Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ahhhh...back at Custer!

Feels good to be back again.  Love this area!  Our trip to South Dakota was a little bit eventful.  We stopped for gas at Mitchel, SD...paid the bill...turned the ignition key...hmmm turned it again.....hmmm cussed a bit.....tried again.  Nope nothing not even lights or fans would come on....crap....also its 96 degrees....crap.  So we made some calls and a mobile mechanic is on the way.  Its hot, we are blocking the lanes stuck at the diesel pump....lets try the key one more started...but we need a mechanic yet, there he is..   well a few hundred dollars later we pull into a campground for the night.  It is now dark out and still hot!  Next morning we take off again.   At Rapid City, just 30 minutes from our summer campsite, we decide to fill up with diesel.  Filled up, paid the bill, turned the key...hmmmm we have lights and fans but it will not start!  Made a few calls again....blocked the diesel pumps and lane...remember we are 60' long cuz we have a 2nd trailer behind with our 4 wheeler on it....about 4 hours later the tow trucks arrive.  The truck with me in it is towed to a Ford dealership and the camper is towed to a campground.....made a few more hold of our friends and coworkers Oliver and Don and we made plans for the rescue mission.  Long story short...Oliver and Don towed us with Oliver's truck the next morning to Custer State Park...our truck was in the shop for a week......the Ford dealer was an easy fix and pretty inexpensive...We are here!  Other than our stress our cat Millie had the worst time.  We had her shut in the bathroom, thinking I had jammed the sliding door shut
and propped...but the tow truck hauling the camper was a bit of a rock and roll, poor Millie has no idea what is happening to her home, she gets out the door and stays under our couch until 9:30 that night, coming out only for cat treats and immediately crawling back under the couch.  Poor Millie!  She was fine the next day and yep I think she remembers the park.  Ahh all is good again!

This is the start of our 5th year full timing!  No regrets, well we do miss our friends back home, but still very happy with our chosen lifestyle.  One thing that stands out is the awesome people we meet on a daily basis no matter where we are...the best part...the awesome new friends we meet and keep.  We are back at our normal campsite.  Immediately we put out our bird feeders and we also got immediate results.  Ah the birds, the deer, the buffalo, the scenery...ahh....yep we love it!

 We have gotten some hiking in too...some hikes a bit more strenuous than others....Waterfalls along Sunday Gulch hike....

We work 3 days a week and have 4 days off.  On our off days we have been going out to eat with friends , explore the area, and eat some more. 

My favorite thing to do, other than harassing the to drive the wildlife loop and watch the animals.  Al is busy taking pictures...and more pictures....and more pictures!  The buffalo rut has started and the bulls are fighting.  Impressive thing to see a 2000 pound animal in an all out fight!  This bull was wallowing...a way to loosen old fur but also it is a sign of aggression.  He was aggressive and snorting!


A group of us were driving around the other night on some of the old back roads going to Rockerville when we came across this sign.....We had seen this on TV a couple of years ago.  So if you are following your GPS and it takes you to a Methodist Church it is not the Mount Rushmore National Monument. 
The weather coming out here was in the 90's, so nice to have the 70's and low 80's here, with cool nights.  Come on'd love it too!  But don't trust your GPS!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Back North

Well we left Arizona the middle of April and started our journey home.  Luckily we were able to avoid any weather issues.  Most of the states we traveled through had snow storms the two weeks after we left.  So whew!  We did not do much exploring but we did get to visit with family.  Our one and only Great Niece and a Great Nephew balancing a balloon on a stick ....and below is our newest Great Nephew!

One thing about leaving around the middle of April....there are more campgrounds open!  We like to stay at state parks when we can, but at this time of might be the only camper in the park.   Photo of the view at a state park in Colorado

We have spent the last month getting all our doctoring done.  Other than being older and a bit chubbier than we would like, all is good!  Woo Hoo!

Having been in the desert for the last 3 winters, it always takes awhile to take in all of the GREEN.   One of the things I miss is all of the flowers I used to have around the house, well this year we got into some flower planting and even helped a little with planting a vegetable garden.  
 Man this has been a windy year!  We had winds in Arizona where we volunteered and now we have been getting winds like crazy up here in MN.  Just will not settle down.  We even got in on a Tornado Warning while in MN.  We were at a doctor visit and went to Walgreens to pick up a prescription when the warnings went off.  So they herded all of us into a back room.  Fun times!

Picture of one of our friends barns
Time to start our trek to the Black Hills of South Dakota and start our volunteer job there.  We will be campground hosts in Custer State Park again.  Since we got our medical visits done earlier, we will start a bit earlier at the park.  So soon you will be seeing those buffalo and animal pictures again.

Well we are off to the hills.....

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Desert Wildflowers and Migratory Birds

The time is flying by.  We are down to our last 2 weeks working as volunteers here in Arizona.  March was a very very busy month.  Wore this old lady out!  We had some days in the 90's which brought out the locals by the hundreds well maybe a bit less but .....the last couple of weeks it has been in the 70's and 80's during the day but pretty darn windy.  March winds right...Currently we are down to just 3 volunteers in the park, two of us in the office and just Al doing maintenance.  Our new friends Mark and Paulette left this weekend.  We miss them.  Mark and Al usually worked maintenance together and aside from looking like twins, they had a great time working together and got lots done!  They would confuse the campers thinking they had just talked to one of them only to find out it was the other.   


This the small cactus rock garden by our trailer.  We had fun making
rock cairns in it.  The cactus do not really like the soil by the lake so they do not grow too fast.  Al started watering them when we arrived so they are doing a lot better and a few might even have a blossom this summer...but not while we are here to see them.

A picture of Al and Mark working.  Notice how they would even dress they did not plan just happened.  Al called them my other "my other brother Darryl"  Mark would say they are the Roper Lake Mint Twins....remember the Doublemint gum add.....

There is a huge salt cedar tree/bush beside the trailer and behind us.  Right now they are blooming, a pretty purple flower that attracts lots of birds coming to eat the insects in the blossoms. 
 waiting line

All day long you hear the Yellow Headed Blackbirds, there are hundreds here.

The Hooded Orioles arrived about a week ago.  There are several at our campsite in the trees just chasing each other around.  The hummingbirds are moving back north now too.  We had at least 3 all winter but now we have lots more and more than one species.  So with the Orioles and Hummers flying around chasing each other, it keeps you busy trying to watch them.  Then the Gambel's Quail come marching through with their odd little dignified strut....

This is a Rufus Hummingbird....brown tones, we also have the Anna's and Broadtail Hummingbirds, should have lots more coming in the next week...we will find out!

Al and Mark saw this pair of white faced ibis while working the other day.  They stopped for a break before heading North they most likely wintered in Mexico..

Along with the heat it has been windy and gusty here .... and lots of cloudy days in between the sunshine.  The clouds were reflecting the sunset over the lake, so I had to stop making supper and snap a few shots.  Love the sunset colors in Arizona. 
Different night but awesome moon

 We had noticed a large hole dug into the rock along our trailer and were wondering just what it was.  The one day we saw these two little faces looking at us.  The bunnies had been hopping all around, but we have not seen them lately....people have been seeing snakes and some scorpions in the park since the warm weather arrived.  We have not seen any snakes...thank goodness....but have seen some scorpions.  But Al did find a large crab spider on the patio in back.  Yuck!!!!
So cute...the bunnies...not the spider

  I still find it hard to believe that the desert can be so beautiful and how animals and birds survive here.  Last week we went on some drives, out in the desert to find wildflowers, and we found them..

When we leave here we plan to spend a few days in the Benson area before heading North.  We want to go to the Saguaro National Monument, there should be some good cactus blooms happening there!  The above was one of the few in bloom here now.   If we have time, I still want to see the Hummingbird banding event either at Sierra Vista or Patagonia State Park too.  Time will tell...last year they were not catching very many at the time we were here.

So till next time.....we are on the countdown for our travel North! 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

February 2017
February has been a busy month.  My brother and sister in law were here for a week and our friends from Custer were here the next week.  We spent lots of time exploring.
Had to check out the old jail in Clifton....

Tried to leave Doug there......but

Ginny and Bill, our friends from Custer, spent a month exploring our route here in Arizona from last years Huffy Trails, plus they added a few spots we have never been too.  While they were here we went up to Tonto National Monument up by Superior, AZ.   There are several cliff dwellings up in this area, with one being open to the public. 

We had a beautiful day for exploring! 

On our way home we stopped in Globe, AZ to check out Besh Ba Gowah which is another type of settlement the early inhabitants lived in.  We all found it interesting that these early inhabitants were so good at building their dwellings and cities.  Not like todays builders whose buildings will not last hundreds of years.  These dwellings have been here a long time!

The locals have been telling us that with all this rain we have had this winter the spring flower show should be awesome.  Well it is starting!  Right now it is mostly the Desert Poppy blooming in all shades of yellow to orange.  But they are not the only ones the couple weeks off we have been out traveling looking for spring blossoms.  That is in between laundry and grocery shopping.. 

I like the rock, see the face???Quit groaning!
Oh one of the things we have never seen or helped with before is the removal of cattails from the lake! 
The lady in charge of maintenance drives the machine into the cattails.  The cutting bars go down about 2 feet below the water and cut the cattail off.  The mud hens were going nuts eating the broken pieces.  They had no fear of the machine and all the activity! 

Next the cut cattails are pushed over to the shore.
 At the shoreline the guys grab the cattails with a backhoe and put them into the back of a truck and they haul them away.

Looks like a full load...of cattails...ahem....
The weather was a bit cooler and rainy for this area.  The lake here is very full!  Some of our winter waterfowl birds are already heading north, but more are arriving from their winter homes further south of us as they start heading north again too.  Well back to work tomorrow.  We work Friday through Monday.  Weekend crew.  The park has pretty much been full every night this month.  Time has been flying fast.  We have been here 3 months now and pretty soon some of our coworkers will be leaving and new ones arriving.  We are here until April 18th, understand Easter is crazy here!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Bonita....Wilcox....Duncan.... and Coolidge Dam....
In the last two weeks we went on a few drives in the area.  The weather has been hit and miss, it has been cooler than normal and we are getting a bit of rain, a bit as to measures in the Midwest but for this area when you get 7/10 of an inch on any day it is a lot of rain.  It seems it has rained about every 2 or 3 days.  The lake here is way up and the mountains had snow down to about 4,000 feet which makes for some good pictures.

One day we drove around the west side of Mt Graham starting at the long lost town of Bonita.
This was the only store we found...

Some interesting rock formations along the drive
The town of Wilcox has an annual celebration called Wings over Wilcox.  They celebrate the fact that sandhill cranes winter in the area.  So we drove down to Wilcox for a day.  We had a good barbeque dinner in a cafĂ© located in an old railroad passenger car.  Then we drove around Wilcox and Duncan looking for sandhill cranes.  We found a few groups of them along the way.

Last Wednesday we were looking at the incoming weather  and decided we had to go for another drive before the rains came.  So we looked at the map and decided to check out the Coolidge Dam just south of San Carlos.  The roads to this dam are not used much anymore but at one time they had to be the main route.  The dam was built in 1928 by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and it was dedicated by President Coolidge.  The attention to detail was first rate and the unusual round domes over the turbines were also unique. 

There were two eagles made of concrete, in great detail on one side of the dam.

Note the round concrete domes over the turbines

The detail in the concrete was very unusual as were the light fixtures that no longer are functioning.  This at one time was something to see.  It still is but again, the roads to the dam are not really used anymore.
Because of the weather we had to stop our exploring as those old dirt roads get a bit muddy and we are both too old to push the truck out of the mud...But heavy clouds do create great sunsets....

On one of our walks around the lake here, we came across the game and fish dept as they were stocking the lake  with trout.   As we watched the egrets and blue herons started showing up.  They know when a meal is being served!   Poor fish did not even get a chance.....

Our view of My Graham covered in snow this week.  Not sure but the forecast sounds like there may be about 3 feet of fresh snow at the top.  Mt. Graham is about 10,000 feet.  The park is around 2700'.
 Until next time, be good..........