Monday, February 28, 2011

Snow Pack

This weekend's storm really put some thicker icing on the cake.  Happy Jack SNOTEL is up to 38 inches of snow.  More importantly, the Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) gained an inch and is now sitting over 10 inches.  Baker Butte's upper SNOTEL has 45 inches of snow with 12.8 inches of SWE.  For all of you boaters out there, this translates with two words: Verde Season.  Yep, there WILL be a whitewater boating season this year on the Verde.  When it will begin and how long it will last is anybody's guess.  But there's one thing I can completely guarantee you--there WILL be a Verde Season.  There probably will NOT be much of a Salt Season.  The snow over there just hasn't built up.  The West side of the state has got most all the snow.  Believe it or not right now, Baldy is sitting on only 22 inches of snow, less than half of Baker Butte.  Usually, those numbers are reversed and Baker Butte is half of Baldy. Odd but true in this whacky year.

Yesterday we drove way out to Gold Canyon so we could get a better view and photos of the snow-covered Superstition Mtns.  I'd never had the honor of seeing them covered with a white mantle.  It was surreal and spectacular.  (Yes, that's a golf course in the foreground.)  All kinds of people were pulling off the roads every which way to take photos of the famous mountains.  It was downright COLD over there in Gold Canyon yesterday morning.  Early Monday, a Zuks of Arizona member posted up photos of a run he and a buddy did Sunday morning at the Sunflower Mine not far from Mesa.  They reported 8-12 inches of snow and their photos sure don't lie! Bear in mind, this is the Sonoran Desert you're looking at here. I've included three of them here for your enjoyment.

Have a great day & Cheers!  jp

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The beat goes on

Here's a slideshow of 165 of Susun's photos from Hawaii.  I will make a better presentation of them tomorrow.  But for your stalwart readers, click here to access all those photos.

'Twas a busy Saturday.  Writing up the "Fun Friday" blog post took quite some time.  Just as I finished writing it, I realized I had to boogie to Goodwill for their half-price sale.  I waited in line with a lot of Latinos and figgered none of them would be heading off to snag one dollar golf clubs.  So, I had this selection of clubs all to myself.  I tried to tell the lady checker what the price should be but she begged to differ.
 That meant I got 15 clubs and this PING bag for a mere $17.86 instead of the $20 it should have been.  Apparently, she just got tired of ringing up all those clubs and finally gave up after entering 13 instead of 15.  The clubs were supposed to be a buck each and the bag was $5.  It's a real nice assortment with several duplicate clubs and a real nice putter.
 After buying the clubs, I plotted out a wide-ranging day that started out at the most tricked-out Barnes & Noble I've ever seen.  This place looks like a palace for a petty potentate in some Gulf State dictatorship.  It was in a real swanky mall that had a ba-zillion palm trees.  The B&N was filled with your typical suburbanite book buyers--very trendy people.  My tattered jeans and ratty t-shirt provided a welcome contrast for all those upscale people.  I actually paid $43 for a book there so the spendy atmosphere must have been contagious.  Maybe it was all the swaying palms.
 After leaving B&N, I made the first of two trips to my Temple: Harbor Freight.  I bought an 18-inch breaking bar and an impact screwdriver. Then it was off to Fry's Electronics over on the Far West edge of Tempe.  The place was packed with people buying all sorts of big screen gee-gaws and droidy, dweeby baubles.  I picked up two "personal sound amplifiers."  More on them later.
 Then it was off to one of this Nation's premier outdoor shops.  Cabela's is probably the best known outdoor mega-store but Good Ol' Boy Bass Pro Shops comes in a close second.  I picked up a nice pair of electronic ear protectors (for the Tuesday Target Shoot) for $30.  These electronic ear muffs can sell for as high as $200.
 Ya gotta love Bass Pro Shops' sense of humor.  Cabela's is always a VERY serious place--not so with Bass Pro Shops.
Susun spent her day helping Roger clean up the house in preparation for Tuesday's services.  THANKS, SUSUN! After her long afternoon nap, we went back over to Harbor Freight, made yet another visit to Goodwill and then hit the putting green at Royal Palms.  I found Susun a Junior's RH putter.  It's a wee bit too small for her but I can easily see a good putter design is really going to help her game.  We putted around until sunset and then enjoyed a quiet Happy Hour.  Roger, Nancy and Arlyn were all gone.  I spent the evening checking out my new $43 book and my personal sound amplifier.

What are those amplifiers all about?  Well, as almost everyone knows, I cain't hear hardly at all and I have been loathe to spend $2000-$3000 or more for a pair of hearing aids.  That's akin to stuffing a Zuki in my ears.  I'd rather spend the money on another Zuki than I would on two ounces of technology.  I've had this feeling that, sooner or later, somebody would figger out that they could turn the "bluetooth" device design into a hearing aid.  Voila, somebody figgered it out.  For many, many decades, Old Folks have had this stigma about the visibility of hearing aids.  It was so totally UNCOOL to see a big old hearing aid stuffed behind somebody's ear.  Oh, the embarrassment of it all.  So, the Hearing Aid Industry (Yes, Virginia, it IS a genuine industry) has always focused on making hearing aids smaller and smaller and more and more invisible.  Meanwhile, the cost of this miniaturization has caused hearing aid prices to skyrocket into the stratosphere.  I personally know someone who spent SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS on a pair of hearing aids!!!!!!  Heck, for that money, we would buy THREE Suzuki Samurais--or at least one really trick rock crawler.

Well, meanwhile, the advent of Bluetooth technology totally reversed the "thingie on ear" mentality.  Now, it's considered hip and stylish to be seen waltzing around in public with a big ol' silver thingie clipped to your ear.  BAM--it didn't take long for somebody to realize they could stuff small sound amplifers into something that large.  The Hearing Aid Industry, of course with its Enforcer The FDA, realized the impact of possible competition and quickly stomped all over those entrepreneurs. These devices must be marketed as "personal sound amplifiers" for people with NORMAL hearing.  They must also contain a disclaimer on the package that they can't be used by the hearing impaired (AKA: Me) and that the hearing impaired MUST continue to deal with the scammers from the Hearing Aid Industry.  Well, HA! HA! HA!  I figgered this scam out and when Fry's just now began selling a really trick Bell & Howell "personal sound amplifier" I jumped all over it yesterday.  The cost?  TWENTY BUCKS!  No kidding.  And it works like a champ.  Now I will finally be able to hear normal conversation at a dinner table, meeting or party.  It's so cool, I can hardly stand it.  It even has a rechargeable battery so I will never have to pay the scammers for their hearing aid batteries.  It just TOTALLY ROX!  And, guess what?  I saved enough money to go buy another Suzuki Samurai.  YEEEE----HAAAW!

Many Cheers!  jp

Sheepish Snow

The Goatherder sent this shot of his two sheep this morning.  At least they were already wearing wool!  GH also passed along a distant view of Mingus Mountain as seen from his 3360 foot AMSL viewpoint in Cornville.
Meanwhile, here's a couple of Sunday morning scenes down at Roger's Place in Mesa:

Golly Gee Gosh

Thanks, Gary, for sending these photos this morning.  
This is A&A (Amazing & Awesome).

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fun Friday

The back end will be a built-in beer cooler.
 The built-in beer bottle opener is shown below.
Friday would have been a great day all by itself just because Susun came back home yesterday.  But it got better as the day progressed on to its conclusion.  After having a nice lardy little lunch (see comments below the Titanic Tortilla post), the Minister came to meet with the Family about Don's services Tuesday.  That seemed like a great moment to once again become a free range roamer here amid the sea of red tile roofs sprawling endlessly across this metroplex.

Luckily, I had created a worthy urban adventure via the magic of the Zuks of Arizona Forum.  As you know, I was trying to get two wayward tires over to Steve in Surprise.  Enno jumped the Forum and said I could bring the items out to his place in Far East Mesa (not to be confused with Far East Asia).  Believe me, Enno lives so Far East of here, it felt like I was driving all the way to Asia!  By and by, when I was almost in Apache Junction, I came upon Enno's Place.  As chance would have it Enno was visiting with his best bud Daryl.  These two guys made a unique pair of Best Buds.  It didn't take too long for me to spot the Samurai Bar B Que.  I was dazzled by this shining gem.  Dazzled is a tame word.  We spent a long time going over all the various incredible features of the mean grilling machine.  It is easily and truly THE BEST BBQ rig I have ever had the pleasure to actually see with my very own eyes.  It's not even finished yet either.  When these two guys get done with this wonderment, the whole world will stand in awe of it.  I fully expect it to wind up on a magazine cover when it's finished.  Well, my near worship of their BBQ kind of broke the ice and pretty soon we were all chattering like grade school kids trading baseball cards.

By and by, I learned that Enno and Daryl were business partners and that Daryl is a top flight genius when it comes to working with metals.  He is actually manager of a big metal fabricating business in Phoenix.  He is so skilled with the computerized laser cutting machinery it's spooky.  SO, it turns out that the pair happened to be looking for ideas about how to make money making metal thingies for Samurai.  Well, they sure met their match yesterday with me being The Idea Guy.  I started reeling off all these ideas for various metal thingies and they were just as be-dazzled by me as I had been about their BBQ.  Each of one them kept mumbling, "WOW, that's a really great idea, why didn't we think of that!"  And the hit parade kept on rolling as idea after idea poured forth from my hidden font of endless ideas.  They truly liked each and every idea I pitched out and finally even told me there were going to give me FREE versions of each idea and maybe even a cut of the sales of them.  I declined the financial aspect but jumped at the chance to turn my ideas into reality in our very own Samurai.  The whole thing clearly marked the start of something BIG in Susun's and my relationship with the Samurai.  Meeting these two guys was a complete game changer in how we will shape our future usage of SuziQ and any other Samurai we will own.  What started out as simply a favor to pass along something to someone else would up as one of those "Big Wheel Keeps on Spinning" episodes of "all in a day's karma."  It was a very fortuitous turn of events for all of us.

As I drove back west toward Old Mesa, something caught my eye moving fast at one o'clock low.  I did a major double take and blinked a few times but, sure enough, it was a WWII B-25 Mitchell light bomber flying not far above the palm tree tops.  I could even see the machine gun sticking out the nose cone.  As it banked to its left almost directly overhead, I could hear and feel the rumble of those powerful twin radial engines.  The afternoon sun lit up its Army Air Force markings and it was an emotional and stirring sight to see.  I quickly headed toward Falcon Field to see if I could watch it land.  I surmised it was the Commemorative Air Force B-25 that's based at Falcon.  Unfortunately, it must have been on a true "mission" as it never returned.  Meanwhile, though, I enjoyed glimpsing many of the vintage aircraft based at Falcon, including the B-17 "Sentimental Journey."  That's the B-17 I toured inside an Idaho Falls hanger with Houn Dawg and co-worker "Eagle Eye" Sharon W.  (Click here to see a photo album of that tour.)

Well, that was a fun flashback!  After leaving Falcon Field, I stopped off at an Autozone and enjoyed bed liner enlightenment.  That's too long a story to tell here.  We'll let you know when it is written and posted on the Zuki blog.  And as I was driving home, I decided to open yet another new chapter for this Fun Friday.
Yes, it's about golf.  Just before lunch Friday, I finally found a "Dee-Eye," the famous LDS Thrift Store formally known as Deseret Industries.  Somehow, I just knew that a Mesa, Arizona DI would have a lot of cool golf stuff.  And so it was.  I wound up getting a new pair of genuine leather black Footjoy golf shoes, a n awesome left hand putter, a new Callaway golf hat and a Silver Creek golf shirt for a whopping $16.  The shoes alone would cost $90.  The hat still had the original hang tag on it and would have cost $25.  But the putter was and will always be the Star of The Show.  It's a kid's putter.  I mean a REAL little kid putter. It's probably designed for a seven or an eight-year-old.  Somehow, I bonded on the spot with that putter, seeing as how I often have the brain of a seven or an eight year old.  So, in spite of all the other fun stuff that happened yesterday, I was chomping at the bit to take that putter out for a spin.

After dropping off some groceries at Roger's, I ripped right back out again and headed for the putting green at the nearby Royal Palms golf course.  I even put on my new golf shoes, too.  There was an old guy and a little kid putting, too.  By and by, the Old Guy came over and asked if I wanted to join them for a putting match--low score wins, of course.  Why, sure, of course.  The kid was eight and putting like a pro.  The Old Guy was his Grandpa.  It didn't take long to realize I was putting with two real pro golfers and it really elevated my putting game.  The Old Guy was knocking down 50 foot putts!  it was incredible.  The Kid yawned at 8-10 footers and they dropped in the hole like a homesick rodent scurrying back down below.  Well, believe it or not, my little kiddie putter really changed my game and I was holding my own with these two sandbaggers.  At the end of nine holes, we were all tied up, even-steven.  We played another round and we were still even.  I was ecstatic and they were obviously very happy, too.  I finally realized I could actually putt well.  Who knew that all it would take would be a kiddie putter and taking a visual lesson from a kid, too.
Meanwhile, Susun called to wonder where the heck I was so I departed the putting green and drove home with a broad smile on my face to enjoy a very Happy Happy Hour.

We all enjoyed a great Family Home Evening.  Susun rustled up some chicken tenderloin and made a stir fry with ginger, garlic and fresh mushrooms, too.  It was a very Fun Friday.

Now it's off to Goodwill's 50% Off Sale this morning.  Susun's gonna get a whole "new" set of golf clubs and maybe I will find my dream pair of polyester pants.

Cheers, jp

Friday, February 25, 2011

Titanic Tortilla

One thing we're doing here is feeding the Family most of their meals until Tuesday.  Today's lunch was a cheesecrisp using Carolina's huge tortilla.  Note the quarter for scale on the top right of the steel griddle.
These puppies are truly titanic!  We watched them being made this morning.  each tortilla is individually hand made.  They are not run through a roller or a press.  There is a line of women standing in front of perhaps a 20-foot wide gas fired griddle.  Each woman is working on stretching one tortilla at a time.  It's quite a beautiful and traditional Southwestern sight to see.  Luckily, there are no nutrition labels on them.  Ignorance is bliss.

Susun's back in Ol' Airy Zonie safe & Happy

Susun's non-stop flight was due to land at Sky Harbor at precisely 8 am.  I was getting ready to slog through the peak of rush hour traffic and planned to leave at 7:30.  Lo and behold, my cell phone rang and it was Susun calling from Sky Harbor!  Her flight caught a righteous tail wind and came in 30 minutes early.  Imagine--flying from Hawaii straight to Phoenix in less time that it once took us to drive from Rimrock to Rocky Point! Incredible.

Anyway, she was in great spirits, as usual, and happy to be back with us cactus kickers.  So, I took off heading West and she's going like "Where ARE you going?"  By and by, we surfed ashore in Gang Land down at 12th and Mohave and it only took her a nano-second to realize we were going to have breakfast at the famed Carolina's.  WOW--that place is SOOO good.  Their breakfast burros are gigantic, gi-normous creatures for a mere $3.65.  I had chorizo and egg.  They are wrapped in a tortilla the size of a satellite dish.  Their house salsa is tremendous.  YUM.  We bought a dozen of their famous tortillas to treat Roger & Nancy. After yet another circuitous route back here we arrived shortly after 9 am and she is napping now.  Something called jet lag or something like that.

Yesterday was one of those typical days where you feel like you are walking in molasses.  Each step seems twice as difficult as it should be.  I didn't get everything ship shape and get on the interstate until 1:15 pm.  Got down to Fry's Electronics at 2:40 pm and rec'd the bad news from their service dept.  No can do on fixing the laptop "M" key.  Cain't be done.  They want $100 to swap out the keyboard.  Well, we ill use the little stub to strike our "M's."  At least I did pick up a nice car charger for my T-Mobile cell phone for $4.  The same charger in Cottonwood was $25.  Go figure.

It was a real traffic slog from the westside to the eastside that time of day--took nearly an hour.  I bought everything to treat Roger & Nancy to dinner but when I showed up, Roger announced he was grilling fillet mignon.  Oh, bummer.  Anyway, I set up my full outdoor kitchen and at least sauteed some mushrooms to go with Roger's steaks.  I used our digital thermometer to prevent Roger from grilling the life out of them and they turned out great.  We swapped a lot of stories, watched some golf on TV and hit the hay early.

I tried to get two wheels and tires off to a Zuki Guy from Surprise yesterday.  He knew some guy who was supposed to meet me at Fry's.  That didn't happen.  So, this morning, I posted up a note on the state's Zuki club Forum and now I've found three guys over here in the east valley who want to help get the wheels to the far west valley.  I'm sure it will resemble the Pony Express passing mailbags from horse to horse.  Anyway, it's gonna be fun to get this chain of events rolling today.

The NVUM guy has been real communicative and it looks like we're close to making a deal to do a bunch of interview sites at various Dark Canyon Wilderness Trailheads.  Dark Canyon is truly CAT MOAN Country.  No doubt about it.  It's back o' beyond The Bears Ears!

Well, not much else to report.  Many Cheers!  jp

Almost forgot--Here's the weekly stats for this blog. We cross over the 10,000 page view threshold this week.  And that's just since we started counting on June 19.  Daily visitor numbers seemed to have notched up somewhat in the last few weeks and time per visit appears higher as well.


            Total ........................ 5,303            
            Average per Day ................. 28            
            Average Visit Length .......... 4:23            
            This Week ...................... 197            

          Page Views

            Total ....................... 10,183            
            Average per Day ................. 54            
            Average per Visit .............. 1.9             
This Week ...................... 379

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Interesting weather situation

We're picking Miss Susun up a little after 8 am tomorrow at Sky Harbor Airport.  She actually leaves Kauai today (about 11 pm Island Time) but arrives the next day.  The Big Question is whether to stay in Mesa or come up to 2nd Chance Ranch Friday and then drive back down on Sunday or Monday.  Don's funeral is Tuesday and Roger needs some help readying his house for all the people who will be there after the services Tuesday.

So, here we go "thinking out loud" again. (NOTE: This is also for Susun's benefit when she reads it later this morning.)

A cursory glance at the situation would say, "Go north and then come back."  However, it's becoming quite complicated.  First, let's take a look at the Flagstaff  NWS Discussion from 3:50 am this morning:


The storm is progged to begin Saturday and lift out Monday. As we all know, a forecast like this turns I-17 into a Maniacal Bumper Car Course so Sunday travel looks to be out of the question with snow levels that low.  Meanwhile, a storm such as this one pretty well confines us to our quarters here.  It's cold and wet.  No blissful campfires each evening!  And, meanwhile, we face a dicey drive on Monday as well.

At this point, I'm voting for staying in Mesa.  The weather will be perfect for Susun and me--temps in the mid to low 60's.  Everyone down there despises such low temps but we love 'em.  The air should be clear and there will be lotsa stuff we can do.  I know Susun's antsy to get home after such a long time on Kauai but this plan is a whole lot more prudent, economical and SAFE than an attempt to get up and back in such a short time frame with such dubious conditions.  Okie, dokie, Smokey?

Yesterday was much more low key than the Too Much Tuesday.  However, it was unique in that we had an NVUM Deja Vu.  Say what?  As most all LRB's know, NVUM seems to have an uncanny knack for popping up to play special roles in our life.  Heck, we're in our 9th year of messing with NVUM in one form or another.  Here's how this episode has played out so far.

Once in awhile when I am really bored, I go to a website called "fbo dot gov."  It generally lists about 20000+ federal business opportunities that potential contractors can bid on.  It's always a fun read. For example, that's where I learned of bids being sought to build the ultimate 10,000 sq. ft. Taj Mahal River Runner warehouse at Grand Canyon's South Rim.  There's always something amusing on that list.  Well, lo and behold, way back in January I stumbled on the bid solicitation for the NVUM process on Utah's Manti-LaSal National Forest. (Think the Monticello-Moab and Wasatch Plateau areas.)  Well, it almost goes without saying that these are two of our favorite areas.  Also, we "Secret Shopped" those Forests in the fall of 2005. So, our antenna perked up and we began watching for the bid award.  Bidding closed January 25th.  Oddly, there was no award issued right away.  Last year, the Sawtooth contract was awarded with a few days after the close of bidding.

Time dragged on.   And on.  I even called the Contracting Officer and asked "whazzup?"  She gave me a very vague answer and said she thought the award should be out by Valentine's Day.  Nope.  Time continued to drag on.  Susun and I speculated that it was because they wanted to give it to somebody besides RJ's outfit and they needed time to make their award bombproof in case RJ appealed.  But who knows why it took so long?  Well, in another footnote to the uniqueness of 2-2-2 on The Tuesday Too Much Day, the gubmint decided to up and award the Manti-LaSal contract February 22nd.  An outfit called Sims and Associates got it.  (Click here to read the award notice.) They are a group of well-educated, highly skilled professionals who do a wide range of mostly what's called environmental and compliance stuff.  You can click here to check them out.

We had already decided we wouldn't remotely consider working with RJ again.  But we both said that if somebody interesting got the contract we'd sure consider it.  Heck, if we like 'em, we might even do more than a few token interviews--assuming, of course, that they like us.  So, after reading up on their company and the key guy's background, I winged 'em out a phone call and got an immediate response.  After dealing with someone who's idea of a reply might be two weeks after a call or email, I was pleasantly shocked.  The guy sounded very cordial and friendly so that was encouraging.  Now it's time to bury my nose in the spreadsheet of the interview dates and see if we can make something happen.  It sure would be fun to take the Slow Road north this spring, ambling along up through Tuba City, Kayenta, Mexican Hat, Bluff, Monticello, Moab, Green River, Ferron, Price and Spanish Fork.  Who knows, we might even go over the San Raphel Swell and then turn north up through Manti to Nephi before going mano-y-mano with the I-15 Salt Lake corridor craziness.  Or, heck, maybe we would blow that off and take Highway 89 up to the turnoff to Provo Canyon and then go through Heber City, Kamas and up to Evanston, Wyoming.  Then we could slip into Idaho Falls through the backdoor via Star Valley, Alpine and Palisades Reservoir.  That would be sweet.

Now that we have The Skamper, we're all set for such an enduro meander-merriment.

Meanwhile, The Goatherder stopped by yesterday to show off his new Coleman stove and saucer. GH bought the stove for Josh's graduation summer road trip into Colorado.  Meanwhile, GH stumbled into The Fabled Missing Saucer.  Hopefully, he will write it up on his own blog so I don't have to.  Speaking of blogs, DF & LBR Wayne R. penned a real classic blog post yesterday.  His posts just seem to be getting better and better but this one is over the top---quite literally, in fact.  Click here to read about Wayne 55-mile Grand Canyon backpack into a place on one ever goes. 

Houn Dawg pulled another fast one on me late yesterday and actually convinced me I needed to drive to Cottonwood late in the day.  HD is SUCH a con man.  I've got to keep a better watch out on him.

We rustled up a fine foto fire once again but no one came to visit.  The sunset was medium decent--nothing particularly spectacular but still OK.  The campfire was a whole more photogenic than the sunset so it is below.  Today is all about house cleaning and then we'll boogie outta here hopefully in time to get down to Fry's Electronics by 1-2 pm.  I need to roam around that store and commune with circuit boards for awhile.  I also want a much better hot rod digital voice recorder and I want to fix the freaking "M" on this laptop--the little stub is wearing a hole in my finger.

Have a Great Day & Many Cheers!  jp

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Stasea and Susun have been having a fine time each day.  These photos really need no captions. 

Well, maybe this photo needs a caption.  The duo hiked up this hill (above) to enjoy this postcard view.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2-2-2 Too Much?

We wrote the above blog post title last night and thought we'd change both the title and short post this morning.  However, DF & LBR Deano made a comment that's way too cool so the title and this snippet have to remain:  "Today was a two, two, two, too, too, too Day.  It was also a Major Dear Diary Day. Was it too much? Tune in tomorrow morning to find out. We're celebrating a fabulous and wonderful day and we hope you are as well."

What's so special about yesterday?  First things first.  Yesterday Dear Friend Tom B. presented me with a custom 1911 "government model" .45 caliber automatic pistol.  I nearly fainted from the sheer surprise and excitement of it all.  Tom only builds his custom .45's for Family & Friends. A "Bonomo Custom" model .45 is a true heirloom.  The craftsmanship that Tom puts into his pistols is amazing.  I spent two hours with him Saturday going over all of the options for this pistol.  He didn't think he could get it "shootable" for at least 2-3 more weeks.  It was just a pile of parts Saturday in his workshop.  When he showed up with it yesterday it bowled me over.  I hadn't been expecting it and it was a surprise of the highest level.  Gary donated some hand-loaded ammo to use and Wes G. gave me a box and said, "Welcome to the Club."  Tom wants to run at least 500 rounds through the pistol before he takes it to the next level and gives it a final finish.  The pistol shoots like a dream and my very first shot was danged near a bulleye.  Tom found a special "old guy" rear sight that practically locks onto the barrel bead.  The pistol is easy easy to hold, aim and fire.  All of the parts are as precisely matched as is mechanically possible and yet it's easy to operate.  Tom even made it a left-handed pistol for me.  I've never owned a firearm as awesome as this one.  The so-called "government .45" was my Dad's favorite pistol.  He was issued one as an Airman in WWII and was a good marksman with it.  Dad even had his photo taken with his .45 back in those days.  I hope to find that photo this April when I go to Mom's house.  Maybe I can strike the same pose as Dad did.

It was a great morning at the range.  Gary was there and The Goatherder even showed up.  GH is a real good pistol shooter and really enjoyed my new .45.  One of the shooter let me use his $4,000 custom laser-sighted pistol.  That laser dot could make anybody look like Annie Oakley.  Amazing pistol!  Dick from Cornville was there, too.  We got to know Dick pretty well back in early 2007 when we lived at Dead Horse Ranch State Park.  Dick spent his whole life as a Phoenix policeman and he's as happy as they come.  He served as a Park Ranger until tough times hit the state park system.  Now he's kind of the informal range master for the Tuesday Target shoots.

I brought the Coleman 413D and cooked a couple pots of coffee for everyone.  I also bought a dozen donuts and the attendees were very appreciative.  Ironically, while I was using the 413D at the range, Wayne R. sent an email asking whether he should buy a 413D he found online.  All in a day's karma, eh, Wayne?

It was a magical day there at the range--a one-of-a-kind day I'll never forget.  WOW!  THANKS, TOM!  THANKS, GARY!  THANKS, WES!

When everyone packed up their stuff and hit the road, I had to skee-daddle home pronto home to tidy up for a visitor.  Doug Von G. arrived precisely at 12:30 and stayed until 2:15.  He's currently Mayor of Clarkdale, AZ. but is perhaps better known as a world class birder, professional photographer, and lifelong Friend of The Verde River.  Doug's always been sort of a larger-then-life person to me.  He's done so much with this life and there's this kind of energy that radiates from him that I can't explain.  It was quite the compliment that he drove 45 minutes over from Cottonwood to interview me about the Verde River.

First, some background.  Believe it or not, the Walton Family Foundation has invested $1.1-million cash into an multi-faceted effort to help save the Verde River.  Yes, that's the Walton Family of Wal-Mart fame.  Believe it or not, the Walton's identified the Verde River on their own.  No one here even thought of contacting them--the Walton's reached out on their own to make contact with the local people.  One of the first people they chose to talk to was Doug.  Doug wears many hats well.

By and by, as the Walton investment in the river grew, Doug became the leader of the Verde River Economic Development Study.  The meat of their study is detailed interviews with community leaders to attempt to quantify the economic value of the river and how that value might play into the river's preservation.  I was chosen for an interview because of the 20 years I spent trying to save the river back in the days before anyone thought the river was worth saving.

The interview lasted about 90 minutes.  He recorded it on a nice digital voice recorder and it will be transcribed.  I actually became emotional at one point in the interview and nearly burst into tears.  Luckily, I maintained most of my composure.  I was very honored to be one of the interviewees for the study.  Doug was very conplimentary and later sent this kind email:

"Just a note to say thanks for taking the time to let me interview you for our VREDS study. It's clear to me that together we can make a real, positive difference in the health of the river and the economy of the Verde Valley as a result of this study. Your thoughts will play an important part in our conclusions and where we go from here. I'm making your interview a "must listen"" for my team, as your depth of understanding and the amount of thought you have put into river issues is second to none!"

Well, naturally, doing the interview and getting a note like this from Doug himself would have made yesterday a "Dear Diary Day" all by its lonesome self.  But there's a wee bit more.  Just before Doug left, I delivered a sermonette about the importance of social media and how social media could/would/should play a key role in the future preservation of the Verde River.  Doug said, "You mean The Verde oughta have its own Facebook, right, John?"  Roger, Doug.  So after presiding over a Clarkdale Council Meeting, Doug went home and, voila, the Verde now has its own Facebook!  Talk about instant results!  Here's Doug's note:

"Just for fun, take a look at - The Verde River's new Facebook page."

Coming as all these things did on the twenty-second day of the second month prompted me to coin the blog post of  "2-2-2 Too Much?"  It was an overwhelming day for me and almost too much, too.  After Doug left, I was spent.  All I could do was mill around doing menial tasks around 2nd Chance Ranch.  My mind was numb.  I built up a very nice campfire last night, a little larger than normal just to celebrate the day.  I also put on a dutch oven of potatoes so I can enjoy some country fired taters and eggs this morning.  Gary eventually came over and we had a fine time going over the events of the day.

Days like 2/22/11 sure don't come around very often in life.

Have a Great Day Today & Always as well as Many Hearty Cheers!  jp

Some things take time

One such thing is this "wheel deal" that we've been messing with for seemingly weeks now.  Well, it's all done.
  It took most all day yesterday but we finally fully finished at 5:30 pm yesterday.  Rather than clog this blog with the story, we put it over on the Zuki blog.  You can click here to read all about it.

We had another nice sunset and campfire yesterday.  You can click the thumbnails to see the larger versions.   

We're scurrying and hurrying to get to the Tuesday Target Shooting gathering.  More later on today.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Red, White & Blue

It's a patriotic morning here at 2nd Chance Ranch.  First, the ground is white.  No, not from snow--from a heaby frost.  It's as white as snow but it's frost.  Next, the Mountain Bluebirds are flitting about in profusion.  The Bluebirds love to hang out with each other in tight little flocks and they fly around a lot for short little distances.  They tend to wheel when they fly and that exposes their blue feathers to the bright sunlight.  The blue on their backs has this weird glow and their look like airborne gems.  Meanwhile this morning, a couple of brilliant red male cardinals decided to set up shop in the front yard.  Between the ruby cardinals, the sapphire blue birds and the white diamond twinkles from the heavy frost, it's been a genuine patriotic morning.

Why do we obsess over sunsets and sun rises?  There's no good answer to that question.  Perhaps it's a deep subterranean response to our primal DNA.  Perhaps it's the "kid" in us.  Who knows?  Who cares?  Fabulous sunsets and sunrises really light up our personal scoreboard. That's just the way it is.  At the bottom of this blog post, we will put a string of photos from last night's extravaganza.  Luckily, we got home in time to rustle up a nice fire before the light show began.  Gary came over and we were both be-dazzled by the changing light.  Somehow the sunset produced colors I've never seen before beneath the lip of the Mogollon Rim.  Trying to take in all the awesome light is worse than being a dog with two bones.  You just don't know which way to turn.  After the last light faded, Gary and I had a fine time telling stories about getting various vehicles stuck in the mud.  Somehow, we had each other laughing like grade school kids on the recess merry-go-round.

Our final storm total rainfall was 1.1 inches.  That brings the total precip here since our November arrival to 2.50 inches in three storm events.  This storm was enough to actually make the Verde River rise.  It's about 900 cfs at Camp Verde.  The two Beaver Creeks are combining for about 170 cfs and Oak Creek at Cornville is 276 cfs.  The Big News, however, is in the actual snowpack up on The Rim.  Happy Jack jumped from 20 inches to 36 inches!  More importantly, the SWE (Snow Water Equivalent) rose from 6.7 inches to 9.2.  That's enough to actually maybe create a short river running season on the Verde River!  We get a little break for a couple of days before unsettled weather returns.  The NWS is thinking next weekend might be a reprise of this weekend.  There's basically only four more weeks left for potential winter like weather.  When April 1st arrives, some unseen force flips a switch and the pipeline shuts off.  Only rarely will there be a year that sees some decent precip in April.

Saturday was a fun day we didn't have a chance to describe in much detail.  We spent almost two hours with Dear Friend Tom B. in his awesome shop.  Tom is a Master Gunsmith and a crack shot.  You simply wouldn't believe the things he can do to and with a pistol.  It was a wonderful morning there in his Disneyland Little Shop.  THANKS, TOM!!!  Afterwards, we went to the LDS Emergency Fair.  As usual, it was a wonderfully well-organized event and we learned some interesting things.  We will go to every such LDS Fair that we possibly can.  Click here to see our slideshow on it.

Susun called yesterday to say Stasea's Birthday Scavenger Hunt was a great success.  I think there were 5 or 6 teams of two and everyone had a great time.  We've added a couple of photos to Stasea's birthday post below.

It's a short week for us.  We will be leaving for Mesa pretty early on Thursday.  That means Wednesday's going to be a busy day house cleaning and rigging for the trip, etc.  It could be a long stay down there this trip.  Roger might want Susun to stay from her Friday arrival to the Funeral Services on March 1.  We shall see.

We're hoping to get in our last river trip this week but it sure doesn't look too good for that to happen.  With the river running rather high and fast, I'm not going to risk a canoe trip until it drops a little.  It's SOOO easy to get a canoe hung up in a strainer in swift water.  Meanwhile, we're going shooting again tomorrow.  We've cooked up a plan (pun intended) to serve some onsite refreshments to the shooters tomorrow morning.  That's going to take awhile today to get organized.  Meanwhile, we need to "proof" out a couple more spare tires for SuziQ and we might as well get that done today over in Cottonwood. We spent a lot of time this morning tweeking both of our Zuki blogs.  Click here for:  and click here for   We added a "Route Ratings" page to the latter blog.  You might find it interesting.

Meanwhile, someone needs to interview us for some historical study they are doing.  Hum...our schedule is already feeling tighter than a small shoe.  What to do?  Oh, well, it will all work out one way or another.

Have a great day & Cheers!  jp

OK, here's the sunset photos:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

BAM--This is for wheel!

Wild day.  Put up a note on the Zuks of Arizona member forum yesterday.  Steve (above) answered.  We made a deal by phone this morning.  I had to await a window between crashes and I-17 closures and then-BAM-I scooted outta here nearing 1 pm and did a 200+ mile RT to a place on the Southwest corner of Surprise, AZ.  Got the four almost new General Grabber AT2's with wheels for $150.  And then-BAM--hustled back through the storm pulses, caught a seam and now it's time for a campfire & Happy Hour.  Cool.

Storm Update

(NOTE: We added two photos at the bottom of this blog post to show "Current Conditions" in Rimrock at 11:45 am.  There are some of the biggest snowflakes coming down I have ever seen. I am sure some of them are at least 2 inches in diameter.  They melt upon contact with the soil so it's impossible it get their photo.)

DF & LBR Maggie sent a photo of Izzy playing in their backyard snow in uptown Flagstaff. Along with the photo, Maggie said, "Izzy is having a great time.  Steve uses the snowblower in the front and then brings it THROUGH THE HOUSE to do the back porch.  When he starts it up once he reaches the back porch, Izzy went crazy, running all over the house.  Once she gets outside with him,she just tears around the yard like a 6 month old puppy should."

Looks like they got about a foot, plus or minus.  We have had .85 of an inch of rain so far here and it might reach one inch total with today's expected showers.  The NWS says the high country might get 2-4 more inches today and then the storm will be gone.  The next pulse come mid-week but is only expected to bring cooler temps and not much precip.  It's been hanging in the low 40's so far today.  We doubt it will get to 50.

Below is a photo Maggie sent of Flagstaff's "Current Conditions" about 10:45 Sunday morning.

Happy Birthday, Stasea!

Today is Stasea's Birthday.  Susun and Stasea joined a large group of Kauai friends last night to celebrate Stasea's Day.  

We can hardly wait to hear the story.  

Have a Great Day Today, Stasea, and Many Cheers!

Brief rays of light

The President's Day Weekend Storm hit as predicted yesterday and it rained off and on most all day.  Sometimes it rained really hard.  The Lake Montezuma NWS thingie says we eeked up to 51 yesterday but it felt like the 40's all day long.  By campfire time it was still raining and felt downright cold.  I walked out to the ramada to retrieve a beverage box and, gee, I could see light on the western horizon.  I had no plans for a campfire last night as it seemed to be a "hunker down" evening.  However, when I saw the light, so to speak, it dawned on me that I would be a card-carrying wimp if I didn't rustle up a fire.  Without further ado, we had some flames flickering in no time at all.  The three photos pretty much sum up the short-loved experience.  Note the dusting of snow on the Mogollon Rim in the second photo below the large one. (You can click on any little one to see the large version.)

It was 42 degrees when I decided to build the fire and it rallied to 47 before falling back.  The sun put on a short show through its western window and then faded completely to gray.  I had two cameras ready for what i expected to be an extended light show.  Nothing.  As soon as the sun winked out, the party was over.  It was just me and the small fire.  I stayed until the flames turned to glowing coals and then called it a night well after dark.  Since the wind and rain had both laid down, it was actually quite a nice evening despite the temp falling to 39 by the time I went inside.

This type of storm is a classic Spring Storm.  They aren't the bitter cold and long length of a true winter storm.  They are generally short duration, high intensity storms.  This is the kind of storm one would generally expect in March but here it is a month early.  It leads me to speculate that spring is coming about one month early, too.  Afterall, tomorrow is the 21st of Feb. and that's precisely a month before the first official day of spring.