Friday, October 31, 2014

Five Years Ago Halloween

How our home looked before Halloween 2009.
It was five years ago today when a 12-year-old changed our lives. The young delinquent male broke out most of the windows of our straw house here in Rimrock.

When Dear Friend Brad W. arrived to assess the damage, it was a seen of bleak devastation.  Brad called me at my office in Idaho Falls that day to deliver the bad news.  I will never forget the feeling of listening to his calm voice recount the situation.  All I could keep saying was, "Well, everything happens for a positive purpose."  That's our mantra through thick and thin.

While Brad tried to stabilize the house, we hurriedly packed up and hit the road south, using some accrued vacation time from my position as Director of The Eastern Idaho Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).

We sold our straw house and the land around it in 2006 to a developer.  He would only take the straw house if we carried a note for its portion of the purchase cost.  In 2009, he couldn't pay off the three-year note and voluntarily signed the house back to us without having to go into foreclosure.

Susun was heartsick when she heard the news.

We really didn't know what to do with the place since we had been living and working a full-time paid job since 2007 in Idaho Falls.  I managed a roster of well over 700 volunteers who served at far more than 100 organizations in a 19,000 square mile area of Eastern Idaho.  One of the highlights of my job was working with 16 Senior Center spread far and wide in some of the most beautiful country on earth.

As the mileposts ticked past on our way south, Susun and I debated what to do with the place.  Our first inclination was to dump it into arguably the weakest housing market in Arizona history.  As you recall, 2009 was the pits of the housing bust and the depths of the recession.

When we pulled up alongside the home we built with our own hands, a feeling of helplessness surged through our spirits.  Broken glass was strewn everywhere.  The land itself was an unbroken sea of huge tumbleweeds.  To say it was bleak was a colossal understatement.

We set up a small camping tent inside the house and unlimbered two camp chairs and tried to camp in the shell of what was once a happy home.  The day after we arrived, we went to Brad's Place for lunch.  When we returned, the 12-year-old had returned and broke out more windows and scatter large glass shards all over our tent, sleeping bags and chairs.

We stood staring at the scene in utter disbelief.

And thus began a chain of events that led us to where we are today--sitting in our Happy Home telling you a story about all these circumstances that began five years ago today.

Luckily for us (maybe not for him), the 12-year-old went on to bigger crimes and eventually got incarcerated in Arizona's Adobe Mountain juvenile facility.  At least the primary threat was rather quickly removed from our neighborhood.

Meanwhile, somehow the circumstances brought out The Best in both of us.  we worked feverishly day-in and day-out, non-stop everyday for almost two months.  In the process, we coined a new name for our place--2nd Chance Ranch.

Luckily, my employer figured out a creative way to keep me employed and paid so I didn't lose my job.  We took only two days off during that time--Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Looking back, the amount of work we had to do to this place was epic.  Frankly, five years later I look around and wonder where and how we got all that relentless energy.  Each day we both worked from sunup to sundown, often not even breaking for lunch.  Some sort of passionate zeal overtook our Spirits and we just worked.  Period.

My mantra during that time was "think like a 12-year-old."  We successfully armored-up our house so that any garden variety juvenile delinquent couldn't damage it.  Now if an criminal adult showed up with a cutting torch and a battering ram, that would be different. But we figured adult criminals would have bigger fish to fry than vandalizing a straw house.  So, we planned every move to thwart the mind of a 12-year-old.

Five years later, we are happy to say it has worked.  All of our armoring efforts truly paid off.  The place has been untouched, unharmed and intact each of the five times we have returned since those fateful days five years ago.

When we drove north after Christmas five years ago, we got caught in a blizzard at Nephi, Utah.  We holed up in the Safari Motel to ride it out and finally arrived back in Idaho Falls New Year's Eve 2009.

Meanwhile, there had been a sea change at my workplace and on the day we arrived back in River City we decided to retire from the job and become Snowbirds, keeping our straw house as a place to roost from November through April each year. Meanwhile, we began this blog the next day, January 1, 2010, to document the changes we knew would lie ahead in our lives.

As time has passed over the past five years, we can now look back and see the vandalism of our place as a blessing-in-disguise.  The event forced our hand, so to speak.  it forced us to "stand & deliver" for the things we cared about.  It forced us to make decisions that have turned out to be wonderful and life-changing.

We love our little Happy Home here cozied up next to Montezuma Well National Monument.

Indeed, everything happens for a positive purpose!

Happy Halloween 2014!
Here's what the place looks like now when we arrive after six months in Idaho.  We lock up the shutters even if we're driving only two miles to the Post Office.  The place is ALWAYS shuttered and locked if we are away for any reason.

For those who haven't seen the photo album of the construction of our straw house, here it is:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Until Next Time

It's always great to arrive at Bryce and always a little sad to leave.  But there will be a "next time" and we're already looking forward to it.

As we've mentioned, the NPS is closing Sunset Campground tomorrow-October 20 so, we its time to move down the road.  Sunday was our best day at Bryce for this visit.  Incredibly deep blue bird skies, no wind, temps in the low 60's.  We hit the trails early and there was no one on the Navajo switchbacks.

As we made our way down those finely tuned switchbacks, a solo hiker appeared.  She was a young Japanese woman with a sparkling smile.  Susun offered to take her photo with the woman's camera.  She was so delighted.  After Susun took her picture, the young woman gave Susun the most wonderful hug and held Susun's hands and beamed a hugely bright smile into Susun's face.  It was a perfect way to begin a perfect day on the Magical Mystery Tour of Bryce Canyon's fabled trails.

We made a short video about "going to Church" at Bryce.  It's too big a file to post from the Lodge lame Wifi.  We will post it when we get a faster connection.

After almost 5 hours in Hoodoo Heaven, we made our way back to camp for lunch.  Then we went to enjoy hot showers.  Yep, Bryce has that, too, and for only $2 a person.  Your two bucks buys eight minutes of wonderfully hot water.

After the showers, it was off to the Visitor Center to get the promised "small reward" for bagging benchmarks along the trails.  We were both delighted to see the so-called "small reward" was a great looking pin.

Now, we're at the Lodge for our last visit here.  Tomorrow, we'll pack up and pull out sometime by mid-morning.  It's been yet another great Bryce visit.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday's Bryce E Ticket Ride

Still trying to get the "knack" of which way to post photos from the Pleistocene WiFi connection here at Bryce Canyon Lodge.  We're talkin' S-L-O-W WiFi!  Today, we posted the pictures to Facebook instead of Google.  The jury's out on which posting method is best.  Here's the link to the album and you do not need to be a Facebooker to view the pictures.

E Ticket

A family hams it up on their E Ticket ride along the Queens Garden Trail.
Who remembers The E Ticket Ride?  If you were a lucky kid, you actually got on an E Ticket Ride.  If you knew what an E Ticket Ride was, you always dreamed about them.  Long after E Tickets faded from the original Disneyland legacy, the phrase “An E Ticket Ride” has lived on.

To be sure, it may not be as prevalent in today's textual lingo as it once was.  But the legendary E Ticket Ride will forever occupy a spot in the Hearts and Spirits of those who knew them.

The Bryce Canyon National Park trails system is an E Ticket Ride.  Without doubt.  The Bryce trails are so fun, wanderful and downright exciting.  No matter how many times we may have climbed aboard the Bryce E Ticket Ride, we are just as exhilarated as the first time.

Most every National Park has at least one E Ticket Ride.  Some parks like Grand Canyon have a kaleidoscope of E Ticket Rides, maybe enough E Tickets to last a lifetime.

The Bryce E Ticket certainly isn't as epic as a Colorado River trip or The Rim To Rim or a couple of night's at Phantom.  However, what the Bryce E Ticket may lack in once-in-a-lifetime superlatives, it makes up for it by being easy to access and dependable and predictable every time.

When you lace up your boots and strap down your pack and hit the Bryce Trails, you are truly on an E Ticket ride that's unique in the National Park system.  No other National Park can boast a Hoodoo Wanderland.  No other National Park has such a compact, yet dramatic day hiking trails system suitable for E Ticket holders of all ages.  No matter which E Ticket Trail you chose to tread, you can be sure you will finish your hike with the same sense of excitement as those moments from yesteryear when you stepped of one of the original Disneyland E Ticket rides.

Many Thanks to those long gone Old Timers who laid out Bryce's spectacular trails.  Many Thanks to those NPS crews who have carefully maintained the trails over the decades of their existence.  Many Thanks to all those who keep Bryce Nice.

Here's the Wiki on E Tickets:
Two benchmarks down--only one to go---the one in Peekaboo Loop.  Then Susun can go get her "small reward" from the NPS.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bryce Is Nice

Bryce is Nice.  Bryce is cozy. Bryce is glamping. Bryce is world class day hiking.  Bryce is Ambiance @ The Old Lodge. We love Bryce. Bryce is home to us.

We fell under the spell of Bryce in 2001.  We've been enchanted by Bryce forever since.  We've been to Bryce so many times it feels just like home.  Afterall, it's only six hours away from our Arizona Home.

We got lucky this time. Mere seconds made the difference. We arrived at the Bryce Canyon National Park entrance station at 3 pm Thursday.  We beat feet for Sunset Campground.  There was only one campsite left that was suitable for our travel trailer.  We grabbed  it while the guy in the rig behind us could only roll his eyes.  He would have taken it if we hadn't.  It was that close. Pure luck.

Oh, Bryce!  As you may recall, we couldn't stay at Bryce this Spring when heading north.  Sunset Campground was closed so the NPS could put in a brand new Taj Mahal bathroom.  My, oh, my, what a great new facility.  A vertiable shining sanitation shrine!  Yes, it's heated and, yes, it has hot water.  The new addition makes Sunset Glampground even more appealing, especially for the $7.50 per night fee.

It only dipped down to 26 overnight and that's casual for our rig.  A little dose of heat from the forced air furnance and we're good to go.  We let the morning temps rally to the upper 40's before venturing off to The Whoo Hoodoos and Bryce's famous trails: Peekaboo Loop, The Hat Shop Queens Garden Wall Street, Tower Bridge, Navajo Trail and, of course, the legendary Fairyland Loop.

With three full days here we're hoping to get our sea legs back on Bryce's short, steep but super sweet trails.

We got lucky this time in more ways that one.  Get this: Sunset Campground closes for the season the morning we break camp and drive out of here October 20. Whew, Bryce by a whisker this Fall!

All of our equipment is behaving well.  We did have a delayed departure from Idaho Falls when we realized our trailer brake wasn't working.  Luckily, the Wizards at First Street Welding had us fixed up  right and proper and back on the road by 1 pm.  Twenty minutes later we were on the Snowbird Flyway heading south.

We really like the New Plan of driving only to Willard Bay the first day.  It's not much over three hours and it's a wonderful place to stay.  It's at I-15 Milepsot 357 on the very north end of the ever-daunting Salt Lake City metroplex gauntlet.  SLC's gauntlet ends right about Milepost 250 at Payson, Utah.  This year, we made the run through the gauntlet in a mere hour and forty-five minutes.

We had only one minor incident when we could not avoid a chunk of blown out tire.  There was no way to swerve to miss the hazard without risking losing control of the truck and trailer and/or hitting one of the vehicles flanking us in adjacent lanes.  So, we had to take the hit and hope for the best.

Luckily, the tire chunk didn't damage Annie (the Big Chevy C2500 pickup) but it flew up and left a real nice dent in the left front of the trailer trailer, complete with black tire marks.  Even though we were slightly bummed about this minor damage, we were very thankful the chunk didn't go under the trailer and wreck havoc with pipes, wiring and possibly even the innards of a wheel backing.  We'd much rather have a dent in the front that deal with serious destruction underneath.  Also, those tire chunks can cause a sudden blowout if they hit a trailer tire “just right.”  So, all-in-all, it was OK.

The SLC traffic was it's usual chaotic NASCAR-style, willy-nilly cacaphony of meyhem.  Basically, we get through it by staying in one lane, gripping the wheel with white knuckles and silently reciting “The Lord's Prayer” a few dozen times.  Once we are off I-15 at the Payson exit, we can exhale, inspect damage and walk around and relax for awhile.  It's always such a relief to get through that gauntlet.

After SLC everything else seems casual.  This year we hit The Sevier River Canyon at the peak of Fall Colors.  What an incredibly splendid spectacle!  We didn't stop in Panguitch as usual since both our intuitions were telling us to get to Bryce as fast as possible.  If we would have stopped in Panguitch we wouldn't be sitting in Sunset Campground this morning that's 100% for certain sure.

We're delighted to be back at Bryce.  We love this place...everything about it.

Thanks for reading!  Have a Great Friday and Many Happy Cheers, John & Susun.

(2 pm update) Bryce is Nice but Bryce is also jam packed with people today.  Turns out it's the Utah school system's Fall Break.  Our first hike on the Navajo Loop and Wall Street was kinda like going to an elementary school rowdy recess on a packed playground.  A ga-zillion kids scurrying helter-skelter every which way including loose.  It was actually kinda fun in a different sorta way.  We've been on those two trails when there's been nobody else there.  That's nice, too.  But it was fun to see all the kids being kids.  We've definitely never seen this many frenzied, free range kids at Bryce.

Turns out it's a good thing we walked from our campsite over to Sunset Point.  The parking lot was totally full and there were NO spaces whatsoever.  Chances are the crowds will thin out tomorrow as everyone heads home so they can attend church on Sunday.  At least that's our theory.

(3 pm update) Bryce Lodge is only a 15 minute walk from our campsite.  So we loaded up the laptop in our backpack and headed to the Land Of Free Wifi. Unfortunately, the Lodge's WiFi speed is really slow this afternoon.  Won't be able to post more then a few photos, if we're lucky.

After trying several tricks, we may have been able to get today's hiking photos posted:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Snowbirds Happen

Up here we're just ordinary, nondescript Idaho residents.  POOF!  By some magic, tomorrow we become Snowbirds.

Snowbirds Happen once they hit the road heading south on that famous flyway, Interstate 15.  Snowbirds Happen when they lock the doors of their Northern Latitude residence and take off for Southern climes.

A little more than 24 hours from now, we will be once again transformed into Snowbirds, a title we carry proudly for six months each year while feathering our winter nest in Wanderful Wim Wok.

Chances are we will be sharing I-15 with other early Snowbirds, too.  You can spot them a mile away.  They have Alberta license plates and they are towing a huge 5th wheel generally driving way faster than they should with such a big rig.  The Canadians get with the program a lot quicker than us Yankees.

Snowbirds flock to Wal-Marts.  This time of year, you can drive to the back lot of any Wally World and find all sorts of different out-of-state rigs parked somewhat helter-skelter here and there.  Big truck fueling plazas are another good place to go Snowbird watching.

Most Snowbirds are solitary when migrating and rarely chatter with their brother and sister Snowbirds.  They keep to themselves on the flyway.  However, once safely ensconced in their southern roosts, Snowbirds become quite gregarious and can be seen socializing together often.

Snowbird plumage generally changes from the dull, drab feathers of summer to brightly colored attire suitable for shopping in any of our country's K-Marts and flea markets.

Ah, Snowbirds....

Well, today's a hurry-up, hustle-hard, hyperventilation kinda day.  What doesn't get done today ain't gonna get done.  That's the way it always goes the DBD.  (DBD = Day Before Departure)

This is our 11th time doing the Snowbird Routine.  Yep.  Can you believe it?  Six times packing up to head south and five times packing up to head north. Trust me, it doesn't get any easier.  Each time it's just a plain old ton of work to get ready to go.

Each time, we forget stuff.  Each time, some chores don't get done.  Each time some of our Friends don't get a right and proper goodbye.  Each time there's things we wish we woulda, coulda, shoulda done.  Each time we always say to ourselves, "Next time, let's be sure to do this or that or whatever."

But time passes and Snowbirds Happen and each time there will always be something....

One thing's virtually certain, a little more than 24 hours from now, some unseen fairy will sprinkle Snowbird dust on us and we will venture out onto the flyway to join our flock as the annual migration begins.

Monday, October 13, 2014

So what's with this Twitter stuff next door?

We generally don't use Twitter.  We have a few Twitter accounts but never use them. Tweeting is for the birds, as far as we're concerned.


...except when we travel south to Arizona each year.  That's really about the only time we use Twitter.  It's more efficient that using Facebook or this blog to keep Susun's Dear Daughters and our Dear Friends updated.

Just before we depart, we embed our Twitter feed here on the blog so that anyone can see our whereabouts--even if they don't have a Twitter account.  That's something we can't do with Facebook.  It's not possible to embed a Facebook on a blog...and we can't imagine why that would be a good idea.

The other nice this about Twitter is you are forced to keep it short--140 characters is the Law of Twittertree.  Susun's going to be doing the Tweets this trip.  I long ago gave up texting while driving.  It's just truly too dangerous to do so.  However, Susun's the co-pilot this year since we're taking only one vehicle so she'll have plenty of Twitter Time.

There's nothing to read on this particular Twitter right now so we suggest you skip it.  The Tweets will start on Wednesday and continue until we get down to Rimrock.  Then the Twitter you see here will magically disappear once again to hibernate until next year.

So, that's our story and we're stickin' to it.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Yea, Chukars!

Idaho Falls is a little city.  It's a lot smaller than Flagstaff, Arizona, which is a city we use to compare other cities with.  Flag has maybe 10,000 more people than Idaho Falls.  However, Idaho Falls has a LOT of stuff Flagstaff can only dream about.  And one of those things is our very own minor league baseball team, The Idaho Falls Chukars.
The Chukars are a genuine Point of Pride to everyone in the Greater Idaho Falls vicinity, even if they (or we) attend very many Chukars games each summer.  Having The Boys of Summer here each year is a Big Deal for this little city built beside a basalt rock ledge in The Snake River.

And now is The Chukars Time to Shine!  Why's that?  Well, The Chukars happen to be one of the Farm Teams for The Kansas City Royals.  Yes, THOSE Kansas City Royals...the Royals who are turning the baseball world upside down in this year's playoffs.

Tonight the Royals mix it up with the Old School Baltimore Oreos to see who can win four games and advance to The Show.  Yes, THAT show--The World Series.  For long-suffering Royals fans (via the Chukars, of course) the mere thought of Kansas City getting this deep in the playoffs is a giddy, heady, surreal fantasy.  But it's not surreal.  It's real.  Like "as seen on TV."

It's so awesome to know that over 25% of the Royals roster is made up of guys who paid their dues and toiled through the obscure depths of the minors.  Today's Idaho Falls "Post-Register" carried a great summary of those guys and we know our baseball-living Friends will enjoy this article that appears below the dashed line.
Idaho Falls is running the base paths in October baseball.
(This article is Copyright 2014 by "The Post-Register," all rights reserved.  It may not be reused in any form without permission.  It is used here with permission.)
The Kansas City Royals are experiencing the post-season for the first time in 29 years. Of their 40-man roster, 11 spent time in eastern Idaho playing for the Chukars.
John Balginy, who calls Chukars games for ESPN Radio affiliate 980, The Sports Zone, said it’s great to see the former Chukars making plays in the big leagues.
Not only did the Royals make the playoffs, they did it in stunning fashion, beating the Oakland Athletics in 12 innings of play in a single-elimination game. Then they swept the Los Angeles Angles, outscoring them by nine runs while taking two of the three games to extra innings.
Balginy said Royals fever has hit Idaho Falls.
“I think a lot of Chukars fans are becoming Royals fans,” he said.
Tonight the Royals open the American League Championship series against the Baltimore Orioles. The winner earns a ticket to the World Series.

Former Idaho Falls greats playing for the Royals are pitchers Aaron Brooks, who played in 2011; Danny Duffy, who played in 2010; Greg Holland, 2007; John Lamb, 2009; Michael Mariot, 2010; infielders are Cheslor Cuthbert, 2010; Eric Hosmer, 2008; and Mike Moustakas, 2007. Lane Adams, who played for the Chukars in 2010, is the sole outfielder with Idaho Falls ties.
Catching for the Royals is Salvador Perez, who played two partial seasons with the Chukars in 2008 and 2009. The designated hitter is 2012 All-Star Billy Butler, who played in Idaho Falls in 2004.
Butler, Perez, Duffy, Holland, Hosmer and Moustakas all have seen post-season playing time.
With the Royals so far undefeated in the playoffs, Balginy has big hopes.
“Hopefully, they can win four more and make it to the World Series,” he said. “That would be outstanding.”

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Six Years

Monday, October 6th, marked the end of my six years service as a member of the City of Idaho Falls Parks & Recreation Commission.  My term ends December 31, 2104.  However, we will be in Arizona for the November and December monthly meetings of the Commission.

My first three-year term was a lot of fun.  The second term?  Not so much.  I am very, very happy, relieved and pleased to be leaving the P&R Commission.

So what did we accomplish during the past six years of volunteer service on this Commission?  Well, it's a glass half full, half empty kind of thing.  You could make a case we got a lot done and you could also make a case we didn't do much at all.  Being the optimistic sort, we'll take the glass half full, thank you.

Here are five primary accomplishments we will always be proud to say we played a part of:

1.  The Greenbelt Art Benches
2.  The Greenbelt Pocket Map
3.  Focusing attention on the value of volunteers
4.  Standing up for The Geese
5.  Catalyzing a new Mission Statement for the Parks & Recreation Division.

Oh, the fun February day we spent visualizing sites under the snow where the art benches would go.
There will never be any doubt that we played a pivotal role in helping the group effort to get the Greenbelt Art Benches up and running.  It's really far too long a story to tell here but it is a story that brings a special glow to our Heart & Spirit.  We will always be grateful for the way fate conspired to put us in the position to make a genuine difference in this awesome, historic legacy for the Greenbelt.
One of the biggest benefits of our participation in this group effort was getting to know Carry G.S.  She recently named us in a statewide article published about the Greenbelt Art Benches.

Here is the blog we used back in the day that really helped "the cause."

The second accomplishment was working with Dear Friend Terry Miller to create a pocket map to the Greenbelt.  This little map has quite a backstory of its own.  As usual, the story is far too long to recount here in this blog post.  Suffice to say, Terry and I had to overcome a lot of misplaced opposition and skepticism to bring this little gem into reality.  The little map lives on and the city's Visitor Center Staff says the free map is one of the most popular items they have in stock to give to tourists.  Terry and I will always have fond memories of this project.  THANKS, Terry!

When I applied for the P&R Commission position six years ago, I told the Director, Dave C. that I wanted to bring a new awareness about and focus on the volunteers who help make P&R tick.  It took quite some time, but we were finally able to get an accounting of the contribution of Volunteers into P&R's annual report.  The above ledger of a year's worth of volunteer efforts may not look like much--just another report--but it was a very big accomplishment for us to bring this information out into public view.  Hopefully, P&R will continue to produce this point of pride annually forever.  And, hopefully, the Division's awareness of the value of volunteers will cause the Division to treat them well and to recruit ever more of those willing to give their selfless service on behalf of our City.

Some would not call this an accomplishment since my efforts on behalf of the City's geese ended in failure.  All the geese were exported to a unknown goose gulag and City officials continue to goosestep in unison to keep goose grease off the Greenbelt's asphalt walking paths.

However, I will forever beam with pride and self-esteem for speaking up on behalf of the geese.  Speaking up made me Public Enemy #1 in the eyes of Heir Director and I was publicly excoriated by my fellow Parks & recreation Commission members.  (Except for Terry, of course.)  If I had it to do all over again, I would "stand and deliver" once again just the way I did then. NO doubt about it!  I did it for my Mom and it still brings a lump to my throat.

You can read about my Mom and "her geese" in the link below.  I love you, Mom!

My Mom would have turned over in her grave if I had not stood up for The Geese.
After the 2013 Parks & Recreation Commission meeting where I was totally trashed by the Commissioners, I decided there was no way I would "re-up" for a third term.  However, I'm not a quitter.  Even though I have had nothing but contempt and disgust for my fellow Commissioners and P & R Staff since then (Except for Terry, of course.) I decided to stick it out and serve my full second term.  Although I would have dearly loved never to set foot into another meeting of that comtemptable group of petty people, I believe in fulfilling the terms and conditions of any agreement.  In my mind, a three-year appointment to the Commission was an agreement on my part that I would serve my term.  Well, we did so and I think we finished with a flourish.
The Parks & Recreation Division has always had a truly lame Mission Statement.  As our second term of service neared its end, we decided to take on this lame Mission Statement.  We were able to get it on the September agenda.  We put together a report showing how vibrant a Parks & Recreation Mission Statement can be.  We were delighted that our fellow Commissions actually agreed (although we could see it pained them to do so).  Meanwhile the Director was assigned to come up with a new and improved Mission Statement.  What you see above are the draft statements he and his core Staff developed and presented at the October 6th meeting.

We don't know which one will finally be adopted but the train has left the station and we're certain a nice, new, shiny Mission Statement will soon be appearing.  It was a final Point Of Pride in our six years of service.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Migration Update

Show Time!
October is always such a glorious month...pretty much nationwide.  Millions, if not billions, of trees get to strut their color stuff.  No matter where you look, Life is ablaze with glowing leaves. We captured this tree on Spratt Street here in Idaho Falls Tuesday, October 7.  

We might mow one more time but the hoses are rolled and stowed. By tomorrow, all of our outdoor stuff will be stowed for the winter season and we'll be good to go in that department.  Most of the major migration prep work is done.  We're down to checking off relatively minor tasks from "The List."

Our current plan it to leave one week from today--October 15th.  We will have the water turned off at the street the day before hand and the electricity will be schedule to be shut down October 17.  (That's just in case we get delayed by unexpected circumstances.) Our postal mail forwarding actually begins today.  We always schedule the mail forward to start while we are here so we can make sure they actually begin forwarding.  You'd be surprised at how often the Postal Service messes up...or maybe you wouldn't.  Anyway, by starting the mail forwarding early, we have time to make certain the USPS is with the Game Plan.

We made some plumbing modifications this summer which will make it easier to blow and drain the pipes.  We use both an electric air compressor and a good old fashioned river runner hand pump to help blow the pipes.  It usually takes a couple of hours to make certain there's no water in our plumbing system.  So far, (knock on wood) we've had no problems with frozen pipes upon our return from Arizona.  An extra couple of hours blowing pipes is well worth the peace of mind when we read January weather reports of 25 below in Idaho Falls.

We should be camped in Yuba Lake State Park a week from tonight.  And we should be camped in Bryce Canyon National Park a week from tomorrow.  If we arrive in Bryce on Thursday, as planned, we will probably stay there until the following Monday, October 20.  We might drive to Rimrock on the 20th...and we might not.  That all depends on whether we decide to visit Mather Campground on The South Rim.

It's certainly quite nice to have the flexibility this year to ponder the possibilities.  In any event, we expect to be arriving in Rimrock roughly 10-12 days ahead of our normal migration schedule.  Early indications are that the temps there should be in the low to mid 70's by then.

Both NOAA's 6-10 Day and 8-14 Day Climate Prediction Graphics show it getting wetter than normal up here in Idaho during those time frames.  So, it appears we're getting out of Tater Nation right about on time for this particular Fall Season.  When the weather decides to change to gnarly and nasty here, it can do it in a heartbeat with virtually no warning whatsoever.

Meanwhile, we should be arriving in Arizona for the beginning of a protracted dry spell.  It is interesting to note that the long range forecasts show above normal precipitation for Arizona later this fall and into the Winter Season.  Perhaps that's because of factoring a weak El Nino.  Or perhaps it's due to other interesting Sea Surface Temperature anomalies elsewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

So, there you have it in far more than a nutshell.  Thanks for reading.  Happy Day!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Annie and The Ritz discuss their upcoming Road Trip.
Well, the dust is settling on our carma.  With yesterday's departure of Samantha for The East Coast we're down to "only" four vehicles.

Here's how our carma shakes out or shapes up for now.

In Idaho, we now have a mere three vehicles:
  1. Seren (Dippity) the 1995 Suzuki Sidekick Garage Queen
  2. Annie the 1993 Chevy C2500 3/4 ton long bed with the 454 cubic inch engine
  3. Marvie, the 30-year-old Nissan 720 4WD king cab pickup.
Sitting in Arizona storage at Brad's Place, we have Snappy, the 1994 Nissan short bed regular cab 4-cylinder pickup.

The average age of our four vehicles is now 22.5 years.  As far as our ownership goes Annie is the Elder Stateswoman.  We bought her in June 2001.  Snappy was acquired in January 2006.  Marvie came on board in May 2013 and Seren is the Baby of the Family as she's only been with us since March this year. 

For six months during our Idaho Season, we have three vehicles on insurance.  When we are in Arizona, we now have only two vehicles on insurance.  Likewise, we are now only taking Annie back and forth between Arizona and Idaho.

By dropping down to just four vehicles, we are saving over $600 a year from our previous out-of-pocket cost.  Bear in mind that our insurance costs are minimal.  Really old vehicles can be typically insured for $20 a month, $25 tops.  

Our total annual insurance cost for four vehicles is an approximate grand total of about $800 a year or roughly just a little over $2 a day.  Compare that to your own typical auto insurance bill.

Yes, it takes a LOT of fuel to move Annie towing The Ritz north and south.  Annie's gonna be lucky to get 12 miles per gallon out on the highway.  This trip, she's really gonna be loaded so 10 mpg sounds fair.  It's 800 miles so that's a max of 80 gallons of fuel.  Anything less is a big bonus.

OK, how much is 80 gallons of regular unleaded these days?  Well, here in Idaho Falls, it's 3.47.  GasBuddy sez that's probably 10-20 cents higher than we're going to pay as we get farther south.  Plus, gas prices are dropping.  So, barring unforeseen Middle East turmoil, we can expect to pay $3.50 or less a gallon.  Eighty gallons at that price would be $280.  If we get lucky and the average is, say, $3.35 then our cost would be $268, a difference of only $12.  So, it's kinda splitting hairs.  Just figure $300 (rounded) for the cost of fuel now to travel to Arizona.

Bear in mind that we save $1200 by not living here during the winter months.  Yep, that's how much our utility bills would be.

Since we're not taking Snappy back and forth, our cost of traveling to Arizona has dropped to an All Time Low.

If you think $300 is expensive to drive to Arizona, consider the cost of FLYING to Arizona.  Without fees for checked bags, one way for two people just to Phoenix would be over $400.  Now, add in rental car fees to get to Rimrock and you're probably looking at $500, just to show up with a mere couple of bags.

For the mere cost of $300, we get to carry ALL kinds of stuff down to Arizona, PLUS have a nifty travel trailer, too.  Yeah, $300 sounds expensive UNTIL you compare it to other stuff.  To us, $300 is a bargain.

When we are in Arizona, we will have only two vehicles--the 1994 Nissan (Snappy) and the 1993 Big Chevy (Annie).  Obviously, we don't plan on driving Annie much while we are there.  This will further reduce our fuel costs while we are in Arizona.

Anyway, yesterday's departure of Samantha really cleared up our carma and we are Happy Campers.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Last Light

Our Last Light Lingers Long.  It starts to disappear about the city's urban forest about 6 PM, Idaho Time.  And it lingers and lingers and, well, did we say it lingers?

Down on OAZ (AKA: Ol' Airy Zonie) it's a much farther south latitude so the light isn't anywhere remotely close to Idaho.  That just one of the many reasons we love living in both places.  Evening Light, Sunsets, "Whatever," light up our lives.

Long Light Rays in Early October here in Idaho are mesmerizing.  Long Light Rays in early November in OAZ are equally as mesmerizing.  As Sweetie Susun Sez: "We get to have Two Falls and Two Springs!"

Yeah it's true.  We truly do.  We can't rate this on our Funk & Wag-Tails City Reviews, but if we could we would.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Type A-ness Time

Yes, Sports Fans, it's time once again for our semi-annual purge and resupply of (drum roll please) The Spice Box!

As some of you astute readers know, each October and May, it's out with the old and in with the new spices, seasonings and yummy, tasty stuff to make food fragrant, delectable and yikes, maybe even healthy, too.

Spices get stale pretty quickly.  Six months is easily as long as we'd like to have our semi-annual resupply on hand.

So, how's it happen?  First, we assemble all of our spice bottles like little toy soldiers lined up on the parade grounds.  Then we consolidate, make notes and it's Off To Winco's Bulk Section we go, list in hand.

Now that we have our travel trailer we're going to rig two groups of spices so this year's exercise it a wee bit more challenging than ever before. You can see those two little plastic baskets in the background?  Those are for the travel trailer.  The .50 caliber ammo can holds everything else.  You see, it's important to arrive in Ol' Airy Zonie fully equipped for our upcoming Snowbird Season.  We keep no spices or seasonings in the straw house when we depart each spring.  Why should we?  The summer heat would destroy them.  So, everything comes north and goes south with us each year.

Here's the basic Spice Box inventory:

Chile flakes
Chile powder
Chipotle powder
Smoked paprika
Cajun Seasoning
Jamaican Seasoning

Dried chopped chives

Garlic Powder
Granulated Garlic
Minced Garlinc
Onion Powder
Granulated Onion
Minced Onion

Garam Masala
All spice

Onion Soup mix
Organic sugar
brown sugar
Cinnamon sugar
ginger powder
sausage seasoning mix

It's always a lot of fun redoing our Spice Box.  The project took 3 hours. All the spices & seasonings you see on the receipt cost $10.09, including 57 cents sales tax.
It was a very fun Type A-Ness Time!