Fighting The Wild-Fire

A wild-fire is burning here in Wyoming, just behind Sheep Mountain seen in the background of the picture below, which is located right in the Buffalo Bill North Fork Campground where Bill and I are living and working for the summer.

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What started as a grass fire quickly reached the trees and spread into National Forests and has already consumed over 13,000 acres of land.

Ever wonder what it takes to fight a raging wild-fire? Well I captured a few pictures to share. Please know that the pictures are not as good as I would have liked because I was taking them from the inside of our work truck and I didn’t want to disturb the firefighters in any way.

Hundreds of firefighters poured into our campgrounds.

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Bill got a chance to talk to a couple of them. This young man said his team was from Oregon. But there are firefighters here from all over the country. Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. Hot shot teams are everywhere.

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They sat up their main command center in one of our day use areas where there are tables and fresh water.

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It is amazing to watch how quickly they got their command area set up and to see how much support equipment is needed to fight a wild-fire like this.

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Even the Wyoming Homeland Security is here with them.

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Huge trucks brought in lights.

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Truck loads of food was delivered.

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Bob, our neighbor and co-worker (he and his wife, Becky are such great people), helped mow the fields where more trucks and supplies will be. The dead grass had to be cut short so no sparks from their catalytic converters would start yet another fire…

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And truck, after truck, after truck load of firefighters kept rolling in… Along with helicopters and planes that fly back and forth dipping water from our reservoir to dump on the fire.

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These men in the picture below just came in from fighting the fire. They told Bill they are hot and tired and all they wanted to do was get their boots off, get something to eat, and find a place to lay down and rest…

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Some were so tired they were not going to be picky about where they slept. They just popped up a tent in the middle of a field.

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Like I said, these pictures are not near as good as I wanted, but they are the best I could get under the circumstances. But my Frissy said she wanted to see firefighters so GG, this one is for you!

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Right now Bill and I and our neighbors are safe. We believe as long as we are surrounded by all these firefighters we will continue to be safe. Right now all we see is a lot of smoke. But rest assured, if we see even one flame at the top of Sheep Mountain, we are all out of here!

Please keep all these brave men and women fighting this fire in your thoughts and prayers.

Stay Tuned!

A Time To Listen…

I went to visit my mother today and found her sitting alone in her wheelchair at the end of the hall near the nurses station. When I approached her, and bent down to give her a hug, she grabbed me and held onto my neck and said “oh Cindy, you got here just in time.” I asked her what I was just in time for and she said “they are going to kill all of us and we have to wait here and not move.” I asked her who was going to kill them and she said “we are all going to get killed right now and there is nothing we can do but sit here and wait.” With her dementia, this was Very real to her and she was VERY, VERY, upset. She said if she thought I was out there in the middle of all that she would have been even more scared than she already was.  I told her everything was going to be fine and told her that I was going to take her back to her room so we could visit.

When I got mom to her room she said ” you just don’t know what all is going on around here and it’s not safe for anyone to be here.” I noticed her roommates TV was on and the roommate was not in the room.  That TV is on every time I visit my mother and my mother has told me that the roommate leaves it on all day and night. As I sat there trying to calm my mother down, I heard the news broadcasting events of the attacks in Paris, and realized that my mother must have been listening to that news over the past couple days and translated that to the care center where she lives is being attacked and people are being killed there… So I asked the nurse if we could turn the TV off, which she did, and the nurse agreed that my mother might be hearing the news over and over, and with her dementia, she thinks it is all happening at the care center in real-time…

From the doorway of my mother’s room, she can see across the hall, and out the window of the resident across the hall from her. Outside that window is a storage lot for the care center. Beyond that, is a two-story apartment building, and my mother can see the upper floor balcony of that apartment building, and people that live in the apartments walking back and forth on that balcony as they come and go. I can clearly see that the building is an apartment, and the people walking on the balcony live there… However, my mother is convinced that the people on the balcony are soldiers, and they are watching the care center residents, and are ready to kill them at any moment… She even told me today that yesterday they had Jesus hanging on a big cross out there in the lot all day long. With tears in her eyes, she said “I just think that is awful, don’t you?” What could I say? There is no reasoning with my mother now. She is convinced that what she thinks she sees is real now, and any attempt to try to explain that what she thinks she sees, in reality just isn’t, just upsets her even more. So all I can do is listen to her and try to calm her as best as I can…

Today, in my attempt to calm her, I said “mom, when you get scared, or anxious, you know you can always just say your prayers and focus on that to help you calm down.” She said “I do, every morning, when I wake up, I look at the picture of Jesus on my wall and say, now listen, today has to be a good day because I can’t stand all this commotion so if you help me I’ll help you.” OMG, I can just hear my mother saying that to Jesus… and I’m sure he smiles and just listens

Stay Tuned!

Halloween San Tan 2015

Being Park Hosts at San Tan Mountain Regional Park, of course, our duties include hosting holiday events. The only holiday the park is closed is Christmas Day. However, with four Park Hosts, and the “paid staff”, time off for holiday’s is rotated to keep it fair to everyone.

Here are some pictures of the Halloween Bash 2015 at our winter home base in San Tan.

First of all one of the other park hosts, Christi, asked me if I was going to dress up for Halloween. I said no, because when we started our full-time RV life of course we had to scale down and I didn’t think I had anything to “dress-up” in… But as I continued to think about it, and started looking around, I decided I could wear my leopard PJ’s, paint my face to sort of match, and be the only very rare, silver hair, leopard in captivity.

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And Bill could be the Safari Tracker that was lucky enough to capture, and contain, such a RARE and UNIQUE creature as me….. It was a struggle, and the challenge of his life, but he took his mission VERY seriously as you can see by the look on his face.

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So Bill and I showed up in our costumes only to find out we were the only staff members that dressed up for the Halloween event… truth be told… I was really the only staff member that “dressed” up because Bill is actually wearing what he wears everyday when we work… 🙂

In the Nature Center, we had a guest speaker that gave a very educational demonstration to children and families about creatures of the desert. Of course the furs and skins of the animals are either fake, or they were unfortunately road kill that was preserved for educational classes here at the park.

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Our haunted house was still in place from the Zombie night…

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with lots of dark and creepy hallways to go through…

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After touring the “haunted house,” children and their families could trick-or-treat along one of the shortest trail loops here at San Tan… There were fifteen trick-or -treat stations along the trail just like this…

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And each station had a volunteer that came out from 6-9 p.m. to pass out candy.

The picture below is Bill trying to get his little tea lights to light his pumpkin.. Yeah, good luck with that honey… and by the way.. .Bill was two stations away from me so when it started getting dark, and really scary… , I couldn’t even see him…

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The picture below was my station. Notice the little pumpkin hanging from the tree… that was supposed to light up and help put some light in the space where I was passing out candy… See the little green pumpkin beside the chair and the “solar” light beside the chair…? Well, I was told those would light up the area so I could see some distance around me just in case a snake…,or other creepy crawler happened along… Guess what… they didn’t work and the only thing that saved me was the battery operated flashlight I brought with me…

As I mentioned, Bill and I were not together. NO, everyone was assigned a station, and you were on your own. OMG, as it started getting dark…, and I noticed the “lights” they provided were not coming on…, I have to admit I was beginning to get “a little” nervous… I do NOT want to be in the desert without any light… And the coyotes were howling, and I know scorpions come out at night, and I didn’t know where the snakes were.. , and I’m getting really scared now.. FOR REAL… Because, I was told I have to stay here until ALL the candy on my station was given out… See the box beside my chair… That has enough candy to fill the bowl sitting on my chair at least fifteen times!! And, when my box was empty I was told to go around and get more candy from my fellow hosts… Are you kidding me…!! ?? It is dark, I’m scared, and I have no light except my battery flashlight that is starting to get dim…As far as I’m concerned it’s every host for them selves… when my candy was gone so was I… I heard one child say as he was leaving my station “this is the best Halloween I’ve ever had”.. Of course by then I was giving out as much candy as I could grab in both hands… 🙂

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Bill and I will most likely return to San Tan every winter… but by next year we will be “seasoned” hosts of San Tan and able to pick and choose what areas of activity we want to host.. you can rest assured I will volunteer my time at the ticket booth and leave the dark and scary trick-or-treat trail to those that like to sit in the dark in the middle of the desert with creepy crawlers and howling coyotes and snakes and God knows what else …to their own sorted happiness…

But, at the end of the night, we all survived, and most importantly, all our guests had a very Happy Halloween!

Stay tuned!

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

A Simple Design Flaw

Could have become a real nightmare…

Have you ever had a dream where you find yourself somewhere like school, work etc. naked or wrapped in only a towel… I’ve had dreams like that but never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect anything like that to come true, until I found out the hard way that we have a little design flaw with the shower doors in our motorhome…

I love our motorhome, and one of the things I like best about our motorhome is that it has a nice size shower, not huge by any means, but with curved doors, that allow for extra elbow room to move around in there….

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See the nice curved doors that are on rollers and open in the middle?

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Now see the little lock that is on the outside of the shower doors? That lock is there so the doors can be locked from the outside of the shower when we are traveling down the road. Of course we wouldn’t want our shower doors opening and slamming shut while the motorhome is moving down the highway now would we…? So naturally, when I first saw that shower door lock on the outside of our shower doors, I thought that was a great idea… Just snap that little lock shut and those shower doors are locked up tight until you go and unlock them from the outside…

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Yes, that little lock served its intended purpose well until…, you guessed it… one day I was in that shower and that little lock on the outside of the shower flipped shut and locked all by itself when I shut the doors to take my shower… I didn’t realize it when I first got in there and started taking my shower… but picture my face when I went to get out and realized the doors were locked up tight from the outside!!

Bill wasn’t in the motorhome at the time and I wasn’t sure if he was just outside or if he was out and about the campgrounds which meant he could be back in a few minutes, or it could be hours…! Now, you have to know I’m pulling and pulling on those damn shower doors but they won’t budge. The doors are too high to try to climb over, and while the shower has nice elbow room to take a nice shower….it’s not anything you want to spend hours in especially when you are naked, with not even a towel to wrap up in… I was just stuck there wet and naked and starting to panic as I begin to think about how long I might be stuck like that if Bill doesn’t get back real soon… Even if I screamed my head off, no one was going to hear me because our motorhome is very well insulated and all the windows were closed. All I could do was stand there and hope and pray that Bill would come back quickly… Lucky for me he did come back in about 15 minutes and while he laughed his ass off, funny boy…, he did let me out of the shower…

Once I was freed from the shower, you know I was not about to let that ever happen again… so I got some velcro and stuck it on the shower door, and on the lock itself to hold that lock open so it will never flip shut all by itself again.

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Now that the incident is just a memory, I can laugh about it too, but believe me I wasn’t laughing at the time and I just have to wonder if this has happened to others. I can’t imagine I’m the only one it’s ever happened too or perhaps I’m the only one that will tell about it… What do you think?

Stay tuned for more of our new life adventures!

 

Less Really Is More Now

At least it is for my husband Bill, and I. If you follow my blog you know that Bill and I just recently retired, sold everything we owned including our home, bought a 39 foot 2013 motorhome with only 11 thousand miles on it, and are now full-time RVers and we are loving every minute of our new lifestyle.

Since we made the decision to become full-time RVers, we have been asked over and over again what prompted us to go full-time RV instead of keeping our home and buying a travel trailer and just travel at will… I will try to answer that question now. Bill and I met at work 28 years ago. We became friends, and over time, that friendship bloomed into a love affair unlike anything I had ever known, and it wasn’t long until we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. We married on September 6th 1988 and very quickly found that when we were not working, we loved spending our days off taking trips around Arizona. We spent a lot of time exploring Sedona, Prescott, Payson and Jerome. When we had a long weekend, we would take advantage of South West Airlines deals to San Diego. We could hop on a plane and be there in 45 minutes. We began to think of San Diego, and especially Coronado Island, as our personal playground.We were so in love and happy and one way we expressed our happiness was slow dancing around our room.

Fast forward five years and we adopted our daughter, Shantel, and our lives revolved around her and her needs. When Shantel lost her sight to cancer at the age of two, our lives changed again as we educated ourselves on how we would raise her and give her the best foundation on which she could eventually grow up and create a life of her own, independent of us…. Of course, if you follow my blog, you know the long complicated story of what we faced during the years Shantel was in school and the toll that took on all of us. So much so that when Bill came home from work exhausted from the physical labor of his day, and I came home exhausted from the mental stress of my workday and dealing with the school systems to help Shantel have what she needed to be successful throughout her school years…we no longer had the energy to dance…, and that always made me sad… We never lost our love for each other, and our underlying friendship was always there…., but it was just so hard to make the time we wanted when we were always so exhausted… But through it all, we always agreed that we were doing the right thing and we would do it all over again if needed.

As the years passed, eventually Shantel graduated college with two degrees and made the decision to move out and into her own apartment. Bill and I were so very proud of her but fearful for her safety as well. To be honest, I never really thought Shantel would want to stay in her own apartment, living alone, long-term… But after the first year, she signed another year lease and I came to terms with the fact that this is really what she wants and I started turning my thoughts to what now? What do Bill and I do with the rest of our lives… ? Bill and I found ourselves alone again in our home after 20 years of raising a second family… and we began to reconnect on a much deeper level again. We started doing the type of things we love to do again, and I started thinking about the possibility of retiring and traveling around the United States and Canada, something I’ve always wanted to do but kept that as my personal secret because I also had responsibility for seeing after my mother who lives in a Care Center. I remember thinking that there just never seemed to be the right opportunity for Bill and I when we had no one to be responsible for but ourselves. But, I soon found out that I was wrong.

Over the Christmas holidays, I began thinking of reconnecting with my daughter, Katie. I reached out to her and she responded, and we reconnected and began working on rebuilding our relationship… Then, slowly, Shantel reconnected with Katie and I knew then that if Bill and I were to retire and travel, Shantel would have someone, other than our dear friends Holly and Chuck, and her best friend, Jaz, to depend on if she ever needed help.

My mother’s health was in real decline and as I watched that progress over time, I knew there was nothing more that I could do to help my mother, and I knew that she was in good hands at the Care Center. Over the past six years, I visited my mother 2-3 times a week and I really got to know the staff. They are all very kind and work hard to support the needs of all the residents.

So, with the knowledge that Shantel would be fine without us there, and my mother in good hands, I started talking to Bill about selling everything and buying a motorhome and traveling. At first Bill didn’t think I was serious… he didn’t think I would really sell all of our possessions and live in a motorhome. We had a beautiful home and lovely things, but I knew we could not afford to keep the house up and do the kind of traveling I wanted to do… I want to be able to go where ever we want and stay as long as we want… and with our home being paid off, I knew we could take the money from the sale of the house and pay cash for our motorhome. I also did my research and knew that there are lots of opportunities throughout the country to “work camp” where you work a few hours a week in exchange for your park fees and you get full electric, water, sewer etc. for your motorhome. So basically when you work camp, you live free except for your food and gas in the car we drive to get around town… And with our pensions, and social security, we would have more than enough to really enjoy our traveling years.

Once I had all my research completed and knew the facts about full-time RV life, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I just had to decide if I wanted it bad enough to give up everything we owned and the life we lived to obtain it… When Bill and I sat down and really discussed the details of the full-time RV plan he said he loves to travel and knew he could live anywhere with me as long as I was happy… I told him I never wanted anything so bad in my life and I was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish this dream.

The next week we had a huge estate sale and sold everything…. and the following week we put the house on the market and it sold for full asking price in 24 hours. Three weeks later we bought our motorhome and we are now parked in Quail Creek State Park in Utah where we secured a camp host position until October when we will go back to Phoenix for the winter.

Bill and I are living our retirement dream and loving every minute of our new full-time RV lifestyle… And, for the first time, in a long time, …. we dance!

Stay Tuned!

Life Changes You

I went to visit my mother today at the Care Center where she lives and found her sitting in her wheel chair in the activity room, playing bingo, with a volunteer sitting beside her helping her search for the numbers on her bingo card as they were being called out. I went up to my mother and hugged her hello, and noticed her wheelchair was all decorated up for Mardi Gras, with balloons, streamers, beads etc.

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As I looked around the room, I noticed that most of the residents wheelchairs were decorated in much the same manner.

I told my mother how cute her wheelchair looked but she didn’t seem very happy about it at all. Instead, she told me that it made her scared, and that she didn’t want to be in the parade. I asked her what parade and she said the one we have to be in but I don’t want to do it. I could see that my mother was clearly upset, almost to the point of tears, about the decorations on her wheelchair, and that she thought she had to participate in a Mardi Gras parade around the care center… I reminded my mother that she doesn’t have to participate in any activities that she doesn’t want to participate in but that didn’t seem to help. She said she feels like she has to do what they want her to do… So, so, unlike her in the past…

When bingo was over, I pushed my mother back to her room and asked her to tell me why she was so upset. She put her head down and said everything scares me now. I asked her to give me an example but she just shook her head and said “everything, just everything. I just wish this whole thing was over and I didn’t have to do any of this anymore.” Then she looked out her door and said “right there is one thing that terrifies me.” I looked down the hall and saw one of those hoist, used for lifting patients that cannot move,to help them transfer from their bed to a wheelchair etc. I asked my mother why that terrifies her so much since they don’t need to use it on her, and she said it just does and I made them promise me they would never put me in that ever.”

Then she went on to tell me that she hates Donald sitting at her table in the dining room. She said he is too loud, and he just talks too much, and he makes her so nervous she just can’t stand him… You might remember Donald from a previous post. I find him very nice and even joyful…This is Donald

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The more my mother told me about how she is scared about everything, and that she doesn’t want to be around Donald anymore, and that she really just doesn’t want to “do any of this any more…” I decided I needed to speak to her nurse and see if mom could be given something to help calm her nerves.

When I took my mother to the dinning room for lunch, I got her settled in and told her I would be right back. I went to find her nurse and it just happened that mom’s doctor was there as well. I told both of them everything mom told me and how upset she became just talking about it with me…. Her doctor said she would order something for mom that would hopefully start helping her right away. I thanked her and went back to the dining room to sit with my mother.

After mom finished her lunch, I pushed her pack to her room and told her that I spoke with her doctor and she was going to order something to help calm mom’s nerves. Mom said “I hope they get it right away because I need it now.” She had such a scared look in her eyes that it really pulled at my heart. It is hard to see ANYONE get in that kind of shape. I also told my mother that she didn’t have to sit with Donald if she didn’t want to. I told her if she wanted me to ask if she could eat in the activity room, where some residents that need help eating eat, I would ask if mom could eat in there for a while until her nerves settled down. Mom said ” I don’t think I can do that because Donald will get upset and come asking me lots of questions… I told her we could just tell Donald that it isn’t personal against him but that mom just needs to have some quiet time, especially during meals, because when your nerves get upset it upsets your stomach as well… Mom just looked at me, with that same scared look, and said “I don’t know how to say or do that.” Those words, coming from my mother, the woman who was always so in control, domineering (at least in my eyes), and outspoken, when I was growing up…, gave me pause…and in that moment, I felt sorry for her, and a strong need to protect her…

I decided to stay a little longer than usual today and take my mother outside to the garden. It’s a beautiful 80 degree day and she hasn’t been outside in some time now. We sat in the garden and I told her that she doesn’t have to be scared about anything in the care center. I told her no one is going to do anything to her there and she doesn’t have to spend her days being scared and upset. I told her I would give her a few days to think about what she wants to do and if she wants me to speak to the staff and make arrangements for her to have her meals away from Donald, I would handle that for her and she wouldn’t have to say anything. I said if anyone asks you why you changed where you eat, just tell them your daughter requested it for a while… She said she would let me know and asked me when I could come back again. I told her I have an appointment with my cousin tomorrow, but I would come on Wednesday after I take Shantel to get her groceries etc… Mom agreed to that, I hugged her and left…

Stay Tuned!

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