Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Almost time to move on…

… and not a moment too soon. It is really hot here this week. Outside temps in the 100s. Inside Jeremiah, with AC going full blast, window shades pulled, cab curtained off and bathroom door closed. It is 5 p.m. and Jeremiah’s inside temp won’t go below 91 degrees. Unfortunately, this volunteer campsite puts my motor home broadside to the sun. Don't let those trees in the photo fool you. There are no trees anywhere near Jeremiah's driver's side.

This heat reminds me of my 11 years counting Big Horn Sheep at Anza Borrego Desert State Park (California) over July 4 weekends. It was even hotter and we were out in it day and night for four days. Sat under a large tarp each day and slept in a tent at night. Plus, each day entailed three miles of trudging on the hot sandy and rocky trail. That's where I learned to love water - nothing else (except a cold beer at the end of the day) would quench my thirst. Hot, but what memories!

I leave early Tuesday morning and head north to Rio Rancho/Albuquerque area where it will be cooler. I’ll stop midway at my favorite café – Acosta’s in San Antonio (New Mexico) – for a green chile cheeseburger.

It’s been an interesting time here at Pancho Villa State Park. This is the first time I’ve been here when the campsites are so empty and visitors to the park’s Exhibit Hall are few and far between. Under these circumstances, my skills and abilities have been able to ‘take a vacation.’ There has been no opportunity to use my customer service and problem solving abilities and no need to task my organizational skills. My Anderson work ethic, energy and stamina have only been valuable for keeping trees watered and for cleaning cactus patches between 6 and 8 each morning.

I have read plenty of books and worked a bunch of crossword puzzles, made several trips into Mexico for lunches, dentist, pharmacy and optometrist. Today, Jeremiah got a top to bottom cleaning inside. Sunday and Monday mornings will be spent giving Jeremiah a spit bath and stowing tools, hoses, etc. to be ready to travel.

Cat has been plenty lethargic in the heat. She convinced me to let her drink from dripping water in the bathroom sink. When she wants some, she leads me in, hops up alongside the sink and waits for me to turn the water on so it drips.

I have two more all-day shifts (7 hours) in the visitor center on Thursday and Friday, and then two 1-hour lunch-hour shifts on Sunday and Monday. More book reading!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Be careful what you wish for

I wasn’t seriously grumbling about the wind last week, but I did wish we could have some calm days. Well, calm days came and with them came the black, biting gnats. These are the flying insects that love to gnaw on ears, heads, and any place they can get some sweaty moisture.

As an aside – when I see or think of gnats, I’m transported back to a pharmacy aisle in El Centro, California, 50 years ago. That’s right – 50! A young woman came up to me and asked if I knew what she could buy for g-ants. G-ants? After a puzzling moment I realized she must have meant gnats. I directed her to the bug spray aisle. How’s that for an interesting recollection?

But back to the gnats. The pests threatened to make my evening ‘yard work’ miserable. I fished out my bottle of vanilla body mist (thanks, Barb and Wayne Nielsen of Yankton, South Dakota!) Seriously, this works, and instead of smelling like a combination of sweat and insecticides when I finish, I smell like a combination of sweat and vanilla – a huge improvement.

Today is June 1 – one of my days off. Cat and I are in Jeremiah; she’s napping and I alternate reading and rearranging Jeremiah to accommodate my sister Linda on our summer adventure. For some reason she wants to have some drawers and closet space! I’ll be off-loading some of the stuff we won’t need at friend Jesse’s home in Rio Rancho, and then re-load it before I go up to Navajo Lake State Park in mid August. Jeremiah’s air conditioner is working non-stop to keep things cool. Weather guy says 10% chance of scattered showers tonight and tomorrow morning.

My “work” days in the Visitor Center are mostly quiet; visitors are few. However the few that come are always interesting people. Yesterday a couple of self-described history buffs were here to add to their book-knowledge.

Visitor Center hours are a perfect time for reading. I’m probably the last person to read Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen, author). I always look for ‘gems’ as I read, and I was not disappointed. I can identify with the lead character Jacob – who is 90 or 93, one or the other as he claims. When talking about his age, he says ‘even as your body betrays you [aches/pains, etc], your mind denies it.’

Desert Exposure – “biggest little paper in the southwest

This is a fascinating monthly publication – 80 pages in the June issue. It basically covers Silver City, Lordsburg, Deming, and Las Cruces with a variety of news and articles. Here are some that caught my eye and my interest:

  • Southwest Gardener column featured a Silver City woman who lived to be 90, turned her block-sized plot of land into a ‘panorama of towering trees, swaths of evergreen shrubbery, lily ponds, walls and crannies of ivy’.
  • The Lively Arts Column featured the Desert Dolls, Las Cruces’ first burlesque troupe. The eight performers have stage names such as Muffin LaBoom, and Judy Punchinella.
  • The Red or Green (food) column writes about Deming’s El Rey Carniceria and Las Cazuelas (meat market and restaurant). (Larry, come back – word has it this has the best steaks in the region.)
  • The Starry Dome column, written by the co-director of an observatory in Las Cruces, is about the planets for June and the constellation of the month, Musca, the Fly. Lists special sky dates, including the full moon on June 15.
  • Earth Talk is about the sorry state of today’s produce and how the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables can be enhanced with healthier soil.
  • Body, Mind and Spirit tells how to retrain your body to restore healthy breathing patterns.
  • A second Body, Mind and Spirit column extols the benefits of drinking water. It tells of a study that found that dehydration results in depression, anger and a generally negative mood. So all of you – drink more water!
  • Desert Diary includes a joke: ‘While creating husbands, God promised women that good and ideal husbands would be found in all corners of the world. And then he made the earth round!’
  • Southwest Wildlife has a great article on one of my favorite birds, the Curve-billed Thrasher.
  • Business Beat featured Rock City, USA – a.k.a. Deming. “With four rock shops, Deming is becoming the rockhound capital of the US” says the article.
  • Another article reported on the most popular newborn names. In New Mexico, Elijah and Isabella top the lists. To complete the New Mexico lists: Jacob, Aiden, Michael and Noah (boys) and Sophia, Nevaeh (heaven spelled backwards), Mia and Olivia (girls) are numbers 2 to 5.

A weather update: Columbus sadly was not in the 10% to get rain; it is promised again tomorrow (Saturday).

I end this with some words to ponder.

The coming week: you have never lived the seven days in front of you, and you will never live them again. Life is like a coin. Spend it any way you want to, but you can spend it only once.

How are you spending your days?