New Year’s Traditions

My husband, Bill, and I never go out on New Year’s Eve. Not that we don’t like to socialize with family and friends, we have many opportunities to do that throughout the year, but 30 years ago, Bill and I started our own New Year’s Eve tradition. We decided we always wanted New Year’s Eve to be spent with just the two of us enjoying each other’s company. We have a nice dinner, and spend quality time talking about things we want to do in the New Year that will help us be overall better people. We talk about what we want to do that will help us continue to keep Christ front and center in our lives, what we can do to continue to grow our love for each other keeping our relationship and our marriage strong, and the priority in our lives, how we can help our family and friends that may need our help, and now that we are full-time RVers, we talk about what we want to do in regards to summer travel plans in the New Year. We find it is a great way to reflect on the past year, center ourselves, and make goals for the New Year ahead.

Making sure we get enough exercise is a big part of our lives. We try to take a walk or hike at least five times a week. So today we took a lovely walk around the Fountain Park in Fountain Hills. This park is a little gem that sits right in the center of the lovely town of Fountain Hills, just 4 miles from where we host at McDowell Mountain Park.

The fountain goes off every hour on the hour for 15 minutes. We can see the fountain from our host site at McDowell Mountain Park.

It was a beautiful day and lots of folks were out taking advantage of the beautiful mid 70 degree weather… This is why I never want to be anywhere but Arizona in the winter months.

From every angle around the park there are beautiful views.

They even have a Veterans Memorial in the park. So special. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

 

 

 

 

The park is surrounded with beautiful plants,

and artwork is everywhere…

There are sculptures with memorials to loved ones lost throughout the park. This one brought tears to my eyes.

 

This one was titled “my buddy.” So special.

As you make your way around the park, there are lots of shops and places to eat…

The park also has frisbee golf. That looks like it would be fun!

Bill and I had a fun time exploring this beautiful park in the middle of Fountain Hills, something we have talked about doing but haven’t done until today. We loved it and will be back.

Over the years, I have had many people say to me “you and Bill always seem so happy and in love. What is the secret after 30 years together?” The answer is there is no “secret”. Bill and I were friends first, then, over time, that grew into a love relationship that we treasure, and decided right from the start we never wanted to lose. We are certainly no experts (we have both been married before) but we have learned, from past mistakes, if you really want to keep any relationship alive and well, you have to give it the time and attention it needs. It is now our number one priority. For us, we never keep score, but we know that as long as we keep each other first, me giving all I can, and him doing the same, the rewards triple any effort.

I thought the next picture from the park expresses what I am sharing in regards to relationships, so much better than I can say. Just like you don’t mind the time and attention you would give to your child, pet, etc, We give that time and attention to each other, but we don’t think of it as a “job”. You get the idea…

Bill and I wish all of you the very best of 2018. Whatever your heart’s desire are worth the effort you put into achieving it..

Stay Tuned!

Advertisements

Ragnar

Now that Bill and I are all settled into our winter campsite at McDowell Mountain Regional Park…, this weekend we were assigned to work the entry booth for what we were told is the “biggest” event of the winter season here at McDowell. It is so big that anyone working the event attended a meeting Wednesday morning with the people that sponsor the event so we could get an understanding of how Ragnar works.  We learned what is expected from the event sponsors, as well as what is expected of the McDowell Park staff working the event…

Ragnar is an overnight, long distance relay event that takes place over two days and one night. Bill and I worked the entry booth, along with other McDowell hosts from the park, supervisory staff, and full-time staff from the park. Thankfully, Bill and I had some experience working large events from our time at San Tan… But, we had never seen anything like this event at McDowell.

The biggest event Bill and I ever worked at San Tan consisted of approx. 1,5o0 total people including spectators. This Ragnar event easily presented 3k – 3.5k runners, not including the spectators, and overnight campers . What a thrill it was for Bill and I to be part of that!!! We LOVED it! Why? Because it was fast and furious getting all those people through the entry station and the time just flew by.. That is the kind of excitement Bill and I love!

Now don’t get me wrong. Bill and I loved our time at San Tan Mountain Regional Park, and we still promote that park as a beautiful day-use park… But, if you are looking for BIG running and mountain biking events as well as overnight camping accommodations… McDowell delivers that in a BIG way!

All that said, let me show you some pictures to help you see how McDowell can accommodate that big of an event.

As you enter the park you are greeted by this sign.

dsc_00131

This is the entry station where Bill and I, along with many other park staff worked the Ragnar event. Believe it or not that entry booth has a flushing bathroom, area with refrigerator and microwave, as well as heating and refrigeration… What more could we ask for? Also different from San Tan where the entry booth and Nature Center were combined, this entry booth is 2 1/2 miles away from the nature center.

dsc_00141

This is a picture of the Nature/Visitor Center

dsc_00201

Like San Tan, they have a little picnic area just outside the Nature Center.

dsc_00191

And, like San Tan, they have a tortoise exhibit… I just happened to get there at the right time and the tortoise was out and I got a picture of it

dsc_00221

In addition to approx 75 campsites( not counting host campsites) offering electric and water only…. (host sites have full hook-ups including electric, water, sewer, and propane). There is also a campsite overflow area.

This is the campsite overflow area. It is primitive camping (no water, electric, or sewer) but all campers have access to our dump station.

dsc_00012

But even the primitive overflow area has access to flushing toilets and I believe showers.

dsc_00051

This area also has a bike repair area. There is a tool station, to fix your bike, where the tools are securely attached to a pole. There are also air pumps for filling tires, and even a wash down hose… This place has it going on!!!

dsc_00081

That area also has camp hosts that live there and take care of the campsites, bathrooms/showers…

dsc_00062

McDowell also offers a competitive track for serious mountain bikers, as well as this area for those that just want to have fun…

dsc_00181

We have a nice workshop where we can borrow tools if we need to fix things… This area also has a full-size washer/dryer for hosts to use. There is a sign-up sheet so everyone gets time to use the washers/dryers. We have a washer/dryer combo in our rig that I can wash 8-10 lb loads and I do a load or two every other day… but for sheets and towels, I will sign up to use the larger machines…

dsc_00291

We also have access to complimentary propane right here in the park. Just another perk that comes in handy when you live full-time RV.

dsc_00281

Again, let me say… if you are looking for a GREAT place to spend the day hiking, mountain biking, or horseback ridding in the east valley… San Tan is the place to go..

But if you are looking to spend the night, hike, mountain bike, etc. Check out McDowell Mountain Regional Park. We LOVE this place!!

Stay Tuned!

McDowell Mountain Regional Park

Now that we are all settled into our campsite at McDowell Mountain Park, I took my morning walk and captured a few pictures of what this park has to offer. McDowell Mountain Park is about four-times larger than San Tan Park, with what I am told offers over 22 thousand acres of land, and approx. 80 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback ridding, as well as about 80 campsites for RV’s, and I think they have about 10 tent campsites as well. I have not been given the “official” documentation of the park to study yet, but you can bet when I get that information, I will memorize all that information so I can share it with our visitors when I’m working the entry station booth…

The sun was just coming up over four peaks mountain as I started out this morning. What a beautiful sight. This is what we see every morning from the front window of our motorhome. I never get tired of watching the sun rise over those mountains.

dsc_00031

I didn’t hike the trails this morning, but instead, I walked the paved road that goes around the campground where we live. This area is called Pemberton Loop Drive. As I walked along I saw lots of quail scurrying across the road. I love the quails especially when they are with their little babies. They run fast and are hard to capture when they are on the move. But I did manage to capture a picture of one before it got across the road and into the bushes…

dsc_00211

I don’t know what kind of bird this is in the next picture, but it was perched in the top of this tree (not a great picture but if you look closely you can see it), and it was singing the most beautiful tune as I walked by.

dsc_00101

Of course the mighty saguaro cactus makes its appearance by the thousands throughout the park.

dsc_00151

But one of my favorite cactus is the beautiful, and graceful, ocotillo cactus. When this cactus is in bloom it is just fabulous!

dsc_00131

The park offers visitors the opportunity to purchase memorial benches, for their loved ones that have passed, and have them places in different locations throughout the park.

dsc_00241

As far as the eye can see in any direction here in the park, there are trails that take you through miles and miles of beautiful desert. With trails for every level of hiker, mountain biker or horseback rider.  From flat walking trails to more slightly elevated moderate trails, to the more difficult and challenging trails for more experienced and adventurous folks…

dsc_00221

After about 45 minutes of walking and enjoying the quiet of the morning desert, with the exception of a few coyotes howling in the distance…, I returned back home to our little slice of heaven in the desert.

dsc_00251

This will be our home for the winter. We love our space here. This is where we will spend our mornings watching the sun rise, and our evenings watching the sun set. Where we welcome family, and long-time friends, and where we will make new friends along the way. Our home… welcome to it!

dsc_00271

Stay Tuned!

Going Back To McDowell

As most of you know, Bill and I planned to be at McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Fountain Hills Arizona for the winter. We actually spent two days there before we were asked to come back to San Tan Mountain Regional Park in Queen Creek Arizona for a few weeks to help out because they were left short-handed after a couple of full-time staff members left.

We were happy to come and do whatever we could to help out. However, now we have been given the word that we are needed back at McDowell Mountain so we are busy pack things up and getting our rig ready to move out and head back to McDowell on Sunday 10/30.

Bill and I enjoyed the time we spent at San Tan last winter, and San Tan will always hold a special place in our hearts. San Tan is a beautiful day use park with unique cactus formations like the one in the picture below. It always reminds me of a Sea Horse.

Strange sightings (2)

San Tan has beautiful hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails.

IMG_0465

And some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.

P1040744

I always enjoyed meeting the many visitors and volunteers that come to San Tan Park. Like this youth group that spent a week camping in tents next to our rig last winter. They would go out every morning and help clean and maintain the trails, but when they came back to camp in the evening they would unwind dancing to their music… Well I never want to miss an opportunity to dance, so I ran right out there and joined them, much to their surprise and delight… 🙂

P1040598

As much as I love horses, I was always excited when Matt, from MD Ranch, would invite Bill and I to go on a trail ride with him…

P1040613

It’s been a year of fun and exciting travel for Bill and I, but it has also been a year of heartache and loss. I lost my mother this past March.

mom

Then, in July, we lost my beautiful, and fun-loving sister-in-law Bea, the wife of my brother Danny. Bea is shown below with our precious daughter, Shantel. Danny and Bea have always been so good to Shantel over the years. While we were away each summer they would pick Shantel up and take her out to eat at least once a month,

shantels-brunch-with-danny

And then, just a few weeks ago, we lost our beloved cat, Carmen.

14519669_10206873812114957_2528816745259706951_n

Death is part of the circle of life, and it’s a hard fact of life… But I believe loving also means letting go when it’s time, knowing there is more to life than what we experience here.

Now, I’m ready to turn my thoughts to another new beginning, and looking forward to making new memories at McDowell Mountain Regional Park. I’m excited to meet our co-hosts there and all the visitors that will come to enjoy that Park. McDowell Park is three times the size of San Tan and not only offers over 65 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails…,but it also offers camping sites for visitors to enjoy… The picture below is our campsite at McDowell.

dsc_00031

Yes, I’m ready for a new beginning, and definitely ready to let some good times roll! I even think I feel my altered personality, Bella (shown below), nudging me to let her out!!! For those of you that may not know… I discovered Bella on my very first trip to New York City, when I went to visit my frissy! Bella comes out when I need to let down, and really have some FUN:):)

my-pictures

Stay Tuned!

Wild-Fire Update

The wild-fire that has been burning all week just a few miles from where Bill and I live here in Cody Wyoming, is at last report 30% contained now.

Bill and I took a drive around the backside of Sheep Mountain where the fire was raging just a few days ago. Now the fire is burning further west, but the destruction it left behind will be visible for years to come. The areas where the fire didn’t reach is beautiful, thanks to the round the clock work of the brave men and women firefighters that are here from all over the country fighting to save this beautiful landscape.

Here are a few pictures to show how beautiful the areas are that remain untouched by the wild-fire.

DSC_0001[1]

DSC_0002[1]

DSC_0003[1]

We saw beautiful ranches like this that were spared from the flames that burned most of the mountains in the distance behind this home…

DSC_0011[1]

Don’t you know these people are truly thankful for the great work the firefighters did to keep the fire away from their families, homes, and livestock?

DSC_0006[1]

But, as you can see by all the dark areas in the picture below, the entire mountain just behind many of these ranches has been burned.

DSC_0016[1]

And if you look closely in the center (just behind the green trees) of this next picture, you can see where the field in front of a ranch home is completely burnt black, but the home is still standing.

DSC_0017[1]

And the wild-fire is still burning, although it has moved several miles west from where Bill and I live.

DSC_0013[1]

As the fire continues to burn, more and more firefighters are arriving to help fight it. Our North Fork campground looks like a small town within itself. This is just one of many areas the firefighters are occupying. We are so happy and proud to have them here with us.

DSC_0020[1]

Just down the road from the campground where the firefighters have their command center set up, they have also set up a staging area for helicopters that dip water to dump on the fire to land and take off, and where they can park their water trucks for refueling etc.

DSC_0027[1]

Hot Shot teams are here from all over the country as well. The green trucks in the picture below belong to the San Juan Hot Shots. This whole wild-fire fighting operation is just amazing. What an up close and personal education Bill and I are getting as we watch and learn what it really takes to fight a wild-fire…

DSC_0037[1]

I will continue to  provide wild-fire updates from time to time if anything major happens, but for now I just want my family and friends to know that Bill and I, and all our friends/neighbors and co-workers, are all safe.

When you see the firefighters coming in after their shift fighting the fire, their faces are black with ashes, they look worn out and it just overwhelms you with emotion for them and what they do… So I will ask that you please continue to keep the firefighters fighting this fire, and all the great people that are here taking care of their needs, in your thoughts and prayers.

Stay Tuned

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.

DSC_0014[1]

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.

DSC_0017[1]

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.

DSC_0005[1]

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

DSC_0034[1]

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.

DSC_0031[1]

DSC_0027[1]

Even the Wyoming Homeland Security is here with them.

DSC_0033[1]

Huge trucks brought in lights.

DSC_0040[1]

Truck loads of food was delivered.

DSC_0037[1]

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…

DSC_0018[1]

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.

DSC_0022[1]

DSC_0024[1]

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…

DSC_0011[1]

DSC_0010[1]

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.

DSC_0029[1]

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!

DSC_0012[1]

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!

Safe Landing Zone Training

Yesterday Bill and I participated in a training session with a life-flight crew here in Buffalo Bill State Park. Anyone that works here in the park could potentially find themselves in a position to be the point of contact person that might need to create a “safe landing zone” for the life-flight crew to land a helicopter, pick-up a patient, and take off again within seconds…

As part of our on-site training, we were instructed on how to create a safe landing zone for an incoming life-flight helicopter. We were told that even though a helicopter can, and will, land on top of a mountain, or cliff, if necessary.., if at all possible, they want us to try to find as flat of a surface as possible (making sure there are no ditches within the safe landing zone we are trying to establish). Because, if the helicopter lands with part of the landing feet in a ditch… of course, that could cause the helicopter to tip. Safety of the life-flight crew, and anyone assisting, as well as the patient, is always the number one concern.

We were told that if we have orange, yellow, or red cones, we are to place one cone across from each other, 60 ft apart. To establish this, we were told to pace off 25 paces, by walking the distance, between each cone. This will establish a circle big enough to land the life-flight helicopter safely. In addition, if we have a large orange, yellow, or red, triangle landing material (several of these will be supplied by the life-flight crew at after training so we have them throughout the park for emergencies use), we are to place that where we want the nose of the helicopter to be…

How do we know where we want the nose to be you might ask…? Well, we were instructed (if there is wind, and there is almost always wind here in Cody Wyoming), we are to stand with the wind at OUR backs, and place the triangle landing material at the place in the landing circle that is directly in front of us when the wind (if any) is at OUR backs.

The next thing we need to do is quickly look over the landing zone, and remove anything that could fly up and get into the helicopter blades… Things like tin cans, plastic bags, loose ropes, etc. All of these things, if swept up into the helicopter blades, will damage the blades, and put the helicopter out of commission, thus causing the life-saving rescue to be aborted on the spot…We also need to be mindful to stay away of power lines when establishing the safe landing zone..  The life-flight pilot told us that they have military grade night vision goggles, so if they have to land at night, and we don’t have any of the reflective cones, or triangle landing gear.. the best thing the military used was reflective glow sticks, but not green or blue, because that would interfere with the pilots instrument panel.

The life-flight crew we trained with consisted of the helicopter pilot, who obviously is in charge of the flight from take-off to landing, a flight nurse (my late brother, Tommy, was a flight nurse at one point in his military service, but I think he operated an ICU in an airplane instead of a helicopter…, so this training so touched my heart…), and a flight paramedic, that take care of the patient on site, in flight, and until they hand off the patient to the hospital staff..

Once the safe landing zone has been established, and cleared of anything that could fly up and damage the helicopter, we are to get all bystanders out of the safe landing zone, with the exception of the one point of contact person that will stand by the triangle landing material. When that person sees the approaching life-flight helicopter, they are to put both arms in the air over their head, and begin moving their arms back and forth indicating the direction the helicopter will land… The helicopter pilot told us that he/she will be looking for that one person that is making the appropriate hand/arm movements to direct his/her landing… They don’t want to see bystanders waving hi, or giving the thumbs-up gestures, or trying to take pictures… etc.,  as that is distractful when every second counts.

This is a picture of the life-flight crew landing, and coming over to direct our park staff on how to secure the patient for loading him/her into the life-flight helicopter…

Safe landing zone

Once the flight crew had the patient stabilized, and were satisfied that the patient was secure for transport…,they gave us step by step instructions on how to keep out heads low while transporting the patient into the life-flight helicopter… Special note… the patient was a real, live, woman, and had been strapped to the lift cage for a total of 3 hours during the training period… what a trooper she was..

Safe landing zone 2

When the patient had been securely placed into the life-flight helicopter, the flight nurse, and paramedic, joined the pilot in the helicopter, and they were ready to transport the patient to the nearest hospital…

Safe landing zone 3

If all goes well with the landing etc..,. The patient is assessed, and loaded into the life-flight helicopter within minutes…, which really brought home to me, how important it is to establish a safe landing zone, if at all possible, for the life-flight crew to land…

Safe landing zone 4

It was amazing to watch just how fast the life-flight helicopter crew landed, assessed the patient, guided us through how to help them ensure the patient was loaded safely into the life-flight helicopter…, And within minutes, they were up, up, and on their way to the nearest hospital, all while taking care of the patient in flight… What HERO’s they are!!

Safe landing zone 5

We also learned the difference between a “hot and cold” landing… A hot landing is when the helicopter lands with the blades still operating, and the patient is loaded with special precautions to “keep your heads low”, at all times, when loading the patient. We were told that when every second counts… this is the best approach if it is safe for the patient, crew, and anyone assisting in the rescue…

A cold landing is when the helicopter comes in, lands, and turns off the blades… Still, everyone involved in transporting the patient, needs to be well aware of the helicopter blades, because the wind, if strong enough, could still move the blades and cause severe damage…

This was one of the most amazing training sessions I ever participated in. I am just in awe at how well the flight crew works together to make these remote rescue’s happen within minutes, and as efficiently as possible .

When I asked Bill what he thought was the most interesting thing for him about our training session… he said “getting to talk to the pilot about how fast the helicopter goes (134 miles per hour), how they come in for a landing and take off again… ”

Amazing day for sure…

Stay Tuned!!

 

Previous Older Entries

Wheeling It

On the Road Since 2010, Traveling Across USA & Europe With 12 Paws

The Brantley Blog

In the eyes of the law, we reach adulthood the day we turn 18 years old. God help anyone who actually believes that.

the next few years

family life..with a unique perspective of motherhood

Gotham Girl Chronicles

a mixture of random musings...life in NYC...travel...photography...cycling

Blooming Burgh Boomer

Living An Active Full Life

%d bloggers like this: