Saturday, September 18, 2010

Kidnapped by a book!

Kindred camper, Jean, walked her dog several times a day and oftentimes stopped to chat a bit. Then she would scurry off to “read a very interesting book.” The day before she left Navajo Lake State Park, she finished the book and offered it to me – all 1,000 pages! Since she left right before the Labor Day weekend, the book sat on a shelf while I worked. I finally got around to starting it and could hardly bear to put it down. The book is – The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. While the story kept my interest up and stole my blog writing time, it was quite “raw” at times (I don’t need sex, blood and guts in minute detail) and the architectural discussions (for the cathedral buildings) were boring.

Live each day as a newfound treasure chest full of jewels just waiting to be opened.

That’s my motto, and it serves me well. The expectations keep me alert so I don’t miss a thing. Here are some 'jewels' I discovered since the last blog posting.

Rain and hail

Yes, I do like New Mexico’s summer thunderstorms; hail is OK as long as it is small. During the afternoons, clouds gather, the winds blow, and thunderstorms pass through, dropping rain and cooling the day off. One early evening last week the rain poured down and then it turned to hail. It sounded like rocks hitting Jeremiah’s roof. Hail stones were up to about 1/3-inch in diameter. “Rivers” of water and hail flowed everywhere in this hills campground creating gullies. It was amazing. Here’s a photo of Cat’s view.

The “Bass” guys

After the Labor Day campers left and kids were back in school, I thought the campground would become fairly quiet. Well, it was for three days. And then campers with boats filled a lot of the campsites – they were here for a Bass fishing tournament. I could hear sleek, well-outfitted boats leaving shortly after 5:30 a.m. each day; they came back mid to late afternoon with tales of woe. Bass aren’t biting – water is too cold, weather is too cold, lake is too high, lake is too low, and so on. But they were in good spirits.

The “Trout” guys

I’ve learned to recognize the trout guys’ campsites by the waders hanging out to dry each evening. Since the San Juan River (one of the rivers that form Navajo Lake) is recognized as primo trout fishing, there’s no lack of folks hoping to catch some. The part of the river just below the dam is a “catch and release” area. Farther from the dam, fishermen can keep their catch. They too have comments about their successes or lack thereof. One camper reported that when he switched to “gray triple threat” lures (purchased from the local bait shop), he started hauling them in.


I’ve always said “sunrises are God’s gift to early risers.” And here’s a picture taken from my campsite of the sun rising over Navajo Lake.

New spark plug

Zippy (my 4x6 Gator) was threatening to quit zipping. A trip to the maintenance building to have a new spark plug installed was in order. I was shown how to replace it and given a spare “just in case”. It sure made a difference!


This plant is loaded with stunning yellow flowers, and the park has plenty of them. I’m blessed to have two large bushes behind Jeremiah; they brighten up the otherwise green/gray of the pinyon and juniper trees.

Williamson's Sapsucker

Something that was moving up the trunk of a pinyon tree caught my eye. I was out on Zippy which startled the bird, causing it to fly away. Making a mental note to come back when I could sit and perhaps get a good look of the bird, I finished my errand. Later I went back with binoculars and bird field guide and parked in the shade to wait. I was rewarded – it was a Williamson's Sapsucker (related to the Woodpeckers). It was shiny black with some white on its wing, small red throat patch, two white stripes on head and a yellow belly.

Raccoons, skunks and feral cats

These wild critters continue to raid campsites. And even though I caution campers to put all food items and meal trash in their vehicles or the dumpster before going to bed, they often neglect to do this and have a mess to clean up in the morning. One camper said that when his back was turned, a cat jumped on the picnic table and snatched a cooked chicken leg from a plate and ran off! And raccoons continue to get into dumpsters at night. We keep a long board behind the dumpsters to give the animals a way to climb back out. These photos show the most recent raccoon snoozing in the dumpster corner and Camp Host Dick putting the board in.

International campfire

Having camped in numerous places around the country, I’ve found out that not all park staff and/or camp hosts ever stop by to say hello, glad you are here, or do you have any questions. As a park volunteer I’ve made it a point to make time for a quick visit with all campers. And what jewels most of them are. This past week, we had campers from England, Germany and Australia. Before the evening I had chatted with them and instigated an informal “international campfire” at one of their sites. They were so appreciative.

Camper/fisherman with ‘bionic’ leg

Six guys from Texas were here to fish for trout; one had lost a leg and proudly showed me his new bionic leg. He gets around really well and has a great attitude. He explained that he also brought his old prosthetic leg to wear while fishing because he can’t get his new one wet! All six were super guys and they really enjoyed their week here.

Zucchini and tomato

Yum! Another payoff from befriending campers is occasional edible ‘jewels.’ One camper who lives in nearby Aztec brought me zucchini and a tomato from her garden.

Jesse, my ‘personal shopper’

Just as the perishable food that friend Hilda brought to me was running out, I got a surprise phone call from friend Jesse. He was on his way to visit family in Colorado and would stop and do some shopping in Bloomfield.

Map of Navajo Lake

I had heard that the lake was huge, even reaching into Colorado. It looks large from my campsite, but after looking at a map of the entire lake, it is not the biggest part. Here’s a photo of the map – the dam is at the bottom; I'm not too far from the dam.

Mountain lion in Prescott Valley

Meanwhile, from the Prescott Courier newspaper this week, a mountain lion was seen on the street that is behind my house! Sister Elaine emailed me the info. Check it out at the Prescott Courier website

Getting to the end

With October 5 set as my departure date, I’m beginning to feel like a short-timer. I counted days yesterday and found out I have 18 days left. I’ll be driving to Rio Rancho and staying a few days there.