Friday, December 29, 2006

Carol's year-end wrap-up

This will be my last post in 2006. I've been blessed with a happy and busy year.

2006 – What a Great Year for this Adventurous Lady!

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well. – writer Diane Ackerman

I love Jeremiah, my Winnebago motorhome! It takes me – and my cat – where I want to go in comfort and convenience. During 2006 I spent 30 weeks traveling 11,000 miles of roads and highways throughout 11 Southwest and Midwest states and Mexico. Along the way I stayed in 40 different RV parks and campgrounds. My travels took me to visit family and friends, and I made lots of new friends along the way.

Special activities on my motorhome outings included being a food judge for the Yuma (Arizona) Lettuce Days, touring gourmet mushroom growing and basil growing facilities in California, and attending the Winnebago Grand National Rally in Iowa. And on one trip, I reconnected with three high school friends – 50 years after my graduation.

During the times I was at home, some projects were accomplished: new stucco, new windows and new bathroom countertops. I also managed to be home long enough to join the Rio Rancho Elks Lodge. During my 2007 motorhome travels, I plan to visit Elks Lodges in other towns.

I’ll be spending a quiet Christmas and New Years Eve this year – I’m at Pancho Villa State Park in southern New Mexico (just 3 miles north of the Mexican border). I’m a park volunteer here and loving it.

My temporary mailing address, until Jan. 5, is General Delivery, Columbus, NM 88029. My cell phone works well here: 505-401-5487. And I have Internet access:

I’m living both the length and width of my life! Bring on 2007!

Yep, I’m still loving it here at Pancho Villa State Park!

Dec. 24 – 30, 2006
Week 9 Blog

I want to be one of those octogenarians who make age look like something you don’t want to miss.

My new friends Gwen (age 85) and Jim (age 86) are perfect examples of the above quote from William Least Heat Moon, in his book, "Blue Highways." It has been such a privilege to see these two deightlful octogenarians in action.

Yes, Christmas was a great day. The sun was out most of the day, although the air was chilly. During the day I reminisced that it was just two years ago that I bought Jeremiah and headed out for my very first motorhome trip. I remember feeling apprehensive, yet looking forward to new adventures. At that time I had no idea just how amazing my adventures would become. I’ve never regretted this traveling decision!

My early morning walks to the showers – by flashlight since I usually shower between 5:30 and 6 – never fail to stir my senses. Hearing: roosters are crowing and donkeys are braying. Vision: the stars slowly disappear into the sky as the horizon shows a faint promise of a sunrise. Sense of smell: the desert has such a variety of fragrances. Sense of feel: temperature ranges between 26 and 34 degrees, I’m well bundled up with coat, scarf, wool cap, and gloves but my cheeks and nose feel the cold. It’s a fairly short walk, but since I’m enjoying the sounds, sights, and smells I manage to make it last quite a while. I’m glad the park’s shower room is well heated.

I’ve had a couple telephone calls from Sue and Dave. They enjoyed a Christmas potluck dinner at Maho Bay in St. John’s Islands (U.S. Virgin Islands). Sue reports there were about a dozen sail-boating friends. They used a variety of things – kayaks, dingies, etc. – to create tables on the beach. Day’s events included singing Christmas Carols, swimming, snorkeling, and such. They will be back in Albuquerque on Jan. 23 for a few days.

This week’s highlight was a trip into Deming to the St. Clair Winery. Gwen and Jim took me there as a thank you for looking after their two cats while they flew to Ohio to spend Christmas with family. This winery sells table wine by the half-gallon jug. Behind the wine-tasting bar they have four vats of wine: sweet red, dry red, sweet white, dry white. Customers taste various combinations of the wines to determine the mix of the jug they will buy. I liked the mixture: 75% dry red and 25% sweet red. I also bought two bottles of my favorite sparkling wine (D.H. Lescombes New Mexico Imperial Kir)

I’m looking forward to a peaceful New Year’s Eve, and look forward to more traveling adventures in 2007. I’ll be home the last three weeks in January, and then head out in Jeremiah for a two-month trip through Arizona and southern California.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

This Christmas season: All is calm

Week 8, Dec. 18 through 23, 2006

While most folks are still bustling about decorating, shopping, wrapping, etc., I’ve had a calm, peaceful week. There aren’t many campers in the park, not many visitors to the park’s museum. Several volunteers have headed out for Christmas visits, leaving Diane, Jimmy, Fran, Bill and myself to tend to park duties. And another past volunteer is here for a couple of weeks to help in the museum.

Tomorrow evening I plan on attending the Christmas Eve service at the Columbus Baptist Church and then come back to Jeremiah to put my small Christmas tree up. You see, when I was a child, Santa Claus brought our tree on Christmas Eve. Picture this: it is still dark on Christmas morning when eight Anderson children lined up by age in the hall – youngest first, oldest last. Then we were led into the living room and saw the Christmas tree and presents for the first time. It was a magical time. The first time I was allowed to be up to watch Dad decorate the tree was when I was home from college my freshman year! Memories of my childhood Christmas mornings are why I often keep this Anderson tradition.

Without all the hustle and bustle and often tacky commercialization of Christmas, I’ve had more time to concentrate on the real reason for Christmas – celebrating the birth of Jesus. Thanks to my Verizon PC Internet access, I’ve been able to listen to wonderful Christmas Carols and songs on

Full-time Campers
During my weeks here at Pancho Villa State Park, I’ve discovered some interesting things about the full-time campers. These are generalizations based on observations and conversations; not to be construed as “facts.”

There are two types of full-timers:

1. big RVs, mostly retired couples; they spend most of their time at commercial RV parks – north in summer and south in winter – that have full hookups (water, electricity, sewer) and amenities (Laundromats, etc).

2. tents, converted vans, small RVs, many singles (mostly men in tents/vans; less women in small RVs); they prefer low cost state and federal campgrounds and forests and other primitive (no electricity) camping locations.

PVSP has quite a few of category 2. They stay here for the maximum 21 days, leave for a week or so, and then return for another 21 days, etc. A few of them do their 21 days here, travel about 30 miles to Rockhound State Park and stay there 21 days, etc. Back and forth during the winter. Some of them are friendly and sociable, others prefer to stay to themselves.

Growing older
Being alive means we grow older each day. Here’s what Will Rogers had to say about this:
Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.
1. The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.
2. Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know "why" I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved.
3. When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of Algebra.
4. I don't know how I got over the hill without getting to the top.
5. One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young.
6. One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been.
7. Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable.

News in and around Columbus
I heard that a cattle transport truck overturned going west on Highway 9, but didn’t hear of the fate of the truck-full of cattle.

Talked to a big-rig truck driver who has hauled oversized freight over Highway 9 for 30 years. A mobile tire repair guy was struggling to replace several tires. I’m not sure what he was hauling but the low-slung trailer had many more than 18 wheels! He was saying that if he had any money, he’d certainly start a truck-tire repair business here in Columbus.

I wish you all a blessed and merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I'm a happy lady!

Monday, Dec. 11 through Sunday, Dec. 17

Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Each day is a gift.

I’ve learned that whether I am happy or not is up to me. If I’m unhappy about a situation, it’s up to me to either change it or change my attitude.

I was reminded of this when I talked with a single female camper; I recognized her because she was here a couple of weeks ago. I walked over to greet her as she was getting hooked up. It was a beautiful day – lots of sun and pleasantly warm. As I greeted her I commented on the day and told her I was glad that she had come back.

Her response? “I hate this park with a passion!”

Wow! “Why do you keep coming back?” I asked.

She responded, “Because I don’t have any other place to go.”

Here’s a person who could benefit from a change in attitude. Needless to say, I’ve avoided any further conversation with her.

Cat is a happy cat - especially when she can be outside. One day I looked up and she was quite high up in the tree. She stayed put while I got my camera and took this picture.

The weather has been really nice and mild, although we have had a couple windy afternoons; nights only get down to the high 30s, days in the 70s. Many days I walk to the post office with only a light sweater; early mornings and evenings do require a warm jacket.

This week’s highlight was a visit from friends Hilda, Sylvia and Jesse. They arrived Friday evening, and we hit the ground running on Saturday morning.

After breakfast at Columbus’ Patio Café, we walked back to the park to see the documentary about the Pancho Villa Raid in 1916. Then they toured the park’s museum. Next we loaded into Jesse’s vehicle and drove around the village and through “The City of the Sun.” This is inhabited by many aging hippies. The “city” is private property and residents/members are given a plot of land to put any sort of dwelling on – and there is quite an interesting collection.

Next we went searching for the “Perfect Man Shrine” that I had heard about. The shrine has an interesting history – and I don’t remember the details (sorry). There is quite a bit on the Internet, but I’m just not that interested, and have better things to do with my time. We did take pictures, and here are a couple of them.

The shrine is on property owned by Sheila and Ken (don’t know last names) who also own the land across the road. We had a nice visit with them, and toured their ‘art garden.’ This couple is very interesting – they winter here and spend their summers manning a fire watch tower in Arizona’s White Mountains.

Well, we worked up an appetite during all this touring and visiting, so off to Palomas to explore the village and have a late lunch at the Pink Store. Sylvia and Hilda did some shopping and of course we took photos. Jesse, Sylvia and Hilda tried on hats!

We turned down two social events – Columbus’ Posada Party at the Lounge and the movie Pirates of the Caribbean II in the park’s recreation hall – choosing to stay in Jeremiah and play cards.

On Sunday morning we drove into Deming for breakfast and a stop at the grocery store so I could stock up on perishables. All too soon it was time for my visitors to drive back to Albuquerque. And I took care of some paperwork and reading.

Sunday evening the volunteers had another pizza party at the PV Lounge – and what a good time we had.

Each day is an adventure and I’m a happy lady.

Author Andrew Dunbar wrote:
The gift of happiness belongs to those who unwrap it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Every Day Is An Adventure

Week 6: Sunday, Dec. 3 to Sunday, Dec. 10, 2006

Here’s my week in a nutshell:
Border meeting
Museum work
Yard sale
Christmas tree lights
Horseshoe Artist
Stars in the Parks
$20 nails
Welcome packet
Gallery and B&B opening
Friends meeting
Not as cold

Above are the notes I made this past week to remind me of things to tell you about. Somehow I never got around to writing each evening, but fortunately I did make notes. It’s been an interesting and fun week.

Border Meeting. Friend Hilda alerted me to an article about the Columbus area in the Albuquerque newspaper. In a nutshell, the U.S. Border Patrol took issue with a mile-long, 4-foot-high dirt berm that been built alongside the fence on the Mexican side of the border. Mexico said it was built to protect the village of Palomas from flooding from rain runoff from the USA. The U.S. said the berm made it very easy for illegals to come into the country. Various officials – 50-plus of them, many in suits and ties – from both sides of the border agreed to meet – and they chose to meet here at the PVSP (Pancho Villa State Park) recreation hall. I have not heard what/or if any decisions were made.

Museum work. The most interesting part of this “work” is meeting and chatting with visitors.

Yard Sale. The Friends of Pancho Villa State Park had accumulated a bunch of stuff, and decided to have a “yard sale” and several volunteers helped. It was way too cold to hold it outside as planned, so the sale was moved into the recreation hall. Practically everything sold and the Friends ended up with about $200.

Christmas tree lights. Ranger Brian brought out the box of tree lights. After untangling the strings and replacing burned-out lights, they were ready to be strung on a tall fir tree on the park grounds. Of course, it was a bitterly cold and windy day, but the guys persisted and the tree looks great at night.

Horseshoe art and Stars in the Park. Sylvia, the parks heritage educator, organizes Saturday programs here at the park. A local man that makes things from horseshoes gave the Dec. 2 program; yesterday’s evening program was an astronomer from the National Public Observatory.

Weeds. Yep, we are still working on weeds. I am blessed that I’m able to do this physical work, and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing the park is looking much better than it did in October.

$20 Nails.

It is next to impossible to walk around the park and not come across an old rusty nail or two. When Camp Furlong was abandoned by the military, wooden buildings were hastily taken down, wood carted off and nails left behind (haven’t heard where the wood went – perhaps Mexico?). Someone referred to the nail as “$20” ones, because that’s what the Desponchadora (tire repair) across the street charges.

Welcome packet. I mentioned before that I suggested to Ranger Brian that some written material about the park, Columbus and Palomas would be helpful to campers. I’m pleased to report that now volunteers have “Welcome packets” to hand out. The packet includes an information sheet that I developed with input from other volunteers, State Parks brochure, PVSP map, park evaluation brochure, and some coupons from Columbus merchants. These things are in a bright yellow plastic New Mexico Tourist bag. The bags have been well received by campers. Some who are here for the first time – and only planning to be here one or two nights – have stayed longer.

Gallery/B&B opening. Columbus is a surprising village. There is a lot more going on than I thought. Lower-cost property has enticed a variety of “aging hippies”, artists, and assorted crusty individuals. Except for portions of a few roads being paved, the rest are dirt ones. Gwen and I bounced along a rutted dirt road just north of the village to attend the grand opening of an art gallery/B&B. It was well worth the drive. The gallery has quite an assortment of local art, the B&B is small (two units located in the back of an airplane hangar – and yes, they have their own dirt airstrip – and yes, at least two visitors flew in.

Friends of Pancho Villa State Park. This is a small, but dedicated group of locals. They are always looking for ways help the park; to purchase things that aren’t available from the State Parks headquarters. For one thing, they have provided the washer and dryer that is available to volunteers. They meet monthly, and Thursday was this month’s meeting; volunteers are invited. They served a BBQ dinner and the main topic of the meeting was preparations for PVSP’s Camp Furlong Days in March.

Not as cold. After a few below-20-degrees nights, it has “warmed up.” Most nights are in the 30s, and once the sun is up, we have delightful days. I often walk to the post office wearing only a light jacket or just a sweater.

Verizon PC Internet Card. I'm delighted with my new Verizon Internet access card - no need to find wireless cafes or other access locations.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Busy, busy, busy – fun, fun, fun!

Week 5 at Pancho Villa State Park

Wed. Nov. 22
There’s never a dull moment around here. This afternoon I worked at the museum, and this evening my Albuquerque friend, Larry Flinn, arrived. Between my motorhome’s door light and two flashlights, he got his tent pitched. The low temperatures have been in the mid to high 30s so I offered him a small electric heater, but he said he would be just fine.

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving plans included a potluck dinner at the LOW RV park. About 70 folks gathered to enjoy delicious turkey and all the trimmings meal.

Back at Pancho Villa and well-fed, Carol R., Larry and I took a long walk around the park, stopping to look at various old structures. We walked up Cootes Hill – the area where Pancho Villa gathered the Villistas prior to the pre-dawn raid on Columbus. We also gathered up a few folks to join our evening bonfire. (Thanks, Selma, for the firewood.)

Friday, Nov. 24
With nothing planned for Friday until evening, Larry took the hoe and cleaned a nearby section of weeds – he hoed and I raked for an hour or so. One more section done – the park is really looking good.

Carol R, Larry and I headed to Deming to have dinner at the Adobe Deli. As we headed north on Highway 11, we were treated to a magnificent sunset. Here’s one of the photos I took.

The Adobe Deli is certainly not a deli. The building is an old school house; very rustic. It is open only for dinner. Carol R had salmon, Larry and I had steak.

Saturday, Nov. 25
Once the morning warmed up a bit, Carol R., Larry and I headed for Rockhound State Park and Spring Canyon (a part of Rockhound) to hike. The park is about 25 miles from here. We had hoped to see some Ibex and Bighorn Sheep, but no luck. We hiked about a mile on an animal trail – gained about 1,000 feet in altitude (from about 5,000 to 6,000 feet). At the top we had a wonderful view of the valley below.

Sunday, Nov. 26
Did you know that hoeing and raking weeds is a good early-morning warm up? Larry and I tackled a few more weeds before he left to drive back to Albuquerque. Thanks to his help (I can count his “work” time), I have more than my requirement for the month – and several more areas are free of weeds.

Carol R’s pilot-friend Barbara flew down from Albuquerque to Deming to join us for lunch at the Pink Store. It was Barbara’s longest solo flight to date.

Monday, Nov. 27
It was a cold, blustery walk to the park’s recreation hall for this morning’s Volunteer staff meeting. Ranger Brian talked about the coming week’s plans and handed out December’s museum staff schedule. Two special programs are scheduled in December along with a “yard sale” sponsored by the Friends of Pancho Villa State Park.

In the afternoon I worked on tallying up volunteer hours in the Rangers’ office.

Tuesday, Nov. 28
Carol R and I joined the LOW group for the regular Tuesday lunch at the Pink Store in Palomas. Each time I try something different on the menu, and for the first time I ordered something that wasn’t especially good – chimichangas in red chile sauce.

I had the 1 to 5 p.m. shift at the museum. Here I get to meet so many interesting people. It is amazing that people will add 60 miles to their trip (round trip from Interstate 10) just to see the Pancho Villa Museum.

Wednesday, Nov. 29
The weatherman says we will have below freezing temperatures the next few nights, so I filled Jeremiah’s fresh-water tank and disconnected the hose. Then later this afternoon I bundled up and walked the campgrounds to alert campers to the potential for freezing.

Thursday, Nov. 30
Mucho brrr! My outside thermometer registered 18 degrees at its coldest last night. Thankfully, I am snug and warm in my motorhome.

Carol R’s RVing friend Roberta arrived yesterday evening. Another visitor – another lunch at the Pink Store!

Friday, Dec. 1
Carol R and Roberta both left in their motorhomes this morning – they are headed for Las Cruces and then points beyond – but not before Carol R. turned in a volunteer application and met with Ranger Brian. Carol R will be volunteering here at Pancho Villa during March and April.

My Verizon wireless Internet card arrived this afternoon, and I got the software installed and the card works! I now can regularly check email, access web pages for information and do a better job keeping my blog up to date. No changes to my email addresses – and

Saturday, Dec. 2
Well, things are warming up a tad – only got down to 24 degrees last night. It was another early day for me today in order to help at the “yard sale” which we held in the park’s recreation hall. Volunteers also helped get the museum set up for this morning’s program: a man who makes things from horseshoes.

In the afternoon a couple of us worked to untangle quite a few strings of lights that will be used to turn a large fir tree into a Christmas tree for the season.

I’ve been determined to get my blog up to date this evening before heading to bed.