Fire, Confusion, and Compassion

I awoke to a burning in my throat and the smell of a campfire, same as I had the previous four days. It was around 5:30 in the morning and the sun hadn’t risen yet. The winds were calm, thank goodness, and the air was a crisp sixty degrees … perfect for sleeping with the windows open.

Goodwin Fire Prescott Arizona

Fairgrounds RV Park can be seen on the left side of the road – my current home base – photo taken 6/28/17

Although I slept great, there was a restlessness about me. It was Thursday, June 29th, and under the circumstances that restlessness was justified. No longer sleepy, I jumped out of bed, went downstairs, started the coffee and quickly went to the window to check for the plume of smoke. I was flooded with a sign of relief as the sky appeared clearer than it had the last couple of days.

I’m sure the calm winds played a major role in allowing the firefighters to try to get a handle on this out of control forest fire.¬† The Governor of Arizona declared a State of Emergency due to the Goodwin Fire located to the south and east of Prescott, Arizona. The fire started on June 24th and has since scorched over 25,000 acres.

Goodwin fire Prescott Arizona

Goodwin Fire – photo taken 6/29/17 from the Yavapai County Fairgrounds, Prescott Valley, Arizona

Evacuations and road closures have been an ongoing event and although Al and I haven’t been personally affected (other than the continuous campfire scented air), Al does have a good buddy that has been affected. Hubby’s friend was in one of the evacuation zones but wouldn’t leave his property. During Al’s first phone call with the friend, he seemed confused and unsure what to do. Al did his best to make recommendations and suggestions along with our offer to help. Regular communication ensued checking in on his well-being.

Goodwin Fire Prescott ArizonaFortunately, the evacuation order for the friends neighborhood was only in effect for two days. Once the evacuation was lifted, the friend was obviously relieved there was no longer an immediate threat of fire, but more importantly, his out-of-town guests were finally able to visit so they could all attend the big rodeo in town together. Important stuff out here in the west, ya know. Yep, let’s get our priorities straight ūüėÜ

Considered the world’s oldest rodeo, Prescott Frontier Days is a huge event that locals always look forward to attending.  Since 1888, this traditional rodeo has occurred annually over the 4th of July weekend.  Although the Prescott Rodeo Grounds and events were not affected by the forest fire, the slew of extra horse trailers around town proved to be a benefit.

A disaster, like this forest fire, seems to bring out the best in people …. compassion sums it up nicely. Folks have come together and rallied to help one another in any¬†which way they can. The small towns of Mayer and Dewey, which were located within the evacuation zones, are rural and many homeowners live on acreage with all kinds of animals, large and small.

Goodwin fire livestock

This gal seemed stressed and restless

Goodwin Fire evacuated animals

Yavapai County Fairgrounds serves as animal shelter for evacuated animals of all kinds

goodwin fire animal shelter

animals from the evacuated areas being brought to temporary shelter at the fairgrounds

Goodwin Fire animal shelter

With smoke-filled skies and ash falling, this was a scary and confusing situation for people and animals a like. Folks from all over the surrounding Prescott area were hitching up their trailers and driving into the evacuation zones to offer help in transporting animals. Unfortunately, not all animal owners have the equipment to transport their horses or livestock, in which case corral gates were left open for the animals to escape. These three alpacas were picked up by a Good Samaritan and brought to the shelter.

goodwin fire animal shelter

These alpacas were found skittishly roaming. They seemed very confused and scared.

Yesterday during my afternoon walk, I checked in on the alpacas. Apparently, the relieved and grateful owner had picked them up that morning.  We talked with a couple of volunteers and they informed us there was a very good system in place to reunite the proper owners with their animals.

Goodwin Fire animal shelter

With evacuation orders being lifted (July 1st), the pens in the make shift animal shelter were a mere quarter full versus the near full facility just two days earlier. The shelter was offered all free of charge ….. the animals were cared for by volunteers, food had been donated, and a veterinarian was available. This had to offer peace of mind for the owners. I know it would me, an animal lover!

Goodwin Fire Prescott Arizona

photo taken late afternoon July 1. Goodwin Fire in the distance – over 40% containment and light winds.

The compassion didn’t end with the animals. For anyone who was evacuated and owned an RV, they were welcome to park in just about any parking lot around Prescott Valley. One of the local RV dealerships even offered up the use of their RV’s on site. I’m not sure which dealership it was or any of the circumstances, but I did find the story interesting.

A Red Cross shelter was setup at the Prescott Valley High School and the parking lot there had a bunch of RV’s in the lot as did the local Walmart, grocery stores, and shopping centers. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many RV’s scattered around a town…. take that back, I know I never have. The rules for overnight RV parking were bird photographyoverlooked during this trying time.

‚ÄúNo one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.‚ÄĚ ¬†‚Äē Charles Dickens

Even though there’s been some misinformation posted on social media, most of the posts have been positive, compassionate, and offering help.

As we celebrate this 4th of July weekend, I can’t help but feel proud of the camaraderie I’ve seen this past week … the American spirit at its finest. My thanks go out to all the fire fighters who put their lives on the line daily to ensure our safety and to all the volunteers who lend a helping hand. The Goodwin fire continues to burn, but at the moment (July 2nd), no towns are being threatened and containment continues to improve. Let’s hope the winds don’t kick up!

Wishing you all a wonderful and smoke free 4th of July!

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Homesteading and becoming a Reptile

The more time I spend in Arizona, the more I like it. It’s a fascinating state offering diversity and extremes.  The landscape ranges from stunning red rock country to unique hills filled with cactus to dense forests of tall pine trees.  In the morning, I can enjoy a cup of coffee in delightful 70 degree sunny weather in Phoenix and a couple of hours up the road I can go snow skiing in Flagstaff (that’s if I was into snow skiing).

Grand Canyon

Me at the south rim of the Grand Canyon 5/6/17

This kind of diversity can catch visitors by surprise and quite often does.  A few years ago, we visited the south rim of the Grand Canyon the first week of November.  The north rim had already closed for the season.  We were well prepared for whatever weather Mother Nature had in mind, and I was actually hoping for snow.  By mid October, all the campgrounds located outside of the national park are usually closed for the season.

Grand Canyon

south rim of the Grand Canyon – May 6, 2017

We set up camp at the only campground open year round offering hook ups; Trailer Village.¬† With the overnight temps expected to dip into the twenties, we connected the electric only.¬† The next morning as Al and I were ready to head on over to the rim for sightseeing, we chuckled as numerous RVer‚Äôs were struggling unsuccessfully with their water hose connections.¬† Yeah folks, when the overnight low hits 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you can expect things like waterline’s to freeze up.

Saguaro Cactus

Saguaro Cactus are only found in certain parts of Arizona

When we arrived at the visitor center, we glanced at a couple of tour buses that had just pulled up.  The moment the tourists disembarked in their summer attire, they were assaulted by the winter weather. We noticed the shock, disbelief and discomfort on their faces.  While Al and I stood there comfy in our winter garb, we wondered if anyone bothered enlightening these European tourists.

Several months ago, I made mention to a friend back in Illinois that Al and I decided to spend most of the year in the state of Arizona, including summer.  My friend questioned our logic and wondered why we would stick around Arizona in 110 degree weather.

And just like those tourists at the Grand Canyon, my friend had no clue about the elevation changes in this state.  Let’s face it, Illinois is pretty flat.  You want colder weather, you drive north.  You want warmer weather, you drive south.  Easy peasy, huh!  But it’s not so easy in the west.  It’s all about elevation and has nothing to do with north or south.

reptile, lizard

This lizard and I both like sunny warm weather. Does that make us both reptiles?

A little over a week ago, the temps in Phoenix were nearing that three digit mark.  That was our cue that it was time for us to head to the hills.  Our one hour plus drive took us from Phoenix’s elevation of 1,100 feet to Prescott Valley’s 5,200 feet, and the temperature dropped more than twenty degrees…. brrrr.  Al and I were cold.  Had our time in the valley of the sun turned us into reptiles?  Anything less than 70 degrees and we were donning sweatshirts!

Prescott RV Parks

Our home for the next few months!

Since we’ll be staying in Prescott Valley at least a couple of months, I decided to do a little homesteading and plant a garden.

I haven’t done any digging in the dirt since we went full-time in the RV four years ago. I purchased three planters, a bag of dirt, and a bunch of plants; ¬†parsley, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, chives, and tomatoes.

I think I’d be dating myself if I said I was humming a Simon and Garfunkel song while planting my garden ….

It felt wonderful to do a little gardening and even though I’ve never been the best gardener, I’ve always found the activity enjoyable. ¬†That said, Al and our two children have made bets on how long I’ll be able to keep these plants alive. Who needs fantasy football when you can bet on mom and her green thumb or lack thereof ūüėĄ

RV gardens

me planting my garden

So our first week in Prescott was a busy and fun one which included a day trip to the Grand Canyon for a picnic lunch.  Fun planting my little garden.  Hiking at one of my favorite locations РWatson Lake.  And trying to stay warm as a cold front accompanied by a record rainfall blew through the area.

Watson Lake

I love hiking at Watson Lake

reflection Watson Lake

Reflections at Watson Lake

I have a few more entertaining things planned for the month of May. ¬†Let’s hope Mother Nature is agreeable and she won’t make me bundle up …. even more!

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It wasn’t all work!

During the 5 week remodeling project at our son’s house, we did manage to fit in some play and other projects.¬† So it wasn’t all work.¬† After all, the paint¬†needed to dry, we¬†had to wait for carpet to arrive,¬†and a little break here and there was warranted.

Watson Lake

Watson Lake, Prescott AZ

Aside from remodeling, socializing and hiking, we managed to get in a day trip up to Prescott, Arizona.  Prescott continues to remain on our radar as a possible place to settle down one day.  I was first introduced to this high desert community 25 years ago and again repeatedly over the past 3 years.Prescott Arizona

Our day trip was two-fold.  First and foremost was having the Ford F-250 serviced.  Why would we go to Prescott for servicing when we were staying in a major city?  Four years ago the turbo went out on the truck and we broke down on Interstate 17 near the Sedona exit.  We had just dropped off a load of furniture to our son in Phoenix with our utility trailer and were returning to Colorado with the empty trailer when the truck refused to climb another hill.

Prescott ArizonaWe were towed to the Ford dealership in Cottonwood/Camp Verde where Ted (our now preferred Diesel mechanic) gave us the low down on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We were offered the easy less expensive fix or the lengthy more costly fix.¬† Turns out, years ago Ted worked¬†for Ford and was a consultant¬†on the original design team¬†for this particular engine.¬† He¬†knew its strengths and weaknesses.¬† If we went with the quick fix, it was just a matter of time and we’d break down again with another issue.¬† If we went with the total redo fix, then our¬†engine would easily go another 150,000 plus miles without major issue.

Since I have an extensive background in marketing and sales, I’m always the skeptical one and felt we were “being sold”¬†or taken advantage of….. out of staters broken down – perfect for the plucking.¬† Four years later and after¬†swapping stories¬†with quite a few other Ford F-250 owners, I¬†now feel we were NOT¬†ripped off and Ted did right by us.¬† Hubby knew that all along ¬†ūüėČ

Prescott Arizona

Where’s Waldo … oops, I mean Al? Hint; he’s wearing a blue shirt.

So this past winter as we¬†crossed the seemingly never ending¬†state of¬†Texas, we sensed¬†the Big Dog wasn’t running quite right.¬† Ah, what to do, what to do?¬† We already had a bad experience¬†with the Peoria Ford Dealership (Phoenix area) and weren’t sure where to go for honest service.¬† Much to hubby’s surprise, I recommended he call Ted.

Gambels QuailTed was now working at H & H Diesel in Dewey, Arizona (a small town just before you get to Prescott).¬†¬†Ted had Al call him back first thing the next morning so they could talk on the phone as Al started the truck.¬† Ted walked him through the settings on the “tuner” (which had been installed during the major turbo fix) and in less than 2 minutes it was determined the number two¬†injector was bad.¬† A repair estimate was given and an appointment set up.

A few days later we drove up to Dewey, which was an easy one hour drive from Phoenix, with both trucks.  We dropped off the F-250 at H & H Diesel and ventured off in my little Tacoma.  Our first stop was Watson Lake.  A few years ago, friends introduced us to this unique and stunning lake.

Prescott Arizona

No such thing as ‘too many’ photos!

Prescott Arizona

Can you see the two kayaks? Helps give scale to the enormous size of the boulders.

Watson LakeI was loving it….¬†climbing here, climbing there, all the while giving that camera shutter a good working out¬† We¬†continued to do¬†a little hiking and exploring with the promise to return another day to take the time to really savor and experience all of Watson Lakes’ nooks and crannies. Perhaps renting a kayak would even be in order.

A short day trip to Prescott was definitely not enough time to take in everything this lovely community has to offer.

When we picked up the truck, the owner, John Hughes,¬†of H & H Diesel spent an hour educating us on the tuner and the repair.¬† The bill was even less than the verbal estimate.¬† It’s been 7 weeks since the work was performed and the Big Dog is running better than ever.¬† Yes, we¬†are very pleased with the work and this will be our go to service shop in the future.¬†¬†As we were leaving and¬†thanking John, two RV’s pulled in confirming they not only work on trucks but diesel pushers as well.

So let’s see…. the big truck is feeling better, the little truck was given some attention, and then I too had a check up.¬† Now all three of us are running in tip-top shape.

Food blogsAnd if I didn’t already have enough on my plate, I decided to start another blog.¬† I’m not sure what I was thinking especially since we were having a ton of internet/router issues at the time – and still do.¬† One minute I’ll be commenting away on someone’s lovely¬†blog and the next I’ll lose the connection along with whatever words¬†I had¬†typed.¬† Grrr… talk about frustrating.

So why another blog?¬† Many of you know, 2014 was not kind to me in the health arena.¬† My new blog will focus on cooking and how diet plays an important role in how¬†we feel.¬†I still don’t have a solid focus regarding this new blog, but I know it’ll evolve over time.

Food allergies and sensitivities are a huge issue.  The food we eat today is not the food our ancestors ate.  Preservatives and genetically modified grains have changed the game.

saguaro sunsetBefore¬†I did the post on “Blogging lessons learned“, I did a little research.¬† One common thread was repeatedly mentioned; have a¬†focused topic and know your audience.¬† That said, I¬†think some of you that follow¬†this blog¬†might be interested in¬†my recipes, a Paleo diet, health, etc., but I feel the majority of Live Laugh RV followers are more interested in our travels and photos.¬† However, if I am wrong and you are interested in food and health, click on over to Dally in the Galley and follow me over there.

I also have my food blog link in my side bar with the above wine photo as the feature.

Also, since I’m usually posting here a couple of weeks (or more) behind in our destinations, if you’re every wondering where we’re at “today”, I¬†update our current location in the side bar with the photo of Al and me.

We left Phoenix on May 7th¬†leaving behind¬†beautiful clear skies and warm temperatures.¬† Now we’re¬†wondering why we left.¬† The weather in Colorado has been wetter and colder than normal.¬† Yikes, snow in May?¬† All part of the adventure I guess!

The Recipe Hacker: Comfort Foods without Soy, Dairy, Cane Sugar, Gluten, and Grain