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by Lloyd Treichel
Dateline: March 1, 2004 -- Phoenix, Arizona
The last update was written just as I left...
Quartzsite, AZ... The WINs (Wandering Individuals Network rvsingles.org) host an annual Quartzsite gathering. I was a co-host and I enjoyed being at the center of things, but two weeks is a long time. 228 people (includes guests and wannabes) had registered over the two week period. At any one time the peak may have been 125. I really didn't get to know very many of them. However, they all knew me since I was frequently the emcee for the morning Hugs and Mugs or the afternoon Circles.
Nancy Bohne, Joanne Jones and I must have made hosting look pretty easy. When it was time to ask for volunteers for Quartzsite 2005, we ended up with six volunteers -- three people for each of the two weeks.
After two weeks of the WIN gatherings and planning for all the events, I was looking forward to being by myself for a few days. However, first I headed to Goodyear, AZ to be become a ...
Moose ... Not the animal, but the Loyal Order of the Moose. When traveling across country, a Moose Lodge is a more attractive alternative for an over night stop than a Wal-Mart parking lot. So after I kissed the moose that hangs in the dining room and did the rutting dance, I was a member of the Moose.
From there I headed to southeastern Arizona and roamed, explored and hiked areas near Sierra Vista and Bisbee. There I found some...
Solitude.... Although I like my solitude, I do like the opportunity to chat and exchange thoughts with people. If one spends too much time alone, one might begin to believe one's own lies. Other people are needed in one's life to tell you when you've gone off the deep end.
Walking in the desert ... One hike in the desert was after a light rain. It was not very much rain, but the desert plants take whatever they can get. It was enough rain for some seeds to germinate and provide a touch of green to the predominant desert browns. As I walked I scared up a couple of jackrabbits, spotted a couple of roadrunners (the bird) and saw a burrowing owl sitting at the entrance to its burrow. I was less than ten feet from the owl. That was a special treat.
This desert area was irrigated farm land at one time -- perhaps as long as 20 years ago. My assumption was based on the size of the few desert plants that are in the process of reclaiming the desert. However, it will take a 100 years before it will look like the desert that it was. However, by that time the nearby city will have engulfed the area and homes will be planted on this desert.
Canyoneering class ... While parked at Snyder Hill west of Tucson I took the course. Walt Pratt, a WIN member, has been exploring Indian ruins of Southeast Utah for a couple of years. He had gotten other WINs interested. The only way to access some of the ruins is to drop in from the cliff above or to scale a steep slope from below. Either route requires the use of ropes.
So what did the ten senior citizens learn in the class? We learned how to rappel; the equipment needed; attachment of rappel ropes; and practiced safety procedures.
After the training, I was still apprehensive about rappelling. Since I have a healthy fear of heights bordering on acrophobia, I wondered if I could do it. After the preparations for the rappel, standing on a forty foot cliff and leaning back into the rope, I rappelled to the base of the cliff. It was a thrill.
The second day of classes began with a rappel and the class continued as we learned how to climb up a rope with the assistance of short ends of rope using a Prusik hitch. The process was fascinating. We practiced by climbing half way up the forty foot cliff and then returned the same way with these rope assists -- rather than rappelling.
At the end of the day we had the chance to rappel until the class was over. Since I am not too keen on carnival rides this rappelling turned out to be quite the thrill.
If I had not made plans for April, I would have gone with the group to SE Utah to the Indian ruins. Since they do a similar meet each year, I will be prepared for next year.
Stargazers class.... It was a week of learning while at Snyder Hill. WIN member Bill Blankley hosted this WIN event. Some WINs toured Kitt Peak Observatory. Another tour was to the University of Arizona Steward Mirror Lab. The tour showed the process of making mirrors about 25 feet in diameter for celestial telescopes. I was fascinated with the technology and processes that are used to create the mirrors at the Lab.
While at Snyder Hill, each evening -- or at least the clear evenings -- "Starman" Bill Blankley pointed out constellations and finding them within the sky above.
For some reason, I really have no great interest in putting names to all that stuff in the sky. It seems just a lot easier to me just to marvel at the stars and witness a shooting star or a satellite passing over head. Part of the reason for the disinterest may be the discomfort of looking up all the time. The proper way to do that should be flat on the ground in a sleeping bag or -- perhaps a LazyBoy recliner.
Hiking ... While parked in Tucson, my hikes included desert hikes and Saguaro Nat'l Park West.
Democratic Presidential Primaries... No doubt you always thought people were elected based on their positions of specific issues. I really do not enjoy disappointing you, but the issue is hair. Actually the issue is having hair versus the absence or thinning hair. Hair always wins.... It has won presidential elections in the past. It helped Arnold become Governor of California.
When the Democratic hopefuls started the race, I had already predicted the leaders. John Kerry with John Edwards a close second. Howard Dean had some hair, but not enough to stay in the race. Lieberman didn't have a chance.
Since all contenders for this year's Presidential election will have hair, issues will determine the winner this time. But then again there is always the US Supreme Court.
Hard drive capacity ... Recall that I had purchased a new laptop computer a month ago. On the new laptop was a disk drive with a 50GB hard drive. Since my working career was in computers, I recall with amazement that 50GB would have been more disk space than was on the entire computer room of former employers.
Curiosity got to me. Just how much disk space is that. If I took twenty digital pictures every day and deleted none, it will take eight years before I get to 80% of the disk space. I guess I had better get busy.
Cinnamon Roll Search ... While parked at Snyder Hill, Sarah and Pete came from Albuquerque to visit the WINs. Since Sarah knows my penchant for cinnamon rolls, they stopped at Kranberry's in Lordsburg, NM and picked up a great cinnamon roll. For a cinnamon roll large enough for three, it was very tasty with that balance of flavors and textures that are so important to a great cinnamon roll.
While in Tucson, I met Flora Yee (co-worker back in the seventies) and Phil for breakfast at a place which was to have good cinnamon rolls. We all agreed they were not special. That is why the place will remain anonymous.
Vanity Plates ....
MY P51 -- On a Mustang convertible
B NIMBL -- Home made RV on a VW van chassis
BLUDOG1 -- On Nissan Pathfinder
2THCAR -- Couldn't spell second? Dentist's car?
0 HITS -- No fender dents? Baseball fan? A pitcher?
USVSTHM -- Who is us? Who is them?
INSTYLE -- On a Hummer. I guess it is all a matter of opinion.
One of my email correspondents said that these vanity plates provide good passwords.
On a lapel badge: "Marriages are made in heaven. So are thunder and lightening."
On a restroom door: "DO NOT ENTER BLASTING AREA"
On back of an RV: "Little house on the Freeway"
Some Latest Reads ... "Benjamin Franklin -- An American Life" by Walter Isaacson. As I read this biography, I had to realize this was a real man and not some historical fiction that allowed a single individual to meet the historical figures who helped to shape the future United States of America. The author describes a complex Franklin who played a major role in the creation of this new confederation of States made up of common men.
This is about the third or fourth time that I have read "Desert Solitaire" by Edward Abbey. Now that I spend much more of my time in the West the book has even more poignancy. Abbey wanted tourists to see the natural world up close and personal -- not from some air conditioned car on a paved road where travel exceeds any comprehension of the landscape.
John Stossel's "Give Me A Break" gives the real story behind all the headlines that capture your attention each day. In this book Stossel covers the good, the bad and the ugly about government, the rich, the poor, the lawyers and our American Liberty.
From the travel essay section comes "Ciao, America" by Beppe Severgnini. As this Italian visits spends a year in the US, he observes and captures the humor of Americans' everyday lives.
Thanks for reading ... If you are not already notified of updates, send me an email.