Saturday, May 28, 2011

Four weeks down, four more to go

It feels like I hit the jackpot this past week – seven visitors! Definitely a highlight.

First it was a lovely visit from four friends from a camping group I used to belong to, Border Cities Travelers. Dottie and Darryld and Norma and Charles and I spent the afternoon visiting.

Next Albuquerque friend Larry Flinn arrived to camp for three days. Larry has recently retired and for the next 18 months he will be traveling around the country. He also plans to hike the Appalachian Trail before returning to his home in late 2012. He and the park’s heritage educator (John Read) hiked to the top of one of the Three Sisters peaks just north of here. He left Friday morning, heading to Arizona.

While Larry was here, Mary and Jack Harris (also Border Cities Travelers) drove down from Silver City. This called for lunch at the Pink Store and a stop at Super Memo (grocery store) in Palomas, Mexico.

Winds still blowing; weather turns toasty

Now, I’m not complaining – the winds are not as strong and not blowing every day. When I think of the folks in other parts of the country that have been devastated by tornadoes, I’m grateful that we don’t have it anywhere near as bad.

Day temps have reached 100+ in the afternoons; nights cool off to the low-to-mid 60s. We sure could use some rain. Weather website says 10% chance on Wednesday.

I love sunrises and sunsets – these are both times to drink in their colors and replenish my spirit with their richness. A time to reflect on life.

God arranges opportunities to remind us to slow down and think about what’s important in life.

I must remark about the amazing New Mexico skies! At PVSP we have a horizon-to-horizon view of the ever-changing cloud formations. I’m glad to be an early riser – to enjoy the sunrises, which I consider God’s gift for getting up. And because of a lot of dust and smoke in the sky to the west (wind and wildfires) the setting sun has been nearly blood-red.

Here’s a photo of the sky at mid-day a few days ago:

Spiffing up the campgrounds

Most mornings, between 6 and 8 a.m. and again between 6 and 8 p.m. when it is cool, you’ll find me cleaning up cactus patches and watering our thirsty trees. I’ve adopted 15 campsite areas that have 60+ trees. It is hazardous work and more than once I’ve ended up backing into a cactus or yucca. I do love these early morning times – the birds are singing – I think they are thanking me for the trenches of water around the trees I’m watering – and I have a deep feeling of satisfaction. As I work, I often think of something I read years ago:

Just like a few years ago when I spent time hoe-ing weeds here, I’ve worn holes in my heavy-duty leather gloves. No problem, I’ve patched them with ever-useful duct tape! I will say those campsites are looking mighty nice. Now if we just had some campers to enjoy them…

Park Techs Martin and Junior and Seasonal Worker Hector have been busy cutting down dead trees, picking up my piles of dead cactus and planting new trees. They cleaned up two dead “century plants” and found a rattlesnake and uncovered a nest that has 11 quail eggs. Surprisingly after several days, the eggs are still there. I had thought something would come along and make a meal

Useful plants are topic of presentation

Ranger Charles Wood from Oliver Lee State Park (Near Alamagordo, NM) had an interesting plant program the weekend that the Gila Travelers (Elks Lodge RVers from Silver City) were here. He had us all sampling mesquite and yucca flowers. And he encourages us to taste mesquite beans later this summer when they are ready.

As always, interesting campers

Jean Holloway-Burkett was here for a couple days – she had just picked up a new-to-her Born Free RV and was on her way back to her home base in Benson, Arizona. She introduced me to two of her RV friends, Betty (in an RV similar to mine) and Dick (in a trailer). We had nice visiting time and traded some books with each other.

Hazel and her two rescued greyhounds are camping here. I first saw her as she pedaled by on a recumbent ‘tricycle’ with her dogs in tow. She also travels with two cats.

Visitor Center duties

I ‘work’ two full days each week – Thursday and Friday. Visitors are few and far between so I read books, work crossword puzzles and take brisk walks around the inside of the building (about 105 paces each lap).

Not much reading this past Thursday, though, because the Sergeant Major’s Academy from Fort Bliss (El Paso, TX) brought 170 students here to study the Pancho Villa Invasion and General Pershing’s subsequent Punitive Expedition into Mexico. Students are from all branches of the armed forces and also include some foreigners. One of the students, who I had an interesting chat with, is a tribal leader from Indonesian Province of Papua New Guinea. When he completes the academy, he will return to his country to run the military.

(Info from Internet: Lying just south of the equator, 160 km north of Australia, Papua New Guinea is part of a great arc of mountains stretching from Asia, through Indonesia and into the South Pacific. With a vibrant and colorful culture, more than 600 islands and 800 indigenous languages, Papua New Guinea is made up of 4 regions with 20 provinces.)

FYI, friend Larry Flinn is a graduate of the Sergeant Major’s Academy; he explained that these students are not ‘kids’ rather most of them are career military in their late 30s or 40s.

Half-way through at PVSP

Four weeks down, four more to go. When I leave here near the end of June, I’ll drive to Albuquerque/Rio Rancho to visit family and friends and to get Jeremiah ready for the summer adventure.