Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Final Farmers Market

It was C-O-L-D Saturday morning for the last Farmers Market of the season.  Temps were hovering in the upper 20's and the humidity was around 90%.  It has snowed overnight and it was just flat C-O-L-D.

Actually, there were very few hardy shoppers perusing the few vendors who braved the chilly morning.  Well, we go to the market no matter what the weather whenever we are in the city. It's always special to greet the marketeers on their first and last days.  It's a long six month season.
 Keith wanted to give me some Special Kudos for all the help I've given the 
Market over the years and especially during the past few weeks.  
Keith was effusive in his praise and it made my blush redder than my jacket!
 Yea, verily, the frost was upon the pumpkins.
Keith and his wife, Stephanie, the Market Manager, share a smile with Susun.  It was a fun morning.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Other John Parsons

Nah, I don't have a secret ego.  I just get email from all The Other John Parsons around the world.  You'd be amazed how many emails I get intended for guys with my name.  There's two in Australia, one in Wales, one in UK and many Americans whose addresses span coast-to-coast.

I get all sort of personal details, bills, tax statements, you name it.  In the Old Days, I simply deleted these emails but as the years passed I developed a "conscience" and have decided to do an "intervention" with each and every one of their emails.  It's been quite fun and I've interchanged a lot of followup emails with people who KNOW a John Parsons someplace.  However, NONE of the John Parsons have seen fit to thank me for helping them avoid tax delinquency or their golf clubs dues or whatever.

The reason I am putting up this blog post tonight is because this a SUCH A CLASSIC PHOTO!  One of the John Parsons lives in Australia and is a member of the Upper Crust Society there.  He's part of a polo club and you know how totally upper crust polo clubs are wont to be.  Anyway, over the years, this guy's polo club email has been pretty straight forward--until tonight.  I just got the photo an hour ago and it is definitely recent.  The guy at left is the John Parsons "Down Under."


You gotta love this photo, even if you suspect it probably caused life-changing injuries to the polo player shown.  Heck, they are Aussies, they can deal with it.  In the meantime I say, "This Bloke ain't no Bloody Bludger!"

Friday, October 26, 2012

Two Week Warning

The Two Week Warning point was reached today.  Two weeks from today we will have already have had our water shut off.  We will be going through the last 18 hours of our departure routine.

When we arrive at the "two week warning," it is almost analogous to when a pro football game comes down to the "two minute warning."  You know the game is almost over when time runs that short.  Likewise, we know our Idaho Season is almost over.  Time to go into the "hurry up offense" to get all the remaining nit-picky chores and tasks done

We're planning on leaving Saturday so we can drive through Salt Lake on Sunday morning. But it's really two weeks from today when the pedal hits the metal.

Tomorrow is the last Farmers Market of the season--always kind of sad to see it end.  Once we return from the last market, it's time to roll up some sleeves and dive into some grind-it-out-style football action here at the homestead.  Looking around our place, there's so much to do..

The snow sure hasn't cooperated.  It's still here and, in fact, snow is still sifting out of the gray evening sky.
This is when we look at all those leaves piled high in our yard and start to get a little concerned.  Will there be time to deal with them?  If not, who will?  And when?

Before we started our semi-annual migrations, we never gave such things a second thought.  Everything got done when it got done and it was no big deal.  Now, it's a whole different ballgame and we're down to the Two Week Warning.  First and Ten.  Play Ball.


As we grow older, each election cycle seems to becomes ever more tedious.  We read that the two presidential candidates are spending a combined $2-billion.  Well, today we voted so, as far as we're concerned it's over.  WHEW!  We will be even more glad when all the hoop-la ends. Hopefully, it won't be a tie vote.

The Bonneville County elections Dept. was totally swamped with early voters this afternoon.  There were people everywhere--waiting lines, the whole thing.  Four clerks processed voters in one room and then voters went into the rotunda where perhaps 6-8 other employees moved through with assembly line precision.  The Clerk who processed our paperwork said it had been that busy for three full weeks.  She said there a lulls "now and then, but then another busload of people show up."

We've voted early often (not early AND often) and we've never seen such a crush as the polls as we did today.  Usually, it's the oldsters who vote early.  Today, it was people of all ages and the oldsters were at best half of the participants.

Perhaps voting early this time around is a collective exercise in mentally getting it over with.

Twenty years ago, I was running in my last of four consecutive elections, none of which I won.  In the 1992 election I was running for Yavapai County Supervisor.  I knew going in there was no chance to win.  My only purpose for running was to keep Tommy M. from beating incumbent Carlton Camp.  Carlton was the first Yavapai County elected official who cared about The Verde River.  He sincerely wanted to help everyone collaborate and work together to resolve their differences by forming some sort of broad-based organization.  I knew if Carlton lost, efforts to preserve the Verde River would be seet back into the Dark Ages.  No one has ANY doubts whatsoever that Tommy M. would have been totally against ANYTHING pro-active on behalf of the Verde River.  We had been singularly instrumental in getting Tommy and his Bubba Boy Buddies out of the Verde River instream sand and gravel mining operations, thereby earning Tommy's everlasting enmity.

The fact that I was running to keep Tommy from winning only rubbed salt in those festering wounds.  It was quite the arduous, tiring election process.  After three prior losing elections, I really wasn't in any mood to run again in 1992 but felt I had no choice.  Whenever you run in an election, you really have to act like you plan to win, even if you know you won't.  It's a strange charade.  It's not easy.  It's just plain old hard work.

Well, I gave it the best effort I could and got somewhere around 5000 votes--can't remember the exact total.  Anyway, in the strange calculus of elections, those "in the know" had no doubt I succeeded in my goal and prevented Tommy from pulling off a narrow upset victory over Carlton.

In hindsight, it was the right thing to do and I am proud to say I stood up and did it.  However, after that last election 20 years ago ended, I wanted nothing ever again to do with running for elected office. Looking back, it seems so strange to me that I was actually almost a career political in that past life long ago.  How odd.

Anyway, my heart goes out to all the candidates who have to travel those rough partisan paths in this day and age.  I know from personal experience just how difficult the whole process is on an individual level. When it's over, it leaves you completely and totally mentally exhausted.

Many Cheers!  jp

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Snow Globe

The Good Ol' Boys and  Gals at NWS said it was gonna rain last night.  Now, lookie here at what we woke up to this morning.  That ain't no rain--that's SNOW and lots of it--enough to have to shovel or blow the sidewalks.  YIKES!  Here's the pix with captions:
Imagine our surprise when we opened the front door to pick up the morning paper!
Just yesterday, we were wearing short sleeves when we took this photo. 
 And, so...Here It is, Indeed!
 The little bungalow.
 Shedding snow off its metal roof.
 The neighbor's Halloween tombstone this morning...
 ...and how they looked just yesterday afternoon.
 'Tis typical Idaho!
We're figuring 3-4 inches out of this deposit.  It will be gone by tomorrow or Saturday.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

She's In Her Habitat

Susun's daughters coined the phrase "She's In Her Element" to describe camping trips, road trips and other experiences Susun enjoys.  Well, this blog post title is a new phrase to describe Susun's when she's volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. Yesterday, she helped Karen, the woman in the display at a popular event called  "What Women Want."  Today, she will again volunteer as Habitat conducts the formal dedication of their latest "build," which is lingo for completion of yet another house for a deserving family to call home.

Fast Forward Fall

This weekend should be the "peak of color" in Idaho Falls. Hopefully, we will collect some classic examples of our urban forest in full fall regalia.  This is the tree across 12th St. from the front of our house.

Last Camp

Our City of Rocks trip was a tent camp outing.  As you know, we need a "shakedown" cruise in Ye Ol' Poptop each spring and fall to prepare for the change of seasons ahead.

Even though it's pretty nippy in the high country, we traveled this week to the Stoddard Creek Campground up near the Continental Divide to overnight at 6,400 feet and ponder possibilities.  Naturally, we forgot all sorts of important stuff necessary to a smooth, pleasant trip south in early November.

We did tow the Samurai and took a 50-mile loop trip into an intriguing portion of the Beaverhead Mountains west of the Opal Capitol of American--Spencer, Idaho.  It only got down to 34 inside the camper overnight.  Our 12 volt forced air furnace took the chill off nicely that morning.  There's a few kinks and bugs to work out of the poptop rig but all is well and we will soon have it ready to roll south once again.

All Nines

Do you know people who takes odometer photos?  We do.  We have had this strange habit for many years.  I've been taking "odo fotos" since the late 1960's.  Susun's "odo foto fetish" dates into the 1970's.  When it's time for one of these cherished oddities, we pull off the highway or, in this case, drive around the block a few times to all the Nines align correctly.  The only thing missing from this bizarre behavior is a photo album.  Wouldn't it be great if we kept all the pictures over the years.  

Ah, the stories those odometers could tell!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

30000 pageviews

We just happened to check into the Blog's control panel this evening and--POOF, it registered its 30,000th pageview!  Here's proof:
That's not bad for a totally unlisted blog that blocks search engines, robots and spiders.  ALL those 30,000 page views are from our Dear Friends and Family members.  THANK YOU for reading!  John & Susun.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ten Years Ago

Everyone knows we occasionally launch off into a retrospective.  It comes with the turf here.  So, how about the Year 2002?  What was happening ten years ago?

Ten years ago today, we were preparing to embark on a huge road trip.  We did a huge road trip earlier in the year and that's part of this story, too. We spent most of the summer on the Oregon Coast.

Meanwhile, our straw house was flooded and we were temporarily homeless.

We'll try to keep this relatively short.  It all began on New Year's Day 2002 when we "discovered" Secret Shopper volunteering for the Forest Service.  Our very first duty was at the Barnhart Trailhead on the Tonto NF south of Payson the first week in January.  By the time May rolled around we were headed off on our first epic road trip.  We traveled thousands of miles by mid-July and were in Bend, Oregon, preparing to head to The Dakotas when our Supervisor told us the program was out of money to pay our mileage.  Undaunted, we returned to our favorite spot of that trip--Gold Beach, Oregon, and set up our tent camp in the Huntley RV Park alongside the Rogue River maybe 8-10 miles inland from the Pacific.  It was a great summer and we were on one of those "hiking streaks."  The hiking streak ended at 125 consecutive days in Red Bluff, California, on our drive to return home.

Neither of us will ever forget the moment the streak ended.  We were in the Red Bluff Library doing some historical research when we checked our voicemail and received an urgent message: "CALL HOME!"  It was a neighbor in Rimrock telling us our straw house had flooded.  We hurried tore down our tent camp rig and drove through the night.  I'm pretty sure we set a record time driving from Red Bluff to Rimrock, arriving early the next morning, September 12th.

Our house was uninhabitable.  A thick coating of gooey, sloppy  wet mud covered most of the brick floor.  The adjacent wash had flooded and water reached nearly two-feet high on the front side of the house.  The water pressure forced its way through the front door.  The water that entered wasn't deep, it was just almost purely mud.  What a mess.

We knew there was no way to truly tackle the mess.  We knew our only hope was to leave it alone, open the windows and doors and go someplace else.  So, we went up to tent camp at the Kaibab Lake Campground just north of Williams, Arizona.  That's where we were when we got the call from our Supervisor asking if we wanted to do another Secret Shopper Road Trip.  This one was a genuine epic.  We got the call on a Tuesday, October 15th, and we had to be in Southern Indiana by Saturday night, the 19th.  Of course, we received this proposition while sitting in camp chairs amid the ponderosas north of Williams.

We knew we wouldn't be able to mess with our house for weeks and we also knew cold weather was destined to come soon so we agreed.  Since we were basically all rigged to tent camp out of our pickup truck, we took off right away.  We headed east ten years ago today, October 16th, and drove from dawn to late evening dark each day.

We arrived in Southern Indiana late Saturday night and found a state park in which to tent camp. It was raining and nearing midnight.  By that time in our tent camping career, we could each set up our tent blindfolded.  We didn't want to wake all the sleeping neighbor campers so we set that tent up in the dark in a rainstorm without so much as a word to each other.  It was stealth camping at its best!

Then we had to break camp practically as soon as we made camp in order to be at our first secret shopping appointment in a fake wilderness area in Southern Indiana.  After that interview was over, we had to drive through the hoots and hollars of hill country to be interviewed at a campground we never camped in.  We faked our way past the interviewer by telling him we left a "family heirloom" Swiss Army knife at our campsite the previous night.  He fell for it and we got our interview.  After that, we could take a breather and regroup.

Thus began a 30+ day, 7,000+  mile road trip that spanned almost a third of the country.  We were all over the map and visited 15 states as far east as West Virginia and Virginia, doing Secret Shopper volunteer work in most of them.  It rained almost the entire trip.  There was no actual budget for us to stay in a motel but we had no choice.  Our Supervisor said she might be able to get us reimbursed if we stayed in the cheapest possible motels.  Susun became The Negotiator and, believe it or not, we stayed mostly in motels for the better part of a month for far less that $1000.  I think our nightly average was something like $27.65.  You can imagine the types of flea-bag, dive places we slept in.

Speaking of flea bags, we had to spend a couple of days in the capitol of West Virginia and we went to this funky state museum where they actually had preserved and put on display a FLEA CIRCUS!  Apparently, the dead fleas on display were once very famous, well known fleas, so much so that there was a public hue and cry when the fleas died that they be preserved wearing their circus top hat and tails.  I am NOT making this up!  Susun can vouch for my veracity here.

Long road trips really wear you down and we limped back to Rimrock over a month after we had departed., thoroughly worn out and somewhat numb from being cooped up in a pickup truck and cheap motels for the more than a month.

Luckily, by that time, the mud had dried out to dust in our straw house.  Since we laid our brick floor directly on the earth itself (not concrete) the water had drained out of the mud back into the earth and had not molded or mildewed.  By keeping the windows and doors open, the air flow had prevented a biological disaster that would have destroyed our home.  All we then had to do was spend the remainder of the Year 2002 cleaning the dried mud and dust out of the house.  If you look closely at our floor, you can still see traces of that mud caked into some of the bricks.

Well, there you have it, Ten Years Ago.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gal Pals

Susun's been having a real Gal Pal Powered time period here lately.  Yesterday was a Major Supercharged Gal Pal Day.  She started it off by being picked up by Lee (left) and Teresa so the trio could peruse the Farmer Market.  That's where I briefly ran into them.  Then they went to nosh a Ladies Lunch at the Bella Villa beside Snake River Landing.  Meanwhile, Betty called and said she and Amy were sharing a "vircarious" lunch with Susun.  Must be a "Gal Thing."

Then,. Susun spent the afternoon readying all sorts of fun dinner food.  Her other Gals Pals began arriving about 6 pm.  After enjoying sushi and all the trimmings, the foursome headed off to the Symphony shortly after 7 pm and the proverbial "good time was had by all."  They were all dressed to the "nines," of course, as gals are wont to be when they trot off together to a symphony.

This evening over dinner we learned the "rest of the story."  Women have being women since time began.  (Ditto men, of course.)  Anyway, one of the time-honored things that women do is try to find mates for their single gal pals.  It goes with the female turf thing.

Turns out Susun has been attempting to engineer a connection between our Macho Mailman and one of her Gal Pals.  Oh, you should have heard all the details.  Turns out the mailman is a whiskey drinking goose hunter so it's going to be "very interesting" to see how all this "special delivery" shakes out in the days ahead.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Here we are once again bumping up to mid-October.  "Time keeps on slippin'"....as the days dwindle down to departure.  The current Plan A is to leave on November 10th.  That's a Saturday.  Yep, you guessed it--we'd drive down to Exit #357 on I-15 and spend the night at Willard Bay State Park just north of Ogden.  Then we'd beat feet through the Salt Lake gauntlet on Sunday morning when The Faithful are in church.

Plan B would be to leave during the week and visit with BTB and Friends.  Either way, we'd be heading out of the Salt Lake area on Sunday morning, Veterans Day.  That would put us in far southern Utah by Sunday night.  Last year, we made it from Bryan's house to Lake Powell in a single day.  From there it's a leisure cruise into the Verde Valley on Monday.  We're not sure if that's the route we're going to take this year.

We might hold up farther north Sunday night and then drop down over the North Kaibab to Susan Kliewer's Place at Vermilion Cliffs. It might be fun to make that a "going and coming" tradition.  We know for certain sure that if Susan is hosting a late-April party at her Place, that's where we are going to be.  Our trip north this year was easily The Best such migration we've yet enjoyed.  A few days at Susan's; a few days at Bryce; a nice Saturday night camp at Utah Lake near Provo and then a pleasant Sunday morning drive through Salt Lake to arrive home in late afternoon.

Naturally, there's lots to do before we can drive out of here in early November.  One thing we've learned is that there will ALWAYS be lots to do twice a year as we prepare for our semi-annual migration.  There's no way around that fact.  We just can't magically put on our fairy slippers and flit south or north.  However, after a few years, things are becoming somewhat routine and we're confident we can handle the typical crush of last minute details.

We've had many hard freezes here since early October and Susun put her vegetable garden to bed yesterday.  Today will be the last mowing of the yard and then the annual application of fall fertilizer.  No, the leaves have not yet started to fall to the ground.  However, the colors are now becoming brighter and more vivid with each passing day.  Chances are we will have the leaves under control by ourselves this year and not have to pay someone to deal with them.

We're taking the poptop out for a shakedown cruise next week to the Stoddard Creek Campground up near the Continental Divide about 70 miles north of here.  We will spend at least two nights making sure the truck is rigged properly for its upcoming road trip and the Arizona Season Guest House duty.

That's really about all there is to report about our impending road trip.  Things are going well.  Many Cheers, jp

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Columbus Day in The City

Traditions are traditions because people continue to practice them over and over again. That's what makes an activity a tradition.  And so it was this past weekend that Susun and John and Spudboater continued practicing their annual tradition of camping at City of Rocks on Columbus Day weekend.  The trio feels "practice makes perfect" when it comes to this tradition and a perfect weekend it was.

Even though the overnight temperatures dipped into the low 20-degree range, the Blue Bird Days were picture perfect as golden aspens frames the photogenic pluton's iconic outcrops.

After each trip, we always say we are going to post up a lot of photos and then we hardly ever do so.  This trip is a refreshing change from past slacker behavior.  Below you this post you will find four others.  We think there's probably a couple dozen photos included.  Captions are below each one.  Thanks, Spudboater--It was a Great Trip!
There's such a thing as a "tradition within a tradition."  We've decided opening each year's trip report with a photo of our shadows on the granite will be a most fine and fitting thing to do.  We almost look Anasazi-like in this year's picture.
Once again, Spudboater met us right on time at The City's Visitor Center.  
Here, Susun and SB pose as hard-working pioneer women on The California Trail.
Ah, The City!
Fall is easily the best time to visit The City.
Spudboater shows off the progress of her rehab 
for the broken ankle she suffered in Lave Falls.
Home Sweet Home in Site #56.
Where the Tent Troll Toils.

Hiking in The City

A visit to The City was kind of a "coming out party" after a summer of rehab for Spudboater's ankle that was broken in Lava Falls on a Grand Canyon river trip this summer. What could be a better "rehab graduation exercise" than a hike in The City?
Golden aspens along the winding trails.
Grand vistas in every direction.
Plenty of pluton to ponder.
Needles to thread...
...and narrow places to pass
Friends to share the grandeur...
of The City's many glorious views.
No matter where you look...
...there are many a scene to stir the soul.

Camping in The City

As everyone knows, the trio has a combined experience of well over 100 years of camping experience. Whenever this trio gets together is a Rancho Deluxe Camping Experience. This annual trip to The City was no exception.
Spudboater brought plenty of wood...
..to ward off the afternoon and morning chill.
Happy Hours are part of the tradition.
Fine Food is a given.
This year's campsite was a hidden niche.  
Here's the trail from the parking area.
It's a little bit extra effort to carry the gear up to the campsite.
However, the privacy is superb.  
You can't see our camp from the roadway.
This year, we even brought our own outhouse.
And a good time was had by all.

Sunshine on Potato Heads

Naturally, we brought some Friends along to help soak up the ambiance.
The Famous Sunshine Family's Jack and Seren Dippity 
reach out with open arms to Spudboater's Potato Heads.
Jack delivers an eloquent lecture to help educate the Potato Heads.
After spending most of their life underground, the Potato Heads
are ready to soak up all the newfound knowledge they can get.
Once the formalities of Jack's education episode are finished, the Potato Heads
enjoy a weekend of camaraderie with Jack and Seren. 

Farrah Finds New Home

Spudboater has been requesting her own Farrah bucket for over five full years. She finally found Farrah on this trip. We decided to pass on our very own Farrah Faucet bucket to Spudboater rather than make her new one. This bucket has been around and has a lot of embedded character!
Spudboater was very happy to finally have a Farrah to call her own.
Last year, Spudboater decided she also wanted her 
own antique Coleman stove converted to propane.  
She found this vintage Model 425B and brought it to The City.  
We put the pieces together, did a little troubleshooting and, voila...
Spudboater now has her very own propane powered Coleman--the centerpiece of a tidy camp!