Wednesday, February 25, 2009


As anticipated, yesterday was a busy one. We drove out of Rosanna's gate at 9 am, and accomplished our first errand with ease (dropping off our defective Pressure Pro monitor at an RV park in Benson). Then we zipped over to the SKP RV park, a mile south, to dump our holding tanks.

On Monday, Odel had called the SKP park to make sure they had a dump station, that we could use it, and to discover the cost. The answers: yes, yes, and free - and we could fill up with water while we were there, too. Great!

When we arrived at the park, I went into the office to find out where the dump station was, and was told (by Shirley, while Sharon watched), that we were misinformed - only SKP's staying in the park could use the dump. I couldn't believe my ears. What? I told them about Odel's phone call the day before... all I got was "whoever told him that was wrong." Followed by "sorry".

Well, "sorry" didn't cut it. I cannot imagine any reason that an SKP park would deny an SKP member access to the dump station. We would have been happy to pay, if that was needed... but, even when I said again that we had called in advance to make sure the trip would be worthwhile, all they said was "no, sorry, hope it wasn't too far out of your way". My mouth was hanging open in surprise and dismay when I got back into Scoopy and told Odel the news, and I am still infuriated whenever I think about it. That is one SKP park we will NOT be visiting again!

Okay, okay, Laurie - calm down!

We took off out of there and headed to the dump station at the Pima County Fairgrounds, not as convenient but WAY more welcoming! We arrived there at 11 am - $5 and 15 minutes later, our tanks were clean.

From there, we called Catalina State Park and found that they had 6 dry camping sites open, no electric sites. If you snag a dry site, you can get your name on the list to move to an electric site (usually, the next day), so we decided that we should split up - I would drive the Jeep up to the park and try to get a site (the ranger said they would all be taken by 1 pm), while Odel stopped at the Triple T truck stop for fuel, then dropped by Trailer Refrigeration for an adjustment to the automatic ice maker. I don't remember ever splitting up during travel before, but we REALLY wanted to be settled in an electric site at Catalina State Park before Odel takes off for Memphis tomorrow and it seemed the only way to fulfill that wish.

Before I even got to Catalina (with the never-ending construction in Tucson, a 50-minute trip) , Odel called me: the ice maker was fixed! He wanted to know if we had a site. Well, not yet...

When I arrived, I got one of 4 remaining dry camping sites, and we put our names on the list to move to the electric sites. Odel arrived half an hour later with Scoopy, and we settled in for the afternoon.

Our friends Jeanie and Ray are here at Catalina, so we called and invited them for dinner (they were at the Tucson rodeo), then zipped off to Safeway for groceries. Dinner (grilled chicken thighs, the Sorensen's pea salad, and Safeway's fudgy chocolate cookies), wine, conversation, laughs - then we broke up to watch President Obama address Congress and to wind down from our fast-paced day.

We were up early this morning, and a little before 9 am, Loop A Host Vicky pulled up in her golf cart to tell us there was a space open in the electric sites and we could move. By 10 am, we had deployed in one of our very favorite sites (assigned to us by the wonderful Loop B hosts, who knew which sites we like). In the top photo, you can see Luna exploring one of the many trees on our site, and check out that green "grass", a good six inches longer than when we were last here three weeks ago.

By 10:30 am, we were out on the Sutherlin Trail, where I took the rest of today's photos. Just under 6 miles, it climbs several hundred feet in elevation, the change reflected in the different wildflowers growing along the trail. Water was flowing through the wash and, when we stopped at the top of the trail to admire the surrounding cactus and a little waterfall, a tiny frog jumped onto a nearby rock. Can you see it? Look just below the word "this" in the photo. It blends perfectly with the rock.

Jeanie and Ray treated US to dinner tonight - grilled salmon, green beans, and cous-cous - delicious! Though the daytime temperatures have been at least 10 degrees above average for this time of year (in the low 80's), the evening temperatures drop dramatically, for lovely cool sleeping weather. Odel is all packed and ready to go; we leave for the airport at 6 am tomorrow.

What am I going to go while he is gone? Explore to the north of Catalina State Park, hike, hoop. Start Week 5 of the 100 Pushups program (I managed 56 today when I did my "stress test"). Visit A.J.'s Market and the Encantada Shopping Center (about which I have heard so much, but have never taken the time to visit...). Shuffle and reorganize our overflowing files and prepare for tax time. Play with Luna. Eat grains and vegetables, and snack on fruit. Read. Download free MP3 files from Blog. Bask in sunshine (temperatures are forecast to drop back into the mid-70;s) and the pleasure of solitude, happy in the expectation that Odel will be back in just 4 days. Ah, the good life!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


We've been so busy here at Paws and Hooves that I couldn't even keep up with the blog... and now today is moving day.

We got in one short but strenuous hike in Cochise Stronghold - a trailhead Rosanna and I have been curious about for a long time. We thought it might tie into the main Stronghold trail, but it didn't - instead it grew more and more difficult until we ALL agreed that going forward (which meant going UP, using hands as well as feet) seemed to put us at too great a risk for the potential benefit (of putting our curiosity to rest). I don't know about Frank (holding up the boulder while we slid past) or Rosanna, but I know Odel and I were in bed mightly early that night!

What else did we do? Put a new layer of cob on the oven, of course, and celebrated it with a wonderful pizza party last night. Hauled a truckload of hay back to the ranch. I bought a new pair of Ariat hiking boots - the pair I bought last year were ready to be replaced.

We received our personal snail mail and the Boomer snail mail, so did lots of Boomer business. Cooked, cleaned, did laundry. Cut up wood for the oven. Odel changed the coolant in the generator, and drained the water out of the the air tanks. We received a new monitor for our Pressure Pro tire monitoring system, and swaped it out for the defective one. There was more, lots more, but I can't even remember it all!

Odel flies to Memphis on Thursday morning, so today we are heading up to Tucson to try to snag a spot in popular Catalina State Park. On the way we will stop at the Benson SKP park to dump our holding tanks, stop at another RV park in Benson to drop off the defective Pressure Pro monitor to the couple we bought our system from, stop at Trailer Refrigeration to have the automatic ice-maker fixed (it hasn't worked properly since the refrigerator was repaired).

If Catalina has any space available when we arrive for the ice-maker repair, I'm going to zip up there (25 miles north) in the Jeep and snag one; otherwise, we have a great backup plan: the offer of a place to overnight near the park on the property belonging to friends we met in Loma Linda who live within about 5 miles of the park.

It's a full day, and I've gotta' get going!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Just about a year ago, we built an earth (clay) oven at Paws and Hooves Ranch, using materials from the immediately surrounding area: clay from the back acreage, gravel and sand from a nearby wash. The finishing touch was a two-inch layer of cob (a mixture of clay and straw - in the form of horse manure) to protect the clay from Arizona's summertime monsoon.

We decorated the oven with a few raised designs so we would have a way to measure, visually, how much the cob weathered and eroded after the rains. The photo to the left shows the oven in pristine condition in March of 2008.

During the monsoon season of 2008, the oven was drenched with 15 inches of rain, the highest rainfall Rosanna has recorded here in several years. The photo on the right shows the condition of the oven yesterday: the raised designs are visible but a bit melted, and there are some noticeable cracks in the cob.

A couple of weeks ago, we took step one towards re-cobbing the oven: we dug enough clay to fill 5 kitty litter buckets (any bucket will do, but if you have 9 cats, kitty litter buckets are easy to come by) half full. We added water and let them sit until the day arrived to make the cob. That day was today. Here is the recipe:

Remove the ice from the top of the water in the buckets of wet clay (top left), and dump them into a wheelbarrow. Add two teapots of boiling water to warm up the almost-freezing clay mixture (top right)! Have a big pile of (preferably) fresh horse manure on hand.

Put on dishwashing (or, for RV'ers, dumping) gloves (top left). After removing all the rocks and pebbles from the clay (by hand), add the manure (aka "horse apples"), breaking the apples up by hand - very good for strengthening your grip. Mix thoroughly to incorporate all the ingredients (upper right) until the mixture is thick, uniform, and wet enough to stick but dry enough not to slump - in other words, PERFECT (bottom).

Slap the mud/manure mixture (so much nicer to say "cob") onto the oven in big, mushy handfuls, melding the cob together to encase the oven smoothly. Add a few decorative flourishes, admire, then go wash the mud off the buckets, the wheelbarrow, the hoe, your hands, nose, and eyeglasses. Scrub your shoes, and under your fingernails. Take a break.

That seemed like a reasonably full day's work, but we had a long "to-do" list and felt energized. Odel took off in the truck to get hay and alfalfa for Rosanna's horses. After he came home and unloaded all the bales, we programmed the new tire pressure monitor (the first one turned out to be defective). While he drained and changed the coolant in the generator, I worked on pinning a new zipper on the front of a favorite jacket, and Rosanna sewed the zipper in place for me. Odel tore off to the hardware store before they closed to get a part to fix the ice-maker (this project is still underway).

While we all worked on our projects, Auntie Carol made our dinner: Eggplant Parmesan, a big green salad, and carrot cake. What a treat! Plenty of wine to go with it..., you'll understand this: An hour ago, Odel started our little propane heater for the night, found a movie on TV he wanted to watch, and stretched out on the bed with the remote in his hand. I heard him mute the TV during the first commercial break... and it never came back on. All I hear is a gentle snoring, all I see when I peer back there is the glow of the TV. Yes, it was a BUSY day!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


If your RV refrigerator ever poops out in the vicinity of Tucson, AZ, we know just the place to go! Even as I write, I hear the happy sound of ice cubes popping out of the ice maker into the ice tray. YAY!

Rick and Tena own Trailer Refrigeration, Inc. (520/573-0483). We had a good feeling about them when we talked on the phone last week when our Norcold refrigerator quit cooling - and our experience with them today was worth a rave.

Trailer Refrigeration is located in a small, very unimposing building in an industrial area not far from Beaudry's RV (to read about THAT experience, click here and here). We arrived yesterday afternoon to find the place locked up tight so set up for the night (dwarfing the building), which passed quietly once all the workers had gone home.

Rick showed up early this morning and got right to work. Since space would be tight, we fixed up a cozy spot for Luna in the bedroom (SO nice when we can leave her in the rig!) and got out of the way, heading off to do a few errands.

When we came back with a washer for the ice-maker hose, Rick had the refrigerator in the middle of the kitchen and showed us several minor problems with the prior installation that he intended to fix. He really impressed us as one of those difficult-to-find guys who knows his business, takes pride in his work, and would take the time to Do It Right - even when WE wouldn't know the difference.

Feeling that everything was progressing as it should without us hovering about, we headed off for a hike in the east unit of Saguaro National Park. We had never been there before, and today was a PERFECT day for hiking - sunny, calm, low 70's. We hiked for a couple of hours, drove the Cactus Forest Loop road, and headed back to Scoopy after a late lunch.

Rick was all done and the refrigerator was cooling. While Odel took care of the bill, I got Scoopy ready to roll. We wanted to stay in the area for another night to make sure the refrigerator cooled as it should and Rick offered their parking lot again, but we were longing for a bit more space and better views, and a spot where Luna could get out and roam. We drove about 10 miles to the Pima County Fairgrounds (read our review and see photos here) where we settled into one of their many sites - with PLENTY of room for us all to enjoy the fine afternoon.

Now, as we check the thermometer in the refrigerator every 30 minutes or so, all seems to be going well. Trailer Refrigeration did exactly what they said they would, when they said they would. The job was completed when they promised it, for exactly the price they quoted. That seems so rare these days! Outstanding, Rick.

Tomorrow, a trip to the grocery store!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Thanks to Frank, we've had a couple of adventures in the past few days.

Yesterday we three (Frank, Odel and I) took off for a jaunt along the San Pedro River, a short drive from Bisbee. We've seen the San Pedro mostly dry, and we have seen it flooding over its banks, so high we couldn't get near to the actual riverbed.

Yesterday, it was robust but contained, living up to the name "river". Its appeal was so strong that we continued hiking along the bank even after the trail disappeared, bushwhacking through dry, head-high reeds and bunch grass. Frank assured us that, "just a little farther upriver", we would be able to cross and loop back on an abandoned railroad bed to our parking spot, much easier walking than tromping through the thick, high, brush.

We had faith and he was right - though the river was considerably higher and faster than it had been when he had hiked this loop previously. We found a downed tree with debris dams at each end and crossed, very carefully - a good adventure on a sunny day.

This evening, Frank and Sydney picked us up for the half-hour drive to Sierra Vista, for dinner at Hana Tokyo, a Japanese restaurant we have enjoyed a couple of times. The restaurant has a variety of dining options: private rooms, a sushi bar, regular tables, and hibachi tables -where you sit facing a grill with a talented chef as entertainment.

Or maybe it is the diners who provide entertainment for the chef?

This was Frank's and Sydney's second experience with the hibachi table, and Frank quickly schooled Odel on what to do when the chef points the squeeze bottle in your direction: open your mouth and drink sake! The flow doesn't stop until you either close your mouth (yes, sake runs down your chin on to your clothes) or indicate in some obvious way (wave your hands, bug out your eyes, choke) that YOU CAN'T TAKE ANY MORE!

When the chef isn't cooking or squirting sake into patrons, he flips bits of grilled food towards his rapt (and possibly somewhat inebriated) audience. Success is catching a piece of shrimp or grilled zucchini in your mouth; the floor around our corner of the table was a testiment to our lack of practice with "on the fly" dining.

This isn't an experience for the shy or quiet diner. There is a lot of laughter and comraderie around the table, with acclaim for those who acquit themselves well with the squirt bottle or flying tidbits. As for the meals: DELICIOUS!

Our next few days don't have nearly the fun factor - two nights in the refrigerator repair facility's parking lot in Tucson while the cooling unit is replaced. I'm looking forward to the result, though!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


We love food, and we love our refrigerator. We have a big, four-door model with a built-in ice maker, and we tend to keep the freezer full of goodies, especially if we are going to be moving around frequently. We buy "bulk" meat (beef filets, chicken thighs, and salmon) at Costco, repackage it in vacuum-sealed "couple-sized" portions, and live from the freezer for a month, buying fresh fruits, vegetables and other perishables from local grocers or farmers markets. We can easily cram a couple hundred dollars of food into the freezer alone when we are fully stocked.

The refrigerator holds a load, too, with three produce bins and plenty of shelving and door space. So, you might wonder by now... WHY IS IT EMPTY??

It died. R.I.P.

Friday afternoon, I reached into the freezer and noticed that the bag of TJ's turkey meatballs (these are delicious, by the way - fabulous texture) seemed... well, soft. Yipes. Further investigation made my heart race - food was thawing!

I put the thermometer in, closed the door, waited 15 minutes and read the bad news. The freezer was about 35 degrees, the refrigerator around 55 degrees.

This is an RV'ers nightmare. The 250 pound, 4-door refrigerator cannot be removed and replaced through the ridiculously skinny door of the motorhome; instead either a window (if you have one large enough) or the windshield has to be removed if the refrigerator has to be replaced. The thought of losing your frozen and refrigerated perishables is quickly replaced by the even more horrible realization that, if your unit is dead, you are facing several days of repair work, several thousand dollars in replacement costs (about $4000 for the unit, plus intallation labor) and numerous high-stress moments of fingernail chewing. This is not a happy vision.

We turned up the temperature gauge, projecting to each other a rosy optimism that we had solved the problem. When we got back from dinner with Sydney and Frank, we checked the temperature again. No change.

We donned a headlamp and jackets, went outside to the access door, peered at the tubing, wires, and coils, looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and went back inside, exhausting our knowledge of refrigerator repair. During the night, I dreamed that the ice-maker started cranking out cubes and the refrigerator was cold in the morning. No such luck... everything continued to warm. :(

To the web! No service centers in little Bisbee, of course, and none in Sierra Vista, either. The nearest Norcold service centers are in Tucson, and we found listings for 5 of them. A couple phones calls later resulted in a diagnosis (the cooling unit - aka "the guts of the refrigerator") is dead. The GOOD news: Trailer Refrigeration, Inc. can replace the cooling unit WITHOUT replacing the entire refrigerator, AND they can do it next week, AND they are on the southeast side of Tucson, east of the endless I-10 construction project (we will be arriving from the east).

This is our current refrigerator, on loan from Sydney and Frank! The best thing about this mess is that we haven't restocked our freezer significantly since before we left Loma Linda, so were down to a 2-pack of steaks, 6 chicken thighs, a bag of Odel's special spaghetti sauce, and dibs and dabs of other frozen bits that didn't matter: buttermilk, mashed potatoes, half-bags of peas and corn, english muffins.

Our fresh vegetables hardly warranted the description "fresh", so tossing limp parsley and green onions didn't hurt. We formulated carnivorous menus for the next three nights and loaded those goodies into the ice chest, moved our condiments to the large-ish cooler we have in the "basement" (which usually holds wine and other beverages) and made a short grocery list of mostly salad greens.

Our original plan to spend 2 weeks in Bisbee is trashed, but who cares? We can get our refrigerator repaired! YAY! We're leaving here Wednesday afternoon to spend the night in the parking lot of the repair facility. They will start work first thing Thursday morning - pulling the unit out of the cabinet into the motorhome and replacing the cooling unit - then we'll spend another night to make sure the refrigerator cools and freezes properly. With luck and the checkbook, we'll be back to Rosanna's for the weekend.

So, how was YOUR Valentine's Day???

Friday, February 13, 2009


Huh. I see it has been several days since my last post, and I wonder... where has the week gone??

We woke up to a white world on Tuesday, about an inch of snow on the ground at Rosanna's. Auntie Carol and I spent most of the day inside, working on a jigsaw puzzle while Rosanna learned to make videos with her new camera. We then spent quite awhile learning to upload a video to her Google album so she could share it with family via email - and had a lot of laughs doing it.

Wednesday was moving day, from Rosanna's to Bisbee. It is a short drive, about an hour, so we stopped off to visit Jeanie and Ray and help them program their new Pressure Pro Tire Monitors - which we had just learned to do ourselves a few weeks ago. Jeanie and Ray are heading out on a trip while The Bayfield Bunch (Al and Kelly) looks after the livestock - a job we did a couple years ago (before we began the blog). The mix of animals has changed, but the job remains the same... and it is a wonderful place to spend several weeks exploring the rich history and geography of Cochise County.

By mid-afternoon, we were deployed in Bisbee at Queen Mine RV Park, in our usual site. Frank was in Tucson, but Sydney invited us over for dinner and a visit. Pizza, salad and our first extended viewing of Lucy Lu (her name might have changed by now), the new kitten. What a warm welcome back to Bisbee.

Because we have spent so much time in Bisbee, and because we have family and friends here, we don't look at it through the eyes of "explorers" any longer. We have our favorite RV sites, our favorite restaurants, favorite walks, hikes and shops. It was especially fun for me to read the Bayfield Bunch's description of their visit to Bisbee and relive the sensation of exploring this quirky little town for the first time.

Yesterday, while Odel played golf, I caught up with all the snail mail that had been forwarded to us while we were at Rosanna's. Odel's medical "bills" (reports from Medicare and Blue Cross showing how much they paid for the bills received so far), lots of tax reporting forms, bank statements, credit card bills... it went on and on. Getting the mail isn't as fun as it used to be!

And now, here it is, Friday already. We started our day off right - breakfast at the Bisbee Breakfast Club, just around the other side of the big mine pit from the RV park. (That's Odel heading towards the door in the top photo.) This popular spot is usually packed, and today was no different. Here's my plate of Huevos Rancheros - yummmmmmmmy.

Our social schedule is filling up. Odel is playing pool with Frank and Ron this afternoon, while I take the hoops over to Sydney's where I can hoop on a smooth surface. Sydney is fixing dinner for us again tonight (THANK YOU!). Tomorrow we are going to Sierra Vista for lunch with our friends Judie and Gary, and some hikes are in the works. Later...

Monday, February 9, 2009


It's been mighty cold here at Paws and Hooves ranch for the past couple of days - cold, windy, with a little rain thrown in. I'm dedicated to my hooping, though, so cleared a spot in Rosanna's barn for my daily spin.

Here is what the well-dressed Cochise County hooper (that would be me, as I am probably the ONLY one) wears in the winter: a fleece headband to keep the ears warm; a neck warmer; a camisole; a long-sleeved shirt; a short-sleeved cotton shirt (it is easier to hoop on non-synthetic fibers); fleece gloves with little "friction dots" so they can grab the hoop; heavy jeans, wool socks and warm shoes. Yep, I'm stylin'!

When Rosanna saw me in the barn, she ran inside to get her camera... then we got the great idea that Odel should shoot my first hooping video. A couple of minutes of instruction for the videographer and we got to work.

We made a two minute video, and last night - being new to making a video, let alone posting it on the blog - I broke the video into "highlights" clips, which I posted. This morning, I learned how to add the entire video to the blog, and my videographer said I should eliminate the clips and add the video in it's full and unabridged glory.

So, here it is - Laurie's First Hooping Video. Be sure to turn the sound up - the video includes music and the enthusiatic comments of the videographer (Odel) and photographer (Rosanna). I guarantee it will have you laughing when it is over - the "scare crow" hand and arm gestures near the end of the video are particularly graceful. :) Maybe those will become my "signature" hooping moves.

Shortly after it was completed and Rosanna and Odel had left, I lost control of the hoop, which flew through the air and knocked my little sound system into the cats' litter box. What we creative types have to go through for our art!

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Yesterday was a day of celebration at Paws and Hooves Ranch: the February birthdays. Sydney had a milestone birthday earlier in the month (60), and Ellen Mae has a birthday coming up soon... but the main event was Auntie Carol's 85th (!).

We were a group of 11, I think, everyone contributing to an excellent meal. I took lots and lots of photos - and in not ONE did everyone look "suitable for posting". One person would look fabulous while three more looked passable and another had their eyes closed as they opened their mouth to eat. Or the flash reflected off someone's glasses and a mirror... or a giant hand in the foreground obscured the face of three of the diners.

Fortunately, I did get a photo of Auntie Carol that captured her enjoyment of the day. All I can say is that I hope I look so good and find so much enjoyment in life when I am 85.

Yesterday I posted a picture of the front of the house with Pal looking in the window, waiting for his breakfast. This is how it looks from the inside, was he patiently waited for someone - anyone? - at the party to remember that he was supposed to have some dinner. He has a comfortable plastic chair that allows him to observe the goings-on inside the house, patiently waiting.

A cold front blew in last night. Rain started around 4 am, with a little sleet and then snow (!) mixed in. When the sky cleared late morning, we could see snow on the mountains in both directions. It played havoc with the Verizon service towers and we've had frustratingly spotty aircard service all day. Now, at 7 pm, it is mighty cold and windy outside, and a winter storm warning is posted for Cochise County. We are warm and cozy, and it looks like I will be able to post this while we have an internet connection. Who knows how long it will last??

Friday, February 6, 2009


After one last hike at Catalina State Park, we had an easy drive yesterday to Paws and Hooves Ranch, Sunizona, Arizona.

If you live here and know the community and your neighbors, I'm sure you don't think of your home as "remote" - after all, it is only an hour's drive to a supermarket. :) But for those of us who were city dwellers at one time, or have just spent 3 months in the L.A. region, or anybody who is used to nodding hello to a neighbor once or twice a day, "remote" is the descriptor that comes to mind.

Once you exit I-10, the landscape looks like the definition of "wide-open spaces". We took Hwy 191 off of the interstate (top photo in collage), then turned east on Hwy 181. It is difficult to see in the collage photo (double click on the collage to enlarge it), but the sign reads "No Services" - a warning to the unprepared that they would be smart to return to the small Mustang Mall at the intersection to fill up on fuel and snacks.

Our last turn is from Hwy 181 onto Cottonwood Road, where the sign reads "Primitive Road. Caution: Use at your own risk. This surface is not regularly maintained." 'Nuf said?

Rosanna's ranch is the first driveway off of Cottonwood (thankfully). The big dogs know us well - rather than raise the alarm when we pull up in front of the gate in Scoopy, they greet us with tails wagging and tongues lolling, begging for greetings. A big blast on the air horn alerts the household.

As soon as we pulled in, Luna recognized the ranch - to her, it means freedom to roam and she expresses her intention to go outside loudly and non-stop. For her personal safety, she is never allowed outside until we are in position, blow the air suspension and level the rig. All the while, she balanced on the top of the driver's seat, behind my head, meowing constantly and loudly that SHE WANTED OUT. Sheesh.

This was our view this morning, as the sky lightened: the little house at peace, with Pal (looking in the window) and Rosie relaxing on the porch awaiting breakfast and the end to their nightime guard duties. Soon Rosanna came out with their food bowls and the day was underway. Ta-ta!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


We have ALL enjoyed our stay here at Catalina State Park. Luna thinks the mixture of dirt, dust and dried bits of twigs and grass is the perfect "dry bath".

Since she goes through this routine 3 or 4 times a day, we completely gave up any attempt to keep her clean and keep the dirt outside - her technique effectively fills her entire, thick coat of fur with dust and dirt. As soon as we wipe the top layer of fur clean (-ish, just clean-ish) with a damp cloth, she gives a quick shake to renew the dusty sheen from deep storage. She can hold several layers of dirt in her coat - quite remarkable.

We've had a simple routine here: arise late (around 8 am), deal with Luna and have a little breakfast, take a hike, do a little shopping (groceries or???); lunch, at home or out, with friends or not; lots of relaxing; a little hooping for me; dinner... Odel played golf one day, and we cut each other's hair this afternoon. Plenty of time for relaxation and enjoyment of the wonderful weather we have experienced here.

The big news has been the State of Arizona's consideration of their budget problems and how to deal with them. We heard from the staff here that fifteen state parks were on the "potential closure" list - but have since learned that the number is 5 to 8. The hearing was supposed to be yesterday, but was delayed to the end of the month to try to find an alternative.

Fortunately, Catalina State Park is NOT on the list - good, because the campground has been FULL every night we have been here, often filling by early afternoon. Tucson's annual gem and mineral show is underway (and the campground was full by noon today), so I assume that accounts for the crowd - but maybe it is simply snowbird season at a great state park near an enjoyable urban area.

Well, they will have an empty space tomorrow morning, as we head off to Rosanna's ranch in Sunizona, AZ for the next week. Cochise County, here we come.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Our last few days at Quartzsite were on the chilly side - plenty of sunshine, but the temperatures were cold by Arizona standards. One evening, I dug into my stash of warm hats and retrieved a couple we don't get to wear often.

My feathery cap was a the hit until Odel showed up and stole the show. Thanks to Laura B for this photo... click here if you want to see a better view of Odel's (presumably) one of a kind headgear.

Over here near Tucson, at Catalina State Park, the weather has warmed up and is forecast to stay that way through the week. We're spending most of our time outdoors (sometimes, in shorts!) and plan to stick around for a couple more days to enjoy it before we move south (Thursday).

We had a great surprise on Saturday morning. We got up late (since it is still dark until around 7 am, we've been getting up closer to 8 am) and were lounging in our sweats and slippers when a van rolled slowly along the loop in our direction. When it stopped in front of Scoopy, blocking our jeep, Odel grumpily wondered aloud about what was going on - then our friend Dave, from Sacramento, jumped out!

In mid-January, Dave loaded his van with kayak and bike and headed across the US to attend Obama's inauguration. He drove over the Sierra in California, topped Colorado's 11,000+ ft. Monarch Pass in the snow, and arrived in DC with the sub-freezing weather.

Along the way, he worked on his project of crossing as many state lines as possible on the water, in his kayak - I know he bagged the Colorado/Kansas line on the Arkansas river, and the New Mexico/Texas line on the Rio Grande. Now Dave was in Tucson visiting his friend Kay, and they both arrived for a chat and a hike.

Dave has found us boondocking in the desert around Yuma, AZ (he was towing his sailboat that time); at a commercial RV park in Portland, OR; about to sit down to a dinner of fresh mussels in Port Townsend, WA (perfect timing, as we had WAY too many!); and twice here at Catalina State Park. It was an unexpected and FUN way to spend our Saturday morning.

Safe travels, Dave.