December 2002

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    The last entry in November said we'd be in Benson for a month or more.  The prediction is pretty accurate.  It looks like we've almost found a new home.  I think the thing that's making this feel so much like home is that we've become active within the park.  What with Ginger singing in the Chorus and me getting involved some with the genealogy group, us doing some square dancing and just meeting new people and then continuing to see them daily, all these things go to make a person feel right at home.  Sometimes being a joiner has its downfalls.

    The weather here is just wonderful (during the day) with warm days and cool nights.  I do have to admit that one morning when I got up our pipes had frozen.  Not bad, just enough for the water to be very sluggish.  We did have quite a cold snap there for awhile.  We let the water trickle for the next few nights then the cold snap was over and we have never had a problem like that again.

    This being the Christmas season we're very busy shopping.  We can't put everything off until the last minute, like I usually do.  We have to get things wrapped, boxed and shipped early enough for everything to arrive by Christmas.  Since I'm not used to doing things so early, I'll probably forget someone.  I feel so rushed.  

    Don't know if you've sent off packages lately, but it isn't inexpensive.  You could almost pay more for the shipping than you paid for the gift itself.  The little post office here in Benson is really struggling during this holiday season.  They only have two positions for the public to use and they're only open Monday through Friday, so the lines are quite long.  The area where the two windows are is quite small so it doesn't take long for the line to extend out into the box area.  They do have a lot of boxes, there are so many winter visitors, many return each year that they have post office boxes that they just keep year round.  You should also see the section they've created for the General Delivery.  They get a LOT of General Delivery!

    The people here really go all out decorating for the holidays.  Each of the Casita's (small houses) have Christmas lights and other decorations on them.  The office and the shop building have luminaries on the roof and a number of people have them lining their lots.  The hill behind the park stands about 300 feet above the last row (the rows are terraced) and they have a large water tank on top.  They also have a large star and saguaro cactus, both lighted at night.  It's very pretty.

    We make several trips to Safford to spend time with Ken, Ginger's oldest son.  He's been out here almost five years now and really loves it.  He has had some trouble arthritis and this dry climate is very good for him.  He showed us around the area, we drove for miles beside cotton fields.  We also saw the Safford airport.  They do have small commuter planes that come in there, not on a daily basis but still quite frequently.  Most of their business is private planes.  Safford does have two prisons, one state and one federal.  Perhaps they use the airport too.  They also have a nice college in town. 

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    As Christmas approaches we're getting excited about visiting "The Inn of the Mountain God's" again.  Twenty-five years ago, our first Christmas together, we spent it at the Inn.  It was a beautiful place and we had a wonderful time.  A lovely Inn on a lake on the Mescalero Apache reservation.  We've often talked about going back sometime, and this year is it.  Wouldn't you know, this year, snow in New Mexico.  As we drove from Benson, AZ east towards Las Cruces, NM we were wondering just how much snow we'd see going up the mountain after we crossed the valley beside the White Sands National Monument.  We couldn't remember just what the elevation of the Inn was.  

    It was a lovely drive across the desert, first from Benson to Las Cruces then over to Alamagordo where we'll start our trip up Sierra Blanca.  We'll be within 2 or 3 thousand feet of the peak which is 11900 feet in the air.  Way up there where the cold temperatures cause the moisture in the air to turn into snow.  As we start up the hill we start seeing snow patches off each side of the road, then we start seeing slush in the breakdown lane and along the middle of the road.  Finally only one lane is clear, mostly clear of snow.  The other has frozen ruts of slush, wow! just what we wanted to experience.  Oh well, we are from Maine and we are driving a SAAB so what the heck!  Onward!  When we finally arrive at the Inn there is about 5 or 6 inches of snow on the ground.  But the Inn is nice and warm inside.  We had a wonderful Christmas.  It's a good thing we went this year.  It seems that in just two weeks they are going to tear down the Inn and rebuild it 'bigger and better' down closer to the lake.  We would have been some upset if we went back next year only to find a new and different Inn there.  It just would not have been the same.  So, all's well that end's well.  We had a wonderful time.