Week thirteen @ BTA

Sunday February 13th, 2022

Sunday morning at six o’clock and Mr. Sam thought is was time for his morning treats, a couple of mornings of my early rising and now he thinks five o’clock is the new normal time. This morning is the last morning with a real frost risk, because as we look ahead the temperatures will be back in the seventies (twenties) this week. Because I was much more diligent this week with my daily blog updates, there was no late Saturday night of cramming to complete the blog, a nice change and one I will work diligently at duplicating.

It amazes me how quickly things can change, as we now have a couple of big events this week that look to be coming together, now we just have a few loose ends to tie up before we can make an announce, but stay tuned, looks like this year could end up being a very special year.

We have our last four hours to complete this weeks shift this morning, so 8 till noon and then we are off till Friday. I ordered a rock tumbler for Miss Laurie, everyone knows how much she loves her rocks, sea glass and sea shells. So now she is telling everyone that I’m her enabler, while I’m not sure that is a totally true statement, but if I can lessen the bowls full of newly discovered rocks soaking in water on our bathroom counter, then I think it is win win and beneficial to everyone.

A couple of the host volunteers had left for the weekend, one pulled their coach out, while the other just took their toad for an overnight event. I’m watching the Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament, always a good tournament to watch, as play is so effected by the weather off of the Pacific Ocean that it effects many scores, what makes it so interesting is that the Pebble Beach golf course is a public golf course so it can be played by any hacker for a mere $575 plus cart fee per person, or you could hire a caddie for just an extra $150, per person.

It’s going to be a big week in Arizona as the Waste Management golf tournament is being played at the TPC of Scottsdale golf course, this is the wildest event on the PGA tour with some serious party tents on many of the golf holes, certainly not your normal quiet soft clap of admiration by spectators at most tournaments, making it almost a must watch. Although the Sunday is always the quiet day at this golf tournament because there is that other little game happening on Sunday as well, you know that whole Super Bowl thing. And here at the arboretum we have a live music concert as well this Sunday afternoon in the picnic area to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Monday, so it will be a busy week.

So this afternoon was pretty much wasted watching television golf, news, YouTube, and the second episode of the Reacher series. Dinner was wings prepared in the air fryer, we had purchased the wings at Costco, precooked, frozen, even came with dipping sauce. Wings are not nearly as available here in Arizona as they were back home near Buffalo but there again there are a lot more tamales and enchiladas here to choose from. So just an early evening after a couple of long work days.

Monday morning and with coffee in hand I’m watching the sunrise over the eastern ridge, at 7:45, it is still a chilly morning with a 40°F (4°C) start, but we also still have this darn breeze making it feel cooler. So no early morning walk through the Arboretum this morning, but there will be a walk after breakfast, it’s been five days since my last adventure in the park, and I could be suffering a little bit of arboretum withdrawal.

Here are a few photos from this mornings walk through the Arboretum, Miss Laurie joined me for a stroll around the arboretum, going in latter in the day means there are lots of people doing lots of things, lots of bird watchers, many strollers, and even a power walker strutting around the main arboretum trail backwards, and when I say backwards it is because there is an easier way to walk the trail and a more difficult way, and she was doing laps the difficult way. There were a number of cardinals again this morning, and they don’t seem to be afraid of us, oh they still keep their distance but will sit nearby as if they are observing us as much as we are are admiring them.

We stopped a number of times to sit and listen to the birds, I even jumped up and down on the suspension bridge, just like a child, I know I’m an old fart but there is just something about a suspension bridge that brings the kid out in most of us. The staff are making some much needed repairs on the Benson bridge, that’s the wooden bridge over the Silver King Wash, this was a bridge donated by the Benson family, after hearing stories of their father trying to cross the wash to lubricate the pump during some storms from the past, a great story that I have detailed in my Arboretum review that is soon to be published.

On our return to the coach Miss Laurie caught up on laundry while I worked on the blog, it is still breezy so it is not possible to leave the coach awning extended, although I did try, after our lunch we headed for the antigravity chairs on the patio, to absorb some of that Arizona sunshine, I have a new book that I’m reading “Birds, Bats, & Baling Wire” and while the title would maybe not have likely caught my attention, this is a true story of a portion of the life of one of the host volunteers, so I have to admit that I was at least curious if nothing more. But five chapters in I have to admit I can’t wait to get to chapter six to see what happens next.

“For five years the Anderson lived in Goose Prairie, Washington, population 12, surrounded by the William O. Douglas Wilderness Area without telephones, televisions, or commercial power.”

“Kathleen was the proprietor of the Double K Mountain Ranch, a bed and breakfast retreat center in the Cascade Mountains.”

“Join her as she experiences the joys and trials of mountain living.”

Our wondering host volunteers have all returned, and Tom & Kathleen stopped by first this afternoon for a beverage, we soon had to move our gathering to the common area, to allow us to spread out and also sit in the sunshine as Lincoln and John & Karen also joined us, and as the sunset, I fired up the propane fire pit to take the chill out of the cooling evening air. We heard about their weekend adventures, while enjoying a couple of adult beverages, and of course hit some of the regular RV talk topics while sitting around a campfire, like propane fills, fuel prices, and the ever popular camping sites. We also discussed the upcoming events, the concert here at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and we discussed some plans to enjoy the Super Bowl after the concert, you know real important things for a group of work campers.

I barbecued burgers for dinner as we all retreated for the warmth of our coach’s, I’m pretty sure Laurie is just messing with me because burgers are usually Friday nights dinner, we watched some of the Olympics on the television, and then called it an early evening as we both felt tired.

Tuesday morning and I’m up at six o’clock, and already the first signs of dawn are showing on the eastern skyline, Mr. Sam has scarfed down his treats and is settling on my lap for our scheduled alone time until Miss Laurie wakes just before seven. And while still being cool this morning I headed out the door for my morning walk through the arboretum, and I decided to be a rebel and walk the main trail backwards, I know, I’m out of control on a Tuesday morning. Well maybe not that far out of control, I do this every week or so, because besides being the more difficult route, it also changes you view, and you get to notice some sights that may be missed by always walking the same direction.

Upon my return to the coach Miss Laurie baked some biscuits for breakfast, a little jam, a tasty breakfast, a quick update of the blog and I’m thinking that I should be heading outside shortly. But that was put on hold as Miss Laurie needed a white blouse to work the concert at the arboretum this weekend, so a trip to Mesa where we found an Old Navy and a Ross outlet, we were able to find more than we actually needed, I found a pair of cargo shorts for $15 which I thought was a great price, cause the original tag was $42, but then Laurie found an embroidered sweatshirt for $0.97, the original price tag was $35, not much more to say about that.

We purchased fuel, and while still expensive for down here at $3.699 per gallon, or $0.95 U.S. per liter, when converted back to Canadian dollars is $1.19 per liter, expensive but cheaper than back in Ontario. A supply stop at Fry’s Marketplace for some items to get us through till next week and we were headed back to the Arboretum and to the coach. The breeze seems to have lightened so we will try the awning again, and I’m looking forward to getting back into my book, maybe with a cold beverage to cool my lips and to quench my thirst, could be in order.

Five o’clock and I’m headed into the coach, I knocked off another dozen chapters of Kathleen’s book, but it’s time to catch up on the happenings around the world and here in sunny Arizona. It’s also taco Tuesday and as Miss Laurie works in the galley, tonight’s tacos are smelling yummy. Well I’m pleased to report that those tacos were just as tasty as they smelt, tonight we are catching up on a couple of series, an 1883 episode, and a couple of episodes of Reacher before turning in for the evening.

Wednesday morning, it’s six thirty and apparently Mr. Sam thinks it’s time that I was up, I think it’s more about his morning treats than about his time with me, I could be wrong but this is one seriously food motivated kitty. Laurie was up just a few minutes after me, so proving my point, no lap time with me this morning. It’s a very mild morning and the breeze has finally laid down so by seven fifteen I as headed to the arboretum for my morning walk-a-bout, and as I have stated numerous times ever trip is different then the previous, and I leave after each adventure in aw of the Arboretums beauty. But this mornings walk left me some what frustrated, it never fails to amaze me just how ignorant some people are.

As I made my way around the main arboretum trail, I noticed some new carvings on one of the eucalyptus tree. What kind of a goof goes to a ninety eight year old arboretum and carves their name into a tree.

Obviously a very special goof and this goof has a girlfriend who thinks that it’s ok to deface a tree in this manner, so they will most likely marry because that’s what goofs do. Then they will have a whole gaggle of little goofs that they can teach to deface trees the same as their goof parents must have done with them.

Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Goof, on being so “special”!

Eucalyptus just one variety of the huge Myrtle tree family with over 700 variations under the Myrtle umbrella. We are fortunate enough to have a number of different species in the arboretum, and they range is size from almost shrub like to the tall majestic red gum variety that can stand 200 feet tall. Here at the arboretum we have some of the largest eucalyptus trees in North America, so it breaks my heart to see them defaced.

As I continued this mornings walk I was caught off guard by the unusual quiet along the Queen Creek riparian, this is an area with substantial bird life. Even the walk up to and past the Clevenger house was eerily quiet, a couple of rabbits under the salt cedars near the creek and a couple of rock squirrels scurrying along the ridge, but no quail or cardinals. I even sat for a few moments nearby thinking it was possibly my presence that was causing the quiet but after a number of moments still just quiet. The photos below are a few of this mornings shots.

Miss Laurie has decided that the first items to be tumbled will be about half of her apache tears, because they are already rounded it is more of a polishing process, so there are four levels of grit to choose from so after some pondering #3 was chosen, and some water to complete the mix. It was quickly realized that this was going to be way too noisy to tumble for six days in the coach so I cleared a spot in the basement for the tumbler to live and operate, we will check the results in a couple of days.

It is another sunny day in the Arizona desert and the sunshine feels hot when sitting out, but the temperature today is 70F (21C), I’m reading more of Kathleen’s book and Miss Laurie is painting a thank you note to the Savino’s for a very special hand made gift. She joined me on the patio for a beverage and as the afternoon rolled along Tom & Kathleen joined us for a happy hour beverage.

I barbecued a couple of chicken breasts for dinner, but they are so large that we will most likely split one, add some rice and buttery brussel sprouts and its nearly a perfect dinner, catch up on some news, a couple of YouTube videos then a couple of episodes of Reacher and it’s nine thirty and time for bed.

Thursday morning and a five thirty start for me, Mr. Sam always happy to get his treats early, and stretched out on my lap for a nap while I checked our emails, I decided to head to the arboretum early this morning, at 50C (10C) it is certainly a nice warm morning, so by seven I was off for my morning trek around the main arboretum trail. Knowing I am the only person in the arboretum, with the birds, the bunnies, and all the other creatures that I haven’t seen yet. Before the first staff members start at seven thirty, so by getting out ahead of the staff just allows a better chance a sighting wildlife. The birdlife was everywhere this morning so I decided to sit near the Picket Post House just to listen for a few moments, then instantly it was all quiet just like the day before but this time I found the reason why.

Just above the ridge was a large hawk circling, I tried to get a photo but with a moving target, an iPhone, zoomed out to 10x, lets just say it is not a very great picture.

But during the period when the hawk was in view, the arboretum was dead quiet and after the hawk disappeared the birds came back to life.

So I’m thinking he was close by yesterday, just our of my sight lines.

Back at the coach by eight fifteen and catch up on a little breakfast while watching the news and catching up on my postings. We are heading to Gold Canyon to-day to have lunch with Ray & Karen, its been almost two weeks since we have seen them as Ray has been under the weather and has not been up to his usual hectic pace. As we head to the valley the temperatures will be near 80F (27C) a number of degrees warmer than we would experience here at the elevation at the arboretum.

What a great day from so many outlooks, the weather could not have been finer, temperatures were perfect, we sat on Ray & Karen’s patio, enjoyed a cold beverage, we were treated to a hot lunch with a salad, we learnt a new game “Fast Track”, then had tiramisu for desert. And talked and laughed our way till eight thirty, again we are so blessed to have such good friends. Ray is feeling much better, and is on some medication for an inner ear virus that was throwing his equilibrium off, which effected his hearing, and balance, but there was no sign of any issue today.

We made it back to the arboretum and our coach just after nine o’clock, no need for any television this evening, Miss Laurie took a few minutes to appease Mr. Sam who was not pleased with his dinner being four hours late. I’m taking a few moment to reflect on the days events, as we had shared some of our upcoming travel plans with Ray & Karen. and keeping with my new plan to keep up to date with this blog to avoid the Saturday night marathon. So now its close to ten and I’m headed to bed to prepare for our Monday morning.

Friday, and we are back to work for an eight o’clock start, Mr. Sam thought that I should be up or at least he thought I should get his treats so at 5:40 I full filled his request, and he honored me with nearly an hour of lap time before heading to my spot on the big bed. It’s now 6:30 and dawn is close at hand, as my iPhone comes to life this morning and the first thing to flash up is a weather advisory, I’m still getting all the alerts from LHR, I guess I need to figure out how to stop them someday. But in the mean time it’s kind of fun to see what we are avoiding, it’s 46°F (8°C) a little cooler than yesterday, but way better than that weather advisory thing … jus’saying.

So we start the day with a bowl of cereal, a cup of coffee and a couple of vitamins, Miss. Laurie has packed our lunch, and filled our water bottles and we will be heading out the door shortly. Because it is to be in the mid 70’s (20’s) today I decided shorts were in order but that cold hit me as I exited the coach, we had the outside displays uncovered before Chris landed to open the door, Miss Laurie is helping in the store until more staff arrives, and by twenty after eight I have checked in two members and a guest, it needs to pickup or it could be a long day.

So while I’m waiting for admission number four I decided to do some checking on what it would take to move this counter that is on the south wall of the admissions booth to the west wall where we actually are greeting the guests. And I was pleasantly surprised that the stainless steel counter is actually sitting in a one inch angle, so the removal of a couple of dozen screws and it should be free to reposition on the wall that actually faces once visiting guests. It will also pave the way for the addition of a second check-in window for the members.

Because I don’t want to alienate myself with the maintenance staff I’m going to try and talk with Lenard who is the head of maintenance, and offer to take on this project for him, it looks like at most an hour and half to move the equipment out, move the shelf, and get the equipment reset up, but I also know it has been a subject of some friction between departments, and I’m not trying to throw gasoline on any fires.

One of our favorite visitors is Lucy, she is the only dog among all of the host volunteers, and is always so excited to see either myself or Laurie, she is Tom & Kathleen’s dog and always brings a smile to our faces with her antics. Mr. Sam is not as impressed, because with most small dogs their movements are too quick to make him comfortable, oh he will sit and watch from the coach door, but that is usually as close as he wants to be.

The admissions traffic picked up and by 11:00 when Miss Laurie relieved me so that I could water plants, we were well on the way to two hundred visitors. The build up of plants for next months plant sale has started already, so the watering time is stretching out to over an hour to water just the plants at the visitor Center, as a truckload was just delivered on Thursday and there are many more on their way, the spring and fall plant sales are some of our biggest fund raisers, and while a lot of the plants are grown on site, we don’t have the space to grow them all, so they arrive by the truckload right up until sale day.

Miss Laurie and I switched off to allow us to both get some lunch, a number of things are always in play. The arboretum offers these discovery tours at no charge, and on Thursday & Friday there are two one at 10 am and another at 1 pm, people can sign up on line for the tours, but because they don’t pay for the tour they just don’t show up. So there is always extra confusion around tour times with people checking in for the tour or trying to get enough people to make the tour worthwhile.

I had more watering to do at the growing beds, which are located near the propagation greenhouse, and the number of pots increases daily as we are building stock for the big sale, so now that area involves more than an hour of watering. Because the store is getting so much new merchandise in they are short staffed to get it priced and on to display, so Miss Laurie is helping out in the store to cover lunches and staff shifts and shortages. So, today I started in the admissions booth and also finished my shift in the booth as well, today was just under 400 visitors, not a busy as we would like but not bad for a workday, it’s always busier on the weekends.

After our shift we sat on the patio for a little while with a beverage to wind down, it’s nice that the temperatures are warming, making it very comfortable , but by five thirty we moved inside, to catch up on the news before I barbecued burgers, our regular Friday night dinner. And as I checked emails the last piece of this year’s puzzle seems to be falling into place, more on that in the next week or two. This evening is catching up on some YouTubers, and a couple of episodes of a series from the food network that our streaming service saves for us to watch at our convenience, before turning just before ten.

Saturday and another early start, 5:30 and I’m up and going, again Mr. Sam is happy for his treats a little early and I’m also rewarded with some valuable lap time, a lot of my blogs are written with the kitty on my lap, I don’t know as it is inspirational but I’m sure it is calming, it’s hard to rant when receiving so much love. So, if yesterday was our Monday, then today has to be our Wednesday or hump day, it should be busier today, but there should be more store staff as well, and we have three tours today at 10, 11 and at 1 o’clock, we will hope for close to eight hundred visitors today, but the PGA (Professional Golf Association) is playing in Scottsdale so it may not be a busy as we hope today or it could be lots of ladies escaping their significant others, I guess we will know shortly. Another morning of cereal, a vitamin, and a coffee before our eight o’clock start.

This mornings temperature is 52°F (11°C) but the wind is back, so we will have to batten down today, our days has stretched out to 10 hours and fifty five minutes, and we are expecting another day in the seventies ( twenties) today so just another sunny day here in Arizona.

The first visitor checked in at 8:01, I had just opened the booth while Miss Laurie was helping in the store, another first time visitor to Arizona’s best kept secret. The pace through the morning was steady, but not a busy as we are usually hoping for, I had watering detail again this morning, all the newly transplanted items need lots of tender loving care until they get their roots established in their bigger pots.

There are lots of people hustling hither and thither completing tasks for tomorrow’s big event, cases of beverages, bags of ice, chairs, tables, decorations and probably lots of things we never seen. It’s noon now and I’m grabbing a tuna sandwich and some pretzels (Dots) for lunch, it just works out better on the eight hour days to pack a lunch, something we can grab quickly between the surges of visitors. Miss Laurie is much quicker in the booth than I am so I usually take the job of map explainer to direct people to the different areas of the arboretum.

Well when I returned from lunch, I found that Miss Emily had decorated the admissions booth with some valentines and then I see the “kissing booth” sign on the window next to Miss Laurie, and there I was without any money. Of course that took a strange twist when I took over while Miss Laurie had lunch jus’saying. The wind subsided this afternoon, wind in the desert is a normal occurrence, but how they start and stop still amazes me almost as much as they way they change direction.

The afternoon seemed to drag a bit, the days that aren’t as busy are like that, and with half an hour to go I’m thinking about a cold cocktail after work instead of what I’m supposed to be. None of what we do is complicated or difficult it’s just very repetitive and your also trying to maintain that we are thrilled to see every visitor mode, it all goes back to the first impression and we only get one chance. At 4:00 we were packing up and heading to the coach, I’m going to watch the last few moments of the third round of the Waste Management golf tournament, then make a cold beverage to enjoy before dinner.

I snapped a couple of photos as we walked down the ramp at the visitors center, everyone likes a photos of flowers on a sunny warm afternoon.

Dinner tonight was salad with sliced chicken breast, a little catch up on the news to see what is happening in the area, we watched a few YouTube videos, and then the last two episodes of Reacher the latest series from Prime Video, then finished the evening with an episode from the food channel. It has been an interesting week, and next week looks to be even more interesting as we start to put a plan together for the rest of the year, and some of the options will be exciting so stay tuned.

Only 36 days till spring – Be well, stay strong

Blog 404

Day 1594

2 thoughts on “Week thirteen @ BTA

  1. Brian – love reading your blog – and as always live the pictures. Soo calming and beautiful.
    Hope you and Laurie have a great week.

    Liked by 1 person

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