Saturday, October 27, 2007

Life at PVSP the past few weeks

Since this is true, let’s do our best to make the time we have count. Rather than live with reluctance, let’s live with exuberance. Instead of fearing what’s ahead, let’s face it head-on with enthusiasm. And because life is so terribly short, let’s do everything we can to make it sweet. – Pastor Chuck Swindoll

Mid October: Our nights are getting down to 46 degrees; days up in the low 90s. This makes for two different types of clothes: sweatsuit while Jeremiah warms up in the morning, jeans and sweater topped with jacket in early morning, short-sleeved t-shirt and capris through midday, topped with a long-sleeved overshirt in the evenings. We’ve mostly had nights in the mid 40s and a few high 30s nights.I run the heater when I get up to take the chill off, and by 11 a.m. I turn on the air conditioner so Cat is comfortable while she naps. During the night, it’s cold enough to warrant my down comforter and flannel pj (Anderson siblings called pjs “ha-has”). Once the sun gets up, it warms up fairly quickly. I braved the cold a couple early mornings to tackle more tumbleweeds.

Days are about the same: On some days, I put in 4+ hours in the museum/visitor center, hoe weeds, or find a project that needs to be done. I’ve been to the Pink Store a couple of times, out to breakfast with friends, and have made two trips to Deming with friends. Three more sets of volunteers have arrived: a couple, Bill and Ruth, that had been at Navajo Lake State Park, Fran and Bill, and my friends, Gwen and Jim, who were here last year. Between all of us, the park is shaping up very well. We’ve had a happy hour at Bill and Ruth’s, and we all went to the Pancho Villa Lounge for pizza one night.

A new Ranger, who had been hired quite some time ago, has made it through all the red tape and training and is now on the job to augment Manager/Ranger Victor and Ranger Martin.

That’s not to say we don’t have out-of-ordinary events here.

Park Visitors

One week, we had several RVing Clubs here, and a couple of the nights, we only had four vacant campsites (out of nearly 80). We have an extra busy Sunday coming up: a group of RVers starting out on a Mexico trip, the local community church will have their annual picnic here, and the Friends of Pancho Villa will host a bonfire/sing-a-long/hotdog cookout.

As always I meet such interesting people. In the tenting area, we have a 71-year-old man who thinks nothing of riding his bicycle 50 miles a few times a week and does 8 – 10 miles on all the other days. He says he is diabetic and the exercise has kept him from needing medication. “Bicycling keeps me alive,” he explained to me.

Several RVers in their 70s, 80s and early 90s continue to amaze me.

91-year-old Mr. Hoover, who was born here in Columbus and later owned and operated the Hoover Hotel, came for a visit from his home in Oregon. He drove himself here to visit his hometown. He is a walking history book about the Pancho Villa raid. Of course our Heritage Educator, Sylvia, talked with him quite a bit.

Nature’s surprises

Even hoe-ing weeds has its interesting times. I was raking up some small twigs and leaves, had a small pile – and then the pile started moving! Out marched a horned toad, most likely indignant to have been disturbed.

The owls are still here, but no longer spending the days roosting in the trees by Jeremiah. That means no more “owl plops” to rake up. If you read my blog in July you know I thought the ‘plops’ were turds. Well, I was wrong. I read in my bird book that the plops are regurgitated stuff, and upon closer examination there are small bones, teeth, and lots of critter hair/fur.

New eye-glassses

On one of my Palomas (Mexico) visits I had my eyes checked and two hours later I had a new pair of glasses. (Interesting that it takes so long in the U.S. – and costs a lot more!)

Callaloo Soup

I’ve gotten some email from my daughter and her husband. They are hunkered down in southwest Grenada, docked to sit out hurricane season. She has been exploring island foodstuffs. She’s perfected Callaloo Soup (made from the callaloo plant that is similar to our spinach. She emailed me her “recipe”

“ The particular items that I believe make my soup "special" are; (2) Pigs Tails, a couple cups of ‘Pumki’" (actually Calabaza Squash) and a Habenero Pepper. I pressure cook my Pig Tails with water and the fresh Thyme. This extracts the tasty flavor. One other thing that I am sure makes it extra special and that is I use unrefined (made right here in Grenada and bottled in a recycled Rum Bottle!) Coconut oil to saute the vegetables in! Oh Boy! The aroma that happens when the oil is heated as awsome!

“I then saute all remaining ingredients; white onion, green onion, red bell pepper, garlic, celery, and then the pumpkin. I then add 2 bunches of callaloo leaves chopped, one can of coconut milk and the Pig Tail broth with the tails (minus thyme stems). I then pressure cook the whole lot again and puree it after removing the tails.”

San Diego Fires

I’ve also been closely following the San Diego area fires. Most of you will know that I lived on Palomar Mountain (At 3,600 altitude on the East Grade, a.k.a. S-7). The property (house and nearly 12 acres) I bought had been through a serious fire in 1999: outbuildings (including solar and generator systems), all bushy vegetation and many trees burned, the house was saved. I was living there when the 2003 fires threatened Palomar Mountain; I was part of a mandatory evacuation.

This morning I found out that a lot of the Mountain burned, but not lower East Grade nor the observatory. Upper East Grade, much of South Grade (S-6), parts of the State Park, and a bunch of homes and cabins of friends and acquaintances in other areas burned. The fires are still burning.

That’s it for now. Sorry, no photos. I'll leave here Nov. 4, and head to Las Cruces to meet up with two of my fellow Texas travelers.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I’m off on a 4 ½ month adventure

“Where ARE you, Carol” I was asked on an email recently. “Why aren’t you posting to your blog?”

Well, I’ve had good intentions, but ‘stuff’ keeps getting in the way. Here’s my must-do and sort-of-planned itinerary.

- Leave Rio Rancho October 1, travel to Pancho Villa State Park for one month of volunteer time. Well, that changed before I ever got out of the driveway. More on that later.

- After one month at PVSP, meet up with Carol Rayburn and Elizabeth Baldridge in Las Cruces, NM; each driving their motorhomes.

- Meander around south Texas for about a month.

- Be at Driftwood RV Haven in Fulton, Texas, by December 1. Here we meet up with Roberta Cox in her motorhome. We all have reservations so this is a “must do” adventure.

- Spend December and January at the RV park. Fulton is north of Corpus Christi.

- Leave Fulton February 1 and meander back to New Mexico.

Good thing I can be flexible!

A few days before leaving home for this adventure, I received notice from Victor Trujillo, the Pancho Villa State Park Manager, that I might want to stop off at Elephant Butte Lake State Park to attend the New Mexico State Parks annual awards banquet. He said I had been nominated for my volunteer work. I was stunned. And intrigued. There are lots of volunteers around the state, and I’ve only been a State Park volunteer for a total of three months so far.

Well, why not. I’ll have a chance to meet Rangers from all the parks and employees from the State Park office in Santa Fe. And I’ll get a nice banquet meal.

Well, I was even more stunned when I was selected “Distinguished Citizen” for the southern part of New Mexico – for my volunteer services. The MC had some awfully nice things to say about the things I’ve accomplished at PVSP. I was given a beautiful plaque – here’s a photo of me receiving my plaque from Darcie Schalip, State Volunteer Coordinator, and a photo with me and the PVSP park manager Victor. I am honored.

So, I had three great days at Elephant Butte in an RV site overlooking the lake. It is “off season” for this fishermen and boater’s favorite lake, making it a nice peaceful place. The evening before the banquet there was a fish fry on the beach provided by the Friends of Elephant Butte Lake State Park. Good food and delicious fish that were caught earlier that day in the lake.

I started reading a book recommended by my son Rick: “Don’t Stop the Carnival” by Herman Wolk. The setting for this novel is in the Caribbean.

Finally at PVSP

Then I drove on to Pancho Villa State Park to start my volunteer time. My first evening there my gift from God was an awesome sunset. I also was reading some stuff by Pastor Chuck Swindoll and gathered this gem: “Every day has sunshine.” My reminder about living life with a good attitude.

I arrived on Thursday morning, Oct. 4, in time for my 1 to 5 p.m. shift at the museum. Cat napped.

During the next few days I tackled some tumbleweeds in the early mornings. I like hoe-ing them. Just three tumbleweeds make a large pile – looks like I’ve worked a long time. Campers came and campers left – the first of the “RV club” groups that enjoy PVSP in October and November.

On Sunday I joined four other campers for breakfast at the Tumbleweed Café and church at Promised Land Community Church.

The highlight so far at PVSP was being “on loan” (sounds like a library book) to City of Rocks State Park about 60 miles north of here. I was asked by Darcie, state volunteer coordinator, to help at this park last Saturday. The park was having a concert – benefit of the State Parks Foundation. She needed a ticket seller. She wanted me so much, she was willing to come to PVSP to pick me up and then bring me back home that evening. It was a long day, but a good one.

A new park volunteer couple – Bill and Ruth – arrived, and another volunteer couple left. This called for pizza dinner at the Pancho Villa Lounge deli. Cat has enjoyed being here. She’s in her favorite site - #47 – where there are trees she can climb and lots of birds. We have a large crop of Gambel’s Quail. When they run, it is impossible to see their legs and feet. Watching them reminds me of the paper ducks I made in elementary school. I colored and cut out the duck body; then colored and cut out the “legs”. Actually four legs (think a clock – a leg at 12, one at 3, another at 6 and the fourth one at 9) Then the leg piece was attached by a device that let the legs spin. (It’s funny what we remember – that must have been first or second grade: about 63 years ago or so.)

After about a week, we did the “volunteer shuffle” and I moved over to space 44 (where I was this past July). This week (Oct. 15 – 21) the park is nearly full of campers. One large club, one small one and assorted individual campers keep us hopping. This evening – after dark – I noticed an RV driving around looking for a space. I went out and directed him to the volunteer that had the current “availability list” and help in finding a place to park.

I’ve made it down to the Pink Store twice so far. Bought a new bracelet, my eyedrops, and had great food.

Nothing really outstanding so far. Just having a great time surprising campers with superb customer service. I finished “Don’t Stop the Carnival” and really enjoyed it. Next I read another book recommended by my son Rick: a biography of the Wright Brothers and their challenges building the first airplane to actually carry a passenger. Now I’m reading “Golden Mirages” by Phillip Bailey (1940 copyright date). It also was recommended by Rick, and is about prospectors in southeastern California and southwestern Arizona. It promises to be a good read.

That’s it for now. It is my bedtime on October 17.