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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Desert View - Day 72 (Shutdown day 2) - Snow day.....

8:28 am - Sunday - January 21st - Grand Canyon - 18º F (feels like 8º), humidity 71%, wind 7 mph out of the west by northwest......mostly clear skies with a forecast high of 33º F.  Very cold last night, but our water did not freeze!

We were awakened Saturday morning about 7:30 am by a knock on our door....it was our assistant manager, Wayne, advising we had a meeting to discuss the government shutdown at the General Store at 8 am.....uuggghhh.......not the way I wish to awake.  Thirty minutes later we were getting in the car to drive over to the store as it began to snow in earnest.   By the time we finished our ever so brief meeting (frankly everything we were told could have been sent in a simple two sentence text, but you know how the corporate world loves face to face meetings) the snow was already sticking.   Essentially we were advised that our store would be closed for the duration of the government shutdown (the Marketplace over at the South Rim Village will remain open).    Of course, there will be no snow plowing as the NPS folk handle that.  This is supposed to be a 'soft shutdown' according to everything I have read, which means that while there will be no NPS (National Park Service) employees on duty, the gates will remain open and the public will be allowed to enter for free to site see, and even hike.....we'll see....I hope so.

As we drove home we talked about what we might do during our forced 'vacation'......our daughter was already scheduled to arrived Tuesday evening to spend three days with us.  She is staying in a hotel over in Tusayan, so we hope the gates will remain open allowing us to drive just the 25 miles over to Tusayan instead of the 135 one way miles (south to Flagstaff, and up to Tusayan).  Either way we will be able to spend time with her.  On Monday we plan to drive down to Prescott, AZ to shop at the Costco, Trader Joe's and Verizon store, spend the night, and then return to the Grand Canyon on Tuesday.

The snow came down until about 2 pm when suddenly the clouds parted revealing the sun.  It remained sunny all afternoon, but the snow returned sometime between 6 and 7 pm and continued to almost 10 pm.  I think we got a little over 2 inches total from both storms......



.....my cigar ashtray is about 2.5 inches deep and it is almost full, therefore my 2+ inches guess....




......due to the inclement nature of the weather outdoors we opted to remain inside all day.  I spent about 12 hours binge watching 'Breaking Bad'.....TLE read and watched 'Breaking Bad' off and on, but by 9 pm she was only watching 'Breaking Bad'.....

 The sun made an appearance during our 'snow day'

 The melting snow formed icicles on our kitchen window

Our 'tiki god' wind chimes are feeling a little out of sorts in the snow

......we were in bed sometime after 1 am Sunday morning.....yeah, I know, what a decadent TV watching day we had!  It was a perfect 'snow day'....

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Desert View - Day 71 - The big shutdown.....

8:38 am - Saturday - January 20th - Grand Canyon - 33º F, humdity 78%, wind 11 mph out of the southwest.....it is snowing right now.....started about 8 am mountain time and is supposed to continue on and off all day.  Forecast is for 1-3 inches of snow accumulation and a high of 34º F, so we are close the the high for the day right now at 8:48 am mountain time.



The big topic of conversation around Desert View all day Friday was 'will the government shutdown?', and what will be the ramifications of that.  I had the 'open' shift and that was the first thing our assistant manager, Wayne, talked about when I walked through the rear door at 7:25 am.  What would the shutdown look like?  Will the store stay open, or will it close?  Will the gate just a few feet west of the Desert View entrance be closed, or will it be left open?  If the gate is shut we can't get to the main village, or the Marketplace, but we would be able to exit the park at the east gate which is about 1/4 mile from our location,  and drive into Cameron, or Flagstaff for supplies.  Frankly, our hope was for a shutdown that included our store as it is time for a short vacation.  

As is almost always the case my 'open' shift flew by and there was TLE bringing her cash drawer out at 12 pm.  Our internet connection was being erratic and I was not able to process credit cards, so I was glad I was off, and it was going to be TLE's problem.  She later reported that the internet was very slow all day, however she deposited over $350 in cash....I deposited $87, because I was doing all cash.  I didn't have my first customer until 10:30 am.  Had my credit card processor been working I might not have taken in any cash.

TLE needed some more cough syrup (Delsium, which we don't carry at Desert View), so I drove over to the Marketplace right after I got off work to pick up that and some bread and grapes.  My friend Art Young was working and so we spent about 30 minutes chatting and catching up on each other's lives.  It's easy for Art to keep up with me as he reads my blog.....😊  It's always good to see and talk with Art! 

I was back home before 2:30 and spent the rest of the afternoon reading....the wind was quite blustery, and it was very cold outside, so being inside was definitely my preference.  I read and napped until it was time to drive back over to pick up TLE at 5 pm......she was out the back door by 5:20 pm and we were on our way home.

We watched a few recorded programs and then tuned into Fox News at 10 pm (midnight Washington D.C. time) to see if the government was shutting down....the answer was 'YES'.  Around 2 am in the morning we got a text from our manager, Dakota, that we had a meeting at the store at 8 am Saturday morning to discuss the ramifications of the SHUTDOWN.  

9:13 am - Saturday - We just returned from the store meeting, and we (the General Store) are also shutdown until further notice, so now we have to decide what we are going to do......more on that tomorrow (Sunday) morning.  Our daughter, Meredith, is coming to visit us Tuesday, and was planning on staying at a hotel in Tusayan, which is just outside the west gate.  If the government shuts the gates she will have a long drive (about 150 miles) around to come and see us instead of the 25 miles between Desert View and Tusayan.

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Desert View - Day 70 - SLOW!!

5:54 am - Friday - January 19th - Grand Canyon - 33º F, humidity 50%, wind 3 mph out of the south by southwest....partly cloudy with a forecast high of 56º F....it only gets colder from here....snow on the way tomorrow morning!  Wow.....big milestone....70 days at the Grand Canyon as of Thursday.....71 today, Friday.

Ahhhhh, my next to last 'close' shift.  Beginning Monday I will have all 'open' shifts, and TLE will take all the 'close' shifts.  Due to the one 10 hour day on Wednesday I closed three consecutive days.  I'm looking forward to the change....just one more 'close' on Sunday and I'll have my afternoons back!

The overnight temps have only been getting into the low 30's lately and we have been sleeping most nights without a heater.  Since our 'fireplace' in the salon has a remote control I take it, the remote, to bed with me, and only turn the fireplace on when it gets 60º F in the bedroom.  When we dry camped last winter out near Borrego Springs the inside temp often got into the mid 40's, but we were sleeping in back then, so we didn't care.  Since one of us is almost always up at 5:30 on days we work it's nice not to have it get too cold as it takes a while to warm things up when the heaters have been off all night.

I reported to work at my usual 11:55 am, clocked in, and was at my station shortly thereafter.  TLE reported it had been a very quiet morning.....she banked just over $60 for her 'open' shift.  It was not much better for me....I ended up banking $174 and change.

When there is not much to do, and very few customers the clock seems to run backwards.  There is only so much one can do around the store absent any projects, of which there were none this day.  A couple of days ago I spent about 90 minutes cleaning the lenses of all our sunglasses.....probably about a hundred pair......after a summer and fall of being handled by customers they had a lot of fingerprints on them.  After a week, or two of dwindling customer traffic there are not many projects like that left.

We had one customer in the last 45 minutes of my shift so I was able to get all my 'close' duties (vacuum the throw rugs, record the temps of all the coolers and freezers, turn off the cooler lights, flip the 'OPEN' sign to 'CLOSED', etc.) completed before 5 pm, had my cash drawer counted down by 5:17 pm, and was on my way walking home by 5:20. The sun is going down now about 5:41 pm now so it is much lighter on my walks home.....sunrise is still after 7:30 (7:36 am), so it is still semi dark when I leave for work at 7:15 am.....looking forward to when the sun is up before I go to work.  It moves up about 1 minute per day.

We watched a recorded episode of 'The Amazing Race' and were in bed by 9:30 pm.....thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Desert View - Day 69 - The full monty...

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7:34 am - Thursday - January 18th - Grand Canyon - 30º F, 53% humidity, wind 2 mph out of the north.....partly cloudy today with a forecast high of 54º F.

Due to the vagaries of scheduling I ended up with a full 10 hour shift Wednesday (7:30 am to 5:30 pm).....TLE was assigned to the Trading Post as a cashier for their morning shift which runs 8:30 am to 1:30 pm.  The longest shift I have worked this season was 8 hours one time.  I've gotten used to the 5-5.5 hour shifts.  Oh, and the minimum wage changed here in Arizona from $10.10/hour to $10.50/hour effective January 1st, which I had forgotten, so we get a 40¢ per hour raise for just existing here in Arizona at the right time.....



......I thought being on for 10 hours I might have a pretty big deposit Wednesday, but at the end of the day I banked just $274.10, or $27/hour worked.....that, my friend, is a SLOW day!  I took an 'on the clock' lunch break at 11:30 am since there was no one to 'break' me, but otherwise I was on my feet the rest of the 10 hour shift.....something else I am not used to doing.

Since it was such a slow day I dry mopped the entire retail side of the store, then wet mopped it.....by the time I was done with that it was after 9:30 am....okay, two hours down.  I didn't have my first non employee customer until just after I finished wet mopping.

As we drift into the very non-busy season here at Desert View my mind begins to fast forward to the two months we will have off work between our departure from Desert View and our arrival at Smuggler's Den Campground in Maine.  I'm looking forward to some nice long bike rides on the Pacific Electric bike trail while we are in SoCal for about a month, I think about visiting with my kids and grandkids, and about the 3+ week trip to Maine we will begin in mid to late April.  This is where my mind goes when things are slow in the store.  I think about warm days and nights where my daily uniform will consist of shorts, t-shirts and flip flops once again....with the exception of a few days during our trip south from Gardiner, MT, and a few hours here and there since we arrived at Desert View it has be mostly long pants and shoes.  I think about having no schedule again....about not having to get up at 5:30 am to go to work.

While I feel pretty good, my cold seems to be lingering as far as the nose blowing part of it goes.  I feel fine otherwise, but wish I could be rid of all this snot!  TLE continues to progress in her recovery from bronchitis, but like me is still blowing her nose.  We're bracing for snow this Saturday....looks like the odds of snow are at 90% now with a forecast of 1-3 inches, plus wind.

I was home a little after 5:30 pm, and within minutes TLE was serving me her famous meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and boiled spinach.....I love boiled spinach!  We watched 'The Martian' on TV....we both really like that movie, and I think this is the third time we have seen it.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Desert View - Day 68 - No Winter?

5:52 am - Wednesday - January 17th - Grand Canyon - 25º F, 68% humidity, wind 1 mph out of the south......clear with a forecast high of 49º F today.

It seem as if winter will not come to the Grand Canyon this year.  With rare one, or two exceptions here and there we have daily highs in the 40-50º F range.  Typically the overnight lows get into the 20's, but not much lower.  From talking with others who have been here for at least a year, last year's winter was pretty harsh.....it began snowing in October and there was snow on the ground until April.  Please don't misunderstand.....I'm happy this winter has, so far, been on the mild side.  We have not had to make avery big adjustment in our lifestyle....so far.  There is almost always a 2-3 hour period every day where you can stand outside wearing just a t-shirt and shorts.  I know we still have 8 more weeks, and the weather could turn terribly south any day now, but based on the current 14 day forecast it looks as if we will get a couple of cold days Saturday and Sunday with a 50% chance of snow and temps in the 30's, but that's it for the next 14 days.  Otherwise, it 40's and 50's as far as the eye can see.

To date (68 days) our city water supply has only frozen two times, and only for about an hour each time.  I've attached heat tape to each hose bib to which my heated water hose is attached and that seems to have stemmed the freezing.  We get a few cloudy days here and there, but mostly we have clear skies, or at worst partly cloudy skies.

I had the 'close' shift Tuesday so I was able to sleep in until 7 am.....I always make sure I am up before TLE heads off to work to give her a hug and tell her I love her.  I spent the morning finishing another book.  I was at work by 11:55 am, and had my cash drawer counted in a few minutes later.  It had not been a very busy day up to that point....TLE dropped just over $50.  I, on the other hand, dropped $337.10 at the end of my shift.  It seems that post holiday our average cash drop each day, combined, is about $400 with the weekends being slightly higher.  The next big holiday here is Presidents Day coming in mid February, but until then we are mostly seeing Asians and Europeans right now.

I was home by 5:30 pm, and eating a lovely taco dinner by 6 pm.....TLE makes the best tacos.  Well, let's face it.....she makes the best everything.....I tell her on a daily basis I am a lucky guy and she almost always replies "Yes you are!".

I was able to speak with Dakota, our manager, about having TLE do all the 'close' shifts and me all the 'open' shifts from now on and he approved it, so now we will have continuity for our remaining 8 weeks.  I don't especially like getting up at 5:30 am every day, but at least now I will have the same schedule every day I work, and will have my afternoons free.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Desert View - Day 67 - 10 down....

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7:18 am - Tuesday - January 16th - Grand Canyon - 35º F, 50% humidity, wind 7 mph out of the east by southeast....forecast high for today is 47º F with partly cloudy skies.

Monday, the beginning of a new work week which always begins for me with an 'open' shift.  For the time we have been here the schedule has had us alternating between 'open' and 'close' shifts, but TLE and I have been talking about one of us just taking all the 'open' shifts whilst the other took all the 'close' shifts.....just for the sake of continuity.  TLE really likes getting up a little later (7 am, or later), and I don't mind getting up at 5:30 am to be at work by 7:30.  I really enjoy the 'open' shift, especially when I am off work by 1 pm at the latest.....usually more like 12:30 pm.  It gives me the whole afternoon to putter around without any deadlines.  So, I think we'll talk to Dakota, our manager and scheduler, to make that change.

Since it was Martin Luther King day, and the end of a 3 day weekend we fully expected it would be at least as busy as Sunday, but it was not.  I didn't have my first paying customer until 10 am....I didn't have my first cash paying customer until 10:45 am.  I busied myself with straightening up the store shelves, refolding t-shirts/sweatshirts, putting stray products back where they belonged, mopping, vacuuming, fronting, cleaning glass, etc.

I ended up dropping $105.04 in cash a little after 12 pm.....TLE dropped almost $400 cash for her shift, so things did pick up after I left.  Since it was Martin Luther King day our manager decided to give all who worked on Monday a free meal in the Deli.  After I dropped my deposit, and punched the clock I went over to the Deli and had one of their Nathan's Beef hot dogs with onions and salsa.....yum!

I was home about 1:15 pm and set about doing a few chores.....doing the weekly (about 8 days really) dump of the black tank, and then airing up the Newell for the first time in a month.  I turned on the block heater about 1:35 pm so I could turn the big Detroit Diesel over about 90 minutes later.  Then I used my pancake compressor connected to the quick connect in the engine bay to put about 100 psi into the system.  I do this now before I start the engine when the coach has been sitting for a long time.  When I do start the 6v92 it only takes a few minutes to top off the air system at 120 psi.  The other advantage of doing this is the air system holds the air longer.....why I don't know, but it does.  Sitting here week after week in very cold temperatures is not very conducive to holding air pressure in any air system, especially in one that is 36 years old.  We've been here going on 10 weeks, and this is the third time I have run the Detroit Diesel for this purpose.

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading with one nice nap thrown in for good measure.  Around 5 pm I stacked some wood in the portable fireplace and lit the fire....it's been a while since we had a fire.....



.....TLE arrived home about 5:23 pm, but declined to sit by the fire....she is still getting over her bronchitis, and the smell of the fire did not agree with her.  I was inside within 15 minutes, and settling in for the evening.  Another day at Desert View in the books.....we are now on the home stretch of our time here....10 weeks down, 8 to go.

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2017 in review...Part Three....The rest of the story

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I left off installment 2 of our 2017 in review series with us preparing to fly to SoCal for our son's wedding........on October 5th we flew to SoCal to attend the wedding of our youngest child, Tim, to his fiance, The Beautiful Laila (TBL)......we left the Newell in Livingston, MT and drove into the International Airport in Billings, MT for our flight.  By that evening we were sitting in the family room of Tim and Laila's home in Ontario, CA!


Daddy Nick with Jolene, Sharon with Brayden James (grand kiddies), and Cynthia (grand daughter) with our great grandson Daniel.

The wedding entourage

Laila and Tim reciting their vows




TLE with my sister Hilary, and her daughter Stepanie


.....we were in SoCal from October 5th until the 9th, had a wonderful time spending time with our kids, and grandkids, staying at the Historic Mission Inn, and, of course the wedding was wonderful!

 Lunch before boarding our return flight




....we arrived back at our Newell around 2 am on October 10th, and by the 12th we were on our way southward to warmer climates.....



.....our first day on the road in quite sometime saw us drive all the way from Livingston, MT to Dillon, MT where we overnighted at a local RV park, then the next day found us on the shores of Ririe Reservoir outside of Idaho Falls, ID.....we planned to stay until Sunday, but Saturday morning we woke up to 5" of unexpected snow.....


 Got 5" of unexpected snow at Ririe Reservoir

....for a number of reasons you can read about here, we left Ririe Reservoir a day early and proceeded further south to Downata Hot Springs where we spent three days....

 Got out the snow and headed south to Downata Hot Springs in Southern Idaho


.....we luxuriated in the Hot Springs several times, and I took some time to diagnose an air leak in my air system, as well as clean up the Newell for the first time in months.  Our next stop was near Salt Lake City where we spent 2 nights, and parts of three days courtesy parked at the home of my brother Dwyer......we shopped a lot (COSTCO, Trader Joe's, thrift stores, State Liquor store, etc.) in preparation for the next two weeks as we worked our way down to the Grand Canyon......

 Courtesy parked near Salt Lake City at the home of my brother Dwyer

.....we took two more days to get to Bryce Canyon, overnighting in Panguitch, UT where we were treated to an amazing sunset.....


....then it was on to Bryce Canyon National Park where we arrived on October 20th to spend a few days site seeing, and hiking......I'll let the pictures tell most of that story....



















.....in all we hiked close to 20 miles during our Bryce Canyon sojourn.......what an amazing place!  We left Bryce Canyon wanting more, and we will be back for another dose in the near future!

From Bryce we traveled further south to the shores of Lake Powell, to a place called Lone Rock, where we spent a week relaxing in the warm, balmy temperatures....








......we arrived at Lone Rock on October 25th knowing we could stay about a week before we moved south about 10 miles to Page, AZ where we would park our Newell at the local Elks Lodge for 4 days whilst we drove into SoCal once again to attend the wedding of good family friend Amanda to her fiance Michael.  We have been to Lone Rock a couple of times before, but it is always great to spend time there......there were numerous happy hour sunset fires, hiking and site seeing.....

Amanda and Michael reciting their vows, and then "The Kiss"



......our trip to SoCal for Amanda's wedding was a whirlwind one, and we were back in Page, AZ by November 5th to pick up the Newell and drive the final 140 miles to Desert View Watchtower where we arrived on November 6th, went to our Delaware North check in meeting November 7th, and began working on November 8th, and that is where we have been since that date.  We closed out the year with a blood pressure scare for me, and a day in the hospital due to a very minor stroke....I was lucky....no residual effects.

In retrospect 2017 was an amazing year....a year of new beginnings, a re-dedication to exploring places new to us.  There was disappointment and elation.....we ended the year on our terms, and are looking forward to new adventures in 2018, so hang on tight, here we go!

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