Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Destination–North Carolina

Dan and I took off yet again in April.  This time to North Carolina for two weeks.  I am backdating the posts about the trip. 

I’ve spent a week—off and on—getting ready for this trip.  Of course, we had to get the taxes done.  I also wanted to get my garden planted as well.  We also needed to get all the burning done on the pastures.  By Monday morning, April 11th, all chores were completed and the PW dewinterized for the second time this year.

A little late start of 11:40 AM, but beat the goal of getting away by noon.  We decided to take the two lane back roads going east.  Cruising along just outside of Sedalia MO, the PW started missing out.  Nothing makes a heart sink like a machanical failure on a roadtrip.

As we drove down mainstreet Sadelia, there was the sign we were relieved to see, Rick Ball Ford.  Without hesitation, we turned in.  They were very accomodating and helpful.  It was an electrical situation.  In one hour and 45 minutes, we drove out only $340 poorer.  We were just glad it was fixed so no complaints.

Skadalled from behind the 8 ball in Tipton MO

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Cruised right past Popcorn Buddha in Linn MO only because popcorn doesn’t always agree.  Wished we would have stopped just because of the awesome name.

We finally ran out of light and dropped anchor at a Walmart in Chester Illinois, just south of St. Genevieve MO.  Both are nice Mississippi River towns that we like to explore, but on a mission to get to Nashville to ride bikes at a good time tomorrow.  . 

Friday, April 01, 2016

50th Annual Rural Water Convention, Wichita KS

As a board member of Douglas Rural Water #3, Dan has the opportunity to attend the convention each year.    Since this is the 50th year since the establishment of Kansas Rural Water,  we were glad we were a part of the celebration.

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What is a convention without drawings for prizes and there were a bunch.  But, as usual, we did not come home with one.  However, two couples we know well each won two items!  How great is that, especially when one of the gifts was a hand pieced quilt. 

Dan attended the break out sessions each time they were offered.  I went with him, except the spouses had a special afternoon Wednesday.  We visited the Museum of World Treasurers located in the downtown area of Wichita.  As I understand, local collectors came together to form these galleries of treasures from around the world.   This is an eclectic, almost quirky museum and I found it extremely interesting. 

The evening entertainment was an adaption of the Broadway Lend Me a Tenor by Ken Ludwig presented by The Forum Theatre.  This was laugh-out-loud funny and professionally presented. 

There were a few interesting facts that I thought I would share:

  • Emporia won the 2016 the best tasting water in the state contest and in 2015 won third place nationally.  (Makes me want to stop by Emporia & get a glass of water)
  • John Redmond Reservoir is 42% silted in and Tuttle Creek is 40% silted in. Dredging is starting soon on John Redmond because it is the water source for Wolf Creek Power Plant.
  • Additional storage is needed on the Republican River from Clay Center north to the state line
  • There is research to develop livestock feed wheat to reduce irrigation needed for feed corn
  • The water used in the oil industry is extremely hard to clean—disposal of the water is not an option.  One way to clean it is to shoot it high in the air and the petroleum will then evaporate off. 
  • Restoring stream banks to reduce erosion and in turn silt is successful with a 21-1 return (not sure what that means but there were aerial photographs that demonstrated the successes)
  • Buffer crops on high erosion areas continue to be federally funded
  • More discussion is needed for getting communities through drought conditions in dry areas.  

The Ogallala Aquifer is depleting at an alarming rate.  Many farmers find their wells actually drying up in the Garden City area.  Rex Buchanan of the Kansas Geological Survey gave the presentation at the closing session.  He and his staff have checked the health of numerous wells over the aquifer for many years and he had a map which showed  there are very few areas that are not affected.  This underground water was established when Rome was built Buchanan said.  It is not replaceable. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fast Forward a Month!

This blog is like an old friend. One that I owe a call. The more I think about the fact that I haven’t written, the more I feel like I don’t know what to say because I’m such a slacker. 

Anyway, tonight I decided to just get in here and write…

It has been a busy month.  We started out the month cutting, clearing and picking up a hedgerow.  Those of you familiar with hedge know the branches will start growing almost sideways in order to get light.  They have to be cut so tractors—or anything for that matter—can drive under or even close to the trees.  Given that we aren’t as young as we used to be, this ended up taking longer than we thought.  What we accomplished looks good, but it really never ends with hedge.  The brome is growing, so we are done for now.  We still have a huge pile of these branches to burn and missed out on a chance for a safe fire when it snowed last week. 

The reason we missed burning when it snowed is because we made a flying trip to Colorado.  Trent and Carly were here over their spring break and we took them home—actually leaving a week ago tomorrow.  While they stayed with us, we were able to talk them into picking up rocks that were “flipped” out of the field when our neighbor ran over it with a rotary harrow.  Carly found something under one of the rocks…

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We enjoyed a spring snow storm in Colorado even though we missed the one here.   It was beautiful for a day.  By the time we left on Sunday, the roads were clear. 

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The little red Corolla racked up more miles this week with the 50th State Water Convention in Wichita for three days.  I’ll put that on a different post because I even took some notes that I thought might be interesting if anyone out there is still checking in….

Friday, February 26, 2016

Bishop’s Castle revisited

Last summer we visited Bishop’s Castle with our grandkids, Trent and Carly.  It was a crazy experience climbing up inside of what seemed to be fairly “shaky” circumstances.

This morning I saw this drone’s eye view of the castle.  It gives a much better perspective of how crazy Trent, Carly and I were to climb up to the very top of this crazy structure.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Happy Birthday

Yep, hard to believe—Big Seven O.  It was a good day for me.

I received a beautiful blouse from Kim & family that I look forward to wearing this spring.  I also received perfume as part of my birthday at Christmas.  I also heard from a lot of friends via Facebook, mailbox and phone.  It is always nice to be remembered. 

Birthdays were always a big deal when I was a kid.  There were five of us country girls that celebrated one another’s birthday each year.  Carolyn’s sisters were in this picture as well. I’m guessing around 1956 or 1957.

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And, here we are now

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DeAnne wasn’t in this picture so here we are

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These pictures were actually taken at two different parties.  Our goal is to revisit our childhood and have a party for each of us this 70th year of our lives.  Thank you Carolyn for making mine so special!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Homeward bound

No surprise that we woke up again to sunshine and coffee.  Only this time we promised to meet Lynn at Gold Canyon UMC at 8:00 am.  And, we are leaving for home from the church so all had to be packed up and ready to go.  This morning there was no lingering with our coffee watching the sun slip up from behind Superstition Mountain. 

The Pastor was giving the third in his series of sermons about violence in the Bible.  We were glad we made the effort.  Not only was the message appropriate for our times, we were privileged to hear a beautiful rendition of “How Great Thou Art” with organ, bell choir, brass ensemble, string ensemble, men’s quartet and full choir. 

Following the service, it is a goodbye to Lynn and on the road with a destination of Ute Lake State Park, just north of Tucumcari New Mexico—610 miles.  We made it, although we parked in the dark.  We have stayed at this state park at least three other times because it is a perfect half way stop.  And, it is only $10 a night including electricity.  The lake was beautiful in the morning light but no tarrying because we were headed home.

Route 54 angles northeast through Texas and Oklahoma.  Dan agreed to help me add three states to my Geocaching List on the way home.  What more perfect route to add three states within three hours.

The first geo stop was in New Mexico, into a pasture on a dirt road for about a mile.  There we found a cache in the OBAR cemetery dedicated to the early settlers, ranchers and railroad workers who developed the area.  There was a fence around the cemetery, but it looked to be almost totally abandoned.  The town of OBAR was only indicated by a sign with no sign of buildings.  A very interesting place to nab a NM cache.

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Continuing on Hwy 54 we entered feed lot territory in Texas.  These lots are huge beyond description.  It was in the midst of these feed lots that a grotto built by a Mr. Hunt was located right along the road.    In 1959 he traveled to Europe and was impressed that every so often someone would build a grotto for travelers.  When he returned home he decided  to build a grotto for travelers traveling on Hwy 54.  So, in a freezing wind, with semi traffic zooming by, Dan patiently waited as I finally found the clever cache. 

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Next Oklahoma.  I knew I was stretching my luck so I settled for a easy find as we entered the state.  It was a good thing, because the wind was getting colder as we traveled north. 

Home around 7:30 pm.  The forecast said lows only in the 40s so we didn’t have to winterize in the dark.  But, with both of us ready to move around after two days of driving, we emptied the PW, leaving only the final cleanup and drain the water system for the next morning. 

Once again, a great trip to the southwest. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday at Lost Dutchman

Once again, it promises to be a beautiful day.  The sky is clear and blue.  We just have to wait for the sun to peek over Superstition Mountain for the temperature to start its climb from 40-45 into the high 60s and 70s.  We have used our full amount of blankets each night.  We find it is best to bring several blankets and layer them on as needed with the 100% wool army blanket for the coldest.  Each morning we enjoy about 15 minutes of furnace time to warm up the PW as well.

About 9:00 am we hear a helicopter that sounds like it is right over our camp spot.  Actually, it almost is.  The Search and Rescue Team is practicing a short distance away. They spend at least two hours dropping people down from the helicopter, raising them back up

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I finally decide there is enough excitement with the helicopter and go back inside to get something for breakfast.  About that time Dan yells at me to see what is happening.  I ran out and there were three parachutes open and almost to the ground (no time for a picture).  They had base jumped off the top of Superstition Mountain.  Later we asked at the Park office if they had seen the jump.  They said they had not, but were not surprised.  It seems it is illegal so people sneek up the mountain from a place that is not in the National forest or State Park.  As soon as they are down, they quickly scatter.   There has not been an accident with the parachutes, but a hang glider got hung up on the side of the mountain and had to be rescued.  Probably by the guys who were practicing nearby.

Here is a picture of Superstition Mountain I took at sunset.  The part of the mountain they jumped off of is just out of sight to the right looking at the picture. 

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That afternoon, we rock n’ roll at the Arizona Opry—their program is music of the sixties.  Fun program 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Castle Hot Springs

(Note:  I am catching up on our trip and backdating the posts.  We are home)

My cousin, Richard and his wife Marcie McVay live near Sun City Arizona. 

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I am so glad we called and set a time when we could get together.  They are gracious and interesting hosts and we throughly enjoyed our day. 

After a delicious breakfast of fresh blueberry pancakes, we all piled into their car for a tour.  They have a 4-wheel drive vehicle and, although we didn’t need it, I was glad knowing it was there as we meandered around Lake Pleasant Regional Park and then on through the Bradshaw Mountains. 

Lake Pleasant Regional Park would be a beautiful camping distination as a home base to explore the northwest side of the area.  

The real destination, though, is Castle Hot Springs. 

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The hot springs were first used by the Yavapai and Apache Indians who thought the waters had healing powers.  When the white settler came, they thought the area resembled a castle, thus the name of the settlement which at one time was the regional capital. 

Well known families such as Rockefellers, Wrigleys and Carnegies spent time at Castle Hot Springs for rest and relaxation.  During WWII it was used to house recuperating pilots including President Kennedy.  At this time a flag was put on top of Salvation Peak which still stands, watched over by area Boys Scouts.

In 1976 a fire devasted the main building and from then on it has seen multiple private owners.  There are still three pools containing 112° clear, odorless water.  We could not enter the grounds but it obviously is being maintained so who knows what the future holds.

Here is another picture of the Castle Hot Springs remaining buildings.  As we approached it, it seemed totally out of place—like a beautiful oasis in the rugged surroundings. 

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Amazingly, we spotted cattle grazing  and wild burros.

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I wonder who has this route—it would be a bugger.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Theodore Roosevelt Dam

Our long time friends Bob and Terry Roseberry are now residing in Mesa, AZ.  They invited us to spend the day driving to Globe and then around to Roosevelt Dam and then back to our campground over the Apache Trail Scenic Byway.  Most drive the road from Apache Junction to Globe and on back to the valley, but Bob wanted us to be on the outside so we could fully appreciate the drive.  Which we did!

First, here are Bob and Terry. 

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Roosevelt Dam was built between 1905 and 1911 just below the confluence of the Tonto Creek and Salt River at a narrow canyon location where Natives and early settlers crossed.  It was the largest masonry dam in the world at the time with a height of 280 feet.  It is thought that the dam contributed more than any other project to the settlement of Central Arizona.  In 1989 a expansion and renovation project encased the original “rubble-massonry” dam  in concrete and raised the dam from 280 to 357 feet.  A bridge was also built at that time so that cars would not drive over the top of the dam.  At the completion of this project a drought kept the lake from reaching its full capacity until 2009. 

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The Visitor’s center had a informative video about the construction of the dam.  Materials used in construction were brought up the Apache trail by mule and wagon.  Families lived in makeshift housing in the area as told by a woman who was a young girl at the time.  She told of personally witnessing the start of an entire mule team, teamster and wagon go off a cliff before she covered her eyes and ran.  

It also told how early developers recognized the need for water for the Arizona valley.  This led to three additional dams and lakes below Roosevelt as well as other projects in the area.  This water feeds the canels that provide water in the Phoenix area.  As I mentioned earlier,  Dan and I rode our bikes along the Highline Canal. 

A side note about the canals:  The park ranger at Lost Dutchman gave  a short history of the canals on a moonlight hike (that’s another story).  Archaeologists believe the Hohokam Indians were peaceful farmers who inhabited the valley  from AD 300 to 1450.  They were known for digging ditches to irrigate their crops.  The modern canals follow these same routes.

I have a few more pictures of our drive from the dam along the Apache Trail Scenic Byway, but that would put too many pictures on one post.  I’ll continue with those tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Apache Trail Scenic Byway

We have driven to the touristy Tortilla Flats several times.  It is paved and scenic.  But the road beyond has always been a mystery.  We heard it should only be driven with 4-wheel drive and was single lane.

When Bob & Terry invited us to ride with them on the Trail, they told us there were driving their street car, not their Jeep.  The road from Roosevelt Dam to Tortilla Flats is not paved, but was well maintain.  And, we appreciated the car because it handled the washboard areas smooothly. It would not be a good idea to take a vehicle like our camper van on the ride—just too narrow and rough.   

Roosevelt Dan is nearly 60 miles from Mesa and 40 from the mining town of Globe.  Before construction began, a road was constructed.  As it turned out, the best and most skilled workers in laying the dry laid stone retaining walls that were required to make a road along the sheer sides of the mountians were Apache men living nearby.  Many of these walls are still holding the road today.

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This picture was taken near the top of Fish Creek Hill.  At the bottom of this steep and narrow hill is a high bridge over Fish Creek.  The road approaching the hill is in the picture to the left.

The story is that it became a challenge to see how fast the early 1900 cars could manage this portion of the Trail.  The Federal Government finally put a 15 mph speed limit on the hill.  It was not because a car had shot off the side of the mountain killing the driver, but rather to protect the mule teams from the speeding cars.

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A forest of Saguaro. 

 

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Along this retaining fence was a small plaque that stated a name, birth and death date.  We specualated that someone requested ashing thrown off the top of the maintain.

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Canyon Lake is beautiful in the setting sun at the end of our day long tour

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Pie Town Arizona

On our way down here on Route 60, we traveled through Pie Town.  It is a small town along the road—not even a stop light.   But, the town is proud of their name.  Surprise, they even have a Pie Festival in the summer.  They have an impressive display of windmills.

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Just as we left the “city limits,” we encountered this vehicle

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Dan caught the name and alerted me, but it was too late for me to get a picture.  So, I borrowed this one from their web site.  I doubt if they care.  Here’s another picture

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Just dropping the kids off at the stool, I guess.  

Friday, January 22, 2016

Pigs—well javelinas

We returned to our campsite at Lost Dutchman tonight around 10:00 pm after playing cards with Kay and Lynn.  Dan decided to look around outside before bed. 

Here is what he saw

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Well, not exactly what we used to have around home although they sure sounded like it.  They are javelina which are not members of wild pig family but of the peccary family, a group of hoofed mammals originating from South America.  According to the Arizona Wildlife and Parks web site, they have only recently arrived in Arizona.

Anyone who knows Dan will know that this crazy visit made his day.  Obviously, they have made a visit to the campground before because they moved on from our site to a trash can which they tipped over.  Probably not a good way to impress the camp hosts. 

Here is another clue they aren’t too afraid of humans

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Water Ranch

Today we visited the Water Ranch and Raparian Preserve located in Gilbert Arizona, which is also a suburb of Phoenix.  In my attempt to find bicycle trails other than on busy streets and along the canals, this area came up.  It turned out to be a great one.

What is a “Water Ranch?”  In the 80s and 90s, the town of Gilbert decided to set aside 110 acres, 70 of which make up seven basins that are filled in a rotating basis.  Not only has this made an excellent habitat for 298 species of birds counted since the Ranch was established, but it is a place where water is allowed to perculate down to be recycled in to the subterranean reservoir for future use.

There are over four miles of trails within the Ranch and Preserve and bikes are allowed.  We spent three hours riding and viewing humingbirds, honey bees, herons, quail, songbirds and various species of ducks and geese. We spotted an owl which, according to the pamphlet, is rare.   Seeing all of our summer birds in January was just so fascinating to us.  The real attention stealers were the bunnies.  They were peeking out all over.

This is the only picture I took since I opted not to carry my heavy camera. 

IMG_3011 The high temperature today was 70 degrees.  We thought of our friends at church on the snow removal detail.  And, for a short time, felt a little guilty.  

Monday, January 18, 2016

Friends, Canal Trail & Geocaching

It was good to see Kay and Lynn.  They are friends from before we were married so feel like they are family.  We are looking forward to spending time with them while we are here.  Actually we know at least four couples total who either live or are spending time through the winter. 

We have already enjoyed four of these off Kay & Lynn’s tree.  The trees are loaded with oranges all over.IMG_3005

We love our camp spot at Lost Dutchman State Park.  We have a  beautiful view of the Superstition Mountains with no homes or other campers obstructing.  There is one small drawback—there are no hookups on the sites.  We find this to be no big deal because staying off the grid is how we like to roll.  However, since we do have a generator on board, we would like to use it now and then.  Most of the time it fires up at the touch of a button.  Sometimes not.  After studying the manual and forums online, we are sure what part we need.  So, today it was off to Tempe where we were told the part would be available. Well, it wasn’t, but they ordered & it will be here in a couple days.

Since we were out with the bikes, we decided to ride one of the canal trails that are all around the area. 

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This was the entrance to the Highland Canal Trail.  We rode the entire trail which was a total of ten miles.  It was an interesting ride because we rode by two parks, upper end homes down and even a little part had a rural feel.  There was a little too much gang writing on part of it, but it was a bright sunny day and we didn’t feel threatened.  There were lots of geocaches along the route.  Dan and I decided to try to use the GPS and learn how it works.  It was fun to have him help me and enjoy it.  Finding geocaches aren’t high on his list, but today we worked together successfully!