Monday, January 31, 2011

Snowboarder's X Game Triumph

It's not often we put up a video like this one. 

Hey, we can't help ourselves.  This is awesome!

Looking Back

We were organizing some stuff yesterday and stumbled on some "old" photos.  This one dates to September 2005.  An early season snow storm hit Bowery Guard Station.  You can see our 2nd pop-top camper in the background.  Altogether, we spent four summers there at Bowery, logging more than 1,000 official volunteer hours each (aggregate) from 2004-2007.  We consider Bowery our "Idaho Birthplace" and it will always hold special memories in our hearts.  It is truly deep in MOAN Country!

Wrapping up January

We're gonna wrap up January now and put it in storage.  'Tis time to get ready for February.  Today marks our 75th day here--that's 2.5 months.  Here's an interesting way to look at it.  We arrived back in Idaho on April 30 last year.  Our 75th day there was July 14.  Even though we think we've been busy down here, we both think were were a LOT busier during those first 75 days up there.

The end of January is Big on Birthdays.  Yesterday was my Mom's birthday.  Today is teh birthday of Susun's beloved Mom, Doris.  Susun's b-day will be Wednesday.  Suzanne S. celebrated her birthday January 29 and Maria Elena had hers January 28.  What is it about all these female birthdays all happening within less than a week of one another?

Dear Friend Lin M. came to visit yesterday.  Susun and Lin had a fine time while Little Yonni played with his GPS.  Lin's had a tough "go" of it lately and we pray her future will become much better real soon.

Speaking of GPS, Stasea made a blog comment that translates those letters into "Glorious Places to See."  We both like that a lot and have adopted her translation.  Thanks, Stasea!  We made significant strides on translating our river data into usable maps.  You can click here to see the result(s).  Much remains to be done, especially on our photo log of Friday's trip.  The trip itself only took 3 hours.  We suspect processing the data will be at a 3:1 ratio.  In other words, we will probably spend 9-10 hours messing with data collected in a mere three hours.

Susun painted my shed over the past two days.  She finished up yesterday just before Lin arrived.  It's looks wonderful, Honey.  Blessed is the woman who would paint a man's shed!  THANK YOU!

Our project was to tear down the rack that held the camper shell and restore the area of some semblance of order.  Since the shed sported a fresh coat of paint, we decided we might as well organize the inside of it (again).  It always amazes me how quickly a Guy Shed can devolve into utter chaos.

Our campfire was quite nice.  We thought the wind might be too stiff. Nope.  It was a pleasant little fire and kept us thoroughly entertained for almost 2 hours.  The Spudboater has put up a new blog post about her indoor campfire (AKA: Fireplace).  You can click here to read it.

Our extended blog-o-sphere has been pretty quiet.  Wayne's last post was January 18.  Goatherder's last post was the day after Christmas.  Kirsty continues to be a shining beacon of inspiration for us, as always.  We even made a comment on her latest blog post.  Click here to visit her awesome blog.

Today's kind of a "free day."  We had plans to tackle another portion of the Verde River for the guide project.  However, we're facing potential hypothermic conditions today, especially if we flipped the canoe, so we canceled the trip.  What to do?  Well, there's a set of Zuki tires beckoning down in Phoenix.  We might just have to go buy them--five wheels and four good stout mud & snow tires for $150!!  Time will tell and we shall see, as they say.

Cheers!  jp

PS--We're put up 51 blog posts this month.  The total might rise if we get to writin' again later.  That's about "par" for any given month.  Last January we put up 75 posts which was the highest amount for any month of the year.

What cold weather?

The NWS has been touting a change to colder weather here.  They even think the high temps might not even get to 40 degrees one day this week.  We're certain to hear some complaints from the locals about this "cold spell."  Well, lighten up, folks, and enjoy your downright tropical weather this week!  When you get to shivering and yer cheeks feel rosy, just think of our forelorn friends and neighbors up in Idaho Falls.  We're printing the NWS Idaho Falls forecast for each day and night this week in their entirety so you can read them and feel MUCH BETTER about Arizona's so-called "cold spell."  We ain't got nuttin' to complain 'bout down here--that's a simple fact!

Today...Partly sunny. Scattered snow showers in the morning... Then isolated snow showers in the afternoon. Little or no snow accumulation. Highs 18 to 28. North winds 10 to 15 mph. Areal coverage of precipitation 50 percent. Wind chill readings 7 below to 17 below zero.

Tonight...Mostly clear. Breezy. Much colder. Patchy fog after midnight. Lows 2 below to 12 below zero. Northeast winds 10 to 15 mph...increasing to 15 to 25 mph after midnight. Wind chill readings 20 below to 30 below zero.

Tuesday...Sunny...breezy...colder. Areas of fog in the morning. Highs 2 to 11. North winds 15 to 25 mph. Wind chill readings 20 below to 30 below zero.

Tuesday Night...Partly cloudy. Colder. Areas of freezing fog. Lows 20 below to 30 below zero. North winds 10 to 15 mph.

Wednesday...Mostly sunny. Areas of freezing fog. Highs 6 to 14. Light and variable winds.

Wednesday Night...Partly cloudy. Patchy freezing fog. Lows 7 below to 3 above zero.

Thursday Through Friday...Partly cloudy. Highs 17 to 27. Lows 3 below to 7 above zero.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


The Next Generation (NEXGEN) is going to be quite different than our generation.  In the photo below, you can see the Next Generation in front, fully engaged.  In the background, you can see the "Transitional Generation" (TRANSGEN) standing behind the children--not so engaged and maybe not so happy to have their photo taken.

Meanwhile it is THEY who are NEXGEN!!!!  It is they who are going to protect our rivers and streams and springs.  They will have the passion and the purpose and the power to do so.  We salute them, support them and sustain them.  They are our future!   May the NEXGEN love and enjoy rivers forever always and all ways!  Hey, TRANSGEN, step out of the way and let NEXGEN take their rightful place!

(Photo someplace between the White Bridge & Beasley by Bill Cook or one of his extended family.)


As all DF & LBR's know, Miss Marsha is in a League of her own.  Her creative ceramictry is totally off the ceramic charts.  WAAAAY back in the late 1980's, she began crafting unique one-of-a-kind chess sets.  Each piece was a work of art.  They were exquisite.  Now, lately, Marsha has switched to tic-tac-toe. It takes a lot less skill than chess, that's for sure.

What's special about Marsha's set above is its Clarkdale theme.  You can see ALL of Clarkdale in this set.  It quite perfect, actually.  Yer WOW-SOME, Marsha!

Well, anyway, moving right along, Marsha sent this email mostly in response to our invitation for Game Day.  Her email is so freaking wonderful to read and enjoy, we just had to share it in its entirety here.  Susun and Marsha were cut from the same cloth.  They both Celebrate Life To The Fullest Every Day In Every Way.  It would be hard to imagine two sisters who partied harder than Marsha & Susun!  YOU GO, GIRLS!

OK, without further ado, here is Marsha's email:

(Bear in mind her email is in response to our Game Day invitation.)

 "Wowwee! sounds like a hooooooooooooooot! What can I bring?

For a few years, we have been enjoying the Super Bowl at the 10-12 bar
with the game playing on mute and dancing to the sounds of Johnny Lingo
(John Ziegler and Dave Rentz). It was amazing how annoying the announcers
are. This was fun, but this sounds better!

I have spent ALL DAY getting a good photo of my latest tic-tac-toe set and
you are the first I will share it with! Maybe a couple of miscellaneous
photos also.

I was delighted to hear at the Tuzigoot cleanup ( it was great- we had 50
PEOPLE show!!!) that John has begun the GPS mapping! I couldn't write back
until I checked the progress that I knew would be on your blog. How
absolutely perfect that you are still introducing new people to the river.
I jealous of Josh. "River-virgins" have such a delightful, exciting
experience! And to be taught by you! Wow!

Max was asked recently by the bigwigs how things on the Greenway were. He
answered that without the Friends nothing at all would be accomplished!
Coming from Max, this is big praise! Who knew how important we would be
when you got us going, John!!! Amazing!

Wow! We are now "Real Americans" as we are looking forward to February 6th
like the other "Real Americans!" Our lives now have value!"


Many Cheers, jp

The Skamper

We spent most of Saturday messing with The Skamper. Ray The Electrician did an amazing job restoring all of the wiring to tip top feng shui shape. And he wired in our battery so it's the best power rig we've ever had in any of our camping permutations. Rather than describe everything about the camper in this post, we made the slide show above. Click here if ti won't load for you.

We are very excited about this particular pop-top. It's easily the best rig we've ever owned.

Have a great day & Cheers! jp

PS--The rig is now officially our Guest Bedroom. It will be Spudboater's home away from home when she's here in March.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Chair

A California Boy is a Special Person.  We all know them well.  

So, here's the story.  This summer sometime we forgot we found a small Life Guard folding chair at some yard sale in Idaho Falls.  It reeked of COOL.  I told Susun, "We have to buy this for Da Boyz."  She agreed.  But then she got cold feet and said the chair might be too dangerous for babies.  Maybe they would get they fingers caught in it or something terrible like that.  Frankly, I thought that was a bogus rap on the chair but I zipped my lip.  Meanwhile, time passed.  I studiously tucked the kiddie Life Guard Chair into our totally overloaded southbound rig.  When we got here I grabbed the chair and tucked it out of sight and out of mind in a safe place.

Meanwhile, Susun got a chance to drive overta Vista with Nancy in a BIG truck!  So, guess what?  Susun said, "Where's that chair? I wanna take it to Sarah & Peter's Place."  Of course, I had rat-holed the chair in a place I knew well.  It came out instantly and made the trek west.

What you see in the photo above is most likely the precursor of Great California Boy Things To Come!  Thanks, Sarah Mom, for letting Gage enjoy The Chair.  Somehow, we're certain he will be sitting in The Real Lifeguard Chair about 15 years from now.

Cheers, jp

Busy, Busy

Um...we seem to keep falling farther behind in our blog-o-sphere here.  After posting up the map and photos below, we took off to Cottonwood Thursday in search of a canoe.  Luckily, we snagged one at Dead Horse Ranch State Park along with paddles and life jackets.  Josh W. and I exchanged numerous text messages to arrange a river trip on Friday. We bought a digital voice recorder and a couple of waterproof boxes at Wal-Mart, ran a couple of quick errands and made it home in time to get the campfire up and flickering by 5:15 pm.

Friday morning proceeded at a brisk pace.  We "proofed" out the digital voice recorder, started a blog for the project, outfitted the waterproof boxes and rigged for our trip.  We left the house by 10:30 am and proceeded to scout the Bignotti RAP road.  By some amazing coincidence, it had just been freshly bladed and was in the best shape possible.  We then went over to the Wal-Mart parking lot to meet Josh.  After loading his gear, we headed to the Bridgeport RAP and were rigged and were on the water a little after 12 noon.  Susun took some real nice photos of us at the put-in and had prints waiting for us at the take out.  She's amazing!  Thank You, Sweetie!

I gave Josh some quick lessons in how to stay upright in a canoe and imparted a few paddle stroke demonstrations.  We headed downstream at 12:30.  The channel was surprisingly open, wide and pleasant.  There was one tree completely blocking the channel that required a portage.  All of the other root balls and vegetation were avoidable, although a few produced some close calls.  After about 2 hours, I began thinking perhaps we might make the entire run without any problems.  Wrong.  The Giant Reeds have completely overtaken the river at one point and totally blocked the entire channel with zero options for waterborne passage.  A second complete channel blocked was situated less than 100 yards downstream.  The portage at first appeared impossible.  Luckily, we found a way to wedge the canoe through the trees, mud, beaver-chewed punji sticks, and thin gravel chutes.  Below, we narrowly avoided an almost certain flip when the boat wedged head-on into a mass of giant reeds.

The remainder of the trip was largely uneventful except for a comical vignette.  I stood up to scout a rock-studded ripple and as I say back down on the wicker seat, I misjudged my position and fell behind the seat.  This meant I had my arse wedged firmly into a place I couldn't escape.  I'm not sure how we navigated that ripple and it's strong eddy line below without flipping as I was paddling with my armpits planted right on top of the gunnels.  We both got quite a laugh out of my pratfall and named the ripple "Back A** Ripple."

We arrived and had the boat taken apart and derigged in 3 hours from our launch.  Josh did a GREAT JOB paddling the bow of the canoe.  He was fun to travel with and I look forward to our future trips.  THANKS, Josh! Suzi's Shuttle Service arrived precisely as we lugged the last of the gear to the parking area at Bignotti.  After dropping Josh off back at Wally, we arrived home about 4:30 pm, roughly six hours door-to-door.

Just as we were walking over to unlock our front door, up drove Bill Cook from Duncan, Arizona.  We hadn't seen Bill in nearly four years so we had quite a reunion.  We lit the campfire early and Bill stayed about an hour before heading off to his busy social schedule.  Not long after Bill left, Robin & Gary appeared from the other side of the wash and we all four had a fine time 'round the fire light until well after pitch black darkness.

By the time we finished a late bowl o' beans and some cold chicken, we were both pretty plumb tuckered out.  I overslept this morning and didn't get up until 7:15 am.  After stumbling around in a typical Saturday morning haze, I realize I left my cell phone buried in river stuff out in the truck overnight.  A little after 8 am I shuffled out to retrieve all of the various electronics and, lo, someone had left a voice message a mere 8 minutes earlier.

That turned out to be a call from someone from Showlow, Arizona, who had come to buy our camper shell.  I quickly returned his call and he was GPS-lost.  His Garmin had taken him on a wild goose chase route to our house that is totally wrong.  So, I quickly jumped in the truck and jammed out to find him and guide him to our house.  It took about an hour to complete the $250 sale as he had to scrape off all the old gasket material.  Our camper looked so sweet on his rig as he drove off.

So now we've had a little break long enough to write this blog post but the hustle-hustle will resume shortly when Ray The Electrician shows up about 10 am to begin work on the mangled wiring harness of the pop-top camper.  Then, we had to run off to Myron's place as Sam from Dewey is bringing over a hood prop rod and tire and wheel about the middle of the day.  Hopefully, our day will not continue on such a frenetic pace as its been so far.

We have lots of stuff to process from the river trip yesterday but something tells me it's not gonna happen until tomorrow morning.  Meanwhile, Josh texted and said he's free from "teen-age prison" (AKA: High School) on Monday so we're gonna saddle up the blue canoe and head downstream from Bignotti to someplace TBA.

Whew & Cheers!  jp

Thursday, January 27, 2011

You GO, Girl!

'Twas a great morning for SuziQ's maiden voyage.  We went wheeling up the rough Blue Grade and then over toward Apache Maid Mtn.  We turned around when we came to the snow line.  Most of the snow has turned into pure sheet ice and we don't have the correct tires (or attitude) to deal with pure ice on an uphill in MOAN Country.  We enjoyed a nice brunch of PB&J sandwiches and some cold milk Susun brought in the thermos.  We saw no other vehicles during our short journey.

SuziQ performed admirably.  It has the least rattles and noises of any of the other Zukis we've owned.  It clearly has good compression and handles difficult spots and tall basalt rocks in stride.
It rides well and isn't nearly as stiff and bumpy as some of the other Zukis we've driven.  All-in-all: a real good first trip.  Now we will shake out some of the kinks in our personal rigging such as camera placement, where to stash our personal water bottles, the binoculars--all that little nit-picky stuff.  We did lose cell phone signal up top so we need to get a CB radio rig onboard, too.  Heck, maybe it's time to break down and get our HAM radio license.

We took along the Garmin 60Csx for an extended shakedown cruise, too.  This time we set the unit to record a track of the journey to its one gig onboard micro SD card.  It picked up over 600 data points for this little jaunt.  The data points uploaded off the data card seamlessly.  They then imported equally as easily to Google Maps and made the graphic you see above.  (Click here for a zoomable online copy of the Google Map.)

Two photos below show real nice features of the Garmin.  We're gonna have some real fun with that elevation change thingie.  It ROX!

This was the Garmin's final test before being put into real time action on behalf of the Verde River Recreation Guide.  It passed with flying colors.

Our next SuziQ trip will be a shorty on the 618 Road over to the Cedar Flats Road.  After that trip, we should have the kinks out of our personal rigging.  Then we're planning an all-day trip someplace TBD.

Life is good.  Cheers, jp

We love our new Sweetie, SuziQ.  Yes, we DO!  You GO, Girl!

Chilly morning

It was 17 here at 2nd Chance Ranch; 22 at the Lake Montezuma NWS monitoring site and 27 up in Idaho Falls. We often start out real cold in the morning but by afternoon we will be enjoying mid-60's.  Idaho falls?  Not so much.

Yesterday was Laundry Day which mandates a trip to Cottonwood.  We made it back home by 1:30 pm.
Made a date to pick up a canoe from The Max Factor today so we will be back in Cottonwood for the 3rd day in a row.  Hope it's not habit forming.

Have you ever heard of a Restore?  If not, they should be on your radar.  A Restore is basically a thrift store for building supplies operated by Habitat for Humanity (HFH).  Builders, contractors, hardware stores and private home owners donate building supplies of all types to HFH.  All of the donations then go to the Restore and are sold to raise funds for HFH's home-building program.  Cottonwood has a righteous Restore jam packed with cool stuff.  The HFH is very aggressive in the Verde Valley having built 9 houses already, including some here in Rimrock.  We think the local Restore could play a role in that success as its obvious people are buying a lot of materials there.

Monday in Mesa, we priced out some of the stuff needed for RV electrical hookups here at 2nd Chance Ranch.  After nearly fainting from sticker stock, we headed north and forgot about that idea.  Yesterday at the Restore we found a 50 amp plug, box and waterproof cover for $3.50 total.  Now THAT'S more like it!  We're back in the RV electrical game!  Anyway, if you have a Restore nearby, be sure to patronize them--not only will you maybe find a great deal on stuff you actually NEED but you money goes directly to HFH's worthy programs.

Hey, here's a blowback to the distant past.  Forty years ago about this time I was driving cross country from Indiana to Seattle.  For some unknown reason long lost in the dim fog of antiquity, I had decided I to wanted to live in Seattle.  I received my degree from Purdue in December 1970 and met up with some rag-tag hippies who also were smitten by Seattle and off we went in some old road roach station wagon.  There were a two scenes from that trip that have stayed in mind ever since.  Both were in Colorado long before the interstate highway was built.  It was the absolute middle of a dark night and we were out on the plains someplace driving into a fierce headwind.  The tumbleweeds were sailing across the road fully airborne, many of them clearing the roof of the car by several feet.  Highway bridges were often jammed shut with tumbleweeds and we would blast into the pile at full speed, scattering them every which way.  One of the hippies was sleeping lightly in the middle back seat.  Apparently, she must have opened her eyes and spied these MONSTER round brown things pelting the side of the rumbling wagon.  She awoke with a blood curdling scream  the likes of which only Hollywood special effects people can replicate.   And then she lunged over the driver's shoulder and grabbed the steering wheel shrieking repeatedly, "We're ALL GONNA DIE!"  Well, duh, with a stunt like that it was fast becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy.  As the driver fought for control of the wheel, the wagon fishtailed on wailing tires all over that desolate dark highway.   Since I was sitting in the shotgun seat, I joined the fray and pulled mightily at her hair while someone else in back clawed at her back.  Finally, her grip broke free and she was pinned down in the bench seat until her panic attack subsided.  It's a surreal scene that simply won't leave my memory banks.

OK, fast forward to the next morning.  After the fiasco above we had pulled into the little city of La Junta, Colorado, and passed out from fatigue and the after affects of the adrenalin rush from detailed described above.  The next morning, I awoke to find a classic Old School 1960's Thrift Store within view of our station wagon.  Naturally, I sauntered over there and scored a pristine three-piece pure white linen 1920's Great Gatsby Palm Beach Suit in my size.  Now you have to realize that most people out on the windswept Great Plains wouldn't give a diddly about a Palm Beach Suit in January 1971 so they had priced the whole shooting match at a mere two bucks.  Heck, if I hadn't bought it, the beautiful thing would probably wound up as a shop towel for some cretin working on an old broke down 57 Chevy or something.

I'll never forget the perplexed looks from my fellow hippies when I lugged this suit back to the wagon.  Well, somehow that suit stayed with me and I wound up getting married in it in 1973. It fit the tenor of the times during those disco days perfectly.  Later, when the union fell apart, I wore it into divorce court on Saint Patrick's Day 1978 to officially end the marriage.  Ah, memories.  (More on the Seattle Escapade in upcoming days.)

SuziQ is finally ready for Prime Time.  Yep, today's the day we're going to take our first official backcountry road trip in her--precisely one month to the day from when we purchased her!

A Blog Backlog Blurb (BBB):  No, we haven't forgotten Susun's photos and video from her recent San Diego trip.  She captured some great moments in still and motion.  We're hoping to get them processed and posted SOON!

Cheers, jp

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cuppa Joe Heads Up!!

Above is the Coffee Price Chart.  Gee, is it going up?  Well, YEAH!  Will it continue to go up?  Yep, you can bet the farm on that.  For some odd reason, coffee prices haven't fully "digested" this steep increase.  You can still buy a big can of coffee for roughly the same price you did last year this time.

Well, guess what?  Them's the Good Ol' Daze.  Ya'll betta git yerselfs out to your local market and stock up with as much coffee as yer budget can afford.  The above chart tells me coffee prices are heading to the stratosphere.  What's now a six buck big can of premium coffee will soon be far more expensive.  Buy it cheap while you can!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Make or Brake

Today's been a mu goo guy fun day. Gary and I teamed up to put new front brakes on SuziQ.  "Twas a merry little time indeed.  We got started about 11 and finished up about 1.  Since we weren't in a hurry, we just dinked around, gee, brakes happen!  It was a very easy and straightforward job.  What made it ridiculously easy was that I bought two brand new disk brake rotors in Mesa Sunday evening.  That meant we didn't have to take the old rotors to someplace to have them turned.  We just put the old rotors in the same box the news ones came in and, that was that.  Shiny new parts are such fun! Between the two of us we had all the necessary tools and knowhow.  it was quite enjoyable working with Gary.  He's so easy going and knows so much.  Gary's planning on buying a Zuki himself so it's likely our Guys Who Work on Cars Together gig will continue for the foreseeable future.

Well, Susun and I have been chuckling all morning about the Light Bulb post.  Now we have even more to chuckle about--two pithy comments on that post--one from Goatherder and one from Wayne.  Both had their "between the lines" subtleties.  It's nice to know we resemble an "obscure and de-sanctified saint."  Who knew the Idea Apparatus could lead to such choice underground status?  Wayne says he's sending the photo to some "old friends."  We know who they are.  They have all participated in previous compromising poses.  However, now they are all upstanding citizens and definitely wouldn't be wearing light bulbs for inspiration.  We can hear them all now, "There he goes again."  Thanks, Wayne, that made us both LOL.

Game Day Dawns

Once again we donned our Idea Machine (see blog post below) and sure enough the Light Bulb lit up and an idea popped into our brain.  Funny how that works.

This idea when from zero to sixty overnight and it's a done deal.  We're hosting Game Day February 6th.
No, this is NOT a Stupor Bowl party.  This is what is known far and wide as an Anti-Super Bowl Party.  However, we're turning the "anti" part into a positive spin by calling our event simply Game Day.

It's a day for all our Dear Friends who loathe the hype and hyperbole of Stupor Bowl Sunday.  We're going to have a plethora of our own games.  There will be Mildly Extreme Croquet, horseshoes, badminton, bocce ball, lasso golf, darts and whatever else we can think of.  There will also be cribbage, chess and checkers set up on the picnic table at the ramada.

Naturally, we're going to have lots of food, food and more food.  Afterall, Game Day is really all about food.  There will be mock-tailgating and faux-grilling.  There will be finger food galore and beverages of all types will flow freely.  All TV reception will be banned and nary a word spoken about that oddly shaped pigskin that big men tussle over.

Game Day will start about brunch time and continue until the light fades during campfire time.  Our Dear Friends may come and go anytime they please.  There won't be a set schedule.  There won't be a Main Meal.  In fact, there won't be any highlight event(s) for Game Day other than Fine Friendship and Food.

We know Game Day won't be for everyone as lots of our Dear Friends will enjoy the traditional rituals and hoopla of the Stupor Bowl itself.  We sure don't want to dissuade anyone from partaking of this annual rite of TV advertiser passage.  We are simply offering a really fun and festive alternative to business-as-usual on the first Sunday in February.

We will be sending out an email to our Dear Friends soon.  In the meantime, we thought all our LBR's would enjoy seeing just how it works when we don the apparatus shown below.  Cheers, jp

Waiting for the Light bulb to come on

Some people say we come up with too many ideas.  Others say, "You're an Idea Person."  How do we do it?  Well, it's time to reveal our Special Secret!  If you sit around long enough like this, eventually the light bulb will come on and, voila--Another IDEA pops into our brain.  It's actually quite easy and the apparatus is very low cost.  We highly recommend it.  Just don't let your Friends, Family & Neighbors see you in your Idea Garb, they might get funny ideas themselves!  Cheers, jp

Rolling On The River

Things appear to be coming together for our field work on the Verde River Recreational Guide (VRG) from Bridgeport to Beasley Flats.  We received an email this morning from Josh W., Son of Goatherder.  Josh wants to participate in the VRG to help augment his Red Rock High School Senior Exhibition about the impact of non-native plants on river ecosystems.  Meanwhile, we're much more comfortable with the GPS and will be getting the on-rover gear lined up tomorrow.  River flows continue to drop off a cliff and the snowpack (such as it is) hovers a few inches from oblivion.  La Nina's "dry & warm" phase is now here in spades.  We found photos of a portion of our on-river field work from four years ago.  That's DR & LBR Nancy McC in the photo.  She was on spring break and spent a few days with us when we were volunteering over at Dead Horse State Park.  We're hoping "NEMAC" can participate in this project, too.  We're excited to get it rolling on the river, hopefully yet this week.  Stay tunedCheers, jp

Sunday, January 23, 2011

On The Road Again

Time to head south to Mesa again today.  Susun and Nancy will be heading back from San Diego.  We turn right around and drive back up here tomorrow.   We're going down today because the traffic's a lot lighter than it will be tomorrow.  Besides, a full round trip to Mesa in a single day is much more stressful and breaking it up over two days.  We might even take the Scenic Route home tomorrow and there's basically NO traffic there compared to the NASCAR tracks they call freeways here.

Maggie left a nice comment on the sunset photos below.  It might be this blog's only one word comment rec'd so far.  Thanks, Maggie!  I'd much rather be up in Flagstaff with Maggie, Steve and Izzy today to watch the Bears-Packers game there but practicality beckons.

We had the campfire to ourselves last night and enjoyed a lot of reflections in the flickering flames.  I will always be a little sentimental on January 22-23 because of DR & LBR Frank Protiva's passing two years ago this morning.  I've definitely made some progress in coming to terms with those events and I'm definitely feeling much better than last year this time.  We just better live every day to the fullest we can because "ya just never know!"

Since we're gonna be down in Mesa today anyway, I'm gonna leave early so I can take in the full game at Roger's Place. He's a fan of either team but he is a pretty good football fan.  And, besides, I'll have that much more time for more lessons from The Golf Guru.  Who knows? I might get a Wild Hare and go to Jimmy's of Chicago down in nearby Gilbert so I can witness just how crazy Bears Fans will be today.  Ah, probably not.  (Thinking out loud again.)

Have a Great Day & Cheers!  jp

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sunset Tonight--As It Was

Zuki de jour

Our Project of The Day today was flushing the radiator and putting in a new thermostat and temperature sensor. It took several hours but it's all back together and the temp gauge finally works. The whole system was much cleaner than I suspected so it won't need a new (or reconditioned) radiator. That's nice cost-saving news today. Thanks to Susun, everything went smoothly because she spotted a great plastic tub at Harbor Freight last Wednesday evening. It's normally used for mixing concrete but, in this case, it captured all of the waste antifreeze, flushing chemicals and stray fluids and none of them went into the soil!

Today's another Big Day because we finally got some long overdue electrical work done. We now have a dedicated circuit for the well pump and a new GFI plug box for the power tools. We met a great local electrician yesterday and he's going to be just the right guy to put in the 30 and 50 amp RV hookups for Nancy McC. and others who might visit in their Big Rigs. Ray's also gonna solve all the wiring problems in the pop-top camper. Get this, he only charged $30 labor to do the wiring job today--we had budgeted $150 labor!

Half past noon here, I'm real happy to have the Zuki's cooling system back to feng shui. It's been a vexing issue but it's history now.

Time for errands once again. Cheers, jp

Bee GeePS Stayin' Alive

We've been fighting this Garmin GPS unit for the last two days and somehow we're stayin' alive in the game.  We hit the wall way too often and enjoy failure frequently.  So, when we enjoy success, we replay the BeeGee's 1977 disco hit "Stayin' Alive."  You could call it our reward for enjoying a teeny bit of success in this arcane GPS game.  If we can't get the GPS unit's data to translate to both GIS shape files and Google Earth KML files, we're we ain't alive in this game no mo.  It's game over.
We had a pretty good bit of success this morning, finally figuring out how to translate a Garmin GDB file into a series of KML waypoints.  You can see our success above.  We walked those waypoints Thursday evening just before campfire time and we've been struggling to get them pinned on a map ever since.  We finally got 'er dun this morning.  Whew, staying alive's been a struggle in this GPS game!  Hopefully, we will meet with The Max Factor later today over at Dead Horse Ranch State Park.  Max is the acknowledged Master of staying alive in the GPS Game.  Hopefully, he will sprinkle holy water on my efforts and give me the much-coveted, "Yer good to go" two thumbs up signal that we're cleared for take off on this Verde River Guide project.  Our other excursion today will be to Dex & Jodi's Place to snag a canoe, paddles, PFD's and so forth.  We'll probably pick up a waterproof box and digital tape recorder, too.  The snowpack is coming off real early and that "dry and warm" mantra now looks like the real deal.  We better get out on the river ASAP before it goes back to a rock-studded trickle again soon.

The NRCD Wine Tour was great.  I only attended the morning session and lunch.  We went to Page Springs Cellars and the Javalina Leap  wineries.  The people who talked to us were very knowledgeable and really knew their stuff.  The NRCD Board members performed admirably.  The three NRCS Staff in attendance were fully involved and made meaningful contributions.  There were ten of us total.  We took ba-zillions of photos and will post up some soon.  Lunch was at Cornville's Grasshopper Grill.  I was underwhelmed by the place but the visit was worthwhile because I found an unlicensed electrician's name on the bulletin board out front.  He actually came over to Straw Central later yesterday and will theoretically be here at 10 am to add some more circuits out in the well house.  It's something we've been wanting to do for more than a year.

After departing from the Wine Tourists, we ran a slew of errands over in Cottonwood.  We found a real nice 9-iron for Susun for a dollar; picked up some Zuki parts and supplies, shopped at Food City and then zipped overta Hayfield Draw.  We returned Myron's radiator and paid for two pieces of specialty welding at Harold's Place nearby.  Myron sure is a nice guy.  He offered to link our Zuki blog to his popular website.  I don't know if the Zuki blog is ready for prime time yet, so we'll see.

Upon our return home, we made an agreement with the electrician and then messed with the Zuki until campfire time.  'Twas a warm and windless evening.  Gary came over and we enjoyed a fine fire.

Susun & Crew spent about an hour and a half at Heather's Place yesterday.  The Grandson's were a bit too intimidated by horses to want to sit on one but Nancy got some high class quality time on one of Heather's horses.

Well, that's all for now.  Cheers, jp

Friday, January 21, 2011

Living La Via Del Vino

I suppose this blog title isn't linguistically correct--it's a cross between "Splanglish" and New Jersey-Ricky Martin-Puerto Rican "Italianish."  All it means is that we're going to be spending practically the entire day on the Verde NRCD "Wine Tour."  Supposedly, we're going to four wineries here in Da Verde.  Lunch will be at Cornville's Grasshopper Grill.  Dino DeSimone from Phoenix will be on the tour so he will be a lot of fun.  My former work associate Mark J. will be there, too.  It oughta be interesting to see how that works out because we didn't get along at all "back in the day."  Of course, Jodi A. is leading the charge and she's a dynamo for sure.  I'm guessing there will be at least 10 of us traipsing around from vineyard-to-vineyard.  I wanted to include The Goatherder and Kate B. but Jodi nixed that idea (Sorry, GH & KB).  This is a "strictly business" trip and no one will dare touch even a drop of the grape juice.  I'm going on the trip as a Board Advisor primarily to stay in the background so I can listen to what the Feds have to say to the vineyard owners.  Also, we want to see how the Board handles itself in a "high exposure" outing.

Wednesday was all about getting Miss Susun down to Mesa.  We also had to pay the welder and pick up a GPS @ NPS HQ.  We arrived in Mesa pretty early and accomplished a lot of errand-running before we finally settled into Roger & Nancy's Place about 5:30 pm. We enjoyed a great visit with Lisa, Drew & Family. The highlight of the evening was receiving lessons from The Golf Guru.  Yep, Roger's a legit Gold Guru--he's taught golfing for years at Mesa Community College and he really knows his stuff.  His lessons were awesome and we look forward to more. Years of teaching college kids has really helped him hone his presentation.

Yesterday Susun and I visited her Pop, Don, in his care facility.  He was sleeping so we didn't really get to visit.  Don is always in our Prayers but even more so now at this phase of his long life.  I left R&N's Place about 10:30 am and ran numerous errands on the way back north.  Perhaps the most interesting (AKA: perplexing) errand was at Fry's Electronics on the near Westside.  I got caught in a Black Hole Vortex there and couldn't escape.  No kidding.  Something went wrong with their electronic debiting system AFTER they had my debit card in their hands.  Opps.  It took over 30 minutes to escape the Vortex and, frankly, their handling of the sad situation has caused all sorts of trouble with that particular debit card.  Technology's great when it works but....

Got home around 3 pm and immediately swapped out the PCV valve in SuziO.  Then I enjoyed a real breakthrough with the side storage area of the pop-top camper.  It will take too long to explain that here so I will post up something tomorrow when I have more time.  Got the evening campfire up and running (as per regulations) by 5 pm and enjoyed a simple sunset.  Gary came over as the embers were fading and brought 2.5 pounds of unfiltered honey from Black Canyon City.   Susun called from Sarah's while Gary & I were visiting.  She and Nancy had a great trip and they "discovered" a new route to Sarah's that had Susun all jazzed.

I fried up a couple of bone-in center cut porkchops for dinner and then "entertained" myself attempting to get the GPS to talk to the PC.  HA!  After an hour of pure, unadulterated frustration I gave up and went to bed.

I must be a glutton for punishment as I got up real early this morning and spent yet another frustrating hour messing with the GPS.  Heck, I was even out in the 6:30 am darkness acquiring more data to attempt to transfer to the PC.  HA!  It didn't work last night and it didn't work this morning.  Ah, well, technology's great when it works but....

It's time to run along now--the gang's meeting at the Camp Weirdy McDonald's at 8:30 am this morning.  That gives me barely 30 minutes to get ready to do.  C-YA!

Cheers, jp

PS--Here's the weekly stats (cumulative since 6/19/10)


            Total ........................ 4,392            
            Average per Day ................. 28            
            Average Visit Length .......... 5:20            
            This Week ...................... 193            

          Page Views

            Total ........................ 8,463            
            Average per Day ................. 65            
            Average per Visit .............. 2.3            
            This Week ...................... 452            

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Another Groovy Tuesday

Yesterday was another Good Day.  We enjoyed a nice leisure morning and then went off to Cottonwood for Laundry Day.  Luckily, Susun loves doing coin-op loads of laundry.  How lucky can a guy get anyway?  She's found this hole-in-the-wall laundromat in a strip center and really enjoys its ambiance, powerful front loading machines and hot, fast dryers.  She can knock out a mountain of dirty clothes faster than you can imagine.While she's having fun with spin cycles, I get full free range of the hodge podge they call Cottonwood.  Yesterday I had lofty goals: 1) Make a spare Zuki key; 2) Buy a weird trailer wiring adapter; 3) Pick up a used 9 iron for a buck; 4) Buy cheese; and 5) Fill 8 gallons of drinking water jugs.  Real profound stuff as you can easily see. Just for grins I threw in a buck fifty asada soft taco at Juanita's.

After we returned home before  not long after 1 pm, Susun fondled fifty fotos for the remainder of the afternoon.  I used the weird wiring thing to get the Big Trucks lights to talk to the little truck's lights.  They all blink and flash together now.

Meanwhile, it was then off to ZOR (Zukis Off Road.)  Myron (bearded guy in top foto) loaned us a radiator.   He didn't even bother getting my name or doing any paperwork--he just said, "Here."  and that was that.  Next door to ZOR was a great welding shop.  Harold (below Myron) dropped whatever he was doing and welded on our Roadmaster baseplate.  I didn't have any money to pay Harold and he didn't care.  He said, "Pay me tomorrow" and didn't bother getting my name either.  There definitely are some decent human beings left on this planet and it was fun to run into two of them yesterday afternoon. (The full story will be on the Zuki blog "by and by.")

I arrived back at Straw Central a little after the normal campfire time but got one up and flickering just before sunset.  We had a fine time howling at the Wolf Moon and baked some taters in the cast iron dutch oven for this morning's breakfast.

While I was dinking around over in Middle Verde, Susun rush off to the post office and returned with the little Kodak video camera and Tom Brownold's book on Grand Canyon mules.  It's a great book and we sure are proud to own it.

Today's another busy day ahead.  We're driving down to Mesa.  Susun will be leaving with Nancy to drive over to San Diego tomorrow morning fairly early.  That's why we're going down today. I have all sorts of stuff to do down there and might even stay there for the duration of Susun's absence.

Hey, here's a real fun gig-in-the-making.  We gave Heather a call a few days ago and she's going to be very close to Sarah's house Friday.  So, Nancy, Susun, Sarah, Gage and Van are all gonna go to Heather's Place so the little boys can sit on a real horse for the first time.  Meanwhile, Nancy is a Major Horse Person and already knows about Heather so she's excited to have an audience with Dr. Mack.  And, of course, Heather and Susun get along famously, as they say, so it should be a classic hootenanny kind of horsey day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Wrigley Field, Dec. 14, 1941: A tackle by Bears guard Ray Bray, No. 82 at center, sent the ball into the air during Chicago’s battle with Green Bay in the 1941 Western Division playoff game. Bears guard Dan Fortmann, No. 21 at left, and end John Siegal, No. 6 at right, chased after it. The Packers had an early 7-6 lead, but the Bears stormed back with 24 points in the second quarter for a 33-14 victory and a trip to the championship game.
The Bears and the Packers will play this weekend for all the NFC marbles.  We don't have any plans yet as to how to commemorate this historic event.  Who's got what going on and how do you think we should participate?  Let's do some planning here. Years from now, people will say, "Where where you when the Bears and the Packers played for the championship in 2011?"  How you answer that question is up to you.

While researching Bears Bars in the Phoenix area, I ran across this great adapted ditty:

"Our Papa, Who art a Bear, Hallowed be thy fame, Thy championship come, Thy play be run, At home as it is away, Give us this day our Sunday win, And forgive us our turnovers, Though we pounce on those who turnover against us, And lead us not into fourth and long, But deliver us from Rodgers. In the name of Ditka, Butkus & the Holy Payton. As it was in 1985, so shall it be in 2011, reign without end. DA BEARS."

Click here for a Packer story.


Yikes, It's ALIVE!  The photos above were taken by a digital camera that arose from the dead.  YES!  This is the same camera that was hosed by gasoline and then lay soaked in a pool of gas.  When I picked up the poor camera, gas just sheeted out of the thing.  Naturally, it wouldn't work.  It was given up for dead and cast off like a an old broken pot shard.  I did, however, put it out in the Sunday sun for one final airing before disposal.

Yesterday, prior to leaving for the MLK Day gig at Montezuma Well, my intuition begged me to give the Old Beater Gas Bag camera one final "Last Respects" try.  Imagine our surprise when it sprung back to life as if nothing had ever happened.  Well, not quite.  The LCD display looks real funny--kind of like a cheap kaleidoscope. But it takes pictures and that's all that matter to us.  Who cares if they look funny on the display?  The poor camera still stunk badly of gasoline so we rubbed it down with something called Odo-Ban, industrial strength de-odorizer normally used in outhouses and other foul places.  Voila, the Odo-Ban worked its magic and the camera smelled as sweet as a fresh bloomed flower.  Imagine that.  We were quite sad about losing this trusty, workhorse camera.  It had become like an Old Dear Friend, tried and true and loyal, through and through.  Now, the sadness has lifted and The Camera LIVES!  How sweet is that?  Very sweet.

I spent almost 4 hours over at The Well working on the TUG (AKA: Traditional Use Garden).  It was strenuous work and everyone there really pitched in to tackle some daunting dirty work.  I was sore and plumb worn out after returning home for some afternoon chores.  Basically, it was a day of old-fashioned grunt work quite literally "in the trenches."  I met some real nice folks, including Famous Reporter Steve Ayers (blue shirt).  He's a cool guy and we look forward to seeing him more often.  I also met a new neighbor, Gerry Q.  He's in the thumb at top right.  You can see his work here.  Gerry was easily the hardest worker at the event.  His energy and happy, positive attitude were contagious. He knows Kate W. and her Dad, Bob L.

We got to spend some real quality time working side-by-side with Ranger Rex and finally got to meet the head of Friends of Montezuma Well, too.  The new TUG is going to be a MUCH better garden than its previous incarnation.  It's also going to be a much easier and far more pleasant walk from The Straw House to the garden.  Once again, we enjoyed a real nice campfire in the balmy springlike evening air.  Life is good!

Many Cheers, jp

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Value of a Blog

What is the value of a blog? Gee, who knows? Well, we can tell you at least ONE value of a blog: It helps you remember WTH you did a year ago. We were sitting down for dinner tonight and became engaged in a conversation about what we did last year. Each of us had an opinion and each of us lobbied for our idea(s). Finally, after Susun's superb turkey meatloaf and red leaf lettuce salad were consumed, I said I would check the blog and settle the discussion. Actually, we were both wrong.

A year ago this coming weekend we were up in Challis for a hoop-dee-doo at the Senior Center. On the way back home, we stopped off at Craters for a memorable snowshoe out into the middle of nowhere. Craters is truly the middle of nowhere. It might not qualify as the Middle of Absolute Nowhere (MOAN) Country but it sure does qualify at least as the generic middle of nowhere, even if it is not the true definition as the ABSOLUTE middle of nowhere. Here we are splitting hairs once again.

Anyway, above you have our slide show from last year. I had forgotten just how majestic it was. It's well worth reprinting here on the 2011 blog. There's 50 photos in the show and they are all real nice. If you can't load the show, click here. If you would like to see how this show was presented in last year's blog post, click here.

One of the primary things we LOVE about Eastern Idaho is this: S-N-O-W!! we love the snow and the cold--the more snow the better. We actually do miss all this snow. It's so delicious and so wonderful. Sure, it's great to be down here in 76 degree weather but there's a part of us that dearly misses the opportunity to be out snowshoeing at Craters on a crisp, clear, cold late January day. It's SOOO Rich!

Cheers, jp

Wholly Smokes--it's 76!

Golly Geeze, it's 76 degrees right now as we type this.  The highs early this week were once progged to be only in the 60's  WHOA!  This is the hottest it's been here since we arrived.  Maybe that "dry & warm" gig is really true, afterall.  Feels downright HOT outside right now.  We won't be seeing 76 in Idaho until maybe June sometime, maybe not until July.  Speaking of Idaho Falls, they're having a Heat Wave, too.  It's almost 40 degrees up there right now.  Compared to the sub-zero stuff they had a week ago, this truly is tropical for them.  Their current 7 day graph is below.

And, by the way, just in case you forgot (as we did) the moon is full tomorrow afternoon (Mountain Time).  It's called the Wolf Moon in January.  Don't worry, we will be sure to howl at it tomorrow.

Betty Mom

Susun had lunch with Amy (left) and Betty Mom today.  Betty is Susun's Best Friend, Sister and Other Mother--that's why we call her Betty Mom.  Betty and Susun have been friends for 30+ years.  Amy has known the Duo for 15 years.  They lunched at Pago's in The Village.  It's a little after 2 pm and I just got back from hard labor at the TUG.  Susun arrived moments later so this foto is hot off the memory card.  Maybe later we will tell a few stories about Betty.  But for now their smiles make this a picture worth a 1000 words.  Cheers, jp


We will be volunteering today.  It's a good thing to do on any given day.  It's a better thing to do today.

Why?  Two reasons: 1) Astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, has asked supporters to honor visitors of the January 8th massacre by volunteering today, and 2) There's a really interesting project unfolding at Montezuma Well Nat'l Monument next door.  We can walk to it.

The project at the Well is for TUG.  That's the new acronym for "Traditional Use Garden."  Until now it had been known as "The Hopi Garden."  Somehow, for reasons unknown, it morphed into TUG.  The mainstays of TUG, of course, are The Three Sisters: corn, beans and squash.  Whoever sited The Hopi Garden didn't have much of a feel for how it would be used and maintained.  So, our project today is to relocate TUG to much better soil, water, solar and public exposure near the popular picnic area.  Most of the heavy lifting has already been done by NPS Staff.  The "word on the street" is that volunteers will simply put in the "T" posts and string the wire and so forth.  That's doable and something I am looking forward to.

The MLK Day organizers here are serving free food at 8:30 am over at the school.  We'll forego gut bomb pancakes and simply show up @ TUG about 10-ish and pitch in for awhile. By the way, today's type and style of activity is known as "episodic volunteeering," in the parlance of the trade.  That's high-falutin' words that simply mean it's a one-day deal.  Every industry's got to have them ten dollar words, ya know?

Yesterday was interesting.  I spent most of the morning tidying up the house and grounds ahead of the visit of our Idaho Falls Friends.  After they waved adios, Susun went back to Sedona for a big birthday party at Peggy and Hank's Place.  I then set about changing the fuel filter on SuziQ.  In the process, I destroyed by digital camera when it was drenched in gasoline.  Susun returned and took a long nap.  Then we had a real nice campfire from 5-ish to about 7-ish.  Gary came over and we had a fine time.  That's all he wrote.

Have a Great MLK Day & Cheers!  jp

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Idaho Falls Friends create Dear Diary Days.

You've heard Susun say, "It's a Dear Diary Day."  Well, this weekend was a dynamic double dose of Dear Diary Days!
Susun enjoyed two fine nights and days with her Idaho Falls Friends, (l-r) Rachel, Jan and Lee.  They zoomed around the Verde yesterday, enjoying Jerome and Sedona delights.  Today they visited Montezuma Well and spent a couple of hours here at The Straw House.  We enjoyed tea and gran-oat-la cookies out on the ramada.  We had a nice mid-day campfire for the trio since what would a visit be to the Southwest without the aromatherapy of juniper smoke?  They are all "go for it" Friends and it was great for everyone to have a visit here.  After saying sweet goodbyes, they whooshed down to a Mesa motel so they will be ready to jet back to snowy Idaho Falls tomorrow.  Thanks, Rachael & Jan for making a quick trek down south to see Susun.  And, Thanks, Lee, for your awesome hospitality in helping them enjoy a dose-o-Sedona.  Ya'll Come Back Soon, ya hear?  Happy Trails & Many Cheers from Susun & John

A Fun Visit, A Fun Dinner & A Fun Email

Yesterday was your basic lazy day.  Slow to rise, slow to move and slow to Cottonwood.  Not much to report there.  However, upon rounding the last curve to come home, who's vehicle should I spy at the end of our road?  Why Maggie, Steve & Izzy's!  They had arrived only 5 minutes earlier for a wonderful impromptu "HOWDY" from the snow-spotted Northland.

We had a great time visiting out by the campfire pit.  It was WAAAY too warm to build a fire or sit inside the house.  It was a splendid afternoon and the temp peaked at a whopping 67 degrees while they were here.  Delicious mid-January weather.

This was my first meeting with Maggie & Steve's New Star, Izzy.  The yellow lab puppy exhibited all of those traits that endear puppies to humans and was a Good Dog.   By and by, we decided to play a round of mildly extreme croquet.  What would normally be a straight forward session of smacking baseballs around mesquite trees and limestone rocks turned into a real adventure.  How so?  Well, there's this thing about puppies and balls.  What would a puppy be without a ball to grab?  Hum...  Sure enough, Izzy didn't disappoint us.  She would grab one of the croquet balls and take off with it.  Even with stern admonitions from her Parents, Izzy was always on the prowl for a "grab & run."  Steve & Maggie did an admirable job limiting Izzy's impact on our game.  However, it was quite fun to have the "Dog Factor" injected into our croquet game.  The whole concept of "play it where it lies" took on a whole new meaning after the dog would drop one of our balls.

After the game, I took a photo.  However, I was in "Dummy" mode and forgot that the camera card was NOT in the camera.  Opps. Now, I have no way of getting this fine foto out of the camera since I don't have the custom USB cord for this old 5 megapixel artifact.  Opps.  I tried every trick I know to get this foto out of the camera and all ideas failed.  Finally, I woke up this morning and figgered a foto of a foto was about my last chance.  (I used the Fuju FinePix S1000 on ultra macro to get this shot of the LCD display on the back of the other camera.) As you can see, it didn't turn out real well.  But, hey, it's the thought and concept that counts, isn't it?  My apologies to Maggie, Izzy & Steve for me being such an airhead with the camera thingie.  THANKS for coming to visit.

During the remainder of the afternoon, I fiddled with newly-acquired stuff from Wally World.  The kitchen stuff container section of the pop-top camper is now in good first draft shape.  We pulled out the water tank and converted that space into our "chuck box" area.  There's a 4-gallon milk crate and four plastic storage tubs in there now.  They will hold our culinary water, pots, pans, food and kitchen utensils.  All is well & tidy there now.

Then we swapped out the air filter in SuziQ.  There's a story and slide show about it over on the Zuki blog.  We won't bore you with the details here.  Afterwards, we headed over to Robin & Gary's place for a fine evening of great hospitality and a wonderful lasagna dinner with fresh baked bread and really fine dipping oil.  An evening with Robin & Gary is always such a delight.  THANK YOU!!!!

Well, here's some other news.  Susun's getting to be a Road Warrior with Lilly The Laptop.  She took it to the Sedona motel and has actually sent two messages to my email inbox.  She's definitely learned how to send SHORT messages and, as we all know, that's a gift.  Here's her entire note from last evening:

"Great Day with Great, Beautiful Women!  In all the right places at the right time with Smiley Faces and Love and Joy and gratitude!  See you tomorrow.  We love you,  The Idaho Sisters."

Way to go, Sweetie, ya dun good!

Cheers, jp

Friday, January 14, 2011

Susan Kliewer throws a party

Susan K. grew up in Southern California long before it was overrun but the tens of millions of Americans who now call it home.  She went to a tiny little high school that only had 90 graduating seniors.  Heck, there's probably graduating classes of well over 1,000 in most SOCAL high schools now.  Anyway, one of her Dear Friends was/is Mary (at left).  Susun and Mary were cheerleaders.  Mary still lives in SOCAL at Corona Del Mar.  Susan hosted Mary for a visit and wanted her to meet some of Susan's friends.  We were all delighted to be invited and we're sure we gave Mary a healthy dose of Sedona-style friendship!  If not for Mary's visit, there definitely would not have been a party during mid-week January.  THANKS, Mary for sparking Susan to throw one of her patented parties.  It was a real hoot.  Ya'll come back ANYTIME!

Susun and husband Jeff went all out, as usual, to make a memorable evening.  Their apricot-plum pork roast was superb.  THANKS, Susan & Jeff for sharing your awesome hospitality with us.  Below are some photos with brief captions.
Always Smiling, Cheerful Susan K is at left.  Then there's Always Smiling Susun, Kate B. and Kate W. from l-r.  Somehow when these four women get together the good times roll.
Kate, Michael, Mary, Susan, Diana and John celebrate a wonderful dinner.

Brock B. knows how to cut the mustard....and the pork!  And (below) Brad, Jeff and Joshua.

Dog blog

'Tis Izzy above.  Or is that "Tizzy?"  Izzy holds court in DF & LBR Maggie's house up in Flagstaff.  Maggie & Steve are very proud parents and pamper and photograph Izzy.  We might have put Izzy on the blog before but we can't recall.  Maybe Maggie will remember.  Anyway, we've been meaning to put up a nice shot of Izzy In Action.  Maggie sent along this gem a couple of days ago.  It's a classic Puppy-At-Play shot.  Izzy is a yellow lab born 08/05/10 near the Holbrook Cholla Power Plant. She was the pick of a 9 puppy litter.  Maggie said yesterday that Izzy has already given up normal puppy behavior.  Get this, Izzy never ever chewed shoes or stole socks.  Izzy's nickname is Marbles because she tilts her head one way and after the marbles roll down, she tilts it the other way.  Congrats, Maggie & Steve on having a such a great dog that's going to bring much fun into your lives for years to come.  Cheers, jp

PS--Since this is a little shorty blog post, we figured we could sandwich in our weekly stats here as well as this odd factoid: this morning's low temp here a Straw House Central is COLDER than the morning low in Idaho Falls.  Odd, but true.  They are 30 and we are 21.  Amazing.

OK, here's the weekly stats.  Daily visitors held on to most of last week's increase.  Page views are also hanging at a higher level, too.  Length of visit backed off from last week's strange long duration but it's still well above the long term average.  Note that we cleared 8000 page views--probably just yesterday.  Amazing.

-- Site Summary ---                     

            Total ........................ 4,198            
            Average per Day ................. 26            
            Average Visit Length .......... 4:19            
            This Week ...................... 183            

          Page Views

            Total ........................ 8,009            
            Average per Day ................. 50            
            Average per Visit .............. 1.9            
            This Week ...................... 349

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bye, Bye, Beddie

 This old cast iron bed has been in my life since 1975, plus or minus a year.  Back then I was living in Zionsville, Indiana, and owned, published and edited the paid circulation weekly newspaper there.  In today's lingo, we call that a "past life."  Well, anyway, my parents found this iron bed up in Lafayette.  It had been in the same family since sometime in the 1880's or 1890's--nobody could remember.  My folks bought the bed and lugged the heavy thing down to Zionsville.  Then in the mid-80's, they actually brought it out to Flagstaff!  I lugged it all over Flagstaff and then took it out to Brown Springs Ranch and then into a variety of storage units.  In 1993 we even set it up in a screen tent here on the property.  Eventually, it wound up in a couple of other outdoor settings before we finally built a house around the bed and then slept it in from 1993-2006.  It went into storage again over in Sedona in May 2006, never moving an inch for years.  We finally excavated it yesterday and strapped atop the Nissan for yet another trip to The Straw House where it now roosts calmly in my shed.

Sadly, we think it's time to sell it.  We both are loathe to do so but it just doesn't fit in any of our life spaces now.  It's tough to part with something that's been a part of  my life and our lives for so long.  However, we can't simply keep stuff forever, no matter how endearing or special it might be.  So, it's time to wave "Bye, Bye" to this Dear Beddie.  We hope it finds a great new home and begins a new life story with another family soon.

Cheers, jp

Thursday already?

Time keeps on slipping into the future.  Susun pointed out that we've been here 8 weeks already.  This week has been a real blur mostly because of Stuff Wars.  We spent all day Tuesday and Wednesday dealing with stuff.  Everything is completely out of Bob's garage in Sedona and now it's spread hither and yon here.  There are 14 large plastic tubs sitting outside that wouldn't fit inside the house or a shed.  Meanwhile, every cubic inch of spare space in all three sheds and the house is now pull of stuff.  It's pretty much impossible to stuff more stuff any place except in the wide open spaces outside.
This evening we're heading over to Susan Kliewer's place in Elmersville.  We don't normally use last names on this blog.  However, Susan is a well known artist and her name is already all over the internet.  You can click here to read about her.  Susan's having one of her patented parties.  The Goatherder and SWMBO will be there, too, as well as some other Dear Friends from Sedona.  We're looking forward to it.  One of the bonus moments in all of the recent Stuff Wars wwas finding a Smokey The Bear history book.  Susan's Dad played a real important role in development of the Smokey Bear icon so we're gonna give the book to her tonight.  That oughta prompt some stories.  Maybe we'll take our video camera and finally get her to tell her Smokey Bear stories for posterity.

Roger & Nancy visited Monday.  We drove up the Blue Grade.  Roger and Susun's Grand Dad often talked of working on that road when it was originally built way back when.  Roger and Nancy had never been to Montezuma Well.  We had an "All in A Day's Karma" visit there.  I stopped to char with Ranger Skip L. about arcane GPS/GIS stuff and who should appear out of nowhere but Drifter Smith!  Wow, what a reunion we had.  Drifter's buddy, Tom Brownold took out photo overlooking the Well.  That was a real special moment in time.  Drifter spent more than 30 years as a river guide in Grand Canyon.  He's pretty much a living legend in the river runner crowd.  He and I spent a lot of time together in the 80's.  Tom  is a professional photographer.  You can click here to see his stuff.  Be sure to check out his Mule photos in this linkYou can click here for his regular website.

Susun is gearing up for the visit of her friends tomorrow.  They are booked for two nights at a motel in Sedona.  Lee, Jan, Rachel and Susun are set to have a rocking time there in Red Rock Country.

Well, that's about all the news we can muster up here. The evening campfires have been fun this week.  We actually wore a t-shirt at the fire until the sun went down last night.  It felt quite warm here yesterday and it's gonna get a lot warmer over the next few days.  The depths of an Arizona winter are behind us now.  Our coldest weather typically comes only between mid-December and early January.  While there may be some cold spells ahead, none of them will be as deep and chilly as those we've experienced recently.  Balmy daytime highs will be be the rule and cold, gray days the exception.