Monday, August 24, 2015

Change of Plans

Our work schedule had us working three consecutive days, Monday through Wednesday. That left four consecutive days off to do what we wished although one of the four days was usually taken up with laundry and grocery shopping.

Cochise Stronghold
Many of our days off were used to explore areas both familiar and unfamiliar. Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains, Hunter Canyon (a life ABA sighting of a Rufous-capped Warbler!), Whitewater Draw, and Joe’s Canyon Trail (Coronado National Memorial) were new to us. Revisits to other familiar spots like Bisbee, Madera Canyon, Hauchuca Canyon (Fort Hauchuca), San Pedro House, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (Tucson), and the EOP. Closer to home we took advantage of the hiking trails around Kartchner Caverns SP.

hiking trail at Joe's Canyon
fellow cheerful Kartchner Caverns volunteers
We also spent a fair amount of time getting to know several of the other park staff we’d met through our volunteers efforts as well as other volunteers who were our immediate neighbors. A frequent and popular activity often involved sitting around someone’s RV for an almost nightly happy hour as we shared stories about events of the day.

with Dulce and Bernd Lackemann
with Dennis and Kate Stalzer
lunch with Dick and Sally Werling
Some RV friends we’ve met over the years made stops at Kartchner. Dulce and Bernd Lackemann, Kate and Dennis Stalzer, and lunch with Dick and Sally Werling in Benson as they passed through on their way to their new home in Saddlebrook north of Tucson. Speaking of Tucson we spent both the Christmas and Easter holidays with Nancy Novak and friends at her Tucson home.

Broad-billed Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird
antelope jackrabbit
Feathered and four-legged friends were also regulars at our site. Hummingbirds during the winter in Wisconsin NEVER happened. But here in southeast Arizona they were a regular occurrence, even when we had a dusting of snow.
Sometime in October, Carol managed to spill a dry martini on her laptop keyboard. Not much of a spill but she soon discovered that a dry martini, at least to the inner working of a laptop, is not all that dry. Following failed attempts to revive the sodden laptop at an authorized Mac repair shop in Tucson, a new laptop (along with a new iPad mini) were purchased at the Tucson Apple Store. Now if we could only get her to stop dropping and breaking her point-and-shoot cameras.

Thanksgiving at Nancy's
Well in advance of our arrival at Kartchner, we had gotten word that a rental cabin near San Ramon, Costa Rica, would be available. After having been on a rental cabin waiting list for over a year and a half, we had jumped at the opportunity. And since we had a full birding tour arriving in Costa Rica toward the end of February, how opportune to already be in country.
Our original plan for the winter was to end our Karchner volunteer commitment at the end of December, store the truck and RV in Tucson until our return, then head to the Pacific Northwest with an eye to be back in Wisconsin by mid-August. However, plans do have a way of changing…

Bisbee in December during Marge's visit
Our time in Costa Rica was to be split renting the cabin for eight weeks followed by the two week bird tour. But given our growing waiting list for more bird tours in Costa Rica, we realized we had enough for a second tour. In October we asked Richard Garrigues if he could throw together a second tour which he was amazingly able to pull off quite quickly. We reduced our cabin rental time to six weeks with the now two back-to-back bird tours consuming the remaining four weeks.
We had made plans to store the RV and truck in Tucson near the airport (at considerable expense) while we were in Costa Rica, but then learned that there was a strong possibility of storing our truck/RV on a little used site at Kartchner property near the maintenance building. It had only had electric hookup but that's all we would need (and which was not available if we stored in Tucson). There was, of course, a quid quo pro. In exchange for storing at Kartchner, we offered to extend our volunteer commitment through April after we returned from Costa Rica. That would still give us plenty of time to head off to the Pacific Northwest. Marlo, our volunteer coordinator extraordinaire, said she would make that work.
But two weeks before we were to depart for Costa Rica, Marlo informed us that the site we were to move our RV onto was not going to be available - someone else had just stored a boat/trailer and a Class C RV on the same site! Yikes! We’d already cancelled our storage deal in Tucson! In typical Marlo fashion, without blinking an eye, Marlo told us to leave our RV and truck right where they were in the volunteer village. Since we would be returning to pick up our volunteer duties post Costa Rica, it wouldn’t be a problem. Whew! Now all we had to do was pack, button up the RV, and get to the airport with time enough to squeeze in a birthday/wedding anniversary meal with dear friends Erika and Jim Wilson, at a Vietnamese restaurant, Indochine, a local Sierra Vista culinary delight.

yes, even snow in AZ in the winter
Seth Appell, owner of Old Bisbee Roasters (where we get our coffee)
why you wear long pants hiking in the desert

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