Week Five @ BTA

Sunday December 19th, 2021

It’s the week before Christmas and all through the arboretum things are pretty much normal, oh we had “Santa goes to the dogs” a couple of weeks ago, and we have a Christmas tree with a snowman’s head in the entryway, and a few ribbons here and there but that is the extent of Christmas at the arboretum. And in reality it’s the not the kind of location that you could decorate, we sit on nearly four hundred acres, and it would be impossible to decorate any part of the garden, as it is such a natural beauty that lights would just look cheap and commercial and the garden is much to dangerous to enjoy after dark. The main arboretum trail that gradually climbs past the man made lake to the highest peak in the garden before the downward trek to the Queens Creek valley and along the valley back to the visitor center, has been the same basic trail for nearly one hundred years. The founder William Boyce Thompson created that trail to get back and forth to his home in the Picket Post House, from the research center in what was then the administration buildings and greenhouses which was built in 1924, and in his failing health, he eventually made the trip in his wheelchair before his passing in 1930, when the arboretum was still in it’s early years.

Well it’s Monday morning and another chilly morning in the desert, and I spent nearly four hours reading yesterday, on my continuing quest to learn the history behind the arboretum. The back story, as it might be referred to, was one of philanthropy with much of the beginning of the two institutions that Willian and Gertrude Boyce Thompson created, the Arboretum here in Arizona, to study plants in an outdoor setting as well as the Institution in Yonkers New York, near the Boyce Thompson mansion that would do research in an indoor setting, but all research was being done to correct what William seen as major issues, starvation that he seen first hand on travels to Russia, the devastation caused by mining killing all plant life, that he had experienced as a child in Butte Montana, and the erosion that he was seeing right here in Arizona because of cattle overgrazing during extended past droughts.

So, Monday has ended well, as Miss Laurie has got to watch “The Voice” one of the few actual TV shows that we have watched with any consistency, so far the streaming service seems to be working out, as I got to watch some golf on the golf channel on Sunday and lucky me I will get to watch Tiger Woods make yet another comeback this coming weekend as he plays in a family event with his son. Now if you have known me long, will know that I’m not a Tiger Woods fan, oh he could play golf, but the circus that came with him, and some of the golf announcers that must be on his payroll, that make him out to be a golf great, and sorry he will never be an Arnold Palmer kind of great golfer. But enough ink on this self destructive man, hopefully the coverage shows the whole field or I’ll be watching football, which I also now can stream as well.

As you may be able to tell I’m well into the “An Abundant Arboretum” book that I purchased on Saturday, there is so much detail, that I have had to amend much of the Arboretum blog that I’m putting together, and the author draws attention to gaps that just seem to have not information at all.

Well Tuesday morning and we have a cloudy windy day in the desert, we even had a sprinkle overnight, one of those Arizona ten drop kind of sprinkles, and todays wind seems warm. I had set up a time lapse overnight but had to abort the procedure when the rain jumped onto our forecast, there was to be meteor shower last night but not worth damaging a camera. But in the limited time that it was set up we did capture a shooting star, I marked it because without video it was hard to see, so stay tuned for our next attempts with time lapse views, you can also see all the cloud cover moving in and the glow from the rodent lights under the coach.

A trip to Walmart in Mesa for this weeks supplies this morning found empty shelves in some areas of the store, eleven o’clock on a Tuesday morning found the parking lot pretty much full, shopping carts were scarce at the store entrance, and while the store was busy, it was not too crazy. We were in the minority as mask wearing customers, although there was a continuing message on the store speakers regarding the benefit, our list was not too long, and don’t think we left missing many items. But you can’t talk about shopping in the States with out noticing that shopping carts are just left abandoned everywhere, what is the big deal about pushing your cart to a cart corral? They are left in empty parking spot, hell they will even lift them up over a curb to get them into the landscaped areas, I have been a little sensitive about shopping carts since the coach was hit by an abandoned cart in a Walmart in Niagara Falls a couple of years ago.

The remainder of Tuesday I spent working on blogs, Miss Laurie and Mr. Sam had naps after lunch, and then we had to prepare for a windy evening in Arizona, we were forecast to get a quarter of an inch of rain, but at elevation in Arizona the Flagstaff area was expecting six inches of snow. In fact I expect to get lots of comments on how Ontario’s temperatures are higher than Arizona today, and yes they would be correct, and a quick check of a forecast’s will confirm, but here in the desert we haven’t seen any snow yet. And then the regular question why Arizona and not Florida? Well that is a difficult answer, we had a great year in Florida, and yes it was warmer, but it was also humid, and don’t get me started on the insects, or the daily rain showers, or the tornado warnings, and the coach air conditioner running almost every day. Arizona is cooler for sure, if you stay near Phoenix your only a couple of hours from snow skiing to shirt sleeve golf, and we are great with temperatures between 65° to 85° (19° to 29°), that is what we refer to as chasing 75 (24), a temperature that we think is just about perfect, and then take away the humidity and we’re in. Oh yes we have cold nights, but I spend my nights sleeping anyway, so cool start to the day is just an excuse for an extra blessed coffee, and the blue skies and sunshine, and then there are the sunsets and sunrises. So bring on the trash talk!

Wednesday morning and we have just canceled a dinner with Ray & Karen, they were going to come to the arboretum for a visit and then an evening with dinner and a fire, but it is going to be a cold day by Arizona standards and too chilly to enjoy an outdoor dinner. Besides we will warm up again in a few days. It should be a good day to do some reading as I’m updating my arboretum blog as I learn more details with each chapter. It is a chilly morning but the sun just climbed over the mountain range and I can feel the coach warming up already, we have some scattered clouds as the storm moves east toward the Midwest.

We decided to go out for lunch with the Savino’s, and we all decided on a barbeque place in nearby Mesa, and while very good, it wasn’t by any means the best we have ever had, but the company was what this was all about and we were able to sit and enjoy some conversation. So after the late lunch / early dinner we spent some time viewing photos and memories of their summer adventures in Colorado and Utah, the amazing pictures along with descriptions of some of their adventures, left us wanting for more. These area area that are too cold to explore while we are here in the winter, and because of our time restrictions in the States we need to be back in Canada when the weather would allow touring. We are going to have to work on that in the next couple of years, there are so many things we want to see and experience.

Thursday or our Monday and d d damn, it is cold this morning, yes we have surpassed cool right to the cold level, now I’m not talking Canada cold. no no but this is Arizona cold, but it is going to be sunny and will warm up, we don’t start until ten o’clock so I’m sure it will have a chance warm up. And as you’re chuckling at us, just remember that this southwestern cold snap is headed your way!

We moved into our new admissions booth today, not without some connection difficulties but certainly an improvement over being in the chilly breezeway. Now it will all be about the signage and getting everyone used to the new booth. It was not a busy day today so we had time to work through some rearrangements to make a number of little improvements.

Today we had two bus loads of school children, which keeps the volunteer guides busy, as these school trips are educational, so have to meet a certain curriculum, and the guides have spent a lot of time to learn the presentation. And after the tours the students invade the picnic area for their lunches, before gathering at the visitor center to re board the buses, this is the time that I’m thankful that I’m not a guide or a bus driver.

No this morning my extra task was the watering of the sale plants in front of the service center, the plants were quiet and weren’t jumping out of line, yea I think this is more my speed, succulents over students.

Friday and we are appreciative our new ticket booth with a heater, 9am and darn chilly here at the arboretum. Desert nights are cold, humid or dry, from the first year in Arizona, from freezing to shirt sleeves in just a couple of hours and in the evening the reverse, shirt sleeves to hoodies as soon as that sun sets. Fridays at the arboretum are usually busier, but this cooler weather seems to be slowing down some of the volume of guests, there is a discovery tour on Friday mornings, the tour is free but must be booked on line before arriving. There are a limited number of spaces for the tour which is guided by a volunteer, I believe that this tour is a must for someone that has never been to the arboretum before, there is so much to see, and having a little guidance could make a good experience into a great one.

Usually there is a volunteer on Fridays near the large arboretum map, to help with some direction on maneuvering around the arboretum, but since there was no volunteer available today Miss Laurie thought I should fill in because of my ability to tell people where to go and how they should get there.

And apparently there are a number of you out there that agreed.

I wish I could say I’m hurt, but I’m not. And I guess if the shoe fits, I should wear it, so stop by and I will give you a little direction.

Saturday morning, 8am, and again I’m happy to be in our little booth with the heater, and there was a strong breeze this morning, in fact the seasonal tree had taken a nose dive from his roost, so Miss Laurie had to reassemble the tree and re secure it into position. Because of the weather Saturday was off to a slow start, but while maybe not good for locals, seemed fine for visitors from the cooler climate States. I’m on my last few pages of “An Abundant Arboretum” which has taken me through the history of the arboretum up until the involvement of the State. Which was after the arboretums affiliation with the “University of Arizona”, and this seemed to be the time that a number of the original board members were stepping down, around thirty years after William Boyce Thompson’s death.

I’m glad to have some golf to watch on television, and I will talk more about our streaming service next week. I was so sorry to hear that Tiger Woods was playing in the yearly family golf tournament in Florida, so the coverage will be poor to nonexistent as every golf announcer will be so busy kissing someone’s butt, that most will miss what will likely be a good golf tournament. But enough ink on a golfer that has been trying for years to destroy his own legacy.

Here it is Sunday morning and again I’m trying to tie this blog up, in a timely manner, and as usual failing, I start each blog off so strong, but seem to fade midweek, just to scramble to tie all my thoughts together on Sunday morning. I guess part of the issue is Saturday being our long day, I just don’t have a lot of drive after 8 hours, and as much as it is not difficult work, eight hours is eight hours.

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