2018-10-12 – Arizona – Day 55 – Arcosanti and Taliesin West

We packed up early, left Camp Verde, and headed south.  Our first stop was at Arcosanti:


Arcosanti is a planned experimental town with a molten bronze bell casting business 70 miles north of Phoenix, at an elevation of 3,732 feet.  Its “arcology” concept was posited by the Italian-American architect, Paolo Soleri, a former student of Frank Lloyd Wright.  He began construction in 1970 to demonstrate how urban conditions could be improved while minimizing the destructive impact on the earth.  He taught and influenced generations of architects and urban designers who studied and worked with him there to build the proposed ‘town.’

We arrived in time for the 10:00 am tour.  After a brief video presentation we toured the various buildings of this “urban experiment”.  We saw the “students” making their signature clay bells, then we moved on to the Foundry.  Today we watched as they poured molten bronze (2,100 degrees F) into dies (forms) to become bronze bells…


We were shown performance areas, living quarters, and lounge spaces.

The place is a little strange… Sort of like a hippie commune with high academic credentials.  And we didn’t even see any of the architects living and working there…


We continued on into Phoenix, or Sun City, to be exact.  We checked into our RV park, then I took the truck into the Chevrolet dealer; we are about 1,000 miles overdue for an oil change, and I don’t want to risk driving home across the desert with bad oil…

The big event today is an evening tour of Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio and school in Scottsdale…

Taliesin West was Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and school in the desert on the outskirts of Scottsdale, AZ, from 1937 until his death in 1959 at the age of 91. Today it is the main campus of the School of Architecture at Taliesin and houses the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship began to “trek” to Arizona each winter in 1935. In 1937 Wright purchased the plot of desert land that would soon become Taliesin West. He paid about $7,000 for over 600 acres on the southern slope of the McDowell Range overlooking Paradise Valley outside Scottsdale.  In 1937 is was 4 miles past the last paved road in Scottsdale, a hamlet of about 200 people.  Today it is about a 45 minute drive from the RV park in Sun City… It is almost totally surrounded by the sprawl of Scottsdale…  We arrived just before dark…

The tour was fabulous, but, since it was at night, we took few pictures.  We will come back tomorrow and do it in the rain, so pictures might be better…

This is the main drafting room…


This is the Breezeway…


We arrived home at about 10:00 pm – very late for us…

Tomorrow we come back to Taliesin West and have a three hour “In Depth” tour…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2017-10-16 Westbound; Home!

We left the Visalia WalMart at about 8:15 this morning.  We pulled the Villa over the Grapevine, and arrived in Irvine:


2017-10-16 California 01 Irvine 032017-10-16 California 01 Irvine 02

Our intrepid crew was waiting to greet us:

2017-10-16 California 01 Irvine 01

Happy Hours and a home cooked meal ensued; an enjoyable time was had by all…

June 10-October 16

128 Nights

Over 15,000 miles, including about 1,000 miles as part of the WBCCI Nor’ by Nor’east Caravan

28 States, 5 Canadian Provinces, all 5 Great Lakes, 10 border crossings between US and Canada

Public transportation:  7 Train trips, 4 bus trips, and 3 Uber rides (not counting excursions as part of the Nor’ by Nor’east Caravan)

8 Frank Lloyd Wright buildings

5 Laura Ingalls Wilder sites and museums

Visited by our grandchildren:  2

12 Visits to friends and/or family

3 Visits for service on the Chevrolet Silverado truck

5 visits for service on the Airstream

143 Airstreams seen along the road or in RV parks ( plus 24 on the Nor’ by Nor’east Caravan, 31 at the Carson City Rally, 98 at the Jackson Rally, and many, many more at the various Airstream dealers we visited along the way…)













2017-09-13 Westbound; Leaving Thunder Bay!

Today is the day!  We are finally leaving Thunder Bay, a full two weeks after we arrived…

2017-09-13 Thunder Bay Leaving

Our destination today is Shorewood RV, just outside Minneapolis; we are scheduled to get out refrigerator replaced.  (You recall our refer failed in PEI about one month ago…)

It was an uneventful trip, traveling southwest from Thunder Bay, continuing southwest to Minneapolis, then west to Anoka and Shorewood RV.

We stopped about every 1 1/2 hours or so to break up the trip.  We try to walk a bit and keep out Apple watches happy.  This rest stop was about one hour south of Duluth:

2017-09-13 Minnesota Rest Stop

The truck once again performed flawlessly, and we easily rolled along.  We arrived at Shorewood RV at about 3:30, and checked in to the Service department to make sure everything was on schedule.  They told us where to park, so we pulled in and set up for the night:

2017-09-13 Shorewood RV

A few minutes later they called to tell us the refer was here and they would be picking up the Villa at 6:00 am tomorrow morning…

We have good power, good internet access, good satellite TV, and air conditioning – it is 88 degrees and very humid!  We did add a sticker to our map:

2017-09-13 Map Minnesota.JPG

Happy Hours ensued and an enjoyable time was had by all…











2017-09-12 Westbound; Released from Thunder Bay on Day 12…!

We have been released!  Almost 24 hours after the arrival of the parts, the truck is finished.  They replaced all sorts of things on one side of the engine: push rods, injectors, just about everything they had – GM sent a giant box of parts…

2017-09-12 Silverado

They did an oil change, then a test drive; we took back the rental car, then headed out on a long drive to see that everything is OK.  I have no doubt about the engine, but it always seems like  other things go wacky when major work is performed.  We checked the radio, the navigation system, the trip odometers, the clock, the tire pressure monitoring system, the front and side cameras, everything we could think of.  Everything seemed fine.

We drove about 50 miles, then we went for a celebratory lunch:

2017-09-12 Lunch Merla Mae

Lynda went shopping to try to spend our last Canadian cash; I returned to the GMC waiting room to catch up on computer work; we will hitch up the rig tonight or tomorrow morning and leave before 9:00.

We walked over to Bistro One for our standing every Tuesday reservation:

2017-09-05 Bistro One

We had to tell them we will not be returning… unfortunately, Jean, the owner, and Brittany, best waitress ever, were both off sick.  But I still had a great Old Fashioned, we enjoyed a nice bottle of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, the Duck Confit was as good as ever, and braised short ribs were a real treat.  We left at about 8:30 and it was still light, making our walk home easy.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…







2017-09-11 Westbound; Stranded in Thunder Bay, Day 11…

2017-09-01 GMC 03

Monday; the GMC dealer is open again, so we get great internet access.

I was able to catch up on the blog; Lynda could read the paper and her book; the waiting room inside the GMC dealer is comfortable, and the stock market is up.  What more could we want?

At noon we received the news:  The parts necessary to repair the truck have arrived!  If nothing goes wrong it should be complete tomorrow!

I immediately started finalizing our itinerary; we will have our refrigerator replaced on Thursday in Minneapolis; we plan to be at Mt. Rushmore on Saturday…

We hung out for awhile, and then we went for an early dinner at Thunder Bay’s newest Sports Bar: Shoeless Joe’s:

2017-09-11 Shoeless Joes

It was very nice.  It was opening day, so everyone was super friendly and happy.  Food was even good.  Happy Hours were many and an enjoyable time was had by all…






2017-09-05 Westbound; Stranded in Thunder Bay, Day 5…

Stranded, Day 5:

2017-09-01 GMC 03

Tuesday; Labor Day is over and the world resumes its normal activities.  The happy merry workers at Dominion Motors GMC return to work and we get to sit in their waiting room, drink their coffee, watch their TV, use their internet, and use their restrooms (washrooms here in Canada…).

There is no word on the truck.  They have run their diagnostics and sent the data to technical support in Detroit.  Maybe they will hear back today or tomorrow; for now it looks like a blown engine; the normal fix for this is a complete engine replacement.  We might be here for awhile…

So we did some sight-seeing and checked out the local artisans; first, we went to Thunder Oak Cheese Farm:

2017-09-05 Cheese 01

The Thunder Oak Cheese Farm specializes in Gouda cheese, and all things Dutch:

2017-09-05 Cheese 02

We tasted their cheeses and even cheese curds; Lynda wanted some Komijne Kaas, and they have it!  Also some dropjes…

Around mid-day we visited The Persian Man; “he” or “it” is located within Bennett’s Bakery.  Apparently Persians are a “Thunder Bay Specialty”.  But I’m all, “What’s a Persian?”

A Persian is an oval-shaped, cinnamon-bun-like sweet roll with a sweet, pink icing made of either raspberries or strawberries.  It is credited to have originated at Bennett’s Bakery in, and remains particular to, Thunder Bay.  It is sometimes confused with a Pershing or a Persian bun which are regional items in parts of the United States but are a completely different baked good made with doughnut batter as opposed to being a sweet roll.  So there!

2017-09-05 Persian Man

It happens that we are “camped” right around the corner from Bennett’s Bakery; also, Syd, an employee of the GMC dealer where we are camped, stopped by on Saturday and gave us a gift certificate to have Persians at The Persian Man at Bennett’s Bakery. Around the corner.

So we  walked around the corner to The Persian Man at Bennett’s Bakery, and had coffee and Persians.  It was interesting…

2017-09-05 Persian 01

Later in the afternoon we walked around the corner to Dawson Trail Craft Brewery. We tasted 4 very nice craft beers and chatted with the owner about what it’s like to be a craft brewery in Thunder Bay.  While it is a small town (108,000), there is only one other brewery, no distilleries, and there are no wineries or wine tasting rooms… So while this sort of craft/artisanal business hasn’t really caught on here on the north shore, it is an up and coming thing, and they are optimistic…

2017-09-05 Dawson Trail

Since we still haven’t heard anything about the truck’s prognosis, and since our time here is seemingly endless, we did two things:

  1. We planned to go to Wisconsin in our rental car to see the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings that had always been on our itinerary for this week…
  2. We went to dinner at our favorite Thunder Bay restaurant, Bistro One. The fact that we have a favorite restaurant tells us we have already been here way too long; we have a standing reservation for every Tuesday night…

2017-09-05 Bistro One

After dinner we turned in early; tomorrow is a 10 hour drive across the border and through Minnesota, into Wisconsin, down to the town of Spring Green.

And a not too awful time was had by all.













2017-09-02 Westbound; Stranded in Thunder Bay, Day 2…

It rained all night.  Sometime in the early morning I awoke and noticed that the power had gone out.  (Most things in the Villa run on batteries, but we still need shore power if we are staying for an extended period of time…)

I dressed and went out in the rain. I found that the outlet we were plugged into is a GFI, which is extremely sensitive to water. Obviously the outlet had gotten wet, and had shut itself off.  I detached everything and decided to wait until morning to see if this could be resolved.  I went back to bed…

In the morning I surveyed the situation again. I dried off everything, reset the GFI, and plugged in again. All good. Then I arranged a plastic bag over the outlet to keep rain off. I added a little Gorilla tape to keep it all from blowing away, and we were good.

We did a little shopping:  we need ice (remember our dead refrigerator?), and we always need milk and cream.  We needed to do some computer work, but internet in the Villa is weak; we went to Starbucks and spent a few hours catching up…

Today is Saturday.  It is the first Saturday of the College football season.  But, because the Villa is located directly next to the tall GMC building, we get no satellite TV service.  We tried Sling Box, but, as I said, our internet service in the Villa is weak.  What to do?  We headed out to a sports bar, Kelsey’s.  We enjoyed a light dinner and watched a few games.

We returned to the Villa.  I was able to get the UCLA-Texas A&M game on my iPhone via Sling Box, but it is not much fun to watch football on an iPhone, especially considering how horribly UCLA was playing.  UCLA was a lost cause, so I turned off the game shortly after half-time and went to bed…

A not-too-awful time was had by all…



Since we have no pictures, I will post pictures of my grandkids at the beach in Malibu:

2017-09-02 McAnoy 02 Malibu

2017-09-02 McAnoy 01 Malibu

THEY look like they are all having an enjoyable time…



2017-09-01 Westbound; Heading back to the USA…

We again had a leisurely morning; at about 11:00 am we checked out of the Thunder Bay KOA and headed to Minnesota.

We never made it.

2017-09-01 GMC 02

We had just entered the freeway heading south when it became clear that the truck was not running properly.  It was running rough, and losing power.

We limped into the Chevy dealer in Thunder Bay. The service manager was obviously NOT having an enjoyable time, and she told us that there was no way they could see us today.  Did I mention that it is Friday afternoon on Labor Day Weekend?

However, she was nice enough to make a call to the nearby GMC dealer, and they agreed to see us.  We found it easily, and we were greeted warmly.

We dropped the Villa on their parking lot, and they pulled the truck into the service bay. The news is not good; something to do with pistons, cylinders, and things like that.  And there is no time yet today to get to the bottom of it, to see how bad it is, and to see how long it will take to get parts, once we know what is needed.

The good news:  EVERYONE here has been extremely nice!  They assured us that whatever the issue is it will be covered under warranty; they obtained for us a rental car (part of warranty), and they showed us where we can park and stay in the Villa, and where we can hook up to power.


2017-09-01 GMC 01

2017-09-01 GMC 03

Since we are stuck here for the weekend we might as well make the best of it… We set up the Villa, pushed out the slide-out, and settled in for the time being.  Tonight we went to a VERY nice restaurant: Bistro One.  The food and service was top-notch, and it made our evening very pleasant. The staff at Bistro One even compiled a list of things we can see and do while we are here in Thunder Bay…

We returned to the Villa just as it started to rain.  We love the sound of rain on the aluminum roof… Not too bad of a time was had by all…

2017-08-23 Westbound; Back at CanAm RV for service…

We left Burning Kiln Winery at about 5:00 am; we had a lovely drive in the dark; we stopped for coffee about 6:30, and we rolled into CanAm RV about 7:30.  We pulled into “our” parking spot, and hooked up to power.

2017-08-23 CanAm 01

We had a few issues for CanAm today: They will install the new stainless steel rock guards we ordered last time we were here (see above…)  Also, they will check out, and hopefully fix, the refrigerator, they will replace the cracked and mostly missing skylight, they will look into why the electric water heater blows the circuit breaker, and they will look at the rear storage hatch frame, plus a few odds and ends. After 9,000 miles on the road, it’s time for a little fix-up.

About 8:15 Dan came by. He checked out our hitch, and everything seemed fine. He did tell me that I needed to buy grease to lubricate the hitch, one of the most awful things about the EazLift hitch…  They pulled the Villa into their service bay and we left for town.

We stopped into the local Chevy dealer and asked for an oil change and regular service; while they worked, we walked to the neighboring Costco to see if they carried my beloved Vita Rain Water.  Nope – we struck out again.  We did stop into a grocery store and bought a few minor things, and by the time we were back at the Chevy dealer the truck was not only finished, but they had washed it as well!

We drove back to CanAm and we were informed that the refrigerator is dead, with a fluid leak. A new one takes at least one week to arrive at CanAm; so my job now was to find a refrigerator and an Airstream service place along our route.  After many phone calls and internet searches, we have an appointment at the Airstream dealer in Minneapolis on September 8.  This means two more weeks of buying ice…

2017-08-23 CanAm 05

The rest of the day was uneventful. We walked around the new trailers, and re-planned our trip so that we could spend the day in Minneapolis.  At 5:30 they were done for the night, so we embarked upon Happy Hours and retired for the evening, safe inside CanAm’s gates…

2017-08-24 CanAm 06

Tomorrow we head to Boblo!

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