OUR LIFE ON WHEELS - Jerry and Suzy LeRoy travel blog

Hanging Christmas Ornaments in a tree with thorns can be touchy!

This little creche has been with us a few years; the Light...

The Central Arizona College Bellringers' bells.

Bright Brass

There were 12 bellringers in all.

Bells are a part of Christmas

We don't carry a rolling pin, so Suzy uses a wine bottle...

Christmas breakfast full of traditions.

A Black Throated Sparrow on a "jumping" cholla bush.

The Gila Woodpecker

The cotton crop is harvested and ready to ship

The fields hadn't been cleared yet

Some tufts of cotton remain, but not enough to make clothing!

This is a cottonwood tree by a cotton field.

Suzy took this one day last year, through the window in our...

This Giant Saguaro is right across the road from our RV Park.

We saw this humorous fellow out in the desert east of town.

These promontories are called North Butte and South Butte.

The desert is beautiful even in winter.

Our Suzuki and a dirt road through the desert

Suzy finds a chili ristra to her delight.

The ristras are made right at the produce stand.

Such luscious vine-ripened tomatoes!

More and more tomatoes

Desert sunsets are unbeatable.

Happy New Year from Florence, Arizona. We wish you the best for 2006.

Looking back just a little bit: Christmas was a good time for us here. We decorated the tree in our yard, hung lights on the front of the motorhome, put up our little tree, our poinsettias and most importantly our crèche. The RV park invited a bell ringing choir from Central Arizona College (very nice entertainment, and we passed the hat for them). And of course, Suzy made her traditional delectable Christmas breakfast: tortiere, pastry wreath, and sliced oranges. This is a tradition we brought from my mother's kitchen, and she got it from her French-Canadian mother. Tortiere is a pie made from pork sausage, potatoes, onions and special seasoning. We reduced the fat content by switching to turkey sausage, and the piecrust came from Pillsbury, but the taste hasn't changed since I was a toddler. For years, Suzy, Debbie, Kathie (and later, Renee) would get together and make eight or nine "pork pies" each Christmas, as well as maybe ten creatively shaped pastries. My job has always been (1) slice the oranges, one per person, and (2) otherwise stay out of the way.

During our month and a half here we've had a chance to look around the area. We told you last time about our trip to Grand Canyon, but there's a lot to see closer to Florence. In our neighborhood there are a lot of birds. We got pictures of the Gila Woodpecker and the Black Throated Sparrow, but we haven't had much luck with the hummingbirds around our feeder. Across the road and all around us are saguaros and other cactus species. One day we drove several miles out a dirt road and saw splendid desert scenery. At one point where we expected the road to turn back toward town, it suddenly went the other direction and degenerated into a jeep trail. Our Suzuki is 4-wheel drive, but not high enough for the ruts and dips we saw ahead of us. We turned around and went back, satisfied that we'd had a grand visit to the desert.

One of the major crops in this region is cotton. Although most of the harvesting was over before we arrived, some of the fields still were filled with the spent plants, and big bales lined the roads, destined for gins nearby. We'd love to watch the actual harvesting process someday.

There is a large produce stand just south of Coolidge, the town just just west of Florence. We bought some tomatoes and melons, and made some photographic memories of the place.

Where will we go next? The Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is in Coolidge, and San Xavier del Bac Mission is just south of Tucson. There is a nationally known desert arboretum not far from here. Wait and see where we'll head to as we continue ... Our Life on Wheels.

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