacho Peak ...


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