Thursday, February 28, 2013


After a three year yearning, we finally got to hike the Heart of The Highline Trail today.  It was everything we hoped it would be and more and we can't wait to get back.  Susun's heading off to California tomorrow and won't be back in action here until about March 10th so it's going to be awhile before we're on The Highline again soon.  You can click here to see our Facebook photo album of 16 pictures form today's hike.

 The picture below is simply a screen shot of that album.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

One Sixth

Yep, Sports Fans, we're almost one-sixth of the year through Year 2013.  That's over 16% if you do the math.  These first two months are generally always the slowest of the 12.

February brought four "Idaho Visitor Events."  Julie & Kenyon; Karen; Kathleen & Roger and Barb M. this week.

Roger and Kathleen stopped by for about an hour last Friday.  Barb visited Monday afternoon and left after lunch Tuesday.  She stayed in her mini-motor home.

Barb's visit was unusual.  How so?  In a nutshell:  We'd never met before.  Barb's Friends were very concerned and kept saying to her, "You mean you're going to go stay with STRANGERS?"  Pretty funny.

We actually "met" Barb online.  No, we're not signed up for one of those matching making services.  Barb and her Dear Friends are doing some amazing, awesome, audacious and wonderful things in Salmon, Idaho. Barb was the leader in creating an online Citizen Journalism project in Salmon over five years ago.  it's called Lemhi Web and you can click here to check it out:

Naturally, when we started the Salmon Thang, we became partners with Lemhi Web.  We advertise them for free on our website and they advertise us for free on their website.  It's one of those natural partnerships that was obvious from the "git go."  Barb and we have carried on a lively email correspondence since June 2012.  She and her partners have carried many of our articles and we have relentlessly promoted Lemhi Web.  Barb's an avid day hiker and back packer.  She loves and floats The Salmon River.  When she happened to mention she was coming down to Arizona on a solo vacation, we immediately invited her to stop by and visit us.  We three hit is off immediately and it was like we'd known Barb for many years and vice versa.  We had a really great visit and look forward to seeing Barb in Salmon, Idaho this summer.

Monday afternoon we walked from The Straw House up to Montezuma Well.  Yesterday, we walked out to Alien Rock.  It's too bad Barb couldn't stay long as we surely would have had some additional great hikes.

By the way, Barb and her many hard-working Friends just started an actual print newspaper in Salmon called "The Lemhi Leader."  Ironically, the weekly newspaper in the city where I was born and raised is called "The Lafayette Leader."

Sometimes, there's no such thing as a stranger when it comes to being kindred spirits and so forth.  She was very happy to have enjoyed a fine visit and, of course, so were we.
Well, Wandering Wayne is back home in Flagstaff looking forward to his next snow shoveling episode.  He graciously told his wife, Helen, that he would shovel ALL the snow in March.  Chances are we will be getting very little snow in March (despite it normally being the wettest of the spring months) so Wayne's going to come out of that deal smelling like a rose.  We had a lot of enjoyment poking fun with out "Where's Wayne-O?" campaign on Facebook.  We even learn a new trick.  We downloaded a "cartoonizer" program and had a lion ask "Where's Wayne-O?"  Wayne went over-the-top with his blogging on this round-the-world trip.  He did such an outstanding job and set the bar so high, it's going to be very interesting to see if he can equal or exceed his sheer production and creativity on his next round-the-world trip.  He heads out to Lake Powell soon for a houseboating trip with famed photographer Gary Ladd.  Gary leads photography trips for Arizona Highways and we assume Wayne is along to regale the participants with Rock Talk.

The Salmon Thang has been doing really well the last couple of days.  Our normal daily visitation during the winter have been around 100 pageviews each day.  We forged a new partnership with a key property in North Fork, Idaho, and as a result, visitation on Monday was 286 pageviews and then a whopping 583 pageviews yesterday.  Today already, we are well over 200 page views again so life is good in that regard.  Messing around with that Salmon Thang is a source of great enjoyment for me and Susun.  It's a hobby we are very glad we adopted last year and it promises to continue to be a fun thing to do for many years to come.
Some of you know we kind of like to "mess with people's heads" now and then.  Right?  Right.  Well, not long ago, we put up a photo on Facebook of The Big Jud hamburger, a little known Idaho icon.  Roger P. took the picture.

Anyway, we put it up and we challenged various restaurants here in The Verde Valley to step up to the plate and see if they could muster up something similar or perhaps "worthy," you might say.
Lo and behold, one of our local fine dining establishments right here in Greater Rimrock stepped up to the plate and introduced a very worthy contender in The Hamburger Challenge.  Even though it's only available on Tuesdays, we're sure proud of them to putting together a righteous hamburger.  So, see, "messing with people's head" sometimes produces great outcomes.

Tuesday special at Vintages...Build A Burger just $9.95 - Half Pound Burger - ground fresh @ Vintages - (chicken breast or black bean burger avail) Select your cheese, three delicious toppings (bacon, avocado, jalapeno, fried egg, etc.) with your choice of side.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mark Thatcher

Mark Thatcher
We can make a very compelling case that if it wasn't for a guy named Mark Thatcher, Susun and I wouldn't be together.  No kidding?  How's that?

Well, rewind your Way Back Time Machine to the fall of 1987.  Maybe September 1987.  Anyway, back in the heyday of the 1980's there was this sweet gig called "The Telluride River Rendezvous  staged each fall when the aspens turned to gold and river runners converged for a weekend of films, speakers and, of course, mass consumption of adult beverages and general debauchery in the usual manner to which river runners were accustomed in those crazy daze.

I was living in Flagstaff at the time with The Late Great Randy Fabres.  I had divorced earlier in the year and was a certified (and probably certifiable) single man.  I knew the River Runner Rendezvous was "THE" place to be for guys like me.

One day, out of the clear blue Northern Arizona Sky, Mark Thatcher stopped by to see "whazzup" with Randy and me and, well, one thing led to another.  In a blink, Mark invited me to head up to the Rendezvous with him in his hot BMW sedan.  Oh, Boy, what a trip that promised to be.

Mark and we rocketed up through the fall splendor of the Four Corners and into the picture postcard place they call Telluride.  We set up our tent camp in the city park and then proceeded to party non-stop for the weekend.

By and by, my path crossed Susun's path.  Yep, she was there, too.  You see, being an independent, free-spirited Lass, Susun headed up to Telluride on her own.  Naturally, she was The Life of The Party.  We had met but really didn't know each other.  She had enlisted me to help her get the infamous sand and gravel operators out of the river in front of her place in Cottonwood.  So, we had worked a little bit together but our life paths had only just crossed on a more or less coincidental sort of basis.

Anyway, Sunday rolled around and people were slowly packing up and beginning to drag themselves back to whatever rock they would live under until the next year's river season began.  As I was folding and stuffing my tent into its bag, Mark walked over and said, "John, I just bought a new kayak and I'm gonna go test it out, yer on yer own to get back to Flagstaff."

That's one of the things I've always liked about Mark--he's just real direct and straight to the point and that's that.  None of this "Gee, I'm sorry John, blah, blah, blah stuff."  Mark is just a great "Hey, Deal with it, Dude" kind of guy.  We always got along great and this sudden adverse turn of events didn't bother me one second.  It was just another interesting challenge of the day.

I wished Mark well and he disappeared in his BMW, leaving me to mull my options.  First, I approached Brian Rasmussen.  Brian had a small pickup truck.  Brian and his girlfriend would ride in the cramped little front seat.  Brian said, "Sure, John, I'll give you a ride but you have to ride in the back with my dog, Grizz."

Well, dogs being dogs is one thing but Grizz was quite another thing.  He was big, smelly, and generally rowdy in a way that certain annoying dogs can be.  The prospect of riding a few hundred miles in the open air with Grizz as a companion was easily the worst possible option I could imagine.

Hum...what to do.  Strangely, there were very few Flagstaffonians at the Rendezvous.  Everyone else seemed to be headed to places I only dreamed I'd ever go and some places I never even heard of before.

I was walking around in kind of a meditative fog when suddenly who should appear but Susun with her cheery smile and happy spirit.  AH, HA!  So, I immediately went over to her and started my song and dance about how I was stranded and about how I didn't have a way home and, "Oh, pretty please, could I ride home with YOU, Ma'am?"  Well, to her credit, Susun dutifully pondered whether to agree to take me back to Flagstaff.  Luckily, it didn't take her much pondering and after about a minute she said, "Sure, that sounds like fun, throw your stuff in my truck and let's go."

Well, the rest, as they say, is History.  We fell in Love on that trip back to Flagstaff and we been deeply in love ever since.  It was a fabulous and wonderful trip through the Four Corners and Monument Valley.  I even took Susun to the Blow Hole at Wupatki.  It was the first of many awesome and wonderful trips we would take together over the next 25+ years.  Nothing would ever be the same of us ever again.  We knew we each met the person we were born to be together with.

And so, you see, if it wasn't for Mark Thatcher buying a new kayak in Telluride, Susun and I might never had have that opportunity to fall so totally in Love with each other.  It's a great story.  The way Susun tells the story, she always likes to add this somewhat embarrassing summary, "I won out over the dog."

Well, Mark Thatcher went on to become quite legendary as the inventor and owner of  the famous Teva sandals.  Mark sold Teva many years ago and has been involved in all sorts of great things since then.  Today, I just received an email from Mark and he had started a new venture--the Sazzi sandals.  The Sazzis appear to be the next level of adventure footwear.  They combine ancient design with modern technology in a uniquely appealing package that's been receiving rave reviews since Mark introduced them last year.

Below is a video of Mark explaining the Sazzis.  Here's a link to his website for them:

If the video won't load, here's it's link:

Congratulations, Mark!  We're sure proud of you.  We wish you the best of success & HAPPY TRAILS!

Many Cheers, Susun & John

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snow Trolls

Well, we got snowed on pretty good last night--four inches.  The first two photos were before we took off.  We headed out as early as we could and here's what the snow trolls came home with.
 Our front yard
 Suzi-Q slumbers before Road Trip.
Our neighboring ranch--The Bar D.
Walker Creek looking downstream.
Miss Snow Troll
Mister Snow Troll
A Happy Snow Troll.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Number Two

What a great gift on the 20th Anniversary of our Big Verde Flood--we finally made it to the Number Two spot on Google's search results using the words "salmon river idaho."  It wasn't easy and it certainly wasn't luck, either.  We actually opened a Google Ad Words account and have been paying money to advertise the website.  That's the name of the game these days and that's how the game is played.  Luckily (at least so far) is hasn't cost an arm and a leg.

We don't think we have a prayer of edging out the Salmon River Wiki.  We're totally satisfied with Number 2.  The Wiki for any given resource will always be the Number One top search result, as well it should be.

(NOTE: The listing in beige are paid ads and paid ads are always given precedence over the unpaid listings.  You can't pay to get your listing moved up here on the search results page but you can pay to advertise a service connected to the search words.  The ads we buy are to place the website's link on other people's webpages so that people "click through" to visit the Salmon website.  That generates the type of traffic that catches the attention of Google search robots and spiders, hence increasing their robot/spider interest in why people are coming to your website.  It's a very complex gig.)


We set a Bucket list goal of 500 blog posts for Year 2013.  We're off to a smashing start.  So far in less than two months, we've put up 108 blog posts!  There 55 of them here; 28 on our food shopping blog and the rest scattered around various other misc. blogs.  At this rate, we are on track for more than 600 blog posts this year so 500 is no longer a pipe dream--it's a realistic objective.

The media has been hyping a great big storm and, as the hype got bigger, louder, and more shrill, we began to have our doubts about the whole thing.  Afterall, this isn't Superstorm Sandy or Nemo.  This is Arizona, folks, calm down.  So far, we've had a trace of rain and the temps are well above freezing.  Why is is when people say the sky is falling that it rarely does?

We think we might get a visit from Roger & Kathleen P. on Friday.  Supposedly they are in the vicinity but Roger said if the weather was bad, he was going to keep right on driving until he found someplace with the temp about 65 degrees.  The trouble with that plan is that it's actually COLDER to the south of us this morning.  Go figure.

The Idaho Falls Mayor position got thrown wide open yesterday when the incumbent said he won't run again.  Meanwhile, a woman waiting in the wings eagerly threw her hat in the ring.  We are waiting for further political analysis from DF & LBR Terry M.  Terry?

We might get a visit next Monday from Barb M.  She runs Lemhi Web in Salmon, Idaho.  We've only met via email so that will be a fun circumstance if it happens.  Susun is taking off a week from Friday to drive over to Grand Kid Central with Laura R.  Susun will then fly back on March 6th.  Meanwhile, we will stay in Mesa that night so we can go to the Chicago Rivalry Game--The Cubs vs. The White Sox in Spring Training at Hohokam Stadium.  The place will be packed and rockin' that day.

We did the math last night.  From when we get home to when Susun goes to Grand Kid Central in early April we have only 26 days to finish up our Arizona tasks.  We will be leaving to head north a mere few days after Susun's return from The Land of Sarah, Peter, Gage & Van.

Time's flying pretty danged fast once again as it is wont to do.

Not much else happening 'round Second Chance Ranch.

Many Cheers, jp

20 Years Ago

It was 20 Years Ago Today that we were flooded out of our place in Cottonwood.  That was the event & catalyst that brought up to Rimrock and the building of The Straw House.  As single days go in our lives, February 20th, 1993, has to rank right up there in the litany of Significant Life Events.

Below is the story in five parts.

20 Years Ago  Part One--Everything was quiet 20 years ago tonight. Two Dear Friends from Flagstaff came to visit us on Blue Sky Drive in Cottonwood. We had a great party well past midnight.

The following day, a light rain began. We sat on the deck and talked about "rain on snow." Little did we know what would unfold on that morning of the 19th of February, 1993.

The rain came harder. The river began to rise, slow at first but then faster at a worrisome pace of rise. By the time day began to turn to night on the 19th, we knew not what was to come. History would be made. Lives would be changed. Nothing would be the same.

As we look back on this idyllic 18th of February before yet another incoming storm, it brings back a lot of memories--some sweet and some not-so-sweet, about the same day 20 years ago tonight.
20 Years Ago Part Two--If Feb. 18th was the "calm before the storm" 20 years ago, Feb. 19th was a day of major change. The morning began just fine & dandy. We and our Dear Friends sat on the deck watching the tame Verde River. A light rain fell from low gray clouds. As the day progressed, the rain grew harder and kept falling without a break. The river began rising, slowly at first. By mid-afternoon, it was out of its normal banks and people were becoming concerned. By 6 pm, it was clear that something was really wrong with The Verde. The rate of rise was alarming. Meanwhile, the rain didn't let up. It grew harder and rained in sheets.

We made a few phone calls and our heart sank--it was raining in Chino Valley, Prescott and Williams. It was one of those rare El Nino years when the normally dry Upper Verde had a lot of snow on the ground. It was raining on the Chino Valley snow.

We could see the hand writing on the wall and an indescribable feeling of cold dread began to creep into our heart. It was too late to get anything out of the floodplain in front of our place--the ground was already a mud bog and the water was rising fast. As night fell 20 years ago today, I stood in the rain shivering and looking at the river in the day's last light wondering what the night would bring. I prayed the river would stop rising. It didn't. Twenty years later, I remember those moments as if they happened today. Stay tuned for Part Three.
20 Years Ago Part Three--The night between February 19th and the slow, leaden dawn of February 20th was easily the longest night of my life.  Susun was gone visiting Daughter Sarah in California.  I stayed wide awake the entire night.  The flood came down The Verde with a vengeance.  It turned out to the the most water recorded at Clarkdale since records have been kept dating back generations.  It seemed like an ocean of water had been let loose as the brown, muddy flow filled the river's floodway and then began to claw even higher and farther afield.  We watched in fearful awe by flashlight as the river level quickly surged past the January 8th high water mark.  The rise just kept on coming.

As the river swelled the sheer weight of the mass of water began snapping mature cottonwood trees like matchsticks.  Susun's riverfront property included many cottonwood trees that had been killed by the nefarious instream sand and gravel mining operations which were shut down in September 1989.  The flood wiped every one of those tall, dead trees away.  As each succumbed, it did so with a snap and crack that sounded just like an old-fashioned cannon shot.  The noise of those trees snapping  reverberated across the roiling, debris-choken, swirling, smelly waters.

Even though flat water isn't supposed to make any noise, trust me, flood waters make a strange noise that's all their own.  It is as if the flood is a living thing and you are hearing the sounds of its breath growing ever closer.  But what can you do about a flood?  Nothing but watch in fear, if not terror.  You have absolutely no idea when the river will peak and at what level.  For all you know during a night like that the river will just keep coming up and up.  Your imagination plays tricks on your brain at a time like that and soon your emotions are running wild and raw with irrational thoughts.  As the river rose ever higher under the stilts that supported Susun's 8x40 old mobile home, we were convinced the water would soon simply float the structure away.

We had long since watched all of our own personal possessions float away from the floodplain.  Since Susun's place was so small, we stored everything we owned in a variety of trailers and containers in the floodplain, foolishly thinking they would be out of danger "based on previous historical flood events."  HA!  In a few hours time that night, I watched everything I owned at that time simply vanish.

Some other Dear Friends came in the wee hours of the night in answer to my frenzied hone calls.  I don't know what any of us could have done but at least we stood together with our puny little flashlights watching the relentless river rise.  We heard sirens screaming in the distance between the cannon shots of the trees snapping.  We knew many others lived in houses much lower and closer than we and we knew they were in trouble.

The police and fire departments were totally unprepared for a flood of this magnitude.  They didn't know what to do.  Luckily, David Lash clearly saved the lives of many of the people of Bridgeport with his jet boat heroics that night.  If not for his whitewater boating skills, there is no doubt in our mind many would have perished that night.

Before the flood reached our large chicken coop, we let the hens run free and they wisely headed to high ground wondering where to roost.  Throughout the night, they provided the only moments of levity as we would occasionally stumble on one of the disoriented hens and they would flee squawking loudly in protest.

Everything that night was so surreal in ways that can't be put into words.  The mix of emotion, reality, adrenalin, fear and loathing created a unique mental chemistry that somehow stretched those long night hours into what seemed like an eternity as we prayed and hoped for the river to peak somewhere, someplace somehow.

I can't remember just how close the water came to floating the trailer away.  I seem to recall it was within 12-18 inches.

Finally, when all of us were so thoroughly drained we could barely speak to each other, someone muttered, "It's peaking."  Someone else said, "Nah, you're dreaming, man, wake up."  The first person's voice got louder, "NO, man, I'm not dreaming, it's peaking."  We all ran to his perch to peer with our flashlights at what he saw and, yes, there was a one inch difference between one point and another.  We huddled transfixed staring mute at that small spot.  Sure enough, the inch turned to two inches, then three and four and more and by the time it was six inches lower than its high water mark we were high fivin' and jiving' and screaming and hollerin' and dancin' around like we were possessed.

After we have screamed and yelled until we were hoarse, we all stood in a circle and joined hands  and prayed and a few of us began to cry in great big heaving sobs.  We hugged each other and we stood limp as those steel gray low clouds began to gather the first light of February 20th.

By that time, the river began to drop even faster than it rose.  The USGS eventually determined the flow at Clarkdale reached 53,200 cubic feet per second with an official gauge depth of 26.39 feet.

As dawn grew brighter all our Dear Friends left and I fell into a fitful sleep thinking the worst was over.  It wasn't. Stay Tuned for Part Four.
20 Years Ago Part Four--Not long after I fell into that fitful sleep, there was a loud banging on the sliding glass patio door, "WAKE UP, WAKE UP, GET OUT, YOUR TRAILER IS GOING TO FALL OVER!"
At first I thought I was having yet another really bad dream but the yelling and the banging continued and scared the daylights out of me.  After rubbing my eyes who should I spy but Dear Friend Marsha F. freaking out on the deck while yelling at me and pounding on the glass.

I slid the door open and she literally grabbed my by the shirt and commanded, "Get over here and see this."  Oh, oh, that's when my heart sank even lower than it had been during the dark long hours of the night before.  The water reached maybe 12-18 below the floor of the mobile home.  It didn't float away.  However, the water was high enough for long enough that it totally saturated the uncompacted fill slope upon which the heavy 8 by 40 mobile home sat.  As Marsha and I stood there dumbfounded, we could see the cracks widening into gaps in the soil upon which the mobile was situated.  The structure had already begun to list toward the river.  The whole hillside was spongy soft under our feet and cracks were forming everywhere we looked.

The mobile home appears doomed.  We stepped back onto solid safe higher ground and made a plan.  We had to attempt to save the contents of the mobile home before it toppled into the floodplain.  We went to a neighbor's house and called all of our mutual friends.  We needed major help and we needed it FAST.  About 15 people answered the call immediately.

When we had all grouped up outside the mobile home we announced our plan.  I would go inside and take the biggest risk.  Several of the guys would take the point of the line and then we would pass stuff hand-to-hand while keeping our movement to an absolute minimum.  I would try to walk as softly as possible inside the mobile home.  Meanwhile, one of the group was stationed to watch the cracks at the same time they kept an eye on the angle of list of the trailer.

It was a very dicey proposition and, in hindsight, we should have NEVER attempted to do such a silly and foolish thing on behalf of mere "stuff" that was inside the mobile home.  Nevertheless, we all worked like we were under some sort of high speed spell and stuff flew out of the mobile home as fast as it could be passed up the human chain.  No one cared what happened at the end of the chain and gradually a giant pile of helter-skelter stuff began to form.

The cracks widened, the trailer tiled more, people hyperventilated and worked fast and somehow we got the place emptied and all stepped back to safety.  At that point, I'm sure it would have easily been possible simply to push the trailer over with one casual hand.  I will never understand why it didn't fall into the floodplain unless we can ascribe it to one of God's Miracles.  None of us were hurt in any way but, looking back, it simply wasn't a smart thing to do.  More than one of us could have been badly injured or worse by implementing such a stupid plan.

Once we were all safely away from the trailer than was essentially balanced on a hair trigger edge, we then made a plan on how to store most of the stuff and everyone stayed together until we could stabilize the giant pile of personal stuff sitting in the road beside the place we once called home.  At that point, Susun and I were officially homeless but she didn't know it yet.  I knew she was returning that night so I tip toed out onto the tilted deck one last time to tape a note to the door that said, "Susun, we don't live here any more. Come to Brad & Kate's."

Once everything was stabilized and stored in neighbor's houses and shed and under tarps, Brad stuffed me in his truck and handed me a beer and said, "Take it easy, John, we've got you covered from here."  He took me to their place in Cornville and I sat in a corner and simply stared blankly into space for much of the remainder of the day.  I think I was in some form of shock by then but didn't really know it.  All I wanted to do was sit very still and not move.  The whole weight of not having a home any more hit me really hard 20 years ago today.

I had read about people who lose their home to fire or flood or tornado and had heard about how traumatic it is for them.  But there's no way to know what that means until it happens to you.  That's when your own demons come home to roost.  All I could do that day was sit and ache with this strange numb pain that pervaded my being.  I couldn't cry and didn't have the energy to be angry.

Gradually, I began to come around later in the day and we three talked about how to deal with Susun when she showed up.  What kind of reaction would she have?  Would she be emotional?  How would she handle being homeless?  What should we do?  We finally decided that we should simply sit together and stare at her when she came through the door and not say anything.  Just be.  Then we'd see how she was doing and go from there.

Sure enough, around nightfall, we heard her drive up.  She had obviously been to our former home and knew where to go.  She came through the door and saw us sitting there like cows in a pasture with dumb blanks looks on our three faces.  She paused.  And then she threw her arms into the air and yelled out, "Does this mean we get to move to RIMROCK!"  And that's when we three all exhaled in unison and everything was OK and we hugged and high fived and the party begin.  Finally, I could let my emotions out and boy, oh, boy did they come out as we hugged and danced and shouted and partied until we all four fell down into a deep, deep sleep.

The next day we moved our six foot by 8 foot travel trailer to our land in Rimrock and began a new life.

Our lives changed forever 20 years ago today.  It took us a long time to fully understand what really happened with that flood and how it impacted our future forever.  But first there was The Red Cross, FEMA, The National Guard, depression counseling and more.  Stay Tuned for Part Five.
20 Years Ago Part Five--After the first flush of adrenalin wore off, reality set in.  And with reality quickly came clinical depression.  I was simply overwhelmed by all the circumstances.  The newspaper called to talk to me about the whole thing.  I said I felt like The Verde River had kicked me in the groin.  At the time, that seemed like a very logical thing to say but people certainly looked askance at that comment.  I did say it would be OK and we and the river would be friends again.

The Red Cross and FEMA, to their credit, were right on our case.  They actually tracked us down and sent a team to interact with us.  They recognized my signs of depression right away and referred me to a counselor.  Meanwhile, they gave us emergency funds for some clothing and food.  Those people really stepped up to the bat and took us under their protective wings.  They were awesome, I will never forget their kindness and professionalism as long as I live.  They "understood" in a way no one else seemed to be capable of understanding.  They were like Family and they gave me a huge shoulder to lean on.  The counselor was a master of his profession and he talked me through everything and gave me a clear flight path to escape the depths to which my Spirit had fallen.

Ironically, that year I was chosen to receive The Verde Pride Award because of things I had done for the river.  I have very foggy memories of going to accept that award.  I felt so empty and so useless.  I doubt I was even able to muster a smile for the audience.

FEMA stepped up to the plate and gave us a cash grant to get our feet back on the ground.  We used it as seed money to begin to build what became our Straw House here in Rimrock.

One of the weirdest things that transpired was a day when I drove over to the old place and there was a National Guard roadblock on Rocking Chair Road.  I talked my way past.  They said they were trying to prevent looting.  Well, as I drove toward our place, something didn't seem right.  I could see someone was trying to mess with the place and I did a quick U-turn and headed back to the roadblock.  I told the National Guard guys what I saw.  Bear in mind these guys were wearing full combat camo with helmets, body armor, fully automatic machine guns and had a military Humvee with a tripod mounted machine gun on top.  Man, those guys jumped into action like you see in a Hollywood movie and then went tearing down Rocking Chair road as fast as that Humvee would travel.  When they reached our place, one guy manned the machine gun and the others jumped out and did a full military sweep of the property shouting commands, taking cover, jumping through doors.  It was so surreal that it hurt my heart.  I took pictures but I never developed them.  It was something I decided I didn't want to see again.

Time passed.  Eventually we settled into our little subsistence lifestyle in the 6x8 travel trailer.  We heated basalt rocks on the stovetop to keep our feet warm at night and we watched Northern Exposure on a five-inch black and white TV powered by a car battery.  By and by the cloud of depression lifted and we walked hand-in-hand into a proud new life.  We made some great life choices that we still enjoy to this day.

That flood 20 years ago today was a classic life-defining moment.  It was a bumpy ride coming through it all but we did OK.  As we look back now, we are grateful for the flood.  Without it, we would have probably taken the path of least resistance and who knows if this place in Rimrock would have ever come into being?
The flood gave us great gifts and (in hindsight) great strengths.  While we wouldn't willingly go through another such event on purpose, we are grateful that the events and circumstances unfolded the way they did.  We are who and where we are today in many ways because of the flood 20 years ago today.

I've never told this story to anyone until now.  I've kept it bottled up inside.  This has been a very healthy experience for me to write out these five vignettes of how that flood \unfolded and changed our lives. I finally feel I have "squared the books" on the Great 1993 Verde River Flood.  I feel much better now and I thank you for reading.

As nightfall edged closer this evening, I went outside and stood alone and quiet in the softly falling snow globe we call home.  It seemed so poetically ironic that such a vigorous snowfall would be taking place on the precise 20th anniversary of the flood.  I thought about the blessing of snow and the process of the annual renewal of the river and all the plants, creatures and people who love and call this place home.

I have been very Blessed by The Verde River.  The Verde River brought my Sweetie Susun, created my Dear Friends, sparked much Adventure and leaves us all richer and more rewarded for each day we spend in its glorious watershed.  As the snow falls tonight, it brings cleansing Lightness, Peace and Happiness to my Spirit & Soul!

Thank You, Verde River, May You Run Free and Strong Forever!

Many Cheers, John Parsons

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Whirlwind Weekend

(l-r) Marsha, Karen, Gary, Phyllis, Hugh
Dear Friend Karen L's whirlwind weekend continues.  Susie's Scenic Sedona Shuttle Service filled Karen's Saturday with yet another Gilligan's Island Three Hour Tour (slightly stretched to 8 hours).

After an early breakfast at 2CR HQ, the duo zipped to Sedona for a stupa stroll and then jetted up to partake Jerome's highlights and high life with lunch at the Haunted Hamburger.  Then it was back to Sedona for a stroll in the Red Rock.  The pair eventually came back to 2CR a few minutes before The Two Wise Woman (plus Hugh) arrived for dinner.

After a few rounds of mildly extreme croquet, everyone enjoyed standin' 'round a pleasant campfire until the green chile enchilada casserole was served.  Marsha regaled the dinner party with her unique Miss Marsha-ness and a great time was had by all.

Today, it's off to Mesa once again so Karen can climb aboard the Idaho Falls shuttle jet to return to her Habitat for Humanity Director duties tomorrow.  What a wonderful whirlwind weekend!

The Two Wise Women were especially excited to see Karen here in Arizona.  When Marsha and Phyllis came to Idaho Falls last June, Karen helped us stage a special party in their honor.  Marsha and Phyllis are already pondering the possibilities of perhaps another visit to Idaho Falls this upcoming summer.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Karen Visits Arizona

Dear Friend Karen L. from Idaho Falls arrived late Thursday night at the Mesa Gateway Airport.  Susun and Karen spent the night at a nearby motel and then took the slow road to Second Chance Ranch.  They enjoyed visiting Saguaro Lake; had a picnic at the East Verde; visited the Archaeology Center in Camp Verde; stopped to gawk at Montezuma Castle and then peered into the mysterious depths of Montezuma Well.  After checking Karen into Maria Elena & Tim's Guest Studio, Karen settled into a typical evening here at 2CR.  Kate & Brock came to visit and a fine campfire was enjoyed by all.  Later, Miss Susun served up one of her patented "company dinners" and we sat around telling stories almost until the cows came home.  We are delighted to have Karen visit us this winter.  It's going to be a short sojoune, however as she flies back to the frozen potato tundra on Sunday.  Welcome To Arizona, Karen!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kickstarting Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!  We moved to Arizona on Valentine's Day 1979.  We flew into Tucson that day not knowing we were beginning many incredible new chapters in our life story.

Each year when Valentine's Day rolls around, we think first of our Wonderful Sweetie Susun and how grateful we are for her love, heart and spirit.

Then our thoughts turn to our own anniversary of arriving in Arizona.  As we look back on our 34 years here, we see a kaleidoscope of brilliant highs and lows and practically every shade of color for all the times in between.

Today, purely by happenstance, we received an opportunity to mark Valentine's Day in a very unusual and different way.  We launched a Kickstarter project entitled "Salmon River People."

Perhaps you have heard of Kickstarter or perhaps not.  It is arguably the best know "crowdfunding" website.  People put up projects on Kickstarter and other people say, "Hey, that looks great, here's some bucks to git 'er dun."

We have actually contributed to two Kickstarter project in the last couple of years.  You'd be quite surprised at the diversity and fund-raising goals of the various Kickstarter projects.  Just reading about all the projects is entertainment all by itself.

Our little project is very modest in comparison to 99% of the rest of the projects.  We're seeking to raise only $1,200.  That's peanuts compared to the goals of the other projects.  However, the $1,200 (if raised) will be just fine with us for what we propose to do.

In essence the money would pay for all of our summer travel to Salmon Country so that we can focus on what we most want to do--to describe the new faces of Salmon River People.  Some would say we priced our project far too low for the work involved.  We don't think like that.  If we can relax and take the time necessary to do our five Salmon River People webseries videos and accompanying online articles, then so much the better.  It's all good.

Don't worry, we are NOT soliciting you to donate to this project.  That's not what this blog post is about.  It's about Valentine's Day and how we were able to mark this special day with a unique new idea.

It will definitely be interesting to see how it all turns out.

Here's the Kickstarter project address:

Many Cheers & Happy Valentine's Day!  jp

Julie & Kenyon Visit

Our Dear Friends & Neighbors from Idaho Falls came to visit us yesterday.  Kenyon & Julie have been on a whirlwind winter getaway.  They left Saturday and spent a couple of nights in Vegas before rocketing over to Oak Creek Canyon on Tuesday night.

Yesterday, we got together about noon and went for a nice day hike out for lunch at the Alien Rock Cafe.  Afterwards, Julie & Susun went off to Rimrock, to help Julie check into Maria Elena and Tim's rental studio.

Meanwhile, Kenyon and we scrambled up to the Cathedral Saddle.  It's 7/10th of a mile and gains about 600 feet.  We made it both up and back in 35 minutes each way.  After enjoying the view, we headed over to Rimrock.

Later last night, Julie, Kenyon, Maria Elena and Tim came down for a good Ol' Airy Zonie campfire.  We then had a great dinner at Chez Susun's and all retired about 10 pm.

When we woke up yesterday we told Susun we wished there was a highway sign that said "Fun Day Ahead."  It sure turned out to be a fun day.  Thanks, Julie, Kenyon, Maria Elena and Tim for making it such a great day.

Here's a few photos to accompany the video slide show above.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Snow Day

Monday was a Snow Day.  Briefly.  A storm whipped up a nice frosty topping for the landscape.  We awoke Monday to a dreamy, creamy white vista.  The ground was entirely covered and a gossamer fillaree of powdered sugar snow clung to the branches of every tree, prickly pear and yucca.

What's a couple of Snow Birds supposed to do, huh?  Well, you betcha  we jumped into action, saddled up Suzi Q and headed off into the distant yonder with much whoop-dee-doo.  We had the Sam Cam in action and took a bunch of photos ourselves, too.  Altogether we returned home with almost 900 pictures in a mere two hours.  YIKES!  Don't worry.  We won't foist off that many photos on you.  Here are just a few.
Looking east across the National Monument before sunrise.  
That's a low cloud bank nestled against The Mogollon Rim.
Home Sweet Home.
Scraped off Suzi Q and got the Sam Cam mounted on the hood.
Here's Your Sign
Cowboy Up.
Beaver Creek looking upstream from near the Road #618 bridge.
Walker Creek looking upstream.
Walker Creek looking downstream.
Sacred Mountain in the background.

We figured there was enough snow this time around to last at least a day.  Nope.  Wrong.  It was ALL completely and totally gone without a trace by mid-afternoon.  Amazing how that works here.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday Storm

Here's a nice little 14 second video of our mini-dump-ette of white stuff late this afternoon:

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Small World

How often we use (and overuse) the words "small world."  This morning those two words are ringing and resonating in my heart and mind as I am sitting here swapping emails with Wayne Ranney just as if he was sitting in his cozy Flagstaff home.  The only difference is he is sitting somewhere on Easter Island.  We're chatting about the snow we have here in Rimrock and how he is wearing shorts and so forth.  Yea, verily, 'tis a VERY small world.  Here is Wayne's latest blog post from Easter Island.  He put up the post perhaps an hour ago.

A Tale of Three Saturdays

Talk about luck.  Geeze, Louise!  Two Saturdays ago on January 26th, it rained cats and dogs.  Last Saturday, the weather was warm and fuzzy purrfect and nary a growl was to be heard.

Today?  Why we awoke here at 3500 feet to a snow-covered Norman Rockwell postcard at Second Chance Ranch.  While, one one hand, it's such a beautiful Currier & Ives scene, on the other hand, it would have put major damper on having a mid-winter party.

We're not really sure how last Saturday could have been so beautiful and be book-ended by one really wet and one really white Saturday but that's the way it shook out of the sky for us this year.

Thank You, Dear Lord, we so appreciate Your Amazing Grace & Winter Gifts: Waterfalls, fluffy rivers, rainbows, sunshine and snow.

Friday, February 8, 2013


We're actually a little more than halfway through our Arizona Season.  The exact halfway date was ten days ago on January 29th.  As you know, we arrived November 12th and we will be leaving April 18th.  That's a total time here of 157 days.  Because we don't leave on November 1st and return precisely on May 1, our Arizona Season is always shorter than six months.

Anyway, as we reflect on the fact we have ten weeks left here in Ol' Airy Zonie, we wonder about our plans, schedule stuff and so forth.

There's a storm coming this weekend with the snow level progged down to 2500 feet.  That's 1000 feet lower than our location so this weekend's going to be a great time to make plans and process our growing piles of paperwork.

Here's how our tentative schedule appears to be taking shape.  Next week, Susun heads down to Mesa to meet Karen L. from Idaho Falls.  Karen will have a genuine whirlwind visit to Second Chance Ranch and Sedona, etc.  Shortly after Karen flies back north, Roger & Kathleen P. come for a short visit.  Near the end of February, weather permitting, we're hoping to squeeze in our trip to Young, Arizona.  So, there goes February.

March is always a busy month.  April this year is essentially already toast.  Susun will be leaving early for Gage's 5th birthday party in California.  She'll barely have time to return before we board up the place and head up to Susan K's Place in Vermilion Cliffs.

March is the only month left when some flexibility for scheduling and planning.  We know we're going to be tied up the weekend of the 23rd helping out with the canoe/kayak race.  We suspect we'll be going to a Cubs Spring Training game in Mesa.  Chances are we'll try to squeeze in another road trip.  There's only four Arizona items remaining on our Year 2013 Bucket list:

  1. Visit site of proposed Grand Canyon Escalade
  2. Visit Grand Canyon for a few days
  3. Hike the Wilson & Bear Mtn. Trails
  4. Drive The Young Road both ways
Just trying to add the Canyon or the Escalade will pretty much toast off the month of March.  Also, we need to spend more time with our Dear Friends and Friends take precedence over any ol' bucket list.  Throw in the five remaining shooting matches, some hiking and the mundane chores of daily life and it's easy to guess that March is toast even though we don't have a genuine schedule chiseled in stone for it yet.

It never ceases to amaze us how much faster time passes as we move through life.  Even though there are 69 days left until we drive out of here, it's beginning to look like our Arizona Season will be over quickly. This little "thinking out loud" exercise here will help us during the coming weekend when the weather confines us to quarters here.

Many Cheers!  jp

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Time to play some ketchup here on Da Blog.   Here's a few photos of what we've been doing lately.
Awesome Mexican asparagus is back in town.  That's HUGE for us.  It's so wonderful! It's 97 cents a lb.
We went to visit Steve Ayers in his new workplace at Camp Verde Town Hall.  He's a BMOC now.
Later, we went to the new Verde Valley Archaeology Center where the outdoor cowboy stands guard.
 Today we hiked to Alien Rock to cook a cup-o-ramen for lunch.  That's Cathedral Rock off yonder.
I don't like 99.9% of the photos of me but Susun took a really good one today.  Thanks, Sweetie!

Many Cheers, jp

Geyser Cam

As DF & LBRs know, we sure have a hankering for Yellowstone.  Today we discovered or realized that there's a live streaming video camera faithfully showing Old Faithful's eruptions.  No kidding.  This is not a YouTube thing and it's not time-delayed.  It's live, real-time video of the Real Deal--Old Faithful erupting.

When Old Faithful isn't doing its thing, the camera's lens roams around the nearby geysers looking at steam and bubbling hot water and weird things like a little snow man some made on the viewing deck.  Occasionally, you get to see people walking around.  It's amazing.

Here's the link:

Where's Wayne-O?

You've all undoubtedly heard of the wildly popular, long-running game called "Where's Waldo?"  Right?  Right!

Well, we're in the process of reinventing that game so it is entitled, "Where's Wayne-O?"  Right now, Wayne-O is leaving Peru and heading to Easter Island.  That's Peru, South America, not Peru, Indiana.
You can begin to play this exciting new game by visiting Wayne-O's blog to check out just where in the whole wide world is Wayne-O.  Better look quick, he's on his way someplace else.  YOU GO, WAYNE-O!
These three women are whispering among themselves, "Where's Wayne-O?"
If you look closely enough you will see Wayne-O second from the left, right there in the middle by that tree.

Rockin' Rainbow

A little Happy Hour storm-ette blew though early yesterday evening.  It didn't rain enough to become measurable but it rained enough to snuff the campfire and also to create one of the best evening rainbows we've ever had here at Second Chance Ranch.  The rainbow was so big, so vivid, so bright and so spectacular it knocked our socks off.  The rainbow pulsed with a depth of light so tangible the colors felt like they are alive in a world of their own.

Evening rainbows are rare here, very rare.  It takes a very unique set of circumstances for all the conditions to align correctly.  Everything has to be "just so" to bring out an evening rainbow.  That's why it was even more spectacular than other garden variety rainbows.  One thing that made this one even more amazing was the strange backlighting of The Mogollon Rim behind the rainbow.  The foreground, the rainbow and the background all combined in an unusual optical manner bringing the scene haunting, surreal, 3D-esque affects that seemed to pulse with a heartbeat of their own.  We were totally mesmerized, transfixed and stood in speechless awe of the whole thing.  Luckily, the conditions kept this stunning light show alive for much longer than most rainbows.  We were too riveted to actually time how long this rainbow lasted but it was alive and beaming far longer than any other rainbow we can remember.  It will forever be the rainbow by which all other rainbows will be judged and compared.

There is no camera we own capable of capturing a rainbow properly.  Any such images pale in comparison to the power and glory of the real thing.  When a rainbow this big comes to play with your eyes and mind, it is as if you are engulfed in the magic of the light and landscape.  It is as if a dream world has suddenly become reality at your fingertips.  There are really no words or photos that can possibly do justice to such visions.