Zombie Apocalypse:

Night of the Living Dead.

That’s what took place here last night at San Tan Mountain Regional Park. And it was a night to remember…!

It all started early in the morning with signs being hung, loud-speaker systems being put in place, survival stations being set up etc. etc…

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Then, as evening approached, Zombies started arriving from near and far and gathered in our office/nature center. But they were anxious to start searching out their victims…and we were having a hard time keeping them contained within the confines of the building…

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All they wanted to do was get out and search the trails for those that dared to hike the San Tan trails after dark!!!

We had to have one of our park hosts, Toni, call for reinforcements to help us keep the zombies from getting out…

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Toni set out sweet treats and salty snacks… but the zombies would have none of that…

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The only thing that would satisfy the zombies was Brains, BRAINS!!!

We couldn’t contain the zombies and they escaped…

The staff was terrified because we were hosting a fun family evening for the San Tan community. Some children were dressed up in Halloween costumes, and enjoying an evening with their family eating sweet treats, and listing to Halloween music, and some were even dancing….

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The crowd kept growing bigger and bigger

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Some people were participating in hula-hoop contests…

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When suddenly, an emergency alert came over the loud-speaker system letting us know the park had to be closed because Zombies had taken over the park.

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Everyone was instructed to stay calm, get into groups of 10-12, and follow a staff member to the main trail head where further instructions would be given on where to find survival kits for each member in the group. Each person in each group was instructed to go out on the main trail and find a voucher for each of their five survival items. Water, food, shelter, first aid, and a compass. After they gathered their five survival items, without being captured by a zombie… , they were instructed to bring their survival vouchers back to the main stage and wait for their final instructions…

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Bill gathered the people into groups of 10-12, and I lead them to the beginning of the main trail head where I instructed them to stay together at all costs, never run because that triggers a chase response in zombies, and never, ever shine a flashlight at a zombie. I told them I was afraid so I was not going with them but showed them a flashing light further down the main trail and told them to follow that light. I told them if anyone in their group falls down to grab them up and keep going because if a zombie doesn’t get them the coyotes surely would… I wished them luck and told them I hoped I saw them again…

I am happy to report that all the people that went out on the trail to get their survival vouchers did return… but only some of them came back alive… If you were seen by a zombie you were given a “I’m dead” voucher instead of your survival voucher… The boy in the picture below giving the thumbs up survived but the creature with him didn’t fare as well. He got the “I’m dead” voucher.

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When everyone was back in the main compound they gathered around the main stage where our fearless leader, Sarah, the park Supervisor, announced all the zombies had been captured and everyone was asked to bring up the survival vouchers they obtained out on the main trail. Each voucher was redeemed for the survival item written on the voucher, i.e. compass vouchers received a compass, first aid vouchers received a trail first aid kit, water vouchers received a hiking reusable water bottle…

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It was a spooky kind of fun-filled family night at San Tan Mountain Park and everyone had a SPOOKTACULAR time…

Now on to our Halloween Bash tonight from 6:00p.m. to 9:00p.m.

Happy Halloween one and all..

Next up: Stay tuned for a Halloween posting

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Sneak Peek of Spiders, Snakes and Scorpions, Oh My!

Bill and I are part of three other work/camp hosts that are hosting a Zombie Apocalypse on Friday 10/30/2015, and a Halloween bash on 10/31/2015, here at San Tan Mountain Regional Park

If you follow my blog you know creepy crawlers are NOT friends of mine… No, in fact, I’m terrified of scorpions, and really want NOTHING to do with snakes or spiders… Because…, just like a song I know says… ” I don’t like spiders and snakes… and that ain’t what it takes to love me… you fool, you FOOL…”  🙂

So imagine the look on my face when I realized part of my job as a Park Host here at San Tan Mountain Reserve Park involves showing people into, and answering questions about, our Nature Center that houses all kinds of “creepy crawlers…”

Oh yes, we have a Nature Center that is home to the following:

A “beautiful …” depending on who you talk to, non-venomous King Snake…

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A non-venomous Gopher Snake

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And the VERY venomous Rattle Snake!

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We also have a HUGE scorpion on display… For those of you that know me, and follow my blog…, If I had ever seen one of these in my “little house of horrors” in Chandler… I would still be running for my life…

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And of course no South West Nature Center would be complete without a resident tarantula. Right?

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All of the “beautiful” residents of the San Tan Mountain Reserve Nature Center are either rescued or here for educational purposes.

For example: The rattle snake, is over 18 years old, and has a large sist on its spine so it is being cared for here and allowed to live out its life in the comfort of a controlled environment where it is fed (OMG that is a whole other blog post…), and well cared for, while also allowing the public to be educated about the purpose, and place, of these creatures within our Ecosystem.

One of the BIG opportunities for the public to be educated about our Nature Center Residents is Halloween. Oh my, the Nature Center is transformed into a Haunted House, using the resident snakes, spiders, and scorpions as part of the overall effect without them being disturbed.

Black sheets are hung from cable wires placed on the ceiling to create “rooms” within the Nature Center,  which helps create a more haunted feeling… And of course, all sorts of Halloween creepy effects are added as well…

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Black sheets are also placed on the floor for effect in the graveyard room…

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Hollowed trees house black ravens as well and ghosts…

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And the “presumed” dead sometimes come to life…

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But, I have been warned… if I say too much now… I might not make it out alive to post anything more, so…

Stay Tuned, as this is but a glimpse of what is yet to come…!

Making Friends At San Tan

What a beautiful, fun-filled day Bill and I have had here at San Tan today. Just packed full of unexpected surprises..

We got up this morning, had breakfast at about 5:30 a.m., then got ready for 8:00 a.m. Mass at a church here in the town of Queen Creek that we have never been to before.

When we returned home after church, we changed our clothes, and were getting ready to go over to the “office” aka the pay booth/gift shop/nature center…, to volunteer some time to help decorate the “office” area, surrounding grounds, and various hiking trails, for the HUGE  Zombie Apocalypse Night of the Living Dead event held here on Friday night, 10/30/15, starting at 7:00 p.m.

That event is described in the monthly programs calendar as: “Brains. BRAINS!” The apocalypse is here and the Zombies are hungry! But you must act quickly to survive. Find and locate survival gear along the service trail while avoiding contact with any or all zombies. After all, you don’t want to become one of them: The Living Dead. But if you hear one that utters: “Grains. GRAINS!” Don’t worry about him, he’s a vegetarian. Ultimate survival gear will be given away… OMG, all I can say is this event is HUGE…, and not only spooky and fun, but educational as well… If you live anywhere near here you need to come on out for this event!

Then, the following night, which of course is Halloween night, they have another HUGE event… stay tuned for more on that in a future post…

But, back to where Bill and I were getting ready to go volunteer a couple of hours to help decorate….  Well, Bill went outside for something.. and Cowboy Matt, who runs the trail rides, came by and asked if we would like to go on a trail ride. He said he was taking out a group of customers and had two no-shows, so he had two extra horses that wanted to be walked. He said if we wanted to go we were welcomed to come along… Well, of course I didn’t have to be asked twice. No, the decorating could wait… I put my long jeans on and was ready in a flash!

However, the other customers were already there and waiting on us to get ready…, so in the rush to get out there and not hold up their ride… I forgot to grab my camera so I don’t have any pictures of me or Bill on our horses… But, I do have some pictures of Cowboy Matt and his horses… This is Cowboy Matt cleaning the hoofs of his horses…

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This is Cowboy Matt getting his customers ready for their trail ride.. Cowboy Matt has over 100 horses. Some are trail horses, some are cutting horses, some are bucking horses for rodeo’s, some are breeding horse, and some are just horses he loves… Cowboy Matt spends the winter in Arizona and the summers in Oregon. He said when we get to Oregon to be sure and look him up… Yes!

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I told Cowboy Matt that I LOVE horses, but it has been years since I rode… and I would like one that was VERY gentle… he said his 3yr old son rode the horse I was getting on… I was feeling good about that when I said “what is the name of this horse?” Cowboy Matt said “Lucifer” I said LUCIFER!!!, that doesn’t sound good…! ? He smiled and said “no, it’s “Lucie” Well, OK, I have a very gentle, and loving, sister-in-law named Lucie so I thought this will be good… and it was. 🙂

Bill and I had a wonderful one-hour horseback ride through the San Tan Mountain Reserve Park and really made a new friend of Cowboy Matt… Of course he didn’t charge us for the ride (usually $45.00 /Hour/Person) but we gave him a nice tip and I told him I will cook something really good for him next time he comes out, which is usually everyday… He gave me the thumbs-up and said “YES!” Cowboy Matt is single, and loves home cooked meals…, so he has a friend in me…  and I will make sure he is well fed… 🙂

The next really nice thing that happened today was that one of the other hosts here at San Tan, Christi, is very creative and is in the process of making quilts for her six grandchildren. I’ve seen the quilts she is making and they are amazing. Anyway, Christi asked me if I had one of the official San Tan shirts we are required to wear while we are working… I told her I did have a long sleeve shirt with the San Tan Logo on it and she said if I wanted she would embroidery my name on the shirt… Well, of course I wanted that… so I gave her one of my shirts and she created this for me..

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How cool and special is that?… Thank-you Christi.

As a thank-you to Christi, I gave her some homemade cabbage rolls I made. Christi thanked me for the cabbage rolls and I thanked her for putting my name on my shirt and yet another friendship was made…

So loving our new San Tan Mountain Reserve Park family…

Stay Tuned for more on the Zombie night, and Halloween Bash postings…

Fun Times At San Tan

Bill and I are all settled in at San Tan Mountain Regional Park in Queen Creek Arizona and we are loving everything about this park.

From the moment we arrived last Saturday and passed through the pay booth shown below,

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right through the first week of training, it has just been one fun and exciting thing after another.

Bill and I had one-on-one, on the job training, to learn all about the daily use park fees, annual passes, senior passes…

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and what the entry fees support…

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We learned that the park now has an Arizona Memorial, to honor fallen Arizona soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq, that was donated and is maintained by one family of a fallen Arizona solider. The names of fallen Arizona solider’s are engraved on huge plaques within the memorial. This family also supplies a new American Flag as needed for the memorial.

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Just beyond the Arizona memorial is a buddy pond established by a very generous donor, with help from the Friends of San Tan Mountain Regional Park, to supply fresh water for the wild life within the park.

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Just beyond the buddy pond is an interpretive trail

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This is one of the “interpretive” stations along the interpretive trail.

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Well of course, I had to pause for a few moments, to ponder on the meaning of this interpretive structure on the interpretive trail…

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Moving along, one can choose from many, many, beautiful hiking trails within the park, that will accommodate a wide verity of walking, hiking, biking, and horseback riding skill levels.

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It is so beautiful and peaceful out here and we are so blessed to be able to have all this available to us everyday throughout the winter months. And, we have already been asked if we will come back next winter and for as many winters as we want to come… YEAH!!! Don’t have to ask us twice.. 🙂 🙂

After a lovely hike I returned to our camp spot to find our group of teenagers, that are part of the Arizona Work Corp., enjoying a little dance time before they started cooking their dinner. They spent three weeks camping in tents just outside our coach. They went out early every morning and cleaned/maintained all the hiking trails. They were all so polite, quiet, and just a fun, fun, group of teens. I hadn’t met them yet so when I saw them outside dancing… well of course I just had to go right over and join them as I introduced myself to them… They LOVED that I did that!

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That black cylinder on the ground is a speaker for their music…

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So we just danced and danced…

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and had the best time getting to know each other… they said they wish they had a dancing grandma like me… I told them to be careful what they wish for because all my grandkids live far away from me and I just might need to keep them around as substitute grandkids…. However, they all had to pack up and leave at the end of the week. Their work/camp time here is over, but maybe we will see each other again next winter… I hope so… 🙂

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When the dancing was done, as I walked back to our coach, they told me that they love my Halloween wind sock, and said that I am a “fun, fun, lady” How sweet is that?

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Did I mention how much we love it here?

Stay Tuned!

San Tan Mountain Reserve

We arrived at San Tan Mountain Reserve in Queen Creek Arizona yesterday morning. Upon entering the gate at the pay booth we were welcomed by Bob, the Sr. site host. Bob is 78 years old and just a delightful man. He and his wife, Toni, are full-time RVers and have been work/camping at San Tan for the past four years. They both work the pay booth, and Bob also helps with maintenance.

Bob showed us to our camp site and helped direct Bill as he backed our coach into our spot which has a nice size patio with a very heavy picnic table included.

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We have a chain link fence that completely encloses our site so when we are away from our home we can lock the gate and rest assured no one will bother our couch or things we might have out on the patio.

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It is already on my to-do list to get some patio decorations that are lightweight and easy to transport. For sure I want some pretty solar lights to place around the edge of the patio…

The chain link fence also lends a sense of security as we are very much secluded here with only Bob and his wife Toni, and another site host couple,  Gordon and his wife Christi, for neighbors. At night it is so quiet but for the coyote’s howling from time to time… So beautiful and peaceful here for sure…

Immediately after showing us to our campsite, Bob and Toni gave us a set of keys that opens everything within the park including the pay booth which is where we will spend some of our time working after our training. This is what the pay booth looks like. It is just a short walk from our campsite and it is much larger than the gate booth I worked in at Quail Lake. This pay booth includes a nature center and a gift shop.

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The patio slab and picnic table shown in the picture above is for yet another work/camp couple that will arrive in December. In all we will have four work/camp couples at San Tan.

After Bill and I were parked and settled in, Bob and Toni came by and gave us their cell phone number just in case we ever need anything or if we have any questions. They also invited us over to meet Gordon and Christi. We all sat out on Gordon and Christi’s patio and had a nice visit. Such nice, nice, people.

The following pictures are the beautiful views we have from our coach windows here at San Tan.

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At night the lights of city below are just beautiful.

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We are surrounded by the beautiful San Tan Mountains. It’s raining today and there is nothing quite like the smell of the desert after it rains…

And just when I thought this gig just couldn’t get any better, we met Matt, the man who runs the trail rides. I chatted it up with him telling him how much I love horses and that the Pioneer Woman was living my dream life… Well, Matt told me all I have to do is ask and I can ride his horses anytime… Pinch me I must be dreaming. You’ve got to know I’m loving this! 🙂 🙂

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In fact, the area on the backside of our coach is where you go to mount the horses for the trail rides. I can sit and watch them come and go all day long from my living room window.

Bill and I will spend Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and next week in training, then we will be official members of the San Tan Mountain Reserve staff…

Stay Tuned!

Fun Things

Last night Bill and I had our friends, and fellow full-time RVers, Helen and Chuck over for dinner and a couple of games of our favorite card game, hand and foot. This being our last week here at Quail Creek, we wanted to have a chance to officially say good-bye to Helen and Chuck and thank them for all the things they showed us and shared with us as first time RVers… We are so lucky to have met Helen and Chuck on our very first time work/camping because they have over 15 years experience living this great life and were more than willing to give us tips and advice on the in’s and out’s of full-time RV work/camp life…

Shortly after I met Helen she shared with me that she loves to sew and she made the Veteran’s Day flags that lined the gate drive as you enter Quail Creek State Park. I did a blog post on that a while back but here is a picture of the flags she made for Veteran’s day.

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After Helen made the flags for Quail Creek for Veteran’s Day the Park Manager, Laura, asked Helen to make flags for Sand Hollow, and I believe she also made flags for Gunlock State Park… Not just Veteran’s Day flags but flags for every occasion that are flown in each of the Parks… For a while there it seemed like every time I saw Helen she told me she was making flags for one park or another…

As I got to know Helen better, she shared with me that she collects stuffed bears and she showed me the beautiful collection she has. That started the wheels of thought and planning in my head going because most people that know me know I am very much a planner…. I like to not only have a plan for most things we do but a back-up plan as well just in case something goes south with the first plan… I’m not as bad about planning now as I use to be… Since we retired it seems I am much more relaxed and willing to just “go with the flow of things…” but I knew eventually I would have to say good-bye to our new friends Helen and Chuck and I wanted to give her something as a thank-you that I actually put some thought into…

I decided I would give her a bear and attach some handmade flags of my own to it… This is what I came up with.

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I bought the bear and some little flag like post-it notes and attached them to colored toothpicks, making my own version of colorful flags,  and used a rubber band to attach the flags to the bears arms. On one flag I wrote beautiful flag lady, on another I wrote thanks for all your help, and on the third flag I wrote let’s stay in touch. Helen loved the bear and said she is going to name her Virginia!

We couldn’t leave Chuck out. He is such a sweet man and loves sweets as much as Bill does. So we got him some milk chocolate caramel candies… Thanks for all your help Chuck. You are a fun and funny man. Loved hearing your stories about home movies! 🙂

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For dinner Bill grilled hamburgers and we served them with seasoned fries and chips and dip.

Helen and Chuck brought these yummy cream cheese and shrimp stuffed, bacon wrapped, jalapeno pepper appetizers.

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and the best desert Bill said he ever had… a caramel eclar cake… OMG if I could eat sugar I would have been all over that…it looked delicious!

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Bill was doing his happy dance again today when he had another piece.. the expression on his face says it all… 🙂

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And when it was gone…. the little boy in him came out as he hung his head and said “ALL GONE.”

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How sad is that?

Before I close this post, I just had to share a picture of one more “fun thing” I bought a bag of multi-color baby bell peppers yesterday. Today I was making a salad for lunch and I pulled this one out of the bag. It cracked me up because to me it looks like its sticking its tongue out at me… How fun is that?

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Bill and I are excited to go back to Arizona and see our loved ones there, but we can’t help but be a little sad to leave the new friends we made here… What a fun, exciting, and adventurous summer this has been… And Helen, Chuck, and other friends we met here have all agreed, along with us, to stay in touch…

Stay Tuned!

Whatever Makes You Happy!

Even if it seems strange to others… If it’s not hurting anyone, and you’re having fun, I say go for it…Because “it’s all good!” Right?

That said, I just couldn’t help getting a closer look, and doing some investigating, into one of the “campers” that visited Quail Creek this week.

It all started when I was sitting at our dining room table in our motorhome on one of my days off and I saw a man driving a Porsche around and around the campground. He appeared to be lost. He drove through the campground three times then drove back up the hill toward the gate booth. Normally I wouldn’t think anything about that because people often drive through the campground to see which campsites are not reserved, then they choose an unreserved spot and set up their tent etc. and then drive back to the gate booth to pay the overnight camping fee and receive the window sticker for their vehicle. But in the five months we have been here at Quail Creek, I have never seen anyone come camping in a Porsche… I don’t mean to judge anyone… but I found that to be just a bit strange…

So then, about a half hour after the man in the Porsche drove off towards the gate booth, he came back again and parked in a campsite that our motorhome overlooks. By this time I was very intrigued, and wanted to see what this man was going to do… I mean, how often do you see someone go camping in a Porsche? He wasn’t pulling a trailer and didn’t have anything on top of the car like a rack to carry a tent… No, in fact, the Porsche was a convertible!

So now I’m really interested in what this man is going to do in his campsite, with his Porsche and no tent… Call me a Nib-nose… like Bill does all the time… but I just couldn’t help myself.. I had to see what this guy was all about. So I hurried and grabbed my binoculars, and camera, and had a great time watching this man set the table in his campsite up with all sorts of interesting figurines… Take a look at what I witnessed and let me know what you think.

He parked his little Porsche and started taking bag after bag of “stuff” out and carried it all over to the table… I thought he was taking groceries out and was going to start cooking… but No…

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Each bag was full of all sorts of figurines, battery operated candles, crosses, etc. that he placed with great care on the table that he had covered with a blue and while table-cloth.

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Well, my curiosity got the better of me so I called down to the gate booth and asked my friend Jackie if she knew anything about the man in the campsite with a Porsche.. Jackie told me that when he paid his fee for the campsite he also asked to buy some firewood. While Jackie was unlocking the firewood cage, the man started telling her some of his life story. He told Jackie that when he was younger he worked in a Bar and a Strip Joint, lived in California and got into some trouble there. Eventually he got his act together, put himself through college and eventually became a District Judge in Florida for 25 years!! He said he travels over seas a lot and has been all over the world. But now he is here in Quail Creek for the Sr. Games that are being held six miles away in St. George Utah. He told Jackie he swims in the Sr. Games and swam 20 miles around Catalina Island.  I asked Jackie if he seemed odd when she was talking to him. She said no, but he was missing his two front teeth…

Wow… what an interesting life to match the interesting and unique figurines he displayed on his campsite table…Figurines I just had to see up close. So the following day, while the man was in St. George at the Sr. Games I walked past his campsite and captured these close-up pictures of some of his figurines. I didn’t go into his campsite, I just stood in front of it and took pictures.

Take a closer look… 🙂

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I wanted so badly to talk to the man myself, but he is gone all day and when he comes in at night, he lights a campfire and sits at the table reading… I checked the reservation book and found out he is leaving tomorrow so I’ve pretty much missed any chance of talking to him…

As I write this blog post, he is in St. George at the Sr. Games, and I can see his campsite table is still set just the way he arranged it the first day he arrived. And for the entire week he has been here, he never put up a tent. I can’t imagine he slept in his little Porsche… the man is at least 6 feet tall, so I have no idea where he is sleeping. Bill said perhaps he has a sleeping bag he gets into under the table… maybe, who knows… and it really doesn’t matter… as long as he is doing whatever makes him happy… Right?

Stay Tuned!

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