Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Adios Noviembre

Do you have anything special planned to commemorate the last day of November?  We're gonna take a hike around Bell and Courthouse Rocks.  That's where we always begin a new hiking gig.  We will keep hiking Bell-Courthouse until we acclimate ourselves to the hiking routine again.  Only then will we branch out and start doing other hikes.  Today will be our first visit to the Sedona area since our arrival nearly 2 weeks ago.  Time to check our mail, see Betty Mom and marvel at the astronomical prices in Weber's grocery store.

On December 6th, we will mark our 9th year since we began day hiking again.  That's a story we will tell on the anniversary itself.

Yesterday as a Laundry Day.  Susun is such a trooper when it comes to cleaning clothes in a coin laundromat.
She can do a truckload of laundry and walk out with a smile on her face and say something like, "Gee, that was fun" and really mean it.  For the first time in my life here in the Verde Valley, I didn't spend a single dime in any of the grocery stores.  That's weird.

We decided to try to find a decent taco in Cottonwood and our first attempt was a miserable failure.  We went to someplace called Concho's on the far north end of Old Town.  They advertised a dollar taco on Mondays.  There was no way to get the taco unfried.  The airhead waiter said they they only served them fried and that it wasn't possible to serve a taco unfried.  Huh?  I wonder if the guy thought that a gringo wouldn't know the difference.  Excuse me but the corn tortilla starts out UNFRIED and food can be put into an unfried corn tortillas even easier than it can be placed in a oil-soaked, crisp tortilla.  The tacos were billed as "chicken tacos" but I had to remark to Susun, "Let me know when you spot the chicken."  Eventually we found a few specks of what might have once been a chicken.  Well, we can cross that eatery off the list in our Great Taco Search.   If the Taco Search goes anything like our Idaho Falls search for fresh french fires, it might not turn out so good.  As Susun said, "Guess we better make our own."

While we were in Cottonwood, we noticed a huge AARP van parked at Walgreen's.  Intrigued, we ventured over to ask "Whazzup?"  They were giving a whole battery of free tests so we opted in.  We've never seen as automated and smooth an operation.  We both rec'd total cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, body mass, and bone density in a blink of an eye, plus a free year's extension on our AARP membership.  It was fun and educational. 

I went into Home Depot and came out without spending a dime there either.  I was looking for asphalt emulsion with which to coat the water shed roof.  Home Depot had what I was looking for but, as I stared at the item, I was overcome with an aversion to giving Home Depot any money.  I thought, "I don't care what the Rimrock Mercantile charges for this stuff,  I'd rather give my money to them instead of this giant corporation."

On the way home, we stopped off at The Merc and picked up a gallon of the emulsion.  It was only 50 cents more expensive than Home Depot.  As we drove away I told Susun, "That's it, I'm not spending a dime at Home Depot unless it's for something The Merc doesn't sell like lumber."  Lately, I've begun wondering what life would be like if all the little Mom & Pop businesses went out of business.  I've been wondering what it would be like if we only had the giant corporations remaining.  I've decided to patronize as many small businesses as possible while we are here in Arizona.  Frankly, I don't care if they are more expensive--we need them--they are part of our heritage and our culture.  The photo is of Tim S. and their famous Smokey, he of the Genus Felineus Retailius.  Smokey is currently trying to learn how to use the bar code scanner. In the meantime, Smokey does a real good job tending the cash register.  I kinda doubt Home Depot would let Smokey run a register there.

After our 3 pm return, I slopped on a thick coat of the emulsion atop the water shed.  Two coats a year is all it needs to remain leak proof.  Then I installed a new chain on the old chain saw.  Houn' Dawg called late in the afternoon to tell us about his reaction to our "surprise."  He turned 62 on Sunday and had been swearing he would buy his federal Golden Age pass the following day.  Before we left Idaho Falls, we went to the Visitor Center and gave them ten bucks to pay for Houn Dawg's pass.  Sure enough, he unsuspectingly waltzed into the VC to buy his pass and they surprised him by saying it was FREE!  Ha, Ha, Ha!  SURPRISE! Welcome to the Golden Age, HD.

We enjoyed a nice campfire last night.  There was not a hint of wind so the smoke rose straight up like those stereotypical campfires depicted in Old West lithographs.  We kept the fire real small.  Most people 'round these parts call real small fires "Indian Fires."  As the jingo goes, "Indian build small fire, stand close.  White Man build big fire, stand far away."  This fire was perhaps the size of a basketball--real small--but if we stood close it did the trick.

It's 11 degrees here as I write this and a few degrees below zero up in Flagstaff.  Interestingly, it's also 11 in Idaho Falls right now.  Late this week, we progged to have daytime highs in the upper 60's, maybe even touching 70.  Our barometric pressure has risen 68 points in a mere 48 hours so the warming benefits of high pressure are definitely coming our way. The little graph shows our last 7 days of temp highs and lows.  Just in case you've forgotten, you can click any small image to see the large version.

Have a great day & Cheers!  jp

Monday, November 29, 2010

Picnic Table Debuts

There you have it--the picnic table in all its simplistic serenity. We're quite happy to have it finally assembled and weatherproof.  It's a great addition to the Happy Hour Campfire Zone. 

Yesterday's weather was MUCH better than prognosticated and this morning was crystal clear, calm and totally snowfree.  HA!  Sometimes, it's way too easy to pay way too much attention to the Lead NWS Forecaster, somebody named Chicken Little.  You'd think we would have already learned that lesson.

We had a great day hanging out here and enjoyed a a great Light Show at sundown.  Many Cheers! jp

Sunday, November 28, 2010

We Honor Casey

Congratulations to Casey & Gail.  Let all DF&LBR's rise in a round of Standing Ovation & Virtual Applause for Casey Cook and his fiancĂ© , Gail.  They were engaged on Thanksgiving Day!  Proud Papa Bill sent an email less than an hour ago announcing The Big News.  It's so exciting.

We will tell some more stories about Casey soon.  Suffice to say, we are so happy and offer our most heartfelt Congratulations!  THANKS, BILL, for sending this photo.

Daydreaming Sunday morning

Ah, daydreams!  Who doesn't love 'em?  Isn't that a pretty picture above?  Yes, it's the stuff of daydreams.  Who wouldn't dream of living in such a romantic, idyllic spot on the shores of Lake Superior?  Of course, we all have lives that totally preclude any real possibility of living there but, heck, daydreams are free and easy.

Well, guess what?  You COULD actually live in that picture postcard shown here.  No kidding.  The National Park Service is actually seeking someone to take up residence in one of the bricks building shown above.  Honest.  Click here to read about this amazing volunteer opportunity.

As our Dear Friends know, we are both smitten with volunteerism.  Volunteering has enriched our lives in countless ways.  We've always been willing to go "back o' beyond" to volunteer in remote and wild places.  Naturally, when we see incredible volunteer opportunities such as the one above, it gets us to daydreaming about what it would be like to spend a summer along the wild shores of Lake Superior.

Well, don't worry, we're not going to do so, but is sure is fun to daydream!

Click here for more information about the lighthouse.

PS--We follow a Twitter feed that delivers the NPS "Volunteer Opportunity of The Day.  You can click here to see their Twitter feed:  http://twitter.com/NPSVIPNetwork

Top O' The Morning to You!

We'd bet that everyone knows this is the last Sunday in November.  Geeze, we're now back on the annual countdown to Christmas and, YIKES, the Dawn of Year Twenty Eleven.  If ever there was a year that flew by like a raven after roadkill, this one was it.

We're becoming much more wrapped up in watching weather.  That's an annual tradition, especially in "active winters" such as the one we are approaching. We promise to do a better job keeping our incessant weather chatter OFF this blog an on our "Geek Weather" blog where it belongs.  As a matter of fact, we posted a lengthy discussion of weather over on that blog this morning.  You can click here to read it.  What we WILL say about our weather is simply this: It's probably going to snow at The Straw House today and the grounds will almost assuredly be white tomorrow morning!  How 'bout them apples?

Yesterday was a real fun day.  We had a great lolly-gag morning and didn't leave the house until 10-ish.  We spent 3 hours round trip to Cottonwood and procured a wide array of foodstuffs and other stuffs, too.  After our return, we were both real motivated to water seal our picnic table--an esoteric task if there ever was one.
Lizard & Robin came over at 4:30 pm and we enjoyed a great visit 'round the campfire.  We feasted on Gooding, Idaho, pinto beans simmered 12 hours with a holiday ham bone.  Robin baked some awesome blue corn meal muffins and it was a simple, fine and filling repast.  Thanks fora a Great Evening, L&R!

So, here's a story about Springtime Shopping.  We're sure you are all aware of what's known in the retail trade as "seasonal specials."  For example, we're in the midst of a classic seasonal special: Christmas Trees.  Last spring, we really wished we could have a picnic table.  Lo and behold, Home Depot decided to offer picnic tables for sale about a week before we departed for Idaho.  So, we jumped onto that deal and simply stashed the disassembled table in Susun's shed for the past six months.  We're now in the process of getting the table ready for duty this winter.  The other seasonal item we scored last April is a clothes line thingie.  It looks and behaves like an umbrella.  Trust me, you can't buy clothes line thingies in November but you sure can in April.  Our four new chairs here in The Straw House were sorta seasonal specials in a backwards way.  They are patio chairs, real nice ones.  They started out the summer season in Idaho with a price of $80 each.  By the time Labor Day rolled around, there made it clear down to twenty bucks a pop.  That's the same as buying one and getting three free.  Gotta love seasonal shopping.

Today's mostly an Inside Day.  Heaven knows there's plenty of indoors chores awaiting our attention today.

Have a great day & Many Cheers!  jp

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Campfire Status

We finally have our campfire situation where we want it.  With the addition of a nice, new fiberglass handle hatchet yesterday, we have all the necessary tools.  Our wood is all nicely stacked and a big portion of it is under cover and lock and key.  Life is good!  (NOTE: This is the last of four blog posts this morning.  Since these blogs sort things in chronological order, today's first post is  near the bottom of the page.)  Have a great day & Many Cheers!  jp

Weather Report

Looks like we're gonna have a mighty fine Saturday here at Montezuma Well.  Tomorrow? Not so much.
The above graphic easily tells the story.  Yesterday's high here was 60 degrees and the temps was above 50 for over five full hours.  This morning's low was 15 and it's downright COLD outside.  Looks like we're gonna have daytime highs in the 40's for the first half of this coming week and then we'll be back up in the mid-60's for the remainder of the week.

Idaho Falls appears to be past the brunt of the bitter cold weather. Yesterday topped out at 23 and this morning's low is (oddly) the same as our low: 15 degrees. Most of the next week up there will see highs in the 20's and lows in the teens with a chance of snow pretty much every day.  Temps during that cold snap a few days ago were 20-25 degrees below normal for this time of year.  The NWS Climate Prediction Center continues to believe that the Southwest will be warm and dry for the next 3 months while Idaho will be cold and snowy. (NOTE: The photo at left is the Idaho Falls web cam shot of The Falls early Saturday morning.  BRRRRRR!

We love a daytime high about 60 degrees.  It's near perfect.  Temps drop quickly after sundown.  Last night it was in the 30's before the embers of our campfire flickered down.  Lizard and Robin are coming to visit this afternoon for a Pinto Bean Dinner.  We invited them to arrive about 4 pm so we can all enjoy the campfire before the light fades and the temps get uncomfortable.


No Thanksgiving Holiday would be complete without at least some mention of Black Friday.  Even if we DID NOT go shopping on Black Friday, that would be newsworthy, too.  So, here's the story of my Black Friday Deal (BFD) Day.

First, we scanned all of the ads in the Thanksgiving newspaper three times.  We concluded there were few, if any, items worth fighting the crowds for.  However, as time passed, we decided there were two items that justified a trip into the early morning darkness mayhem of Black Friday.

We dutifully sallied forth a little after 5 am heading for a nearby Wal-Mart.  Naturally, the parking lot was packed and the innards of the store made WINCO look like Sunday School in Mayberry.  Interestingly, over 90 percent of the shoppers were Hispanic and almost each of them clutched a giant TV.  We were after only one item--a $20 HP inkjet printer.  Luckily, there were five of them still in stock when we arrived and we left with our first "score."  Astute LBR's know we don't have a computer printer here at the straw house.  Well, now we do for about the same price as an ink cartridge!  The security in that Wal-Mart was amazing--easily the heaviest security I've ever seen in a retail store.  It was good to get back out in the crisp night air.

Our next stop was a nearby Home Depot.  They were featuring $5 poinsettias for a mere buck--Limit 10.  I picked up ten of them and grabbed some LED Christmas lights, too.  After getting out to the truck, I realized I inadvertently took 11 flowers.  Dang.  So, I had to go back in and pay an extra dollar for the extra plant.

Next up was Harbor Freight.  They wouldn't let me in the store.  Some beefy guy blocked the door and said only members of the Inside Track Club could get in.  So, I went next door to a Big 5, looked around without buying anything and formulated a plan.  I went back to Harbor Freight and walked right in like I owned the place and went straight to the beefy guy and said, "Look, I live two hours away from here, I couldn't care less about your Black Friday Specials--I need a hatchet and that's all I want so let me buy it, OK?"  He rolled his beefy eyes and reluctantly said, "OK."  I paid my $7.49 and skee-daddled.

After a short break back at Roger and Nancy's place, I ventured over to the famous Bass Pro Shops.  If ever there was a human zoo on earth, Bass Pro Shops on Black Friday easily qualifies.  It's quite surreal in there on a normal day what with all the live fish and stuffed animals and strange murals and the giant, cavernous building with its eerie light.  Fill it with frenzied shoppers the the surreality takes on a whole new dimension.

I was there for two specific items--two ten dollar wrist watches.  I bought one of their cheap watches two years ago and it's been bombproof.  Best cheap watch I ever bought.  So, I was delighted to see the cheap watches on sale yet again this year.  I snagged two sweet watches and split.

My final stop of the day was a nearby Radio Shack.  I'm gonna change prepaid cell phone service within the next 30 days from Wal-Mart Straight Talk to T-Mobile's 1500 plan.  I snagged a Samsung t139 for $15 at The Shack and somehow conned the sales dude into selling it to me without any service.  That was a fitting coup to finish my Black Friday.

We enjoy mixing it up with mass crowds on Black Friday, it's a uniquely American experience.  Susun loves the flowers scattered about the straw house and I'm looking forward to fiddling with the printer soon.  All-in-all, it was a real good BFD Day.

72 hours

That's how long it's been since we put up a blog post.  Three days is about as long as we've gone without blogging since this summer when we were traveling hither and yon.  Here are the highlights of the past 72 hours.
  1. Thanksgiving at Roger and Nancy's was great.  Their hospitality was wonderful and they created a very special meal. THANKS, Nancy & Roger!
  2. We visited with Lisa, Drew, Micah as well as Linda and some special neighbors.  Thanks, Lisa & Drew!
  3. We went out about 5:30 am to score some Black Friday deals.
  4. Susun and I enjoyed a special visit with Don M. in his managed care facility.
  5. In-N-Out beckoned and we enjoyed our favorite burger and fries combo.
  6. A giant traffic jam stretched for many miles below and on the Black Canyon Hill.
  7. We spent a great day messing around on the property yesterday and even laid out a horseshoe area.
Real exciting 72 hours, huh?  Click here if you can't get the slide show to load.
The photo below is a panorama taken Friday about a half an hour before sundown.  We finally put our Fuji FinePix S1000 back in action.  it uses three frames to put together a panorama in the camera.  We've uploaded this one in a larger format so you can click on it and get the "lay of the land."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

We're wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving a day early this year.  We will be leaving maybe as early as 6 am to head down to Mesa tomorrow morning.  There won't be time to write a blog post tomorrow morning.  Hence, here you have it: May Your Thanksgiving be filled with joy, love, happiness, fine family, friends and, of course, mountains of food.

The weather's pretty harsh up north but not as bad as they feared.  Idaho Falls is in single digits well above zero,  a far cry from the -12 previously predicted.  Several locations did reach -25 and there are a lot of -16 readings scattered all around Eastern Idaho.  A good indicator of any given storm's snow yield are the numbers posted by the Grand Targhee ski resort.  Yesterday's yield was 10 inches and the three day total is two feet.  They have a 51 inch base and have received 112 inches so far this "snow year." 

Weed whacking went well yesterday.  So swell, in fact, that we have no mo weeds to whack!  Today, we're going to wrap up the yard work by trimming the new growth off all the mesquites.  If time permits, we'll stack and stow the campfire wood.  Once that's all done, we really don't have any more chores outside.  After returning from Mesa, we plan to actually go play and enjoy ourselves here.  Lot of day hiking beckons in Sedona's Red Rock Country.

We enjoyed a great solo visit from The Goatherder yesterday. What fun!

Have a great day & Many Cheers, jp

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Idaho WX

"WX" is an abbreviation for the word "weather."  It's widely used by geeky, wonky people who follow weather stuff.  We are one who uses "WX" freely.

Well, here's the latest WX for Idaho.  It's now five below in Stanley and the temp is dropping like a rock in freefall.  Windchills in numerous places are progged for 30 below tonight.  In fact, the Idaho Falls temps in "only" +14 but the windchill is -3 because the wind is gusting to 32 mph right now.  Chances are that the theoretical "minus three" is a very conservative estimate of what it feels like to be outside at this time.

Houn' Dawg gave us an epic report of the day.  It sounds like a Snow/Wind Armageddon happening up there right now.  Nobody we've communicated with up there can recall anything like this happening this early in the season in their lifetimes.

This doesn't bode well for the affects of La Nina on Idaho this winter.  If this is merely the "opening round" of a ten-round championship match, then we all better get ready for the later rounds--each of them could be potential knockouts. 

We will monitor the storm closely and post updates whenever they are relevant.

To say "cheers" here is not appropriate for our Idaho Friends. So let us say simply, "We Love You.  Keep Your Faith and Hunker Down.  This, too, shall pass."

Many Prayers from J&S.

What a difference a week can make

Last week this time we were putting the final frenzied touches on the "get out of Dodge rig."  A week later, we're completely unpacked, settled in and by day's end we will even have the whole property weed whacked and looking good again.  Meanwhile, here's our periodic "Tale of Two Places" weather comparison.  A really big storm is smacking Idaho today.  There are blizzard warnings posted here and there and some areas might get as low as 30 below.  Idaho Falls is progged to endure a balmy minus 12. (Note: Balmy is relative to -30.)

This morning's low here at Montezuma Well is a chilly 21 degrees.  There's a heavy frost outside.  That's great as it will make weed whacking even easier today.  Weeds go down a lot faster when their stem fibers have been frozen solid.
We lucked out with our campfire wood.  Two nights ago marked ignition of our last scraps of shaggy bark juniper.  One of the many reasons we light up an evening campfire is for the signature aroma of burning juniper.  It's a true Southwest icon and an olfactory pleasure of the highest level.  What to do without any more juniper?  Sure, we can burn mesquite but it's just not the same.  Luckily, one of the neighbors had a pile of fresh cut, aged juniper and sold us all of it for a mere $100.  We could barely fit it into the truck.  It's a little more than a half cord, actually, so our neighbor probably cut us a $25 discount over what he could have received on the open market.  Meanwhile, it was a real gift for us and last night's fire was once again a juniper-scented delight.
 The temps were in the upper to mid-30's during campfire time.  However, the sky was crystal clear and there was no wind.  We've put up a large format view of The Mogollon Rim taken last evening.  If you click on the small version, you will get a very large version so that you can pan back and forth and maybe see some detail in this view out across Montezuma Well Nat'l Monument.
We spoke earlier about the "afterlight."  The orb of the sun disappears below the horizon at 5:05 pm.  The sunlight on The Rim is gone at 5:17 pm.  However, The Rim displays a variety of differing pastels for about another 45 minutes.  This scene was taken from the campfire ring about 5 pm.

It's great to be unpacked.  Today, we're going to wait until the frost thaws and then attack the remaining weeds.  Hopefully, we will get the firewood stowed and stacked, too. The Goatherder and Son Josh might pay us a visit today.  Gary W. stopped by for a great visit last night.  Gary's been known as "Lizard" for at least 40 years.  We might stop calling him Gary W. and switch to Lizard.  If the shoe fits....

That's about all the chatter we have this morning.  Enjoy yet another day of Hearty Cheers!  jp

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanks for a Great Birthday!

Thanks so much to everyone who passed along their birthday greetings. I appreciated your thoughtfulness so very much!  Your kind words really meant a lot yesterday. For the record I B 63 now. 
The weather was pretty wet, windy and cold early in the day and we thought there was zero chance for a campfire.  Luckily, though, rainbows brightened the sky and the rain stopped and the wind laid down by late afternoon.  So, we were able to enjoy a Birthday campfire afterall.  (The white specks in the photo are airborn ashes.)  It was a wonderful day made even better with all the nice thoughts you sent our way.  THANK YOU!  Many Cheers Today, jp

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nick of time

Houn' Dawg sent us an email early yesterday that said, "Boy Oh' Boy!!!ya ought to see it snow. Been snowin' hard all morning w/about 3" so far and looks like snow till Tues.  You guys left just in time, way to go."  The photo above is from HD's back porch.  We talked last evening.  He said it had been a pretty tough snow day in Eastern Idaho and looked to get tougher in the days ahead.

The Pocatello NWS People used some strong language to describe the situation this morning.  (We've added bold emphasis to some of their words.)




Yep, we made it out of River City in the nick of time.  Meanwhile...it's raining hard outside the straw house here at Montezuma Well.  The storm that's hitting Idaho is a giant system affecting sweeping sections of the entire Western US.  In this morning NWS composite map, the purple is a Winter Storm Warning and the blue is a Winter Weather Advisory.  That color off the coast means "Gale Warning."  (Click here for the actual webpage.) Seas in SOCAL are progged to exceed 20 feet today!  Yep, it's a "biggie." La Nina is flexing her legendary muscles.
(Historical note: When we read the NWS snippets shown IN CAPS above, we flashed back to October 18, just a little more than a month ago. In our blog post that day we said, "Meanwhile, we're betting Idaho Falls will see protracted periods of sub zero overnight lows with a stretch of daytime highs that never get above zero all day long!" Looks like it's gonna be a long, cold, wet winter up yonder. Click here to read that blog post.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Route 66 Year-In-Review from Seligman, Arizona

We go "way back" with Seligman. This video showed up this evening on Twitter and it really rocked our boat. We hope it does for you as well! Many Cheers, jp

Dawn of First Sunset

We get some pretty spectacular sunsets here.  This one tonight has us both in awe.  We decided to create a new blog just for sunsets here.  You can click here to see it.  Tonight, the photo you see here will be the same one you see there.  In the future, we will simply refer you to the "Sunset Blog" and won't post any of them here on our personal blog.  Got that?  Life is good.  Have a great evening & Many Cheers!  jp

What goes in must come out

Susun said several times yesterday, "I don't know how you fit in all that stuff."  Both trucks were packed to the max.  There wasn't room for another item of any kind.  We didn't really notice until we arrived here that the poor Nissan was actually way out of level the whole trip.  The back end pointed down like some low rider vehicle.

Due to the impending storm that's 100% certain to arrive today, we arose hurriedly yesterday and spent much of the morning burning our tumbleweeds.  They burn a lot better than they are dry.  The prep time for our burn actually took longer than the burn itself.  We spent perhaps 90 minutes ridding the place of our tumbleweeds.  In the times gone by, we often spent days and days dealing with those dastardly tumbleweeds.

We both worked at a very fast pace trying to "unstuff" what we had stuffed into the trucks.  We successfully unpacked the big truck but most of the Nissan remains to be dealt with today.  As more and more stuff oozed and fell out of the big truck, we both marveled at the sheer volume of items we brought south.  Luckily, there's adequate space in our house and sheds to "digest" all that stuff.

One of the fun chores of the day was hooking up the television.  We don't have satellite here.  We take whatever we can get "off the air."  There's actually quite a good lineup of channels available free.  Susun really went over the top yesterday when she got to watch "Oprah's Favorite Things."  Susun actually did a celebration dance in the front yard when she realized she could get to see the famous annual episode of Oprah's Favorite stuff.  Ah, the simple pleasures of life.

We enjoyed another fine campfire and were delighted to greet Dear Friend and neighbor Gary W.  when he and is dog, Jasper, materialized from the depths of Montezuma Wash.

Dinner was our first bowl of those fresh pinto beans from Gooding, Idaho.  People say SW Colorado "Dove Creek" beans are the best.  Heck, we said that ourselves for years, too.  Now, we beg to differ.  The Gooding beans are head and shoulders above the Dove Creek beans.  For one thing, the Dove Creek beans are dry farmed in a heavy clay soil.  Gooding's beans enjoy the luxury of Snake River irrigation water while spreading their roots in rich volcanic soils. (People really can't say "They don't know beans." about us!)

Today promises to be very windy--afternoon gusts might be as high as 50 mph.  Luckily, all our outside chores are done for awhile and we have plenty of inside tasks to tackle.  Even though the trucks are unpacked, that doesn't mean we've actually unpacked each of the boxes.  My, my, the Joads had nothing on us.

On a closing comment, we've noted that the use of the words "sucks" has really gained some creed in recent years.  It's now showing up on billboards along I-15 in Salt Lake City and popping up every where else, too.  It showed its face this morning in a headline from the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff that blares: "A research project that really sucks."

As chance would have it, the story is super-duper.  Why's that?  Well, it's about an academic research project right smack dab next door at our neighbor Montezuma Well!  We think you will enjoy reading about it even if it all about leeches.  And, trust me, leeches really DO suck!  Click here to access the article.

That's about it for this morning.  Have a Great Saturday & Cheers!  jp

Friday, November 19, 2010

Safe @ Home

Sure is great to be here.  The photo above is a 7 am shot of the pre-sunrise over the Mogollon Rim.  Everything was in tip-top condition upon our arrival.  Our chemical spraying in April kept all the important areas completely weed free--a first in the history of this place.  The front of the house, the parking area and the all-important path to the fire ring were in perfect condition. The house was in fine shape.  Our glue traps didn't even catch any insects all summer. There was nary a speck of anything out of place.  The house smelled great and felt clean and neat as a pin.  Within less than 30 minutes, we had the electrical system up and running and a tank full of water pumped.  The trash people had delivered the garbage container and our first newspaper was lying in the parking area.  Get this, even Qwest delivered, too.  We simply turned on the laptop and, POOF--connected.  No codes to enter, no haggling with Tech Support.  Nothing. We were delighted to see water running across our land, too.We were well situated less than 3 hours after our arrival.   We even got our sign tacked back up. Naturally, one of the first orders of evening business was our first of many camp fires.  The fire was up and running about 4:45 and the sun set at 5:10 pm.  Watching the sunlight fade on Montezuma Well National Monument is one of our great pleasures here. Luckily, here in Ol' Airy Zonie, there's  also such a thing as"after light."  In Idaho, when the sun goes down this time of year it gets pitch black dark seemingly within minutes.  That's not the case here as the light lingers on The Mogollon Rim for at least an hour before genuine darkness settles in.  The waxing moon helped create a wonderful glow as we enjoyed our fire last night.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Mark of The Joads

Tom Joad and his family are our role models for traveling.  It was a very good day indeed when we attended that wonderful seminar so long ago entitled "Traveling With Class & Style-Tips & Tricks of True Okies," by Tom Joad himself!

What fun would it be to leave home all tidy and looking sharp and spiffy? Nah, that's not The Okie Way.  That's why we really value those lessons we learned from Tom himself.

Tip#1: Display toilet paper prominently in back window.

Friends, this is a major "Mark of The Joads."  No self-respecting Joad Wannabe would EVER leave home with the toilet paper stuffed where the sun don't shine.  That just ain't The Okie Way.  Save your toilet paper to pack LAST, right smack dab in the back window.  One glance says it all and "Here's Your Sign," as they say.

Tip #2: Tie something worthless on top of the rig

Friends, this is a priceless tip.  First, you don't want no expensive Thule top carrier.  Nope, only old, beat up two by fours will do.  Second, the item has to be worthless.  In this case, it's the famous five dollar bicycle of frozen seat post fame.  If ever there was a suitable worthless item to earn the coveted Mark of The Joads, this puppy wins the honors hands down!

Tip #3:  Drive real slow and tie up traffic.

Don't worry, Tom, we got that tip DOWN!

Friends, if you ever want to Travel with Class & Style The Okie Way, let us know.  We've been certified and franchised by Tom Joad himself to put on his famous seminar. 

Happy Trails!

Motel Coffee

As any coffee drinker who travels well knows, the quality and quantity of motel coffee varies widely and sometimes wickedly.  Often, our choice has been between motel coffee and the even more dubious gas station coffee.  Neither prospect holds any allure and both can sometimes be outright hazardous to our health.

What to do?  Luckily our incessant roaming of the Ten-Cent Stores helped us finally conquer this challenge.  The photo pretty much tells the story.  We scored the two-cup coffee maker for $4 at the Youth Ranch and got the brand new grinder for a buck at Bonneville Humane Society.  This puppy is perfect.  We can grind our own beans and brew each cup to our own specs.  Susun prefers hers stronger than mine.  No problem now.  It's a match made in coffee drinkers' heaven.  It also happens to be the fastest electric coffee maker we've ever used.  That's a "good thing," as Martha Stewart would say.

We have put a lot of other new wrinkles into our Motel Rig but the coffee thing is the most important.

Great Day Ahead

A perfect travel day awaits.  It's nice not to be in a hurry this morning.  We want to savor the scenery today.  "The times, they are a changin'" as Bob Dylan once sang.  Here's the Flagstaff NWS prognosis for today and the next few days to follow:




Okie, dokie, since this is the last great weather day for "several months," we might as well kick back and let the good times roll.

Driving through this neck of the woods is one of life's greatest highway driving pleasures.  Kanab's motto "Greatest Earth on Show" echoes in our minds no matter where we look.

Speaking of mottos, did you know Utah ditched their time-honored "Greatest Snow on Earth" motto a couple of years ago?  Yep, they paid some consultant to help them come up with a new motto that's basically spayed and neutered.  So what is it?  "Life Elevated."  Huh?  To what?  And where?  Life elevated?  Come on.  Are we in a downtown high rise or what?  OK, no rants allowed here so we will stop this mini-rant now.  For our own two cents worth, we believe Kanab's motto says it all about Utah: "Greatest Earth on Show!"

It all started in Kanab

Kanab is a great place.  Kanab changed our lives.  If it wasn't for Kanab we wouldn't be living in Idaho.  Susun's fond of saying, "It all started in Kanab."  She's right. We both remember that fateful day so well: April 12, 2001.  Last night we drove to the spot where we spent our first night in Kanab to pay respects to the power of this place.  It always feels like home when we show up in Kanab.

Utah's official state motto was once (not long ago) "Greatest Snow on Earth."  The Good Folks in Kanab were real quick on the draw to play with those words and Kanab's motto is "Greatest Earth on Show."  It's the gateway to the Grand Staircase National Monument.

Kanab is also known much more widely was both Little Hollywood and (more recently) as home to Best Friends.  Kanab's Hollywood heritage dates back into the 1930's Depression Era and includes some of the most famous names in film.

Hey, and get this, Susun's Mom actually went to grade school in Kanab back in the 1930's.  Susun's Grand Dad (he of the McCulla Clan) moved to Arizona in 1919 specifically to work on early road projects.  As I recall, Susun's Mom attended grade schools in over 20 different remote Arizona and Utah locations in the 1930's.  Kanab was one of them.

We don't have time or space to explain here how Kanab changed our lives.  We'll do that some time and place later.  But we want to tell a story about Kanab.  The Little Hollywood folks are really proud of pointing people to "The Lone Ranger's Perch" out in Angel Canyon.  Best Friends owns most of Angel Canyon now and they, too, proudly point out "The Lone Ranger's Perch."  It was here that The Lone Ranger was supposedly forever enshrined in his signature iconic pose on Silver, his majestic horse.  If there was ever a cowboy pose for the ages, it was Clayton Moore atop Silver as the horse reared high in the sky.  We all recall that pose every time old western movies come to mind. 

Trouble is, we're pretty sure it never happened here.  How do we know?  Well, there's a new fangled sport called "waymarking."  Geeky guys and gals go out and find geographical icons and mark those precise spots with their personal GPS handheld units.  And, so, some geeky person popped our bubble and found "The Lone Ranger's Perch" in Chatsworth, California! You can click here to see the Waymarking webpage for The Lone Ranger rock.

You can watch The Lone Ranger's opening theme song (complete with perch) in the YouTube video below.  (NOTE: A few seconds after the video begins playing, a small text advertisement will show in the lower portion of the video.  Click the "X" and close this ad to avoid seeing other ads.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Staying at the Four Seaons

Well, not exactly.  It's NAMED the "Four Seasons" but it's a few seasons short of the full four!  Anyway, it was a little less than $45 a night plus the huge tax small towns extract from their lodging so teh grand total came to fifty buck "in the door," as we say when we traveling.  "What's the "in the door" cost?"  Susun negotiates motel prices.  I sit in the truck.  She's gets real jazzed about the whole thing--it's like "The Price Is Right" or something.  Maybe Wheel of Fortune, only different.

The room is real nice.  It has some odd warts but nothing unusual for a cheap motel room.  The nice thing is that it's huge--one of the largest rooms we enjoyed in recent memory.  Plus, the free WIFI works for both our computers so we don't have to share one machine.  A funny oddity of this room is that the lonely sole outlet is 15 feet from the table.  Luckily, I brought a 25-foot industrial extension cord so "no problem," as they say in Idaho.

It was a real nice travel day in all regard.  Ten hours went zipping past as if it was a mere fleeting thought.  Poof, suddenly we're in Kanab, Utah. We picked out the Four Seasons because it has the best turning radius for a tow rig.  I loathe a tight (or impossible) turning radius.  We who study turning radii can calculate within mere inches who much space it takes to do a 90, 180 or even 360 degree turn with our rigs.

Susun is thoroughly entertained with her computer her tonight.  She did complain that it was cutting into her "magazine reading time."  Ah, the downsides of technology.

There really wasn't anything to report about today's trip.  No out of body experiences in the Salt Lake Gauntlet, no real near misses, and our knuckles never even turned white once.  It was a cake walk.  Anyway tomorrow we probably won't jam out of here at 6 am as we are wont to do.  Nope, chances are we will wait until full daylight.  There's a piece of land east of here that so infested with deer it's unreal.  Why drive it in the dark if we don't have to?  With a great room like this and Dual WIFI, who needs to mix it up with The Bambi Babes?

This is our first opportunity to test out our new "motel rig."  So far, so good.  A complete report will be forthcoming tomorrow.

Well, that's all there is to report.  Have a great day & Many Cheers!

PS--For our new readers that's Holy Cow & Scooby Do guarding Room 139's microwave here at the Four Seasons.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Let it snow

Um...yeah, this is why we aren't traveling today!
Many Cheers!

Turning off El Net today

We'll get a blogging break for at least a couple of days when we turn off our cable modem about lunchtime today. We will switch to Twitter for updates to the account embedded at left. Our prepaid Wal-Mart phone service includes 1000 free texts a month so we'll let the SMS fly.

Good News. Bad News.

First, the Good News: We finished the leaves yesterday. The yard and street were spotless by late afternoon. Nary a leaf in sight on our lots.

Now, the Bad News: Winds are expected to rock and roar today so a lot of Kenyon's and Chuck & Lynn's leaves will carpet our place once again. Dang, we almost made it. The city shows up tomorrow, a day late and lots of leaves short. Oh, well, there's nothing we can do about it now. Onward & southward!

Here's this morning's Pocatello NWS AFD. Check out the wind part of it. We're real happy we're not traveling today.


Wednesday will be a nice clear day and those high winds will have cleaned out the inversion smog in the Salt Lake Basin. The new snow on the Wasatch Front should be spectacular and visually quite crisp. The graphic tells the tale of wither our weather down at Montezuma Well.

The big truck is totally packed and there's not much left to cram into the little truck.  Our water gets turned off mid-afternoon and we'll spend the remainder of the day blowing pipes and winterizing drains and traps.  The power gets turned off tomorrow after we depart.

Danielle and Jared and their children Cody and Brooke surprised us at sundown yesterday with a wonderful card and a bottle of real nice wine in a beautiful box.  What an awesome gift!  THANK YOU!  We will lift a toast in your honor upon our safe arrival in Ol' Airy Zonie.

We have a New Comment Record to report this morning.  Since we started this blog 01/01/10, we've received 268 comments tacked below various posts.  Interestingly, no post has ever received more than 4 comments.  The number 4 has been like a wall.  Lots of posts have rec'd four comments but none more until yesterday when the old mark fell like a leaf in the wind.  The Straw Bale House photo album now has SEVEN comments.  Thanks to all who commented. Undoubtedly, that's a mark that will stand the test of time for a LOOOONG time.

Stasea had a mini vacation this past weekend.  She flew from Kauai to The Big Island's Kona Coast to visit two of her closest friends.  The photo shows Stasea and Chandra at the Four Seasons Resort there.  Stasea worked several years at that resort.  When the Staff discovered two Four Seasons alumna were present, they went all out to provide special treatment for them.  The Chef even came out to greet and visit with them.  Obviously, a good time was had by all.  Thanks for sending the photo, Stasea, and welcome back home.

Maybe we will post up something else today before we pull the plug.  Chances are good this thing will fall silent for awhile about lunchtime.

Have a great day & Many Cheers!  jp

Monday, November 15, 2010

Last Monday in Idaho (for awhile)

Are Mondays better in other parts of the world?  We shall soon find out as next Monday will be in Arizona.
At least this Monday isn't going to be as frenzied as it could have been.  Luckily for us, we get an extra day to prep for the trip.  The storm tomorrow did us a favor.  We realized yesterday there's no way we could get it all wrapped up by Monday evening.  Funny how things work out like that.

We don't have much to write about this morning.  I mean we've already written way too much about leaves and packing and so forth.  How low can we go, anyway?

So, this morning we're going to write about two totally unrelated things--deer-car collisions and mesquite beans.

Some of our readers know we have a pronounced paranoid attitude about the mere possibility of hitting a deer.  We often won't even travel during what's we call "Deer Prime Time."  However, it's always on our minds when we travel south to Arizona.  Why's that?  Well, the stretch between Panguitch to Page is infested with deer and we generally show up right on cue just before Deer Prime Time.  Did you know there REALLY IS Deer Prime Time?  Yep, it's between 6-9 pm.

Through the magic of Twitter this morning, we discovered a mother lode of deer collision facts and statistics courtesy of State Farm Insurance.  Here are a few memorable factoids:

1) There were 2.3 MILLION deer-car collisions in just a 2-year period between 7/1/08 and 6/30/10!

2) About 200 people die each year in a deer-car collision.

3) The average damage cost of a deer-car collision is over $3,000.

4) The last three months of the year are the worst time for deer-car collisions, especially between 6-9 pm.

Now do you know why we are raving paranoids about this possibility?

Click here for the article--it's really worth reading if you drive during Deer Prime Time.

Our next topic is about mesquite milling.  This morning The Goatherder knocked our virtual socks off when he sent a link to photos of mesquite milling taking place right smack dab in Cornville's Windmill Park along Oak Creek.  He didn't know about it and, obviously, neither did we.  The newspaper printed gobs of photos of the event and it was clearly well attended.  Click here to see the pictures.

Well, naturally, that really perked up my curiosity so I spend quite a bit of time roaming around reading about mesquite milling.  Mesquites are technically a tree but they are basically a giant woody weed.  The only way you can kill them is with a backhoe and sometimes that doesn't even work.  Mesquites know more about desert survival skills that any other living organism.  And when conditions are right (or ripe, as the case may be) mesquites produce truly prolific quantities of beans.  Some years their bean production defies the imagination.  If mesquites could figure out how to take over the world, I am sure they wouldn't hesitate to do so.  Mesquites have always been one giant pantry for desert dwelling Native Americans and Mexicans. 

As chance would have it, the sustainable foods movement has rekindled human interest in mesquite beans as food by bringing a mesquite milling operation out to where the beans are.  The machine shown in the photos is operated by Prescott College.  They've had this unit for a couple of years.  You can get the entire low down on how this unit operates by clicking here for a similar operation in Southern Arizona.  From what we can tell, Prescott College got their machine from these people.

When I moved from Indiana to Tucson in 1979, one of the very first things I did was attend a "Native Foods" workshop by the now-famous Carolyn Niethammer.  We baked mesquite bread that day.  It was wonderful.
If memory serves me right, The Goatherder once brought back mesquite flour from Sonora, Mexico, and we even toyed with the idea of marketing it in Arizona.  It's really incredible that Prescott College is helping revive culinary interest in the mesquite bean.  Even though we bear many real physical scars from battling our Arizona mesquites, we love those trees dearly.  It's great to see them once again getting a modicum of respect!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Scan-a-palooza 5, 10, 16 & 55 years ago

Ten years sure seems like a long time to us. More than 10 years ago, we had already announced that we planned to retire from the Verde NRCD in January 2001.  The day before my birthday 10 years ago, the County Board of Supervisors invited me to one of their meetings in Cottonwood.  They gave me this nice certificate that day.  Reporter Joanna Dodder wrote a nice story and the paper put me on the front page holding my certificate.  It was a real "rite of passage" experience, one I'll never forget.  I was going through stuff and chanced up this photo.  Frankly, even though I won't forget the experience, I had forgotten it was the 10th anniversary coming up next week.  So, what the heck, here it is.

Meanwhile, we realized that the photo below was taken in 1955, and that's 55 years ago.  it has a real nice Western theme to it, don't ya think?  Every kid back then had to have a two-gun cowboy outfit.  I'll always wonder how many bad guys I shot with those magical pistols.  Seems there were bad guys behind every bush back then so there were plenty bad guys to take pot shots at.  Heck, if you missed one of them, there'd be 13 others behind that neighbor's maple tree.  Little Ralpie ("A Christmas Story") and I can relate.
Here's another great photo we found. It was taken in 1994.  Lora, Deano, Dexter, Jodi and John & Susun relax after another hard day of work on the straw house.
Check this photo from a little more than 5 years ago.  It's The Goatherder and Son Joshua atop Cathedral Rock.  Gee, something tells me Josh has grown a little bit since then!
Finally, here's one that's not quite 5 years old.  Little Johnny officiates at Marsha & Hugh's wedding, December 21, 2005.  Hopefully, we can help celebrate their 5th Anniversary next month.  You'd be happy to know that Marsha & Hugh may be the only people who's wedding site is known only by the longitude and latitude recorded as they were "out standing in their field" at Montezuma Well National Monument!

Wrappin' it up

Work continues as we "wrap it up."  We made great strides again yesterday, including yet another session with the leaves.  The big truck is mostly packed and we're simply going through the motions to get all the little nit-picky stuff done.  Even though we've moved our tentative departure to Wednesday, we're going to be prepared to leave Tuesday "just in case."

The graphic above explains the terminology we use in preparing for a major trip.  Everything leading up to our departure is put in terms of a landing.  The departure itself is a take off.  When an aircraft has turned out of the base leg and is on its final approach, it's also on what is known as "the glide path."  I'm sure you've all felt that phenomena when you've traveled on a commercial jetliner.  There's a final banking turn and then you can feel the turbines lessen their power as the pilots skillfully execute the equivalent of a powered glide onto the runway.  To continue the analogy, we're basically turning out of our base leg and preparing for the our "glide path" here in the next couple of days. Then the lingo reverses as we prepare for take off on Wednesday morning.  Corny?  You betcha.  But it works for us and helps us keep things in perspective.  It's fun.

Our other Leafy Neighbors--Kenyon & Kids--put on a real show yesterday. Even though none of the snow in their yard melted, the family trudged out with snow shovels in hand and plowed their entire lawn.  All of their huge deposit of leaves was pushed into the street as a combination snowbank/leaf pile.  It took them most of the day.  Why do people put leaves in the streets?  Good question.  The city comes around and sucks up the leaves with a giant industrial vacuum truck.  Why does the city suck leaves?  Good question.  The city sucks leaves so they won't clog the storm drains which would in turn create enormous ice sheets at intersections.  It's basically a public safety issue.  The city's scheduled to do our street this week.  We've bagged our leaves simply because we want to make CERTAIN they are gone--not wait and hope that the weather will permit the city's crews to arrive as planned.  We suspect there's one more chapter in our leafy saga but we're finally nearing the end of this story.

It was actually quite cold all day yesterday.  In the middle of winter here, temps in the 30's would be a "heat wave."  However, yesterday's temps in the low 30's just seemed downright cold to both of us.  We see it's supposed  to be 75 at Montezuma Well on Thursday.  Maybe that's why 30-35 degrees seemed so cold.

In case any of you are wondering what happened to our "Saturday Night Specials" posted here late yesterday evening, they all picked themselves up and boogied over to the Y2Ten companion website.  Remember the little used acronym GEEE? Well, all three posts last night clearly qualified for the "GEEE Factor."  Now, gee, they're gone!

More of the same today--pack and then pack some more.

Have a great day & Many Cheers, jp

PS Added a short time later--Well, It's Wednesday for sure.  Here is the relevant portion of this morning's Pocatello NWS Discussion:


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Departure Date Delayed

Looks like we're gonna be leaving River City on the Wednesday the 17th instead of Tuesday.  There are just far too many uncertainties about Tuesday travel.  There's one thing about Tuesday that sends shudders down our spines--the thought of driving through The Belly of The Beast (AKA: The 100 Mile Salt Lake Metroplex) in the R-A-I-N!  Ouch. No way JosĂ© and no way Hose B.  Wednesday looks to be a much better choice and a whole lot safer and with far less White Knuckle potential.  On the plus side that gives us an extra day to get our act together.

Yesterday was a real nice productive day.  We spent the morning messing around online with all the usual suspects.  Next we organized our basement workshop in the best manner it's ever been since we converted the old coalroom to a mid-winter man cave.  Then we went out and half-heartedly messed around with some of our remaining leaves.  That's when we noticed our neighbor, Chuck, attempting to do his leaves all by himself.  Talk about a truly insurmountable task!  I went in and asked Susun to come help and we both went over and took charge of Chuck's impossible challenge.  Within a couple of hours, all his leaves were out in the street and his yard looked like new again.  It was a huge amount of work both of us hoped we wouldn't have to do but, hey, a neighbor in need calls for a good deed to be done.  One thing that made it somewhat easier was all the snow mixed in with the leaves.  We could use our snow shovels to move the leaves.  The snow made each shovel heavier, of course, but it also kept the leaves together.  Ying-yang kinda stuff.

Our weather here has been flatlined for days.  It doesn't seem like the temp has varied at all between the upper 20's and the low 30's and today appears to be no exception.

Here's a typical "good news, bad news" story.  First, the bad news:  We pay truly exorbitant property taxes on our place at Montezuma Well.  We need a defibrillator standing by when we open the envelope containing each year's damage.  This isn't a political statement--it's a simple fact.  Anyway, sixty percent of our property taxes are billed by only two organizations: the school and the fire department.  Each year, they shoot up by leaps and bounds, usually double digit increases.  You'd think in these tight economic times that the school would be hunkered down simply trying to educate kids. (Old-fashioned idea, eh?)  But nooooo.....you'd be WRONG!  Our tiny little school is now building a genuine Taj Mahal Community Center for what surely must be hundreds of thousands of dollars.  That's it's architect's rendition atop this blog post.  Buildings like that don't come cheap.  Now wonder our school property taxes just went through the roof this year.  WOW.

OK, now the good news.  It's another ying-yang thing.  This new building will contain a full-fledged community library run by the awesome Yavapai County library system!  Now, that's really, really GOOD news in a major way.  Most of you know that we are Big Time Library Fans.  This is about the best news we've heard for our little community in 25+ years.  Right off the bat, it suddenly makes me happy to pay the school property taxes.  There's FINALLY something in it for us!  WOW!  Let's put this in even better terms:  it means that we will be able to actually WALK to the library from our home at Montezuma Well.  In a county where the proximity of stuff is measured in multiple miles or driving times that are rounded to the nearest half hour, this is intergalactic news.  Walk to a real library from our home?  Surely you jest. But, nope, by the time we go back down next year it will be true.  Amazing Good News.

Have a Great Saturday and Many Cheers!  jp

Friday, November 12, 2010

Backseat blog

The blog has taken a backseat this morning to another project.  First, though, we must digress.  As everyone knows, we both love to volunteer--it's in our DNA.  In the nearly 10 years since we began volunteering, we've learned a few things well.  One of our top lessons is twofold: A)You enjoy volunteering more if you create your own volunteer opportunities, and, 2)You have to work far in advance to create a volunteer opportunity.  In other words, you simply can't waltz into any given place and say, "Hey, I wanna volunteer for you."  Nope, it don't really work that way unless you wanna stuff envelopes or set up chairs at a Senior Center.  The good stuff takes a long time to incubate.

Take that BLM river project we did this summer--that was about 2 years in the making.  The list goes on and on.  Some volunteer opportunities can be created fairly quickly.  Others take time and lots of thought and tinkering.  That's why this blog took a backseat this morning--we've been working on creating a volunteer opportunity for ourselves.

What's it all about?  In a nutshell, we're trying to sign on as a volunteer for the National park Service to help Montezuma Castle, Montezuma Well and Tuzigoot plan and implement the usage of online social media. (AKA: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.)  Any time you deal with the Good Ol' NPS, you've got a tough nut to crack.  You simply can't smile and say, "Hey, you need social media and I can help."  Nope, it don't work that way.  It's pretty much they that have to adopt an idea and then turn to you to help them flesh it out.

So far, I'd reckon I've spent 15 hours on this project, probably more but at least 15 that I can think of.  Most of my time now is being spent working on a blog called "Social Media Usage by NPS."  This morning, I created a Twitter account solely to find all the NPS Twitter accounts in existence.  I found 161 of them.
It's turning out to be quite the education experience for me.  Even if I don't wind up getting this volunteer gig, it will have been worth the effort.  Why's that?

Well, it turns out that totally unbeknown-st to us, the NPS now actually considers Virtual Visitors on the same par as real physical visitors to a National Park.  Surprised?  Yeah, we were, too.  That seems to be a huge sea change for the staid Ol' NPS.  But there it is in black and white in their main Policy Manual.  Amazing.

There's a teeny, tiny little unit of the NPS sitting out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  it's called the Pu'ukohola Heiau NHS. Ranger Greg C. operates the Twitter there.  The place is less than 100 acres, a mere flyspeck to the huge NPS parks elsewhere.  Greg has shown what Twitter can do for an obscure park--his Twitter now has more followers than another other park in the Nation, including places such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon and the Tetons!  He's bringing an incredible new level of attention to his park and he deserves a huge round of applause for doing so.  This is a classic example of the benefits of social media in marketing a place or a product.  We feel the same phenomena could happen to the NPS units in the Verde Valley.  Heaven knows they need all the help they can get!  Anyway, that's why the blog has taken a back seat this morning.  Greg and I swapped numerous emails last night.  He's a great guy and he put us at the top of his Twitter overnight.  That's the screen shot from Greg's Twitter atop this blog post.  THANKS, GREG!

You can click here to read the Social Media blog.  And you can click here for the new Twitter we created this morning.

OK, moving right along.  Yesterday after a few hours on the above project, we packed up half of the Nissan.  For the first time in Modern Memory, we actually have all our clothes packed days before departure.  Normally, we don't bother packing clothes until about 60 minutes before we leave, oftentimes far less than that.  We can now see that everything we wish to take south will actually fit in our vehicles.  The NWS Wonks have changed their tune once again--now it looks like Tuesday's weather might be dicey.  Ah, who cares?  We're leaving no matter what (unless it's a blizzard, of course).

Today's more of the same--pack and pack some more.

As part of packing our clothes yesterday, we actually sorted out about 70 items to donate to Deseret Industries (Dee-Eye).  Dee-Eye has huge industrial washing machines and all clothes they chose to resell have been thoroughly cleaned prior to display.  I like that about buying clothes from them--you don't have to worry about somebody else's cooties.  Anyway, believe it or not, 100% of my clothes are totally organized.  yeah, I know, it's a scary thought.  Geeze, ALL of my socks are even sorted and correctly matched and folded.  Is there no end to this Type A stuff?

Susun's really getting into her new laptop--she even gave it a name, Lilly.  She's delighted to have it and she's a real fast learner.  Pretty soon, we'll bet she will be giving lessons to her friends.  No kidding.

Well, that's about all there is to report from these parts.  Have a great day & Cheers, jp