Wheres Ray/Wendy yr 2

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!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

History lessons

Hi all,
  GRRR I will try this again- I had post complete and when I hit the save it flipped to some yahoo page and all that got saved was Hi all.
  We completed another work week at busy Roper Lake. Saturday and Sunday we do maintenance. Saturday was spent picking up trash for the 4-1/2hr shift and Sunday we helped clean cabins and then cleaned our loops sites. Monday and Tuesday in the visitor center were slow so I spent time sweeping down cobwebs on outside walls and cleaning windows.
  Our weather has been holding in the mid 70s, although the weekend forecast is rain and cooler temps.
  Wednesday we adventured to Fort Bowie National Historic Site. It is located 12 miles south of I10 about 45 miles from here. To view the fort requires a 1-1/2 mile hike on what was originally a wagon road built by soldiers. The area has numerous historic tales of battles with Cochise and Geronimo. The fort was built to protect Apace Pass and Apache Springs a known reliable water source. The trail is well marked with many signs telling of significant happenings that occurred.
Butterfield Overland Mail Stage Station ruins
  The fort was abandoned in 1894 and all that remains today are footings of many of the 38 structures.
 Along the trail is a well maintained cemetery, they have a nice pamphlet telling of most of those buried here. It really shows how rough things were as how short most of their lives were.
  We took the scenic return route which took you up a hillside to some beautiful vistas of the area. A bit of a climb but well worth it. As we got near the bottom I rounded some trees and met up with a good size javelina. It stood looking at us for a nice picture but then took a couple steps in our direction giving Wendy a bit of a scare. It then just sauntered off into the brush.
  It was a great hike probably getting in a good four miles with some extra views we took in. The peanut butter and jelly sandwiches really tasted great at the end;)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Gila Box

Hi again,
  We have been so busy with work. Okay maybe I should rephrase that, we have been busy lookin busy. Those that know us well know that is not our way. But working the visitor center when only a few people are entering the park can make for some thumb twiddling time. I spent time one day sweeping inside and outside. Hopefully we get some maintenance jobs that will keep us busy.
 On Thursday we took a drive to Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area. This is located 20 miles northeast of Safford. And goody-more dirt roads.)
 The Gila Box is a 22,000 acre oasis in the desert. It has four perennial waterways- the Gila and San Francisco rivers and Bonita and Eagle creeks. It contains mesquite and cottonwood trees along grand buffed-colored cliffs. There are a couple campgrounds and some nice picnic areas. There is also a put in and take out area for river trips. The area is also popular for birding and wildlife viewing.
 Our goal was to hike the Cottonwood Trail which begins at the Riverview campground. It is a 2-3 mile hike that connects recreation and historical sites. It was a great day and we were the only hikers there. We still love taking pics and marvel at all the cacti.
 Being quiet on the trail paid off when we surprised a troop of Coatimundi. Wow, how cool seeing about 10-12 of these raccoon looking animals. Our Ranger had told us about seeing some on Mt. Graham, before that had never heard of them.
On the route back to camp, we watched while they baled up some cotton. Maybe not exciting for some but to us from WI it is something.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Roper Lake and Dankworth Pond

Hi all,
  A little more info on our park. Roper Lake State Park is a combination of two parks. The main area holds the visitor center, 30 acre Roper Lake, and 50 site campground. It also has a group camp area along with eight cabins.
 The second part is a day use area named Dankworth Pond. It has a 18 acre pond and picnic area. It also has a 2 mile hiking trail. The trail leads through two arroyos and up to a recreated Indian village. The village contains replicas of dwellings, grinding stones, roasting pits and other artifacts. Sadly the village is currently not being maintained.
 Dankworth Pond had been just newly reopened. Cattails had taken over the pond making any use impossible. In a joint effort with the State and Wildlife and Game the pond was drained and dredged removing the cattails and scrub from the area. They have refilled and are now in the process of restocking. They will be holding a grand reopening ceremony in December.
 We survived our first few days on the job. We were a bit worried as the weekend was almost full. Veterans Day is a Arizona school holiday bringing out the families for the three day weekend. Friday we got surprised as they posted our work schedule for November. Turns out we will be getting three days off a week. When we took the job we were told it would be visitor center with some light maintenance. We are actually scheduled to work two days in the visitor center and two days in maintenance. The maint. jobs will be various tasks, The park manager keeps a list of projects he would like done and you pick what you're capable of. We may also assist cabin cleaning if needed. They showed us around the work shop where we could find tools for whatever we need. They have a very open system to just take whatever you need. We also have use of a Kubota utility vehicle and trucks if needed. The schedule should be good as many days the visitor center is very slow and time will really drag. So now Wendy and I get to plan for three days of what to do or see (oh darn).
  Talking about jobs and planning, Wendy and I have decided to return to Custer State Park for the summer. It was a hard decision as going back to one place when there are so many places to see and explore. We are doing it a bit different this year, I will be the camphost at Stockade North campground. It is smaller than Game Lodge campground so I should be able to handle alone. Wendy will be applying for a paid attendant job. We had discussed this with the supervisor and he was all ok with it. Wendy will work 24-32 hrs.and have off the same days. We put a lot of thought in this and think we can make it work. We kid that Wendy will be working for some new tires for the truck.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Work n Play

Hi again,
  We have had five days in training and after our two days off will be on our own Friday. The job consist of manning the main gate, registering incoming, and tending the small gift shop. Oh, we also man the phones. They do keep close tabs on everyone using the park, even if they have annual passes we must enter all in the computer. I think once we get going Wendy and I will work out a good system.
  At times it can be slow and we will do some cleaning of the area. We will need to bring a book or something to do with some idle time. It seems the park, like many, gets very little weekday use and busy on weekends. We do see many one or two nighters on there way to somewhere a bit warmer.  They schedule two shifts, 8:00 to 12:30 and 12:30 to 5:00. We are short a couple volunteers but once they arrive we will probably get three days off.  The area is touted as a good birding area so we will learn what we can on that. For us it works best to get a camera shot and then check the book back at the camper to identify.
Great Blue Heron

American Coot
 The lake had not been producing any catches and they were waiting for the weather to cool for restocking. Great news on Tuesday they stocked 775 trout. Once word gets out the fishermen will flock here.(so don't tell anyone!)
  So for our first day off we set off for the Black Hills Back Country Byway. The byway is located about 12 northeast of Safford off of Hwy 191. It is a gravel and sometimes narrow road 21 miles long. They have a nice pamphlet that you can follow along with on the drive. It states the drive will take 2 hours and speed is 15mph. We had gorgeous sunny day and all day, so we took our time stopping frequently. Wendy was happy there was little traffic today as some of the road is mountainous and confined by steep drop offs on one side.
  The road was built by prisoners from 1914 to 1920. Ruins of a old prison camp and prisoner graves can be seen. Also the CCC worked on parts of the road from 1935 to 1937.
 Marker said- Convict Shot 1916
 For a good part of the drive the Phelps Dodge Copper mine is in view. It is located at the end in the town of Morenci. It encompasses 50 square miles and is the biggest copper producer in the US. More than 16 Billion pounds of copper have been produced by this operation.

  The drive was fun and the scenery awesome. We finished the day getting a good dinner at Casa Manana in Safford.

Friday, November 1, 2013

From Mexico to Canada

Howdy y'all,
       Wendy was teasing me that I start all the blogs the same, so I'll show her.)
  We are getting settled in here and trying to remember all the new names. We had just pulled in and learned they were having a pot luck dinner and we were welcome to come. It was to celebrate one volunteer couples 60 year anniversary and also say good bye to a couple who have been here for a time. It was a mix of the volunteers and paid staff, probably about 20 people. We had a good meal and was a good chance to get introduced. Most of the volunteers are returns, that is a good sign.
  As the volunteer coordinator was going to be off for the next couple days she said we would start training on Friday. It gave us a chance to check out a couple things. Wednesday we made a trip to town to see Safford. It's about 6 miles from the park. We found it an ok looking town, big enough to have a Super Walmart and the popular fast food joints. I also spied a Home Depot so we should be good.
  Thursday looked to be a clear day so we thought we would drive up the nearby Pinaleno Mountains. The drive on Hwy. 366 has been designated a scenic parkway- Swift Trail. Some say it is like driving from Mexico to Canada in an hour and a half. Well we took much longer than that.
 The road takes you from 3000 feet of elevation to over 9000 feet. Mount Graham the fourth highest peak in AZ at 10,720 ft is in view. The road also closes from Nov 15 to April 15 so a good thing to get this in asap. The road was created by pioneers, forest service and the Civilian Conservation Corp. It starts out paved for 21 miles then 14 miles of gravel. Some of the gravel road had us bouncing pretty good and that at 10-15 mph. There are numerous camping areas along the way, although these are rough without elec. And as it is up a mountain, the longest trailer length allowed is 22 feet.
 The drive was stunning. We were happy that there was little traffic so we could drive our pace and pull over as we wanted. We saw some wildlife- whitetail deer and Aberts squirrels.
  The drive ends at Riggs Flatt Lake. A good size shallow man made lake that gets stocked with trout. We picnicked at the lake then headed back down. Although it is a long slow ride the views made it well worth the effort.