Monday, May 08, 2006

Go? Move? Or?

I pondered my options on my football-field length walk uphill to the “Comfort Station.” (fancy name for restroom at this park)

By the time I got back to Jeremiah, I had decided to stay right here. It is nice, quiet, and I could get a lot of writing work done. With Sue coming to town in less than two weeks, I wanted to have all my magazine writing done, and a bunch of newspaper columns ready. I wanted to be free of work so Sue and I could “play.”

Emy and I took off for a drive to two primitive camping areas – along the river below the dam – to check them out for possible outings for our other friends.

Back at Jeremiah, while Emy was packing up, I checked my “tank levels” (hadn’t given them any thought) and discovered that the “black water” was just fine, but the “gray water” was full!

That’s a problem. One way or another, I would have to move. Now I came up with three options:
1. unhook, drive short distance to the park’s dump station, drive back and re-hook and stay here.
2. unhook, dump, and drive to Santa Rosa State Park for a few days.
3. unhook, dump and drive home a couple of days early.

I’ve decided to drive home tomorrow. When I get home, the Cat in the house and Jeremiah unloaded, I’ll post to my blog and hopefully get the missing photos uploaded.

Emy packed up and headed out; I headed for my computer to get the promised work done.

In the early evening, I got a close-up-and-personal look at the herd of deer as they enjoyed some cracked corn that was put out for them.

My next trip will be late June through mid August. I’ll be headed through Colorado, Kansas, into Iowa for the Winnebago Grand National Rally (I call it a sleepover for Winnebago motorhomes), Missouri for the Personal Chef conference, Arkansas, Texas and back home.

I'll post my trip reflections in a day or two. Laundry comes first.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Tale of the Trail

Poor Emy. Even though she also lives in the Albuquerque area, she “lives in a different time zone” than I do – she stays up later and sleeps later. Cat and I wake about 5 a.m., and in this small motorhome, there’s no way we can keep from disturbing her. But, she’s a good sport.

After breakfast we set out to explore a different portion of the west side of the lake. The dam was built in 1939, and it has been a popular fishing and boating place. There are lots of informal trails. We startled some large birds (we think turkey vultures) napping in the sun amongst large rocks, found a bench on a cliff to relax on, and ended up on a trail that took us directly across from the dam.

We stopped by the park’s visitor center, asked the ranger a bunch of our questions – one was a recommendation for hikes. He suggested going over to the east side of the lake and pointed out a trail on a map.

It was about 11 a.m., and the day was getting hot. First we made a lunch to take, gathered our hiking stuff, and then Emy drove us across the dam to the other side. It WAS a hot walk. About the same time we pooped out, we found a shady spot on the beach for lunch. After sitting on a rock dangling our barefeet in the water, we figured that we had had enough sun.

With the lake level down so low, we were able to follow the beach on our way back to the car. We detoured through the village of Sumner Lake and discovered a strange collection of dwellings in various stages of disrepair, mostly dirt roads, and stopped by the Hideaway in hopes of buying some ice cream (bar, café, general store, fish bait and supplies, video rental, pool table, two rentable rooms and owner’s living quarters – all in one building). No ice cream.

Two motorcycles got our attention first. And just as I was snapping Emy’s picture standing next to one, the two owners came out of the café. Nice guys from Clovis who had ridden here for lunch. The orange bike is a custom job, the black one is a rare one (forgot the age). Inside the proprietor, Mary, proudly showed us around.

Back at Jeremiah, we had a light supper. And then in the long-time Anderson family tradition, we had popcorn. The real stuff – made in a pan, not the commercial microwave stuff.

I went to bed thinking that after Emy leaves in the morning, I’ll move from Sumner Lake to Santa Rosa Lake State Park. I was at that park last year, and it wasn’t on my trip schedule. Or maybe I’ll stay here. Or maybe I’ll move. I planted those options in my head and fell asleep.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Here fishy, fishy

Five a.m. is my usual waking time, so it was no problem to be at the boat launch area at 5:45 a.m. It was chilly, and I was glad that I have a warm jacket, scarf and gloves. By the light of the advancing day and skimpy moon, I stood alongside the ramp taking photos. I’m on the west side of the lake so the boats were silhouetted in the sun that was creeping up.

Some men were surprised to see me there and called out a questioning “hello?” One walked by and I said I was curious to see what serious fishermen did at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning. He answered, “Gets me out of the house!”

Once the initial batch had launched, things quieted down and I walked up the ramp and chatted with the local man who was checking the teams in. Here’s what I learned:
--The tournament is sponsored by the Sumner Lake American Legion.

--They expect at least 30 boats/teams.

--The fish in the lake include Walleye, three kinds of Bass, Croppie, and two of three of the Sunfish family (Perch is one).

--The limit is 10 fish per team, per day

--Prizes go to the team that catches the largest (by weight) fish and also for the smallest fish. All fish must be alive when weighed.

--Also a prize goes to the team whose 20 fish (10 per day, weighed together each day) total the most weight.

The tournament mornings start with breakfast at the Volunteer Fire Department, followed by lunch there. Saturday evening is a beef brisket dinner at the American Legion Hall.

I saw one male/female team, and several father/young son combos.

Emy arrived, armed with some delightful groceries, about 2 p.m. The items that was the cutest/cleverest was a bottle of Chardonnay wine – Happy Camper was its name; she bought it at Whole Foods Market. The front label features a picture of a small trailer. The back of the bottle says:

“You all look like happy campers to me. Happy campers you are, happy campers you have been, and as far as I am concerned, happy campers you will always be. It’s so true. Whether you are out for adventure or snuggling in to that favorite spot, Happy Camper is a great compliment to the good times ahead. Open a bottle with friends, family and fauna!”

We enjoyed our wine outside while watching the deer browse nearby.
It is delicious wine, and I’m saving the bottle as décor for Jeremiah! It’s been a great day!

We took a walk down at the lake, saw lots of birds, and the local deer entertained us at suppertime. Emy also is an adventurer, though not in a motorhome. She has done a lot of sailing (California coastal area) so I played Eileen Quinn’s CDs for her. (Sue and Dave gave me these CDs saying, “she tells it like it is.” Here is one line in one of the songs that I especially like:

“This is the gift that the hardships bring;
I believe that now I could do almost anything.”
--Sailor and songwriter Eileen Quinn

Friday, May 05, 2006

It was a dark and stormy day…

I woke up at my usual early time – 5 a.m. – and had coffee while Cat got some lap time. I waited for the sky to brighten and the sun to come up. Ha! It had other ideas. The sky was full of dark clouds that obscured the sun. And it rained a bit. So much for my morning exploratory walk. I had planned on walking more of the lake’s shoreline.

This would be a good time to get more of my writing work done. RVs and vehicles pulling trailered boats have been coming in. As I expected, this park gets really busy on the weekends. I’m glad to be in a great site and settled.

I just had a phone call from Emy telling me that she would be here tomorrow by noon. Yippee! I sure hope the weather clears up so we can be out and about.

The motorhome nearest to me (a brand new Newmar that truly is a rolling castle) is owned by Brenda and Wayne Guillory from Lafayette, LA. I visited with Brenda while Wayne hopped into their tow vehicle to backtrack and see if he can find the tailpipe that fell off somewhere between Ft. Sumner and here. No luck, but he plans to fabricate a temporary one.

2 p.m. The ranger just came by to let me know that we are under a “severe thunderstorm watch.” He said, the storm, with high winds, lightning and damaging hail, is fifty miles west of here near the small town of Vaughn – and headed this way. Batten down the hatches!

I brought my outside chairs, the bird feeder and my small rug inside; then I decided to unplug my electricity and run on batteries until the storm is over. I’m not sure why I did it, but it seemed the thing to do.

By 3 o’clock it was raining and I could hear thunder in the distance. I saw blue sky to the east, and a dark, angry sky to the northwest. The lake is topped with whitecaps.

It is 4 o’clock; the sun is shining overhead. The storm appears to have passed from west to east north of us. I’ve been out looking for a rainbow, but none in sight. Two more RVs just came into the camping area. (NOTE: The same ranger came by later in the day to say that he didn’t know it at the time, but there were two storms that were expected to converge in this general area.)

The deer just wandered by headed toward the lake, so I’m putting on my jacket and heading down there, too.

Phooey, I only saw two deer. I have better luck watching them come through the campground in the early morning and early evening. This morning two of them walked just 10 feet from Jeremiah. It is quite windy. This campground (only 12 sites) is full; some RVs are parked along the lake edge in primitive areas.

On my way back I struck up a conversation with two men who were hooking up their fishing boat. That’s when I found out that there is a fishing tournament this weekend at Sumner Lake. The event starts at 6 a.m. each morning, and the teams (two people per team) can fish until 3 p.m. So, guess where I’ll be before 6 tomorrow morning? Yep, down at the boat launch area.

I’m looking forward to a great day tomorrow – spending time with Emy.

Now, in honor of my advancing age, I give you two old-lady jokes:

1.Reporters interviewing a 104-year-old woman: "And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?" the reporter asked. She simply replied, "No peer pressure."

2. Just before the funeral services, the undertaker came up to the very elderly widow and asked, "How old was your husband?"

"98," she replied. "Two years older than me."

"So you're 96," the undertaker commented.

She responded, "Hardly worth going home, is it?”

Thursday, May 04, 2006

When is an island not an island?

Woke up this morning to a lovely sunrise and the promise of a sunny day. Life is good! Jeremiah, my rolling home, enables Cat and me to have wonderful adventures. What will today bring? I got ready for the day, had breakfast, washed dishes, and spent two minutes sweeping the floor. Bring it on!

Binoculars, camera, hat and sunglasses – I head out to explore. The deserted Mesquite camping area (no electricity, not much shade) offered opportunities for bird watching. I saw more new birds: Ladder-backed woodpecker, Say’s Phoebe, and Brewer’s blackbird.
American goldfinches were singing; a sweet contrast to the woodpeckers’ harsh call. I was hoping to see the wild turkey that campground host Bob said frequents the area. He thinks she has a nest nearby.

An island is not an island when the lake level is low! As I walked toward the lake, I noticed that what had appeared from the top of the dam to be an island, was a peninsula. The ranger said it usually is an island, but the water level is low due to the drought. I walked out to explore it. The walkway is about 50 feet wide, solid in the middle and gushy on the edges.

Next I walked to a playground and found this play structure made from recycled materials.

A sign said: RECYCLED MATERIALS AT WORK. This play structure is made from the equivalent of 9,032 plastic containers, 16,105 aluminum cans, 10,836 soup cans and 10 car tires.

About noon I set up my chair in the covered cabana and let Cat outside to explore while I read. I had just settled in when a LBB (little brown bird) landed on a short post near by. The bird had some grassy twigs in its beak. It flew to another post and then back to the first post. She seemed to be sizing things up. I looked behind me and up – and discovered the bird’s predicament. I was between the bird and the nest being built on a rafter. I quickly gathered things up and moved. I could almost hear the bird give a sigh of relief before flying in to continue the construction project. So much for hanging out in the cabana. Seizing the opportunity to watch the nest project, I moved my chair under a nearby tree. She worked on it all day.

Daughter Sue called with great news! She and Dave will soon sail back to the East Coast and then make a trip to Albuquerque!

The book I’m currently reading is “Cure for the Common Life” by Max Lucado. He is a minister at a church in San Antonio and one of my favorite Christian writers. Max always gives lots of anecdotes to illustrate his points. The book offers practical tools for exploring and identifying a person’s uniqueness. I read with pencil in hand to mark portions I want to remember.

When writing about “uniqueness” here’s what Max Lucado has to say:

God made you and broke the mold. Scan history for your replica; you won’t find it. No box of “backup yous” sits in God’s workshop. You aren’t one of many bricks in the mason’s pile or one of a dozen bolts in the mechanic’s drawer. You are it! And if you aren’t you, we don’t get you. You offer a gift to society that no one else brings. If you don’t bring it, it won’t be brought.”

It’s been a great day! The bird nest is looking good.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me!

I left Oasis about 10 a.m. As I headed north on highway 467, I drove by more dairies and also by Cannon Air Force Base. I headed west on 60/84. Somewhere along the 70-mile-drive I remembered that it was my birthday! So, I sang to myself. Thank goodness the highway was mostly straight, divided, and had hardly any traffic – I got a lot of thinking done.

By the grace of God, today I am 68 years old – and delighted with my life. It has been full of surprises. When I started my adult life, I could never have predicted all the twists and turns that my life has taken; the changes – some by chance and some by choice – that I’ve been through. A year-and-a-half ago I had no idea that I would be cruising the USA in a motorhome. God has truly blessed me with family and friends.

A few map-dot towns later I drove into the small town of Fort Sumner. Normally I would have gone a few miles off the highway to see historic Fort Sumner and Billy the Kid’s grave, but Sumner Lake State Park is another park with few developed electric sites – many for reservations – and I figured that the earlier in the day I arrived, the better my chances were. My back-up plan, if I couldn’t get a site, was to drive on another 40 miles to Santa Rosa State Park.

The winding road to the “main campground” took me on a one-lane bridge over the dam. I got the one-and-only non-reservation site with a nice “adobe” picnic shelter and a few trees. Whew! I’m in site #2 in the Pecos Campground and can see the lake from my windows.

Campground host Bob came over to help me get parked. He is friendly and quite a talker. His wife works in Ft. Sumner. Other RVers here are fishermen, and spend most of the day fishing from their boats.

During the day I got several Happy Birthday phone calls. Granddaughter Melody called from Japan and sister Margie called from Arizona while I was out exploring – boo hoo! I missed both calls but enjoyed their phone messages. My son Rick and granddaughter Christine called. Coming from a large family, I know I’ll have a stack of birthday cards waiting for me at the post office!

And I got a call from my ever-faithful financial advisor, Jon Schmauss. (Smith Barney, etc.) He said he called to cheer me up on my birthday. Turns out he had turned 65 a couple of weeks ago and he said he was depressed about it. I told him he should be celebrating because there are people who never live that long! I told him about the birthday card I got one year from my in-laws, Betty and Earl Serry, that said: “The more birthdays you have, the longer you live.”

In between phone calls I explored. There is plenty to do here. Around 7 p.m., a small herd of deer, somewhere between 12 and 16, walked through not far from where I am parked. Each one stopped at the road, seemed to look both ways, and then gracefully trotted across before stopping to graze again.

It has been a good day. I have found travel to be extremely rewarding, even though it is not without challenges. Even though I’m a solo traveler, I am not lonesome or bored. I am secure in who I am, and eager to discover what lies ahead in the years I have left.

For one thing, I know that life is short and it’s the only one I get. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool optimist. I close with this quote from Sir Winston Churchill:

For myself, I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use being anything else.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What IS that delicious aroma?

The drive from Bottomless Lakes to Oasis was flat and easy – all on highway 70 except for the last few miles. The road paralleled train tracks and took me through four “don’t blink or you won’t see them” towns: High Lonesome, Elkins, Kenna and Elida.

As I approached Portales, I started seeing large dairies: a major industry in this area.

I had barely gone past the Portales city limits when I smelled something. The computer in my brain started working to identify the source. Bingo! I remembered that Portales is a peanut-growing area and the delicious just-roasted aroma was delighting my sense of smell – and taking me down memory lane. I recalled being 17 years old and working part time at F.W. Woolworths in Glendale, Arizona. I worked behind the candy and nuts where my job was to keep the candy bins stocked and the nuts “roasted” – actually the nuts were cooked in hot oil. What a wonderful fragrance.

I couldn’t reminisce too long because I had to navigate through the town and keep an eye out for the turnoff to Oasis State Park. Being both driver and navigator is a full-attention job. I didn’t even notice the Dairy Queen until I had passed it! Fiddlesticks!

From the looks of the Oasis State Park map, there are less then two dozen developed campsites with electricity, and about half of them are set aside for folks making reservations. By traveling on weekdays, I am hope to find a non-reserved, electric site. I found the park and lucked out with a spacious level site - #23. I was right, there are only 23 RV sites.

The park has a fairly small man-made lake that’s popular with locals for fishing, so there are plenty of day-use sites. Ranger Jim told me that the lake level has been lowered in order to find and fix a leak. But that doesn’t seem to matter to the geese, ducks and coots that were either dozing on the beach or floating on the water.

As soon as I was hooked up and settled, I went out to walk the park, visit briefly with the campground hosts and then stopped by the park ranger’s office. He was at his computer chuckling over a camper’s photographs of a roadrunner admiring himself (herself?) in the side mirror of his vehicle. Seems this bird is a nuisance – but a cute one in my opinion. When I got back to Jeremiah, there he was, trying to use my mirror.

The campground hosts invited the park personnel and the RVers – all three of us – to have homemade ice cream and cake. I met Valerie, the park’s interpretive ranger, and got better acquainted with Ranger Jim, the park manager.

One thing Oasis has going for it is a lot of birds, including three I had never seen before: Bobwhite Quail, Summer Tanager and Lark Bunting. I quickly put out a bird feeder.

Wednesday evening I started reading the book, “Bubbles” a “self portrait” by opera star Beverly Sills. I never had been interested in opera until I met my friend Maria Negri, a retired opera singer who traveled the world with her husband, an Italian tenor. She has such fascinating stories of their singing life that I wanted to learn more. Maria and Beverly Sills – both amazing women in my opinion – were in the opera world at the same time, that’s why this book caught my eye. (Note to Maria – hurry up and move back to Rio Rancho so I can learn more about your interesting life.)

During my night at Oasis, I was lulled to sleep by the songs of the night birds.

Between Tuesday afternoon and early Wednesday morning, I had walked the few short trails, taken pictures, and got some writing done. Since I don’t fish, there aren’t a lot of things to do here. There are only two other RVs in the park. With a storm brewing to the west, I decided to cut my four-day stay at Oasis short and head for Sumner Lake State Park. Thank goodness I can be flexible, and since I am traveling without any park reservations, I can easily deviate from my original plan.

Another reason for moving was because my friend Emy is planning on spending the weekend with me. Oasis is a long drive for her to make to end up with not much to do there. Sumner Lake would be a shorter drive, and I am hoping that there will be more hiking trails. One thing for sure, the lake is giant-sized compared to the one at Oasis.

Here’s a delightful anecdote from Beverly Sills book. It took place on her trip to Israel’s Wailing Wall.

“I was standing there, not knowing what to do…I felt a tugging on my cape. It was a tiny old lady. In a thick accent she said, “Nu? You’re not going to pray? You’ve got nothing to pray for?”

“Yeah,” I said, “I’ve got something to pray for.”

“Then come, I’ll show you a spot, you rub the spot, talk to God, and you’ll walk away from the Wall laughing.”

As we were walking, she stopped and looked at me again and said, “Nu? You got nothing to cover your hair?” Then she dug into her shopping bag and pulled out a facial tissue about four inches square. “Here, cover your head with this. “At the wall she took my hand, placed it on a particular stone and said, “Now rub, talk to God. You’ll see, you’ll walk away laughing.”

I rubbed the stone, said a few personal things to God, and suddenly I burst out laughing. There I was standing in the rain with a piece of paper on my head, draped in a long black cape, wearing high boots, standing next to a four-foot-tall old lady, rubbing an ancient stone and talking to God. It had to be the funniest sight in the world and so I had to laugh.

The little lady looked up at me, in triumph. “See?” she said. “I told you you’d walk from here laughing.”

Monday, May 01, 2006

Lazy days again

Sunday, April 30, 2006
Penny left yesterday; Larry left about 10 a.m. this morning and Paul and Betsy pulled out shortly after that. The RV area seemed quite deserted and quiet without them. However, the day-use portion at Lea Lake was quite busy.

Not too long after Paul and Betsy left, a 5th wheel RV came in and took their spot. It was the chatty couple from Texas (Paul’s “bud”) that we met at Brantley Lake State Park.

I retreated to my covered patio to read and watch birds while Cat explored. As the days go by, more and more birds discover my feeders. Today grosbeaks and house finches showed up. When the toasty heat of the late afternoon arrived, I retreated into my cool motorhome to finish

Monday, May 01, 2006
Happy Birthday to my sister Margie!

This morning I decided to walk a ways on the road that goes to the small town of Dexter. It looked like a short uphill walk, and I was hoping that after I got to the top, I could see how far away the town was. Well, I walked, dodging a turkey vulture that was on his low, slow cruise looking for breakfast. Well, he didn’t actually threaten me, but he came pretty low. When I got to what I thought would be the top of the hill, the road curved a bit and just kept rising. I’m guessing I walked for about ¾ of a mile and then I returned to camp.

It’s been a good day to get more writing done, sort through photos and prepare them for my blog, and do some motorhome cleaning. Cat is sleeping soundly.

Tomorrow I’ll pack up, unhook, and leave for Oasis State Park, about 110 miles to the northeast (near Portales and Clovis). My route takes me back through Roswell: an opportunity to do some laundry, post to my blog, and get a few groceries.

More good quotes from Real Simple magazine:
Believe! Believe in yourself, believe in others, and believe in the possibility that things will get better.
- Allison Delaney in Real Simple Magazine.

Don’t let other people “rent space” in your head unless you want them to. Meaning unless someone is worthy of your time and energy, don’t allow him to clutter your mind.
– Deb Davis in Real Simple Magazine

That’s all for a few days. Twelve more days with Jeremiah and Cat – I’m certainly enjoying my life.

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