Week four @ BTA

Sunday December 12th, 2021

So Sunday evening all of the volunteers got together for a happy hour / get aquatinted around a campfire with a few snacks. This was our first get together since we landed three weeks ago, it was just nice to sit with our peers to enjoy a beverage and few snacks and talk about some of our adventures, this is always great but we stood out as being the only Canadians in the group, so this adds a new level to conversation with us either being seen as a oddity or an unknown alien, we will always be seen as the outsider’s in the eyes of regular American full timers because of our time limitations in the States. But we always enjoy all the interaction with the others and hope this becomes a regular event, as we are truly students of this lifestyle and our environment.

Well as Sunday morning draws to a close, I have spent too many hours finishing a couple of blogs, but finally got a both of the blogs published, and we (I) will be starting our days off with a tackling of a satellite dish issue, which will be either a win or lose situation but I’m still annoyed with Winegard and can also thinking of the 2000 reasons to try this impossible repair according to new friend “help” at Winegard.

Monday was a day of many trips up and down off the roof of the coach, and with each trip I lose a little more respect for the Winegard company as a whole. The faulty piece of the Winegard Trave’ler dish is a short length of coaxial cable that has an unintentional open in the circuit (a fancy way of saying the cable is broken) a part that would have an actual cost of less than five dollars, and I was able to determine that by simply using a voltmeter and checking voltage at either end of the short piece of coaxial to determine it was faulty. The problem comes in that if Winegard would release any useful information to its clients, it would have made it an easy repair but because they did not now I have corrected the original “No LNB Voltage” fault code but now have created a “AZ Motor Stalled” code, because I disassembled the turret at the point closest to the failed part while I should have disassembled it further away from the failure. While the failed part is not available from Winegard the local hardware store had sufficient pieces available to replace the faulty part. And now I’m battling to get the turret reassembled to operate without the “AZ Motor Stalled” fault code.

Tuesday, and I spent most of the morning putting together my December Windshield View blog, and while it will not be published until the end of the month, I have completed the first four years of review and got all the photos added, as well as picking the photo to represent this months view. The afternoon found us headed to Apache Junction about half a hour west of our location for this week’s supplies at a Fry’s Marketplace, a reasonably new store, with an outstanding selection of food items along with clothing and household items, I must assume that this is Fry’s response to the Walmart just down the road. Fry’s is a grocery store chain that are part of the larger Kroger brand line and very common in Arizona, we found their prices to more reasonable than Bashas’ another western grocery chain, but not as low as Walmart, but the selection was second to none.

Miss Laurie is experimenting with the new Ninja Foodi and I’m reaping the benefits, fresh cut French fries, sweet potato fries, pizza, and that’s just this week, this is an air fryer, as well as being like a small oven to bake items, so far I’m calling it a win although I thinks the barbque is best for chops so far, but French fries are always a hit in my world.

Wednesday and I’m still battling with our satellite dish, and if anything I seem to be loosing ground, I understand what I need to accomplish, but the motor in the turret is so sensitive to any extra load that I have not been able to find the sweet spot to get it to operate correctly, so now because I have corrected the LNB voltage issue I’m also trying to manually set the dish to pick up the satellites. I have downloaded an app on my phone to help me but have not succeeded yet. And as I’m talking to some of our neighbours, I’m also beginning to question what I’m doing this for anyway, a lot of our quest is to just receive regular live television broadcasts and what I’m now becoming aware of is that there are a number of streaming services that have access to multiple local tv broadcasts, now to decide which one to try, and of course our TV’s are older so not of the “smart” variety so I have to stream through an outside source, and I normally use an Amazon Fire Cube, which won’t let me stream this source because of my Canadian address for Amazon, oh the joy of being a Canadian full timer that spends six months in the US each year.

Thursday is our Monday, so back to admissions in the breezeway, and breezy it was, not as warm in Arizona today, and the afternoon had clouds moving in as everyone is anticipating rain tonight and tomorrow, when it rains as infrequently as it does in Arizona, rain is a pretty big event. So, we had a few sprinkles overnight probably almost a month ago but this is looking like it could be a real rain storm. We have not yet moved into our new ticket booths, where we will be sheltered from the weather, but they are waiting for signage and an internet connection.

We also came to work to find a box of saguaro boots in our work area today, now I had never heard of a saguaro boot before so Chris one of our supervisors explained that when ever something bores into a saguaro it try’s to heal itself by creating a scar like a defense to protect itself, so it is not uncommon to see a bird nesting in a whole in a giant saguaro and this is what is formed by the cactus which ends up making a great home for a birds nest. As you look at the small hole on the saguaro it is hard to believe that it could hold a birds nest, but material in the bottom of the boot support the theory and there were a number of smaller boots that appeared to go straight through the cactus, these were most likely caused by a good old boy shooting at the saguaro as target practice … such a shame.

We got rain overnight, and it was a good rain for an Arizona rain storm, this one actually had some accumulation, Miss Laurie thinks an inch or so. And there was enough to have water flowing in Queen Creek, this is the creek that flows through the arboretum. The neat and scary thing about rain in the desert is that so much of it just runs off, whether because of rock surfaces, or ground so parched that it can not be absorbed quickly enough, and all the elevation makes the excess run off quickly.

The arboretum has Queen Creek that runs through the garden, it also has the Silver King Wash that runs through the garden. Desert wash’s have always amazed me, just think of a river that has no water most of the time, then after a rain storm is full to it’s banks with a torrent of water that could be gone a couple of hours later. When we first got yo the desert we would drive through dips in the road, with signs saying don’t enter if flooded, and these were very common on lots of state highways. They didn’t spend the money to build a bridge over a wash that may only have water in it a couple times a year for a couple of hours at a time. But when they flood it is like a sonomi, there will be a wall of water maybe a couple of feet high that rushes down the wash with roar of debris and small stones being pushed along as it rushes down the wash and a couple of hours later just a couple of puddles left in the wash.

The rain from Thursday night leaves no signs of water at the new Bridge on the Garden trail, but un at the suspension bridge there was still water in the creek and it could be heard trickling through the rocks further up stream. The wash showed signs of being wet with a few muddy spots, so it had to have water flowing at some point during or after the rain but there were no trail closures on Friday morning so the water had to have been gone by then. And when I got out to look Sunday morning just a few moist spots remained ad evidence of the recent rain.

And of course Miss Laurie always looking for more work, volunteered us to stuff envelopes for a membership drive, so in between checking guests in we folded letters, and stuffed then in window envelopes with a return envelope to prepare them for mailing, just under six hundred, just to keep busy on a cool Friday morning. And it was cool because of a reasonably heavy cloud cover, after the storm last night, with only a few glimpses of blue sky and sunshine. A good day for Miss Laurie’s spaghetti, for dinner, cool weather comfort food at its best.

Saturday morning and we are off to work at 8am, and it’s coat and glove weather this morning. And today is our longest work day, but usually busy so it seems to normally pass quickly. But this morning is anything but normal, oh no this morning is special, the arboretum uses a cloud based system for all their sales, which is wonderful until there is no internet then you have nothing, no admission tickets, no merchandise sales, no credit card terminals, let’s just say it was ugly for an hour or so. Everything had to be manually recorded to be entered into the system later, over an hours worth of transactions had to be recreated, entered, and then all the paper notes had to be properly destroyed.

It’s lucky for the arboretum that Miss Laurie was on shift this morning, most volunteers would have just stood back and let the pieces fall where they may, but not Miss Laurie, nope everything, documented, recorded, and verified and just two hours later, life was back to normal, not nearly as bad as it could have been, and way beyond what should have been expected from volunteers. And I don’t think I would have been nearly as concerned about collecting the entrance fees as Miss Laurie, no my that thought would be if the supervisor wasn’t real concerned, then neither should I.

The clouds went away today and the sun was back, but there was still a cool breeze at our station in the breezeway, but maybe the new booths will be ready for our next shift, this is our long shift at eight hours but working only three days a week is still ok with us. I have chosen a streaming service and we will try it this evening, left over spaghetti is on the menu for dinner and I’m hoping to enjoy couple episodes of “Yellowstone” on our new streaming service.

Well another Sunday morning in sunny Arizona, notice I didn’t say warm because it is noticeable cooler here at BTA. I’m up early this morning and the temperature is still dropping as our bottom temperature normally hits just before sunrise and according to the forecast 39°F (3°C) is going to be a popular overnight temperature for the next week or so, but todays high temperature is forecast to be 66°F (16°C) down from the temperatures a week or so ago but closer to the normal for this time of year, and when in the sun is still plenty warm enough.

I had hoped to be just putting the finishing touches on this blog this morning, but as usual I seem to have a lot to do yet. I need to go and retake a couple of photos, this morning, and today is our weekly maintenance day which includes dumping our tanks, and recording weekly information like how much solar we brought in this week. Even with full hookups we still manage to harvest close to 300 amp / hours of power each week. The last couple of nights the arboretum has lost power for some period of time during the night, we never noticed because of our on board power system, even with a small electric heater running, it carried the switch without out missing a beat, switching us from shore power to battery power and back to shore power in just milliseconds, so fast that electronic equipment never gets a chance to react. So it’s our fellow volunteers that tell us that we had lost power overnight our we would never know, as our system would run us for most of a night even with an electric heater running.

Our new streaming service provided our “Yellowstone” fix last night and I’m watching “Sunday Morning” this morning with my coffee while typing on my iPad, sunrise was 8am this morning as we are just a week or so away from the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year. I purchased a new book at the arboretum store that as Chris described had the driest but best history of the arboretum, because as the arboretum nears 100 years, there is so much we just don’t know about this amazing place, and I want to know for both my blog as well as to better answer questions that we get asked daily.

This is my most resent piece of reference material and although as Chris indicated maybe a little like a text book from school, seems to have lots of facts that I can work with.

This was written less than twenty years ago and covers the early years of the arboretum before the state and university became involved, and with all the references in the book will be like long version of a Coles notes.

This weeks selection of photos was from my walk around the main arboretum trail this Sunday morning, every adventure into the arboretum seems to bring some new beauty into view, just 400 acres of breath taking rugged beauty! For full disclosure these photos have not been touched up or enhanced in any way, and were just taken with my phone camera, that blue sky is just the way it is every uncloudy day.

With Christmas so close, be well and take time to enjoy.

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