Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Highlights of Week 4

Tuesday, Nov. 14
I’m really enjoying my time as a park volunteer! It is a good feeling to be helpful to both RVers and museum visitors. I make it a point of stopping by and welcoming campers, in my section of the park, shortly after they arrive. This week about 30 RVs from the Alamagordo Traveling Elks and the Airstream Club are here. Also various campers are here for a few days to buy medications and/or have dental work done in Palomas, Mexico.

At noon today I went down to the Pink Store with the LOWs group (a singles RV club). This was probably my fifth or sixth time down there and each time I order something different. So far, everything has been exceptionally delicious. By the time lunch was over and we stepped outside, the wind had picked up; by the time I was back to Jeremiah, there was a full-scale gale. It was a good day to hunker down to read. I’ve started a book, The Tail of the Tip-Off, by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown.

Wednesday, Nov 15
Today was an all-day shift at the museum – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a lunch break. There usually aren’t any visitors for the first hour, giving me time to get some housekeeping chores done: restock pamphlet display and restock the small gift shop. In between visitors I read my current book, work some crossword puzzles, and read through some books and articles about Pancho Villa in order to be able to answer questions. Sylvia, the ‘heritage educator’ for the museum does guided tours by special arrangement.

Gwen stopped by and invited me to have dinner with them. Gwen and Jim are such interesting people.

Thursday, November 16, 2006
Brrr! We had our first cold night – down to 30 degrees just before the sun came up. Thank goodness for a good forced-air heater. Cat was eager to go out this morning, but stayed out less than 10 minutes before happily jumping back into Jeremiah, curling up to take a nap. Cold or not, I decided to tackle some more weeds along one of the paths.

It was still chilly when I walked to the museum for an afternoon shift, so I bundled up. But once inside, it was toasty warm. It is fun, and interesting, to greet museum guests.

As I walked from the museum to Jeremiah, Lue (another volunteer) called out that one of my friends had arrived this afternoon, although she didn’t know who it was. She only said it was a lady and a dog in a camping van. I walked around the park looking, and was surprised to find Nita and her dog Maxwell from Albuquerque. We had a nice visit. I didn’t know she was coming, and unfortunately already had plans for the next day that couldn’t be changed. Nita had come for dental work.

Friday, Nov. 17
With a busy day ahead, a pile of laundry and ‘house cleaning’ to do, I was on my way to the laundry room at 7 a.m. I got plenty of walking in because the laundry room is at one end of the park and I’m at the other end.

My friends Ellen and Paul arrived bearing some lovely lavender gifts. I originally met them when I lived in the San Diego area. They had bought a piece of property that was overgrown with weeds out in the country west of Valley Center and developed it into an awesome lavender growing facility. They also distill the lavender oils and make and sell lavender products. A little more than a year ago they started looking for property in Arizona and New Mexico. I suggested they check out Silver City. The immediately fell in love with the town and now they own a second home here in New Mexico. We enjoyed lunch at the Pink Store and walked around Palomas.

And my RVing friend Carol Rayburn, and her cat Zia, arrived today to spend a week or so here at the park.

Saturday, Nov. 18
The Park’s Saturday morning event was a presentation by the author of Gringo’s Curve. This book tells of the January 1916 ambush and killing of 18 American miners, who were on their way to a mine in Mexico, by some of Pancho Villa’s cohorts.

Then I worked in the museum in the afternoon. In between visitors, I started planning and developing a way to improve communication between the park and its campers. Having been in quite a few state and county parks and experiencing varying ways of getting information – and some complete lack of information unless I sought it – I had some ideas. I wanted to have these ideas thought out before approaching Ranger Brian.

I came up with a sort of newsletter/flyer titled: “This Week (or This Month) at Pancho Villa State Park.” It would list special park events, on-going activities, names of rangers and volunteers, etc. It also would include information about Columbus including names and hours of eating places, library, post office, grocery store, historical society, etc. And also have a section about Palomas and the Pink Store. The park has an official ‘camp host’ but not all campers stop at their RV. My suggestion is to have other volunteers act as “greeters” – sort of a ‘welcome wagon’ to give out information.

Sunday, Nov 18
My alarm went off at 4:30 this morning – we (Friends of Pancho Villa State Park and park volunteers) would be preparing and serving breakfast for about 60 campers this morning. A bit before 6 a.m. – pitch dark outside, flashlight in hand – I headed to the recreation hall. I was the first one there and got the coffee started and tables set. The $4 breakfast was scrambled eggs, sausage, pancakes and coffee. I was in charge of flipping pancakes. We had lots of laughs in the kitchen and plenty of grateful campers.

I had a good time to talk with Ranger Brian and tell him of my idea for communicating park activities to campers. He immediately latched on to the idea and asked me to keep working on it.

In the afternoon I worked in the museum, and shared some of my homemade Mushroom and Barley Soup with Carol Rayburn for supper.

Monday, Nov. 19
Many of the campers have left, either for home or for other camping locations. The next few weeks the park should be fairly empty. This lull will give us time to get various projects done. One project I’m looking forward to is relocating and organizing the park’s ‘leave a book – take a book’ library. The ceiling of previous library location got sogged out in the late summer rains, causing the library to be closed.

After a morning shift at the museum, Carol Rayburn and I went into Deming to get some shopping done: Walmart, Luna Rossa Winery (two bottles of Dolcetto) and Peppers (a grocery store with some organic items and good produce). At Peppers I struck up a conversation with a lady who was buying 10 turkeys and other items for Thanksgiving. Each year she personally hands out “uncooked Thanksgiving dinner in a box” to needy families.

Last stop before heading back to Pancho Villa was dinner at The Ranchers’ Grill in Deming.

Tuesday, Nov. 20
Carol Rayburn has a Verizon wireless card in her computer (I’ll be looking into this when I get back to Albuquerque), giving her wireless Internet access here at the park. She brought her computer over to me this morning and I was able to check and answer email.

She and I went to the Pink Store to have lunch with the LOW group. Afterward we stopped at one of the pharmacies and bought some medications. My $54 eye drops are $32 for the same thing!

I heard my first complaint about Pancho Villa State Park today. Many campers come here regularly and say how much they love the peace and quiet, the wide-open spaces, and the desert environment. Today’s complainer was a woman camping in a tent. She was in a semi-developed (means water only, no electricity at the site) area on the west side of the park that is near acres of undeveloped land: all sagebrush, tumbleweeds, cactus, etc. In my opinion, this is probably the quietest, most private area because it is farthest from the well-traveled highway 11. Her complaint? It was too noisy! “The barking of the town dogs (probably coyotes) at night, the beeping of some equipment working clear on the other side of the park (repairing a water leak) and the cooing of the doves” greatly annoyed her. So what did she do? She turned her radio up full blast to block out these annoyances! Go figure! Fortunately, the grumpy woman packed up her tent and left.

I don’t think I have mentioned that I have joined the “I-Pod” world. Knowing that I would have pretty slim pickings in radio stations here at Columbus, and knowing that it is a nuisance to play CDs on my cab radio (take curtain down, climb over Cat’s litter box, etc.), I wanted a way to have music. After advice and guidance from John Moore at the USPCA office, I bought a Nano I-Pod a couple days before leaving home. I loaded most of my personal CDs and have certainly been enjoying them. John told me what to buy so I could play the music through my motorhome surround-sound speakers.

So you can see, that as my 4th week here at Pancho Villa State Park ends, life is interesting and exciting; there’s plenty to do.

Sorry, no photos to post, and I've been too busy to do much reading.
More next week!