Wheres Ray/Wendy yr 2

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The End is Approaching

Hi all,
  Hope everyone had a great Christmas, now we all can plan on New Year celebrations and those resolutions that we never keep.
 It has been a busy week at the park. Our 25 site loop is almost full with people on Christmas breaks. The weather has been pretty steady 60 during the day and 34 at night.
 We enjoyed a nice quiet Christmas, skyping with the kids on Christmas eve, and chatting with other family on Christmas day.
 We are down to our last month here and discussions of where and what we will do are occurring daily. Hitch itch is near:). We had a new volunteer arrive on the site next to us, A single lady with a little puppy. Wendy is a bit disappointed as we lost most of our lake view, but at least we had the view for two of our months here.
 People are asking if we will return already. We think it is a nice area and the job and coworkers are great, but we have explored about everything in decent driving range so we are leaning toward not returning. Anyone looking for a nice quiet park with mountain and lake views ,( and best- a natural spring hot tub) let us know we will get you the contact.
 I did get out fishing the other day and brought home a couple nice catfish. I have to admit it was the first time I ever cleaned a catfish. Most of my fishing had been walleyes, northern, bluegills, and crappie. I did pretty good if I must say so myself, we will fry' em up later this week.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Dankworth Pond

Happy Holidays,
  I think we are finally ready for Christmas. The group here went out for a nice Christmas dinner. We went to a nearby steakhouse and had good food and camaraderie.(sorry we forgot the camera)
 We did get some fresh snow on the mountain, I told Wendy we should drive up and make a snowman. Maybe that's what we will do on Christmas. Otherwise it will be a quiet day for us, chatting with the kids and hitting the hot tub. We will cook up a small ham on X-mas eve and a breakfast casserole for X-mas morning.
 The park has been pretty slow with only a couple campers a day coming in. I guess that is the norm this time of year.
  It is a good time to spruce up the park. The cabins all got fresh stain and we continue to paint electrical pedestals and posts. Wendy and I also did some trim painting in the visitor center.
 Last Saturday we had a grand reopening of our Dankworth Ponds. This is a small day use area located 3 miles from Roper Lake.  Dankworth had been closed for two years in which time the drained and dredged removing the over crowded cattails. This was a joint effort of different agencies so the reopening ceremony was to recognize those involved.
We had a super weather day for it, 65 sunny with no wind. Wendy and I went to man the gate, although it was a free event we were to greet and keep a headcount for the day. We had a pretty good turnout of about 100 people. They also were offering a archery beginner class, fishing clinic and our junior ranger program, made for a good family day.
  Our day off adventure took us to Cluff Ponds. Located only about 15 miles from Safford. It is operated by AZ Fish and Game. It has hiking, primitive camping and a good sized stocked pond. The area looked to us as not getting much attention. They had a unmanned visitor center with no relevant information on the area. Wendy had taken a picture of a sign when we got to the area and we found ourselves bringing up the pic to find out where we were. The trails didn't look marked so with no map we just drove around. I did try to fish for a bit but no luck today.
 I guess sometimes we find great places and sometimes it turns out to be just a day out. Like anything you never know unless you try.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

the Wonderland of Rocks

Happy Holidays,
 Yeah I know, posts are starting to only be once per week but as busy as everybody is at this time of year, we think that's enough. You really don't want to read about someone grocery shopping or eating out at Mc Ds, right?
 But when we do something cool we want to share it. This week we drove to the Chiricahua National Monument. Ooh- another stamp for Wendy's book and what a great place.
 It is located 35 miles south of I10 out of Wilcox, for us it was about a 80 mile drive.
 We got a early start heading out at 8:00am, well that is early for us.)  As we drove down we came into some thick fog in Wilcox. As we drove on we then looked at the trucks outdoor thermometer and it had dropped from 42 to 27. What in the world? We drove for about 10 miles in the fog then just as fast as it appeared it was gone. We then found ourselves in a very tall grassland. You could see the mountains in the distance and the grassland rolled flatly up to them.
  The Chiricahua is known as The Land of Standing Rocks. It was established a monument in 1924.  It is a sky island formed from volcanic eruptions 27 million years ago. This is a amazing place as plants and animals from for ecosystems meet here. Northern slopes offer Ponderosa and Douglas fir- typical of the Rocky Mountains. Sunny southern slopes have Apache Pine and Mexican pinyon pine. Cactus as prickly pear and stool from the Sonoran Desert. Lichens of bright green adorn rock pinnacles along with ferns in shaded areas.
 Animals as whitetail deer, Chiricahua fox squirrel, coatimundi and 3 types of skunks. It is also a birders paradise for the many different species.
Mexican jay
 But the biggest spectacle of all is the rocks. Large groups of columns, tall pinnacles, and numerous balancing rocks. Not just a few but hundreds.
 There are some nice hiking trails thanks to the work of the CCC in mid to late '30s. We chose the Echo Canyon loop trail, a 3-1/5 mile hike through spectacular rock formations into Echo Park and back up. We bundled up a bit as it was only 38 degrees when we started out. And thanks goodness Wendy threw in our gloves just in case. But the sun warmed us and when not in the wind it felt nice
Our necks were literally sore from looking up at the stone monuments all around. As we walked along we thought this is exactly what we wanted in our lives. Seeing and exploring some little known gems of places. We are truly blessed and there is so much more.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Search for Saguaro

Happy holidays,
 Trying to get in the spirit of the season, we fashioned a snowman and reindeer for outside. We got wood from the woodpile, used some old paint and for a $1.00 hat- walla! Wendy also decorated nicely inside.
  We attended the local light parade on Sat. night. Even with chilly 45 degree temp there was a good turnout. It was a short parade, probably over in 30 min. We thought it was decent but were surprised to no candy being throw. Whats a parade without some candy for the kids? Oh I suppose some rule made up for safety, a sign of the times.
  Our weeks are starting to fly by, we are about halfway through our stint here. We have begun talking about what we'll do after we leave here. We should have a good amount of time to explore Arizona. We finish here Feb. 1 and will not start in South Dakota til mid May.
  We took a  drive the other day visiting Tonto National Monument. This was about 100 mi. northwest of Safford in the Tonto National Forest.  It was nice and cool day for a ride we got all excited seeing our first saguaro cactus in the area. Soon they were everywhere. These magnificent cacti can grow to 50 feet. Saguaro take between 50 and 100 years to grow their first arm and some never grow arms. You really get the wild west feeling driving through them.
  The monument contains two large cliff dwellings. One is a 1/2 mile hike through a cactus garden, while the other is shown only with a ranger led tour. In 1907 President Roosevelt declared them a monument to protect them from destruction.
 Also along the route is the Theodore Roosevelt Lake ( 3rd largest reservoir in AZ) and the Roosevelt bridge. The bridge is the longest two-lane single-span steel arch bridge in North America.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thats a first

Hi all,
 Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. Ours brought many firsts for us- it was the first not spent with some family, we really missed the tradition of the family gathering. It was the first time we ate out, although I'm sure Wendy appreciated the first time not spent all day in the kitchen. For me the first not watching football, Wendy did say we could go find a bar to watch it.
  We had planned cooking and even bought a big 8-1/2# bird to cook but when a co host asked if we wanted to go out we thought sure. We will cook up our bird later this week. It is taking up our whole freezer,)
  We did have a nice dinner with Bob and Rose, they are camped in the other loop. Originally from Illinois, Bob has hosted here for 4 years. It is Roses first year as she continued working a couple more years. Also joining us for dinner was  seasonal ranger Roger and his 19 yr. old son Nick. Nick does volunteer work in the park. They live in a state provided trailer in the campground.
 Friday Wendy got to drag me to a local craft sale. Later we attended the Safford tree lighting. They will be having a lighted Christmas parade on Dec. 7. I'm sure it will be just like Mukwonago's parades, just smaller, oh and about 50 degrees warmer.
 We also got in a mountain drive to Bonita. It was a nice ride although not much in Bonita. For excitement we checked out the cemetery. We then just drove some rough gravel roads and took a leisure walk.
Interesting small cemetery. Looked like a child was buried here. Yes those are swings.
 I did our Nov. budget and wow what a roller coaster. In Oct we had spent $1000. on fuel, in Nov.  a  whopping $143. Well we did drive over 1800 mi to get here. I guess once we got here we didn't want to leave. It also helps the budget with no camping cost. You really have to realize it is a budget for the year and not by month.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Hi all,
   The weather here has really cooled off, maybe not as bad as good ol' Wisconsin but darn cold for AZ. We have had some rare rain and frost warnings at night. Good thing we have 50 amp service and are giving the elec. heaters a workout. We usually just run the furnace in the morning a bit to warm it up.
  We did get snow up on the mountains, making it very picturesque. Wendy was jumping out of bed to get some early shots.
  We did take a short random drive north of Safford the other day. Just seeing some more of the area. Seems all the roads are bordered by mountain ranges. Not big but still leaves us in awe and saying we thought Arizona would be more flat. Just weird how you get a picture in your mind of a place and then find out how different it actually is.
  We joined the local library and have been hitting it up hard for movies. They have a couple thousand dvds and we can take five out for three weeks. Heck with tv reception not coming in most nights we will probably see the whole collection. They have a couple locations for redbox in Safford and we signed up to that. Still fighting the need for dish tv, but its getting to be a battle.
   Looks like we will be dining out for Thanksgiving. We had bought a small turkey but then a coworker asked us to join them going out. We figured what the heck- we will cook the turkey another day.
American White Pelicans

                We want to wish everyone out there a Happy Thanksgiving!