My brothers and I grew up in Tucson, but around 1965, we began to scatter. Richard off to PCC, then the army and Vietnam; Dale back to New York to take over Grandma & Grandpa’s farm; Daryl to San Francisco, then Taiwan, then Santa Clara; Don to Phoenix for school, then the Los Angeles area for a new job. I’m the only one who never left the state, but Roland and I left Tucson in 1985 for Mesa, leaving Mom and Dad to wrap things up on our Tucson history when they transitioned to retirement life in an RV.

Daryl moved to Tempe in 1984, just about a year before Roland and I moved to Mesa. After traveling for several years, Mom and Dad settled into a senior mobile home park in east Mesa, before moving to Fellowship Square in the late 90s. That put half of us back in close proximity, but Richard & Dianna lived in New Mexico for many years before beginning full time RV living, Dale was still in New York, and Don & Betty were living in the San Fernando Valley at that time.

Dale was the next of us siblings to make a move back to Arizona when he entered the full time RV life. Granted he didn’t have a permanent home here but the majority of his time was spent nearby, and his official mail residency was Tempe.

Two years ago, Richard’s health forced them to make the difficult decision to come off the road, and they bought a home in east Mesa in early 2020. We have helped them spruce it up over the past year while enjoying having them living nearby.

Don is semi retiring by transitioning to a contractor status with his company, and he and Betty sold their house in Winetka and bought a new(er) one in Queen Creek. They will make the big move next week.

So after 55 years of us being scattered across the country (and around the world), we will finally all be back living in close proximity again. It’ll sure be nice to have everyone in the same state again (most of the time — Dale still meanders across the border from time to time in his little home on wheels.)

We are Arizonans through and through.

Derek and Kelsey had been planning a spring wedding since before Covid-19, and decided rather than put it off for an unknown length of time, they would have a very small ceremony in Sedona in March, and then hold a reception for family and friends at a later (post-Covid) date. The event was live streamed, and we all got online and watched the beautiful ceremony. We look forward to celebrating in person with them while viewing their beautiful new Chandler home soon.

Nathan and Megan both graduated from college in May. Megan kept hers low key as she had a big HS Grad party four years ago, and she is in the midst of wedding planning. But Nathan being home schooled missed out on a HS party, so his folks threw a big shindig to celebrate his amazing accomplishments of graduating at age 18, Summa cum laude, and being accepted to med school (two schools, in fact!) We are very proud of him.

On February 26, Christian Thompson proposed to Megan and she said “Yes!” They will be married on September 16 in Boise, and plan to honeymoon at a Mexican resort before settling into a condo in Meridian. Brian and Carrie and I have booked a vacation home together for several days that week to spend time with the family and enjoy the wedding festivities.

Since Nathan has a rare few weeks off between college and med school, Steven flew down to spend a week here in scorching hot Arizona with him. Those two boys have been very good friends and I’m so glad they still get to spend time together occasionally. We still have such great memories of the trip to Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone in my RV in 2017.

It’s been a fun year of endings and new beginnings.

I haven’t done a very good job of keeping up my blog in the last few years. One or two posts a year recapping events, trips and family news has become my norm. But amazingly, I still come back occasionally and reread many of my old entries, which is proof that my blog still gives me enjoyment.

This past year, which will forever be referred to as “Covid-19 year”, was the most unique of my lifetime. The old saying “Life goes on” was put to the test, as everything seemed to stand still. My own family lost 3 members: Carrie’s mom Bonnie (April 2020), my cousin Cindy (April 2021), and my cousin Carlene’s husband Paul (April 2021). Paul died of Covid-19 after a months long battle in the hospital. Bonnie’s death had been anticipated for several years, but Cindy’s took us by surprise. She had been managing her cancer well for several years, but in the last few months, it suddenly became more aggressive and all treatment efforts began to fail. She got the shocking news on March 29th that there was nothing more that could be done, and she likely had weeks to months left. She died just 3 weeks later on April 16. These passings have made me very aware and appreciative of my own good health.

In May, I drove to Boise to visit the Holsingers. It had been 21 months since I had been there. It was great to see everyone, meet Megan’s fiance Christian, and let all the kids take a test drive in my car. They thought autopilot was pretty awesome. While I was there, I cautiously ventured to church for the first time since Covid shutdown, and sat in the back corner by myself. (Robin was working behind the scenes.)

Our family has all been vaccinated, so we have resumed our occasional social gatherings. In fact, just this morning we received an invite to Brian & Carrie’s for a July 4th get together. Hot dogs, hamburgers and pot luck will be the food fare; games, swimming and chatter will be the activities of the day.

I’m making plans for an RV trip later this summer. My Minnie is in the shop, but as soon as she is back in tip top shape, I hope to go east to camp with Dale in New Mexico. We had such a great time there in 2019, and it’ll be a good re-entry to RV life for me after nearly two years off the road.

As I’ve been typing this out, I’ve thought of a couple other family happenings that I should record, and I’m going to make separate entries about them.

But the bottom line is: life is returning to normal, and it feels GOOD!

Anyone can find all the statistics and news information they want to know about the 2019 CoronaVirus pandemic on the internet. But I thought I’d document some of my personal experiences while we are still in the middle of it. As of this writing, there are 3.3 million cases with 231K deaths worldwide, and over one million cases and 62K deaths in the USA.

The virus started in Wuhan, China around December-January, and by mid-late February had made it’s way to the US. The stock market took a dive the third week of February, and I sold a few shares of Marvell just to ensure I had enough cash to get me through the summer. Turns out, I shouldn’t have panicked, because a month later, the market was back up quite a bit due to economic provisions the government made. But as Daryl always tells me, don’t waste a lot of time comparing the price you got for a sale if it was the right time to do it. At least I didn’t sell much!

I made a big grocery run on March 5, stocking up on all the supplies I thought I’d need for several weeks. It was a good decision, because ten days later, the country began to shut down as the virus began to rapidly spread. Since that provision supply run, I’ve done three grocery orders from Fry’s that I picked up in their parking lot. I’ve also gotten a few items delivered from Amazon. But I’m pretty proud of myself for taking care of business without going into any stores and exposing myself, and more importantly any of my family, to infection.

The only visitation outings I have done is going over to Brian and Carrie’s a couple times a week. I can only do that because both of our households have been practicing a strict quarantine protocol, and we can be sure we are all virus free. Both Brian and Carrie are working from home, and both the boys are keeping up with their school work via online education. Carrie suspended all of Lauren’s therapists and care givers from coming to the house, and she has been providing all of Lauren’s care with help from Brian and Nathan, and now Carrie’s father.

Carrie’s mother died on April 8 following a years-long illness, and several weeks on hospice care. It was a difficult ordeal, but came with some blessings; Bonnie is no longer suffering, and she passed peacefully at home while Dennis was holding her. Now Dennis is spending a lot of his time at Brian and Carrie’s doting on Lauren and participating in family activities, including many game nights and movies.

And me, I am home the majority of my time. My days consist of trying to get my walking miles in, taking a little nap each afternoon, and many hours of watching TV, reading and surfing social media!

Of course, there have been political implications and many hateful differences of opinion on the way the country is responding to the pandemic and trying to slow the spread and keep the most vulnerable safe. But as the graphs begin to show glimmers of hope and optimism that we may be seeing some success in that regard, the cries to get back to normal are increasing. Some states are starting to slowly reopen a few businesses with strict limitations in place regarding sanitizing, limiting the number of mask-wearing people allowed inside, and expanding pick up and delivery. Some folks will rush right out in celebration, but others will remain very cautious about coming out of our safety cocoons. It will take months or even years before the nation (and world) recover from all the set backs.

Each day as I walk out in the sunshine I think about how lucky and blessed I am to have my comfortable home, plenty of food and supplies in my cupboards, good health, financial stability, and many family and friends who love and care about me. I know that is not the case for millions of people around the world, so I don’t take it lightly. Keeping focused on those positives, along with being an introvert who doesn’t hate living alone ;-), helps me deal with this unique season of life with continuing joy.

Stay healthy, everyone!

31. January 2020 · Comments Off on Caribbean Cruising in The Haven · Categories: Life & Family, Travel

I asked Brian and Carrie if I could tag along on a cruise with them sometime. They had just booked a week in January on the Norwegian Escape for their family. They made arrangements to upgrade their one bedroom suite in The Haven to a two bedroom, and I paid the difference. It was a lot cheaper than a private cabin for myself in the exclusive upscale area would have been, though slightly more than a standard stateroom on the lower decks. However, it was well worth it. The accommodations were supreme, and service was exemplary. Many of the things you pay extra for in a standard cabin were included in the Haven’s suites.

We flew to Miami on a red eye flight on January 4, and boarded the ship about 11:00. They served us lunch in The Haven reception area while we waited for our room to be ready and luggage to be delivered. We explored the ship, and watched our ship leave the port from the Sundeck.

We had four ports of call: Roatan, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. We had booked excursions in all four ports. We did a Catamaran and snorkel cruise in Roatan. Unfortunately, Andrew tripped on deck and severely sprained his ankle, and required a wheelchair for the remainder of the week.

On the catamaran
Snorklers

Harvest Caye is a small island owned by Norwegian Cruise Lines. Many of the cruise lines do this, as it’s a way for passengers to visit foreign countries that may not be safe for American tourists. They still get a taste of the culture and climate, but are completely isolated from the mainland dangers. Carrie and I did some window shopping while the guys played water sports.

On the morning we docked in Costa Maya, Carrie woke up sick. The boys and I had booked a dolphin encounter, but Andrew’s ankle prevented him from going, so Brian stayed “home” to be nursemaid. Nathan and I really enjoyed the dolphins; it’s quite an awesome experience.

Extremely gentle and affectionate animals
The dolphin is pushing me by my feet. It was fast!

By the time we got to Cozumel, Brian had come down with flu, and he and Carrie both quarantined themselves in their bedroom. I took Nathan and Andrew (in his wheelchair) and we went off on our excursion to Chankanaab Adventure Park. This is a small sea life park with a few attractions, including dolphin and manatee encounters, sea lion show, crocodile exhibit, and a replica Mayan village. There were also pools and a beach for swimming. We had a good time, though pushing that wheelchair on packed sand was hard work.

Andrew was enthralled with the Mayan exhibit. He stood on one foot for a picture.
Crocodile exhibit (Notice the pointed snout. Gators have a rounded head.)

We arrived back in Miami the morning of January 11, and Brian and Carrie were feeling some better. We had booked a final excursion riding an airboat through the Everglades. This was a great experience, and we all really enjoyed it. By the time we got back to Miami, Brian and Carrie were worn out, and we went straight to the airport to rest and wait for our evening flight back to Phoenix.

Gator sunning himself.

This adventure has made me want to do more cruises to exotic places around the world and, if I can swing it, to stay in the luxury suites.

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