Wednesday, December 16, 2015


During our regular weekly lunch a couple of weeks ago, my Dad mentioned that they were planning to go to Arizona for the winter this year.
Mom's asthma is much worse when it is cold.
Last winter was so mild that Mom and Dad were able to stay in Utah all year
but it's already pretty cold this year so they wanted to get away before it got too much colder and/or snowy.
I had told them that I would help by driving their car while my Dad drove their RV...
so it was off to Arizona for us!

I showed up at his house on Sunday December 6th, wearing my traveling clothes:
sweats, comfy t-shirt and shoes that I can easily slip off.
He was wearing a suit, tie and nice wool coat.
He looked so dapper that I just had to get a picture, which made him laugh...but he obliged.

On the road:

The drive went just fine and we had good roads the whole way.

My parents like to take the trip in 2 days so they always stop at a certain Walmart and park overnight in the RV.
We arrived at said Walmart at about 3:30 in the afternoon so we had a lot of time to kill.

Walmart lets trucks and RVs park in their parking lots at night.
But, of course, we park in the outskirts of the lot so as to leave the close spaces for actual shoppers.
If you ever shop at Walmart you know that their parking lots are usually quite huge.

Since the RV wasn't hooked up to any water, electricity or sewer lines, we went inside the store for the facilities.
And we shopped some for food.

My mom likes to joke about her 80 year old, 8 kid bladder...but she really does use the restroom a lot.
I only have a 50 year old, 4 kid bladder but I feel her pain.
I got a lot of exercise during those hours at Walmart!
We walked back and forth to those bathrooms SO MANY TIMES.

I also managed to get sick in the middle of the night (around 12:30 AM)
so I tried to sneak out of the RV to go to the store 
(which was open 24 hours thank heaven!)
My Dad woke up though so I just told him that I wasn't feeling well but I'd be back.

I wandered around Walmart as I tried to get my stomach to settle down.
Yes, I was walking around walmart at 1:00 AM in my pjs.
I could have been on one of those "people of walmart" posts.

I came around the corner at one point (maybe 1:30 AM by now) and see my parents rushing into the store.
They are fully dressed and looking somewhat stressed.
Turns out, they were worried about me!
But also...awkward.
I was still not feeling well and told them it would be awhile before I came back
so they decided to just hang out with me in Walmart.

We walked around the store, talked, looked at the merchandise, chatted with some workers and Mom even tried on some clothes.

The next morning we were all a bit tired but we got back on the road.
Mom and Dad were probably questioning the wisdom of choosing me as their road companion.

We arrived in the RV park around 5 PM on Monday.
The office closed at 4 though so we couldn't get our spot that day...
they let us park next to the clubhouse for the night which worked out fine.
But it was another night of walking back and forth to an outside bathroom.

The next morning we got our assigned spot and got the RV parked...
but Mom was not happy with the location.
Not at all.
Her exact words: "What are we doing here in the slums?"
Sort of funny but also...not.
She got it into her head that we were in a bad/ugly/run down part of the park
and was just very very unhappy about it.

She wanted to move.

That really wasn't an option so Dad and I started brainstorming what we could do to fix the place up.
Her main beef was with a built in unit behind their RV.
She thought it looked awful.

There is also an electrical box and the water hook ups back there, which added to the ugliness.

We finally came up with a plan to build a fence.
Obviously we can't build a real fence but we jimmy rigged a fence-like structure.
We used:
lattice, pvc pipe, cinder blocks, sand, rebar and zip ties.

About 10 trips to home depot later, we had a fence!

I felt like Macgyver.

Here it is in all its glory (not quite finished in this picture but you get the idea):

Dad with the finished product.

Mom is MUCH happier with the fence up

We also put Christmas lights up on the fence to make the place more festive.

The RV also has an awning that has been broken in the past so my parents have never used it.
They got it fixed this year so I helped them figure out how to set it up
(thank you Youtube)
But, when the awning is out, there is this bar that sticks out to hold it up.
One by one we each managed to run into this bar.
I did it full speed and face first.
I didn't see my Dad run into it because I was inside the RV at the time but when he did it, the whole RV shook!  
I'm sure it didn't feel good.

We did laugh about how we had all done the same thing.
You'd think this big ol bar would be quite visible but apparently not.

the offending bar that hurt my face
 So I decided to sew some banners that we could attach to the bar in the hopes that we would see the banner and not run into the bars.

Mom had her sewing machine, luckily, but somehow all of the feet got left in Utah.
Thankfully there was a sewing machine store quite close and we got in there with only minutes to spare before they closed.
I sewed like mad and finished it that night since I was headed home the next day.

I spent almost a whole week there with my parents and we got a lot done.

There were a few mishaps along the way...
Mom turned the wrong way coming out of the shower building at dusk
and we managed to lose her for about 45 stressful, dark minutes.
And the anxiety of that evening turned into a major asthma attack that night.

It rained and the pull out part of the RV leaked into the cupboards and then onto me as I slept beneath them...
which meant a late night cleaning/drying frenzy and an RV that looked like a tornado had gone through it when we woke up in the morning.
(Frantic unloading of cabinets in the middle of the night means we weren't very neat or tidy about it)
I got to visit a couple of friends there in Arizona
but not as many as I would have liked.
But since I was mainly there to help my parents I was ok with that.
And Mom and Dad seemed pretty settled by the time I left.

Arizona treated us to some gorgeous skies while I was there.

There were stressful times during this week with my parents
and there were fun times as well.
Dad and I were so tired after our sleepless night at walmart and driving the next day
that we got a bit punchy.
At dinner that night, Dad ordered a quesadilla but pronounced it kesadila to be funny.
I got on my phone and brought up the quesadilla video from Napoleon Dynamite
and we could not stop laughing.
We were just busting up and watching the clip over and over.
My mom thought we were nuts.

There were several times  during the week when I got my dad laughing
and it was really fun to see him laugh like that.

Life is kind of hard.
Mom needs looking after and her asthma is stressful.
So to see both of them laughing and enjoying themselves was really great.

It's times like this when I am so glad to be living near them again.


  1. You're the best. What more can we say? Thank you!

  2. I enjoyed reading your story. I am so thankful that you are your brothers and sisters are so watchful and kind to your parents. You are all such a blessing to all of us. Mollie

  3. Debbie,
    What a grand thing you did. All of us in Donna's family are very grateful. It is not easy growing older but we don't get to chose. You are a great daughter and a pretty good niece too!

  4. It is so pretty there! You're a pretty amazing daughter. I hope Zoe is this nice to me when I'm old. :)