Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ron Maurice Schoen

My brother in law Ron Schoen of Indianapolis passed away unexpectedly Monday afternoon in New Orleans. He was there with a group from his church doing a build for Habitat for Humanity. I don’t think I’ve known a more giving person. Ron was happiest when he was helping some one else. It was a life long habit of his. He spent countless hours caring for his invalid mother. He was a pillar of support for his wife Nancy, my sister. He was always there to help out their kids with cars, houses, and emotional and financial needs. He was a lifetime member of Downey Avenue Christian Church were he served in many capacities, giving unselfishly uncountable hours of his time. When he retired, he did not take advantage of the extra time to play golf, go fishing, or any of the things many people find to do. Ron was thrilled to have the time to travel to New Orleans and help people in need. I remember how happy he was recently when he purchased a van to be able to haul people and tools to help people in New Orleans. He will be missed; he did his part to make this world a better place.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Home in Elkton

We arrived home in Elkton yesterday morning and spent the day moving into our house. Today it is pretty much a steady rain, and looks to be for the next few days or so. We have a sense of relief that we made it over the Siskiyous on Sunday before the present storm. Not much I can do on catching up on yard work with so much rain, so I am enjoying some time in my den. This is a female Gambel’s Quail I just added to the CRITTERS section of Cascade Ramblings. It was taken while we were staying at Lake Havasu State Park last week.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sycamore Campground

We put in another 9-hour driving day in our effort to get over the Siskiyous before the impending storm. Driving all day in warm California sunshine makes it hard to believe the weather is going to change so much. We stopped for the day in Red Bluff to stay here in Sycamore Campground. It’s the same campground we enjoyed so much on our way south in November. We wish we could just layover here for several days, but tomorrow looks to be the last best chance to get over the Siskiyous with out snow.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Last of Arizona Sunsets

Last night while camped at Lake Havasu State Park we viewed this sunset, our last of our time in Arizona this winter. We pulled out of our campsite this morning at 6:30 and drove like mad all day. Wind was bad at times across the Mojave Desert and on the Tehachapi Pass, but we made it and are parked tonight in a RV park in Pixley just north of Bakersfield. Our goal is to get over the Siskiyous by Sunday because snow is in the daily forecast starting Monday. Wireless reception was very poor at Lake Havasu, which we endured for two days, but it’s great here----ah, what luxury.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bighorn Sheep!!

Today while in route to Lake Havasu State Park, we stopped at a pullout along Highway 95 in the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge area. We had just sat down to lunch when Jeanette said to me, “Jim grab your camera”. She had just spotted some Bighorn Sheep on a hill just across the highway from us. Luckily, they hung around long enough for me to get some photos and also alert some cycling tourist of our unexpected sighting.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Turn Around at Tucson

Yesterday, from our campsite as shown here at the base of the Catalina Mountains, we turned the Holiday Rambler around and pointed it north. Too many e-mails from family and friends talking about spring in Oregon has given us the itch to give up our sojourn in the South. We leave Tucson and Catalina State Park with good memories. Of course we enjoyed the good birding here, but more memorable will be the time spent with friends. Our friend Rod Pace took time out from his busy schedule as CEO of Rosemont Copper to BBQ for us at their lovely home. (His wife Nina is in Elkton this week for the Greatest of the Grape.) Our dog Buster, and their dog Bear (a huge dog) are old friends and still get along fabulously. And our friends Ron & Bev came out to visit us as mentioned in the previous blog. Stay tuned; I’ll keep you posted as we ramble home.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Visist from the Nobles

Friends Bev and Ron Noble, who are spending part of their winter in Tucson, came out to visit us yesterday at Catalina State Park. We went on a short hike, but because of the necessity to ford a running wash, Ron was out-voted 3 to 1 on hiking on to the Romero Ruins. We still got a nice hike in and enjoyed spotting a number of birds. Check our the TRIP JOURNAL for more.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Birding at Catalina State Park

This is a male Northern Cardinal that I took yesterday afternoon here at Catalina State Park. Ironically the female Northern Cardinal that I already had in my CRITTERS section was taken two years ago here at this very park. Birding works out well for the three of us. Buster loves getting out of the coach and exploring, and Jeanette and I both enjoy the challenge of spotting and identifying birds. We started trying out a new method; after spotting a bird I try and get in a good position to get a photo, Jeanette using the birding app in my iTouch, plays the bird’s call which seems to really hold his attention while I get closer for a better photo.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Arizona Sunrise

This is the sunrise as taken from the bedroom window of our coach at 6:31AM this morning.  We have enjoyed great sunrises and sunsets every day here at Picacho Peak State Park. Today we move on to Catalina State Park.  It's a short distance, so should be an easy day.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Yellow Poppies

Bright yellow poppies are in full bloom right now. They seem to cover the flanks of Picacho Peak where we are staying in the state park campground. We went for a hike this morning; check it out in the Trip Journal.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Big Move

Yesterday was our BIG move to Picacho Peak State Park . I say big, because there was so much involved. After setting for almost four months at Buckskin Mountain, it was hard to try and remember where everything went, the hoses, wires, and cables, for sewer, fresh water, electricity, and satellite. To say nothing of finding places for bicycles, chairs, tables and so forth. Then there were stops for a wash job, groceries, gas, and propane. And then there were 260 miles to drive! By the time we got here late yesterday, added water, (no one would want to take Buckskin Water with them), and got into a site, I was exhausted. But, as you can see from the photos, the scenery here is inspiring, and I’m sure I’ll be rejuvenated in a day or two.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Final Day at Buckskin

We are now down to our last day at Buckskin Mountain State Park. Jeanette will be working at the Registration Station this morning, I’ll be disconnecting the coach to take it up to the work area and give it a good wash job. The afternoon will be spent with the final packing and resting, and then in the morning we will hook on the car and take off. Our first stop will be Picacho Peak State Park north of Tucson on Tuesday night. The plan is to spend the next couple of weeks visiting some of the other Arizona State Parks using a free state parks pass we received at the volunteer appreciation pizza lunch last Friday. We hope to also spend time at Patagonia Lake State Park, Catalina State Park, and Dead Horse Lake State Park before heading North to Oregon.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Final Days of Trail Work

Above are the before and after photos of a water-bar that I put in yesterday on the Interruption Point Trail. I’m down to the last few days, so have to pick what projects are most important to finish for this season. It’s been a real privilege for me to have this opportunity to take over the responsibilities of a legendary fellow by the name of Chuck. There is no way I could fill his boots, they were some mighty big ones, but I hope I have been able to contribute to the longevity of the excellent system of trails here at Buckskin Mount State Park.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Final Nature Hike

Yesterday I lead the last Nature Hike on the trails here at Buckskin Mountain State Park. I have the same excuse as the day before. Again, I was so involved in leading the event that I failed to remember to use my camera. I pointed out a couple of dozen different plants, cactus, and trees. Numerous wild flowers are now blooming, and are a joy to see. More than half of our group of 11 hikers were from Canada and practically interested in what grows “down here”. In all I’ve taken almost ninety hikers on ten hikes this last two and a half months. It been a real pleasure to daily spend time on the trails, and I’m going to miss sharing some of the things I love about the out doors with so many interested people every week. I’m feeling a little nostalgic about it all, it feels like it’s one of the best “summers” I’ve ever had.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Final Bird Walk

Yesterday was the last of the Bird Walks for the season here at Buckskin Mountain State Park. We had 14 enthusiastic attendees and we identified 22 separate species of birds. I was so busy leading the walk, pointing out, and identifying birds that I overlooked taking any photos, but we did have some great sightings. Without a doubt the most colorful bird was the male Vermilion Flycatcher in his bright red coloring. The most astonishing sight was an Osprey that flew directly overhead with a huge fish gripped tightly in its talons. Our first sighting for the day, and amazingly enough our last was a Say’s Phoebe. As to most numerous, it was probably a tie between House Finches and Black Birds, both Brewer’s and Red Wings. The shyest birds were the Western Bluebirds that tucked deep into the Mesquite trees out of the wind. And the hardest name for the group to learn to pronounce would be, Phainopepla.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ahamacave Trail

Yesterday we took Dan & Charlene, their dog Coco, and our dog Buster on a hike on the Ahamacave Trail in the Ahakhav Tribal Preserve. To see more details, check out the Trip Journal.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dan and Charlene

Dan and Charlene Lawry arrived here on Sunday afternoon in their pick-up and camper and are set up in the site just next to us. We will spend the next few days trying to show them all the great things about this part of Arizona. This photo was taken of them at Interruption Point during our hike today. Check out the Trip Journal for more details of the hike.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Rain in Arizona

This morning I’m actually hold-up in the motor home waiting out a rain storm. Once it’s done I’ll be out checking out the trails for erosion damage. The above photo, taken on January 23, is of me working on draining a spot on the trail after another rainstorm. Arizona has already had more rain this year than they did for the total year last year! Our friends Dan and Charlene Lawry from Oregon are supposed to arrive today to enjoy some Arizona sunshine. Opps!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Nesting Birds

This nesting female House Sparrow illustrates what is going on now at Buckskin Mountain State Park. Although the migrating winter birds have left, those sticking around and new arrivals are getting quite serious with nesting. While leading the Bird Walk today I pointed out several nesting pairs of sparrows in this palm tree. Throughout the walk we continued to see a number of House Finches paired up. I also showed the group where a pair of Verdins are making their nest in hanging mistletoe on a mesquite tree. And the population of Western Bluebird pairs has grown from 2 yesterday to 6 today. All told, we set a new identification record for the day of 24 different species of birds.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

iPod Princess

Here is the iPod Princess on the coach this afternoon reading her e-mail on her new iPod. She just got eleven replys to an e-mail she sent out this morning (while still laying in bed!). I don’t get it, I slave over a hot computer everyday in Cascade Ramblings, writing blogs, adding critters and wildflowers, and making up Trip Journals. And do you think I ever hear from anyone???

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Beavertail Cactus

Beavertail Cactus are starting to bloom now. Of all the cactus I think they have the most dramatic coloring. Yesterday I spotted over half a dozen plants with blossoms along my work route. There are a large number of buds, so the eventual show of color should be quite amazing. I’m hoping to see it before we leave, as we are now down to the last two weeks before we finish here at the park.