Sunday, April 22, 2018

Anthony Lakes Snowshoe 2018

Friday, April 20
Driving north toward Haines, the Wallowas were amazing in the distance.

     
On an absolutely crystal clear, blue sky day I decide to join Rick on a little snowshoe adventure up at Anthony Lakes.  The ski area is closed and though it was a Friday, we only encountered one other car in the parking lot when we started out.  Our trip was probably no more than 2 1/2 miles - up Road Run to Hoffer basin and lakes, and then back down to Anthony and the truck.  I'm not writing alot in this blog, but mostly posting a number of pictures 'for the record'!!  

Baker Valley springtime views

Starting out and heading up Road Run. 

Snowmobilers have made all sorts of patterns as we head up Road Run. 
I turned around at one point and saw the Wallowas in the distance. 

I love the patterns created by
shadows in the snow. 
More shadows! 





At the top of Road Run, the sheer wall of Lees Peak and more snowmobile designs.  
Rick gazes out over the basin.  
I thought the contrails of the plane looked like dotted lines across the sky. 
Lakes Lookout
Lees Peak and Lakes Lookout
Rick heads across Hoffer Lake with Lees Peak in background
We ate a little lunch on top of the exposed rocks.  This is the peninsula between the two sides of Hoffer Lakes. 
Rick's ski pole and the trail sign show there is still plenty of
 snow up at Hoffer Lake. 
 

Gunsight Peak with a spring-fed sinkhole along the lake shore.  
Not sure what the black square is, but you'd better not need to use the bathroom!  
Enroute home, the Wallowas are still a long string of white, especially beautiful with red barns! 
Rick snaps a 'selfie' of us with Lees and Lakes Peaks in the background

What a great day!  I am a little out of shape since I think this was my first, and probably only, snowshoe of the year.  Glad I decided there was nothing that important on my 'to do' list for the day!  













Sunday, March 11, 2018

Spring CHRPA Trek 2018


Spring SW CHRPA Trek (via Albuquerque)
March-April 2018

Tuesday, 2.27.18
Baker City to Ogden, UT
426 miles

       Brrrr! It is hovering around 6 degrees when we pack up the trailer and pull out of Baker City at 6am in the morning! We have a long day ahead of us with the time change and Salt Lake basin traffic! (Which we are trying to avoid if at all possible!)
The sun begins to light the hills of Burnt River Canyon. 

        The trailer is streaked with ice on the north side from the snow melting off the top. School was cancelled on Monday due to the 8” of snow that fell late Sunday night. An auspicious start to our Spring Soiree South! Usually the snow has melted by now, not just begun to fall!
       But….it is smooth sailing, a beautiful sunrise on the snowy hills, and crystal clear skies over southern Idaho. Rick drives to Mountain Home and I take the wheel until the first rest area as we start south toward Sweetzer Summit. I don’t want to drive in possible frosty conditions! As we near Utah, the clouds begin to gather more and we lose our blue skies. A few flurries of very light snow over the top and then down past Tremonton to Odgen and our night’s reservations at Sleep Inn. Large parking lot in the back for the truck and trailer, and Uncle Lew’s Cafe next door where we get a Breakfast Dinner for a VERY reasonable $17.25 including tip for the two of us! Gotta love a bargain!
      Early to bed right after NCIS (MT zone earlier!). Which was nice because the alarms are set for 5am AGAIN to slip through SLC before traffic builds up.


Wednesday, 2.28.18
Ogden, UT to Cortez, CO
326 miles

       A restless, but restful night. (Does that make sense?) We finally turned the fan on for a little white noise because it was so quiet and a little stuffy! That helped. Our phones must be in sync because they both beeped 5am within 3 seconds of each other! Pleased to find that breakfast was already out on the counter, so we could grab coffee and a bagel to go!
       SLC is never fun – except maybe at 2am in the morning on a weekday! We drove in the dark with a yellow fullish moon sinking into the western horizon. Rick found a truck going 60 and just stayed with him all the way to Spanish Fork. Only had one slow up down south of downtown for the whole 90 miles to Route 6. But sleety snow was lightly falling, it was dark, and the moisture was freezing on the windshield. Traffic was still heavy, but not impossible. However, still a tense two hours for Rick. He could breath a sigh of relief when we pulled off in Spanish Forks and gassed up for the drive over the mountains to Price.
       Hills are snowy with the bare winter trees and evergreens dotting the landscape. Good roads though in spite of clouds and spitting moisture in places. We pull over in Wellington at the little city park for a potty stop and to switch drivers. Clear skies and dry roads. My turn to take the wheel for the 110 miles down to Moab. I don’t mind this stretch at all. Not particularly scenic, but tolerable – and mostly downhill!
        We park on a side road in Moab, arriving around 10:30 am. Wander downtown in search of somewhere to eat and find the Peace Tree Cafe – a funky little place celebrating the Iroquois Indians Peace Accord (they buried all their weapons in a tree well and then plant the “peace tree” on top). Organic smoothies with ecclectic ingredients! I had green eggs and ham, which meant scrambled eggs with spinach and pesto, tomatoes and feta cheese with a chunk of ham on top. Rick had whole wheat blueberry pancakes which he said were very tasty!
        Gas, and then down the scenic route toward Monticello and Cortez! LaSal Mountains behind Moab are gorgeous with snow, and peaks west of Monticello misty in the clouds.
        We arrive in Cortez around 2 – I think the only ones in the hotel at this point! Privacy! Relaxing afternoon and we dine on stuff in the trailer later on.

Thursday, 3.1.18
Cortez, CO to Edgewood, NM
311 miles

        What a beautiful day of driving! (Of which, Rick did it ALL! I didn’t even work needlepoint today – just sat and looked at beautiful mountains and took pictures! )
Mesa Verde Entrance peak
        We pulled out of Cortez shortly after 8am, having breakfasted on waffles! Headed east on US 160 toward Pagosa Springs. Up and down, cresting the ridges that separate 4 different river valleys as they descend from the San Juan Mountains to our north. We gas up in Durango. As we pass Chimney Rock, we begin to reminisce of our first build in Pagosa Springs back in fall of 2012.
        But the view of the Continental Divide range of peaks as you drop into Pagosa valley is breathtaking. The peaks are a little lean of snow, but still spectacular. Pagosa truly does sit at the crossroads of Colorado mountains.
Continental Divide peaks from Pagosa Springs, CO
        Top off the tank and then head down US 84 the final 30 miles to the New Mexico border. A few miles further and we cross the Continental Divide near Chama. Elevation 7800’. Just a skiff of snow alongside the road here.
 
Old barn and rimrock near CO-NM border
      We head south toward Abique, stopping for lunch at Echo Amphitheater. The skies are crystal clear and blue. We hike up to the center of the amphitheater and let our echos resound! Fun because no one else is around. A school group arrived just as we were getting ready to leave.
Echo Amphitheater
        Past Ghost Ranch and on down past beautiful mesas, lined with red rimrock, strata, and pinnacles. A stop in Espanola to gas up and wash the trailer in a car wash (it was filthy!)
Through Santa Fe and down the backroads to Randy’s, arriving around 3 pm. We get set up and then head into Walmart to pick up some groceries (including that to replace what I accidentally left in the fridge at home!)
        Run into Rachael leaving who informs us the whole house has been sick this week. Doesn’t make us eager to go inside and visit! Ryan is still sick, as is Regan. Patty went back to work today, Randy yesterday. I guess everyone was down on Tuesday. Wow. Around 6 we went in – Patty had dinner ready for us! Meat loaf, taters, and veggies. So we ate! Rachael had left to take Regan to the ER – she has been working in spite of not eating for days.
        Back out to trailer around 7:30 to chill (literally) and wind down. We will head into town tomorrow and take Luke his treasure trove of goodies!
Echo Amphitheater
Redrock country near Ghost Ranch


Friday, 3.2.18
UNLOAD Day!

         After a brisk night, we take off for town around 9:40a to unload all of Luke’s stuff from the truck. I drive into town since Rick drove all day yesterday! We move the boxes to the car to be taken to the office and the trunk and its treasures up the stairs to his condo. A little chit chat time and then off for Mom’s.
        We finally decide on ABC Chinese for lunch and enjoy Korean entrees for the three of us, while Grandma had a more typical chinese menu. It was good.
Trying to get more volume on my Cube, we
discover it will take remote pictures! 
        Back to Three Fountains to visit for awhile. Luke helped answer phone questions for me and delete some of the stuff on my phone hoping to help storage issues and battery problems. I am in the market for a new phone!
        Around 4 Luke takes off and I head down to Dollar Tree and JoAnn’s for some shopping.
Rick and Weston
We leave Mom’s at 6:30 for the drive back out to Edgewood. The full moon is just cresting the Eastern horizon as we drive out 344. Big and orange and almost flat at first. So awesome!
        An hour of interaction with Jaxon and Weston before everyone is ready to head to bed! Yawn! Me too!



Saturday, 3.3.18
Play time with Jax and Weston!

Soaking up some sunshine at the park! 
        A beautiful spring day in Albuquerque with temps reaching 70 in the city! It felt soooo good!
Luke and Jax on swings
We head into Mom’s around 9:30 and just visit and relax. Luke comes over around 11:00 and helps me with a few computer issues. Then off at noon to meet the Edgewood gang at a local park for some play time before we head to Golden Pride BBQ for lunch. The playground is great fun with ropes, education, climbing walls, and all sorts of swings, slides, and such. Luke and Jax played hard! Grandma and Patty watched and soaked up the sun! Ran and Rick chatted. Rachael had primary care of Weston, although Rick and I got a few chances to hold him! He is warming up to us. Jax is obviously very fond of his big cousin Luke! Fun to watch.
Weston
        Golden Pride was delicious and simple. Family friendly place! Afterward we headed back to Grandma’s and the gang went shopping before heading home. We are promised ice cream cake when we get back tonight! Yum! Rick brought Mom and Luke a piece this morning and put it in her freezer.
        Just chilled at Grandma’s. Luke and Rick talked football draft and I finished another needlepoint nativity figure, as well as cutting out the plastic canvas for donkeys and sheep. We set a rendezvous time for the morning hike before parting around 5:30pm.
Jaxon
        Saw Regan tonight! Ice cream cake and family time before holing up in our trailer for the evening!
Rick tickles Weston from the safety of Patty's arms!










Sunday, 3.4.18
Jimez Hike, Glass Etching, and… Whew!
     
A proper sunrise to begin a great day!  
What a day! We are spent by the time we get back to Randy’s at 9:30pm! But a great day.
Battleship Rock - the trailhead
Wandering along the trail
     Off to Luke’s at 8:30a for a day of exploration and hiking in the Jemez Mountains northwest of Albuquerque. We veer off 550 toward Jemez Pueblo and Jemez Springs. Beautiful red rock strata cliffs on either side, pueblo houses, and old churches. We wind up the canyon to Battleship Rock picnic area and the start of our 3.5 mile hike. Luke hadn’t been on this hike before and we THOUGHT it was going up the creek, but discovered a bit more climbing was involved! Our destination was McCauley Warm Springs (not HOT!) located on the ponderosa hillside above the canyon. Views across the canyon to the rocky cliffs, and a thick red-barked forest of ponderosa pine, juniper, and some cedar. We even found some Douglas Fir trees!
          The springs were about 1 ¾ miles UP the trail (I am out of shape!) with three large pools linked by small gurgling water and tiny falls. We had the place to ourselves while we were there, altho we passed several other groups of hikers coming and going. Time for a lunch break and then we had to head back out – we have a date with the YAVs later this afternoon!
Rick pauses by the springs.

Luke at the Upper Spring

Mini waterfall of warm water between the pools. 

Warm water greens up the area!

Ginger near Upper Pond.
Family picture with Battleship Rock on far right. 
Colors of Battleship Rock in afternoon light. 



Another view of Battleship Rock

     The predicted winds have picked up as we drive back into town – dust swirls out in the flat lands kicking up all over. Everything is so dry because they haven’t gotten their usual winter moisture (snow levels are down as well!)
Menaul - Teacher's Hall
     Showers for all at Luke’s and then we head down to Menaul School. Communication error – we arrive and find the YAVs have left for Luke’s place! Oops! Luke calls them and they drive back down to meet us -in the meantime I get my quick tour of the Menaul campus. The school is 7-12 grades, with about 20% of the students international and boarding. The rest are pulled largely from the ABQ area. Nice sports facilities, library, dining hall, etc. Faculty houses and the “Teacher's Hall” for volunteers. The YAVs have rooms on one floor and access to the common area kitchen. Other residents are VIMs (the adult kind!)

The Menaul School Dining Hall

   
Taylor cuts her stencil
 It takes awhile to get the group rolling on ideas for the small glass I brought for each to etch. But then their creativity kicks in and we are still going strong when the VIMs arrive for the joint goodbye celebration they are having for one of their own – with the YAVs. I don’t even clean anything up – we just transfer the mess to another table and leave all for the women to finish later. Luke said he’d stop and get it all Monday or Tuesday! Quick goodbye hugs, thanks for the Valentine care package, and we are headed south to the Nob Hill area and the Bosque Brewery. It is nearly 6:45 and we HUNGRY!!
Claire shows off her etching.
     So….tonight is a first for me in my lifetime. I ordered a beer. Yes, you read that right. Ginger Rembold drank an 11oz glass of beer. It was called Elephant’s Head – a blend of fruits and a wheat ale. It didn’t taste like beer at all, but not as bubbly or sharp as hard ciders. My first beer. Wow. The food was delicious – I had three street tacos, all different kinds. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the last one I had was going to be the spiciest, so I had to steal a few fries from Rick to get the spicy out of my mouth! It was a fun, relaxing evening of conversation after a full day. The pub is right down near the University so busy even on a Sunday night. (PS...I'd post the picture of me and my beer, but Luke hasn't sent it to me yet!)

     Forecast is for possible teens at night so Rick and I stop at Walmart to see about finally purchasing an electric blanket for the trailer. But….they just put all their blankets and mattress pads away! (Kinda like when we tried to buy a heater another time!) So….Rick retrieves one of the heavy blankets from the couch downstairs and brings out to the trailer. The wind is howling and the trailer fabric flapping up a storm as we cozy down for the night. Heater turned up as it is 46 degrees inside when we get back.


Monday, 3.5.18
Mom Chores Day
     Not a terribly exciting day, but we got some stuff done for Mom. Cooler with a good wind still blowing, although it died down during the night and then switched to a north wind. That was good because the shop protects the trailer abit then! 43 degrees when I arise this morning in the trailer.
A very happy Weston! 
     We head in to Mom’s around 10 and spend the morning doing the laundry. I walk over to JoAnn’s and Walmart for a few purchases (no more mirrors!) and to check on an electric blanket. No luck.
     I work on labeling my photos from Sunday most of the morning. Then some window washing, while Rick puts cheesecloth in from of Mom’s vents. We aren’t sure it is going to work as she pictures it, but we did it for her!
     Luke arrives around 5 and we head over to Walmart to get dinner: rotisserie chicken, pasta salad, and sweet potatoes, plus bread. Quick, simple, and cheap! And tasty as well!
     We head back out to Edgewood around 6:45, hoping for a little time to play with the boys and visit before Regan comes to take them home. As it was, we never saw Regan – we went to bed first! But boys were in great form and Weston, especially, was fun to play with.

I actually stole this picture off Mom's shelves - trying out
the telefoto lens on my new camera!  


Tuesday, 3.6.18
Lazy Day
       Relaxed morning and into Mom’s around 10. We didn’t do much (I organized needlepoint and drew on a steeple picture!) Lunch we brought – the soup from fridge and hummus, etc and veggies. The soup may have been a mistake for me anyway…. Luke came over at 5:45 and had a pizza with us. Mom got a haircut and did some shopping at Walmart. NOT too exciting an afternoon!
     Back to Randy’s in time to play with the boys one final evening.

Wednesday, 3.7.18
Old Town
     I did not sleep well last night with intestinal issues, so took it easy this morning and eventually felt well enough to go in with Rick as today was our day for Old Town with Luke as well! I think it was the chicken sausage soup I ate yesterday that had been in the fridge for over a week. :(
We met Luke at BackStreet Grill around 11:30. I didn’t eat much...at all. But everyone else had a good meal! Rick even got sweet tater fries!
   
Mom and Rick cruising Old Town.
 Afternoon spent wandering the shops. Luke took a time out to walk over to the Walgreens to get me some pink pepto pills when I thought I was going to throw up in the Christmas Shop. I think they helped. We picked up a few things, but didn’t spend that much! (Other than lunch!)
Luke came back over to Grandmas and helped me with my phone, Instagram, etc. We couldn’t figure out linking the computer and new camera via wifi. Will save that for Jed when he comes to Tucson! Luke also presented me with a birthday present! He bought a ristra – one of hanging red pepper creations, only this one is shaped like a cross! It will be a challenge to get home, but lovely!
     Rick picked up some Klondike ice cream bars and I ate a third of one. That was enough! Back out to Randy’s and an early evening to turn in!

Thursday, 3.8.18
Chores and Goodbyes
     We have work to do this morning! Laundry! Plus Rick wants to close up the trailer, move it over into Randy’s driveway, and empty the black water. We checked with Patty and she doesn’t need her car for the evening, so we can stay parked in the driveway for the night. It will make for a fast get away in the morning!
     We get two loads of laundry done and the trailer readied and are headed into town by 11:30. Rick has the address of a car wash Luke uses on San Mateo, so we head there first. It is a drive through one and we get the works done for $15. Then to a Smiths for some cheap gas (although  not as good as the $1.98 we paid Sunday night!) and on to Mom’s.
     We go to Olive Garden for my second birthday lunch. The good news I have a much better appetite today and thoroughly enjoy my soup and salad lunch special (as well as three breadsticks!)
     Leisurely time afterwards at Mom’s. I pick up some bubblewrap at Dollar Tree and packaged my ristra for the trip. Then I worked on some of the glass etching stuff while Mom napped in her chair! By 6pm we were saying our goodbyes with hugs until October!
     Some visit time with Randy, Patty, and Rachael and goodbyes as we head out to the trailer around 9pm. Back on the road again tomorrow!

Friday, 3.9.18
Edgewood to Camp Shalom, Tucson
475 miles
We have a sunrise to send us on our way!  
     A long day, but a good one! We were up at 6 to enjoy an Edgewood sunrise, pulling out of Randy’s place at 6:40am. With the early start, we decide to brave the Albuquerque traffic and take the freeway all the way down, rather than heading East to Moriarty and then down to 60 and over to Socorro. It proves to be a good decision, as we encounter a little traffic, but not too bad and are in Socorro at Sophias in under two hours!
      Breakfast burritos at Sophia’s, gas, and a switch of drivers. Rick really doesn’t like the stretch from Albuquerque to Las Cruces, so I usually take this up and down section of freeway.
Parked at Sophias with M Mountain in the background.
For a downhill run of the Rio Grande, the highway certainly has a lot of uphill!
     Into Hatch, where we switch drivers again as we wait for a one-way bridge construction entering town. The shortcut from Hatch to Deming is filled with power generation – windfarms and solar farms, as well as a huge dairy farm!
     A stop for gas in Deming, then Rick drives on to Lordsburg, where we gas up again just to make sure we can get all the way into Tucson. We are fighting a head wind as we go west, so gas mileage will not be great. In Lordsburg, I drive again into Arizona. We stop at the Texas Canyon rest area, just 20 miles outside of Benson, and Rick takes us the rest of the way into Tucson. We arrive at CHRPA headquarters around 4pm.
     
All set up at Camp CHRPA
Quickly see Eleanor, Bob and Marj, and then Walter and Lorene! The latter made us very happy as they exclaimed what a treat it was to see us.
The feeling was mutual!
Our new trailer sign! 
     We de-winterize the trailer and set up camp. Rick takes off for a quick grocery run, dinner, and then I enjoy a long birthday phone call with Liz! Another long visit with Lorene at their trailer while trying to get the current internet password. (Since I am on a new computer, I have to re-insert all these passwords!)
     A beautiful sunset closes out the day – always a good ending to a Tucson day!


Saturday, 3.10.18
Happy Birthday, Ginger!


   A good day waking up to the sound of birdsong! By 8:45 we are on the road heading out Speedway east to its dead end in the Sajuaro National Park East. We haven’t been to this section of the park before and we like what we see! The day was forecast for low 80’s, but a cloud cover has come in and is filtering the sun. A MUCH WELCOME relief! There is even a gentle coolish breeze that blows every now and then to make things very comfortable.
Eerie shadows from sun
and cactus spires
Vegetation of Sajuaro NP
     We take off up the trail network at 9:30am. The trailhead is a jumble of cars – this is obviously a very busy part of the park. But we seem to pick sections of trail that are off the beaten path, and other than a group of boy scouts, and a busful of school children, we encounter only a few others as we hike. (Oh, one group of horseback riders!) We are higher up the slope of the park, and the views to the Catalinas and west are beautiful, even though the sky is not particularly blue.
I think this looks like real Christmas
Cactus - red and green!
A birthday picture! 
     I love the many facets of Sajuaro cactus. They all seem to have a personality! We don’t have our identification books with us, so will have to remember some of the plants later. It is always a challenge when we return to Tucson to remember all the birds and desert plants by name. We do identify ocotillo, which is erupting into green leaves and blooms due to the rains a couple weeks ago. Prickly pears and multiple types of cholla. This upper section of park was once the site of a weekend ranch, with tanks of water, mini dams on the streams flowing down from the Rincon Mts.
     We hike about 4.2 miles total. The cloud cover is beginning to dissipate and it is getting warmer. Time to get out of the sun!
     Back into town and a stop at Walmart to do some grocery shopping. I have decided to cook my own birthday dinner to guarantee that I get to eat what I want! The menu includes sauteed shrimp and broccoli, bread and wine, plus chocolate cake!! But first a lazy afternoon editing pictures, watching basketball (that would be Rick) and showering!
     Dinner is GREAT! And before we eat our cake, Jed calls and we visit for an hour or so. Answered prayers! Jed has a contract for next year! It is for one credit less so a slight decrease in pay, but still benefits. He will sign, but up the search for a more permanent position. Margaret calls shortly after, and then Luke!  Family love! 

     A good birthday. I received multiple good wishes via Facebook and emails. Conversations with family and friends. A beautiful hike. Thank you, God.  
Rick, the trail, the sajuaros, and the Catalina Mts.
Sunday, 3.11.18
Shalom Worship – Sweet Tomatoes!
        I love waking up to the sound of the birds! And there are some distinct singers around here! The skies are overcast...no sunrise of glory, but welcome rain fell in sprinkles again during the night. Needed moisture!
        We walk over to the doors of Shalom Mennonite Church and are welcomed by many. Most with the declaration, “we didn’t know you were coming!” Apparently Scott doesn’t share much! Only three songs to really sing harmonies with, but I so enjoy singing with this group.
        At noon we headed over to Sweet Tomatoes to join the group of Soopers for lunch. Nothing better in my mind than a salad and soup buffet, but they have added some desserts, pasta dishes, and tasty breads! A good meal and good conversation as we sat with Walter and Lorene and Peter and Viola from Manitoba. The group totaled about 14 in number!
        Lazy afternoon. I prepared some needlepoint canvas to be worked, and etched four more ornaments, plus finishing up the ones I did at moms.
        We will wander over to the SOOP Lounge around 6 to play some games, work the puzzle, and have popcorn! (Reminder….SOOP stands for Service Opportunities for Older Persons!) Tomorrow we go to work!!  

Monday, 3.12.18
CHRPA Day 1
We had to drive through Sajuaro West NP to get to the job.
     Oh boy...6am comes early when you really have to be up and “at em!” But we are ready to roll on time and gather at 7am in the finally finished new CHRPA meeting room in the back.           Mondays are lean days for volunteers, and a couple of MVSers are gone. But we meet a few new employees and get big hugs from Abi and Josh!
Our client had 10 giant
sajuaros in her yard
We had to build a base for
the window swamp cooler.
     Rick goes out with Vern and they have a successful day installing a shower wall unit (pebbleboard) and then installing a new hot water heater. Vern and his wife have been here since the first of the year and he knows what he is doing, so Rick said it was an easy day for him!
     I went out with Dan Wilhelm and got to enjoy a beautiful drive through Sajuaro NP West on Picture Rocks Drive!   We installed a window swamp cooler, patched two holes in the floor, repaired a frayed electric line, and patched the flashing on a porch roof. I mostly used the circular saw and drilled holes and screwed in screws!
     We gave Abi and Josh their wedding present. Hamburgers for dinner, a little puzzle time for me, some TV, and then to bed early!

Tuesday, March 13
CHRPA Day 2
     We are beat. The weather was warm again today – mid 80’s. Not horrible for Tucson standards, but warm when you just left winter!
Vern put his leg through the hole in this roof last week. 
     Rick and I went out together today in a team of four – up in the mobile home suburbs north of town. Roof repair,
OSB all installed over old roof. 
bathroom repair, sink repair, cooler repair. You name it – the place could use some TLC!
     Rick ended up with the smellier, stuffier, and dirtier part of the job: he and Vern tackled a major bathroom floor repair, plus they fixed the leaky sink. The toilet is salvageable, but will need some new inner parts. As we left today it was sitting on the front porch! (They have another bathroom!)
A leaky swamp cooler supplies
plenty of water for cactus growing
in the gutters. 
Rick and Vern put in a new floor in the bathroom - to be
vinyled tomorrow. 
     I had the sunnier, hotter part of the job – up on the roof! I made two trips to Home Depot with Josh to purchase OSB (we found more soft spots and hence had to go back for more!) and then spent most of my time screwing the OSB down. My knees were sore to kneel, and I ended up with a bottom full of splinters from scootching around on the OSB! Unpleasant!
     The client brought out colas and water during our lunch break. Much appreciated. Josh and I stopped enroute home to pick up the roofing material for tomorrow, and then all four of us helped cut and load it into Josh’s truck. Don’t know if Rick and I (or one of us) will be on the job again tomorrow or not.
     Showers, rest time. Whew.

Wednesday, March 14
CHRPA Day 3
     Same crews as yesterday, same place – we had a job to finish (or rather, jobs!) Rick and Vern stopped at Home Depot to pick up some supplies, while Josh and I drove up the non-freeway route to make sure nothing blew out of the truck!
Rick and Vern plan out the pebbleboard for shower.
Palm tree growing in
backyard. 
     The bathroom job involved pebbleboard around the tub today, a new shower head, and then linoleum flooring installed. Toilet then rebuilt (the guts were not good). The bathroom looked great by the end of the day!
Josh and I finish up the edging of the roof.  
     Josh and I enjoyed a wonderful morning on the roof, with overcast skies blocking the sun and a nice breeze blowing. We got the TPO (a heavy vinyl roofing compound) spread out and I began the process of using the impact driver to screw in the plates holding down the vinyl. All exterior edges had a metal strip that was installed – screws every 6”. By the end of the day, I had probably put in over 175 screws, over a hundred of which involved reaching around the edge of the roof and holding the impact driver towards me. I’ll feel it in my stomach and arms! Josh heat sealed the overlapping edges, and then caulked along the metal trim. He will probably be replacing the shingles portion of the roof in April, so some of which we did was temporary.
     The sun can out full force around 11:30am, so the afternoon was definitely warmer than the morning!
Our pretty white roof. 
A blackberry sangria at
Applebee's
     We worked hard today, so a dinner out at Applebee’s was in order! We like their Happy Hour Appetizers at half-price. Neither of us selected drinks from the Happy Hour menu, but even so a good meal for reasonable rates! I had a Blackberry Sangria with real blackberries in it!

Back to the trailer around 6p to enjoy a beautiful sunset. Over to the office for some internet action in prep for the weekend’s adventure east of town. 



Thursday, March 15
CHRPA Day 4 – CHRPA School!

          Ah...a cooler night! So nice! The CHRPA office is full this morning, as it usually is on ‘School Day’! Dan Wilhelm presents on installing new plumbing in shower or bathtub work. I still could not do it on my own!
          Rick and I are again together today with Vern. Ann was scheduled to work with us, but we didn’t need that big a crew, and Abi was short-handed, so Ann went with her. Scott asked me to write up the story, so I will use my write-up for my blog as well!

Gloria’s Floor
      On a delightfully cool spring day, our team of 3 has been sent to the north side of town to replace portions of the bedroom floor for 68 year old Gloria. Her old, somewhat rundown mobile home is situated in one of the nicer parks in town, with green grass, tall trees, and well-manicured lots. Gloria is so happy and proud to live here, but struggling with the maintenance of the trailer itself.
Vern and Rick work to clean
off the floor joists.
The holes in Gloria's floor
      She takes us to her bedroom in the back of the house. The metal lid of a popcorn tin marks the first of two major places where the floor has broken through under the carpet. For four years Gloria has stepped over the lid, only to remember a second hole just a foot away. The posts of the bed have made four more smaller holes in the flooring.
Sistering in support for the floor patch. 
      Our first task is to move the furniture out of the way. The double bed, dresser, mirror, and door are removed. Gloria tries to help as much as possible as we somewhat invade her privacy as dresser drawers must be removed and contents exposed. She is so grateful for our help.
      We roll back the carpet and padding and begin the process of peeling away the broken pieces of sawdust based particle board that have disintegrated beneath the carpet. Rick and Vern pull out staples and with the saws-all level the joists of old flooring and glue. I haul all the debris out to the truck.
      Half the bedroom floor must be rebuilt. New joists are sistered to the old to provide anchor points for the boards inset and screwed down. Gloria comes to inspect and laughs as Rick tells her she will be able to dance on it now!
A photo-reluctant Gloria on her
rebuilt steps with railing.
      While Rick and I screw in the new boards and re-lay the pad and carpet, Vern strengthens and stabilizes the back stairs to the trailer, and adds a handrail to make it safer for Gloria. He sees a water leak in the cooler line and replaces a valve. The back door is repaired. Little jobs that take only minutes, but combine to make the trailer safer.
      We vacuum the carpet and move the furniture back in. The highlight of our day comes as Gloria goes to walk out of the bedroom and automatically steps over the spot where the tin lid used to be! She laughs with us with the joy of knowing her bedroom is now safe, but it might take a little time to undo four years of habit!
      With a hug and multiple ‘God bless yous’, we leave with warm hearts on a beautifully cool day.

      We ate lunch in the park right across from Gloria’s trailer and are back at CHRPA HQ shortly after 1pm. An easy day!

       I use the opportunity to return to the office for internet and to send my pictures in as per Scott’s request! Vern and Shirley are leaving this weekend, as are Viola and Peter. Slowly the SOOPs begin to leave. 



Friday, March 16
Rest and Chores!
     A lazy day of laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping and thrift stores! Successful finds for jeans for both of us, clean clothes. For dinner I cooked up the ‘mystery’ meat Mom gave me from her freezer. She insisted we had left it there last year. Discovered it was chunks of pork, so I used the last of my onion and stir fried it with a bag of broccoli. A little VeriVeri Teriyaki and we dined in elegance!
     Evening Rick watched basketball. I went over to SOOP lounge and worked on a puzzle and quilled a hummingbird!   A beautiful sunset! 


Saturday, March 17
Chiricahua Adventure
     We are off around 8am this morning to explore east of Tucson. Our night’s lodging at the Days Inn in Willcox has been reserved and we have cooler weather in which to hike. Windy and cooler!
Sign at entrance to Stronghold Canyon
     We take the Dragoon Road exit from I-10 near the Texas Canyon Rest Area east of Benson. There isn’t much in the little town of Dragoon itself. We cut across the grassland desert and find Cochise Stronghold Road heading south. I wasn’t sure about this route, but the road is paved. The only memories I have of going to the Stronghold in 1994 are a 12 mile stretch of bumpy gravel dirt road! Maybe we have saved ourselves a little nonpaved with this route!
   
Rocks above Cochise Stronghold
 The last four miles into the Stronghold, after turned west into the Dragoon Mts. are unimproved, passing old private homesteads grandfathered into the National Forest. The Stronghold is where Cochise is buried in an unknown rock crevice, the rocky, convoluted pass where he could hide out from the military for long time periods.
Mescal, the top of the agave plants, was a food staple
for the Chiricahua Apaches. 
     History note. Cochise initially was at peace with the white man, until unjustly blamed for a raid and kidnapping. He was imprisoned for the act, then escaped while 4 members of his family were hung. So much for a peaceful existence. Twenty years after his death (from stomach cancer) the young boy kidnapped surfaced, reporting it was the Western band of Apaches who took him. So much violence on both sides from unjust blame and the desire for a quick answer.
      The campground is full on this spring weekend, filled with a large family gathering or a youth group or both. Games and songs fill the air! The area is a lush pocket in the rocky hills, Dragoon Springs providing a source of water for the adjoining valley. Oak, sycamore, pine, juniper, manzanita all grow on the hillsides. We take the Interpretive Walk which details much of the Apache life, and then the half mile Nature Walk which explains much of the flora in the area. There are longer one way hikes available, but not for today! A primitive campground and picnic area, but an oasis!
     Driving out we stopped at the Shaw House, one of the early residents of the canyon and valley. We were surprised to find that some of the orchards in the early 1900’s were growing peaches! Not the fruit I would instantly think of for this region! There are MANY nut orchards in the Sulfur Springs Valley now (the valley between the Dragoons and the Chiricahuas).
     Out across the valley heading east toward the Chiricahuas and the National Monument established in 1924 to protect the rhyolite pinnacles or “Standing Rocks” as the Apache called them. We stop at the Visitor Center and eat lunch. On a Spring Break Saturday, the monument is busy! (I’m sure the visitor count is much less in the summer months when it is HOT down here!)
Echo Canyon Pinnacles at Chiricahua Natl Monument
     We drive to the end of the road at Massai Point, elevation 6900’. The view is terrific across to the Dragoons and to the next mountain range and San Simeon Valley to the east. We can see the Cochise Head to the NE – his profile in rocks as he stares upward at the sky, a huge Roman nose pronounced.
     We take the Echo Canyon Loop Trail DOWN into the canyons of columns, pillars, balanced rocks, and formations of gray pinkish stone all decorated with bright neon green lichens. Much like hiking in the Sajuaro country, each rock formations seems to have its own personality. We give many names, most of which I can’t remember when I go back to caption my photographs later! Grottos, and what seem like mini slot canyons as we wind through it all.
Ginger at the Grotto
It was like walking in a slot canyon at times.
     A fire went through the canyon in 1994, later in the year after we visited with the boys and Rick’s folks that spring. The remains of charred and dead Ponderosa Pine still mark Echo Park and the hillsides.
     We head back up the Hailstone Trail, well graded and along the backside of a number of columns, and then cut across on the Ed Riggs Trail and back to our start at the point. Walk part of the Interpretive Trail on top back to the truck, stopping at the stone house. The stone house was my only memory of our visit from ‘94 – I didn’t recall the pillars at all!!
Required picture on Echo Canyon hike
The bright green lichens
added a touch of color
to the rock formations.
     Out of the National Monument and heading up 186 toward Willcox and our hotel for the night! Willcox was a major cattle center at the turn of the 19th century, located on the railroad. We check into the hotel and get a recommendation for a Mexican restaurant in the old-town section, Isabelle South of the Border. It proves to be a good meal, as Rick enjoyed the Carne Asada Platter and I had Shrimp Tacos. I couldn’t touch the salsa that came with the chips, but everything else was mild enough for me! YUM!

Brightly colored serapes decorated the windows at Isabellas South of the Border Restaurant! 
     Evening relaxing as Rick watched some basketball and I edited the 100 plus photos I took for the day! We keep checking the weather as the forecast isn’t great for tomorrows visit to Fort Bowie.

Sunday, March 18
Fort Bowie National Historic Site

     The morning is sunshine and cool, but if we get going we can beat the threat of rain and the highest afternoon winds! We eat at the continental breakfast and are on our way east on I-10 towards Bowie and the road south to the fort site. It is only 7:45a as we leave!
At the trailhead parking area...
cold and breezy! 
     Bowie, AZ, is a dead little town (or so it appears) out in the desert. The railroad was it’s boon, and now its one gas station boasts one of the highest prices in the state. It does advertise fresh jerky for at least 100 miles in either direction on roadside signs!
If the picture were big enough, you could see the silver
Honda tucked into the background! 
     South on paved road for 11 miles and then 1 mile of gravel to the Fort Bowie Trailhead at the east end of Apache Pass. This is a unique National Monument in that the Visitor Center is located 1.5 miles of hiking trail away (non-mobile visitors can make arrangements to use the service road into the maintenance buildings). While I envisioned a relatively open flat pass area, Apache Pass is marked with ravines and canyons, ridges and hills. Like Chiricahua to the south it is a mix of Rocky Mountain and Sierra Madre, Chiricahuan and Sonoran desert ecosystems. We don’t see any sajuaros, but plenty of sotol and agave, prickly pear, mesquite and cholla.
   
Apache Springs
 Apache Springs was a key site for the native people, and as a water source for the stage lines. The railroad route further to the north around the end of the Dos Cabezas Mts. did not have a water source. The pass was one of many springs used by Cochise’s band of Apaches. While relations were friendly at first, when Cochise was unfairly accused of kidnapping, constant conflict erupted for the next 10 years. The fort was initially proposed to counter a perceived Confederate infiltration from the East, but the Indian wars guaranteed its presence for the next 30 years.
Gravesite of Geronimo's
2 yr old son
     The trail wound through draws and dry creeks, up to the ruins of the old Butterfield Stage station, the fort cemetery (with the grave of Geronimo’s 2 year old son, Little Robe), and the Indian Agency building. A replica of a native ramada (open roof shelter for summer heat) and a wickiup (grass covered conical structure for winter) next to the trail helped one picture the native villages. We finally came to Apache Springs itself, nestled in a lush ravine of ash and pines.

Native wickiup and ramada


Fortified walls of the munitions building

The first Fort Bowie (very small) and the main fort are located on the broad flat area above the springs, with views back down into the valley east of the pass and into the convoluted hills and ravines of the main pass. Many of the old stone walls have been preserved with a thin coat of adobe plaster, so it looks like pueblo ruins.
Rick surveys the ruins of the cavalry barracks
      We visit the Visitor Center first and find our volunteer hosts have worked up at the dredge in Sumpter and were very familiar with Baker City. They were eager to talk (I don’t think the park has a heavy influx of visitors, so conversation is highly anticipated!) They answered some questions as well and eventually we went out to explore the trail around the fort ruins itself. By 1894 when it was closed, Fort Bowie was a thriving little city. The Indian Wars had ended 8 years earlier and life was pretty posh! Hospital, school/chapel combo, bakery, in addition to all the officer’s quarters, calvary and infantry barracks, etc. Pretty well maintained and good informational signs.
     We hike out the same way we came in, avoiding the ridge return trail due to the high winds. Back to the truck just before noon. We drive on out Apache Pass to the west – all very good gravel road, stopping at the site of a wagon train massacre and the pass. We eat lunch at the latter, overlooking the Sulphur Springs Valley.
Pink Prickly Pear Plants! 
     Rick drives us back up to Willcox, completing our circle for the morning. We stop at McDonalds for McFlurry or Smoothies and I drive us back to Tucson. A GOOD WEEKEND ADVENTURE!




Not much of the Butterfield Road is left...mostly a hiking
and horse trail now.  
     Evening spent in the SOOP lounge with a full group as we say goodbye to Walter and Lorene who hope to leave on Monday (after Walter gets a bad tire fixed on his car!) We encourage them to reminisce about the early days of CHRPA, as they have been coming for 20 years, longer than Scott has been here, longer than the CHRPA office building or the trailer hookups, etc. Afterwards, Lorene asks me if I have written any more books, so I take the opportunity to take down the five I have with me and explain what I’ve been doing for the past year. She ends up buying 3 of them!



Monday, March 19
CHRPA Day 5

     Rick and I are teamed up today to install some vinyl in a bathroom and fix a closet floor up in North Tucson off Prince. Well, that ends up a 10 hour job, and unfinished to boot!
Floor 4 hours later, now vinyl ready! 
Floor as we found it patched, but not
ready for vinyl! 
     When we arrive at the mobile home of Carol, an 84 year old lady living with her 48 year old daughter on disability, we find the bathroom floor is NOT ready for the vinyl. We spend most of the morning leveling and re-installing new floorboards. A break for lunch and we finally are able to start cutting the vinyl. Rick is the expert for this, I have never even been WITH someone on this kind of job before. As Rick works on the vinyl, with minimal help from me, I begin to tear out the carpet in the walk-in closet in order to discover just what we are facing there. Big hole right in the entrance, another midway, but the rest of the floor appears to be ok. Will patch the hole and then overlay the whole thing with OSB….tomorrow.
My closet project for tomorrow -
I got the carpet ripped off today.  
   
Rick making his cuts around the vinyl.  
 We don’t end up leaving the job until 4:15, back at the office by 5 to have a short conversation with Scott as to the day. I suspect we will be back tomorrow to finish the bathroom vinyl, the closet, AND another section of flooring under the bed, as well as plumbing issues for both toilets. OH BOY!
     Beautiful sunset tonight. A little puzzle time, blogs, etc.

Tuesday, March 20
CHRPA Day 6

Closet patch in place! 
Rick's beautiful patch job
with limited vinyl left!  
     It’s a return to Carol’s house today for Rick and I. We have bathroom vinyl to finish, a closet to floor, and holes under a bed to deal with!! Fortunately, we complete all tasks by 3pm, so our return is a little earlier today. Had to make a trip to Home Depot for toilet handle and a sheet of OSB. Otherwise, another days of trips back and forth through Carol’s living room as we made measurements and cuts, fitted boards in place and put in a hundred screws. I worked on the closet while Rick finished up the bathroom. Then after lunch we worked together to get the old floor ripped up and new boards in place under the bed. We had to be creative in installing some new joists along the wall to support the board.
Just about done in my closet - screwing down the OSB! 
Our creative addition of
some floor joists for the bed.
     Carol and her daughter were thrilled with our work. Rick noted that she especially enjoyed my presence as a female volunteer. I tried to chat with them each time I trekked in front of them between bedroom and truck! Got hugs both days we worked!

Anchoring our joist supports
Finish flooring under the bed!
Otherwise a warmer day, but not as bad as it is supposed to get on Thursday – record breaking temps forecast in the 90’s! UGH!

     Showers, dinners, an hour of puzzling, and a little TV, then bed.





Wednesday, March 21
CHRPA Day 7

     A full day, especially for Rick, who didn’t get back until 5 pm again! He was teamed up with Rob, the Jesuit volunteer to do some window work way out west of town. Ended up having to do a lot of driving to track down places to get the plexiglass as well as his glass. Rob was heading off to Boston once again for an orientation to the grad theology program he has been admitted to. In order to make his connections, Rick dropped him off downtown to save him the long bike ride home before catching a bus for Phoenix and his late night flight.
Rick and Rob's bright new windows! 


Rob works to remove broken glass. 
     I teamed up with Josh for the day and we made several stops, mostly assessments! Our only ‘fix’ was to a leaking water line in a hot water closet – turned out to be the swamp cooler line that had pin hole leaks in it. A trip to Naughton’s and we replace a section of copper line. But our access was tight….Josh ended up in the neighboring half of the duplex where we found an attic access hole in a bedroom closet. Josh could then reach down while I was reaching up from a perch on a half opened step ladder. We got it done, and the 80 year old lady who owned the duples was thrilled.
     Then we assessed MULTIPLE problems at the home of a gal about my age who had MS and just couldn’t keep up with maintenance. Front doors broken in (burglary), swamp coolers not working, leaks in ceilings, bathroom sink with no drain pipes, etc. The house could keep people busy for ages.
     Lunch and then two more assessments that basically will result in new water lines from the meter to the house. Still done a little early!!
     I showered and went over to work on the puzzle for 45 minutes. Rick pulled into camp around 5 once again, in time to get a shower before our dinner date!
     YES! Today was Scott’s birthday, and he and Alene had invited a number of us over to the house for dinner! We stopped and picked up some beer for Scott, a bottle of wine, and a birthday card. Kat (visiting from Seattle and a former CHRPA employee), Carrie, and Abi joined us. Josh would have come, but he is coaching a high school baseball team and they had a game. It was a wonderful evening, and Alene had made lasagna (both sausage and spinach varieties) . Peace Crisp for dessert! All delicious and we were FULL as we drove home. Kat made Scott tell us 5 impactful events from the year, which spurred great conversations.
Birthday party dinner at Scott and Alene's - Carrie and Kat on left, son Brandon on right. 

Thursday, March 22
CHRPA Day 8

Broken floor to ceiling window to replace!
Clay removes final section
of molding. 
     I got to work with Clay, the MVS volunteer, today. NICE young man. We had multiple conversations about our travels and work, his goals and dreams, family, etc. Our jobs today were to check out a bad hot water heater in a mobile home park. We determined that it needed replacement – at least 30 years old. Then off to pick up a 35x77” pane of tempered glass to install in a family room in place of a broken one. A BIG SHEET OF GLASS! We felt successful to have transported it in the truck without breaking it! Got the old glass out and the casing cleaned up, but then had to come back to the CHRPA office to look for molding (we were close by). No such luck, so a trip to Home Depot was in order. Clay picked up another job in case we got done early which was by the HD, so we went there first. It was a swamp cooler service, but had more problems than we thought and we didn’t have pads with us. Back to the window install, which went fairly smoothly. But the client also had a water leak. By the time Clay found where the leak was, it was too late to do the major work to replace piping, etc. Maybe next week.
2011 Swamp Cooler repair! 
2018 Swamp Cooler Repair
     Today is Jack Ho’s birthday, and when I was looking at Facebook to send him birthday greetings, I found my FB memory was from the day we first worked at CHRPA with Luke back in 2011. We were cleaning a swamp cooler. Found the picture as Clay and I were enroute to the swamp cooler job! Deja vu!!!
     Rick arrived back at the office again at 5 today! He was paired with Bob, one of the winter volunteers from Kansas. They had a good day together doing a shower replacement. It went well, just took awhile to complete!

     We headed over to BJ’s Brewhouse for dinner – discovered they had good Happy Hour prices for mini deep dish pizzas, craft beers, and wines. Crowded, but very good! Home to work the puzzle after the SOOPS had finished their bible study time. Warm evening….we never put the sleeping bag over us, just our light blankets.  

Friday, March 23
Lunch with CAVs
     A warm night! And a lazy morning...Rick actually went back to sleep for an hour or so. Around 11 we left for Lee Wilson’s house. Lee had signed up for the Kalispell build, and then dropped out when she was able to return to Alaska for the summer. But I had already made contact, especially when we realized she wintered in Tucson! She also is in contact with Kit and Brenda (CAV Team Leader coordinator) and Dyana Todd, who we have worked with both in Las Cruces and Libby. They are down in Benson at the Escapees Park (where the folks were!) and drove up for lunch.
Kit, Lee, Brenda, and Dyana - a great CAV Lunch!
     Lee lives in a cute little brick house down near Aviation and Broadway, near downtown, but the yard is so nicely landscaped and fenced, that you could forget where you were! She has a pond, beautiful native plants, and lots of yard art. But what I noticed right away was the wall poster of the same picture we just finished a puzzle of last week! I asked about it and Lee said they were Charley Harper prints, one of her favorites, which was evident as we looked more about the house! One for me to remember and investigate more!
Big clusters of palm trees
line the center median of
Broadway
     Kit, Brenda, and Dyana then arrived and we enjoyed a wonderful meal out on the patio. Manicotti (Rick has died and gone to heaven with lasagna and manicotti in the same week!), spinach salad, fresh bread, and a sweet dessert entree called quesadilla salvadore. Brenda gave us one Team Leader t-shirt (she only had one size large, will send the other later!)
I used the new camera to get a
telefoto of two palm trees WAY
in the distance! 
     Heading back to the east side of town, we decided to get our Bookman’s shopping done. I wanted to hit the children’s section and purchase all my birthday books for the year to come, starting with Everett on Sunday!! A profitable stop – we got 10 books (including a Spanish English for Amilio), 3 puzzles, and a DVD for $83.00! When the gal heard they were for birthday presents for kids, she gave me a 10% discount! Hurray!
     We got a phone message from MaryJo Grove while at lunch about a possible property up for sale, so we spent some time when back at the trailer looking through the offerings on the web site. I emailed the office back of four we might be interested in.
    A little puzzle time and a light dinner. I sat outside and watched the sunset develop as fighter jets were flying circles around us overhead. That was a bit noisy for an hour or so! But a beautiful sunset! 
Before the colors really came along the horizon, the clouds were a swirl of light! 

Saturday, March 24
Laundry and Chores!
        We spent a relatively relaxed day today, laundry done, groceries purchased. Rick bought a new pair of Brooks shoes at Fleet Feet – it is hard to find shoe stores that sell Brooks and they have worked for his feet.  While finishing the laundry, I finished up the puzzle for the week.  
Second puzzle finished!
        Mostly we tried to get ahead of the game and plan for our days after we leave Tucson. We sadly discovered that parts of Utah have Spring Break AFTER Easter and all the campgrounds and parks in the area around Zion were full. So….change of plans! We now have (hopefully – I don’t have confirmation yet) reservations in Cottonwood, AZ just west of Sedona. We’ll explore that area instead and head home via Nevada instead of Utah. It pays to be flexible!
        A little stir fry for dinner. That twice now we have used the electric grill, and THREE times I have turned on the stove top to stir fry. Must be a record, but after eating out nearly every day while in Albuquerque we could stand to cook for ourselves a little.
        Cleaning up after dinner I had a run-in with a cholla cactus hiding at the base of the bush I was throwing some dirty water on. First it got stuck on my tennis shoe. I got it off of that without problem, but when I went to pick up a clump that had fallen and toss it into the bushes, it stuck to my fingers. As I tried to pull it off, more spines found their mark. Rick got a pair of pliers and scissors out. He cut the spines off the plant one by one, and then I was able to use the pliers to pull them out of my left hand one by one. I had about 6 spines in the fingers. Painful process! I will be MUCH more careful next time!!!
        I went over to the CHRPA office after dinner for a couple hours to catch up on some financial stuff, using the secure internet there. Missed the sunset. Grrr….(my own fault!)

Sunday, March 25
Worship, Lunch Guests, SOOP Fellowship
         A cooler morning in the trailer with all the windows still open for the night! It was 50 and I bundled up a little more to sit and draw/write! But the sun begins to warm things up gently by 9am.
        We head over to worship at Shalom, figuring I needed to put our RV space money into the offering and not knowing for sure if we would be here or elsewhere next Sunday. After Rick heard that a huge potluck breakfast would be PART OF Easter worship, I suspect we will be at Shalom! :)
       I enjoy Tina’s sermons more, at least I figure I get more out of them when I can walk out with a visual image in my mind. Today was a goodbye to one of the Congolese families that have been here for over a year. The gal is one of the main singers and musicians and she was visibly sorry to be leaving, but their hopes are for better employment up in Ohio. THAT will be a climate shock for them! But where else can you go to worship and have songs sung with Spanish words, and then translated into Swahili!? Plus we sang one of my favorites today, “Lord Listen to Your Children Praying” after EACH prayer request. Service ended with a long Swahili benediction song with all of the Congolese families and kids up front, drums, congos, you name it.
        We opted not to eat out with the other SOOPs today, hoping to hit Poco and Moms little breakfast place, but it was closed when we drove past. We thought then drove past Oink! And thought to give it a try….packed with crowds outside waiting. Went to Baja Cafe and found a crowd. Finally ended up at Biscuits Cafe and decided we would WAIT the 15 minutes! Chatted briefly with a couple behind us in line, and then when we were seated at a table for 4, Rick asked then if they would like to join us rather than wait longer for a private table. We are always blessed when we do this!
        Dave and Carol are 6 year Tucson residents, having lived all over the country, but most recently moving from Plano, TX just north of Dallas. They were interested in our CHRPA work, Dave having done similar work through his church for awhile. The breakfast meal was excellent and it was fun talking with new people and new perspectives! They had scoped out the restaurant because it advertised giant cinnamon roll pancakes and Dave wanted to compare them to another place in town...(Side note: Biscuits won the competition!) Dinner will be light tonight, perhaps just what is offered at the SOOP Fellowship time, for which I have another pineapple to cut up.
Finished!  Cathy and Marj, with Elinor, Viola, ?, and Bruce
Don
        Back to trailer to relax, use the secure internet, Rick talk with Mom, and to chat briefly with Jed making final arrangements for tomorrow. He arrives in town late tonight and will go directly out to Sean’s.
        I take a new puzzle over to the fellowship time, just a 500 piecer that I figured I could finish during the week. Well, Don, Cathy, Marj and I did the whole thing in just 1.5 hours! I have already found all but one of the borders and laid all the pieces out in the little trays, so it was relatively easy going. A ‘doable’ puzzle and fun.
        Back to trailer to find another text from Jed about possible changes but he will let us know. We are ON for tomorrow, just not sure exactly when and where we will pick him up!

        Good conversation with Luke who sounded quite tired after his weekend retreat with the YAVs, a visit and shopping with Grandma, and then a YAV community day tomorrow up to Jemez. He flies out to Indonesia tomorrow at midnight – he’ll sleep the whole way!!  
Quick sunset view before starting the puzzle! 

Monday, March 26
Kitt Peak with Jed   
          A great day spent with Jed! We met he and Sean around 10:30 at Bentley’s House of Coffee and Tea off Speedway on the north side of the UA campus. Sean was going to study for awhile before class, and we chatted briefly and then took off for Kitt Peak, about 60 miles away. We will see Sean and Jessica on Wednesday night for dinner.

       
Eating our Subs in the picnic area outside the VC - the
wind was NIPPY!!
  Road construction on Route 86 toward Ajo, but nothing too major and we were pumping Jed for information on his contract, the trip to Wisconsin this summer, his research, etc. Before we knew it we were turning off the highway on to the 12 mile winding route to the top of the mountain at 6,785’ where nearly 20 telescopes, both optical and radio, are located. It looks like a scene from a sci-fi movie on top...or the Jetsons!
Beautiful tile mural  of Mayan astronomy by Mexican artist
           We picked up our tickets for the 1:30 tour of the 4m telescope (second largest in the world at this point, but that will soon change). Jed operated on the 2.4m on Magdalena. We had a huge group on the tour and split into two sections with two different docents giving the tour (as in 70 people!) And I thought Monday would be a low count day! Ate lunch and perused the Visitor Center and gift shop while waiting for our tour to start. Rick and I had picked up Subway sandwiches for everyone enroute to getting Jed. (We also had time to stop at Walmart and get more coffee and toilet paper! Essentials!)
Walking down to 4 meter
Inside the telescope
         
The dark areas on infrared are cold (plus it doesn't go
through plastic hence the glasses)  Jed is obviously warmer
blooded than I!!! 
The tour was great, although I think I learned more from asking Jed questions in the VC before hand. He explained dark energy and dark matter to me, plus spectography (not sure I got that word right) in ways that ALMOST made sense! We played around in front of the infrared camera, trying to figure out why my nose registered so COLD! My hands were definitely colder than Jed’s – black and white difference!   We went both inside a viewing area for the 'guts' of the big mirror, which is undergoing a retrofit for a new type of scope.  Then out to the exterior viewing ring around the outside that overlooks the surrounding area, with identifying photos in the four cardinal directions.  A great place to snap photos to the south of the rest of the complex.  
          We were the last ones out of the building, getting our full 2 hours worth of tour! In fact, we only had 15 minutes to walk back up to the Visitor Center and do our shopping before they close down at 3:45! But we made it and headed back down the mountain and into town. We stopped once so I could take a picture of some beautiful pink wildflowers growing alongside the road. Also noted the ocotillo was blooming all over the place!
The view of Kitt Peak complex from the deck of 4m telescope.  The Sun Scope is on the left. 

Baboquiviri Peak behind the 2.1 m telescope.  This is the sacred mountain
for the Todo'ohom People

          Dropped Jed off at Panera Bread to meet Sean at 5:30 when he got out of class. Rick and I headed back to CHRPA land!

          It rained tonight!   Honest drops of rain that even were sustained for at least 10 minutes!  

Tuesday, March 27
CHRPA Day 9
Our completely glazed windows.
          Rick and I worked together again today! This must be a record for our CHRPA visits! Six days together out of 9 worked so far! We were out west of Tucson off the Ajo Highway, first to finish up the glazing on the windows Rick and Rob installed last Wednesday. They ran out of glazing compound. We stopped at Home Depot enroute out to the job to pick up two containers plus some ‘perhaps’ supplies for our second job (which we never touched – they’ll go into the supply room). So I got my first lesson in glazing newly installed windows this morning! We didn’t have much left to do so it only took about a half hour to finish up the work.
Rick uses saws-all to remove old floor.
Our beautiful systems of supports.
          Then off to the other side of the highway and into the Tucsan Estates area to the manufactured home of Dixie. What a sweet lady whose mom was raised in Kalispell area and who grew up herself in Oregon! We had a lot to talk about as we worked, especially since Dixie watched probably half the time from a chair out on the deck.
         
A secure, stable floor!  
Dixie’s front door was already fixed by her son when we got there – mostly a tightening of screws so that it aligned correctly and could be locked. But inside the front door there was a hole in the floor from water damage that had seeped in through the wall. It had been patched once before, but the patch had broken through (somewhat due to poor support underneath as well as water soggy particle board) So...we did some creative sistering and construction of support boards using up 2 full 2x4’s in the little space and then installing and screwing down a custom cut piece of 3/4” plywood to fill the hole. MUCH stronger! Unfortunately, CHRPA doesn’t make things pretty, so the area is still missing the tile that had broken off, but Dixie just throws an area rug over it!
Water damage to the wall next to door.
           Then we tackled the reason for the hole: water-damaged exterior walls on either side of the door. There is very little overhang and hence the water sits on the deck and seeps wherever it can go. We pulled off the porous board on the exterior to reveal a holey mess. Cut a new piece of 3/4” plywood to fit and caulked and screwed it in place and then ran caulk ALL around it. Did the same on the other side. In the
Patched and caulked!  
meantime, while Rick was caulking I was screwing Dixie’s deck back together and sinking loose screws back down. The boards are very weather worn and were splitting a lot. We also stabilized a little table she had on the deck and Rick strengthened most of the railings with additional screws. Much of what we did wasn’t on our work order, but it needed to be done and Dixie sure appreciated it!
I asked Dixie if I could take a picture with her and she seemed pleased. She also gave us some hand crocheted items as thank yous “to remember me by”.
Typical nails in decking. 
          Disconcerting to find all the texts from Luke today who was to be flying to Indonesia last night. Flight cancelled, rediverted today to LA, then Doha (Qatar) and then back to Jakarta. But flight in LA was delayed, so may miss his connection to Jakarta. He will be ‘in the air’ for the next 24 hours, so we may not know for awhile if he has made it to see Kady.

          NCIS on tv, blog writing, and drawing round out the evening.  
Dixie and I on the front deck. 
Wednesday, March 28
CHRPA Day 10 – Dinner at Tomlinson’s with Jed

          After a relatively light day yesterday, Rick and I both drew 4-5 jobs each today. Rick was with Rob again and they had some tough plumbing jobs to handle. Didn’t feel totally successful with it all, but managed to install some sinks and a hot water heater.
Dan patches a roof!
          I was with Dan Wilhelm and we were all over the east side near CHRPA headquarters. Some relatively simple jobs early in the day, some of which ended up more assessments. Dan took time between jobs to contact Naughton’s and Fergusons, plumbing places, and his contact at Tuscon Water arranging for the purchase of supplies for swamp cooler season which will start soon as the weather begins to heat up. Today was the last day of sub 80 degree temps predicted for…..5 months??? We ended the day at Reba’s house to fix a leaky shower and figure out why the electricity in the kitchen didn’t work. Dan troubleshooted for two hours while I fixed the shower (after Dan showed me how) and then switched the circuit breaker on and off for Dan. We finally found the problem, but too late to fix and it was really a job for Claire, the resident electrician!
Beautiful palm at a client's house!
          I got back at 3:30 and got my shower. Rick rolled in at 4:30. We were rushing somewhat to get out to Sean and Jessica’s in Marana – for our dinner invite! But as it turned out, their hike ended up longer than anticipated and they only beat us home by about 20 minutes! (They tackled Finger Rock Trail, which climbed about 4000’ while they logged about 8-9 miles. Needless to say, a tired group! But happy!)
We found our wedding gift
right inside the front door!
          We found the home without incident, having stopped at the Cortaro Walmart to pick up a bottle of wine. They bought in a nice residential development at the base of the north end of the Tucson Mountains. A relatively small 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with a nice office space as well, small backyard with a pool and hot tub attached – all built in. A few palm trees and cacti in the backyard. Tiled floors throughout so cool! We had burgers, salad, corn, and potato salad – a feast – and enjoyed great storytelling. Jed had spent Tuesday at home with Jessica, grading some papers, etc. before they all went out to dinner meeting Sean. Jed will fly home tomorrow afternoon. We left around 9 with a quick trip (just over a half hour!) back to CHRPAland. Quickly into bed for our last day on the job.
Sean, Jessica, and Jed

Jess takes a picture of Sean and the 3 of us. 

Thursday, March 29
CHRPA Day 11 – Final Day

          Rick and I are teamed up once again for our final day on the job...and bound for Three Points area! Our third trip out the Ajo Highway this week! That makes 7 out of 11 days that we have worked together this year. Amazing!
Rick is smiling for the camera, but he doesn't
really care for plumbing all that much!
          Our first job is north of the highway about halfway to Three Points. Paved road, and then rough dirt road until we find the “red truck” at the Stop sign, directions Don had given us as he was at the place the day before fixing the back door. Don said it was a little ‘rough on the edges’ which was an understatement. It is hard to imagine how people can live in some of the conditions we encounter – often not of their own chosing, but sometimes just different priorities. We have to keep reminding ourselves to ‘judge not’ and just do what we can to make their lives a little better. We were to install two faucets here, repair a leaky shower, and replace an outside hose bib. Two and a half out of four isn’t bad, right? In cramped and slightly unsanitary conditions (rat poop) Rick got both faucets installed, but discovered another leak in the drain in the process. We didn’t have the materials or where-with-all to fix that one, nor did we have the tool needed to replace the shower washers. We got the hose bib done! But between the cluttered, cramped quarters, the hacking coughs of the residents, and the strong residual smoking aroma, we were glad to be done with that job!!
       
Creative cooler stand at
a Three Points modular
  Ate lunch down the road at 1pm, parking the truck so the cab was in the shade. Then off toward Three Points to find our second stop, which was mostly to be an assessment for a report of broken windows. More rough, bumpy dirt roads WAY south of Ajo Highway, questionable directions, and we came to a single-wide mobile home with ALL the windows boarded up housing a family of 4 or 5 (never got a sure count!) Grandparents and grandchildren. We were there an hour assessing the problems which extended well beyond the broken door and windows – roof repair, water heater problems, backdoor nonfunctional, swamp cooler maintenance needed, steps….but willing and trying clients.
A different kind of prickly pear!
          Coming home, we stopped to pick up drinks as we neared town, which was good since we got caught in a traffic back-up due to an accident on Golf Links which made us a half hour later in getting back to the office. Carrie ran off some pictures so we could make comments on them and we briefed Scott on the situation.
          Goodbyes to Scott and Carrie. Just as we got back, Dan Wilhelm brought me a puzzle to do over the weekend. I must share the one the SOOPS helped me with last weekend!
Rick and I went back to BJ’s for the Happy Hour specials, enjoying mini-pizzas, the Dodgers game, some tennis, and a college basketball competition on the multitude of TVs behind the bar. When we got back I went over to the SOOP lounge for an hour and half to start the puzzle – I needed something brainless to do!
          A very pleasant evening with a big almost full moon rising. I missed sunset cause we were in the bar!

Friday, March 30
A Little Painting and Alot of NOTHING!

          Sadly to say, my ‘cold’, allergies, or whatever seems to be getting worse. I am congested and blowing my nose constantly. Good thing we have nothing on the agenda today other than finishing a little painting at CHRPA HQ!
Repainting on Yvonne, the pelican.
          Dan Wilhelm is in the shop making some bins for his truck. Rick and I head over around 9:30 (before it gets too hot!) and I pull out the black gloss paint and my tiny brushes, while Rick searches for the light yellow used to paint the office addition last spring. The molding transition between the two rooms is just as we left it last year – mudded and sanded, but never primed and painted. Rick shall finish that job!
Rick paints office transition.
          I visit each truck, repainting lines that are chipped or fading and sharpen up the details of the names and pictures. I must have used better paint for the ones I painted in 2014 (Walter G, Finn, and Rosie) because they are in good shape other than a scratch mark through Finn’s fin! But Maya and Yvonne really needed a little work, and Dan appreciated that I fixed up Bones a little also!

A puzzle full of gas pumps!  
          While Rick finishes the inside painting, I head over to the lounge and in an hour and half I finish the puzzle from Dan. He was right – a fun, quick one to put together! I will give it back to him Monday morning with my thanks.
Almost a full moon!!  Tomorrow night!
          After that….I did nothing all day. Feeling a little punk, I ate some lunch, read, took a nap, read some more, ate dinner, finished the book, you get the idea. Rick took a walk mid afternoon!
          It was a warm day in the mid-80’s, but the next two are forecast even warmer. We had the awning out for awhile. BEAUTIFUL big old moon coming up that I took a picture of with the new camera telefoto – wow!



Saturday, March 31
Blood Donation Taco Giro!

New growth on prickly pears next
to sidewalk at CHRPA
          It is going to be a warm one today! Our first thing on the list is to go to the Red Cross Blood Center on Broadway and Kolb and give blood! Baker’s draw is on Monday and this will keep us ‘on schedule’! I don’t mind giving at all at the centers – they are organized and efficient! We walked in early with our Rapid Pass and had no wait! Nice!
Rick paints green on cupboard ends.
          We decided it was still too crowded and early to go to OINK! Went back to ‘camp’ instead and Rick tackled the trim in the office while I handled the laundry. We checked a lot of paint and finally went with an off shade of the green cupboards (we could NOT find the matching paint) to paint the ends and then Rick found some trim boards to paint that will cover up the gaps and spaces. It will at least finally look ‘finished’.
          After laundry, we headed over to Taco Giro for lunch/dinner. We hadn’t hit either of our favorite little Mexican places yet! I had shrimp tacos and Rick a chorizo burrito. Neither of us finished our meal, saving the rest for dinner tonight!
Stormy sky sunset
          A trip to Walmart to pick up fruit for tomorrow’s worship service at Shalom and ice cream bars to restock the freezer in the office. Cooler season is starting the the workers need sustenance!
          Lazy rest of the day – reading, drawing, etc. No sunset as too many clouds circled in. Maybe we’ll get a blazing sunrise in the morning to welcome Easter! Might not even see the moon rise tonight!
          Sat out for abit watching the rabbits hop around and the birds flit from mesquite to cactus. Cooled off nicely, but will be a warmer night with the cloud cover.

Sunday, April 1
Easter Sunday

          “Every morning is Easter morning from now on!” I always wake up on Easter with this song rolling through my head! It was a cloudy morning, but forecast to be very warm. The clouds will hold the heat in!
          Shalom is having a feast during worship, so yesterday we bought a pineapple, mango, and some strawberries to put together a little fruit salad. I cut everything up and had it ready to go.
     
Tina welcomes all to the Easter feast!
    Worship this morning lasted over 2 hours, but it was filled with music, both Swahili and English, Spanish and English scripture, sermons on laughter and April Fool’s Day, prayers, offerings, and finally, the feast! While the congregation sang an Alleluia song, the children and teens all brought in the food from the kitchen, scattering the entrees among three large tables. Finally, we were invited to partake, back row first. (People should never be rewarded for sitting in back of a church!!) I visited with a family vacationing in Tucson for Spring Break sitting next to us.
Finished trimwork
          A lazy afternoon. I drew my ‘sermon’ picture and did some financial stuff over in the CHRPA office. Admired Rick’s handiwork in finishing up the cupboards. Rick took a walk, and I cleaned up a few things in the trailer in preparation for tomorrow’s departure.
          Bob and Marj, Peter and Viola, and we drove out east of town to Luckie’s, a Thai and Asian restaurant. It was very good! Interesting area with broad sights across town, to the Rincon Mts, and up to the Catalinas. New housing. Good time visiting together as all of us are pulling out in the morning. Got contact info for Havens up in Alberta, just in case we are ever ‘in their area’!
          Back to trailer to catch most of Jesus Christ – Superstar, a live production showing on TV. It was very well done.


Monday, April 2
Tucson to Cottonwood, AZ
225 miles
Today's travels
          We have a reprieve from an early start today since both of our attempts to ‘meet up’ with friends north of Phoenix have failed! Ron had to beg off due to a necessary doctor’s visit and Ulreys are booked for the week. So we leisurely pack up the trailer, say our goodbyes, etc. Havens pull out just ahead of us. Rick and I had the truck running, I went back to lock the trailer door, and for some reason saw a text from Luke as I was getting in the truck. He needed internet help!
          So we turned off the truck, Luke called, and I got my laptop out of the trailer and went over to the secure internet in the CHRPA office. Fifteen minutes later (and a second call because the connection was bad), we had Luke re-enrolled in his healthcare plan! Evidently when he went to do it in Indonesia, the website wouldn’t give him access! (What? People in Indonesia shouldn’t be signing up for a New Mexico health plan???!)
   
Picacho Peak south of Phoenix
      We are on our way by 9:20am heading north through Phoenix to Cottonwood, a small touristy town in the Verde River Valley and about 15 miles from Sedona (REALLY touristy!). As all of the RV parks are marked FULL, I’m glad we were able to get reservations last Sunday for 4 nights. Plenty of time to explore the area! A smooth trip north, nothing too exciting. We gassed up just south of Phoenix. Probably saw a dozen planes come in to land at the Phoenix airport while we were circling around it on the interstate.
Rick overlooks Verde Valley
from top of ruins
          I always forget what a long uphill pull it is out of Phoenix and on to the vast plateau north. We climb to over 4000’ before heading back down to the Verde Valley. The plateau is grassland – we have left the saguaro cactus! But the grass is dry – at least up on top.
          We camp at Rio Verde RV Park just east of Cottonwood. The price is on the upper end at $36 (that’s WITH our Good Sam) but nothing else was any cheaper! We have to wait 10 minutes or so until the office gal gets back and can tell us our site number – which ends up RIGHT across from the office! Just fine. Full hookups, although Rick doesn’t get the cable TV I thought he would have in order to watch tonight’s NCAA Finals. :( We grab leftovers from yesterday for lunch.
          Around 3 we head back into town to find the Visitor Center and gather some reading materials for the evening! Then we have enough time to find Tuzigoot National Monument and take a stroll around the ruins of this ancient pueblo (circa 1000 to 1300 AD). Over 100 small rock lined rooms have been excavated from the hill. It is an interesting area – most of the rooms were accessed via a roof ladder.
Tuzigoot Ruins
   
Tuzigoot Ruins

    Gas and groceries at Fry’s and back to park. Rick calls his mom. Dinner. Figuring out our plans for the next three days!
          PS. We are right on the highway. I am hoping traffic will die down a little as the evening dies down. Otherwise not much quieter than Tucson!!

Tuesday, April 3
Change of Plans? No! Prescott and Jerome After All!

Verde River near RV park
          Our plans today were to drive to Jerome, the Historical Ghost Town hill on the hillside above Cottonwood and then on up and over Mingus Mountain and down into Prescott. But...Rick woke up with vertigo, probably from sinus issues. He laid low most of the morning, sleeping and resting his eyes, which seemed to be the source of the dizziness. (He seems to have inherited some of his mother’s sinus problems!) I spent much of the morning working out two steeple drawings and sorting through the devotions, etc. Also organized and relabeled pictures. I took a short walk along the Verde River, spying a merganser and mallard.
Mallard


Merganser

          Along about 1pm, after taking some drugs and another nap, Rick said he felt ‘human’ again! With the agreement I would do most of the driving, we took off for Jerome.
          Jerome is set on the edge of a hillside, and was the location of a major copper mine back in the 1800’s. When copper died out, the depression, and a major earthslide swept away many downtown buildings perched on stilts, the town died down to around 50 permanent residents (a long way from its 15,000 heyday!) But through the 60’s and 70’s, as a refuge for counterculture artisans, etc., the town slowly built back up and now has 500 residents.
Townsite set high on the hillside


Old stamp mill headworks


Old building...never found out what it was!


Former hospital, now hotel
          Jerome was hopping with tourists today (it MUST still be spring break in plenty of places!), enough that we had no desire to find a parking place and explore. At the state park, we switched drivers and Rick took us over the top of Mingus Summit (circa 7000’), twelve miles of hairpin curves through rocks and old mining claims. We are NOT taking the trailer this way on Friday!! (Actually getting through Jerome would be worse than the summit road!) But the sight of forested pine slopes was welcome!
          On down into Prescott Valley and the town of Prescott itself. Granite dell rock outcroppings, lakes, and mini peaks mark the broad grassy valley. A call from Candy Arledge led to a brief respite in the parking lot of the local college. We checked out the downtown strip, with an impressive courthouse and park, changed drivers once again, and I drove us home via Route 69 and 169, to check out the route we WILL take on Friday!
Heading west over  Mingus pass, looking back to Verde Valley

Granite Dell rocks of Prescott, AZ

Beautiful man-made pond near up-scale housing!

Neat underpass art in Prescott
today's travels!
          After a quick stop at Frys for Rick to pick up some sinus drugs, we head to Mai Thai on Main Street for our second Thai dinner in three days! We both ordered the same thing as Sunday night, but found Mai Thai just a little ‘better’!! I brought home a few leftovers. We didn’t eat at Hog Wild BBQ, in spite of its clever slogan out front, “Eat IN or Pig OUT!”
          So, in spite of a quiet morning, we were still able to take the drive we hoped for today! Tomorrow, plans are to head up Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff and then visit Walnut Canyon National Monument just east!

Wednesday, April 4
Flagstaff! Lowell Observatory and Walnut Canyon National Monument
       
Just north of Sedona...a stop for a view!
 A full day of fun and adventure, both ‘out of this world’ and ancient times! We take off between 8:30 and 9am heading up 89a toward Sedona. Just a drive through town, as we will come back to hike Sedona tomorrow. But we travel on up 89A through Oak Creek Canyon, stopping at the bridge to take a few pictures, admire the view, and listen to some birds away from the highway. (And for Rick to discover the fattest agave ‘tree’ he has ever seen!)
Ging overlooking the canyon
          Oak Creek Canyon is filled with budding trees and bright green new growth, red rock cliffs on one side and the creek on the other. At the far end the road abruptly begins a series of hairpin curves to climb to the top of the mesa. We stop at the viewpoint at the top where Native Americans are displaying handcrafts. We end up purchasing a Christmas tree ornament made of pottery with horse hair d├ęcor and a metallic thread dreamcatcher woven in the front. Very unusual!
          On up 89A on a relatively flat plateau to the city of Flagstaff where we find the road up to Mars Hill and the Lowell Observatory. Percival Lowell, a multi-millionare at the end of the 19th Century, built the observatory in 1894 with the purpose of researching and discovering life on Mars. He was sure aliens were digging canals on the planet. While his reasoning may have been a bit off, his millions have funded a hot-bed for research in the hundred years since. It was here that Clyde Tombaugh, a 23 year old Kansas farmboy with a love for the stars, got a job as a groundskeeper in the late 1920’s and ended up ‘discovering’ the planet Pluto in 1930. We were able to see both telescopes, the original Clark scope and the later one used exclusively for photographic plates which Tombaugh used. The domes are all wood structures with a series of pulleys to open the ‘windows’. The Clark scope weighs over 6 tons yet is easily moved by the touch of a hand the balance is so precise with the counterweights. The dome at the Clark moves on 1950’s car tires, but is now electrified. We were awed by the precision of these old ‘scopes, predating the digital age and computer run programming. An excellent tour guide for both tours, a young man with a degree in geology who works at the observatory while researching planetary geology.
          From the observatory we head east toward Walnut Canyon, stopping at a Denney’s for some lunch!! Good meal.
          Walnut Canyon National Monument is located about 4 miles south of I-40. It was the home of the Singua People for about 400 years from 1000-1400 AD. The canyon is narrow and filled with a variety of vegetation, including a profusion of Arizona Walnut trees! We took the Island Trail, which drops about 200’ below the mesa edge (or about halfway down into the canyon), and then circles around a mesa located in the middle of a huge horseshoe bend in the ancient creekbed. (Little water now flows in the canyon due to dams upstream providing water for the city of Flagstaff.) We were able to see multiple cliff houses tucked into the canyon walls, both along the trail and across to the walls opposite. Fascinating.
          Two-hundred seventy three steps back UP to the top of the mesa! (Not counting all the steps on the island path as well!) Well worth the exertion, however.
          We drive back into town to the observatory again, hoping to perhaps catch one of the evening programs, or at least spend a little more time in the exhibit hall and grounds. The exhibit hall concentrates on asteroid research, and we take the galaxy and universe ‘walks’ out through the ponderosa pines. Like the Solar System walk we took earlier to get to the Pluto telescope, these are scaled. The solar system walk was 1 inch to x number of miles, the galaxy walk was more 1 inch to 5 light years, and the universe walk was 1 inch to 2 million light years! Whoa! All walks displayed bronze busts of the pillars of astronomy, ranging from Capernicus, ancient Arab astronomers, to recent modern scientists. Well done. A visit to the gift shop and we decide we had better head home, an hour’s drive away!
          I drive us back down I-17 and then across County Road 30 in the back way to Cottonwood and our RV park. Rest of evening filled with pictures and journal. Time for bed. We are hiking tomorrow!

Thursday, April 5
Cathedral Rock and Soldier Pass Loop
7+ miles of redrock trail!
          Whew! I suspect I will be sore tomorrow (both of us!) We headed back out Cornville Road this morning shortly after 8am to connec t with Beaver Flat Road to Hwy 179 that heads north into the Sedona area from the south. Quick route – Beaverflat cut off 3 sides of a square!
Through the multitude of traffic circles that mark Oak Creek Village and on to the dead end road through residential homes to the Cathedral Rock trailhead. Packed and it is only 9am!! We try the overflow parking and find ONE spot, kinda not on the pavement, but within the boundaries and we TAKE IT! There is a large group of foreigners who have parked 4 large Class C motorhomes along the road. (I couldn’t tell from where, just knew they weren’t speaking English!)
           This is advertised as a 1 mile UP (600’ elevation gain),to the base of the sheer tower of Cathedral Rock and then 1 mile DOWN. The cairns marking the trail are not your little duckpiles, but massive pillars of stone wired together. The trail is also marked with white slashes on the rock in many places. The hillside is dotted with multicolors of clothing as little bodies work their way UP.
          Eventually we wound up into the gap between two rock walls and came to the END of the TRAIL sign. Our view west to the mountains of Jerome and Verde Valley was marred somewhat by the low layer of smoke lingering in the valley. When we left this morning we were concerned that we wouldn’t get any good views today because HAZE was the forecast. But deep blue skies surround The Cathedral – it is more in the distance or toward the sun that colors are muted.
          We followed a path south from the END and found another slot to climb up for a great view of a single pillar, The Bell (a Sedona famous rock formation), and the Courthouse. The birds were darting all over the place – cliff swallows with homes in the rock walls.
          The way back down was actually easier than I feared. I didn’t even get my shorts TOO red from sliding down certain passages! In places we followed the marked trail, in others we found routes more desireable! Glad we did this hike early in the day as the sun was getting warm by the time we finished and you are exposed for most of the way.
           We then continued north on 179 into Sedona. We had heard from CHRPA folk that the Wildflower Bread Company right in the heart of ‘UPTown’ was THE place to eat, and any restaurant with ‘bread’ in its name has got to be good! However, finding a parking place in this section of town was laughable. Rick finally drove several blocks up a side street and found a little spot in which to tuck the truck. We walked back down to the “Forest Square” and found the cafe. An eclectic menu of healthy foods, sandwiches, salads, etc. I went out on a limb and ordered a Roasted Sweet Tater Sandwich with goat cheese, arugula, fig confit (I still don’t know exactly what that is!) and tomatoes on herb foccocia bread. Rick ordered Chicken Parmesan sandwich, which he said was good, but not as adventuresome as mine! My serving was so big that Rick ended up eating a fourth of it anyway!
          Our afternoon hike is a 5 mile loop out of the Soldier Pass trailhead. This little trailhead only fits 14 cars at a time – any more and you risk being towed. Thank God someone was leaving shortly after we pulled in! We were also grateful that within the next hour more clouds drifted in and blocked some of the sun. VERY welcome relief when you are starting a hike in the heat of the day!
          This loop trail begins at the base of THE SPHINX and then heads up through manzanita, cypress, juniper and agave forest between two redrock walls to a pass on Bryn’s Mesa. Near the beginning we came to a massive sinkhole – part of which collapsed a hundred years ago, and another part within the past ten years! The hole is about 50’ deep average. Once on top of the mesa we had views to more walls of strata rock north of Sedona. This area is a wilderness area. The mesa was a broad section of terrain, dotted with small bushes and agave plants. But the trail DOWN from the mesa was not of the quality coming up….and we were getting tired! The views weren’t quite as good.
          The last two sections of trail – Cibola Pass and Jordan Trail – were a little more interesting and brought us back around to some of our original views. One rock formation Rick and I named The Router, because it looked like the tool. We met a couple from Maine up on top of the mesa – they were heading back down Soldier Pass Trail, while we were continuing the loop. Amazing that we both finished up our hikes at the same time back at the SinkHole! We had a good visit with them and I shared some of our watermelon when we got back to the truck.
Back to Cottonwood, enjoying a phone call with Margaret until I lost reception. We found a little Mexican Food Truck set up next to the RV park, so Rick got a breakfast burrito and I a shrimp taco for dinner! Good!
          We close up much of the trailer with plans to get an early start in the morning. All hitched up and ready to roll!

Friday, April 6
Cottonwood, AZ to Wells, NV
680 miles
          Whoa….this was a LONG day! We got our early start around 6:45am as we pulled out of Cottonwood. We pulled into the motel in Wells, NV, at 8:30pm, 680 miles later! We passed Pickett’s RV at 2:30pm in Alamo, which was our intended destination. With heavy rains all day Saturday and west winds predicted Sat afternoon, we decided to push ahead and put the miles behind us. I will say Rick found the final 75 miles into Wells in the dark a challenge and credits God’s travel mercies for guiding us in. I just knew I was glad I wasn’t driving once it got dark!
       
Lines of strata north of Vegas


  Otherwise, nothing particularly amazing about the day. We went the southern route via Hwy 169 into Prescott and Chino Valley, enroute to I-40 at Ash Fork. I took the wheel there and drove to Kingman. We picked up dollar items at the Mickey D’s there. Rick drove us to the Pilot on the north side of Las Vegas. I will note that the wildflowers between Kingman and Vegas were beautiful, especially just south of Hoover Dam – purples, yellows, and reds. North of Vegas we hit a long stretch of road construction, including a brief stop to wait for a pilot car. In Alamo we gassed up (AGAIN….6 times today we filled up with gas!) and switched drivers. I drove another 100 miles, but Rick took over again before we got to Ely. Subway sandwich while I made reservations for us in Wells at a motel – we decided if we drove this much we could spring for comfort tonight!
          I drove for about 40 miles out of Ely, but stopped at the rest area to let Rick take over as it was getting dark. All in all….a day of many miles and many blessings for safe travel!! Home tomorrow!
Our route home
          We stayed at the Sharon Motel – an older one just across from the Crossroads RV Park we stayed in last year. Nothing fancy, no breakfast or coffee, but clean and relatively inexpensive! The bed was a little saggy, but we were too tired to notice too much!

Saturday, April 7
Wells to Baker City
365 miles
          Up at 6am to try and beat the switch of the winds from SE to W later in the day! The clouds were low and a light drizzle was falling, but we were coffee’d up at the Love’s and on our way by 6:50.
          Rick drove through some good rain the 120+ miles into Filer, ID (just west of Twin Falls). We like this little cut-off that saves going into Twin and brings us up to the interstate 20 miles to the west. Shortly after getting on the freeway, the rains had stopped and I drove us about 90 miles to the rest area just east of Boise. Might have gone further, but I NEEDED the rest area!!! We had a GREAT tail wind pushing us along as we headed northwest toward Boise!
           Rick cruised us through Boise, but just before Ontario we saw a black line across the skies and DARK clouds. We drove into a wall of rain just before crossing the Snake River. If the rain had been that heavy the whole way, we would have been in trouble! As it was, it only lasted about 5 minutes and we drove out of the downpour and into regular rainfall. A quick gas up in Ontario and we now face more of a headwind enroute to Baker City (the winds are starting their shift!) But blue skies overhead most of the way up the Burnt River Canyon.
          Springtime in the Burnt River is gorgeous and today is no exception. The hills are green, the light is highlighting all the rocks, the colors deepened with the dampness of the recent rain. Fields of tiny purple flowers in places. No yellow balsam root yet, but the willows are turning their beautiful shades of orange and deep red. We catch glimpses of the snowy Elkhorns in the distance.
Not a clear Elkhorn view, but enough to say HOME!
          Home around 1:30pm, a full day ahead of schedule, but we avoided MOST of the storms! We shall pretend we aren’t here and rest up! Trailer unloaded and we are taking a short ‘stretch the legs’ walk by 3:30pm along the pathway….watching the dark clouds of the next storm gather to the north!
          Thanks to Liz who loaned me one of her audio books last fall.  We listened to the book from Kingman on and it sure helps the miles go by.  Unfortunately we didn't finish the book before we pulled into Baker, so now we need to wrap it up!  

TOTAL TRIP MILES: 4271
Total Trailer Miles: 2868
Total Nights: 39
Nights in Trailer: 36
Average Cost per Day: $73.31