Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Retiring from park volunteering - but not from RVing

“Plant your feet in the present, open your eyes wide and take in your world. The gift of life is amazing. And for goodness sake, laugh more.” ---Pam Kidd (from Daily Guideposts 2004)

September – nights are cooler with the promise of autumn just around the corner here in New Mexico. The mornings are especially crisp with a chill breeze – makes me grateful to be camped in a motorhome instead of in a tent! We’ve had gentle rain the past three nights – a lovely sound on the motorhome roof; lulls me to sleep.

Only three more days here at Navajo Lake State Park and then I retire from volunteer ‘work’. Some of my previous volunteer stints here have seemed like ‘work’ but for the past three weeks I’ve felt like being on vacation. Another volunteer couple arrived at the first of this month and once I helped them learn the ins and outs of the campground (they learned fast!) we divided the campground in half. I take care of 35 sites and they do the rest (38). So, I’ve had plenty of time to read and relax. I’ve done lots of reading: Clive Cussler’s Shock Wave, Deep Six and now I’ve almost finished Cyclops. (great author, exciting books).

The saga of the feral cats
On my last blog entry I told you about the three cats that considered volunteer Dick’s motorhome engine their home. After trapping them for the second time and taking them to a primitive campground, they again came back. Guess they enjoyed the free meals (in the trap), the Gator rides and the adventure of finding their way back! Dick has given up.

I’ve been blessed by visitors
Friend Adria (Albuquerque) arrived earlier this month, bringing me some needed groceries. She camped nearby and even though it was a weekend, we had time for visiting.

Next came friend Newell (he also was a volunteer last winter at McDowell Mountain Park). He spends summers as a volunteer at the north end of Navajo Lake, on the Colorado side. Besides visiting, he treated me to lunch in the tiny town of Navajo Lake – had a delicious open-face green chile cheeseburger!

And lastly, friend Larry (Albuquerque) was here for three days. Rather than bring groceries to me, Larry took me into the town of Aztec where there is a Safeway grocery store and a Dairy Queen! He brought his fancy telescope in hopes of exploring the night sky – but the first two nights he was here, we had rain! The third night was the charm with a clear sky. I’ve never been thrilled at looking at stars – and I’m not willing to stay up all hours of the night to see specific constellations, meteor showers and such. Larry got some good hiking done and also helped with some campground chores.

Found items
Some sort of “no cash value” token (about the size of a quarter)
3 quarters, a nickel and 2 pennies – brings up my Dairy Queen stash up to $2.05! DQ here I come!
A pretty silver cross, most likely was on a necklace chain
2-qt plastic pitcher
Wads of fish line
Fish hook (glad I found it before some child or dog stepped on it)

Most unusual RV this week
As soon as I saw this home-made trailer drive by, I snatched my camera and waited for an opportunity for a photo. The hand-painted sign on the back said, “Stupidity in Motion”. The two elderly occupants fit my idea of Ma and Pa Kettle – he a long, bushy gray beard, she with long, stringy hair. As he rolled down the window to ask me about campsites, I was bowled over by smoke! They each had ash trays that were filled to the brim with butts.

 Retiring from park volunteering but not from RVing
In a few days I’ll pull up stakes here at Navajo Lake and return to Rio Rancho (Albq area) for a couple of weeks before going home. I will have been gone 6 months!

I’ve scrounged around and found some boards to make “exit ramps” to move Jeremiah.

I’ll leave early on Sunday morning, Sept. 30. I’m not sure where this month went – I do know that I started this blog post much earlier in the month but just didn’t get the urge to get it finished.

I’m really looking forward to the next chapter in my life – and will start by spending most of the winter at my home in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Jeremiah will get a thorough cleaning and then will be for sale. (if you know anyone interested in a 30-ft Winnebago Aspect motor home, pass along my email address.

Once Jeremiah has a new owner, I'll be shopping for a small, van-type RV. I'm starting to plan a lengthy trip starting late April 2013. The smaller RV, 19 to 20-feet, will simplify my travels. 

Until next time - whenever that will be!

We must be willing to seize opportunities, even if they take us in a direction we never intended to go. – Kay Peterson

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The Labor Day Mob is here

"We don't always have control over what happens, but we do have control over what we do with the experience." – unknown author

‘This, too, shall pass’ is the reminder to myself as I wander around a campground that is a jumble of people (including lots of children), dogs, RVs, tents, boats, boat trailers, cars and pickup trucks. Fortunately we have a bunch of really nice folks who behave themselves. I’m so glad I have seven law-enforcement rangers who are at my beck and call when any situation calls for enforcement. If a camper wants to argue with me (“my dog doesn’t need to be on a leash” “but I want to park there” and “I don’t see why I should pay to be here”) I smile and simply say, “I’ll have a ranger come explain it to you,” as I take out my cell phone and make a call.

Then in the evening as I relax from a busy day, I reflect on the sweet solitude and stillness I enjoyed for the previous four or five days. I remember the hours I spent sitting in the shade reading and watching the ‘wildlife’ – humming birds, robins, Juniper titmouse, towhee and the graceful ravens, lizards, rabbits and an assortment of insects including ants, hornets and a Praying Mantis. 
 And speaking of wildlife, you’ll recall that Volunteer Dick had three kittens (two gray and one yellow-orange) that momma cat (yellow-orange) birthed in his diesel engine compartment. The kittens grew up and Dick decided to trap and relocate them. First he caught the yellow-orange one and relocated it at the farthest primitive campground. The next day he caught one of the gray ones and took to the area where he left the other cat. On the morning of day three, he found a raccoon in the trap – a very mad raccoon. Dick relocated this critter in a different primitive campground. Two days later, I spotted Momma cat and her three offspring running across the road from Dick’s RV to the dumpster area!

As I think about changing to a much smaller RV, I also mentally pare down my belongings. With this on my mind at times, I had to grin when I saw the neighboring toddler as he sucked his thumb while fondling a quilted cotton square, recalling on how most toddlers have a favorite ‘blankie’ or stuffed toy!

The pocket full of dog treats has made my volunteer time extra special! I’ve treated lots of dogs of all sizes (after asking their human if it is OK and also making sure the dog would not take my hand off). As I’m bending down to treat a dog, I talk to it: “(dog’s name) I have a job for you while you are here. Be sure your human keeps you on a leash and picks up after you. Can you do that for me?” At that point I give the treat and get some pets. Humans have heard my request and hopefully they follow through.

I have some favorite dogs, one of them is Zeus the big slobbery dog across the way.
Dogs that I see frequently go nuts and strain at their leashes when I’m near. And in exchange for the treats, I get lots of dog petting!

Weather has been super – day highs in upper 80s; nights lows in the mid 60s. Great sleeping weather. We did have some thunderstorms last week, a couple that dumped quite a bit of rain. What a surprise to see what one camper did about his leaky roof – added a large Coppertone umbrella on the roof. Clever, don’t you think?
This week’s “Found” list is really short – one quarter and five pennies and a steak knife! I’m attributing the lack of goodies is that there are very few tenting campsites. But I’m always hopeful!

And I eagerly await the solitude and stillness that will be here after this weekend.

Here’s your thought to ponder this week:
If you waste your life sitting on the fence, you’ll end up going nowhere in the brief time you have left.