Saturday, March 31, 2012

End of March

This month is about to March into the history books.  What's been happening?  What lies ahead? Must be time once again for a rambling, meandering wrapup. We'll start with today and then go backwards and forwards in no particular order.

About an hour from now we will be visiting Wes & Nancy's Place in Camp Verde for breakfast.  We love getting together over breakfast--much more so than dinner.  Lunch holds a close second to breakfast.  Everything and everybody is always so bright and fresh for breakfast.  The whole day lies ahead.  Back eons ago when we lived in Flagstaff, we went often to breakfast with our friends there.  Having dinner out in those days was almost unheard of and lunch was pretty uncommon, too.  Breakfast was the "IT" meal for meeting with friends to discuss river trips, road trips and all the doings of a mountain college town perched astride Route 66.  Names like Choi's, Kathy's and The Weatherford hold special memories.  We miss those warm and fuzzy breakfasts "back in the day" of the quaint 1980's Flagstaff era.

We don't generally do restaurant breakfasts any more.  Most all restaurant breakfast menus are so boring and so identical to each other.  Generally, they buy their ingredients from the same vendors.  Generally, the eggs are always swimming in grease and the toast is lackluster and the hash browns are limp, lifeless, lukewarm unappetizing shadows of The Noble Potato.  The coffee?  It always tastes the same in a restaurant.  We've never really found places to rival those Flagstaff eateries of yesteryear.  That's why a home-made breakfast is so far superior to a restaurant breakfast these days.  It's a chance to show off all sorts of culinary creativity while enjoying the fresh-faced new dawn smiles and spirits of close friends gathered around a happy table brim full of tasty goodies.  So, yes, to sum up all of the above--we sure are looking forward to visiting Wes & Nancy for breakfast today!

We'll be back home for a few hours doing the typical this and that on a hot spring Saturday.  Temps here have been running in the mid-80's and we think that's hot.  HA!  That would be a cold front here in mid-summer when the typical temps are well over 100 for weeks and weeks on end.  We're hard at work on prepping for our Monday Match. Along about Happy Hour we will be heading to Chip & Kathy's Place on the Verde River near the Salt Mine.  It's time for their famous All Fool's Party. Fools from far and wide gather to celebrate general foolishness in all forms.  Last year there were about 50-60 people who showed up in full fool finery.  We're really happy Chip & Kathy have the foolish fortitude to put up with all the foolery sure to unfold this evening.  We may or may not take the pop top over.

We took the pop top to The Goatherder's Place last Saturday and what a fun time was had by all.  Goatherder and Son Josh built a genuine, honest campfire in their back yard.  GH slaved all day over prepping a sinfully rich, made-from-scratch macaroni and cheese dish that was utterly divine.  Due to GH's goat herder chores each evening, he and Kate are never able to come over to our campfire here.  It sure was a delight to have the whole evening with our Dear Friends.  And, yep, you guess it, we were able to enjoy a righteous Sunday morning with them, too.  HG served up scrumptious omelets.  Um...yum.  What were we saying about breakfast?

While Susun and Kate were noshing away, they cooked up a plan to go hiking that day.  Pretty soon, Susun was working the phones like a pro and lined up a spur-of-the-moment All Star Girls' hike up Woods Canyon.  The creek up there was running as full as it's going to get this spring, barely off its peak from the previous day's copious snow melt.  What a wonderful time they all had.  Meanwhile Little Yonni spent hours finalizing preparations for the Monday Match.

Each Monday Match takes perhaps 15 or more hours in preparation, set-up, match conduct, tear down, storage, scoring, etc.  The match are very time consuming but very much fun so it's worth all the effort. By the end of Monday, we're bushed.  Tomorrow, though, we're going to have to rally up because we're heading to Dex & Jodi's Place for dinner.  Kate and Brock B. will be joining us so it's going to be a Camp Verde hootenanny on April 2nd, that's for sure. 

This will be the first time to take my new hearing aids to Dex & Jodi's Place.  It's always been a struggle for me to hear them there.  No more!  We've finally decided that spending $2000 on hearing aids was a really good idea.  They work great.  We went over to Prescott last Tuesday to have them tuned once again.  The devices are basically tiny computers that can be attached to regular computers and then tuned like a precision musical instrument.  It's so fun to watch how the technician can manipulate the sounds waves and frequencies specifically for my very own ears.  We've reached the point now where we can comfortably wear them all day long and easily change back and forth between their four onboard programs to adjust for whatever "hearing environment" we are in.  remarkable things have been happening in the hearing aid industry in recent years.  It wasn't all that long ago when hearing aids such as these were astronomically expensive.  Yes, $2000 is still expensive but it's a great price to pay for such a welcome new chapter in our life.  We are very pleased with them.

This upcoming Wednesday is going to be very interesting.  Wayne Ranney is coming down to have a Play Day.  We might go hike a rugged portion of the Crook Trail or we might decide to traverse the backside of Mingus Mountain from Cherry to Potato Patch.  Whatever we do, it's going to be a Dear Diary Day.  Thanks, Wayne!

Next weekend, we finally getting together with Maggie & Steve for lunch.  Talk about long overdue.  YIKES!  How could we be here all winter long and not have met with our Dear Friends.  Amazing.

Most of the stuff on our bucket list here is done and tomorrow our countdown officially begins.  We're already under three weeks until we head north once again.

Well, we better get going.  Time is short and breakfast awaits.

Have a great day & Many Cheers!  jp

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It doesn't take much to make us smile and be happy.  Likewise, it sure doesn't take much to make our day special.  Yesterday, we received a gift from our neighbor, the National Park Service.  They put water back into the irrigation ditch in front of our house.  YEA!  Frankly, it was a shock to see it there--almost like a mirage.  We stood staring at it like those cows you see standing in pastures while staring aimlessly at some unseen object.

It's been forever since there was water in this long dormant ditch.  Back in 1984 when we "discovered" this land here next to Montezuma Well, the little ditch was in use all the time.  The park has the water 8 days and then must let it go out of the park for 8 days.  So back in the 1980's this ditch ran for eight straight days during every irrigation rotation.  Back in those days, the field was bright green with nary a weed or stray mesquite to be seen.

This water, you see, is the outflow from Montezuma Well itself.  The Well's water came into use for agricultural purposes perhaps as long as 1,000 years ago.  It's well documented that the pre-historic people who lived here routed the Well's outflow through a complex system of irrigation ditches.  The ditch lateral you see in the photos here had been in continuous use at least since the 1870's when Wales Arnold homesteaded the place.

Long ago, perhaps in the 1970's, the park leased the pasture for $100 a year to a guy who lived in Chambers, Arizona. He was allowed to run 30 steers on the pasture each summer in return for keeping the pasture green and maintaining the fences.  The park looked the other way and let the guy hire an illegal Mexican who lived in a ramshackle travel trailer down in the cottonwoods and sycamores.  The Mexican couldn't speak a word of English and kept to himself.  The Mexican was a real irrigation genius and he kept that pasture so beautifully green.

Well, we messed it all up.  We decided we wanted to rent the pasture and insisted the park put the whole "good ol' boy" thing out for bid.  Rather than accede, the superintendent back then cancelled the lease with the guy in Chambers, kicked out the Mexican and let the pasture dry and die.  The field quickly reverted to a sea of tumbleweeds and encroaching mesquites.  It was very sad to see.

All these many more than 20-something years, we sure have missed seeing water run through this ditch.  It is a wonderful sight.  Well, by and by, the park decided to spend over a half-million dollars reverting the field into native plant species.  That's been an ongoing project for a few years and is too long a story to tell here.  Anyway, we always had a suspicion they would eventually run water back through this ditch.

What they are trying to do is make our house disappear.  No kidding.  They don't say it quite like that in their planning documents.  They say something like "establish a vegetation screen to reduce the visual impacts of encroaching urban development."  So, what that translates to is that they have planted all sorts of little trees out in front of our house that will someday become real big trees and do two things: A) Make it difficult for people on park property to see our house and B) Eliminate our view of The Mogollon Rim.

Well, whatever.  Anyway, running water back through this ditch is part of a plan to bring water to the roots of the growing trees which have been on a drip system for the past couple of years.  Two years ago, the park dug out the old ditch and ran water through it as a test.  Then they dried it up and left it. Yesterday was essentially the first time water has been run through the ditch since sometime in the late 1980's.

As we were writing this blog post this morning, we actually got up from the computer to walk out and see if the water was still running.  Yep, it is. It's so fun to see the sun sparkling on running water right in front of our house.  We're pretty sure the park plans to make more regular use of the ditch and that's a good thing.  As we said, it sure doesn't take much to bring a smile to our spirits and make our day.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Jim Bishop is a genuine American Classic and, moreover, a genuine Southwest Classic and, furthermore, a genuine Sedona Classic.  We first met Jim was back sometime in the mid-1980's and we've been Dear Friends ever since.  Ah, the times and stories we've shared.  If words were water, a veritable river has flowed from Jim's fingers throughout his lifetime.  Jim is a writer who writes....all the time...24/7/365 year after year after year.  He never stops.  He's kind of an Energizer Bunny of writing and most of his writing has actually been published, including a lot of it in exchange for real money.  Jim isn't content just to write for himself, he's been doing ghost writing for many years.  Who knows how many memorable speeches in Sedona history were written by Jim?  We'd guess he's long since lost count of his ghost writing exploits.  Suffice to say, Jim's crafty way with words has made many a citizen activist sound like Demosthenes or Daniel Webster.

Jim and I had a great lunch yesterday.  He took us to Indian Gardens up alongside Oak Creek where the mighty Munds Canyon cuts it jagged gorge through the lip of the Mogollon Rim.  We dined in a serene courtyard behind the historic store-turned-deli.

Jim is forever and always a word or two away from describing a Great Truth and so we sat munching on many a profound thought. His latest book, "The Pink Nectar Cafe" is perhaps a collective metaphor for the elusive mystique of Sedona and the Southwest.  We used the opportunity of our meeting with Jim to prod him to begin yet another book--this one about his own wisdom and  insights.  Bishop isn't one to quickly jump on the band wagon of some one else's idea.  Part of what makes Bishop Bishop is his uncanny ability to march always to the beat of his owner drummer.  Imagine my surprise when Bishop immediately embraces my idea and then begins to ponder how best to begin the project!

Bishop is a tough subject to photograph.  Most photos of him look like the one at the bottom where he is inscribing my copy of his book.  Luckily, Bishop got a call from Maddie.  He was late in getting her a ghost-written speech she planned to deliver to the City Council.  Ah, then off came the sunglasses and on came the famous Bishop smile.  We were delighted to capture a shot of Bishop that reflects his happy spirit.

Thanks, Jim, for a great and memorable lunch.  We are looking forward to watching your next book evolve into print.  Many Cheers & Happy Trails, jp

We know Encinoso

Arizona' vast lands hold many secrets.  One of the best kept secrets in our neck of the woods is the "now-you-see-it, now-you-don't" Encinoso Waterfall in Oak Creek Canyon a scant few miles upstream from Sedona.

It takes a very special set of circumstances to bring this secret into the light of day.  First, it takes a big wad of snow sitting up on the Mogollon Rim.  Second, it takes either A) rainfall on the snow or B) a lot of sudden heat to flash melt the snow.  Typically, it's rain on snow that brings this awesome secret to life.  In such a case, low clouds often give the waterfall an ethereal appearance but the sky is gray.  Rare is the day when Encinoso is running big under a Bright Blue Bird sky.

We had no doubt that Encinoso was exposing its secret self yesterday.  We scurried up canyon to watch in awe as water poured off the sheer precipice of the Rim.  Only two other humans were there to watch the show.  Meanwhile, who knows how many thousands of people passed by without a clue that one of the finest fresh water cascades was performing in broad daylight almost right beside the busy highway US89A.

Encinoso is one of the best Signature Secrets of this entire region.  Often years may pass between the few times Encinoso will be up and running with glory and grandeur as it was yesterday.  Who knows who long it will be until Encinoso appears again?  One thing's for sure, when Encinoso's running, John and Susun will drop everything and run fast to get there to see the secret unfold!

Have a great day & Many Cheers, jp

Sweetheart of Sigma Chi

And 'bout this as a "blast from the past?"  Guess who you see above here.  Why, there's Sweetie Susun on the right.  And there's Craig Arnold on the left. The photo was taken near Northern Arizona University the night that Susun was chosen as "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi" in 1966.  Gee, Susun was a tender 20 years old!  Craig was a fraternity brother there at Sigma Chi.  The couple married in 1967 and daughter Sarah posted this sweet photo on her Facebook last night.  Thanks, Sarah, what a classic picture!

Friday, March 23, 2012

This week in Rimrock

First, Happy Spring. Spring actually sprung here in Arizona on March 19th just before the midnight late Monday. Therefore the first actual full day of Spring was Tuesday, March 20.  Spring came early this year because of the affect of Leap Year.  The Lizards have sure been leaping lately.

We celebrated the first day of Spring by taking Dear Friend Betty from her Sedona assisted living facility on a 200+ mile road trip.  Betty's step-son, Bob, loaned us his plush Lexus and we traveled over to Prescott to treat Betty to an In-N-Out cheese burger and fries.  There was a lot of snow leftover from the storm and the air was pristine.  It was a perfect day for a road trip.  I sneaked off and told the Manager about Betty and Ryan came over and gave her a hat and treated her like Queen For A Day.  He even hand delivered our order and then later brought a sweet young woman over to also greet Betty.

Betty was charming and gracious as always and a delightful road trip travel companion.  There's really nothing like an In-N-Out cheeseburger and fries.  It's a transcendental experience, actually.  Anyway, Ryan gave Betty an In-N-Out sticker to put on her walker so she can really impress all the other residents of her facility.  It was a great day.

On Monday, we visited Cottonwood to meet with Chip N and Bob R. about the Verde River Guide project. It might actually be going somewhere.  Time will tell.  We also worked a little with the Salmon River Guide project.  Our Supervisor there, Jeff C. is leaving Challis to work with the BLM in Dolores, Colorado, where he will play a big role in management of the BLM's portion of the Dolores River below McPhee Dam.

Both Monday and Tuesday afternoon's we readied for our weekly pistol match  Normally the match is held on Mondays but that was out of the question this week so we moved it to Wednesday.  We couldn't have ordered a better day--snow-capped hills and mountains rimmed the horizon.  The air was like crystal and there was no wind.  It was incredible.  Tom, Gary, Brad, Al and I had a great time shooting together.  The conduct of a match takes all day and I didn't wrap up until well after 5 pm.

Thursday turned out to be very special.  We started the morning with a great gourmet breakfast at Maria and Tim's beautiful totally green nearby home.  Tim retired in December from a career as a fireman but he could well have been a famous barista.  His creative coffee concoctions are superb.  Maria really set a high bar for breakfast, serving up a special Venezuelan corn bread that's very popular in her homeland.  We enjoyed fine food and friendship until nearly mid-day.  It was a great way to start the day.

Later on we traveled over to Camp Verde.  We fired up Annie & the Poptop for the very first time since we parked them in early November.  Luckily, the pack rats have not damaged anything under the hood and Annie performed splendidly.  Upon our return we fiddled around making props for next week's shooting match and then lit up a fire just before sunset.  Much to our delight, Tim and Maria came to join us and the day ended as it had begun with some wonderfully fun friendship on a warm spring night around a lovely campfire.

Within less than a half hour, we are off to Sedona to meet Jim Bishop for lunch.  He said I have to arrive at precisely 12:05 pm--not 12:06 mind you--12:05.  That's Jim.  We are going to have fun talking about his latest book, "The Pink Nectar Cafe."   Jim actually mentioned me in the book in the second to last paragraph of the "About The Author."  Jim concludes his biographical sketch by referring to the Southwest, "In this place, the land and the imagination are forever merging.  Humans either become part of the land, or they leave.  That's how he (Jim) met Walt, a 1,000-year-old Sinagua Indian skull concealed on a hill near the Verde River.  'Listen to him,' said the legendary boatman Parsons. 'He knows the secrets.' "

Luckily, my new hearing aids will allow me to actually hear what Jim has to say today. Jim talks very softly but wields a mighty pen.

There's lot to do when we arrive back home later today.  Tomorrow, Nancy (AKA: Nemac) will stop by for lunch after her golf lesson.  Then we will head over to Goatherder's to spend the night in our pop top. It will be our one and only shakedown cruise before we head north April 19th.

Sunday maybe we can get some R&R from a busy week.

Have a great day and Many Cheers!  jp

Water Works

As most of you know, we spent the bulk of our life messing around with the Verde River.  Our love affair with that river began in 1981 and has never really faded.  Back in the 1980's, we struggled mightily to understand the mechanics and hydrology of the river's 6,600 square mile watershed.  For more years than we can remember we served as volunteer "water watchers" for Salt River Project and further honed our skills in assessing and predicting stream flows.  Learning such arcane skills can be likened to riding a bicycle.  Once you have acquired such skills, you really never lose them.  As with a bicycle, you can leap into the fray and use those skills anytime here in the Verde River basin.

And so it was last Monday morning that we began predicting a big surge in stream flow no later than Saturday morning down at Beasley Flats.  Of course on Monday morning, all the river's tributaries are basically bone dry or trickling almost imperceptibly.  Many people patted me on the head and told me to go home, take two aspirins, lie down and let the wide-eyed stream flow fever run its course.  Well, we knew better than that--it comes with decades of experience.

Meanwhile, time pass and no flow appeared. As the clock ticked down toward Saturday we began wondering if perhaps the fog of age had perhaps dimmed our predictive skills.  Maybe people were right.  Maybe we were too wide-eyed with a raging case of stream flow fever.  Yesterday's daylight hours came and went still with no response whatsoever from the upper watershed.  At that point, we began to call ourselves into question, wondering how it could be that no water had yet flowed downhill from a very impressive snowpack deposited last Sunday and Monday.

We were standing around the camp fire visiting with Tim and Maria Elena last night.  It was a wonderful, still, warm spring evening.  And then it hit--BAM, as Emeril would say.  I was wearing my new hearing aids and they picked up the wonderful, delightful, hypnotic sounds of rushing, leaping waters charging downstream in the Wet Beaver Creek channel.  YIPPEE!!!!  WATER WORKS!

This morning, the proof of the pudding lies in the three graphs below.  They are about as vertical as vertical can get.  This is what a mini "wall of water" looks like as it rolls off The Mogollon Rim hurrying on toward metropolitan destiny downstream.  Back in the early 1980's, we developed a theory that events such as this come off the Rim in the form of an actual wave of water.  The charts verify this type of classic event took place yesterday.  It was outrageously warm up in the high country and in the 80's down here in the mid-level deserts.  In affect, the hot weather flash melted last week's snow fall and, POOF, it all came down in a hurry.

It sure was gratifying to wake up this morning and check out the hydrographs you see here.  They made us smile very big and brought a real glow to our spirit.  It's been awhile since we went out this far on a limb and stated emphatically that there would be raftable whitewater Saturday.  Calling such a specific place and date in time is a recipe for a major loss of credibility.

Thank God, Water Works the way it's supposed to.

MANY CHEERS & Happy Paddling!  jp

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Snow Day

We all remember snow days.  Back in the day...back when we were in grade school or high school and even in college during rare events...we would get a SNOW DAY!  YEA!  It meant we didn't have to go to school.  We could stay home and play and do all sorts of fun stuff.  Snow Days were always precious gifts in our lives.  Well, today has been a precious gift--a Snow Day for 60-something Snowbirds.  We've been hunkered here in our little straw bale house all day watching the snow swirl.  It's a lot like being inside a snow globe.  As we write this, the snow is really coming down.  The flakes are as big as quarters and the ground is becoming white.

Earlier today, the flakes were as big as half dollars and there was more than an inch on the ground.  Gary came over to deliver something and he was covered with snow when he arrived.  It is very beautiful to behold and we are happy and thrilled to have a legit Snow Day in our own home.

Susun said a few minutes ago that she is always very happy to be here during the winter and remarked about how we leave Idaho to get out of the protracted cold and snow of a typical Idaho winter.  She said, though, that her favorite day here this winter is today.  Yep, that's what a snow storm like this can do--make people such as ourselves rather nostalgic in fondly remembering other places and other times in our lives.

It's 6:20 pm now and the light is fading fast.  If the rate of snowfall keeps up, we're going to have quite the white blanket come Monday morning.  Welcome to Spring!  This storm has really plastered the High Country.  The NWS said Flagstaff has anywhere from 10-14 inches and that was several hours ago.  Meanwhile, I-40 is closed in both directions between Ashfork and Winslow, a distance of at least 100 miles.  Interstate 17 is closed northbound and various other highways are closed.  A Snow Day has already been declared for all of the Flagstaff school including the mighty Northern Arizona University, an institution that normally scoffs at Snow Days.  The Arizona Snowbowl ski area had 30 inches several hours ago so we'd guess their storm total will be well over 40 inches by the time this event ends sometime tomorrow.

It's a real winter wonderland out there this evening.  This time of year, these storms are here and gone.  All this snow will be completely vaporized by Tuesday and by Wednesday people will be back in shorts and t-shirts.  Such is the life of a spring snow storm in Arizona.

Have a great evening & Many Cheers!  jp

Friday, March 16, 2012

Barely blogging

Happy mid-March!  May your Saint Paddy's day tomorrow be great, glorious and green.  Spring is springing here in Arizona.  The telltale sign of spring is the budding of the trees.  At lower elevations, all the deciduous trees have been fully leafed out for quite some time.  Leaves appear very slowly up here at 3500 feet--so we all eagerly await the appearance of real buds and, Buddy, then buds are for you.

The Big Storm now appears to be even bigger in scope and size than previously progged.  We fully expect to go from deep dust to a winter wonderland by Monday morning.  The snow level could be as low as 2500 feet.
Naturally, this time of year such storms move out as fast as they arrive and spring will be back on stage no later than Wednesday next week.  The one to two inches of rainfall we are expecting will only serve to turbocharge the arrival of spring.

It's an exciting time of annual renewal.  We are fortunate to be able to enjoy two springs each year--one here and one in Idaho.  The trees are barely beginning to bud in late April when we arrive back there.  Speaking of Idaho, they are really getting pounded by this giant storm.  A lot of homes are being flooded today.  No, they aren't being flooded by rising streams.  Quite the contrary--rainfall on snow surrounding Northern Fremont County homes is sending the snow melt directly into those homes as the water has noplace else to go.  Luckily, there was (is) no snow pack in Idaho Falls and currently there is no snow sitting around our house there.  So, whatever rain falls will simply run off as usual and not flood our basement.  We definitely dodged a bullet on that one!

Yesterday was our third trip to Prescott in recent weeks.  We received our new hearing aids (AKA: ears) on March 8th and took them back for a followup consultation yesterday.  The ears are working well and we are happy with them.  Strangely, we can say that it was a pleasure to spend $2000 to acquire them.  We should have bought them a long time ago.  The ears have shortcomings--all such devices do.  However, they do some things extremely well and are definitely worth the money.  The trick now is going to be to get in the habit of wearing them most of the time.

We are barely blogging these days.  That's pretty obvious.  For the better part of two years--all of 2010 and 2011--we tried to blog an average of once a day.  We've put up over 1185 blog post here in January 1st, 2010.  That's well in excess of an average of one a day.  Ever since we had to go back to Indiana, our output has fallen off a cliff and we are barely blogging now.  Blog readership sure reflects that fact.  This week's statistical package shows our 19 stalwart LBRs checking in for a mere 90 seconds each day.  Page views are way down, too.  At the peak of this blog's readership, we were logging upwards of 40 unique visitors each day and their "hang time" on the blog often approached 4-5 minutes for each visit.

First, we wish to thank and congratulate those 19 stalwart LBRs!  We sure do appreciate you sticking by the blog through thick and thin.  Obviously, we're into this blog for the long run.  We have no idea when we will get back in the swing of things and resume daily blogging.  But don't worry and don't fret, we WILL be blogging at a more frequent pace one of these days--hopefully soon.

We've recently realized that the passing of our Mom and the subsequent events that followed have basically depleted our mental reserves and left us somewhat numbed.  This condition has affected our enthusiasm for daily blogging.  We suspect it's what is called "The Grieving Process."  Grieving is a very personal thing and reflects itself differently in each of us.  It is possible that no two people grieve the same.  In our case, it's not like we are sitting around in the classic stupor of abject grief.  Nope--far from it.  We are very busy and happily engaged in a lot of fun stuff--stuff that keeps us active, involved and amply rewarded with positive feedback and the happy smiles of our Dear Friends here.  We enjoy our camp fires and daily routines just as much as ever and are as cheerful and positive as always.  However, there's just something missing--that little extra spark, I guess you could call it, and this blog has been neglected as a result.  That's why the blog barely has a pulse these days.

In the meantime, we suggest you all visit Wayne Ranney's blog.  Wayne has truly hit his stride as a honest, world-class blogger right now.  His blog is so incredibly wonderful and exciting and highlights just why a blog can do stuff that Facebook and Twitter will NEVER be able to equal.  Wayne's blog is dazzling in its detail and thoughtfulness.  Also, if you want a really uplifting blog, be sure to visit Kirsty's Momedy blog.  we love Kirsty's blog--her words bring joy and happiness to our heart.  She is an inspiration and a role model for us as well.  We sure hope someday we can blog as well as Kirsty!  Thanks Wayne & Kirsty for bringing such happiness into our lives.

Well, ya'll have yourselves a Happy Little Ol' Day and Many Cheers!  jp

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fun Weather

Hum...Imagine 80 degrees in Chicago in mid-March?  'Twas True! Every red circle above was at least tied for record high temp.  The circles with an "X" set a new all time high.  Some high temp records were 30-40 degrees above normal!

Meanwhile, check out in the graphic below how much water is heading our way between now and Monday.   Very interesting!

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Time once again for a Sunday Morning Weather Report.  (You can click on the little graphic at left for the larger version.)  Here's what the Wonky Weather People had to say this morning:


If you take a close look at the US Navy's water vapor map for the Eastern Pacific, you will note two large areas of airborne water heading our way either or both of which could bring a big dump of precipitation to the Southwest by next weekend.

Stasea home on Kauai has been getting really hammered by storm after storm.  The water vapor dumping on Hawaii is coming all the way up from the Equator.  So, we hear echoes of people shouting "Incoming" and we're taking note--'tis time to tackle tasks this week.  No mo procrastinating.  A week from now we could be up to our shoe laces in cold, wet mud here at Second Chance Ranch.  Brrr...batten the hatches!

We've put off all sorts of home owner maintenance this winter and face a daunting backlog of chores.  After the Monday Match is history, we're going to have to buckle down and rip through those chores as fast as we can this coming week ahead.  Lately, it's been all play and no work.  Now it's going to suddenly become all work and no play.  Such is the life of a slacker snowbird.

Speaking of the Monday Match, I am not sure if I've written about that topic.  Here's the story.  As you know we shoot in pistol matches in Idaho under the auspices of the IDPA--Int'l Defensive Pistol Assn.  Down here, we shot in two IDPA matches in Phoenix and one in Indiana.  It costs quite a bit to attend a distance match--probably on the order of $40-$50 for each match.  One day not long ago, we realized we could stage our own informal pistol matches right here at home and have a lot more fun.  So far, we organized and staged four such events and will have fine more (weather permitting) before we head north again.  They are really fun.  Half the fun for us is designing, building and describing the so-called "stages" for each match.  A Stage is essentially a fictional narrative and a layout of carefully choreographed steps which each participant must follow in sequence.  Since the Monday Match has become quite popular with our Dear Friends, we have responded by designing and building ever more elaborate Stages each week. 

This past week, our enthusiasm got the better of us and we went far overboard on the stage design phase.  The first stage for tomorrow's match has a complex moving target that spans 20 free-standing feet; a ten by 5 wall structure complete with a window and a door to a retail store.  It's taken untold hours to build this week and will require at least an hour and a half to set up out in the desert at the Monday Match location.  It's a lot like building a set for a stage play only the actors are carrying and shooting pistols instead of the typical song and dance of stage plays.

One of the hilarious ironies of all this work is the huge amount of time involved versus the incredibly tiny amount of shooting time.  For example, tomorrow, we will go to the Monday Match site at 7:30 am and won't return until probably 1:30 pm.  Then we will spend the remainder of the day putting everything away, cleaning firearms and processing the score sheets.  Our total amount of actual real shooting time will undoubtedly be LESS than 120 seconds--that's two minutes for you math-challenges readers.  Folks who are not familiar with this type of fun and games have trouble understanding how someone could spend an entire day in return for a few mere seconds of actual shooting.  There's no real way to explain what makes it so much fun.  Suffice only to say that it is indeed very much fun.  Dear Friend Tom B. said flatly Friday that "Monday is now my favorite day of the week."  Goatherder turned down two paying jobs to come to tomorrow's match.  Go figure. 

Well, that's enough chatter for awhile.  Have a great day & Many Cheers, jp

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Social Saturday

Susun's Social Butterfly side has been in full bloom lately.  She's organized all sorts of lunches, brunches, dinners, hikes and other stuff, too.When Susun gets on a roll, she's truly awesome.  We are very proud of her social organizing skills.  Of course, she's known her many Arizona friends for decades.  Some of her friendships here date way back into the 1970's when she first arrived in Cottonwood.  Susun's earning many an "atta girl" from her friends for the events that Susun has been instigating, organizing and otherwise coaxing into reality.  To paraphrase a common comment, her friend often say, "Thanks, Susun, we'd never be doing these things unless you organized them."  We always remarked that Susun could have been world class sales person if she would have chosen that field of endeavor.  Part of her Social Butterfly Success is what we call her "sales gene."  When she puts her mind and Spirit to it, Susun could have Eskimos lined up from the North Pole to Fairbanks waiting and wanting to buy ice from her.

The photo above of (l-r) Linn, Rosa, Phyllis, Kate and Susun was taken earlier this week when the group spent a wonderful day hiking along the Baldwin & Templeton Trails below Cathedral Rock. (AKA: The State Stamp Stroll).  Susun spent last night at a soiree over at the home of Phyllis near Jerome.  When she returns this morning,she will be a whirling dervish to get ready to serve a lunch to Amy and Betty.  Meanwhile, she's already been delivering a sales pitch to the blog author about being real busy tomorrow, too.  Susun's Mom, Doris, had a beloved nickname: "Turbo TuTu."  Doris even had the name put on a vanity license plate. Well, it's pretty easy to see where Susun gets all this social energy--she inherited it from her Mom!  At the pace Susun has been running hither and yon lately, she'd make a roadrunner envious.
You GO, Girl, and as Kirsty is fond of saying, You GLOW, Girl!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Has the blog front page changed for you?

Stasea sent us an email today asking if the blog had changed.  She attached a screen shot that you see at above.  We've never seen this before.  Have you?  So, that brings up a question.  The blog is supposed to look like the photo attached below this text.  Please let us know if this is NOT what you see when you open the blog.  Thanks!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Channeling Mema

Well, Grand Son Van missed Mema so what's a boy to do?  Grab Mema's hat she left in Vista, California, don a life jacket and Channel Mema.  Ah, Grand Kids!  Ain't they great?  Heck, with an outfit like that, Van's ready for a Salt River trip!  Thanks, Sarah for sending this photo.  It's awesome.  Van sure made Mema proud.


As we all know, gas prices are reaching painful levels.  Pundits predict regular unleaded could rise to $5.  That's probably a "given" this year.  Four dollars will almost certainly be the price when we travel north with our entourage of three vehicles.  So, how much is that trip north going to cost?  Um....well, probably about $500.  That's kind of a breath-taking number unless you consider the Theory of Relativity.  It's all relative, ya know?

The graphic shows the current price of a one-way ticket from Phoenix to Idaho Falls in April this year.  As you can see, it would cost over $600 for both os us to fly one way up there--and that's with only a carry on bag.  Add two bags each and that's going to cost another $100 for a total of at least $700.  So, $500 is really not too shabby to get us and all our flotsam and jetsam up to River City.  It's all relative!

Have a great day & Many Cheers, jp

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Journey To The Center of The State

Here's just a quick note "for the record."  Yesterday we learned that The Journey To The Center of The State (JCS) is officially a GO.  It's a very complex story so we will have to write about various aspects of it over the next few weeks.  The story actually begins back in the 1990's.  It's taken numerous twists and turns over the years.  Here's the gist of it:  A few people will launch April 5 from Childs, Arizona, on a five day Verde River trip.  On April 6th, we will venture away from the river into the Mazatzal Wilderness to find a point marking the longitude and latitude of the geographical center of the State of Arizona.  We plan to have a ceremony of some sort at that spot and to place some sort of a marker or register box that's kosher according to Wilderness regulations.

The trip will be an official US Forest Service river trip.  Dexter Allen will be in charge.  Ace Reporter Steve Ayers will be along as Expedition Scribe.  Chip Norton will be de facto Major Domo.  We're going along because everyone blames me for being "The Prime Instigator" of the trip.  That's the only thing they call me these days is "The Prime Instigator."  Maybe can get them to make me Expedition Chaplain. Maybe I could deliver an Invocation at The Center of The State.

Unfortunately, Wayne Ranney can't come.  If he was along, we could rest lot more comfortably knowing we had an official Expedition Geologist.  After dutifully dedicating the Center of The State, we will move on downstream, reaching the far side of Horseshoe Reservoir about lunch on April 9th.  We ought to be back here at 2CR around campfire time that day.

Anyway, there's much to tell about this saga-in-the-making.  The ball is definitely rolling.  The trip is definitely going to happen.  The die is cast.

Have a great day & Many Cheers, jp


We don't often put weather graphics on this blog, preferring to keep them on the Geek Weather blog instead.  However, this morning's low temperature of 14 is newsworthy considering it's early March. Yikes, it was so cold it even formed a sheet of ice in our water-filled cattle tank.  Now, mind you, 14 is considered balmy in places like Siberia and Idaho Falls but 14 here on the Opening Day of Spring Training down south in Phoenix is downright heresy.  The weather wonks say it's going to do a fast warm up.  Since the barometer has rallied 30 points overnight, we assume they are telling the truth. The cause of this blast of cold air is, as usual, the jetstream.  The graphic above shows the Northern Hemisphere jetstream.  You can see a real dippity-doo-dah punching straight into the Southwest from Alaska.  Brrrr.....!  Many Cheers, jp

Friday, March 2, 2012

Where's Wayne-O?

Do you remember "Where's Waldo?"  Well, we have a Waldo (AKA: Wally) in our midst.  Yep, it's none other than Wayne-O Ranney.  Dear Friend & LBR Wayne-O Ranney is really "Out There" right now. Yep, he's been let loose aboard a hot rod jet liner and is guiding people to the far flung, remote corners of our Lovely Planet.  Here's a few photos I shamelessly robbed from his blog.  There are more comments below the photos.  (PS--If you do not remember "Where's Waldo," click here for a refresher.)
 Here's Waldo, Opps, we mean Wayne-O standing beside the private jet that whisks his clients into and beyond those extra special little nooks and crannies of our Oh So Dear Planet.  Back in 2005, we asked Wayne if he had a GPS unit.  He said he did but he didn't use it much.  We asked him what he used it for.  He said, "Well, when I am escorting people on those jet tours, I turn on the GPS so I won't miss any cities that we fly over.  The GPS really comes in handy for that."  Right ON, Wayne!
 Here's where Waldo, Opps, we mean Wayne-O is staying tonight as you read this.  Tough duty, eh?
Of course, Waldo, Opps, we mean Wayne-O had to soak up some of the local amenities on a remote atoll in the Maldives.  Yep, he soared over 500 feet about this boat while hovering in his parachute above the 80+ degree waters of the ocean below.  Wayne's always been an inspiration for the rest of us earth-bound mere mortals.  DF & LBR's Terry M. and Phyllis W. are definitely "Out There," too.  Terry was just down in a remote corner of Columbia and Phyllis just returned from 7 weeks in Tunisia.  However, with Waldo, Opps, we mean Wayne-O, you really never know where he is going to pop up, whether on a parachute or whatever.

Here's an interesting footnote.  We emailed Waldo, Opps, we mean Wayne-O today asking if he wanted to join a five-day Verde River trip through the Wilderness on The Journey To The Center Of The State April 5-9.  Although Waldo, Opps, we mean Wayne-O is currently enjoying some real "rare earth experiences," he replied, "Thanks for letting me know. It likely wouldn't work for me. I have something on the 5th and something on the 9th. Bummer. Bummer. Bummer."  That's how much Wayne cares about his Motherland--Ol' Airy Zonie.  Thanks, Wayne, that was a very kind note and we appreciate it a lot.

Carry On, Wayne--we're looking forward to your adventures tomorrow and forever.

If you wish to get involved in a more real time following of Where's Wayne, visit his excellent blog by clicking here.  If you'd like to know a little bit more about how the tour company operates their private jet tours, click here.  And, in the meantime, have a great day & Many Cheers,  jp

Roasted Pepper Apostasy

Say it ain't so, Joe!  Some of you know the blog author has spent a great portion of his adult like roasting peppers on a grill, lovingly turning them by a gloved hand as they pop, sizzle, blister and smell, oh, so wonderfully delicious.  Well, the rules have changed.  Sweetie Susun (she of Chez Susun) has leapfrogged her way to Roasted Pepper using a blasphemous device...the broiler of the indoor oven!  In the pantheon of True Grit Pepper Roasting Devices, the indoor oven broiler would rank last in almost everyone's book.  But you know what?  Her roasted peppers rock!  Gosh, they are so good they would even make Napoleon Dynamite smile and say "SWEET!" one more time.  They peel better, the pepper meat tastes better, it's all so much mo betta!  So, even though I wish I could say it ain't so, that's the way it is here at Second Chance Ranch.  Many Cheers, jp

A Woman & Her Truck

Congratulations, Marsha, on your "new" truck!  As LBRs know, we occasionally do a blog post titled, "A Man and His Truck."  Well, there are some women who love trucks as much as most men do.  Marsha and Susun and two such women who do.  A good truck is part and parcel of their lives.  Marsha has been without a good truck for quite some time and it's been tough on her.  Now, she is a Happy Camper once again, literally and figuratively.  She had the camper you see here custom fitted to her former Toyota.  It's a great camper, light as a feather and takes Marsha anywhere she wants to go.  We expect to hear all sorts of adventures about "Marsha & Her Truck."  Chances are the first adventure will be when Marsha goes up to raft The Yampa River in early June.

Marsha and Hugh came to visit Wednesday night.  We had a great campfire and a fine dinner at Chez Susun.  As some of you know, Marsha & Hug are the only couple we know whose wedding site is known only by a longitude and a latitude. (AKA: Long lat).  We encouraged them to sponsor a geo-cache at their long lat.  That would be fun.

Susun had lunch yesterday with Rosa, Beth and Gert, part of Susun's adopted family in Sedona.  Those four can really light up a restaurant when they get together!

Little Yonni spent the whole day on shooting sports but that's too arcane to describe here on this blog. Suffice to say he had fun.

Not much on tap for the next few days.  Have a great day & Many Cheers!  jp