Sunday, May 25, 2008

To Jerome... And Beyond!

Five years ago, when John and I were dating, we drove from Ohio to California for Christmas and ended up at Luke Air Force base (where we now call home). While we were at Luke, we made a day trip up to Sedona, AZ- an absolutely gorgeous town with wonderful recreation opportunities. Well we decided to take the scenic route to get there and after an hour and a half drive north of Phoenix, ended up winding through some mountain roads, eventually being spit out into what I know now as one of my favorite cities of Arizona... Jerome. It is an old miner city built on the side of a mountain that has since abandoned mining but has developed an atmosphere bursting with charm, art and culture. The first time I saw it, we only drove through but I got word that the boys- John and Lucky- wanted to head up in that direction for a short overnight camping trip and I have to say that I may have been more excited about going through Jerome than the purpose of the trip altogether. We hit Jerome around dinner time and stopped for a bite to eat at the "Mile High Inn and Grill" , open since the 1890's and boasting of the best burger in Arizona (John took em up on that claim and they made a believer out of him!).

Here you can see the tiny little city, nestled in the hill side!
From the city was an amazing overlook into the rest of the valley. The streets were continuous switch-backs, climbing up each level and exposing more shops and restaurants on every turn. I learned that apparently one of the longest standing buildings, the prison had slid 40 yards or so down the mountain where they re-established it's foundation and just built in around it. I imagine they will continue to face the whole gravity issue and perhaps one day the whole city will be situated at the bottom of the hill, off of it's scenic little perch.

So after our quick, but enjoyable trip through Jerome we headed Southwest into the Mingus Mountains where we went off-road for a while and found our camp site for the night. It was a quick night since it was dusk when we got there to set up camp. We lit a fire and just did the campfire stories till almost 10, when we called it a night. The next morning, we woke at 4:30am to scout for elk. Scouting was actually the purpose of our trip, since our friend Lucky has an elk tag for that area for the fall and he was hoping to find a suitable place to hunt. Since I got little sleep (these days I'm hardly comfy in my own bed, let alone a small foam pad separating me from the dirt) so I got up with them and just slept in the car as they did their scouting thing. Ahhh- Sucess! They spotted a few elk that morning which made the trip worth while for the guys! Cana got to get in on some of the fun action too. He gets very excited when we load up the car for camping trips and seldom does he settle down until our destination is reached. Since much of our exploring was on a dirt road with no traffic, he got to lead the expedition by foot, or paw I suppose. That's right, we kicked his hyper butt out of the car and he joyfully pranced and ran in front for miles. That'll wear him out! It also made him quite the mess since there was recent rain and the dirt road was merely mud at times!

Here, Lucky holds Cana as I wipe down his feet! We tried the booties for a while, but they got so bogged down with mud that they were actually ripped off his paws and left to dig out of the mud.

Cana in action- leading the expedition!

All in all, it is just another reminder of what an immensely gorgeous place in which we live.. And I'm not just talking about Arizona but really the world! There are treasures like this everywhere across our nation that is comprised of breathtaking beauty and other countries have their fair share. I hope to one day get to see more of them and hopefully the Air Force can take us to lands far away to see for ourselves! That's what I love about the military lifestyle... You call a different place home every three years, which may be exhausting at times, but you get the privilege of finding beauty around each new corner!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Here We Go Again!

The Goal: To get all that rock from the front curb to the back yard!!!

Thursday night , 3 tons of "rip rap" (larger river-bed rocks) as well as 20 tons of gravel were dropped off at the house. In the desert, it is so expensive to keep grass looking nice (watering costs) so most of the landscaping out here is rock. The Phoenicians actually consider yards with any grass "high maintenance" even though mowing it would take 5 or 10 minutes because the grass patch is small. But with only the rock they have to do NO maintenance. We like grass, as does our dog. He's been tip-toeing around on the gravel since it's been down... it must be rough on his cute doggy paws. So for the second time in this long backyard saga, John rented a Bobcat to transport the pile from the front to the back. Notch, growing up on a farm in South Dakota is an expert at driving all sorts of large equipment so Friday morning we had him over to expedite the process. With Notch driving the loads back and John spreading them with a shovel and rake, most of the rocks were back and spread out by 11am (they started around 7am). With just a few more loads and some detail work ahead, John decided that he wanted to learn to drive the Bobcat. So for the next couple hours, roles were swapped and Notch spread as John drove.
It almost looks like a back yard now and I'm thrilled! We will have the curbing guy come out and lay the curbing on Tuesday or Wednesday. Apparently they have a machine that they feed concrete into and out comes little logs of curbing in the precise shape and contour that you want. Then our Sod laying party will be over the Memorial day weekend and... (drum roll please) then we will have a usable back yard!!!!

I missed the first hilarious moments (with the camera) of John driving and the bobcat jerking around uncontrollably, but managed to catch his learning curve on video.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tree Huggin' Good Time

Well to kick off the start of my third trimester, John took me camping! Santa brought him some new backpacking equipment last Christmas and he's been chompin' at the bit to use it! So he came home from a week at the DMO's(?) and packed up the car and off we were. Our friend, Notch came with and we ended up staying Friday night at his extended families house up in Pine, AZ. We went up and met them just after last Thanksgiving with Notch and his family and their house is extremely unique and fun to visit! So after staying the night with them, and getting the royal treatment in the morning with a wonderful breakfast, we left to hit the trails. We found the small access road we were hunting for, after a couple of drive-bys and parked 3/4 mile in the windy, dirt road. We hiked down hill for 45 mins and crossed a river at the bottom.
Once we crossed the river, the place begged to be our camp site for the night! So we dropped our backpacks (I just had a small book bag and my adoring husband had to pick up my slack and carried most of my things in... but it enabled him to fully understand the capacity of his new backpack so really I did him a favor!) and the boys immediately grabbed their fly fishing rods and searched for a spot to reel 'em in. I took the opportunity to mull around the area, did a little nature Yoga, read a little, wrote in my journal and just soaked in God's glorious masterpiece! After a bit, the boys came back to camp, which I decided I'd start setting up our tent, and after everything was set up we all went on a little "Canyoneering" hike down the river. Canyoneering is, in my experience hiking at the bottom of a canyon where at times it's too difficult to hike along the shore line, or there is no shore line so you've got to swim parts of the hike in the near freezing water. The temperature was in the 80's during the day and dropped down to the 40's at night. It was almost 5pm, the hot sun was cooling down and we got to a point in the hike where we'd have to swim 100 yards to continue. I, for one decided that I was done for the day and was ready to return back to camp and dry off. The boys agreed, but not after a little adventurous climbing to check out a log crossing the rock walls. We returned back to the camp site, the boys did one more fishing voyage then came back to start dinner. Because of the extreme fire warnings, we resisted the urge of making a huge camp fire and did most of our cooking on a little camp stove. But to roast the marshmallows for the smores, we had to build a tiny fire! They used probably 10 gallons on water to put the fire out and it looked more like a fish bowl than a fire pit by the time they were done with it. We called it a night and, exhausted, we all turned in. The next morning after breakfast we wandered for one more fly fishing expo, returned, packed up and headed home! I kept my handy dandy heart rate monitor on to ensure that I wasn't over exerting myself. We all had a good time and hope to go back to that spot when the temperature is even warmer so the swimming isn't so chilly.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Going Green!

With the green push I'm sure everyone has felt, we too have decided to do our part to be good stewards to the environment. I have been more mindful in shopping to look for more natural or recyclable products, use paper bags instead of plastic, turn off the lights and any other appliance that sucks electricity when not in use (I guess Mom and Dad knew what they were talking about all those years ago when we would get nagged for leaving lights on), and I am seriously considering using gdiapers, a new biodegradable (and flushable) diaper for the boy!

Did you know...
  • For every ton of paper that is recycled, the following is saved: 7,000 gallons of water; 380 gallons of oil; and enough electricity to power an average house for six months.

  • You can run a TV for six hours on the amount of electricity that is saved by recycling one aluminum can.

  • By recycling just one glass bottle, you save enough electricity to power a 100-watt bulb for four hours.

However, this post is more about our own selfish ambitions to get some green in our yard for aesthetic purposes, although it does add to the friendliness of the environment! And we are pleased to present the next completed step to the backyard saga. Among the plants we've got Mexican Fan Palms, Pygmy Date Palms, Ash trees, a Sissoo tree, Mexican Lime, Tangelo, Pomegranite tree, some Oleander shrubs, Arizona Yellow Bells, Honeysuckle shrubs, Lantana ground cover and Boxwood Beauties!

The next set of pictures were taken clock-wise around the backyard

These are the Bougainvillea plants we wanted outside the windows! They have the most beautiful colors and I can't wait till they flower!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Coffee Anyone?

The military is rich with traditions! One of these that I've grown accustomed to is the wives's Coffee. Once a month, we get together at a host home to socialize, eat and drink. There usually isn't coffee (in fact I don't think I've ever been to a 'Coffee' that served coffee) so it is usually replaced with wine. It's an opportunity to get to know the other spouses, to see the other ladies homes and decorations, and there is a time for the administration part too. Among the discussion topics are usually upcoming dates of importance, such as when the guys (our husbands) will be deploying or going on TDY's, fund raising opportunities, etc. I wanted to get into the history of the Coffee, but on my Internet search, I came up somewhat empty handed. I was specifically looking for a book that one of the wives had back in Utah that was dated probably back in the 50's which was a guide on how to be an officer's spouse. It had such outdated ideas about how you had to be dressed in your nice dress and have dinner in the oven when your husband came home... Like I said, outdated! So no luck with the search for that, but I did however find this gem on the Air Force Wives website. (Under Subcategory: Dinner Conversation) "The "rule" is you must spend time talking to people on both sides of you whether you find them interesting or not. Business shouldn't be discussed unless everyone is involved in the same business. Politics, finances, and religion are not suitable topics. And don't talk at length about yourself or continually about any one subject -- BORING! Current events, sports, hobbies, cultural matters, friends you may have in common, are all good subjects." (from the Air Force Wives Website)

I co-hosted the Coffee last night, and the only reason I see it as blog worthy is because of the large turnout! There were over 3o women at my house last night- including the Wing Commander and Vice Wing Commander's wives (they're the big dogs on base for those who don't know the military politics)! The first Coffee I hosted, back in Utah, seven women showed up! So this was quite a turn out and my house felt pretty cozy at times. Luckily, enough food was made, thanks to my friend Suz for co-hosting with me for the coffee!!! In fact, I have quite the excess that I plan on dropping by John's squadron today to feed the poor and hungry pilots! It was nice to have such a turn out and we got to meet many new faces. The student girlfriends (a new class just started) made their debut and it's good to know that they feel welcome since I've heard horror stories of how girlfriend's are treated by the wives club. We've got a good group of women in the squadron. We also farewelled a couple of amazing women and they will definitely be missed!

With all this history and happenings talk, I think it's appropriate to end with a little ode to the Air Force:

The U. S. Air Force Hymn

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces of the sky;
Be with them traversing the air
In darkening storms or sunshine fair

Thou who dost keep with tender might
The balanced birds in all their flight
Thou of the tempered winds be near
That, having thee, they know no fear

Control their minds with instinct fit
What time, adventuring, they quit
The firm security of land;
Grant steadfast eye and skillful hand

Aloft in solitudes of space,
Uphold them with Thy saving grace.
O God, protect the men who fly
Thru lonely ways beneath the sky.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys

When I was a little girl, I was a fish! You couldn't keep me out of water! I recall one evening in my great uncle's house in New Hampshire where I occupied myself for a few hours playing in his antique sink, just letting the water run over my hands. I was the kid who purposefully stayed in the middle of a pool so mom and dad couldn't come retrieve me... well, they could, but I knew they didn't want to come in the pool and they'd most likely just plead with me at the rim. I'd stay in until I was a prune, and even then I'd still want to swim some more! Now a days, I still love to swim but it has changed. Swimming now consists of either a work out- swimming laps or water aerobics, taking a cool-off dip when sun bathing gets too hot or just sitting/floating around and chatting with other floaters/friends. I sometimes get to thinking about how I would "play" for hours and looking back I find myself wondering how I could possibly entertain myself for that long.
Well, I got a glimpse of my childhood obsession to "play" today. We hung out at a friend's house who had us over for a pool party/barbecue and I realized that guys really don't ever grow up! haha. Of course they started with throwing unsuspecting victims into the pool and quickly moved into the plethora of competitions. I will proudly say that I was able to clinch one title today... "Notch" and I had a volley of 80 (topped the previous "record" held by John and "Lucky" by almost double- they had 42) with a little paddle ball set. That was my only event. The guys had competitions to see who could catch a football when diving off the board... then catching the football while doing a front flip... then back flip. They had a distance competition- kind of like a water balloon toss, but this was to see who could catch the pineapple chunks in their mouth as far away from each other as possible... this resulted in a few mouth open pool dives to try and stay in the game. Then, of course back to the football toss game. This time, with more guys they each ran off the diving board and threw it to the next guy in line jumping in. I was exhausted watching them but smiled from the memories of the silly games that kids play. The competitions finally ended (this is perhaps the difference between kids and grown men) when the rough play resulted in an injury and the old guys couldn't keep up and called it quits.