Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Adventure of Friends of long-standing (not OLD)

One of the greatest joys of my life, next to my family, is friends.  And now I want to share a few stories.

Pictured above is our visit this week with Bill Stofft and his wife, Pat Gates Stofft.  We all became friends in South Dakota when we went to church camp together in the Black Hills.  Pat, who was from Custer SD, came to Pierre when her dad served in the SD House of Representatives.  We served as pages in the legislature.  Our mothers both attended Carleton College in MN which we discovered in an early conversation.  We graduated in 1955 and both attended the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where we were sorority sisters as well.  Pat and Bill give me the credit for their long-running marriage, since I originally introduced them.  (I'm happy to take credit for that!)  The Stoffts winter in the Black Hills where we have visited them, and winter in the Phoenix area, where we have seen them several times.  Bill is currently helping us prepare for a trip next June when we plan to visit the Battle of the Bulge area, staying in Bastogne,  Bill served as the Chief of Military History on the General Staff - and is quite a resource for us as we plan this brief trip, as you can imagine.  What an adventure it is to keep crossing paths with such dear friends who have been so critical in my own life since I was a highschooler.

 Now a story about these dear friends....Pastor Bill Clinkenbeard and Jerry and I were classmates at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.  After we graduated, Bill went to Edinburgh for further studies and became a pastor in the Church of Scotland, marrying a delightful pediatrician, Janette.  Our friend from Nebraska developed a rich and thick Scottish accent, much to our delight. We have seen them in Scotland on several occasions, one time worshiping at his church, Carrick Knowe, visiting in their home one time, or simply meeting at a pub in Edinburgh during one trip. We were delighted when they purchased a second home in Fountain Hills AZ and told us about McDowell Regional Park, where we are presently camping...we have been here several times now, and able to see the Clinkenbeards each time.  Its such a joy to have this friendship of many many years, and we can just pick up conversations like it was just yesterday.
One last story of an adventure of friendship.  This is my brother, Jim, who lives in Phoenix. His friend is Nancy Howard, who lives in Scottsdale.  BUT Nancy grew up in Aurora MO (where Jerry served his second pastorate) and her grandparents were from Crane MO (Jerry's hometown, of course.) Jim and Nancy both served in the Air National Guard in AZ.  One day Jim went in to the medical facility for some kind of a check-up, and Nancy was the nurse.  In the casual chatting you do in that situation, Jim asked Nancy where she was from - and her stock answer (same as Jerry gives) was "a little town in the Ozarks of MO."  (Because who has ever heard of Aurora, right?) My brother pressed some more, asking her what town.  "southwest of Springfield", to which Jim pressed some more:  "whats the name of the town."  Nancy finally said "Aurora MO."  Jim's next question really threw Nancy - he asked "What church did you go to?"  Nancy's guard is now up, for she is sure this Air National Guard person was about to try and convert her to something!  So she said "Oh, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Presbyterian."  Jim said "Did you know Jerry Hilton?"  Nancy was amazed and told him "of course, and how do you know him?"  When Jim told her that Jerry was his brother-in-law, they were both stunned.  Ever since then, when we come to AZ for a visit, we get to see Nancy as well, and last week Jim joined us for brunch with Nancy and Otto.
Friends are truly a great gift from God, and we treasure each one!


Saturday, February 09, 2013

The adventure that is Quartzsite

If you do much RVing, sooner or later someone mentions Quartzsite to you, and after a few times, you begin to question - just what is Quartzsite?  "They" tell you that its just one big gathering of hundreds of RVers of all shapes and sizes out in the middle of nowhere...and they would be absolutely correct!  But I believe it is something you need to experience for yourself.  We had planned to attend in 2011 and in 2012, but both years Jerry found himself serving a church in Kansas and we didn't make it.  This was the  year! There were 3 rigs that set out from El Paso...Pat Mundy in her living-quarters horse trailer, cousins Bill Hilton & Wayne Tallant in their Minnie Winnie and the Hiltons.  For several miles before you come to Quartzsite (which, by the way, is normally a wide place on Interstate 10 on your way to California) you begin to see all sizes and shapes of RVs  on the landscape wherever you look.  At the check-in point, you find that you pay the Bureau of Land Management $40 for the privilege of camping as long as you want up to 4 weeks anywhere on their 40,000 acres.  So we head for our reunion with Pat's friends, Dan & Jackie, who have been at Quartzsite with Pat the two previous years.  We "circle the wagons" as best we can, build a fire-pit in the center with a few rocks, and we are ready to go!

The focus of the ten days is in the tents--drive across the range, park a vehicle somewhere as close as you can get, and start walking....there is the main tent which is enormous and houses vendor after vendor--they might be selling items you didn't know you needed for your RV lifestyle, or offering medicines or massages, or showing you how to cook with their products, or offering you discounts for their RV parks (including a nudist RV park!), or selling memberships to their RV organization--even items to make your dog's RV experience a better one!  When you finish the Big Tent, there are rows and rows of other tents set up all around the perimeter...and some in the "town" as well...PLUS there are all kinds of RV Sales--they have driven in hundreds of new and used RVs for your perusal and purchase.

When we finished with our browsing each day, we return to our homemade campground, build a campfire, prepare our dinners together (we all take turns providing the evening meal)  Now we can say we have "been there, done that" - and while we don't plan to return next year, who knows what might happen the year after that!  It was quite an adventure, I must say!

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