Greetings from Arizona! Hello again friends and family, we’re writing today from Heather’s parents’ driveway in Peoria, AZ where we’ve been for a few days now. Unfortunately, we’re getting this out a bit late this week as we’ve been so busy rushing from place to place to see friends and family since we got to town. Not complaining though, it’s been wonderful to catch up with our Arizona peeps!
Amazingly, we were still in El Paso, TX the last time we wrote you. That seems like an eternity ago already! Last Tuesday afternoon, we pulled out of the RV park we had stayed in the night before and found a place to kill time during the day while we waited for another package to be delivered to the Amazon Locker. Unfortunately, it came at the later end of the day, just as the sun was setting, so we killed most of the day getting some random stuff done in a parking lot while we waited. Just before the sun went down, we snuck in a quick run and were delighted to see the supermoon rising as we finished up. It was an incredible display of a colorful sunset in one direction and a gigantic moon rising in the other. Once we finished the run and had our package in hand, we drove the 25 miles to Las Cruces, NM to spend the night.
The next morning, Wednesday, we set out across the deserts of New Mexico. It was our intention initially to stop at the White Sands National Monument just outside of Las Cruces, but we hadn’t realized it was going to be well over 100 miles out of our way to get there. So we sadly ended up skipping it in favor of shooting across the state toward Tucson, AZ. We drove all day, only stopping for a quick Mexican lunch (yay for being back in the Southwest!) where Jim managed to find an old, out of tune piano to get his fix. Then it was onward to Tucson, where we arrived just after sunset and found a nice Lowe’s parking lot to spend the evening. We did have an oddity of a situation that night; around 3am we could hear a video game being played loud and clear from a car parked right behind us. It was so loud that we couldn’t sleep and ended up having to move – who plays video games in their car that loudly in the middle of the night parked right next to an RV?!?!?! Grrr…
Thursday we woke up with an agenda to get some things done before heading to Phoenix for time with friends and family. Jim had just finished his studies for the certification he’s been working on and headed to the library to take the three hour exam. It was a tough test but he passed it and is now an internationally certified coach through ITCA (International Triathlon Coaching Association) as well as USAT! While he was at the library, Heather took Bertha to the car wash and spent many hours scrubbing the grime off the outside and cleaning the inside. Naturally, we wanted her to look her best before we Griswold the driveways of our loved ones.
Friday morning we awoke and started the drive up to Phoenix! It’s about 150 miles to Heather’s parents’ house in Peoria and we had to make a quick stop at Fry’s Electronics on the way as well. Jim’s been drooling for the chance to wander around there. An hour and a half later, he had what he wanted and we
continued on, through rush hour traffic, to Marty and Kathy’s house. We arrived at 5pm and Eric, Heather’s brother, was already there preparing the 2 inch thick steaks we were going to be eating for dinner. It was so nice to see them, we spent the evening catching up, stuffing ourselves with steak and homemade cornbread (mmm thanks Kathy), and just enjoying each other’s company.
The next morning, we had breakfast with Heather’s parents (Jim made pumpkin pancakes) and Heather’s bestie, Krissy, came over to join us with her little one, Charlotte, who is a year and a half old. After our late breakfast, Jim and Marty ended up heading out for a quick 9 hole game of golf that included air guitars with their clubs. Meanwhile, Heather went over to Krissy’s house for a bit for some girl talk and time with little Charley Bear. We reconvened around 4:00 to get ourselves all fancied up for a Christmas party that evening. Every year, long time family friends the Johnstons put on a wonderful Christmas party at their home in Ahwatukee, complete with more decorations than you’ve ever seen, a real life Santa and Mrs Claus, and a spread of food and wine that could feed an army. Jim’s mom and two of his sisters were there as well, making it a wonderful time of catching up with them while enjoying the festivities. Plus, we got to ditch the RV dirtbag look and remind everyone that we’re still decent looking human beings.
Sunday it was time for the big Froncek family reunion (Heather’s dad’s side of the family)! We slept in a bit that morning, due to the party festivities of the night before, but rolled out out of bed to see how we could help set up for the picnic. We arrived at the park gazebo at 12:30, just in time to kick out the party who had the gazebo before us, and unloaded the car to set up for the crew’s arrival. Dad and Kathy showed up with a smorgasbord of barbeque from Dillon’s to feed everyone in the park. It was heck of a spread that actually ended up feeding us for a few days! The group started to trickle in around 1:00; two of Heather’s uncles and one aunt, plus numerous cousins and cousins’ children. We hung out, caught up, played with the little ones, organized a group photo, got a frisbee unstuck from high up in a tree, and shoved our faces full of BBQ, baked beans, and coleslaw. It was a pretty awesome day!
After the barbeque, we headed back to Heather’s parents’ for more family festivities. We ate the leftovers for dinner, supplemented with a bomb salad a la Kathy, and started in on the wine tasting. Marty and Kathy are members at a couple of wineries in Central California, and had recently been able to join another since they started delivering to Arizona. The five of us (Heather’s bro was over too) sampled four different bottles of delicious wine from the Scheid winery in Monterey…oh em gee they were SO good! We chatted and tasted and started a slideshow from our trip around the country up on the big screen TV (we only got through Idaho before everyone was tired…there’s nothing like a vacation slideshow to kill the party). It’s been fun to be home after such an adventure to share our stories and catch up with our loved ones.
Monday we were up early to knock out Jim’s athletes’ training plans and a run before we loaded up and headed to the other side of town. Heather’s 20-year-old half sisters (twins) live in Maricopa, 60 miles away from Peoria, and we were set to go spend the day with them doing Christmas themed activities. We arrived and went to a local little cafe for lunch before heading back to their house for cookie decorating. They had a couple of packages to bake and had bought one extra large gingerbread man to decorate as well. We had a blast adding frosting, sprinkles, and candy to our little cookie men, before eating at least half of them and making ourselves a little sick. Once the cookies were done, we piled into the car and headed across town again to The Phoenix Zoo for the Zoolights event that they put on every year. It’s a magical display of lights set up in the trees, the animal exhibits, in the cacti, and even complete with a musically synced light show that reflects off the lake. We spent about two hours taking in the lights and having fun together before we started to get chilly and hungry and headed out. After stopping for a Filiberto’s burrito, we dropped them back at their house and headed home to Bertha. It was a long but fun day.
Tuesday, yesterday, we split up again for a little while. Jim took the opportunity for a full day of golfing with Heather’s dad, brother, and brother’s roommate at the Arrowhead course. They had fun taking slow mo videos, eating hot dogs, and hitting balls in the beautiful Arizona December sun. Meanwhile, Heather met up with one of her oldest friends, Missy, for a delicious Mexican lunch (notice a theme here?) and then a hike up Thunderbird Mountain. Seriously, you can’t beat the weather in Phoenix this time of year. Once again, we reconvened around 5:00 to clean ourselves up and run off to another social engagement, this time with one of Jim’s oldest friends. His buddy Ben and Ben’s wife, Joanna, live pretty close to Heather’s parents, so we jumped on the motorcycle and cruised to their house while enjoying the colorful desert sunset. When we got there, Ben poured us a delicious, cold glass of eggnog with rum over ice while Joanna was preparing homemade tortillas. They then steamed up some homemade tamales (again with the Mexican theme) and we stuffed ourselves on the best homemade Mexican food a person can eat. After dinner, we took them on in a game of Cranium and took home the victory trophy. It was a really nice night of hanging out with old friends and allowing Heather to get to know them better – they were incredible hosts!
We’ll be continuing with more friends, family, and holiday cheer this week, Merry Christmas to you all! xoxo
Total RV Trip Miles: 12,974.8