And the road goes on forever...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On the Road Again

From a recent Yahoo report: WASHINGTON – The number of people filing new claims for jobless benefits jumped last week after three straight declines, another sign that the pace of layoffs has not slowed.
Initial claims for jobless benefits rose by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 472,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the highest level in a month and overshadowed a report that showed consumer prices remain essentially flat.
The rise in jobless claims highlighted concerns about the economic rebound — especially after a report earlier this week said home construction plunged in May after government tax credits expired.
If layoffs persist, there's a concern that the June employment numbers may show a decline in private-sector jobs after five straight months of gains, said Jennifer Lee, an economist with BMO Capital Markets.
"We've definitely seen the economic recovery hit a wall," Lee said.

With Yuma’s 28% unemployment rate it has been virtually impossible for us to find any jobs of note; the lone exception being that I was offered the remodel at WalMart for a period that might run about eight weeks but not starting until about mid-July and both Marc and I were offered a workamping job at Bryce Canyon National Park for what would have been a four month stint if we wanted to do housekeeping, or "guest room attendant" as its now called.

There’s been an interesting thread running through our Escapees discussion forum for years regarding the work done by gas leak detection techs. These are people trained to walk a designated route and neighborhoods with a leak sniffer machine which detects gas line leaks. All gas companies in the US are required by the federal government to provide details on such checks and any leaks in a yearly report. A few third party vendors have evolved to provide qualified technicians to the gas companies for them to accomplish this. So…we applied.

The third party companies have static jobs available in the larger cities but they also have traveler positions. The premise goes that basically once you are trained, they send you via your RV to an assigned area where you complete a contract for an hourly wage and a per diem. They pay for your travel between destinations. They obviously have other requirements beyond the RV; each technician must have a spotless driving record, their own vehicle, pass some tests, be capable of walking up to six miles a day, and they must have the ability to go from job to job rather than job to home than another job. In other words, you could be a long time before seeing home again. But in our case, it should work out since Yuma is now “home” and we virtually have nothing here that can’t be locked up and left for an indefinite period of time as we have done so many times in the past.

We like the fact that we will be working together, not always in close proximity to one another, but at least the same days, same shift. We will work fairly independently with only occasional direct supervision. In severe weather when we can’t work, we are guaranteed a set amount of hours per week regardless. The per diem should adequately cover the cost of our RV space, utilities and maintenance. We will get mileage anytime they require us to switch locations, which can be as quickly as two weeks or up to eight months in duration.

We’ll be on our way around July 7th or 8th. We’ll button Yuma up and be off to Salt Lake City for two-three weeks of paid training then (hopefully) get to pick our first assignment from what is available at that time.

Just a few short weeks ago, who would have thought?

You will most definitely want to keep up with the blog now because you will never know where it will come from next! Be aware that updates may not be consistent since internet may be sketchy for a time until we work out what we are going to do. Many parks now have WIFI but not all by any means. We’ll be a work in progress.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bunny Hop

The streets are so deserted in our neighborhood now that it is a frequent sight to see cottontails feeding on plant life in vacant yards. Startled, they hop on down the street trying to evade me. The roadrunner I happened across this morning also did likewise, hot-footing it so quickly across someone's driveway I barely had a chance to swing my camera up to catch his photo. They are so elusive we never see them when all the snowbirds are in town so this was a special treat.
The days are really due to heat up later this week; to about 115. Just thinking about that heat has me wishing I could be back upon the Colorado River. I miss Marc and am bored sitting indoors all day. He found more to do so won't be returning until about the 4th or 5th of July.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Killing" Time

Here I sit with my boring days of hibernation. If anything is to be done this time of year in Yuma it had better happen before 9 a.m. We haven’t had a break from triple digits during the day for two weeks and probably won’t until about, oh say October! Very early mornings are the only time really tolerable at about 75-80 degrees. I now try and walk by 5:30 a.m. so despite not being pressed to do so, I am up every morning well before dawn.

I’ve been alone this week; Marc took off to work on a small construction remodel and some various other projects for a friend in southern California. He expects it to take about a week to ten days and by the time he returns we hope to have heard positively on jobs we’ve been pursuing. But so far…nothing.

The good news to report is that my son-in-law Brandon was released from Afghanistan day before yesterday and is leaving the air force base late tonight, headed via Germany or Ireland to Dallas and thence Ft. Lewis. We’re all so relieved he is headed home safely after a really wretched year of service on his second deployment. He said Afghanistan was much worse than Iraq. At least Iraq has some vestiges of civilization; Afghanistan, nothing. Sure makes you wonder why we’re there. Oh that’s right: the “newly” discovered trillions of dollars worth of mineral wealth must have something to do with it. Unfortunately, 36 soldiers from Brandon’s 5th Stryker Brigade won’t be returning to home soil alive to have their reunions with loved ones and families. Please remember them in your thoughts and prayers while our Administration squabbles it out with its war generals.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Playing on Water

When we put the boat away after out last river exploration we thought it would be for awhile since we are having trouble affording the fuel to run it. Today however, we decided to splurge in celebration of some news I hope to be able to spread next week if all goes well, by going out “one last time” on the river. The weather was begging us to cool off; the sun was brightly shining, and there was still much more to explore.

Because it was a Sunday, even though we got an early start this time, the river soon became very active. Part of the fun for us was lollygagging upstream shooting others having fun. Here: immerse yourself in it and imagine all that cool water and the thrill of speed!

Now to our own fun! Finally, the boat cooperated and we made it into the Picacho State Recreation area via water. The scenery is different in this section; more dramatic with steeper, peaked mountains reaching down to the river and forming marching lines into the horizon.

We found another marvelous slough to explore, turning slowly into what looked like a solid wall of reeds. Water depth was sufficient though at four to five feet. We passed an abandoned enterprise of some kind with a derelict, neglected dock and probably 20 overturned canoes. Had it been a business at one time? Why, way back here, where few come? Making our way stealthily and carefully farther along, with the reeds bending and slapping our boat we came to the choked down entry into Adobe Lake, filled with the ghosts of hundreds of dead tree snags. Was this an old orchard at one point? The boat goes nowhere now, entering would be far too dangerous; so we sit eating lunch while listening to myriad bird calls and bullfrogs croaking. A military helicopter passing over is the only disturbance to the total tranquility.

We’ve come far enough up river; time to turn back so we have some time to participate in our favorite river rite—sandbar sitting with a cold one in our hands. We find the perfect location all to ourselves and just mellow out and stay wet. It’s nearly the end of another perfect day out on the water. We hate for it to end.

Our last activity before blasting back down river is to follow some party boats into a very narrow entryway into a larger pond. As we near the torn and jagged ends of the elephant grass wall, sticking out menacingly like punji sticks--obviously hit numerous times by numerous others, we see why as we smash into them too; pushed there by the fierce river current. We check our rooftop canvas to make sure we sustained no damage and then note the mess of debris we’ve acquired. Oh well, we’ll be sure to blow that out! Hidden away on this small lake, tucked well back into an inlet with parking for only one boat is a perfect sand beach surrounded by rock walls. It would make a secretive camp spot; of course it is taken on this day (so I felt it too intrusive to snap a picture), but we’ll be back someday to hide away there ourselves.

We’ve immensely enjoyed our short time exploring the Colorado River; its call is very alluring. Given its length and numerous sloughs and backwaters, it never really feels crowded despite the crowds on weekends. Weekdays we have it virtually to ourselves. It is a wonderland worth exploration and we’re happy that we have the boat here now to do so. The natural beauty of the area is stunning and we would encourage everyone to take the opportunity for a visit if you are in the area. Boat rentals are available at Martinez Lake, including houseboats.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Arizona Summer Sunsets

We decide to 4 wheel drive up in the hills above our lot again, to catch another sunset. The best Arizona sunsets are always in winter or when there are some clouds available, but today we’ve had smoggy air due to the burning of trash that they do in Mexico, a scant 30 miles away. We figure with the haze we should at least have some vivid enhancement of color.

We pick another trail this time but it still has some rough steep spots before bringing us to a flattened area with a couple of fire pits people have built over the years. It’s very quiet; other than the wind, we hear nothing beyond our own muted voices as we wander around taking pictures. At some point it looks as though the BLM had information on a hike that starts from this area which appears to climb the mountain and then disappears. Some idiot decided that the sign would make a better target and has needlessly destroyed someone’s hard work. We do note that the hike might be worth doing in the cooler and snakeless weather of winter.

As the skies turn dusky and grey, the far mountains disappear into a hazy profile. Far away, Pichaco Peak will appear only on maximum zoom with my camera. We try photographing the bats flying low out of the mountains but never manage to catch them on camera as anything but an unrecognizable smudge in the sky, but they entertain us as we wait for sunset.

As a giant glowing ball gliding towards earth the sun seems to move in slow motion until it’s blinding light touches a piece of distant landscape, then the descent seems to hasten all at once, giving the impression that the sun is literally dropping from the sky. I snap picture after picture and post them here with no enhancements or changes to the original as the glowing orb made its final and last impression on this day that it will never see again.