Sunday, October 30, 2011

Deming Rocks

I will not mention any name(s) but we are not the only members of the class of 2007,( people who sold their house and went fulltime rving in 2007), that have rocks in their fifth wheel and I mean rocks plural. See if you hang around Deming, rocks and rock hounds are everywhere and you are bound to get hooked. Express even the slightest interest  and we will even give you some free rocks to get you started! We have rocks to spare!

We left Mesa and drove the long drive to Deming, checking into the Escapee Park and being warmly greeted by Wallace and Wanda. Wallace is a rock hound himself and has more rocks then you can count scattered all around the park!

So it wasn’t long before we were talking about rock hounding, places to go see, and even sharing and trading rocks! Of course we ended up trading some of our Wyoming lepidolite for some Big Diggins agate, some Baker Ranch rough, and some assorted slices of other local rocks I know you may think that we have too many already but Wallace knows you can never have enough rocks!

Saturday morning arrived and we drove to Silver City. Stopping  at a flea market, and guess what, we found several sellers with rocks in their booths. We soon left with our first pieces of turquoise, some green turquoise and azurite, and another rough rock of green turquoise.

I could hardly sleep thinking about working the turquoise and so I set up our grinder and made my first turquoise cabochon. I ground some other rocks into cabochons and soon our friend  Marty was over and watching me. He could see I was having too much fun and he left with a sack full of slabs.

Another day and another rock shop and there was Marty buying rocks. He wasn’t the only one and Renita and I added to our collection with some beautiful cathedral agate. The shop owner had to show us some beautiful gold moss agate and it was like a junkie as I grabbed the slab and offered him my billfold,(well almost).

The next day we decided we had enough rock and it was time to leave Deming. That night our toilet broke and the repair kit parts I had already bought didn’t work, go figure. Getting online we drove to the Camping World in El Paso and purchased a whole new unit. It went in so easy that we had our repairs done that evening and I only had to make one run to the local hardware store!

Our plan to leave was again stymied as a massive cold front was blasting through and we decided to stay here for a couple more days until the wind died down. It was a good choice as we saw a motor home roll in with a destroyed awning. Hearing about a new rock shop north of town we headed there just to look at what they had.

The store owners were so kind and knowledgably that we just had to buy some more rock, We now own some excellent lapis and even some rare Tiffany stone, which was originally used in Tiffany stained glass lamps!  Can you blame us?

After eating lunch at the fifth wheel we headed to the Deming Museum to look at the rock collections. Now we had seen the collections two years ago but we know so much more and so we spent some quality time holding hands and peering into rock cases. Lucky for us the museum sells rocks as a money raiser and being giving souls Renita picked out some slabs of New Mexico Crazy agate.

We are leaving Deming tomorrow and heading east,  either  that or we will need to rent a storage unit for all the rocks we have added to our traveling house. We don’t care if others make fun of us and tell us about the movie, The Long Long Trailer. At least we slice the rocks so they don’t roll out of our oven!

Clear skies.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Surprise on The Apache Trail

Every once in a while you get lucky with wildlife. It happened to us while taking a day trip when we walked up to an overlook and a couple already there pointed out an animal  below. I put my binoculars on it, even though there was little doubt what it was and I motioned to Renita and the rest to hurry over and see what was standing sideways in the valley.
Sharon and Alan had invited us to join Nancy and Jim and make a day trip to Canyon, Lake, the Apache Trail and Tortilla Flats. Among other things they wanted us to see some possible canoe places and so Jim and Nancy picked us up and we drove to the Frey's.
It really wasn't very far from town as we passed the Elks Lodge and climbed up the Superstition Mountains. It was nice to have Jim drive and I was able to actually sight see, instead of having Renita relate to me on what I was missing. Topping it off, Alan was narrating as we had split into two cars, girls in one and boys in the other.
Before long we arrived at the Canyon Lake overlook and we looked below as high winds whipped the lake into whitecaps. I had to take off my hat as the wind threatened to blow it back to Phoenix. We got back into the car and drove down along the lake, with its campgrounds beckoning.
Continuing on we drove past the lake and Tortilla Flats where we planned on eating lunch. Our goal was to drive to a pass on the Apache Trail before returning. The road narrowed and climbed and narrowed some more. Turning into gravel it still was pretty good road by Wyoming standards and it looked like a fun place to explore.
Stopping at the first pass we walked and talked and of course Renita started to pick up some rocks. Soon she was joined by the rest of them and I shook my head as I thought about all the rocks we already have. I really didn't expect to see any wildlife as it was noon and hot and any animal with any sense would be in the shade, right?
That's when a couple pointed out the Arizona desert bighorn ram. It stood for a while and seemed to be sniffing the air. Was there a ewe nearby or was it wondering whether we were a danger? Regardless it stood there as still as a statue until before finally turning  its head.
The others came over and I pointed out the sheep. It had a three quarters curl and the horns were spread out further than the bighorns we had seen in Wyoming and Utah. The horns also seemed to be more massive, almost like domestic sheep, but it was wild desert bighorn,( Renita later looked it up on her smart phone and there was no doubt).
It stood there for quite a while and we all, except Jim, got to see it with our binoculars. Trying to spot more we headed east along a ridge, but when we walked out to a vantage point the ram was gone. Heading back to the vehicles we talked of the luck in seeing such a rare animal in its natural setting.
It was a short drive back to Tortilla Flats we we had a massive hamburger crowned with a grilled pepper. The restaurant's walls were covered with dollar bills on which people had written their names and the date they had been there. I wondered how I could get people to leave dollar bills when they visit us but I guess we will stay with selling rocks.
The funniest part of the restaurant was the restrooms where the walls were painted with characters of the old west, and I had to snap some images. The girls went into a shop while I opted for a prickly pear ice cream cone and sitting in the shade with Jim and Alan.
It was a fun day and a good trip before we hooked up the fifth wheel and headed east to New Mexico. A pretty lake, a day with friends, and a desert bighorn sheep. This is what our life style is all about. Clear skies.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sharon and Alan's Art Gallery in Apache Junction

One of the biggest fears, when you start full timing, is the fear of not meeting people and making new friends along the way. Its turns out that its so easy that we look back and wonder why we thought that way as we have met and made friends with so many nice people.
One such couple is Alan and Sharon Frey, who are retired teachers who have changed their lives and have become talented pastel artists. We first met them in Fulton, Texas where they were learning their art, and we have just left Apache Junction, Arizona where their gallery is filled with a plethera of beautiful pastels!
As you walk into their winter home you walk into their working area. A table between two easels is filled with a rainbow of pastels, each waiting for Sharon and Alan to work their magic. Images from their travels are taped near their current unfinished work and its so amazing to see the steps they take in their creation of beauty.
The walls of their winter camp, or house if you will, are filled with examples of their work. Alan and Sharon both submit and have work accepted at pastel shows. Alan has won awards and Sharon has sold work and its small wonder as their art is so beautiful. My favorite one of Alan's is a pastel of an Australian sheep ranch. The actual building is one we visited at the Bryce Thompson Arboretum, (We visited it with them two years ago).
Sharon's work is equally impressive. My favorite work of hers is a beautiful pink hibiscus. Another standout is her pastel of the palm trees at the same arboretum. To see how they have progressed into such talented artists in such a short time is almost amazing, if you didn't know of how much they have worked and studied,( And if they didn't have the talent, eye, and love for art).
It's kind of funny how a blog entry turns out. I started writing thinking of telling how we wined and dined with them and with Jim and Nancy and Mike and Rose and yet this entry turned into discussing the beauty of Alan and Sharon's work. I guess that's as it should be as the beauty of their work and their friendship has touched our souls. Well done!
 Clear skies

Ps you can see their work at:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Visiting Friends in Surprise, Arizona

We hadn't been through Arizona in two years and so we came this way to see friends. Its got to be the best thing about our life style in that it allows us to remake old friendships and meet friends and family where ever we go.
Of course we had to call Paul and Mary in Surprise and we were lucky enough to catch them when they had some time free. We were able to meet them for dinner and we got to attend the Octoberfest at Sun City Grand.
I had taught with Paul for 30 years and so we traded old and new stories but mostly new as we talked of kids and fishing and hiking adventures. Mary, it turns out had hiked down into the Grand Canyon and back up, staying the night at Paradise Ranch! They had just made reservations to float the Grand Canyon next year, a trip I have always wanted to do.
The Octoberfest was interesting as all the Sun City Grand crafters displayed and sold their work. We saw numerous crafters and one who did beautiful wire wraps. However they don't have a lapidary shop so no one was making and wrapping stones as good as ours.
The stained glass shop was filled with beautiful work and the prices were so cheap for handcrafted art. One of the artist advised me as to the technique of making stones in a mosaic, something I have thought of doing.  In many cases they were just too cheap and we told the artists they were under priced but they all complained of the market, what can you do?
Its always a nice time, visiting with old friends and so we left with some new memories and some advice for our upcoming Alaska trip. Oh and Paul told me to get some egg sucking leech flies for fishing for salmon! Clear skies!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Running South to the Heat in Surprise!

We left Salt Lake City and headed south for warmer and drier weather. The miles passed and as we climbed the temperature decreased until the truck computer flashed the warning ice! Snow was on both sides of the road but luckily it stayed off the road so we only had a long wet drive. Our goal was to make Mesquite, Nevada and we almost did as we stopped for the night in Bishop, Arizona.
There we spent the night in a small rv park, before heading to Lake Havasua. We wanted to stop and visit our friends Flo and John and just say hello before we continued out journey. Flo is undergoing treatment for cancer and we heard a horrible story of how they are having difficulty getting a supply of her chemotherpy)!
From Havasua we continued on to the City of Surprise, Arizona and we stayed at a nice rv park with a lapidary and silver smithing shop. Finding it open we were lucky enough to join the club and got to use their saw to slice up some dinosaur bone.
We were able to watch as the silversmiths made rings and we found out that they teach classes in smithing for a very reasonable price. Showing some of our work we were asked to teach a wire wrapping course and  lapidary but we aren't here long enough so hopefully next time.
Now we don't do cities well, having lived in Wyoming for so long so I thought I would share a couple of stories with you. Driving in heavy traffic, I made a left turn in a construction area, it was a round green light, and I was stopped by a traffic cop who lectured me about the no left turn sign.  He had a hard time believing I didn't see the sign but finally he let me go with a warning.
Last night we ordered a pizza, but when we went to pick it up we found out we had called a store in Phoenix and not Surprise and so we ended up buying some fast food. There are so many places here its confusing, it not like Jeffery City, Wyoming where your choice is limited to the Split Rock Bar and Grill!
So all in all we just don't think we are meant to live in a city. The temps here are in the pper 90's and we don't do extreme heat well. Tomorrow we hook up to visit friends in Apache Junction and then its heading for the coastal bend! Clear skies

Friday, October 7, 2011

Stuck In Salt Lake, Waiting for the Snow To Pass

There are things we have no control over, lots of things. One is doctors appointments and another of course is the weather. Knowing this there was little we could do as we scheduled tests in Salt Lake City.
Yeah its October and yes we chanced a snowstorm and it is what it is. The good news is that everything is fine and after the storm passes we can make a run for the south. Its way to cold here with temps in the 30's and you can see the snow on the mountains that surround the city. It even snowed on us as we left the Walmart in Bountiful,(I showed Renita the new style snow shovels and even offered to buy her one but all I got was the look)!
At least we were prepared for bad weather and we have spent the time making sterling silver rings crowned with small cabochons we made last winter. So anyway another day for the roads to clear and the winds to diminish and then the run begins. Clear skies.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fall Colors in Star Valley, A Week of Color

The reds were a surprise to us as we are use to the bright yellows and golds of the aspen in the Black Hills of South Dakota, but not the reds. Yet here and there were bright reds from maples and lesser reds from scrub oaks and it was all so pretty. We used to live back east, Iowa anyway, and so we had seen their brilliant colors before, but not in Wyoming.
It was almost time to head south and run before the winter snows, but we have an unfinished doctors appointment and we did want to check out Star Valley and the Star Valley Ranch Rv Resort we had heard so much about. Calling ahead we made reservations to stay at a place where Brenda and Dave own two sites and rent them out. So we called ahead and made reservations.
Crossing the Wind River Mountains we saw beautiful aspen in full color but north of Pinedale and Matt and Patty's we started to see the beauty of the Hoeback, The Gros Ventres, and the Tetons. Heading west toward Alpine we encountered the Salt River Range and entered Star Valley. There we passed through Etna before following the sign to Star Valley Ranch and saw why so many people rave about the park.
Our spot was so nice and the park so large that we even took a tour of lots for sale, but not this year. We met John and Revy who invited us to lunch with them at the Senior Center and later that day we showed Revy how to wire wrap pottery pieces, or tried to before she received a phone call which stopped everything till another time.
Another day we drove to Afton to check out the town and its Elk Arch that spans the main street. Its billed as the largest elk horn arch in the world and I am sure they are right. Driving back we stopped at the Star Valley Cheese Factory for curds and local cheeses and of course I had to try their huckleberry ice cream cone.
Another day and a trip to Jackson to resupply, ( it is a long way to anywhere from here), and on the way back Renita noticed a local Art Store/Gallery in Alpine that advertised local artists. We stopped and the manager Barbara noticed Renita's pirate china pendant and we soon arranged a showing of our work for the next day. Barbara handed me a fossil ammonite pendant and asked me to wrap it for her.
The pendant was a challenge as we had never wrapped a heart shaped piece but I resisted the urge to look up others work on the Internet and came up with my own design. It actually worked the first time!
I am sure there are similar pieces,  wire wrapping is an art that is over four thousand years old, but it is my piece and the pattern mine.
The next day Barbara raved about the heart and raved about our pieces. She gave us the ultimate compliment and purchased  a custom Nambian Blue Lace Agate pendant and sterling neck wire, along with a large tiger eye pendant. We discussed her consignment policy and we agreed to leave some of our work at her store.
So now if you are ever in the area of Alpine, you can see some of our lapidary and wire wrapping at the Outback Art Gallery. Heck its worth the stop just to meet Barbara, a kind and gentle person with an eye for art from local artists. Its unusual to find such a shop anywhere as the so called art shops are often filled with imports from Bali and China, and yes I am talking of some of the shops in Jackson, Sedona, Petosky, and so many other places we have traveled. Clear skies.