A new chapter…

Diaries of a House Husband.

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Part 1, Why did the rooster cross the road.

I have been waiting for some sort of particular inspiration to get me writing again. Rather than just rambling on, I had hoped for something to pique my interest, or at least to give me a better starting point than what I had been fumbling with. Well, today, there it was.

I was on my way back into/through town after having explored one of the outlying roads. I thought I would drive down one of the side roads, rather than taking the main drag again. I was only one block off said main drag, driving slowly north, watching the houses go by. Another car was cruising the opposite direction, heading towards me and just before we met one another, we both had to stop while a rooster on some sort of mission, known only to him, strutted across the road.

So that’s how things are around here.

I had become familiar with the reality of the backyard horse, and even goat, right in town. I have seen a few, but only a few, loose dogs wandering around. Cows all over the place, as well as plenty of mule deer. But a damn rooster crossing the road? OK then.

Anyways, the Wife started working last week, and between dropping her off at and picking her up from, work (we are waiting for her car to be delivered…) I am left, largely, to my own devices. Most of the day, myself and Littledog have the run of the “house” (we are currently living in a modular unit in the Casa Malpais RV park (not of course the nearby archaeological site, but, more on that later) on the edge of town… read into that what you will.) When not trying to learn about, and orient myself to, the local surroundings, I take care of most of the shopping, cooking, laundry, etc. Plus, there is house hunting and other businesslike affairs such as trying to sort out a financial institution, figuring out the DMV situation and corresponding insurance, setting up the PO Box, and trying to figure out if/how I will be doing any “work” for my previous (current?) employer…

Part 2, What and where is here?

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Anyway, it has more or less been a week and a half or so since we arrived here in Round Valley. Since then, I have had some time to reflect on this new life, and try to learn a bit about my new environs; errant roosters and all. To catch everyone up on the general scenario, the Wife and Littledog and I moved from the “wilds” of sub-arctic Alaska to a high desert region of central Eastern Arizona. Here we are to start a whole new life; here in a place called Round Valley.

Round Valley, or Valle Redondo if you prefer (which I kind of do), was “started” ‘round about 1870 as a rough frontier farming settlement, originally named Milligan’s. Interestingly, (to me anyway), as noted, farming was the order of the day; interesting because there is none here now. Rather, ranching is the dwindling agricultural enterprise (however, a “local” just today noted that the real beginnings of this area were steeped in banditry and rustling and general ne’erdowellness… have to look into that further though). At one time, it would seem, there was a robust logging industry, although that seems to have crumbled somewhat. But, I am getting ahead of things.

Actually, people have, of course, been here for thousands of years, but more on that later…

Anyway, the so called Milligan Settlement was established in the valley of the Little Colorado River. The “valley” lay mostly open to the north, but for some low hills and mesas. However, it is thoroughly bounded to the south by the White Mountains, to the southeast by the solitary and imposing Escudilla (Spanish for bowl?) Mountain, and to the south west and west by a scattering of remnant volcanic cinder cones. The floor of said valley rests at roughly 7000 feet, while the highest surrounding peaks rise to 10,000 and more.

It would seem that early in the formative years of said Settlement, an enterprising chap by the name of Henry Springer, by way of Albuquerque, opted to set up shop in the valley. Apparently in doing so, he overshot a bit and lost a bunch of money, purportedly – in part at least – due to betting the wrong way on a large barley crop. In 1876 they named the new town after him… Springerville. Not quite sure what to read into that just yet. Further up the valley was, I gather, a number of homesteads settled some years earlier as well as a nearby Mormon settlement, then called Amity.

In an effort to more thoroughly irrigate the area, it would seem that the Mormon community built a series of small dams west-southwest of the area (resulting in Greer Lakes I guess), and then proceeded to hand dig a large irrigation ditch, cleverly named Big Ditch, which remains a feature of the local landscape today. This area, south of the town of Springerville and approaching the prominent rise known as Flattop, eventually was officially named Eager, in honor of the Eager Brothers Joel, William, and John Thomas (no comment), the original homesteaders. There is also a bit about the Clanton Gang, from O.K. Corral fame, settling here after the shootout… hinting back to the bit noted above about criminal misdoings.

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Today, if you are not paying attention, you will miss the fact that you have passed from Springerville into Eager (or vice versa), although Springerville does have claim the original townsite, historic buildings and all. Eager presents more as a modern settlement, with housing and shopping, library and schools and medical facilities, and of course The Dome (look it up…). Further south, up in the mountains lie Nutrioso (have yet to learn more about that name), and Alpine. To the west, Greer, Pinetop/Lakeside, Show Low (something about a card game…) and Vernon. To the north, St. Johns (haven’t been there yet.)

Much of the White Mountains region is managed by the Forest Service, which, is of course, what brought us here in the first place. The Apache (to the south) and the Sitgreaves (to the west); two forests managed jointly as the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. The A – S to those in the know. Further west is the Coconino, further east, the Gila. All (and a few more) comprise the largest stand of Ponderosa Pine in the world. Plus, there is the Mogollon Rim, the Coronado Trail, the White Mountian Apache Indian Reservation, and the Sunrise Pea ski area, not to mention elk, deer, pronghorn, mountain lion, bobcat, the reintroduced Mexican grey wolf, coyote, eagles, hawks, pinon pine, juniper, aspen, lots of open grazing/range land, etc., etc. Oh yes, and there are ravens… thankfully.

Part 3, A day in the life, briefly.

Despite being at 7000+ feet as mentioned, and despite the fact that it is still mid-January, there is effectively no snow in the valley. There is plenty in the surrounding mountains, but more on that later. So, when the chores are done, or efforts to complete them are exhausted or have stalled out in utter frustration, Little and I go exploring. We have also taken up running again.

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There is a great little riverside walking trail that winds along the Little Colorado, just over there from the RV park. We have walked it a number of times now, but in our explorations I figured out how to make a nice running loop from said RV park that includes the trail. Great training, which I desperately need what with the combination of lingering slothfulness the past few months and a change in elevation of over 6000 feet. Hard to breathe well up here sometimes…

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And then, there are the forest trails. So many trails.

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But that will have to wait… until next time…

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