Monday, March 26, 2007

Lake, trails and Fisherman’s Pie

What is RVing? To me, RVing is traveling in an RV for pleasure, not just living in one for shelter. I personally love the idea of traveling from place to place, exploring what's around the next corner, staying in beautiful campgrounds, meeting new people, dining on regional foods, and waking up to a new scene out my window.

If Roper Lake is representative of Arizona’s 14 State Parks that have camping facilities, I’ll have an enjoyable time exploring them in the future. The park is located near the town of Safford. It has desert vegetation, a 32-acre lake stocked with trout, three camping areas and a view of Mount Graham. There are five miles of trails, and a good park for bird watching. The area attracts many migratory birds from Central and South America

I spent a morning walking around the lake and onto the “island” (actually a peninsula), stopping to watch birds, ducks, coots and a majestic Great Blue Heron. And I hiked the Mesa Trail that overlooks the park and the town on the other side. I checked out the park’s hot springs tub; small and not a pretty sight. I decided to skip this amenity.

I was able to identify two birds that I have not seen before: Yellow headed blackbirds and Verdins. A roadrunner strolled by my campsite and a woodpecker visited the nearby tree.

Cat had a couple of outdoor times, disappearing from my sight both times. On her last outing, she came running toward Jeremiah with a yellow cat chasing her. I quickly shut the door when she hopped in, and the cat – camp host says there are several feral cats here – ran away when I walked towards it. The camp host also said a feral cat beat up her cat pretty badly once. So, no more outings for Cat while I’m here.

And thinking of Cat, I forgot to tell you about the cat fight she was involved in while we were parked at the Vollman’s in Escondido. It was a sight: large black cat and petite Cat. Both had ears flattened, swatting at each other, and the sounds I had never heard coming from Cat surprised me. The winner? Thanks to a piece of glass, it was a standoff! Yes, the black cat – named Sweetie – was on Jeremiah’s hood, Cat was inside on the dashboard – the windshield between the two.

One of the best things about Roper Lake was Dianne and Kenny Thompson – park volunteers from Canada. I was parked next to them. In Kenny’s off-time, he fishes the lake and after landing three trout, Dianne invited me to join them for dinner – Fisherman’s Pie. It was delicious and I got some basic information about making this dish. I’m eager to try it – but will have to settle for fish from the grocery store.

My time at Roper is up; next stop is Pancho Villa State Park.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Prescott – out came my sweaters!

No, winter isn’t over yet. Shorts are back in the cabinet, sweaters are back out.

I left Laughlin on Sunday morning (Mar. 18); my destination was Prescott, via Kingman and I-40. I had studied the map to find what appeared to be a pretty direct way to Kingman. Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – I missed a turn and by the time I realized it, I had gone about 35 miles on the wrong road. A stop at a gas station on Hwy 95 (yes, I DO ask for directions) got me turned around and headed back to Laughlin and I-40. I found out that the road that looked so good on the map actually involved a curvy and steep route before ending in Kingman.

Other than that, my trip was great – I always enjoy driving through northern Arizona. As I drove through the farming/ranching community of Chino Valley I thought about what it would have been like to have lived there. In 1959 as my husband and I finished up our teaching degrees at Arizona State College (now called Northern Arizona University) in Flagstaff, he had offers to teach at Chino Valley and at St. Johns (both in northern Arizona). He chose St. Johns.

Arriving in Prescott, I easily found the Elks Lodge and settled into one of their RV spaces. The next three days would be busy ones – visiting with my elementary school friend, two sisters, and a nephew, his wife and precocious 2+ year-old daughter. All too soon it was time to continue on my adventure.

Flexibility Rules!

After three delightful days at Prescott, I left at noon on Thursday and headed east – looking straight into a dark stormy sky. When I got to I-17, it didn't look any better to the east, so I went south.

I had planned to spend a few days at Fool Hollow State Park (northeastern Arizona). My gut feeling was to skip this and go straight to Roper Lake State Park (southeastern Arizona). I skirted Phoenix; storm clouds were to the south. As I turned east on Highway 60 the rain hit full force, making visibility low. I left the freeway and waited it out – reading and enjoying a cup of hot tea – at a parking lot. The rain was accompanied by lightning. When it let up, I got back on 60 and continued east - keeping an eye to the southeast.

A few miles later pulled off again at Apache Junction to calculate miles/time to Roper Lake and realized I couldn't reach it before dark. Time to change plans again. I parked – dry camped – at the Apache Junction Elks Lodge for the night. Rain poured down shortly after I hooked up and continued off and on all night. Cat was delighted to have me all to herself! She barely left my lap as I finished reading the biography of Douglas MacArthur.

I left early this morning to continue to Roper Lake. The stormy sky let me know to expect more rain – just what the weather forecaster said. And the wet desert fragrance was a treat. I was tempted to pull off the highway and go out for a desert hike – but I was eager to get to Roper Lake and hooked up.

I’m looking forward to three days here at Roper Lake – there will be plenty of time for hiking, bird watching and soaking in the natural hot spring.

Here’s your thought for the day. It was written by Douglas MacArthur in the later years of his life:

“Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul …You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair…When…your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then and then only are you grown old…”

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Honoring our Military

March 13 to 17, 2007

"The modern age has been characterized by the restless energy that preys on speed, records and shortcuts. Despite our alleged efficiency, we seem to have less time for ourselves and far less time for each other. We have become more organized, but less joyful."– Jeremy Rifkin from his book Time Wars.

“Honoring our Military” was the theme of the Nevada State Good Sam Spring Samboree in Laughlin, Nevada. I added this event to my February-March 2007 travel schedules specifically to spend time with my sister Linda and brother-in-law Bob. We both arrived on Monday, and spent the first two days hanging out together.

Laughlin in mid March? Hot, hot, hot! More long-sleeved shirts were packed away, and shorts brought out. Nights were in the mid 50s and daytime temperatures pushed into low 100s.

During those first days, Linda and I decorated our bicycles and I put some finishing touches on a Navy poster that featured a picture of granddaughter Melody on duty in Tokyo Bay, Japan. (Unfortunately, it was way too hot and sunny to put the poster outside as I had planned.)

We also went to Oatman, Arizona – historic mining town where “wild burros” roam the street hoping for handouts of fresh carrots. We shopped the tourist shops; Linda bought t-shirts for her grandchildren, I bought the book, “Oatman: History, Recipes, Ghost Stories.”

We wandered into a jewelry shop and I noticed a crusty old man sitting at a table towards the back. He was busy doing something – and that got my curiosity up. When I approached, he had a fairly toothless – saw one or two teeth in the front. Instead of making jewelry as I assumed, he was making his cigarettes. And not the “roll your own” ones. He had a blue gadget, put loose tobacco in it, squished a lid on top, inserted a pre-rolled paper with a filter attached, and then pushed a cigarette out the end. He said I could take his picture.

Another pre-event outing was to the Disney movie – Wild Hogs. (think City Slickers on motorcycles!) Stopping at one of the casino restrooms after the movie, I saw a “safe needle disposal” container on the wall! What???!!??

When the rally started, Linda helped with registration and I found interesting people to talk to. By the time the rally started the RV park had about 235 RVs belonging to Good Sam travelers.

The Good Sam folks are serious game players – the event games included Mexican Train dominoes, Sequence, 31, Zilch, Cribbage, horseshoe toss, washer toss and beanbag baseball.

And in keeping with the military theme, there were pet contests and a theme parade. Linda and Bob entered their two Australian shepherds – Winnie and Maverick. And Bob entered the theme parade, taking second place in the men’s division.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Feb. 27 to March 12, 2007

Life is short. Break the rules. Forgive quickly. Kiss slowly. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably. And never regret anything that made you smile.
Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here we should dance....

It’s Tuesday evening, Feb. 27.
I am at my favorite Colorado River camping park – Mayflower County Park just north of Blythe, California, for two nights. Finally, I am in short-sleeved shirts, although wearing long-sleeved ones in the early morning; I have pushed my turtleneck sweaters to the back of the closet.

After a busy bunch of days in the Phoenix area with family and high school friends, I was due for a day to myself. Jeremiah needed cleaning and reorganizing both inside and out. The park rangers allow motorhome washing because the parking spaces are grass and they need watering.

In between cleaning and taking care of some writing, I took walks along the river, visited with other campers, check to see if Mrs. Owl is still on her nest in the big tree – she is – and kept an eye on Cat so she could wander outside, hoping that the owl couple wouldn’t snatch Cat up for their dinner.

Around 10 a.m., it sounded like I was near a schoolyard with kids nosily playing. Nope! It was a bunch of campers happily participating in a lawn-bowling match. Another group were tossing horseshoes. Serious stuff!

Blythe brings back memories. My father-in-law, Dick Pray, and his wife Vera owned a motel in town in the 1960s, and we visited there a couple of time, staying in one of the motel room.

March 1 - 10
The drive west – on my least favorite Interstate (I-40) – was fairly easy through the desert. The road is straight and boring; a good time to go skipping down memory lane. I’ve spent most of my life in southern California – first about 10 years in the Santa Barbara area, then 30+ years in the North San Diego County, split between Del Mar, Solana Beach, Carlsbad, Valley Center and Palomar Mountain.

My days flew by. While I’m in the San Diego area I camped at the Oceanside and Vista Elks Lodges and at Pat and Russ Vollman’s home – three nights each. I had precious time with my son and his family (wife Dianne, granddaughters Christine and Danielle). I enjoyed time with numerous friends.

I also had annual and semi-annual medical checkups. It’s been 10 years since my breast cancer diagnosis – so I’m celebrating. Actually, I celebrate each and every day, counting my blessings, and finding ways to make each day special.

Whew! A busy time, but such a happy one!

March 12
I'm back at Mayflower County Park, and will leave this morning, heading to Laughlin, Nevada.

Finally, it is warm – actually hot enough to wear shorts! Coats, wooly scarves and sweaters have been wrapped and stowed in an outside compartment, inside Jeremiah was dusted and vacuumed, and I finished my writing work.

Life is an adventure – and it goes so fast. Here’s something to ponder. It was written by Max Lucado.

Growing old can be dangerous. The trail is treacherous and the pitfalls are many. One is wise to be prepared. You know it’s coming. It’s not like God kept the process a secret. It’s not like you are blazing a trail as you grow older. It’s not as if no one has ever done it before. Look around you. You have ample opportunity to prepare and ample case studies to consider. If growing old catches you by surprise, don’t blame God. He gave you plenty of warning. He also gave you plenty of advice.