Settling In

Today was a Bee-U-Ti-Full day! Sunny, bright, and in the low 70’s! Our fellow workers came in today and after everyone was settled, we had our first meeting where we go over whats-what at the project (laundry, mail, trash – you know, the practical stuff), and then we spent some time getting to know each other. Both of the other couples are from Minnesota, two were teachers, one was a nurse and one was a road engineer. I love that we get to meet folks from all over the country and from all different kinds of walks of life. One of the couples expressed how one of the best part of being a SOWER was the instant community that happens at our projects. And I can only agree – I have met some amazing folks and have formed life-long friendships with folks that I would never have met if it weren’t for this SOWER path that we are following.
Last month we had an especially unique (for us, anyway) opportunity to work with the NCCC team that was working for 12 weeks at AppleTree Educational Center. These 9 young adults (18-24 year old) arrived when we did and were housed in our “Orchard” neighborhood. Jayne and I worked with them in the library,
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and the guys worked with them in the renovations of the building.
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We also saw them working with the kids at the daycare and school and even painting murals on one of the center’s walls.
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They worked into the evening at the Boys and Girls Club in town and played hard on the weekends, hiking the nearby mountains, and generally kicking back after the busy week. We loved having them in the neighborhood, and on our last Sunday we gathered together for a final meal before we SOWERS all went our separate ways. Here we are (well, most of us anyway) squinting into the sunshine after we’d filled up on hot dogs and hamburgers and chocolate cake!
NCCC Kidscrop
They certainly added some sparkle to the month and we’re going to miss those kiddos. But this month promises to be full of sparkle too! I just met the 2 year old who lives in one of houses on our campus. :)
Like I said, meeting folks – old and young – is one of the best parts of being a SOWER!

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Arizona!

We’re getting settled at UIM, our February SOWER project, but let’s back up just a bit.
We had a good drive over from New Mexico. The wind had died down and the sun was shining brightly.
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We spent the night at a rest stop with about 60 miles to do in the morning,
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and then we tried to wait until the rush hour traffic had settled down before we journeyed into the city.
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We didn’t miss it all
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but my excellent driver got us through city traffic with no problem (and only a few white knuckles on my part) and we are safely parked in our spot for the next three+ weeks.
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It’s been 6 years since we’ve worked a SOWER project in Arizona – and it’s been never since we’ve been in the Phoenix area (except maybe to drive through). But this month and next we’ll be hanging out in this neck of the woods. This month we’re at UIM (United Indian Missions) in Glendale and next month we’ll be at Standing Stones in Wickenburg (about 60 miles NW of Phoenix).
I’m not sure exactly what we’ll be working on this month, but I know we’re pretty happy to be here!
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Just sayin’

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The day that everything changed

We’d been waiting for a while. We certainly didn’t know what day it would be, but we knew it would be a day that would change everything.
February 3, 2003. 02-03-2003 (it has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?)
That was the day that we welcomed our very first grandchild into our lives and hearts. Although you THINK you know how much you will love that first grandbaby, when it actually happens you are struck with the wonder of it all and your heart swells, barely able to contain the love. Our precious granddaughter, Ellie, turns 13 today. We can hardly wrap our minds around the fact we have a teenage granddaughter, and we know the rest of the crew won’t be far behind. But today, we just want to wish this very smart and funny and creative and brave and Jesus-loving granddaughter the very best of birthdays! We love you to the moon and back!
Itty bitty Ellie –
Ellie baby
Ellie baby
Ellie 6 mos.
Ellie at 6 months

Ellie – 13
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Be still my heart!

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Truth or Consequences, NM

So, Truth or Consequences. AKA T or C.
We leave this little New Mexico town early tomorrow morning, and I thought maybe it was time to give you a bit more info about the town itself.
First a bit of history. T or C was incorporated in 1916 as Hot Springs, NM. It is located right along the Rio Grande River, but it is also located over many hot springs, and that is where it (obviously) got its original name. The city changed its name to “Truth or Consequences” in 1950. Ralph Edwards, the host of the radio quiz show Truth or Consequences, announced that he would air the program from the first town that renamed itself after the show. Hot Springs stepped up to the plate, the people voted, and the rest is history. Ralph Edwards was so enamored by this little town that he returned each year for the annual celebration that celebrated its ‘celebrity’ for 50 years. The town still holds that “Fiesta” the first weekend in May – and I’m sure it’s a sight to behold!
Today, TorC is a quite the eclectic town.
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It’s full of artsy shops, galleries, second hand stores, and fun places to eat.
Wikipedia refers to it as a ‘spa town’, referring I suppose to the area’s hot springs, but I can’t say that I got that impression. Yes, there are some spas that take advantage of the wonderful hot springs. And there are a couple of newer hotel/motel units on the north end of town near the Walmart. But in the downtown area you are more likely to find your locally owned and operated motel units.
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Like the Rocket Inn or the Trail Motel or the Belair Inn.
Or maybe the Desert View Inn
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with its offer of Clean Comfortable Rooms and Refrigerated Air.

It’s a town of huge contrasts. Ted Turner owns two ranches outside of town, along with a resort in the nearby town of Elephant Butte. Not too far out of town is Spaceport America, home to Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo. (Tour tickets were pretty pricey, so we skipped that stop). Although the winters are fairly mild here (our nights were cold, but the days were sunshiny and bright and often made it into the 60’s), it’s the summer when this town really booms. It borders the largest lake in New Mexico, Elephant Butte Lake
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and it was the creation of that reservoir in 1912 that really jump started the town. Each summer over 100,000 people flock to the area to enjoy the camping, fishing, and boating that the lake can accommodate.
But the people we’ve met during our time here have been down-to-earth folks, making ends meet the best way they can, and choosing to live a simple, uncomplicated life. Lots of folks get around on bikes and and every now and again, a horse and rider trots by the rig.
I think we’ve done our part to support the local economy –
We’ve eaten at six different local (yummy)restaurants.
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(Who needs a Denny’s when you can go to the Passion Pie Cafe?)
We’ve taken a turn in the mineral hot springs at Riverbend Resort
Our view of the  Rio Grande from the hot springs at Riverbend Hot Springs resort. #endofprojecttreat #truthorconsequences
Ahhhh…..
We took in a movie at the local theater –
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(Star Wars :) )
We picked up our New Mexico T-shirts at Martha’s Gift and Jewelry Shop and picked up eggs and milk at Bullocks, the local grocer.
We checked out one of the local Museums –
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And although we didn’t quite make it into the Veterans’ Museum, we did stop by and take some pictures –
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( 1/2 size replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall).
This is a history rich area – everything from the Carrie Tingley Hospital (now the Veterans Center) that was patterned after the polio hospital started by FDR in Warm Springs, GA, to the Native American influences that pervade the area. There are unusual rock formations, some great rock-hounding opportunities (per our fellow SOWERS!), and many interesting drives you can take while in the area. If you need a big city fix, Las Cruces isn’t too far south, and Albuquerque is only a couple of hours north.

So – if you’re ever heading through southern New Mexico – make sure you take a couple days (at least) to check out the many faces of Truth or Consequences.
You’ll be glad you did!

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Another big Loop!

We only had one more Saturday left in New Mexico, so we hopped in the truck again and set out to see what we could see!
Looks like a great day for some 'splorin. #lastsaturdayinnewmexico #saturdayexcursion
Instead of heading north and then west like last weekend, we started out south and then headed for the mountains!
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We’d heard that the road over the mountain was still covered with snow and ice (as of three weeks ago), but we were still determined to see if we couldn’t make our way to the summit (Emory Pass) and then down the other side.
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Our drive took us through Hillsboro, a small historic community that boomed with the discovery of gold in the late 1800, was often attacked by the local Apache, and today is a “charming, peaceful village of a hundred souls boast[ing] flower-filled yards and old cottonwoods lining the main street.” We stopped to take advantage of the community restroom (thank you very much) and then continued on our way.
We crossed the Percha River
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(me thinks it gets a bit more robust during the spring snow melt)
and met some local fellows crossing the road.
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Here’s another shot of the Percha – complete with a waterfall!
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The road twisted and turned up through the Mimbres Mts
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(that tan stripe through the trees is the road).
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Finally we reached the summit – Emory Pass!
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It took our breath away (as did the wind!)
Thankfully, the roads were clear of ice and snow on the way down the other side. And we even spotted some Havalinas!
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They scurried out of sight, but I got out to see if I could get closer.
Oh – they were surprised!
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One finally stopped long enough for me to get it in focus –
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He’s still in the shade – but not to bad for a quick wildlife shot!
We continued down the mountain,
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heading toward Silver City. But as we were approaching the city, we noticed a mountain that had a slightly more man-made (or man sculpted) look.
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We assumed it was some kind of mining, and were delighted to see an entire viewing spot around the bend with more information. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present the Chino Mine, aka Santa Rita Copper Mine.
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While I confess it wasn’t the most scenic part of the day, it certainly was interesting to read its history (it’s one of the oldest mines in the country) and its impact on the community and environment. Here we are standing in front of one of the tires used on the trucks that you can see going up the hill on the second photo.
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Youser!

We did finally make it to Silver City – a larger quaint NM town, full of artsy shops and interesting buildings.
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And it had lots of options for lunch! Yum!
Instead of rewinding our drive back over the mountains, we chose to go the long way home. Miles wise it was quite a bit longer. But actual driving time, only about 9 minutes. And that’s because most of the road looked like this –
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We were home before dark and even had time for a quick nap before the sun set on our final Saturday in beautiful New Mexico (this time, anyway!).
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Stats for the day – Miles driven – 221 (!). Cost of fuel – $18.50 =) (Pretty sweet when it’s $1.56/gal!)

If you’d like to see more of the beautiful New Mexico countryside – there are a couple more pictures HERE!

Thanks for stopping by!
Steph

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