Jo Ann "Jinx" Wegenke saw the Women's Step Outside Weekend as a chance to learn more about her new environment. "I'm from Wisconsin and I don't understand Arizona outside," she said.
Wegenke lives in the Rim Country between four and five months each year, then returns to Wisconsin where she is currently working with Head Start.
"I've seen coyotes going by my window. I have had two scorpions in my house and a snake on my deck and saw a baby tarantula."
She said she is over the trauma of those close encounters, but wanted to learn more about outdoor life in the Rim Country, so signed up for the Aug. 30-31 Women's Step Outside Weekend presented by the Payson Parks and Recreation Department, the Tonto Rim Sports Club, Chandler Rod and Gun Club and Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Wegenke also saw the adventure as a chance to meet other women.
"There were 12 of us, three of us on our own, three groups of mothers and daughters and the rest were groups of friends."
"They had all our meals planned and provided snacks. There was even a goody bag. One of the things they gave us was a flashlight with batteries. You never get flashlights with batteries."
She really enjoyed learning about the elk in the Rim Country and the crossing projects built on Highway 260.
"It was really fascinating to see what they are doing and how the project works," she said.
Wegenke also participated in the programs trap (skeet), rifle and archery programs.
"I was really scared of the skeet shooting. When I finally hit a clay target I quit."
She had prior experience with archery and rifles. "I hadn't done archery since I was in college, but my first shot, I hit the target."
Wegenke last picked up a rifle more than 30 years ago, but was able to hit the target five out of six times when she took her turn on the Jim Jones Shooting Range, with the guidance of members of the Tonto Rim Sports Club.
"All of the instructors were wonderful. They were so patient. None of them stopped until everyone had learned the different skills," she said.
"You couldn't find anyone better for something like this than Mary McMullen (of the Payson parks department). She was fantastic."
Wegenke was impressed with the diverse group of women who participated. There were older teens and a couple of participants in their 20s and on up.
Name: Jo Ann "Jinx" Wegenke
Hometown: Menomonie, Wis.
Occupation: Registered dietician, currently employed with Head Start in Wisconsin.
When did you move to Payson and what brought you here? I am only here four or five months out of the year, but my husband has been here since 2006 and my daughter, Kari, has been here since 2003.
What's the biggest risk you've taken recently? I have had two knee replacements, I have arthritis and asthma, so participating in the Women's Step Outside Weekend at the end of August was probably the biggest risk I've taken. I didn't know if I could do any of the activities, but I could do them all.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given? Don't quit if it's important to you.
Three things you want people to know about you: I have a great sense of humor. I am not judgmental. I love people.
When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? A veterinarian.
Book: the Harry Potter series; anything by Nora Roberts -- I love to read and usually have three books going at once.
Song: "Amazing Grace"
Sport to watch: Anything equestrian
Vacation spot: Any place by the water
Recreational activity: Scrapbooking and riding (horses)
Movie: all the Harry Potter movies