Thursday, July 31, 2014

Carol: Sit! Stay! Write!

Part of the adventure of life is not always knowing what’s going to happen next, and the next part may be grander than any plan I might make. I like to stay open to the unknown … to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people.

Besides taking advantage of my Emeritus Host status for the state park system in New Mexico, I enjoy giving back by being helpful as I camp. So far, I've camped and helped out at Bluewater Lake, Navajo Lake and currently at Pancho Villa State Park. And I just got word that Fenton Lake can use some help for a week or so until their scheduled volunteer host arrives. After that?? Stay tuned.

Navajo Lake State Park
In early July, I responded to an SOS from the NLSP manager – he could use my help. A grateful welcome, including hugs, smiles and the key to a brand-new John Deere Gator, greeted me at Navajo Lake State Park. I was there to provide additional help for the July 4 weekend and to fill the campground host position for a week or so until the new hosts arrived.

I spent mornings with whichever ranger or park employee had the job of collecting fees from various camping and parking areas. Never a dull moment. Especially when, riding with the park superintendent, I accidentally bumped the button that activated the flashing lights on his park truck. Another time a ranger and I stopped and waited for a doe and her two fawns to cross the park road. More excitement when we came across a pile of bear scat at one of the parking lots. (Rangers have determined that a mom bear and her two cubs are raiding garbage cans.)

As always, I enjoyed visiting with campers, petting their dogs, and helping keep the park tidy. Making conversation with two guys who regularly fished together resulted in two evening meals of just-caught, just-grilled salmon! Yum! Being in the park over the Independence Day holiday meant a campground overflowing with RVs, boats, and people!

Four bicyclers and their “sag wagon” arrived for an overnight. They are part of “Bright Hope” ( and raising money by riding from Chicago to Orange County, California. I found them a good campsite and provided them with some firewood. (Yes, the evenings were chilly enough to enjoy a fire.)

It was not all work – I had plenty of time to watch birds, read and enjoy the New Mexico skies.
Visiting friends in Los Alamos
Some people live in gated neighborhoods; my friends Irene and Bob Aiken live in a gated town. Yes, since 9-11, vehicles entering Los Alamos must stop and show ID to the armed guard to enter. This is where the top-secret Manhattan Project was developed.

Jeremiah parked in front of their house and I entered the Ritz Aiken! Two nights in a real bed with luxurious linens, delicious meals and a dizzying view from their back deck to the deep canyon below. Plus a super green chile/cheeseburger for lunch at the ski lodge overlooking the town!

A brief stop in Rio Rancho
While I was at Navajo Lake, my computer's virus protection subscription ran out. Since I've made a decision not to order anything via computer that required me to give my credit card number, I simply put the computer in a cupboard until I could get to a Best Buy store. After Los Alamos, I made a brief stop in Rio Rancho to get this done. I also spent a day with daughter Sue and did some shopping.

Percha Dam State Park
In the past this has been one of my favorite parks – it sits along the Rio Grande just south of Elephant Butte and Caballo lakes. The park has lots of huge trees to provide shade on toasty summer days. It also has multi-gazillions flying bugs! Gnats, flies, mosquitoes, and who knows what! It was impossible to sit outside and even a walk to the park's restrooms was unpleasant. I only stayed one night, leaving the next morning and driving to Pancho Villa State Park.

Pancho Villa State Park
Way south in New Mexico – just three miles north of the US/Mexico border – is the first park that I volunteered for. It used to be overflowing with cactus and had quite a few mesquite and cottonwood trees. Then came the years of drought. A lot of the cactus has died, along with the cottonwoods. The peacefulness is still here; it is a great place to sit back and relax under the campsites' shelters. A nice breeze evaporates sweat droplets and I watch the thunderclouds build to the south. Maybe we'll get some rain this evening. Mornings are cool, I can hear a couple roosters along with the variety of birds here.

My life continues to be a great adventure! I am so blessed by the choices I have made.