Wednesday, January 2, 2008

1/2/08 Deanna, Cup Cakes, Tigers and a Lasting Friendship

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For the Christmas Day potluck at Thousand Trails Valley Verde (near Cottonwood and Sedona), Sarah made cupcakes with Poinsettias-styled decorations and marshmallow snowmen and I made scalloped potatoes. The tables were groaning with yummy food -- you’d never believe that the massive spread came from RV kitchens. While helping to clean up at the end of the meal, my “teen” radar kicked in.

Standing right in front of me was a beautiful teenager and her parents. I quickly introduced myself sharing that I had two teenagers and that we would be glad to have their daughter join us to play Uno that evening. The mother quickly said yes and added that since her daughter Deanna was very shy, it was hard to meet other teens, with the daughter giving her the same look Sarah would have given me. I asked where their RV was parked in the 300 acre preserve and the daughter laughed when she said “right across from yours.” She’d seen Dave and Sarah but hadn’t come out to say hello yet. Theirs was the RV that housed the adorable Scotty that I had been admiring when he was being walked.

Deanna and Sarah Slide Show

From that evening on the girls were inseparable – they played Uno, Stratego and Sequence while talking about every topic under the sun including movies, books, music, relationships, families, pets, and longings for a private bedroom with a closet. Deanna taught Dave and Sarah how to geo-cache and Dave won a hat and water bottle as a prize. Mayim was thrilled when Deanna would come over because she knew all the favorite scratch places dogs like best. I loved hearing about Deanna’s favorite places to visit – I can’t wait to take her suggestions about RV parks in the Florida Keys and sledding in White Sands, New Mexico.

Deanna’s mother Cathy convinced me not to travel to Albuquerque on Friday, December 28th since it would be a big travel weekend which is not a good time to be on the road with an RV and tow car, so we extended our stay until January 2nd. It was a great idea to stay since it gave the girls more time together.

They became known as the Cupcake Queens. They made a couple dozen cupcakes each day and started taking them around to neighboring RV’s so that they’d have an excuse to make more the next day. Using some of Sarah’s recipes from a chef school she attended, they worked together to make a gourmet New Year’s Eve dinner with pineapple/mango salsa, black bean dip, chicken pot pie made with pastry dough, garlic bread, and for dessert, cupcakes and sugar cookies. We invited other RV neighbors Carla and John, toasted each other with champagne and sparkling cider at 10:00 pm as we watched the ball drop in New York’s off the east coast feed. After our dinner guests left, we watched “Ocean’s 13” and “My Super Ex-Girlfriend.” It was a great way to bring in 2008!

Dave and I couldn’t talk the girls into going with us to the “Out of Africa Wildlife Park” so we went by ourselves. The park isn’t a zoo or circus, but more a large, clean natural 104 acre habitat for tigers, lions, giraffes, African plains animals, bears, wolves, javelina, snakes and ostriches. Probably the reason it wasn’t a good representation of Africa on the day we were there was due to the cold, but that was extremely rare. Usually the Camp Verde location is perfect for the animals, on this day many of them stayed in their heated enclosures until it started to warm up after lunch. Dave and I came back to the car a couple times to warm back up.

The “shows” aren’t like at Sea World because the animals are not trained. During the tiger show, caretakers played with five 500+ pound tigers the way you’d play with a pet cat at home, with large strips of fabric “ribbons”, balloons to pop (soccer balls) and toys to chase. It was great fun to watch, and a little nerve wracking to watch a tiger sneak up playfully to pounce on a caregiver from behind – Dave and I were sure that caretaker was about to be a snack… After the show we got to feed the tigers giant chunks of meat – their teeth are beautifully white and the incisors are very long! When we got back to the RV, it was apparent that the girls hadn’t even missed us.

Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh My! Slide Show

It was the beginning of a long-term friendship for Sarah and Deanna with another teen-on-the-road. We will miss Deanna very much and look forward to her coming to visit for a few weeks!

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