Leaving Big Creek for Canada, via Washington

Pulled away from our Big Creek Hatchery site about 7am July 1. Got a chance to say so-long to Jessica and Travis. Bitter sweet as leaving was like leaving family.

Wednesday before we left, most of the techs and their families surprised us at the 10am break with a good-bye cake, some Tillamook ice cream, and a very nice don’t leave card.

 

Ross instructed Connie on proper fish feeding the week before we left. Click on the picture or attached video to view the 4 second video.

Retired tech Mike (was here when we volunteered in 2016) took 3 techs and Rob’s son Jaxson halibut fishing while we were there. They returned with their fish ready to fillet for the pan, or freezer, all in the same day. Jessica was kind enough to give us a couple generous fillets from her catch. We also enjoy some Spring Salmon (Chinook or King) that has been given to us. Yum yum,

Kayla and Ross hosted a crawdad boil the Sunday before we left. They trapped the crawdads in a slough a short distance from the hatchery. It was quite an event getting the live crawdads ready to drop in the pot. Click on the picture or view attached to see Kayla and Connie prepping them.

After leaving Big Creek on Sunday July 1, we drove US30 to Longview, then up I5 to US12 over White Pass Scenic Byway, and through the edge of Mt Rainier National Park to Yakima and Bonair Winery.

Stopped near the summit at a Mt Rainier View Point. And reminiscent of trying to catch a glimpse of Denali while we were in Alaska, it was clouded over too.

Got set up next to Bonair’s vineyards around 2pm. Fantastic! As members of Harvest Hosts, we are good to park here and no cost. The wine was NOT free however!

Mt Rainier can be seen from here on a clear day, but not clear enough today. We did get a great view of snow covered Mt Adams which is a little closer. Rainier is over 14k’ and Adams a little over 12k’

Vineyard/winery owner Shirley was very gracious and served us a variety of their selections. Wonderful wine… and hospitality. Shirley and Gail planted their first vineyard back in 1980 and have been going strong ever since, starting the winery in 1988. They boast that this Rattlesnake Hills vineyard area is on the same latitude as Burgundy, France….noting that the California vineyards are on the same latitude as Baghdad, Iraq!

We  enjoyed walking around the grounds on such a perfect day in the low 70s. Later we walked down the peaceful country road along side huge cherry orchards. All agriculture in the area is irrigated with water from the Yakima river. Needed water as Shirley said their annual rainfall is only 6 inches.

Couldn’t resist buying Bonair’s  2013 Rattlesnake Hills Malbec (pink label), Touriga Port, and a Bung Dog Red for on the road.

Monday, we continue north a short distance to a Boondocker’s Welcome location in East Wenatchee. Another no-cost night, then one more winery before crossing into British Columbia Canada.

 

Ooops and Lots of People

First of all…So sorry for sending out the last post 3 times. There was a glitch in the Email Plugin and  it continued send to the post automatically…and from Admin at StreamingAround instead of Ed. I think we got it figured out now, so stay tuned.

Turns out our RV friends from Mesa are serving as park hosts just 60 miles from us in Washington at Seaquest State Park near Castle Rock, which just happens to be directly across Washington hwy 504 from Mount St. Helen’s Visitor Center. We had a delightful visit with Don and Doreen and enjoyed seeing their park. They are there June and July, then will move over to Yakima Sportsman State Park for August. They enjoy the cooler summer climate in Washington, but will be happy to get back to their new home in Queen Creek, Arizona after their volunteer stint.

We enjoyed stopping at the visitor center across from the state park to check out the view and a little history. We learned that the US Forest Service’s Johnson Ridge Observatory, about an hour up WA504 (end of the road) where you can see the west side of the 1981 blowout. Don told us that it is a beautiful drive and some fantastic views. Next time maybe.

We put in our 20 hours a week by working 4 hours per day M-F. The day starts out in the office with 4-6 hatchery techs and Rob, the hatchery supervisor. Clockwise from Connie is Rob, Tanner (a roaming tech that serves 3 area hatcheries), Jessica, our neighbor and new friend, Nick, Dustin, Travis (our volunteer coordinator) and Ross (the hatchery senior tech). All our great folks, as well as their families we have grown to know. Rob, Dustin, Travis, and Ross were here when we volunteered back in 2016.

As noted in our May post about “Lost Salmon“, Spring Chinook  Salmon stray up Big Creek and wind up coming up the fish ladder and into the pens normally used to process spawning Fall Salmon later in the year. Consequently, Spring Salmon fishing is pretty good in May and into July, but the salmon that get past the anglers, wind up in the pens. We transported them back to the mouth of Big Creek last time, but they were not quite so fortunate this go round. They were killed with a club and bled (one of their gills pulled out). Sounds cruel, but they are destined to die anyway. Like all salmon during spawning time. Connie got in on the clubbing. This video is where the fish are first brought up from the pen and are very active. Click HERE to see the 34 second youtube video.

Travis, our host coordinator/tech,  takes advantage of the excellent fishing in Big Creek, as well as other locations around the area. Often rises early before work and goes down to the creek. Note that “work” and “the creek” are closer than some folks walk to get their mail. At any rate, Travis always makes sure we have plenty of salmon. He came by here to drop off a few fillets, along with his son Everett. The boy next to Connie is Benjamin, another neighbor. We’re very fond of Benjamin.

Cousin Lia and Jerry from Klamath Falls brought their motorhome to Astoria for a few days and Cousin Mike and Colleen, came down from Seatac and stayed with them. They all came up for Connie’s Instant Pot meatloaf dinner on Friday. Mike was a little boy when Ed last saw him, so it was great re-uniting and meeting Colleen.

Lia and Connie have really hit it off, as displayed on our trip to Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach. We all drove the short distance from Astoria to enjoy a rather cool (56°), with a little wind, beach combing experience. The tide was very low, enabling walking out to the rock and exploring tidal life (like starfish) that are normally under water.

After tide pooling at Haystack Rock, we headed back north to the Muscle-Chrome car show in Seaside. About 3 blocks of vintage cars parked on the street and surrounded by hundreds of folks taking a closer look. Most cars were 1960s thru 1978. We had a great time, taking a break at the Seaside Brewery for lunch.

Couldn’t get enough of the large crowds, so walked the 3 blocks of vendor tents at Astoria’s Sunday Market. Mike and Colleen left earlier that morning, so Just Lia, Jerry and the Allens participated. Ed and Jerry enjoyed a Vortex IPA as we all stopped by at the Fort George Brewery before heading back to Big Creek

How to Spend a Courtesy Day Off

Friday June 1, 2018: We were told at our 7:30am meeting that we should just take the day off. No problem! We got ready and departed mid morning. We drove up Washington’s Long Beach peninsula on US 101 and Oregon 103 to Oysterville on the peninsula between Willapa (Willa-Paw) bay and the Pacific.
We visited the quaint Willabay Oyster Sea Farms company and store and bought some smoked osysters. Willabay generates revenue for the restoration and preservation of Oysterville’s last oyster buildings. These buildings were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and they are a key reason why Oysterville is designated a National Historic District.
 
Oysterville was once a thriving village and served as the County Seat in it’s early history. The area was populated by Chinook Indians prior to Europeans coming to the area to harvest oysters, shipping oysters on schooners to San Fransisco during the Gold Rush days. Many of the homes were built in the mid 1850s and  are restored. They make for a scenic drive down the short streets through the village.

From Oysterville, we drove south on Sandridge Road and stopped at the Nahcotta interpretive center. It was low tide so we were able to see harvest beds from the building. The building is a replica of the residence used by oystermen and their families when they lived over their oyster beds for security. We also watched a short video that helped us to understand the oyster harvest process and history. Several commercial oyster operations are next to the center.

 
Driving a little further south on Sandridge Road, we couldn’t resist checking out the LJ Ranch Goat Farm. The sign “Kids for Sale” caught our attention before we realized it referred to “kid” goats. Jerry and Lisa were very gracious as they showed us around their farm consisting of 38 goats from babies to older Billies (too many Jerry said). We had to succumb to purchasing a small block of Gouda goat cheese and lavender soap .
 
After all that, we were ready for a snack. After driving the short distance down Sandridge, we unexpectedly spotted Bailey’s bakery and cafe in Nahcotta. Actually drove by before realizing it was there. Connie enjoyed a cup of delicious clam chowder and Ed had tortilla soup. Had to throw in a couple yummy ginger snap cookies to fill the gap….oh yeah, and a peanut butter one too 🙂
Before heading back to the hatchery, we just happened  [sce emoji=”wink”/] to drive past the North Jetty Brewery in Seaview. Had to stop of course. Ed tried an 8oz glass of their Discovery Coast Coffee Stout, but Connie held out for a glass of water. How boring. It was a delightful day! God is GOOD. Got home around 4pm.

May at Big Creek

This is a view from the meadow in back of our trailer. Trees in the foreground are plum. We can hear Big Creek babbling from the meadow, and from our trailer if we listen close.

A heard of elk meander around the hatchery grounds and we’re able to capture a view now and then. Majestic.

We venture in to Astoria, as well as nearby Warrenton, about once a week to shop and check in at a brewery. Astoria was used to film several movies, the most noted is the 1985 movie “The Goonies.” We stopped at Astoria Coffee Roasters, located a block away from the Goonies house, and also the Kindergarten Cop school building. Because of all the unwanted traffic created by Goonie fanatics, you can’t get close to the house, but Kindergarten Cop school is an easy drive by. It continues as a school today, known as the John Jacob Astor school… Or “Astoria Elementary”

We enjoyed a short drive on US 101 across the Columbia to Ilwaco, Washington and their Saturday market along the docks. Mostly crafty items this time of year, but it will expand as local farmers can harvest their produce. At any rate it was a fun day to explore.

We met Lauren and Caleb at the Tillamook Cheese Factory in Tillamook on Saturday over Memorial Day weekend. They are young couple that serve as traveling nurses around the country, generally working 12 hour days of night shifts. We met them while we were all staying at Twin Palms RV Park in Mesa. They needed a break from their long night shifts, so we suggested they try volunteering at Alsea Fish Hatchery near Corvallis. We had volunteered there in 2015. They did, so that enabled us to meet them at Tillamook and catch up. Sad that the factory was closed for remodeling, but we were able to visit their temporary visitor building for cheese tasting and their delicious ice cream. Later, we stopped by De Garde Brewery for a taste, and the Pelican Brewery for a burger and an Umbrella (their IPA).

Meanwhile back at the hatchery, we had a fun time gathering with the tech families for a little BBQ. The added social life makes our stay here extra special.

Life at the hatchery this time of year is somewhat slow as far as the hatchery operation. Mostly maintenance. But we got to participate in gathering up some Spring Salmon that couldn’t quite find their way back home. These Chinook (King) average around 12 pounds. Here is a 26 second video of the operation.

“Springers” aren’t hatched or released at Big Creek, so they shouldn’t be coming up the creek to spawn from the ocean, but some occasionally stray up the stream each year. They “become lost” in part because of net pens in the sloughs.

After gathering the “lost springers,” we took them down close to the mouth of Big Creek and released. We helped punch a hole it their tale for identification, but so far no one has reported catching one.

TULE SALMON RELEASE

Tule Chinook (King) salmon spawn and hatch at Big Creek Hatchery. Columbia River Indians called them mitúla, or “white salmon,” because the flesh of the salmon is light colored when they return to spawn. When ready, the young salmon (2-3 inches) are released into Big Creek to begin their journey to the pacific, where they live 3-4 years before returning to spawn. To help get them ready, techs will poor on the feed, looking for about 70 fish per pound before releasing. View the 8 second video below to see the feeding process.

When ready, the pond gates are opened and the young Tules are coaxed out through a large pipe over to a larger pipe that runs under the spawning building.

Look closely and you can see a couple young Tules as they come out of the channel under the spawning building. These guys are only a couple inches long.

Then they follow the channel into Big Creek, and eventually the Columbia River and the Pacific. Big Creek released around 2 1/2 million, and less than 1% will make it back to spawn.

 

Arizona to Oregon

April 24, 2018: Say goodbye to Steve and Jenni and others as we depart Twin Palms RV Park around 9am toward Kingman, Arizona.

With months of Arizona dust build up on our home, we decided to run it through the Kingman Blue Beacon Truck Wash before venturing down Historic US 66 about 5 miles to the Desert Diamond Distillery, a Harvest Hosts location. Even though they were officially closed Tuesdays, John and Deborah welcomed us to their distillery and showed us where to park; right along side a quaint gazebo patio area and the vintage Pullman car that came with a story on how the heck they got it there from Kansas… along with their plans to refurbish it into a restaurant.

John took the time to give us a tour of the distillery and an informative presentation on how they distill rum. Afterward, we joined Deborah at the bar tasting room for some samples of their product. Connie favored the Barrel Rum Reserve so we purchased a bottle as a reminder of our D³ (Desert Diamond Distillery) stop.

We met up with John and Deborah for breakfast at the Airport Cafe Wednesday morning. We were able to walk to the cafe as it is located a short distance from the distillery. The area is next to the local airport located in the industrial area of Kingman.

After breakfast at the cafe, we traveled US 95 by Hoover dam and continued though Las Vegas. We hoped to find a truck stop along the route where we could pull in/out easy with our big 5th wheel. Nope! Wound up making a U turn north of town and heading back to a station located in a shopping center area. Got into a rather tight situation, but managed to find an end pump and a couple nice young ladies that were there to pump our fuel. Whew! We were off and going again after about 1/2 hour.

We tried to figure out this spectacular bright light in the desert as we approached Millers Rest Area, 10 miles west of Tonopah. With good cell service we were able to Google that this was the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a 110 megawatt solar thermal project with 1.1 gigawatt-hours of energy storage.

Just past the huge solar project is Millers Rest Area. Like an oasis in the middle of the desert. Very non typical as no trucks are permitted. There is even a dump station for dumping our holding tanks.

Incorporated next to Millers Rest Area is a large area for overnight parking. We got there mid-afternoon so had plenty of time to relax a bit. It was so much better than a Walmart stop, other than Walmart is nice if you need supplies.

We got settled in to Silver Sage RV Park Thursday night and met up with daughter Shannon and grand daughter Faith where they were staying at the Atlantis Hotel and Casino. Enjoyed dinner with them at the Purple Parrot in the Hotel. The Atlantis enclosed walkway to the convention center made it very convenient to get back and forth to the volleyball games over the next couple days. The convention center is less than a mile from our RV park so we walked to the convention center for exercise as weather permitted.

The “Far Western National Qualifier” volleyball tournament was amazing.  They had 77 courts (see map) set up and games going on continually on all the courts throughout the Friday and Saturday, plus teams waiting for their time on the court. The courts were also busy Sunday  for playoffs. I calculated 77 courts, 12 girls on each court, plus subs and 12 girls waiting for the court…plus coaches and subs…and easy 2000 plus volleyball players and coaches. Connie says there had to be lots of drama ;-).

Grand daughter Faith and her mom were our motivation for being in Reno. Great to see them and great to see Faith play in such rigorous competition. She plays with Colorado Juniors 16. They did well and the team placed 4th out of the 50 teams in their Division.

Colorado Juniors warming up, Faith in the forefront.

We did take a little side tour to get fuel while in Reno. Well…diesel for the truck. But couldn’t resist stopping at the Great Basin brewery for human fuel recommended by friend Annette. Ed enjoyed an “Icky” IPA, while Connie tried their Alpenglow Hazy IPA. The beer went well with an order of wings.

We took daughter and grand daughter to the airport early Sunday evening so they could fly to Denver and get back to their regular life. Then Monday we were on the road again toward our ultimate destination at Big Creek Fish Hatchery in Knappa, OR; near Astoria.

Ed had recently established a re-newed relationship with Lia, his 2nd cousin, when she and her husband Jerry stopped off at our place in Mesa. They invited us to overnight at their place near Klamath Falls on our way to Big Creek. WOW! A fantastic place in the woods outside of Klamath Falls. They made us feel especially welcome and offered full hookups for our 5th wheel.

Now this is hospitality folks. Jerry cooked up some tri-tip meat and BBQ chicken. Lia fixed a salad and mashed potatoes. Doreen, another 2nd cousin came up from California to see us and stay overnight. We had an awesome visit with everyone, and enjoyed the libations along with the company.

Lia and Jerry not only have a fabulous home, but Jerry gave us a tour of his “Man Cave” where he builds guns and loads his own ammo.

Next to the man cave is a garage where they keep the fishing boat and Jerry makes fishing poles. The man has many talents, including upgrading their kitchen. We think he’s best at hospitality. Here is a picture of Jerry with the cousins: L to R: Doreen, Jerry, Lia, and Ed.

We pulled in to Big Creek Tuesday May 1 at 5pm Tuesday and got settled in after a wee bit of a backing in problem. Ed’s pride was crushed that he didn’t get it backed in with one fail swoop.

Reported for our first 4 hour day on Wednesday and got right to it after a morning meeting. We spread lime pellets on all lawns in around the tech’s homes.

Thursday Connie worked in the flower garden near the entrance while Ed mowed on the John Deere. We’ll take before and after pictures of her garden work next time as she made a big difference here.

We’ve been invited to a BBQ Saturday, hosted by Dustin and Brianna. Dustin is a tech and lives in the green house in the picture. Not counting our trailer, there are six homes in our quaint neighborhood. All for the techs and their families. A great group of folks. Yesterday, Brianna brought muffins over and Travis brought over a salmon filet he caught caught earlier in the day. It’s going to be a good May and June.

Winding Down in Arizona

A well known Mesa landmark that always catches our eye when we’re driving on Main Street is the historic Diving Lady neon sign. It has quite a story. Originally erected in the 1960’s but came down with a crash during a storm in 2010. Mesa Preservation Foundation was instrumental in restoring the landmark in 2013,  and it now stands proud in front of the Starlite Motel…that no longer has a pool.

We’ve had several visitors since our arrival last November. Janet and Nancy from Utah stopped by the afternoon March 10. We took them to the Mesa Beer fest and our favorite BRI brewery.

We got together with Mike and Marva a couple times in Mid March. They are friends we met at Brazos Bend State Park near Houston mid-March. We served with them there Nov-Dec 2015. Mike and Marva parked their RV trailer down the street and we had an awesome time with them in the area…including the Olive Mill Farm, the Pork Shop, and riding bikes to the Gilbert Farmers Market. Great seeing them again.

We are thankful that Colorado friends Jann and Jeff Fox that have their RV parked across the valley (Goodyear) and we are able to see them from time to time. They came to see us Friday April 6, bringing Jann’s sister Jeri and her husband Bruce. Great visit, meatloaf, and beer.

On Thursday March 22 we road our bikes the 4+ miles down the Consolidated Canal path to the Oakland A’s Hohokam Stadium to watch the Rockies beat Oakland 4 to 2. Nice day to enjoy a beer, hotdog and the ballgame.

Ed took Connie to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport on Saturday March 24 for her flight to Colorado and a family connection fix. Her flight was 5:15am, leaving Ed plenty of time to attend the Men’s breakfast at Christ Church in Gilbert. He had a great time meeting and sharing with some other Men. Connie enjoyed her week with sister Cheri and daughter Shannon and family.

We took a long drive to Wickenburg and Jerome on Thursday April 12. From Mesa we drove the freeway to Scottsdale Rd and the Carefree highway (highway 74), then over to 60 and up to Wickenburg. We loved walking around Wickenburg a bit, stopping at the Chamber of Commerce located in the old train depot. Shopped a couple antique stores before moving on toward Jerome, through Yarnell and Prescott via winding highway 89. Yarnell is known for the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots that died fighting a wildfire back in 2013. Josh Brolin stars in Only the Brave, a movie about the tragedy.

Drove highway 89A from Prescott to Jerome. Now Jerome is quite an interesting town. Reminded us a bit of Central City, Colorado. An old copper mining town built on the side of a hill. In the old days it was sometimes referred to as the Wicked City. Brothels and such you know.

Our drive happened to coincide with Arizona Bike Week so we saw lots of Motorcycles.

A potter had a few of his things set out in a spot between two buildings. Connie couldn’t resist buying yet another unique cup.

The Wicked City Tap House is up yet another hill we had to climb, but was worth the walk to get a little refreshment. Connie found a stool next to a very bony fellow.

We’re saying good bye to friends and family in Arizona April 24 and going back on the road. God willing, we’ll be back here November 2.

4/24 Depart Mesa. Drycamp at a Desert Diamond Distillery in Kingman
4/25 drycamp at Millers rest stop near Tonapah, NV
4/26-4/29 Silver Sage RV Park Reno, NV for Faith’s VB tournament
4/30 Lia & Jerry’s place Klamath Falls, OR
May-June – Big Creek fish hatchery near Astoria, OR
7/1 – Ice Lock Dam & Visitor Ctr near Pasco, WA to see Geidels
7/2 – Boondockers Welcome Pearts Wenatchee, WA
7/3 – Harvest Hosts Esther Bricques Winery & Vineyard Oroville, WA
7/4 – Harvest Hosts DeMille’s Farm Market Salmon Arm, BC
7/5-7/6 Irvins Campgroud Valemount, BC
7/7-7/8 – Whisler CG Jasper – diyr 30GG confirmed no hookups
7/9-7/10 – Tunnel Trl Court CG Banff FHU
7/11 – Boondockers; Canal Flats BC
7/12-7/13 – Glacier Sun Winery Kalispell, MT
7/14 – Harvest Host Miracle of America Polson, MT
7/15-7/16 – Peggy & Tom’s DoubleArrow Golf Course near Sealy Lake
7/17-7/20 – Helena Fairgrounds space 20 w/electric
7/21-7/24 – Sunrise Campground Bozeman, MT
7/25-7/26 – 7th Ranch RV Park Garryowen, MT
7/27-7/30 – Gillette, WY
7/31-8/1 – Spearfish City Park RV campground
8/2 – City Park Wheatland, WY first come first camp
Aug 3-4 Hi-Camp campground no hookkups-Cheyenne for Connie’s 50th HS reunion
8/5 – Cheri’s Loveland
Aug 6-Sept 6 Loveland RV
9/7-9/10- Monument RV Campground , Fruita, CO
9/11-9/13: Ridgway State Park site 18 confirmed
9/14-9/21: Fraser
9/22-10/6: St. Vrain
10/7-10/10: Bear Creek Lake Rec Area Lakewood, CO
10/11-10/25: Chatfield SP
10/26-10/27: Cheyenne Mtn SP Colorado Springs
10/28: Childress, Tx
10/29-10/31: Stephenville, TX
11/1: Las Cruces, NM
11/2: Twin Palms

Family, Friends, and Excursions

Grandson, Hagen Brinkerhoff, from Gillette, Wyoming was working in the area for Komatsu during February and March. It was great that he could come by a few times on Sunday evenings for dinner and a visit. Great because he was working 14 hour days, 6 days a week and it was great to see him.

Also got a surprise visit from Ed’s 2nd cousin Lia, and friend Jerry, traveling through from Klamath Falls, Oregon in their new motorhome. They were on their way to Florida, with a stopover in Stephenville, Texas to visit Ed’s sister Alice. Ed and Lia hadn’t seen each other since Lia was a child.

Weather has generally been nice enough to eat on our little patio. Its especially appreciated when we have more than the four people. Four is about all that can comfortably sit at our inside table. This evening we enjoyed having our local Arizona family: Connie’s sister Carol and husband Roger, Carol’s son Marshall and his wife Amanda, and their daughter Mackenzie.

You meet a lot of new friends when living the RV lifestyle. A couple new ones are Janet and Allen Hlady from Beauseliour Manitoba, Canada. Not shown is their cocker-poodle dog Leo that Connie fell in love with. They are a a fun couple and invited us to stop by when we travel that way the summer of 2019. In case you’re wondering, Allen is not drinking a strange brew, but winterizing their trailer. He knows that it will certainly be freezing, even before they get back to Manitoba.

We also have some old friends we met up with. Jeff and Jann Fox have their 5th wheel trailer parked at an RV park near Goodyear, Arizona. Nearly an hour away, but close enough to arrange a visit. This day we fired up our dually and drove them out to St. Anthony’s Greek Monastery near Florence, Colorado. Note the special attire required to tour the grounds. Only face and hands should be visible. Men may leave the top of their head exposed.

Connie and Jann go back over 40 years to their friendship in Cheyenne, Wyoming! Jeff recently retired (again) and they enjoy their new freedom to travel in their RV. Jann is working through some serious medical problems and we continue to pray for them.

Other friends we met RVing are Don and Doreen. Both retired Navy and avid Carp fishermen. Lots to tell about their story, but Don rebuked me when he saw I posted a picture of him fishing the canal, but didn’t include the picture of one of the fish he caught. So here it is. Wow!

But wait! Just learned that Doreen caught this 34 pound carp on the fourth.

Excursions included a visit to the Wood Carvers gathering at the Mesa Convention Center. We were invited by Doris Trinko, an RVer that parks here. Doris is a widow and active in the wood carving world, specializes in wood burning art. The carvings were fantastic.

Our excursions also included riding the Light Rail to downtown Phoenix. We boarded at the last station east, and found we had most of the train to ourselves, but after passing Tempe and Arizona State University, the train was packed. We enjoyed walking around town some, but didn’t push it as Connie’s ankle has been giving her pain problems from her ankle break.

We stopped in Tempe on our return and enjoyed a short walk down Mill street. Lots of restaurants and shops. A fun excursion for a $2 ticket to ride all day.

Another excursion was to the owner of our RV Park’s home to pick oranges and relax with a cool beer. Picked several bags of oranges that we’ll share with guests at the RV park. Steve and Jenni have 30 orange trees that remain from the original orchard. Great navels that everyone enjoys.

Not really an excursion, but we do need to provide a little labor around the park from time to time. Ed has been working on insulating, or re-insulating all the water risers on the park’s 15 spaces. So far we haven’t had a freeze, but always good to be prepared just in case the temp drops to the high temp back in Colorado 😉

 

Grand Canyon Visit

We drove up to Williams, AZ the afternoon of Wednesday January 17, 2017. Williams is a unique town right off Interstate 40, but with a lot of US 66 history.

Back in 1984 Williams was the last location where I40 bypassed US 66. We learned there is a stretch of US 66 that is still drivable from Ask Fork, AZ (just west of Williams) to Kingman, AZ, but most of the old highway is history, and even this drivable stretch if now designated “Historic Arizona 66” rather than US 66.

We even found a brewery in Williams. Historic no less. All this just a short walk from the Grand Canyon Hotel in Williams.

After a good night’s sleep at the Grand Canyon Hotel, we strolled down to witness the shootout.

After the shootout, which is next to where the Grand Canyon Railroad boards passengers for the 2 hour 15 minute train ride to the Grand Canyon South Rim, we were ready for the next step of our adventure. The train travels the 65 miles at an average speed of 40mph. Slow enough to fully enjoy the ever changing countryside; from desert sage, juniper trees, and pines, to the Grand Canyon itself. We even saw a bobcat! Thanks to Kathy with a “K” for pointing it out.

Kathy with a “K” was our PSA (Passenger Service Assistant) and did a fantastic job of informing us about how we might enjoy our 3+ hours at the park. She also had tons of other facts about the area; maps, history, trivia and jokes. She certainly helped make the train ride enjoyable.

Sid Hausman, from New Mexico, entertained us on the morning ride with his excellent banjo skills and a song on his “Bones” that he said came from one of the BBQ dinners he went to? This picture gives a glimpse into the “coach” car. There are also first class seats and observation car seats. The car directly behind us was the diner, but we never made it.

Connie had never been to Grand Canyon, and Ed had only been there as a charter bus driver, but didn’t really “see” the canyon. We both enjoyed the spectacular beauty and depth. We were also blessed with excellent weather. Quite sunny, no wind, and a warm 57°. Quite warm for a January day at 7000 feet. Our light jackets were more than enough..

The Colorado River, which runs through the canyon, is rarely visible because of the canyon’s mile depth; it averages 10 miles in width. Its narrowest point is in Marble Canyon, where it is 600 feet wide. Its maximum width of 18 miles is found at several different points.. The blue dot in the center of the bottom picture is all we saw of the Colorado.

It seems that many agree on how many millions…billions of years the earth is, and how many years it took for the Grand Canyon to erode to what it is today…even though they weren’t there. Connie and Ed lean more toward a young earth, much as described in the new “Is Genesis History” movie. But at any rate, we amused from the congratulation sign of our hiking accomplishment.

The train departed at 3:30pm for a 5:45pm Williams arrival, and it was just as enjoyable as the morning ride. Jesse Anderson played the banjo for us on the return. Quite a different style than Sid, but very excellent.

Some of those desperadoes that survived the morning shootout, came along the train on horseback, boarded the train while it was in motion (not the full 40mph) and proceeded through each car, robbing passengers of their belongings. The sheriff was in hot pursuit and I’m sure recovered everyone’s cash and diamonds. He explained that they could claim their stuff back at the old town shootout area if they had the serial numbers from the bills. Actually the bandits got away empty handed.

After arriving back in Williams, we fueled the car and headed home, a 3 hour drive on I17. It was a fantastic 2 days!

 

Weather is Delightful

Time is passing by fast. We’ve been here (Mesa, AZ) two months and it seems like we haven’t really been doing and going much to truly enjoy the beautiful weather (sorry north friends). But as we look back on some of the few pictures we’ve taken, we can see how we really have taken advantage it. On December 7 we hiked the Lost Dutchman Trail in the Superstition mountains. Got a cool picture of a formation with the moon poking through. Look close, it’s there.

Roland had been on this trail several times and was eager to show us the way to the Lost Dutchman’s gold (failed to find it of course). Susan and Ed tagged along reluctantly, but Connie was eager, as usual. It was a great day…Roland drove us to the trailhead; and Susan provided a tasty bowl of split pea soup on our return. Is that an oxymoron…tasty split pea soup?

Connie hiked South Mountain with sister Carol and hiking friend Kerry on December 11 and we were in the groove of walking a 3 mile stretch of the canal path in early mornings with Roland and Susan…They got sick and had to hold back, and Connie’s ankle was started to give her problems. So our walking routine is on hiatus right now. Oh…but we did walk a block to McDonalds for an ice cream cone.

Sunday after church December 10, we took a lovely trip through Payson, Cottonwood, and Sedona to Harding Springs, primarily to get our water jugs filled, but to enjoy the journey and ever changing beauty of the Arizona landscape. The Sedona area is illustrious with red rock formations and picturesque views, like the Midgley bridge, gateway to Oak Creek Canyon, in route to Harding Springs.

We still endeavor to put in a few hours at Twin Palms RV Park. Connie took on staining the gate entrance from the park to the canal; and Ed managed to change out several site water meters. Before and after below:

We haven’t seen many quail come by this year…at least not yet. But we did have a visit from some Rosy-faced Lovebirds (Agapornis roseicollis). Reportedly these fellows were first sighted in Arizona in the eighties. There were actually three that came by.

Geez. What’s this? Fishing the canal? Yep, that’s our old Twin Palms pal, Don, evermore fishing for carp! Yes folks, carp. He doesn’t keep them, or eat them…just releases them back into the canal. Why? You’ll have to ask Don I guess. It is convenient for him though, just a few steps from his trailer and out the gate.

A recent highlight of our life in Arizona was a trip to St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery near Florence…about an hour away. Note St. Elijah Chapel just to the right of the entrance sign. Sister Carol and husband Roger were our guides as they had been there before.

The first thing we see when entering the grounds is St. Anthony’s Church. The inside is quite ornate with many pictures of saints and mosaics. Note the humongous brass chandelier where candles represent the “heavenly church.” There are no lights (except for 2 small ones on the chanter stands). No chairs! Nearly everything is from Greece. Carol, Roger, and Connie stand in amazement as they look around at the incredible fixtures. In addition to the church, there are 5 chapels.

The monks will not allow anyone on the grounds if they have any skin showing other than face and hands. Women must wear a head scarf as well.  The men must wear long sleeve shirts. No sandals. Fortunately, they have a supply of loaner clothing.

The monastery was established in 1995. It is absolutely incredible what they have done to the property in the few short years since. The grounds, fountains, and chapels make up a lush oasis in the middle of the desert.

The interior of one of the Chapels appears very similar in design to the main St. Anthony Church, yet somewhat smaller and exhibits an artistic incredible inlaid wood ceiling.

St. Elijah Chapel, the newest and fifth “chapel”, is still under construction, but attacks the eye’s attention from it’s hilltop setting. Each of the chapels, as well as the monastery itself, have deep rooted history from the early Greek church.

While we don’t attend a Greek Orthodox church, we could be accused of church hopping when we’re in Arizona. We first attended Harvest Chandler, then moved to Harvest East Valley, and we currently attend Christ Church in Gilbert. Actually, they are all the same church, just moving, growing, and renaming. Loving the music and the Bible based messages that dig in to the Bible. We miss Foundations in Loveland, but love Christ Church too.

 

 

Our Colorado to Arizona Transition

We pulled out of Bear Creek Lake, Indian Paintbrush Campground in Lakewood mid-morning Friday October 27, 2017 and traveled the short distance to Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado Springs. A wonderful park across from a Fort Carson Army Base entrance. Stayed here one night so we could attend Faith’s volleyball games that afternoon. Our site had a fantastic view of the valley.

We left Cheyenne Mountain SP just before sunrise on Saturday and began our trip back to Stephenville, TX to visit sister Alice and family. We stopped overnight at the Canyon, TX Walmart. Canyon is just south of Amarillo. We left early Sunday, making  an emergency stop to gather cotton decor while traveling US 84 somewhere between Post and Sweetwater.

After a brief visit with our Stephenville family, which overlapped Halloween (no costumes were needed), we got an early start for our 600 mile trip along I20/I10 across West Texas to a Las Cruces Walmart. A great stopover point. We walked about a mile to the Paisano Cafe for a delicious dinner. A fantastic night for a walk and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation of the Organ Mountains at sunset.

We drove the final 400 miles to our winter home (Twin Palms RV Park) on Thursday November 2, stopping at Blue Beacon for a trailer/truck wash. We were cheerfully greeted by Jenni and Steve with a fruit basket. They were most ready for us to arrive and take some of the park management pressure off.

Since we’ll be here through most of April, we decided having a car, rather than the dually beast, would work much better for tooling around the area. We were originally thinking of just getting a cheap “beater” to get around, but managed to swing this 2013 Rav4 the first week here. Connie Loves it. Ed has only driven it once, riding his bike to Home Depot a lot.

Getting settled in our great little abode.

We attended the blessed wedding of Kevin Sauter and Amanda May on Saturday November 11. Kevin is Brother-in-Law Roger’s son. It was a quickly planned, yet fantastic wedding and reception. Newly certified Roger performed the ceremony. Roger’s wife (Connie’s sister) Carol joins in the celebration and joins in a picture.

Kevin’s son Ryan and daughter Jenna (far right), along with Amanda’s twins Rachel and Maria, and oldest daughter Nina are all one family now. Five children (five 1’s in 11/11/17) plus Kevin and Amanda make 7 (as 111117). How quaint is that?

Roger and Carol are very involved here, including serving as head ushers and Sun Valley Tempe. The natural thing to do after church, of course, is head over to Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row in Gilbert. Connie enjoys her Bloody Mary for breakfast. Oh that girl. The place is quite an adventurous experience, but a little loud for Ed.

Otherwise, we keep quite busy here at Twin Palms. We just re-planted and mulched the bed along the west wall. Ed keeps the pea gravel raked up in the spaces and is busy with general maintenance stuff; Connie cleans restrooms once a week and cares for all the flowers. We both fraternize with the residents here.

A Twin Palms RV Park gate leads directly out to the Consolidated Irrigation Canal and walking path. Low and behold, Ed saw this tortoise along the path. Surely not out of the canal! It turns out that he (she?) got out of his yard and escaped! Animal Control had quite a job getting him off the path.