Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Chiricahua National Park Monument and The Thing

On Monday, our TV in the living room stopped working, and we went right out and bought a new one to replace it. We were unable to find a 37" model, which was the original size, but found a 43" one that looked good, and since televisions have larger screens now in relation to the border around the screens, the new TV looks fine in that space. Bob spent half the day on Tuesday, McGuyvering the old wall mount to fit the new TV.  We are happy.

So on Wednesday, our last full day here in Benson, AZ, we drove East to Chiricahua National Park Monument, one of the least-visited park in the National Park Parks system. What a treat! Chiricahua is known for its columns, pinnacles, and balanced rocks. I couldn't get over how beautiful this area is, and I don't think I've ever seen the sky so blue.  

We drove up to Massai Point, walked a short trail and then walked part of the Canyon Trail to an area called the Grotto (about a mile each way.) Here are a few of my favorite photos.
 The view from Massai Point. The Dragoon Mountains are in the far distance off to the left.
I'm old enough to remember the Old Man in the Mountain, in the White Mountains of NH. This is Cochise, chief of the Chiricahua Apaches. The rock formation is made of rock formed by volcanic ash.
Harris Mountain may be seen in this photo.
Bob posed in front of one of the amazing rock formations on the Canyon Trail.
Columns and pinnacles seen from the Canyon Trail

After we finally got our fill of the beauty in this area, we headed back towards Benson. But first, I was able to convince Bob to detour so that we could see The Thing. If you have ever traveled Rte 10 in this area, you have seen the many billboards telling you to stop and see The Thing. It was time. I wanted to see it.

We arrived at the tourist trap (for that is truly what it is) and paid our $1 each to get into the "museum" filled with kitchy items such as old vehicles, sculptures, and antique thingamabobs. Near the end of the tour was The Thing, in a concrete block case covered with a glass top.

I asked a staff member about The Thing. According to the salesperson at the jewelry counter, it is an "authenticated" mummified human body, discovered in the bottom of the Grand Canyon over 50 years ago. It has not been carbon-dated so its actual age is not known. Poor "thing," to have come to such a fate.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Chiricahua National Monument, I urge you to do so. It is worth the trip. As for The Thing, I'll leave it up to you whether it is worth a dollar or not.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Tombstone, AZ

We feasted again on Friday, and even were able to bring home some leftovers of turkey, stuffing, and some yams and bread. I have always felt that the leftovers were the best part of a holiday meal.

I was able to complete my annual birthday shopping for the grandchildren, and even managed to snag some Black Friday deals from King Arthur Flour and get the silicone muffin cups that I wanted from Amazon. I have alerted the campground in Yuma that some packages will arrive before we do, and the staff has assured me that the boxes will be held in anticipation of our arrival.

I must admit that we did not do much over the weekend except read and enjoy some peace and quiet. I made some fresh pasta on Sunday, with a marinara sauce from my pressure cooker. I do love Italian food!

After a quiet weekend, Bob and I decided to do some sightseeing, so we headed for Tombstone, AZ. It was a very pretty ride.
 Mountains off in the distance
 The Golden Eagle Brewery and Crystal Palace
Tombstone has a historical district that appears much as it did in 1881, when the Earp brothers had their famous shootout at the OK Corral.
Here are a couple of the Earp brothers. There are reenactors that put on a gunfight several times during the day.
A wooden Indian outside one of the many tourist shops in Tombstone. Besides the usual souvenirs, there is an entire store devoted to period costumes for men and women.
Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park & Museum 
Inside the historic courthouse 
 Boot Hill, where townspeople and desperadoes lie buried 
"Here lies Lester Moore
Four slugs
From a 44
No Les
No more"
The McLaury brothers and Billy Clanton, killed in the shootout at OK Corral, are interned here.

It was a nice day to visit this town, with not a lot of tourists around. We pretty much had the place to ourselves. Worth a trip!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Day

On Wednesday, I got ready for Thanksgiving by doing what all of you certainly do--by putting away my loom. All of you who are weavers living in a very small space, anyway! It's amazing how u roomier our motorhome is when there is no loom or weaving bench set up!

My contribution to the Thanksgiving Day feast was candied yams and rolls for 20 people. I kneaded up the dough and set it to rise, then peeled and sliced my yams and added sugar and spices. Half went into the RV convection oven and the other half went into my new Breville oven. It sits happily on the counter in the living room.
Which got me thinking about how much of our cabinet space is devoted to kitchen items and how much to, well, non-kitchen items. By my reckoning, about 85% of the storage in the kitchen/lounge area is actually used for kitchen storage. And with the extra cabinet counters we installed last year, my kitchen is almost as big as the one in my old house. Pretty amazing, really.

I half-baked 30 rolls, to be finished the next day, and topped off my cooking by whipping up a batch of cinnamon rolls for Thanksgiving morning. Those have always been our traditional breakfasts for a Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they make me feel like all is right with the world.

On Thanksgiving Day we enjoyed the cinammon rolls, then relaxed until it was time to warm up the yams and pop the rolls into the ovens again to finish baking. We headed off to the clubhouse for dinner.
People were starting to gather when we arrived, and oh my--what a feast we had! Roast turkey and ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes and potato casserole, gravy, green bean casserole, jello salad, green salad, crudités, broccoli salad, yams, rolls, and pumpkin pie, apple pie, and pecan pie, with whipped cream. We ate until we couldn't eat any more! And we get to do it again tomorrow because on Friday we gather for a leftovers meal.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Day in Tucson, AZ

Boy, do I feel special! Today was my birthday, and I have been enjoying phone calls, texts, and Facebook messages with birthday wishes. Bob took me to Tucson for lunch at Caffé Milano on W. Congress Street where we enjoyed a yummy meal--I love Italian food!

Next up was visiting the Pandora store at the Tucson Mall, where I got a silver bracelet for the charms I had collected.

But we were not through yet. We then drove to Grandma's Spinning Wheel on E Tanque Verde Rd. This shop  is jam-packed with yarn, spinning wheels/drop spindles, and rigid heddle looms. What a fun place! I found some cotton yarns that I will use to weave up some bands. And the prices were good, too.

Bob even bought me a slice of carrot cake to finish off the day.

Tomorrow will be a day of getting ready for Thanksgiving. I will be baking rolls for 20 people, plus preparing yams for a crowd, too.  Will have to get creative to cook such volume in our little kitchen, but I'll make it work.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Benson, AZ

We had an easy trip on Thursday, from Las Cruces, NM to Benson, AZ, and are settled in here for the next two weeks. The weather has been cool at night but warm during mid-day, in the mid to high 70s.  On Friday morning as the sun was coming up, I took this shot from the window.
The early morning light is so beautiful. We are staying at Saguaro SKP Park, which is an Escapees Co-Op park. On Friday, we took a tour to find out details about joining. 

A bare lot here is around $11,000, and one with a casita on it typically adds $19,000-$39,000, depending on size and features. Many people have a kitchen, a bathroom, washer/dryer, and sleeping space for guests. Maximum size is 288 square feet and 12' high. A porch may be added to that as well. We have seen two; one had a large room for crafting and computers and the other had the works with a full bath, kitchen, and laundry plus TV sitting area. And a porch. It was lovely. For all this, members pay around $60 a month plus electricity, which includes wifi and cable. The waiting list requires a $750 deposit and is 4-5 years long, although we have heard of people getting in after a couple of years. 

There are crafting get-togethers 5 days a week, plus exercise classes, dancing, jam sessions for the musically inclined, and lots more.  As guests we are encouraged to take part in whatever activities we want. Bob has already used the workshop, and we are signed up for Thanksgiving potluck. It's going to be a fun couple of weeks!
Water feature by the clubhouse

Today I became inspired when trying to come up with a use for a couple of heavy duty cardboard tubes, and I made this.
I took the band I wove using my Sigga heddle and stitched it into a ring, then slipped it over a short piece of tube. A battery candle fits right in. I think I will keep it with the Christmas ornaments. 

I am progressing on my möbius scarf and hopefully will be taking it off the loom tomorrow. I'm also playing around with Tunisian crochet. We'll see how that goes!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Visiting Desert Haven

On Tuesday, Bob and I visited Desert Haven Animal Refuge in Williamsburg, NM, where we workamped last winter. We were welcomed with open arms by Eleana, Kevin, Larry, and the rest of the crew. On Tuesdays, all the volunteers and paid staff gather at Desert Haven for a big potluck mid-day meal, and we sure had a feast! These pot-lucks are a time to share and socialize, and are always fun.

Besides the two-legged friends, we had to catch up with the four-legged ones as well. Sadly, my little buddy, Jack is still waiting for his forever home. He has become much calmer since his exciteable kennel-mate, Foxxy, was adopted, but Jack still loves hugs and kisses and was very happy to see me.
We gave some money to help subsidize his adoption, and hopefully that will help induce someone to open their hearts and home to Jack. He will make a wonderful companion to someone willing to spend a little time teaching him how to live in a house.

I also visited the cats and had some great snuggles with them.
We will return for another visit, hopefully next spring.

Bob and I drove back to Las Cruces in time to walk around Old Mesilla with Chuck and Linda, right before sunset. I love the architecture in Las Cruces, especially in this area. I would have assumed, before we started traveling around, that homes in the southwest would be similar. Yet Las Cruces has a different style from Tucson, or Texas towns. Very interesting. Here are some of my favorite photos from our walk.
Wagon wheels embedded in an adobe wall

The Plaza shows off some autumn colors 

Shop with handwoven rugs and clothing..

We said goodbye on Wednesday to Chuck, Linda, and Tucker, who were heading home. Hopefully we will be able to meet up with them again in our travels! 

Today (Thursday) we head to Benson, AZ for a couple of weeks. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Cloudcroft, NM

On Sunday, I suddenly got the urge to wear a shawl (doesn't everyone, at some point?)  I pawed through my bins in our basement storage and pulled out a piece of fabric I had woven perhaps 12 years ago, but had never found a use for. After showing it to Linda and getting her encouragement for the project, I pinned it into a möbius shawl and tried it on to see how it looked. I liked it. Out came the sewing machine, and within 15 minutes my fabric was a shawl. It took another 45 minutes to twist the fringe, and it was done.
I'm quite happy with it, and it added a little extra warmth later in the day when Bob and I went to visit our friends, John and Joan for dinner. We had a lovely visit and a scrumptious dinner. And a walk, where we came upon this scene in the golden light of the early evening.

We asked our friends for ideas of what we could do on Monday and they suggested visiting Cloudcroft, a small village in NM about an hour and a half away from Las Cruces. Cloudcroft is within the Lincoln National Forest with an elevation of 8600 feet, and features cooler temperatures and beautiful scenery. 

So off we went. Bob, Auggie and I were in one car and Linda, Chuck, and their dog Tucker in another car. I was fascinated to see the change in topography in such a short time. 

The town itself is fairly small but chock full of interesting shops to visit. We strolled around doing far more looking than buying, and had a wonderful afternoon. We were prepared for cold temperatures; it can be 20 or more degrees cooler in Cloudcroft than in Las Cruces, but at least we saw no snow. One of the shopkeepers told us that they had flurries last week and they expect more snow any day. Cloudcroft is a popular summer destination, with temps in the 70s rather than 90s or higher. 

Today (Tuesday) we are heading to Williamsburg to visit our friends in at Desert Haven Animal Rescue. More on that visit in my next post!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Fun in Las Cruces

When last I wrote, my friend, Linda, and I were headed to a weavers guild meeting in Las Cruces. Every guild is different, and I have heard many stories about various guilds around the country. Some are friendly and welcoming;  others are a bit snooty, especially if you prefer rigid heddle, backstrap, Saori, or inkle weaving rather than weaving on multi-harness looms. My dear friend, Joan, invited me to a weavers study meeting at Mesilla Valley Weavers Guild this past February, and I immediately felt right at home. So I was really looking forward to going back again with Linda.

These wonderful weavers made us feel so welcomed and I enjoyed seeing the many projects shared. Here are a few of my favorites.
To the left is a lovely lightweight poncho woven by Nancy J, from hand dyed silk. Top right you can see Joan's two tapestries that she wove in the 1970s, and her new "Loom in a Tube." Bottom right you can see Linda's Brooks Bouquet scarf and her möbius scarf. 

Afterward, we went out to lunch at A Bite of Belgium and visited some more. One of the members, Jan T, had just returned from New Zealand where (among other adventures) she spent three weeks traveling in a camper van. I loved hearing all about that.

On Friday, Linda and I had an all-day weaving session. Such fun! At one point we had two Saori warping boards and two Piccolo looms in our motorhome. I kept pulling out cones of yarn in an attempt to find just the right ones for my project, and Bob worked on modifying my Piccolo to make it taller.  It was glorious chaos. 

There's a story behind that loom modification. Not long ago, Linda purchased a Saori Piccolo loom, but found it a bit too low for her to use comfortably. She asked her husband Chuck, who is a retired rocket scientist, to see what he could do to make it taller. She had two stipulations, however. She did not want the modifucation to be permanent in case she ever wanted to sell it, and she did not want any holes drilled into it. So Chuck got to work and figured out a solution, using a chair from Walmart, a couple of dowels, and some hose clamps. I asked Bob to do the same for my loom.

The chair cost $6.66, so it was quite an inexpensive project, made even more so by the fact that Bob already had the pipe cutter and the Dremel tool to make the cuts on the pipe.  I love that my Piccolo can now be taller. 

On Saturday, we visited the local farmers market. It stretches across many city blocks and has booths with craft items and local produce.
This is a very dog friendly market, and we saw Great Danes, an Irish Wolfound, another Corgi (besides Linda and Chuck's dog, Tucker,) Yorkies, poodles, and lots of mixed breeds. Auggie enjoyed the walk very much and had fun meeting new doggy and human friends.

I bought the makings for a delicious ratatouille for dinner, too. 

After the farmers market, Bob and Chuck went back to the campground while Linda and I went to Fiber Arts. I found a cone of cotton boucle that I will weave into a blanket. Later, we visited Très Manos, a local weaving cooperative. They were having a Fiber Festival and I picked up 4 cones of Irish linen yarn for .50 apiece. Linda found enough .50 and $2.00 cones to fill a small box. Whoo hoo! I love a bargain!

When last I was at Très Manos, the manager of the shop admired my handwoven Japanese Knot Bag and took photographs of it. I told her where to find the pattern so that her weavers could make some to sell. I was happy to see several on the shelf of the shop and heard that these bags are a popular item. How cool is that!

We are reall enjoying the weather here. Temperatures range from night time lows in the 40s/50s to highs of 60s/70s. It sure doesn't feel like November to me!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Traveling to Las Cruces

On Monday we arrived in Fort Stockton, Texas, only to discover that the park we have used in the past no longer provides cable tv. Now, normally that would be no big deal. We don't have a satellite dish but we have a pretty strong antenna, and most places have at least some signal. We aren't usually big television watchers anyway. But Bob and I had planned to be at that park for two days so that we could follow the election, and the only two channels that came through were Spanish channels. My Spanish is pretty much limited to asking where the bathroom is, so that was not going to work for me.  Bob went back to the office, got a refund for our second night, and we drove on to Van Horn, TX on Tuesday morning where I binge-watched election coverage until it was over. I was really glad I didn't have to rely on an Internet signal, because that stopped working around 7:30 in the evening, with everyone else in the area trying to see results online.

On Wednesday we packed up again, for the fourth travel-day in a row, and passed through some pretty country...

... and finally got to Las Cruces, NM where we will be for a week.  Bob and I were greeted by Chuck and Linda and their adorable Corgi, Tucker, who are in the site next to ours. We had a nice, relaxing evening hanging out with them, and look forward to a fun week.

Today Linda and I will go to a weavers study group meeting of the Mesilla Valley Weavers Guild with my friend, Joan. It will be great to see her again!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Kerrville, TX

On Sunday, Bob and I packed up and headed to Kerrville, TX to meet up with our friends, Kathy and Ron (formerly of Albuquerque.)  We hit some hard, driving rain shortly after we left Belton, which continued almost the entire trip. Not a pleasant way to travel! By the time we neared Kerrville, however, the rain was letting up. On the way, we passed through Fredericksburg and we have decided that that town should be a destination one day. It looked like there was a lot to see and do there.

We pulled into the Buckhorn RV Lake Resort and set up, admiring this beautiful park. I had asked for a site near our friends, who happened to be in the Executive area, which feature pull-in sites with a view of the lake. It was a lovely spot.
After we settled in, we walked over to our friends' rig and had the most wonderful visit. Kathy and Ron had a bottle of wine ready and a hot meal prepared for us as well, and boy, was it good! We caught up with all the news and had a great visit. There's nothing like meeting up with friends on the road. We will see Kathy and Ron again in Yuma in February. 

This morning, Bob and I bid farewell to our friends and headed west, where we have made arrangements to meet up with more friends in Las Cruces, NM. Hopefully we can outrun the rain that seems to be following us. Today was nice, but tomorrow the rain is supposed to return.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The President's Photographer

Belton, TX is home to an excellent museum called the Bell County Museum, and here we finished our week of sightseeing in this area with my sister and her husband.
Like many museums, BCM has visiting exhibits, and we were fortunate to visit when the National Geographic's "The President's Photographer" was in town.
This exhibit chronicles 50 years of public and intimate moments in the lives of our Presidents. Some of the images are not only familiar, but iconic. Many others were new to me. Here are some of my favorites.
President Kennedy and his daughter, Caroline aboard the yacht, Honey Fitz off Hyannis Port, MA, 1963, photo by Cecil Stoughton
Stoughton's most famous image, LBJ being sworn in on Air Force One on November 22, 1963.
Betty Ford had always wanted to dance on the Cabinet Room table, and on the day she and President Ford left the White House she gave in to temptation. Photo by David Hume Kennerly.
 President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton listening to a briefing on Air Force One, photo by Robert McNeely.
Pete Souza snapped this shot of President Obama and his Portuguese Water Spaniel, Bo.
 President Obama playing a game of one-on-one with his personal assistant and a member of the 2001 NCAA Championship Duke Basketball team, Reggie Love. Photo by Pete Souza.

President Johnson was the first to recognize the importance of documenting the Presidency, and had the first full-time photographer on staff.  President Nixon, on the other hand, strictly limited his staff photographer's access to him and often refused to allow photos taken of important meetings. 

Nowadays, Presidents are photographed all day by the White House photographer. Between 20,000 and 80,000 images are taken every month by President Obama's photographer, and each one is preserved for posterity. By law, none of the photos can be destroyed; they are ultimately placed in the Presidential Archives. 

We reluctantly left the Bell County Museum and a little while later said good-bye to Gail and Mark. We will meet up again next time we pass through this area. Tomorrow, we are on the move again.