Week fourteen @ BTA

Sunday February 20th, 2022

Sunday morning and while we only have a shift of four hours this morning, we have volunteered to work the concert this afternoon in the arboretum, and it’s also “Super Bowl Sunday” and kickoff will be just as the concert ends … can you say one crazy busy Sunday?

So, its eight o’clock and the scurrying has began early, and I expect it to be like this all day, as this is a big event for the arboretum, so there are four tours of the Arboretum, plus the concert happening today. I’m starting solo in the admissions booth this morning and I make a mental note that I need to check that the credit card terminal in properly seated in its cradle before we quite for the end of the day, as it was totally dead this morning and takes quite a few moments to get enough charge to power up. This mornings flow of visitors has been reasonable 27 in the first half hour, not record breaking by any means, but respectable.

The kissing booth!

So we have this whole kissing booth thing figured out and in true Canadian entrepreneurship thinking we are now offering Hershey Kisses for for that quarter, and given the cost of a bag of Hershey kisses this could prove to be very profitable, and it sure gets a few surprised looks.

10:30 and the temperature is climbing but there is a light breeze out of the east, and that may be a very welcome relief this afternoon, but there’s not a cloud in the sky. That’s the best part about trying to plan an outdoor event in Arizona!

12:00 and our replacements have taken over the admissions booth, and we are headed to the coach for a quick lunch, a toasted tuna sandwich, a few moments to respond to some emails, then get dressed for our parts in todays concert, white shirt with black trousers was the days dress code, I decided to add a necktie for some colour and we prepare to report for duty.

1:30 and we have reported for duty, Miss Laurie and Kathleen will be working admissions counter for the concert which included suppling wristbands to identify the concert goers, Tom and I will be bartending this afternoon, so we pick up our cash box and head off to get set up to have the bar open by two o’clock. The bar design looks good, maybe not the most efficient layout but as we fill tubs with beverages and add ice to keep it chilled we are now ready to go.

1:55 we rang up our first alcohol sale, a few moments ahead of our two o’clock official start time, the next couple of hours were hectic but fun, as we were serving six wine choices, 3 white and 3 red, then seven different beers 6 from craft brewery’s and Michelob Ultra, then to add confusion there were two brands of hard seltzer for a total of 8 different flavors of seltzer. The band played a good variety of music, and the event as a whole seemed well received by pretty much everyone, and the age crowd was all over the map. This event can only be labeled a huge success with many people asking for more of the same in the near future. There were a few things I could suggest to improve the bar set up if asked, but we were not a real rushed at the bar so with two tenders serving around 150 people it worked well.

4:15 we completed service and packed up the left over product before taking our cash box and tip jar to the visitor center to have the funds counted, we dealt with both cash sales and drink tickets and our tip jar had over $150 dollars after just a couple of hours, of course our tips were used as a donation and to cover the water we gave away.

The Anderson’s and the Buchanan’s

4:45 we had found our way back to the coach to prepare for the Super bowl street party that a few of the host volunteers had planned, but before we could join the party, we had a job interview scheduled for five o’clock with a potential campground on Vancouver Island for this summer. We have applied for a number of positions for this summer, we have turned a few of them down either because of location, or lack of facilities, or after speaking with other work campers, it was reported not to be the place to settle. A few of the campgrounds that we sent resumes to, we have just never never replied, even after follow up emails or messages, some positions had already been filled, and while this opportunity sounds promising, we still have a couple more outstanding that we are interested in.

5:45 and we are headed to the street party to watch the Super Bowl, a number of the host volunteers didn’t join us, for what ever reason, some people have no interest at all in football, and it is still gets quite cold after the sunsets. The game was a good match up to watch, too many Super Bowls are just terrible blow out games. The food table was even better with a good selection of snacks, and best of all was the company of the other campers, it is these little get togethers that make it enjoyable for us. And we were personally disappointed with the outcome of the game, as we were rooting for the underdog Bengals, and they just couldn’t pull it together in the last few moments. The half time show pretty much sucked, there is just no other way to describe it, after all the hype, it was just a waste of television, but provided a good time to enjoy the bounty of food and grab another cold beer. The bonus of being out in the southwest when watching the Super Bowl is being able to watch it outside and it was over and we were back in the coach by eight o’clock instead of ten.

8:10 and we have made it back to the coach, and recapping it was a big day for us, so we thought we would just catch up on some YouTube videos, but usually good videos content from one of our regular channels, just seemed to go on and on so by nine o’clock we shut them off and headed for bed.

Monday and it’s shortly after six o’clock, Mr. Sam is thrilled that I’m up and I’m rewarded with some valuable lap time, before he headed to the big bed for a sleep in the sunshine, its looking to be another wonderful spring day here in Arizona, and while not sure yet at this point what is on our agenda today I quite sure it will involve some time in the arboretum. Miss Laurie is preparing breakfast which this morning was a cheese omelet, while we are catching up on some of the stupidity that’s happening north of the border.

Today Miss Laurie has moved her Apache Tears from the cleaning mode to polishing mode, cleaning mode lasted four days so we will see how long polishing mode takes. I spent some time playing with my new spotting scope, it should allow me to get photos with my iPhone that will add some nice touches here are a few of todays looks.

This photo appears to be some sort of stacked rocks on the side of the ridge that I had never seen before, but I was able to see through the new spotting scope, still playing with settings, and hoping to use to get some better bird photos.

I spoke with Lennard today about moving the counter in the admissions booth, and let’s just say it didn’t go over well. All I got from him was that the counter is not moving because it will leave holes in the walls. That was it, the best the facilities manager could come up with was that it would leave holes. It took everything that I had not to suggest that they turn the booth the way it was designed to be, before they decided that they couldn’t place it where it was designed to go. So I learned a lot about Lennard today, none of which would be flattering, I have worked with many managers over the years that reject everything that was not their idea. So I will now let the managers battle it out and I will just do as I’m instructed.

I also finished Kathleen’s book today, I must report that it was a very good read, I’m sure it helped knowing the author and having already heard some of the background details, and that already had me quite curious. But I would still recommend the book as a very informative and touching read of true off grid living while running a year round bed and breakfast. It is available on Amazon, I was lucky enough to get a signed copy.

We decided to take a hike through the arboretum after the park closed today at five o’clock, Miss Laurie was looking to get some photos of the returning monarch butterflies, but apparently they are not late afternoon creatures. We have never been in the arboretum at sunset and some of the views were amazing, and that’s where the evening kind of fell apart. After giving up on the monarch search I thought it would make a good photo if I could get a shot of the Picket Post house with the sun setting, so I hustled to the suspension bridge to get the shot, I was a few moments too late and by the time I got back to where I expected to find Miss Laurie, and after not finding her I assumed she must have missed me when I was on the suspension bridge. So I figured I would walk the main trail the opposite direction and meet up with her but that never happened, she had returned to the coach while I continued to look. We need to be sure to have our cell phones or our walkie-talkies with us next time, or as Miss Laurie says I need not to walk ahead without explaining where I’m off to. Here are a few of tonight’s photos.

Tonight’s dinner was leftovers of Miss Laurie’s chicken taco soup, a wonderfully flavoured concoction that is closer to a stew than a soup. I got back too late to watch the news, but watched some of the Ontario news on YouTube, then caught up on others videos before watching the most recent episode of “1883” before turning in for the night.

Tuesday and I’m having a six thirty start this morning, I’m not walking in the arboretum this morning as we have a hike scheduled this afternoon with Ray & Karen. Mr. Sam is snuggled up on my lap after his morning treats, and while I work on getting together yesterday’s photos and recapping yesterdays adventures. Today we have reached 11 hours between sunrise and sunset, our forecast weather today is 73°F (23°C) with clear sunny skies, and an UV index of 5, sorry Ontario but it is already spring here.

This morning Miss Laurie prepared a breakfast of biscuits with butter and jam, and we are watching some mindless morning television while I clean up some blog entries, and watching some of the facility staff trying to clean up a mess that they created in front of our coach over a month ago, so now we just have stray cabinets abandoned left in the middle of the parking lot along with the trailer hitch cement block that the just pulled the trailer over top of. Watching many of the things the staff does just leaves me shaking my head, as so much only partially gets done and will sit like that for weeks at a time.

Leftover office furniture left in the parking lot

And then in a couple of minuets our whole day changed, we went from a hike on the Legends of Superior Trail north of the Town of Superior with Ray & Karen, to a grocery supply run for Miss Laurie and a diagnostic day for me. The winds have came up and the dust is being blown into the air, and of course the pollen is stirred up as well, so the hike was postponed, Miss Laurie went to Walmart for groceries and I helped Ray with a voltage drop issue on his RV charging system. And because there is some boondocking in their summer plans, he wants to be able to recharge his lithium batteries with as little generator running time as possible, so we made a plan and the needed supplies or ordered, to be installed some day soon.

Because I was looking forward to having dinner at the Silver King Smokehouse & Saloon, a barbeque place in Superior just a couple of moments up highway US-60, so we asked Tom & Kathleen to join us, we arrived before five o’clock and the aroma was mouthwatering, so we were disappointed to hear that they were sold out of everything except sausage, and while I would have liked to try the sausage, I had been thinking of brisket all day, so I just couldn’t see sausages filling that desire. Since they were out of barbeque they have a burger menu, and while I have heard their burgers are good, I make a pretty good burger at home, so I went for smoked wings, John & Karen had recently raved about them. The wings were smoked then deep fried at time of serving to crisp and warm them up, the were served bare with sauces being on the table, I also ordered a side wedge salad because Kathleen had raved about the salad. Both were great choices, Miss Laurie ordered loaded fries which came topped with a good portion of pulled port and she was raving about them. So next trip will be for a late lunch or early dinner to get some of that brisket.

After dinner we returned to the coach and I caught up on the news before watching last Sundays edition of 60 minuets, then a couple of documentaries on the sea life in the Pacific Ocean before turning in for the night, the clouds are moving in as we have rain in tomorrows forecast.

Wednesday and 4:24 the first rain drops hit the coach roof, I was up for a nature thing and I gave Mr. Sam his treats to try to keep him quiet, and I tried to go back to bed, but I just tossed and turned for a few moments before giving up and just getting up. And Mr. Sam rewarded me with my allotted lap time before leaving and taking over my vacated space on the big bed, I turned on the electric space heater, as the temperature in the coach was dropping, there were a few flashes of lightning to the north as the rain started and stopped.

As we are closing in on the end of our time in Arizona (just 74 days to go), I decided to look into the ferry crossing that we will need to get onto Vancouver Island for this summers adventures, I had heard that it was less expensive to travel from Washington to Vancouver Island than it was to take the Vancouver BC to Vancouver Island, so I was going to look into comparing the cost of both possibilities. Ok I have visited British Columbia, but that was nearly 50 years ago, so I’m pretty much starting from scratch, first issue BC Ferries site was not compatible with safari, so I switched to chrome and was able to get the site to at least let me attempt to get a rate. Our rig is sixty-five feet long for the coach with the toad, well the site could not work with those numbers, to go from Horseshoe Bay near Vancouver to Departure Bay in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. So we will need to book passage as two separate vehicles so the toad one way will be $87.35 if we prepay $94.35 if we just reserve and the coach will be $256.10 prepaid or $263.10 reserved for a total of $343.45 prepaid or $357.45 if we just reserve the passage, and the voyage is 1 hour and forty minuets long.

Now to figure out the passage from Washington State to Vancouver Island, my research shows two ferries, Washington State Ferry which normally crossed form Anacortes in Washington State to Sidney on Vancouver Island but it is not running at this time because of Covid restrictions. The second Ferry is Black Ball Ferry Lines and it leaves from Port Angeles in Washington State and docks in Victoria on Vancouver Island a passage time of 1 hour and thirty minuets, and I can leave the coach and toad together for $360.50 US or if we split the vehicles it appears we can get passage for $310.50 US but with a 25% exchange rate the total would be $388.13, so it looks like it could be a Canadian ferry ride to the Island.

It is a rainy day in Arizona, hey it happens, and we certainly need the moisture, have not had rain since New Years eve, and we need it to keep the dust down, it will be a bit of a laid back day, the temperature is only 46°F (7°C) and the rain will be over by noon. I had a quick walk in the arboretum and Queen Creek was not running just before noon, and I don’t know if we got enough rain to see it flow this time, that will depend on how much rain they get upstream, but the weather forecast shows most of the storms staying well north of us with the possibility of a sprinkle again around midnight.

I was amazed at the bird activity when I went to check the creek, I heard and seen Verdin, Rock Pigeon, Gila Woodpecker, White-crowned Sparrow, Cactus Wren, Phainopepla, Northern Cardinal, Green-tailed Towhee, and an Anna’s hummingbird. And that was in a fifteen minute walk through the Wallace Garden to check on Queen Creek, I can only imagine if I had of sat and been quiet for a few moments.

Lunch was breaded jumbo shrimp prepared in the air fryer with a couple of bacon wrapped, goat cheese stuffed, dates for desert, yummy. It is near 2 pm and the cloud cover is breaking up and the sunshine is peaking through and both Laurie and I are wanting to get for a walk in the arboretum. Laurie wants to get some photos of the cloud formations as they are breaking up, and I want to try to identify some more of the increased bird activity.

I have just downloaded the Merlin app for identifying birds, it listens to their song, as well as a picture to confirm identification and it seems to be quite accurate, and with the bird activity this morning, I’m looking forward to this afternoon’s walk, Laurie snapping photos, and me confirming the species and it worked out well as we identified a lot of bird life today here are a few photos. A Vermilion Flycatcher, a Verdin, an Anna’s Hummingbird. a female Phainopepla, and a Spotted Towhee as well as seeing Northern Cardinals, Gambel’s Quail, Gila Woodpecker, Cactus Wrens, and two large hawks in a tree too far away to identify.

And of course there are still all the blossoms from all the different plant, that remind us that it is springtime in the Arizona desert.

The Vermilion Flycatcher was right here around the area of the coach and while Miss Laurie got a number of photos, none were as clear as she had hopped, and as luck would have it the Vermilion Flycatcher landed just outside the window which promoted round two of trying to get a better photo. After following the bird around the parking lot Miss Laurie gave up and returned to prepare a huge taco salad for dinner, before we settled in to stream a chick flick on Prime Video, before calling it a night.

Thursday morning and Mr. Sam was happy to see me at 6:30 this morning, or at least that was the way I interpreted it, and after his treated he is curled up on my lap, as I answered emails and started to edit this blog. I opened the blind by my chair to see clear skies on the eastern horizon and Mars in the eastern sky well above the breaking light of dawn. Eleven hours and four minutes of sunshine today, and while cool at 37°F (2.5°C) this morning and the high for today of only 57°F (13°C), it will feel much warmer in the sunshine and we will be back in the seventies (twenties) by the weekend.

Today’s agenda is still up for debate, that rain yesterday reminded me I need to get back on the roof of the coach for some more repairs, especially if we’re are heading for rainy Vancouver Island for the summer, it’s 7:30 and Mr. Sam is starting to stretch which usually means it is time to move from napping on me to a couple hours of sleep on the big bed, it’s tough being a cat and keeping track of all these sleep, nap, and resting times. I have also been asked by Linnea to move the counter in the admissions booth, I had told her I had spoken with Lennard but that had not gone well, but she didn’t seem to care, and as she is my supervisor I will do as asked.

Miss Laurie slept in till almost eight o’clock this morning, and I had the space heater on to warm the coach before the sunshine was able to warm the coach, we heard a dejected NBC crew announce that the Canadian women’s team had defeated the American ladies. It is very different Olympics coverage this side of the border than we received back in Canada, and I understand wanting to showcase your athletes, we find the American coverage to be very pinpointed as opposed to a broader coverage from Canadian broadcasters.

Breakfast this morning was a cheese and mushroom omelet, which is my favorite, toasted sourdough bread, coffee with Irish Cream, its a hard to beat start to the day. It is going to be a nice sunny day so Mr. Sam has risen early and making his demands for some outdoor time today. I have decided that we will move the admissions booth counter today but after hours to not interfere with the days operation and to avoid any conflict between departments. So it will be a relaxed day, no roof work today because I will get enough physical abuse moving the counter.

Just got into the arboretum far enough today to see the results of some tree removal and trimming, that has been happening, as heartbreaking as it is to see any trees removed especially in the desert where trees are few and far between, but I also understand that sometimes it is just necessary. So today was filled with the noise of chainsaws, and the constant warning beep of “Sky Jack” that they were using to trim and prune trees, not a great day to visit the arboretum.

A couple of “Nathans” hot dogs for lunch with a cold beer, while enjoying some sunshine, Tom & Kathleen joined us for a couple of beers on the patio, as we just had a lazy afternoon, Mr. Sam got lots of outdoor time today as temperature wise was perfect for him, we have a small table we move around to keep a shady spot for him, being black he can certainly get hot to the touch when in the sun. He is getting so much better at not bolting, that we have been letting him sit in a chair beside us unleashed for longer time, but he sees thing that we always fear he might want to chase after, we stay cautious.

The Arboretum is closed so we head to the admissions booth to move the counter, the whole task of moving all the gear out, moving the counter, and reinstalling the equipment took just a little over an hour. Now it will be so much nicer to greet and admit visitors at the booth, I just can’t understand why this has been such a long dragged out event, now we get to observe the reaction between departments.

Miss Laurie made pizza in the air fryer after our return, we have been using the Pillsbury pizza crust, then Laurie loads it up with lots of goodies and cheese, we even had mushroom on tonight’s pizza. I can’t hardly believe how good the pizza is done in the air fryer, way better that any frozen pizza we have ever had, and while maybe not quite pizzeria quality it is real damn close. After dinner we caught up on some of the covid news from Ontario, then watched a few YouTube videos, followed by some food channel shows, and an early evening.

Friday and I’m wide awake at two o’clock, I have no idea why, but after some tossing and turning I decide to just get up, and since I’m up I figure its a good time to proof read the first few days of the blog, and finish off yesterdays, as it didn’t happen for a couple of reasons, beer being one and maybe just a little laziness for the other. But I’m all caught up now and with a little luck I will be able to go back to bed and pick up a couple of hours more sleep before starting our eight hour day.

A couple of hours later and I’m up again at 6:30, so I got a little more sleep and I’m feeling pretty good for not having the best nights sleep, this is a bowl of cereal, a vitamin and a cup of coffee with a blessing of Irish Cream and off to get this workweek started. I started the day in the admissions booth, while Laurie helped in the store, and then swept up the breezeway, when she relieved me and I watered the leafy sale plants, before falling into map duty.

The new setup in the admissions booth works much better, than any previous setup we have worked with. I still need a couple of items to smooth out a couple of rough edges, but it is starting to make it nicer to work with, and with the crowds getting bigger each week we needed to streamline the operation. I have been asked to tend the bar at a donors event on March 31st, I believe Tom has been asked as well, so we must have done a pretty good job last weekend.

This afternoon we had a large Cooper’s Hawk land in a eucalyptus tree near the admissions booth, this is one of the pair of hawks that we have noticed around the arboretum for the last week or so. It was a reasonably day with just under six hundred visitors, tomorrow should be busier as it is the Saturday of a holiday weekend, and a sunny weekend by all accounts. Here are a few photos I snapped of the blossoms in the front garden of the Visitor Center.

After our shift I returned to the coach and watched the end of the second round of the PGA tournament at Riviera Club in California, it must be playing tough, as some of the top players appear to not being able to make the cut. Tonight’s dinner was leftover pork chops with sweet potato, then some time to catch up on the news both sides of the border, and finished off with a movie on Prime Video before turning in.

Saturday morning and I woke to aroma of coffee perking in the galley of the coach, Miss Laurie was up before me and was perking fresh coffee, what a great wake-up. Mr. Sam was pacing looking for his morning treats, which I got out as he complained about the wait, and as a punishment there would be no lap time for me this morning, and I have to admit that I miss that time.

7:27 and the sun just peaked over the eastern ridge as I have finished my bowl of cereal and enjoy a blessed cup of fresh perked coffee, the great thing about living where you work is the lack of a commute, being only a few hundred yards from the admissions booth. So out the coach at 7:54 walk to the visitor center, and into the admissions booth by 7:59 and ready to check in the first member by 8:00 like a finely tuned machine.

Todays first visitor a member at 8;00

I’m solo in the booth this morning as Miss Laurie likes to help Chris open up the store and prepare for the visitors by placing merchandise. It helps keep us busy in the mornings as the flow of visitors is not real strong for the first hour or so. And today the slow start continued till almost eleven o’clock, in fact we were starting to think it was going to be a bit of a disaster for revenue then like someone turned on a tap people started to arrive. The afternoon turned into one of the better days with people still arriving at four o’clock which is the cutoff time for admission to the arboretum.

We were told that our schedule may be changing again, and we explained that we would help out where ever they needed us. The spring plant sale is only a few weeks away and the work load will get heavier as that gets closer, in the next week or so there will be a second window opening at the admission booth to allow quicker processing. Or at least a members window so they can avoid the line of visitors for a faster entry.

After our shift we returned to the coach for a needed break, I watched some of the golf tournament while Miss Laurie laid down with Mr. Sam. We barbequed burgers for dinner, caught up on the news and watched a movie before calling it a night. And I’m taking about half an hour to close out this blog and get it published on time.

Stay well, be strong & Happy Birthday Betty

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