Rain in the Desert – January 2019

Cougar and Rollie’s rig in the rain

Tuesday January 15: It is raining this morning where Clifford and I are camped at La Posa South, south of Quartzsite, Arizona. This is a big deal in the desert. I go walking, taking photos of the water in the washes and arroyos. Where it has been dry sand, rocks, and gravel on previous days, there are now rivers and streams. It is lovely and peaceful walking by myself in the rain.

Other than the rain, today is a day with many of the usual activities: editing, blog writing, and music with Rollie. There is now a domain and website platform in place for Ang. It will be up to me to populate the website with information and photos. Sounds like an interesting project except for the fact that I don’t know how to do it! Might be a steep learning curve….

Clifford at work

No drone-flying for Clifford today, but research continues.

Evening in the desert

After dinner, Rollie and I play cribbage before I tackle the dishes, and then I write in the journal before heading to bed.

La Posa South – Minor Adventures – January 2019

The next several days at our camping area at LaPosa South, south of Quartzsite are marked by lows in the 30’s and highs in the 60’s – not bad for January, but generally too windy to spend much time sitting outside.

Morning and evening walks in the desert happen almost daily for me, as I find myself very drawn to the stillness. I like the openness without barrenness, always finding interesting trees or rocks or flowers to take photos of, but it is the ambiance that I wish most to share. The morning “quiet time” routine of inspirational reading and writing that I had established in Monticello is harder to maintain here, so my quiet time is now walks in the desert.

Morning light on the trees and shrubs along the arroyo

After repairing his drone, Clifford takes it for a flight… and it gets away from him, becoming a smaller and smaller dot until it disappears.

Clifford takes drone for a flight

Well, this is a bit discouraging, but Clifford knows by line-of-sight which direction it has gone. Clifford, Rollie, and I go look for it, with a starting point a couple of miles past LaPosa South. Rollie and I go one direction along the trajectory line, inquiring of campers if they have seen a drone, but no one has. We are hoping it didn’t crash into someone’s RV. Clifford goes the other direction along the trajectory, back toward our campsite. As he’s walking in the desert, using his binoculars to scout around, he comes across a couple of RVs a ways out from LaPosa South and he approaches a man who seems a bit unfriendly. Turns out Clifford is near the area of a nudist colony and the guy thinks Clifford has come to spy on the nudists. After a bit of conversation, the man is finally convinced that Clifford is indeed looking for a fly-away drone. The man’s cousin and husband who are camped nearby might have noticed a drone, and the fellow will inquire of them when they return from town. Clifford describes where we are camped without much hope that anything will come of. Keep in mind there are thousands of RVs camped in the desert south of Quartzsite.

The next day after plotting a distance as well as a trajectory, we plan to go search again, but before we leave, a pickup comes up our driveway (we are quite a ways out from the main part of LaPosa South). Turns out the couple in the pickup are the cousin and husband of the man Clifford talked to yesterday, and the drone had landed in their driveway. They had taken it inside, but the fellow Clifford talked to didn’t know that. He happened to mention talking to Clifford, and sure enough, they have the drone and set out to find us. So the drone is returned, none the worse off for its adventure.

Drone returns home

Another not quite so fun adventure is our trip to Lake Havasu City, about 90 miles to the north. We are going there to buy a Mr. Buddy heater, with plans to stop for photos on the way back to Quartzsite and lunch at the casino near Parker.

Driving to Lake Havasu City

The Lake Havasu City Walmart is on the north end of town, but before we get there, as Clifford steps on the gas to merge into the correct lane of traffic, the Suburban starts steaming, big time, with the heat gauge rapidly going up. We barely make it to the Walmart parking lot, coasting in and stopping at the outside edge.

Rollie and Clifford assess the problem and it appears that broken motor mounts allowed the engine to jump enough to break a housing that holds hoses to the radiator and heater. We check out the Walmart auto supply, but they don’t have the right part. A nearby Toyoto dealer orders the part for us and we have lunch at Subway while we wait for the part to be delivered. When the part arrives, it is the wrong size and won’t work. We are back to square one, but now it is mid-afternoon. After much searching and some ingenuity, we come up with a series of garden hose parts and clamps to jury-rig (thanks to Rollie) the hoses so as to be able to drive without overheating the engine. This has taken hours, many trips back and forth to Walmart auto and garden centers, and me taking Ninja for long walks. It is after dark and the guys are working by flashlights before it is all back together and we head to camp. No photos and no stopping at the casino for a meal.

Working by flashlight

Other than the drone adventure and Suburban misadventure, which both ended well, we continue our projects. I do more editing, look into starting a website for Ang, and write a couple of blogs. Rollie and I play music almost every day and cribbage after dinner.

Cribbage after dinner and tonight I have a winning hand!

Clifford is busy with CI research, ham radio, playing his dulcimer, and flying the drone when it is not too windy. And we all went to the New Christy Minstrel concert in Quartzsite one evening, which was good entertainment.

Evening in the Sonoran desert south of Quartzsite, Arizona

La Posa South – Settling In – January 2019

These first days of January at La Posa South give Clifford and me a chance to settle in, as we plan to be here awhile at this long-term camping area south of Quartzsite, Arizona.

Cougar at LaPosa South

Most mornings I walk into the desert to take photos at sunrise, appreciating the ambiance of the area. The vegetation is varied with mesquite, palo verde, creosote, and other shrubs and trees along the washes. Desert marigolds bloom freely. In the open spaces between the washes one can find saguaros, frequently with their nursemaid shrubs at their base.

Desert Sunrise

Sometimes I take a small thermos of coffee and my journal so I can sit in the sunshine and write after sunrise. The deep stillness of the desert invites one to sit quietly, not really contemplating life, but just being present to the stillness.

View of “Shale Mountain” as seen from the wash
The open spaces invite one to stillness
Stubby Saguaro in the open spaces

During the day, I send texts with photos to my family and friends, write blogs, edit photos, and check CI email when the sun on the solar panels allow for such. At one point, we try out our new generator for the first time. It is a backup, but good to have for overcast days.

A cloudy day in the desert

My brother Rollie and I play bluegrass music almost every day with Clifford being our appreciative audience, usually sitting inside Rollie’s motor home, as it has been too chilly and windy to sit out for music. Occasionally a campfire allows us to sit out. We are particularly enjoying viola and mandolin duets; it sure would be fun to have a guitar player join us.

Clifford has many projects on tap: CI research, ham radio communications, music on the dulcimer, and learning to use his drone (which he bought over a year ago and has never had the chance to try out). The drone has been especially fun for him, with a good learning curve including a few crashes and repairs.

The days are full and we are enjoying being here. If I had a maid, I would have him cook and do the dishes, and a good secretary could take care of all the CI email! …. but for now I am the maid and secretary, along with everything else that vies for my attention. But it is all good!

Arizona, We Have Arrived – January 2019

Tuesday January 1 – New Year’s Day!

Western Arizona Landscape

It is about 23 degrees this morning at the Love’s truck stop at the junction of I-40 and highway 95 south of Kingman in western Arizona. In spite of the chill morning, Clifford and I are happy to be out of the snow that is hitting northern Arizona. We have a quick breakfast before heading out on the next leg of the journey.

Western Arizona Landscape
Colorado River makes its appearance

We stop for supplies in Lake Havasu City, which is situated alongside the Colorado River, then continue southward. The dammed up river is a blue contrast to the harsh, but usually interesting, desert landscape.

Colorado River adds a splash of color to the landscape
Continuing south, a painterly version of the mountains ahead

Between Parker and Quartzsite, there is quite a lot of BLM land, some of it accessible for boondocking, but the land here doesn’t really appeal to me that much.

South of Quartzsite, we reach our destination at La Posa South long-term camping area by mid-afternoon. We head out to where we were camped last year, as my brother Rollie is already there and has fixed up a nice camping area. We find a spot near him and start getting set up, the bitter cold wind making it not so fun to be outdoors, but we are grateful to see a blue sky.

Brother Rollie in the Class A; Carol and Clifford in the Cougar

Even though I’m not totally in love with the spot we have chosen, I do like the area. We are not far from the wash, which is quite wide with lots of trees and shrubs, and beyond that is wild natural desert with more washes and many kinds of cacti and other desert vegetation. I am looking forward to desert outings.

Sonoran type desert surrounds us

I make dinner for all of us and after dinner Rollie beats me at a game of cribbage. Dishes and writing in the journal wrap up the day for me. We are happy to be here, a great way to start our new year.

Wednesday January 2: I begin my day with the morning routine that I enjoy – making a good cup of French press coffee, reading a poem by Mary Oliver, writing in my journals. I have a Gratitude Journal that is expressly for writing five things that I am grateful for every day and the diary-type journal that keeps me from forgetting what I’ve done with my day-to-day life.

Then I run out to take photos at sunrise. I’m discovering that the cell phone doesn’t take great sunrise photos, as it can’t handle the light of the rising sun, but other than that, I’m enjoying using it for photos that are going to be used via the internet or cell phone.

Today is our settling in day; I organize stuff inside and out, while Clifford gets his ham radios set up. In the afternoon Rollie and I play bluegrass music, with Rollie on mandolin and guitar, and me playing fiddle music on the viola, reading cello music.

Rollie on the mandolin with Ninja for support

We have dinner together, then Rollie and I play a game of cribbage. After dishes, I want to work on a blog, but I’m just too tired and head to bed instead.

Arizona Here We Come – December 2018

Sunday December 30: Snow and forecast for snow storms delay our departure from Monticello, Utah, but we finally make our get-away on December 30th. We finish packing, say good-bye to our place, and by mid-morning we are on our way. It is 13 degrees and the landscape is snowy, but the highways are clear.

Good-bye to snow-covered Abajo Mountains
Heading south
Rugged Arizona mesas

Due to the forecast for a big snow storm in region of Flagstaff, Arizona, we push on through Flagstaff and make it all the way to Seligman, Arizona, along I-40.

Last view of the San Francisco Peaks at Flagstaff

It was a super long day’s drive for us – 350 miles, but we needed to get far enough west to be out of the storm.

A truck stop in Seligman provides a place for us to set up for the night. It is chilly enough that we use the furnace for the first time to warm Cougar up a bit, but we are dismayed that we can’t get the fridge to light. Maybe too cold? I wanted to play viola and write in the journal, but I am too tired. Since the bed is cold, I nap on the couch until Clifford, the night owl, is ready to go to bed.

Monday December 31: I wake up about 7:00, don warm clothing, and walk across the dark parking lot to the restroom at the truck stop. When I get back to Cougar, I am too awake to go back to bed, so start making tea for the thermoses. By time Clifford gets up a short while later, it has started to snow here. That was not part of our plan! So Clifford skips his shower and we pull out as soon as we can.

Mountain in the background, west of Seligman, obscured by falling snow

For the next 50 miles we are driving in a snow storm, which wouldn’t have been so bad except for towing a trailer. Certainly not ideal conditions, but Clifford is steady, and I don’t make any moves that might distract him. We are nearly out of the storm before I feel okay about taking a few photos of this rather scenic drive.

This is when it starts to get better!
Snowy but scenic drive

As we near Kingman, the snow lets up and we stop at a Petro truck stop for gas; the gas in Seligman was highway robbery, which we decided not to give in to, but it did mean running a bit closer than comfortable to the empty mark. In Kingman, lunch at Cracker Barrel is a treat and then we stop at Walmart for supplies. What a zoo! We could hardly find a spot big enough to park our rig so we could go in to shop.

Heading south out of Kingman, still on I-40, at the junction to highway 95, we pull into a Love’s truck stop for the night. It is cold out, but with the furnace and burners on, we are quite comfortable. We have a restful night here, glad to be out of the snow and eager to reach our destination tomorrow.

Life is a Journey – December 2018

I try to start each day with quiet time at the slide-out door, candles lit to provide light as I watch for the dawn and the rising of the sun turning the naked tree golden.

First rays of the sun on naked winter trees

I read poems by Mary Oliver and other inspirational works, write in the Gratitude Journal and the main journal, make coffee in the French press, always filled with gratitude at what it takes to have this cup of coffee – the trees grown on another continent, the workers who tend the trees and harvest the beans, the process by which beans are packaged and transported to the continent, the state, the town where I live. And the process by which a French press is made and how it has come to be in my kitchen. And coconut milk from coconuts grown on trees thousands of miles away. And what about the honey – the bees, the flowers, the beekeepers, and those who are responsible for packaging and delivering honey to my location. I could go on about the water and the device used to heat the water, the skill of the potter who made the coffee cup, and so on. I am indebted to possibly hundreds of people, as well as the earth, the sun, and the rain. Having a good cup of coffee is not something to be taken lightly.

A chilly start to December

Newly fallen snow provides a few opportunities for photos, and it is good to get out for a few minutes, to tromp around and feed the wild birds, mostly juncos and doves, but also ravens, finches, and the occasional flicker. A walk takes us to the old church, which doubled as the community center in the 1890’s (if I have my dates correct).

Every day I try to discard something – give it away, take it to 2nd hand store, or toss it into the trash. Often it is just something small like an old cassette tape that I know I won’t listen to again. It is more about the process of letting things go, which has always been hard for me, but it gets easier with a steady practice of it.

Morning view from the sliding glass doors

I edit, send agent queries for Princes and Priests, write blogs, send texts with photos to family and friends… The days slide by so quickly I can scarcely capture them in a journal or with a few cell pics.

As the days go by, Clifford spends hours and hours in the lab. We also get the CI quarterly newsletter out, which is a big item to take care of before leaving.

The lab is a busy place

The snow melts and preparations are made for travel, including a storage rack on the back of Cougar.

I have decided to write a 2018 letter and make greeting cards this year. Our move to Utah and our travels this past year might be of interest to family and friends. I use old prints for the cards, some taken with film camera as far back 1995. It is a big job getting the software and printer in action again, but I hope recipients enjoy getting a real card in the mail.

And then more snow. It is fun to decorate the bush outside our front door, but we had not expected this much snow in December,

Snowy days in Monticello
Decorating the bush in our front area

We watch the weather closely, and our departure is delayed as we see storms forecast that will cross our route making travel unsafe. We had thought we’d be in Arizona for Christmas, but the day is spent quietly at home, lighting a candle for Christmas Eve and watching the snow falling, wondering if we might not make it out of Monticello.

Christmas Eve
View from the sliding glass door on the evening of Christmas Day

In the morning, I am enchanted with the loveliness of snow-laden trees before the breeze comes up, but wondering when (or if) we are going to find our way clear to leave this winter.

It is December 30th before we finally make our get-away. It is 13 degrees and the landscape is snowy, but the highways are clear. We finish packing, say good-bye to our place, and by mid-morning we are on our way to Arizona where winter is more tolerable.

Life is a Journey – November 2018 (Part 2)

After our two-day trip to Farmington, New Mexico, I spend several days thoroughly cleaning Cougar and packing for the next outing. We have thoughts of going to Canyonlands for a week, but it doesn’t happen, as there is just too much to do here before we leave for the winter.

View from the sliding-glass door

As part of his research, Clifford needs some pond water, so one day we go up Abajo Mountain to Monticello Lake, which really is just a pond. It is a nice enough day that we could have had a picnic, but we didn’t plan for it and Clifford is eager to get back to his research. I am happy to have another outing to the mountain; I feel altogether better when I am here. I submit one of the photos to the San Juan Reporter and am quite delighted when they print it for the featured photo of the week.

Monticello Lake

A highlight of these weeks is receiving the hand-crafted knife that my son Tye has made for me. He has made and sold a number of knives this past year, each one distinctly unique. The beautiful knife made for me fits my hand perfectly and is a pleasure to use.

Our projects continue as the weather becomes more late-fallish. Clifford is spending hours and hours in the lab. Moss balls are sent for and added to the pond aquarium for research. I even get a couple of these “plant pets” for the kitchen. Even though my head and hearing are still not quite right, I begin playing my cello and viola again. Blog and journal writing continue, as well as agent research and a few other home projects.

Thanksgiving: I send texts to family and friends, feeling quite grateful for these people in my life. How I would love to be sharing the day with them. Since we aren’t out camping this Thanksgiving, I fix a turkey dinner, which I haven’t done for years and years.

The weather is turning colder and I am excited to get a photo of falling snow.

Mother Nature is happy to oblige the last day of November, and now we will see what December brings.

Life is a Journey – November 2018 (Part 1)

Life is a journey. Even when Clifford and I are not on the road (the outer journey), the inner journey continues. Being back at our home base in southeast Utah, the lab for Carnicom Institute, we appreciate its conveniences. We have power and internet, not to be taken for granted, and Clifford will have the full lab to work in.

We take care of business, I do a lot of photo editing, blog writing/posting, finish editing and begin doing agent research for Ang’s fantasy novel Princes and Priests. Clifford is deeply immersed in his lab work.

Although being in town is not very inspiring for me as a photographer, there are moments that are worth documenting and remembering, even if only in their ordinariness that is part of the fabric of life.

Morning is a special time for me. The rising of the sun is the daily miracle that I delight in. The first rays of the sun bring a glow to the naked trees that I see from our east-facing sliding-glass door.

This is the time when I write in my journal and in the smaller Gratitude Journal, read inspirational writings, most especially resonating with poems by Mary Oliver, “…. and you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine” and “My work is to love the world” and “be astonished,” (excerpts from the collection “Thirst”). As I write and read, I savor the aroma and flavor of fresh French press organic coffee.

We have had a bit of a rough start to our return to Monticello, as we discover that the hot water heater has been leaking while we were gone, and now the bathroom/laundry area has an unpleasant odor. A neighbor helps us cap off the leaking pipe, and after the mop-up operation, we run a fan and ozone to dry things out and deal with the odor. I begin having serious head ringing and auditory issues. From the ozone? I start spending time out in Cougar to get away from the source of the problem, whatever it is.

November 5th is a sunny fall day, so we go up Abajo Mountain to the Buckhorn campground for a picnic. I do a walkabout for photos, happy to have a blue sky day, rather rare nowadays. Because of the chilly breeze, we end up sitting in the car to have our picnic. A year ago we came up here and had a picnic sitting at the picnic table in spite of the breeze. Guess we were tougher last year. Haha… We then drive out to Pine Flats where we camped last June for the Amateur Radio Field Day. We are pleased to see that the roads have been improved, so we may able to come here with Cougar next spring.

Abajo Mountain, Utah
Aspens in November

As the days go by, my head and hearing continue to be “off” and I don’t know if it is the ozone, which is being run less or something about the house itself that is causing this toxic reaction. In spite of the head issues, I continue with photo editing, blog writing, and agent research, while Clifford works in the lab. We take breaks to run errands, walking to the post office, the hardware store, or the market. Because of the auditory problems I am experiencing, I don’t play cello or viola much, and Clifford does not take time for his music, either. He is focused on the lab and the work that needs to be in place before we leave for Arizona next month.

In mid-November we make a trip to Farmington, New Mexico, a drive that takes us through the reservations of the Four Corners region. It seems to me to be a rather harsh environment.

Ute Mountain Reservation, Colorado

We are meeting with CI associate, Gary S., who has been on our unofficial staff for many years. He is exceedingly talented at fixing electronic devices and has repaired an important lab instrument, an osmometer, for us. Once we all arrive in Farmington, we go out to dinner before Gary and Clifford run tests on the repaired instrument. Everything is looking good! Hooray! This is an important addition to the lab work that Clifford is involved in.

Gary and Clifford run tests with the osmometer

We spend the night in Farmington and the next morning, after saying good-bye to Gary, we head back to Monticello. We have many things to accomplish in the upcoming weeks.

Hiking to Rim Overlook: Dead Horse Point State Park – October 2018

Sunday October 28: Clifford and I are camped at the Dead Horse Point Utah State Park, thanks to our Colorado friends who are in the site next to us. First thing this morning I call my daughter Katie to wish her Happy Birthday and then head out to Rim Overlook on the west rim trail. I hike by myself, enjoying the solitude and beauty of my surroundings this morning.

The trail to the Rim Overlook

Back at camp, I continue editing Emperors and Exiles, eat left-over pizza for lunch– not my usual, but sure tasty. In the later afternoon, we – Clifford, our friends, and I – hike to the same Rim Overlook where I was this morning. It does feel different hiking with others, with companionship replacing solitude.

Hiking with friends

Later, Clifford and I join our friends for dinner at their camp. Afterward, Dave and Clifford go out to use the night vision goggles, which is a lot of fun for them. We ladies are ready to turn in; I write in my planner and then head to bed, feeling a bit weary from the day’s activities, and knowing that tomorrow is another travel day. Only 3 1/2 months on the road this time, but it seems like a long time ago that we left for Montana and here we are, nearly back to our home-base in Monticello, Utah.

Hiking in Dead Horse Point State Park – October 2018

Saturday October 27: Today Clifford and I hike with our Colorado friends who are camped next to us at Dead Horse Point Utah State Park. We start from the Visitor Center and walk the canyon east rim trail out to the point that gives the park its name. The story is that wild mustangs were corralled here at the point, the best picked out to be kept as riding stock, and the rest turned loose, except for the time that they were left corralled and died of thirst. Not a pretty story, but the name remains.

It is a scenic hike with deep canyons on all sides and the Colorado River far below. Back at camp, we all rest up a bit and then head to Moab to have dinner together at Eddie McStiff’s. This is a fun outing for us and after we return to the park, we have tea and visit until midnight.