Wheres Ray/Wendy yr 2

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

Hi everyone,
  Hope you all had a great Christmas. Ours will be one to remember. Ray came down with a upper respiratory infection which put him in the hospital in Safford for two nights. His oxygen levels were low. He was released on Christmas morning and was so happy to be back in his recliner recuperating.
  The Friday before Christmas, we went out for a Christmas dinner with 12 other volunteers and employees from the park. Had a great time.
  On Saturday we took a drive over to Tucson for some shopping. It's about 120 miles but didn't seem to bad of a drive. We'll probably take a few more trips that way.
  Time has gone fast here. We are half way through our stay here. We still have a few places we want to see around this area. We'll have to start planning our travels to the western parts of AZ and UT this spring.
  Hard to believe another year is coming to a end. We had a lot of great times with family, old friends and new ones. We visited many wonderful places. We're looking forward to enjoying many more adventures in 2016.
  We hope everyone has a very Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays

Just wanted to wish everyone Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Busy at Bisbee

Hi all,
 Seems December camping is not on many peoples minds as the campground has been pretty quiet lately. We worked in the office the other day and had no incoming reservations. That makes a pretty slow day. I started to read a book and Wendy was able to get some basketry work done, pretty rough I know.)
 Wednesday we had a pot luck Christmas dinner with all the volunteers and staff. Ooh so good, ham and fixins and about 7 different deserts. Of course I made sure I didn't hurt any ones feelings and tried them all. I could have used a wheelbarrow ride to get home.)
 I had missed an event in the last post where a few of us ventured to hear a Christmas concert. Eclipse 6 is a six man acapella group from Utah that has performed here yearly. They sang some Christmas favorites and mix of other music entertaining all ages. They closed it off with a original Christmas piece. I didn't have my phone but if you are interested you can hear some of their stuff on Utube. A good way to get more Christmas spirit, a good time was had by all. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqZMfBVI49AEclipse 6's photo.
  We took a ride after work one day to the Hot Wells Dune area. A primitive camping area on BLM land that is popular to the four wheelers and dirt bikes in the dunes. One neat side is there are two hot tubs that are fed by a solar pump. They look pretty fancy and out of place here in the desert surrounding. Different from our hot tub in Roper Lake the temp is hotter, 104 compared to our 95. We like ours better as at 104 you really cant stay in to long.
 On the way home as dusk was just setting in we had two bobcats run in front of us shocking the heck out of us. They of course didn't want to pose for any pics but what a thrill to have seen.
 Friday we took a ride with Bob and Rose down to the town of Bisbee. We had toured some of the town two years ago but it was the first time for them. Bisbee is south and only 10 miles to Mexico.    It was built by a large copper mine that began in 1917 and active until 1974. It is now becoming known for the many art and antique shops. It is pretty unique in how it is built into the mountainous setting. We browsed through some of the shops and had a nice lunch just outside town. 


Saturday, December 5, 2015

What do volunteers do??

Hi all,
Remember us?  Sorry a bit late on this but I was waiting til after this weekends events to write a post.
 Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, we enjoyed a nice turkey meal out with a few of the other volunteers. We do miss having the day with family but admit it's kinda nice not having to do the cooking and cleaning- I know we're bad.
 So what do volunteers do here at Roper Lake. The campground was full for the holiday and we volunteered an extra day on Sunday to help out. We have been doing some cabin cleaning which to us is a piece of cake after doing cabins at Suwannee River. These are just sleeping cabins with no bathrooms and cooking done outside. We have also taken on the chore of weekly scrubbing of the hot tub. Usually those are jobs done by the park rangers but they are short handed so we like being able to help out. That and it beats pruning and weeding.    
 We spent a little time to decorate our site.
 This week we have been busy helping to decorate a float for the Christmas light parade on Saturday.
They have not entered a float in a few years but with a new manager something she wanted to do. We tried to show all aspects of the park from cabins, to fishing, and even our hot tub.  

This was ours.
 I know I said we would be taking more drives to get out but with the holiday and such we just haven't got to do them. We do try to get a daily walk in usually around the lake. Nice seeing all the different birds fly in although they are the most photogenic when we don't have the camera.

 We did do a short ride to Wilcox for lunch with Rose and Bob. The Big Tex BBQ in an old train car is a favorite spot of many here. We also checked out a  book store there with great deals on used books.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Keeping busy in Arizona

Hi all,
Pretty busy week for us, we got in a drive to Globe with co volunteers Bob and Rose last Friday. Globe is about 70 miles northwest and gets you into the lane of saguaro cactus.
We wanted to visit the Pickle Barrel a indoor- outdoor decorative store with some antique items and you never know what else you may find store. A neat old time place that is fun to walk about.
 We checked out a couple other shops on the main street enjoying ourselves but not buying much. We then had a nice lunch at an Italian restaurant.
 Along the way home Bob drove us to see a old impressive dam that had been built back in 1927. The work and artistry that was put into the dam was pretty impressive and finding it at this out of the way location seemed surreal.

 On Wednesday the volunteers and staff gathered for a pot luck turkey dinner. Pot lucks are great and a fun get together, we were all stuffed when we left.
 Thursday during our shift I stepped out to register a incoming camper and after I write the vehicle license number down I realize it was a South Dakota number and from the same county we are registered to. Well as I look up I find it is Al and Nancy, a couple who we have volunteered with in Custer the past three years. They knew we had worked at the park previously and were just stopping to check it out for possible future work.
 Wendy and I stopped over to visit later and we decided to get together for a drive the next day. We headed to the Gila Box Riparian Area.  A 2300 acre area with four waterways feeding through it making a refuge for birds and wildlife.

 We drove the narrow winding rode grateful not running into any other traffic. We stopped a bunch of times taking some short walks enjoying the sunny warm day.  After we stopped at Casa Manana in Safford for some good Mexican fare.
  Al and Nancy are from Minnesota had started at Custer the same year as us, went full time as we did, and are our age so we seemed to have some good stories to swap. They had been working exclusively  in the visitor center at Custer and are planning to host in one of the campgrounds this year. It was fun getting to know them better and we look forward to meeting up with them again down the road.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ride to Wilcox

Hi all,
We started our work schedule this week, Monday and Tuesday were our maintenance days. Our first assignment was clearing the overgrowth along a couple path ways. There is a nasty fern like plant that grows fast and gets very thick. We also cleaned fire pits and did some trimming around a few sites. The second day was finishing up pruning and cleaning the walkway to the day use island.
 We found out one thing, we are out of shape! We have been walking quite a bit but bending and raking left us pretty sore, we both were hitting the advil. Oh well I guess it should be a good exercise plan for us as the holidays approach.
 Our plan while here is to at least once a week take an interesting drive to a hike or something. This week we headed to a drive we had done before that crosses Mt. Graham on the south side across the Coronada National Forest. We got a nice sunny day with a good breeze, pretty much the norm so far.
 We didn't get a chance to hike as there were quite a few hunters about so we thought maybe not a good time.
 We remembered an old cemetery that was a bit off the main road so we thought something to check out. It sure looked to need some TLC, quite a bit of tall grass growing about. Still it was neat as one of the areas was dedicated to a young girl and contained a swing set and many toys.
 Instead of returning on our drive the way we came we decided to drive towards Wilcox and circle back. The map showed the road may be dirt but we thought who cares. I had just cleaned the truck so that is about right. Turns out the road was all paved.)
 The area turns into a large flat expanse and a big agricultural area. We had seen large green houses from the mountain top and now got to see them close up.
greenhouses from top of Mt. Graham
Wow, more green house than we had ever seen we looked for a sign to see if we could find out what they grow. We found the sign said Nature Sweet Tomatoes and employ 700 employees with the biggest sell being the small cherry tomatoes you get in plastic containers. Wendy looked up the place online and found out it was 318 acres of green house, pretty impressive.

 We also saw groves of pecan trees, and fields of corn. I got excited and had to get a picture of the chili peppers in one field. I really had to resist just grabbing a bunch and running.) Not that I would ever do anything like that.

 After that we ended up in Wilcox and found a local Mexican restaurant for lunch. Wilcox is a small old looking town. Most stores were closed and we decided that we could explore it another day.
 Our drive home was back on I-10 and up 191 nothing exciting.  Overall we had a good day and enjoyed some new sights.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Roper Lake State Park

Hi all,
 We're finally here, Roper Lake State Park 6 miles south of Safford AZ. our home until March.
While it is nice to see new places there is something about returning to a place where you spent a time that brings a smile.
 We actually drove in a bit of a different route this time driving up Hwy 70 from Lordsburg. It was quite scenic reaffirming why we need to spend more time here.

 Pulling in we got a nice welcome from Michelle, who two years ago was the assistant park manager and volunteer coordinator. She has interviewed for the now open manager position and hopefully will receive good news soon.
 We got a different site this year and it looks pretty good. It does have a nice shade tree that blocks our mountain view some but not to bad. We have had plenty of the cool quail visit already, they are Gambel Quail and so fun to watch. Bob told us that they are trapping and relocating some believing we are overpopulated in the park.

Yellow headed Blackbirds
 We are also next to Bob and Rose who were here last time. Glenna and Milton are also back in our Hacienda Loop and Pat who was our neighbor last time also returned. The staff is down a bit as they wait for some seasonal rangers to come on board. We look to have a pretty full staff of volunteers with three more couples to arrive in the next month or so.
 Sounds like our duties will be pretty much as last time. We will work two days doing light maintenance projects and two days in the visitor/gift/ entry station. We volunteer 4 days a week 4-1/2 hours on those days. And whoo hoo we are scheduled for Fri, Sat, and Sunday off.
 While most things look the same around here some are a bit different. They added some nice concrete surface around the hot tub, previous was dirt and tricky exiting while wet. The water level in the lake is also way up, two years ago the level was pretty low so now up to a good level.

It also might not last but there was fresh snow on nearby Mt Graham. Mt Graham is a 10,000 ft mountain about 3 miles from the park.
 We made a drive up the mountain as soon as we could. They close some of the road Nov. 15- Mar. 15 and they had a light snow up there already. Wendy got some of her first pine needles up there for baskets and is starting to run low.
 The drive is 35 miles with the last 12 unpaved making for some slow going. We had a beautiful sunny day but a pretty stiff wind made the 45 degree temp on top feel cold.

 The drive up ends at Riggs Lake and campground. This is national forest so no hook ups or amenities. As we drove about the campground we saw about 8 wild turkeys and 5 deer and one brave camper in a pop up. That's pretty rough trying to keep a canvas sided rv warm at the 30 degree nights on the mountain.