April 14, 2011

During the last week of rv adventures at Casino del Sol there were a couple of days with terrific winds. Mehitabel rocked pretty hard, but managed to keep her wheels on the ground.

One morning I sat with my coffee and looked at the beautiful big Allegro parked in front of me. I had seen the folks going to and from the Casino – they looked to be in their late 70s. Their rig was facing mine and I could see into it as their front curtains were not completely closed. I thought they were dancing, but as I continued to watch, it became clear they were exercising. They kept it up for a good half hour, bouncing up and down, jumping one way then the other, flinging their arms over their heads and down again. Their rv was rocking quite a bit and they looked as though they were having a good time – they were certainly having a good workout. I imagined this kind of activity would help them continue having rv adventures for a good while to come.

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Tucson Artisans Market

The Spring Artisans Market was at the Tucson Museum of Art the last weekend of March so I headed in to see it one morning, wandering for a couple of hours, enjoying the bright colors and sunshine. I lingered in one stall to look more closely at some watercolors. The two women artists sharing the stall were talking with each other, and one began telling a story about her 98-year-old uncle who still got up every morning and did woodworking. At that point we all got talking about what an inspiration her uncle is and how important it is to have a purpose, something you love to do, in your later years. It can make a huge difference in your health and longevity.

On the 27th of March, I moved up to Catalina State Park for two nights. This is a very nice park north of the city; there are large rv sites with electric and water hookups as well as dry-camp sites, very clean restrooms and wonderful showers. It sits at the foot of Pusch Ridge, a line of craggy mountains, razorback ridges and deep canyons – all part of the Coronado National Forest. Gnarled mesquite trees, still without leaves, are everywhere in the park and the nearby hills are dotted with saguaros. It was so very dry – the effects of a mostly rainless winter are evident.

Catalina State Park, Tucson, AZCatalina State Park, Tucson, AZ

On the 29th, I drove north up to Phoenix, then on to Cliff Castle Casino in Camp Verde for two nights, where I visited with friends Tom and Myra who were having an rv adventure camp-hosting at Distant Drums RV Park. We had dinner at the casino the first night – yummy fried zucchini and peppers, then grilled Atlantic salmon which was very good. To top it off, the three of us shared “chocolate sin cake” and turtle cheesecake for dessert – a major overindulgence, but worth every bite.

Note:  The casino was nice and the food was good, but parking for RVs is limited here.

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The Grand Hotel, Jerome, AZ

The next day we took a trip in their jeep up to Jerome, a former copper mining town built into the side of the Mingus Mountains and now inhabited mostly by artists. The photo on the left is of the Grand Hotel (actively haunted) in Jerome. We wandered around for awhile, then drove up and over the Mingus Mountains and down the other side – 158 curves in 12 miles – to see Prescott and Prescott Valley, where they intend to buy a house.

More RV Adventures and a New Job

On the 31st I continued north on I-17 toward Flagstaff and the snow-covered San Francisco Peaks, then on I-40 East, watching the Peaks disappear in my rearview mirror, to Petrified Forest (PEFO) where my next rv adventure, and what would turn out to be my favorite volunteer position, would take place. There was a cookout that evening hosted by Todd, one of the rangers. He grilled teriyaki chicken and steak, corn on the cob and potatoes and also had big salads. Apparently, Todd likes to party and he is an excellent cook. I met quite a few of the rangers as well as the very few volunteers.

Believe it or not, my new tire went flat as a pancake and I had to buy another. It turned out it had a cut/split on the very inside edge under the rim so was leaking air – no way to fix it. That made three new tires in a month, plus the bodywork on the RV’s rear bumper – I hoped that would be the end of my rv misadventures for awhile.

Black Forest Beds in Petrified Forest National Park

Black Forest Beds in the Painted Desert

I have seen the following birds in the park so far: Say’s phoebe, white-crowned sparrows, chipping sparrows, killdeer, ravens, goldfinches, brown-headed cowbirds, American crows, a golden eagle and a Northern Harrier. I've also seen several pronghorn, a family of cottontails that live next to our campground and a couple of crazy-looking black-tailed jackrabbits. I heard coyotes, but so far they are staying out of sight.

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On April 9th, it snowed most of the day – wet snow with no real accumulation. But by early the next morning the temperature dropped into the low 20s and it must have snowed more, because I woke up to about ½” of fluffy white stuff on my car and picnic table. I drove out to one of the lookouts at 7:30 to take photos before it melted.

Cottontail Rabbit in the SnowCottontail on a Snowy Morning

Petrified Forest is quite beautiful and very different from Organ Pipe. The only mountains are distant; there are no saguaros or organ pipe cactus. Instead there is lots of sagebrush and grasses, a few prickly pear, yucca and cholla on the mesas, very little vegetation in the so-called badlands. It is extremely windy most of the time – they told me the wind stops on June 1 and it has been known to gust 70+ mph. I was a little anxious about the possibility of Mehitabel being blown over, an rv adventure I did not wish to experience, but apparently it hadn’t happened to any of the volunteers yet.

There was a good NPR radio station, plus good cell and internet signals at my site. Only one TV station which I didn’t bothered to watch. I was presented with a backpack containing 40-50 lbs. of books (on loan) when I arrived and got busy learning so I could start doing interpretive programs. The learning curve for this rv adventure was quite a bit higher than what was required for cleaning bathrooms and collecting trash.

Pilot Rock and the Badlands at Petrified Forest NPPilot Rock and the Badlands of the Painted Desert

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