Thursday, January 31, 2013

Credit Card Fraud

As with all things in life, there are ups and downs.

When we were dining at the Grand Canyon ( a major upper ) we had a bit of a downer.

Imagine my surprise, when the waiter discreetly let me know my credit card was declined.

Impossible, I said, because we are very careful to never come even close to our limit, and we pay our card off every month.

Must be some mistake, I reasoned, and asked Teresa to try her card.

Declined !!

As soon as we got back to the motel room, I called our Mastercard provider - President's Choice Financial.

Actually, I was a little miffed, because I thought they missed the fact that I had alerted them to our travel to Arizona.

When the friendly rep asked me if we were in North Carolina, I began to have a sinking feeling.

Oh, oh, there were over twenty charges in a matter of hours at gas stations, grocery stores, pharmacies, and others.  All in N Carolina.

This activity was noted by the bank's software, and an immediate lock down was enforced.

Now what ... I was relieved to find out I would not be responsible for these charges.

Also, a new card would be sent out to our home address immediately.

After a few security questions, they were able to re-activate Teresa's card.  We are on the same account, but she has a different number than me.

We were successful using Teresa's card for all our purchases, and thought that this was just a minor inconvenience.

Fast forward about five days, and after enjoying a great meal, a very kind and considerate waiter whispers in Teresa's ears ( we were with a bunch of friends ) that her card was declined.

Dang.  When we phoned the bank again, they said this was a separate issue, and Teresa's card was compromised as well.

They are also sending her a new card to our home address.  Now, we have a new problem.

We leave here next week, and won't have a mailing address until our stay in Palm Springs in March.

As we told a few others of our misadventure, we came to find out that there are hundreds of us in our park and the park next to us that have fallen victim to the fraudsters.

The police are involved and have some suspicion about a couple of local stores, but nothing definite yet.

I also came to find out that somehow these perpetrators are able to gain access to your account through debit cards.  

This seems impossible to me because of PIN numbers, but we talked to a gal in our office who said it happened to her and her husband, and their checking accounts are frozen.

We are not sure if our cards were scanned out of our sight, or if someone within a local store would have access to our info, but it has left us feeling a little leery and drained.

Why am I telling you this ??  

Well, although our original idea was to do this journal so friends and family would know of our adventures and travels, we thought it might be a good idea to let our RV'ing friends know so that we can all be diligent in protecting ourselves.

Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to BBQ some salmon fillets with a glass of wine by my side.

See, it isn't all bad !!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Saying So Long to Bob and Janet

It sure was chilly when we got up this morning. Somewhere around the mid 30's I heard.  

After our usual morning of coffee in bed, Teresa got busy making a taco salad and a chocolate cream pie.

We were showered and ready for a happy hour in honor of our pals Bob and Janet.  They are heading out tomorrow morning.

Janet and Bob

Everyone brought some kind of appetizer, and everything tasted wonderful.

Usually our conversations are innocent enough, but today we had Teresa covering her ears a few times.

Pam, Marilyn and Betty

It was still chilly this afternoon, so sweaters and coats were in order.

Me and Ed

Although Marilyn's birthday was on Monday, we never had a chance to have a cake or sing for her. Teresa would have none of that !!

Marilyn with her chocolate cream pie
before the dream whip was added

Once the sun started to set, it got very cold, so we all helped clean up and headed for our homes.

Teresa enjoying the snacks and her favorite wine

With hugs we wished Bob and Janet safe travels.  We will see them in Yuma shortly, so it is not good bye, but see you later dear friends. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Celebrating Marilyn's Birthday

This part of Arizona has just come through three days of rain.

Very unusual, the locals tell us, but hey, you can blame us again !!

Monday was Marilyn's birthday, and we sure weren't going to let the cold and rain deter us from having a great time.

Marilyn chose BJ's Restaurant as a gathering spot.

This place has a real lively atmosphere with great food and large portions.

We sure were having a great time, and did not want to leave.  The birthday girl is always fun to be around.

Happy Birthday, dear friend

This event was also supposed to be a going away dinner for our pals Bob and Janet, but we are getting together with them for a happy hour tomorrow, so we will leave the crying for then.

The good news is we will see them again in a week or two in Yuma.

To make it even better yet, Ed and Marilyn are going to join the four of us for a visit.

It is hard to believe that soon our paths will take us in different directions.

But, let's not think about that just yet !!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sedona and Jerome

We slept like two little babies after tromping around the Grand Canyon for a couple of days.

Surprisingly, we had no problem waking up early to prepare for the drive home through some spectacular scenery.

We were out of our rooms and checked out before 7 am.

Marilyn made us all laugh, as she was whimpering for Ed to turn around for one last glimpse of the canyon as we were heading out.

The skies were an ominous grey as we made our way towards our next destinations.

Our first stop was for breakfast at a neat little place called the Junipine Resort.

Beautiful setting for a lodge

This resort is tucked away in the Oak Creek Canyon, where every turn brought smiles on all our faces.

By now, the rain was off and on, and we were hoping for better skies ahead.

Approaching Sedona

We loved the red rocks

We have always wanted to see Sedona, so we were excited to be there, even though the rain persisted.

Our first stop was at the famous Chapel of the Rock.

Very peaceful and inspiring

After pausing for a moment to give thanks, we read the history of this chapel, and browsed the gift shop and the grounds.

The rock formation in the middle is known as
the Madonna holding her Child

It was a special moment spent with special friends.

I always have to keep an eye out
for my little photographer

Always being the optimist, Marilyn kept predicting the sun would break through at any moment.  Even while saying this, our glasses were all messed up by the falling rain.

Next stop was the artistic Tlaquepaque shops in Sedona.

A little community within a community

This place had a feel all to itself.  Cobble stones, fountains, iron gates, and the peaceful music all added to the experience.

Browsing the quaint shops

We saw some great art work, and amazing sculptures.  Thankfully, we do not have much room in our motorhome, because many of these pieces were in the thousands of dollars.

More opportunities to spend money

I think Ed must have heard the excitement in Teresa's voice as she announced that she saw a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

We make a stop at every RMCF that we see

In a way, it is all Ed's fault.  Back when we first met Ed and Marilyn in Colorado Springs nearly four years ago, they bought us some chocolate covered coffee beans, and we have been hooked ever since.

Even the buildings are made out of the red rock

Even though it was still raining, we were laughing and having a ball ... we are RV'ers after all, and can't let a little rain spoil our fun.

So, we were once again back in the car heading for our next destination ... Jerome.

Jerome sits on the side of a mountain

Jerome was built around the mining industry, and is evolving into another art community.

Tourist shops on steep roads

Realizing it was past lunchtime, we stumbled upon a real winner named Quince restaurant.

Quince restaurant has fantastic Mexican food

Teresa and I decided to share a meal, and boy am I ever glad we did.  Look at the size of our nacho appetizer.  It was superb.

Teresa could have eaten this by herself - Not !!

Ed and Marilyn also commented that their quesadillas were some of the best they have ever eaten.

With full tummies, we ran to the car in a brief downpour.

The rest of the drive home was uneventful, as Ed carefully and skillfully navigated the Phoenix rush hour.

Back at our rolling home, we nearly hugged the breath right out of our pals as we thanked them over and over again for the memories that will never be forgotten.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The GRAND Canyon - Part Two

Our second day began with a long hot shower, obviously a luxury coming from an RV.

We were ready to go for breakfast by 7:30 am, and enjoyed a hearty meal with Ed and Marilyn in the cafeteria.

Excited to get going, we headed to Desert View, which is east of the village.

The views along the way were very pretty, with the snow, pines, and twisty turns.

A landmark at Desert View is the Watchtower.

Also known as the Indian Watchtower, it was built in 1932

Me and Marilyn
Notice the coats ... It was quite chilly

The ground level of the tower is now turned into a gift shop.  After browsing around, we decided to head up to the observation deck.

Decorated with Indian artifacts

The spiral staircase is quite steep, and we found ourselves out of breath a couple of times.

I spy with my little eye ...

At the top of the tower, we were rewarded with amazing scenery through the large windows, providing a full 360 degree view.

I am all smiles because it is a lot easier going down

We slowly started driving back towards the village, but not before we stopped at every lookout to try and drink up the sights that Mother Nature was offering us.

With the slightly overcast skies, we thought there was a better contrast between the colors than yesterday, under full sun.

At various times, we could see the mighty Colorado River, with it's amazing white water rapids.

We were blown away by how the canyon changes from one moment to the next.

"Just a couple more steps backwards, okay boys "


We were hoping to hike into the canyon today, but with the packed snow and ice, we decided against it.  Nothing like a twisted ankle or worse to spoil your day.

We want to enlarge and frame this picture

On our way back to the village we saw three elk. Just like the deer we saw yesterday, they are not afraid of people.

At the village we decided to check out the new Visitor's Center.  As always we were provided with an education with the displays and a great film.

All facilities are first class

By this time it was afternoon, and we needed to grab lunch.

Because we were happy with the cafeteria in the Makwa Lodge, we returned and they did not disappoint.

With all the fresh air and exercise, we were all pretty tired, so we headed back to our rooms for some much needed rest.

Teresa and I thought of how blessed Ed and Marilyn are to have this as their special place to celebrate anniversaries and special occasions.   Remember, this is now their 19th visit !!

We hit the sack early, because we knew that the next day would also be a fun one.  We are heading to Sedona and Jerome.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The GRAND Canyon - Part One

When our wonderful friends, Ed and Marilyn asked us if we would like to go to the Grand Canyon with them, we jumped at the chance.

You see, they have been here 18 times before, so we knew it would be an awesome trip with all their experience.

These early birds picked us up at 5am on Tuesday, and away we went.

It seemed to take forever to get out of the Phoenix area, but we were all chatting away, and soon enough we were in some pretty country near Flagstaff.

As we rose in elevation, we noticed more and more snow.

We stopped at Cracker Barrel in Flagstaff, and had a delicious breakfast, near the roaring fireplace.

We were anxious to get going, so with full tummies, we hit the road again, in the cool morning air.

We did not drive too much longer, and as Ed parked the car our excitement was growing to walk over to our first view ever of the Grand Canyon.

Now, I am not foolish enough to believe that my description in words will even come close to adequately convey one's feelings, nor will photos depict the grandeur of this natural attraction but I will do my best.

With pounding hearts and held breath, we approached the lookout, and peered over the edge.

How do you put this view into words ??   We tried a couple of adjectives, like stunning, spectacular, captivating, overwhelming, and even Spiritual, but again, there are no words that do it justice.

We felt like we were trying to take a drink from a gushing fire hydrant, as we were unable to take it all in.

There is a very nice paved trail, that parallels the rim, and we walked that from one viewpoint to another.

Our buddies provided us with valuable information, gleaned from their many trips to this unique landscape.

They told us of the many hikes they have taken down into the canyon, which planted the desire in our hearts to come back some day, and attempt to hike ourselves.

We took a tour of the Village, had lunch at the Bright Angel Lodge, and checked into our rooms at the Makwa Lodge.

After a filling pizza for supper, we headed to our rooms to relax and stretch out a bit.

Teresa and I watched a little TV, but it wasn't long before we were yawning ourselves inside out, and knowing that the next day would be a full one, we turned out the lights pretty early.