An Epic Trip to the Desert Southwest

In early April, we took a trip up to the Southwest US to visit Heidi’s parents, Jean & Pete, south of Tucson—with huge gratitude to our dear friends, Boni & John, who stepped up to catsit Tosh & Tikka when our other cat sitter fell through at the last minute. With four of their own cats, they definitely know a thing or two about caring for sick cats—like Tosh, who sadly has cranial bone cancer. It gave us such peace of mind, knowing the furbies were in their loving hands!

Thanks to Amazon for the last-minute Eclipse glasses! Kirk checked them out first looking at the lamp light, but couldn’t see a thing! Luckily they worked well for Jean, Kirk, Heidi & Kari to look at the sun during the eclipse!

We planned our trip to coincide with Heidi’s sister Kari’s visit, whom we had not seen in a couple of years. And clearly, the eclipse was not on our radar, as evidenced by the fact that we left Vallarta, (which had a 95.6% coverage) for the Arizona desert, (which only had a 75% coverage.) But with eclipse glasses in hand, we still had a great view and enjoyed watching the spectacular event unfold! 

We all had so much fun hanging out, riding three-wheeled “adult” tricycles, helping Heidi’s parents with some household chores, and wearing our eclipse glasses! Jean & Pete are an inspiration to us all—in their late 80s, they are still living independently and doing very well. And we are grateful for the fun visit with them. We even got in a family Zoom and all four of their adult grandkids showed up! 

Tubac, Arizona

One day, Jean took us to the small, trendy/artsy town of Tubac, where we meditated at the Tubac Buddhist Meditation Center. She’s been a member for many years, and we have recently been joining them for group meditations on Zoom, so it was wonderful to finally meet everyone in person. Afterward, we had a delicious lunch at Shelby’s Bistro (don’t miss it if you are in Tubac or passing through!), and checked out a few cute artsy shops nearby. Another day we headed into Tucson, to run some errands and stock up on foods and things we can’t get in Mexico, including Trader Joe’s canned sardines in spring water, and a new headlamp at REI.

Adult Tricycles

Jean & Pete’s senior living community has a fleet of three-wheeled “adult-sized” tricycles available for tenants and guests to get around the large campus. The three of us “kids” were staying at the opposite end of the campus from where Jean & Pete live, and had a hoot racing around on these crazy, (dangerously tippy!) trikes. They must’ve had at least 30 trikes around campus with various seat and handlebar heights… and it took a bit of trial and error before we found three trikes that fit us perfectly. They each were numbered and you could put out a reserved sign on your trike, but people didn’t seem to pay much attention. So several mornings we ended up cruising around campus, looking for “our trikes” that someone else had ridden off and deposited elsewhere on campus. 

Heidi and Kari were nonstop, goofin’ and laughing like teenagers, racing their trikes, and grounding in the grass, so happy to spend time together. 

Our trike adventures took us past an amazingly fragrant garden with orange blossoms and yellow and white roses intermingled. Wow! Our rides were also reminiscent of the cartoon Road Runner as we encountered an abundance of wildlife, including a coyote in the river bottom, a couple of roadrunners (see below), a few bunnies, and some lizards on our ACME trikes.

Spa Day

Jean, Kari, and Heidi also had an exciting time unboxing and sampling all the new Lemongrass Spa products that Heidi is now repping. (Sadly UK-based Neals Yard Remedies that Heidi had been repping for 10 years got rid of all the US consultants at the end of March.) Many former NYR consultants moved to Lemongrass Spa, a US-based (FL and CO) organic, sustainable, toxin-free skincare and personal care line. And Heidi is really loving their products even more than she loved NYR—which she didn’t think would be possible! Check out Heidi’s Lemongrass Spa website if you are interested in sustainable, organic gluten-free, cruelty-free skincare, or reach out to Heidi for samples. 

So much fun to see Kathy & Earl… but note to self: take the group photo the night before, not at O’dark-30 at the airport, when we’re all a bit bleary-eyed!

All too soon, it was time to say our goodbyes and head home. But before leaving Arizona, we got in a quick visit with longtime Seattle friends Kathy & Earl, who graciously hosted us overnight in Scottsdale, and took us to the airport at O’dark-30 the next morning. Wonderful catching up with them. 

The Furbies

Although it was one of our best trips to the US in recent memory, we also missed the Furbies and were glad to get home. For Tosh’s cranial bone cancer,  we have been working with a holistic vet, Dr. Judy Jasek, DVM, who recommended mistletoe injections for Tosh. Luckily, we were able to pick up this medication while we were in Arizona and bring it back to Mexico. Dr. Judy has had good success with mistletoe injections treating cancer in cats and dogs for many years. Mistletoe has been shown to be very effective in treating cancer in both humans and pets. Johns Hopkins is conducting a study on intervenous mistletoe for cancer patients, with good results.

DANGER! Muy Peligroso! You can tell Tosh isn’t feeling his best as evidenced by him laying between two drinking glasses of jamaica (hibiscus tea), and our not moving said glasses…If he were truly feeling his best, these would have long ago been knocked over, with jamaica all over the floor! This is one way to tell the world is NOT flat, cats would have knocked everything off the edge by now. LOL!

Tosh has now been on the mistletoe injections for about six weeks (3x a week) and we are noticing an improvement. We are so grateful that our friend Marty happened to mention Dr. Judy Jasek several months ago (before we even knew Tosh had cancer!) And we think the mistletoe is helping. Tosh has more energy and feels more like himself, including eating more food again, and talking a lot more (he is Bengal-Siamese, and normally a big talker, but had stopped talking much in the last few months). Tikka continues to be an amazing little sister spending lots of time grooming Tosh, and always being her charming, adorable self!

A Traditional Mexican Oasis in the City

Tosh & Tikka are both big troopers as we just moved off the boat for hurricane season, to our new summer housesitting gig, a lovely 30-year-old Mexican home in a fantastic neighborhood. We are just a few doors away from many excellent restaurants and shops, including the organic grocery store where we shop, and Costco too! We could not be more pleased with this housesitting opportunity. The owners are Canadian and return to Canada for the summers. They are also animal lovers, and very involved with animal rescue when they are here. And they have a very shy black-panther-like cat named Toopy, who lives upstairs in their rooftop garden. So part of our responsibilities includes feeding and caring for Toopy and all their plants, and feeding the stray neighborhood, cats who live in the empty lot behind the house. 

After two weeks, Toopy has warmed up enough to let us pet and brush him. For now, he does not come downstairs (he never has) and our cats do not go upstairs… But if Tosh & Tikka look up, and Toopy looks down, they can see each other through the gate at the top of the stairs. We are sure they are all aware of each other. 

We have a spare guest bedroom/bathroom for family and friends to visit us this summer. (Be forewarned, Vallarta in the summer is H-O-T and humid. But we do have a small dipping pool in the courtyard. and we can throw a bag of ice in it! The pool is expertly maintained by our live-in “pool boy” (a.k.a. Kirk!) who cleans the pool every week.

A Giswold Family Visit

Molly, Kirk, Heidi, Braden, Fox, Brie (nanny), Flora in downtown Vallarta.

And speaking of visitors, our “nephew” Braden and his wife Molly and their cute twins were just in Vallarta. If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you may remember back in 2016, Kirk was asked to officiate the wedding of the son of his lifelong best friend, the late Dr Bob. (The Minister and the Mermaid). That was Braden & Molly. It was one of the most fun weddings and BEST dance party we’ve ever attended. And their fun kids Fox and Flora are now almost 7! 

They were in town recently on a surf vacation and spent a day with us going to the last farmers market of the season, sampling delicious Mexican food, walking the PV Malecon, and cooling off with local fruit popsicles (paletas) and ice cream cones. 

These guys are like family to us. Kirk has known Braden since before he was born, and Heidi has known him since he was the same age as Fox and Flora are now! In fact, if you were at our wedding (31 years ago), Braden may have handed you a program when you arrived. Now he’s a fourth-generation dentist on Whidbey Island (taking over his dad’s Saratoga Dental practice many years ago), and Molly is a Naturopath in Langley too. We are so grateful that they made the time to visit us, and that we got to know Fox & Flora a bit more. (Last time we saw them, they were just 2 months old.) Many thanks for the visit, you guys made our day!

Arne for Mayor of Jackson

Speaking of family, our family is over-the-moon excited for Heidi’s brother Arne’s bid for Mayor of Jackson, Wyoming. Arne has been on Jackson Town Council for several years and is the current Vice-Mayor. Although Heidi would never have said or thought this as a kid (when they fought like cats and dogs!)—we truly believe Arne is one of the fairest people with the highest integrity we know. He listens to ALL sides of an issue and makes decisions based on the most sustainable solution for the most people and the environment. Heidi is also thrilled to be helping his campaign with his logo and other graphics. GO ARNE, Jackson needs YOU! And we are SO proud of you!! You’ve got this!!

We’ve never seen an iguana act like a chameleon before, check out his tail blending into the brick wall!?

Hope you got to see the northern lights wherever you are (or the southern lights, if you are in the southern hemisphere!) The photos we saw from many of you looked amazing! Happy summer, and let us know if you’re coming to PV, would love to see you!

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