Thursday, March 19, 2015

March 1-15, 2015 Camping, Kayaking, Barbecues, and Yard Sales

It's been a busy two weeks.  I finally got our taxes figured up and mailed.  Between the business (Federal and State) and personal (Federal and State) forms, schedules and worksheets I used up half a ream of paper just to print my copies for my records.  We submitted three of the four electronically and mailed one.  We paid one electronically and two by check.  I'm glad that's over!

Other than that we've been busy doing more fun things.  The weather has been mostly good and the nights are warmer now so we've spent most of our time outdoors.

Scott after a hard day at play.  He refuses to accept that he's tired so sleep has to kind of sneak up on him!

Okay, he isn't sleeping here.  He's just gazing at the clouds from his robot costume.

And what else would a robot paint except for another robot.

Stuffed peppers for dinner tonight.

We spent one day at the Red Rock picnic area.  We all like climbing on the different sandstone rock formations and checking out the caves and hollows.

One of Scott's observation posts.

Susan soaking up a bit of the sun (while I was looking for shade!).

Susan and Scott doing some exploring.

Scott was an expert at finding the caves with deep sand on the floor.

The sun was getting low as we headed back to the car.

Scott has been wanting to go to our "snow house" (Montana home) so we took him to the ski area outside of Las Vegas.  It is beautiful up there and they still had a bit of snow left.

Scott fell in love with several of the snowmen there then he and 
Susan built one of their own.  He had so much fun playing in the snow.  We almost had to drag him to the car to go back home.

We finally patched up his broken heart with a promise to find him a fishing pole so we stopped in Sportsman's Warehouse where he found one he liked.

Every spring Overton has their community yard sale.  We have a storage unit so we had some leeway on how much we could buy.  Scott picked out a toy at each stop of course.  I picked up some more hand saws and a couple of hand drills plus a set of 30/06 dies that had never been used.

Susan bought a guitar as part of her loot so we got to hear her play it when we got back to the camper.

We've been out in the kayaks several times the last couple of weeks.  This is one of Susan's favorite ways to sit in her kayak.

I was in the double kayak with Scott and Odie.  This was the first time Odie got to ride in the kayak and she did very well.

Dinner time!  Scott would prefer Raviolis over real food so I sat the can on top of the grill to warm it up. Taking up space around Scott's food is chicken breasts and sliced sweet potatoes (in the foil).  We've made a lot of use of the grill and open fire for cooking lately.

Camping time.  We're hoping to take a week to ten days camping around the lake using a kayak and canoe.  We'll take a canoe and the double kayak for the real thing but we made an overnighter using kayaks only.

We found the perfect beach.  The sand on shore is deep and soft.  The beach under the water is packed sand and has a gentle slope towards the lake.  Fifty feet out it's still only up to my knees.  We had an unobstructed view of Scott so he could safely play in the water while we set up camp.

I gathered up firewood and started a fire.  I had purchased some magnesium fire starters from Harbor Freight Tools and wanted to test them out.  They come with a section of hacksaw blade for making shavings and striking sparks.  However they're painted heavily so I sanded the paint off the edge using a sandstone rock.  The finish on the bar is rough compared to more expensive bars but it didn't seem to affect making shavings.  I broke the hacksaw blade rather quickly and finished up with a knife.  They will throw an incredible display of sparks and worked as well as the more expensive magnesium bars.  I did use my knife after the hacksaw blade broke though.

I'm not a huge fan of magnesium bars but they'll work when they're wet which is more than a butane lighter will do.  Since we spend so much time around water I carry one in addition to the butane lighter I always have in a pocket.

This photo was supposed to be after the next one.  Here it was getting dark and Scott was still running in the water.  Someone went by in a boat to create a wake.  Other than that it was dead calm and the lake's surface was about as smooth as glass.

Scott is supervising while I bring the fire to life.

We saw and heard coyotes and wild burros near our camp.  We got Scott to stay in bed by putting a DVD on his portable player.  He was asleep within seconds.  We didn't bother with a tent but just threw a tarp on the sand and rolled out the sleeping bags.

We had a sentinel for a couple of days.  He would fly around a bit then take up residence on the hill top near our camp.  The birds like to perch there because they can see all around and watch for danger and dinner at the same time.

We figured we'd have a show when we saw the plane go by the first time.  They were out a couple of times last week but the photos are from the first jump. They jumped from a higher altitude than usual on this jump.

I'm assuming this is cargo of some kind.

Note the bulge on his left leg.

The bulge is gone when he nears the water and he now has flippers on.  Do these guys put the flippers on while they are parachuting down?

There was a boat waiting for them so they didn't spend a lot of time in the water which was good.  The water is really cold yet!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

28 February, 2015 Solar and camp fire cooking, power inverters, hiking, riding and tanks!

And life goes on ...

We had a couple of days with light wind so we got Scott's kite out for some fun.  This year he's old enough to fly the kite himself (although grandpa helped him gain some elevation a couple of times).

Sunny days offer a chance to do some solar cooking.  It's amazing how hot things can get inside the reflectors.

Over three-hundred bucks for the new tagalong and Scott was mostly interested in playing in the box it came in!

We got this one because most of them just have a bicycle seat on them.  We were concerned that Scott would fall asleep or fall off a bike seat (messing around or just letting go of the handlebars) while we were riding so we looked for one that was more secure.  This one was expensive but the reviews were excellent so we got it.  We've made one trip to Overton using it and Scott loves it.  The pedals actually provide assistance and he was "helping" grandma pedals on some of the steeper/longer grades.

We're up at Roger's Spring looking at the fish ...

And tossing in some old bread.

Laundry day.  It was time to wash some sheets sleeping bags and the rest of the laundry. We do a little all the time at home and only take them to the laundry when we get backed up or have large items to wash.

Scott's holding up his new bed time toy.  It has a light in the middle that comes on with two taps and goes off automatically after a few minutes.

This is a familiar site on our road.  We are on the highway here going to Blue Point spring.  We heard they'd done some work to it and we wanted to see what they'd done so we rode bikes up there.

Scott is always finding something new to observe on the road and is telling us about the rumble strip on the side of the highway.  When we have Odie with us she runs along the side of the road beside me.  I call her and point and she knows to stay beside me and off the highway unless I "release" her to chase rabbits.

Scott discovered his "pockets" on the sides of his seat right away and uses them to store his refreshments while we're riding.

He picked out a model tank at the store.  We bought it with some misgivings about it's life expectancy but it was cheap and the pieces just snapped together so we gave it a try.

That was last week and it's  holding up better than a lot of the toys we've bought him.

We bought him a bicycle at the Salvation Army thrift store in Henderson and put some training wheels on it.  He rode it around camp a bit but it's hard to keep it moving because of the rough ground  (it keeps getting high centered).

Our  single "0" cables came in for the 3,000 watt inverter so I installed it.  I found out it's one of those that turns on a cooling fan when you turn on the inverter.  If I had known that I wouldn't have purchased it.  Most better quality inverters use a temperature sensor to turn on cooling fans.  The cheap ones turn on one fan as soon as the unit is turned on then have extra fans to turn on by temperature sensors if the unit gets hot.  I may just clip the power line to the fan later.  The way it is now the only time I can turn it on is when I actually want to use it.  I also have to go outside and switch the cord to the big inverter at the same time.  It's better than starting the generator when I need more power (usually for the vacuum, microwave, or electric heaters) but it's still an inconvenience I hadn't counted on.  I may be able to wire it where I can turn it on/off  and flip a couple of breakers inside but that' will be a future project.  Right now I'm leaning toward cutting a couple of wires.

We planted a very small garden this year.  It's just a few peas, onions, and a couple of tomato plants but we are looking forward to the fresh veggies.   These are the tomatoes.

Onions and peas.  Susan rolls the sticker plants over them at night to keep the dog, and coyotes from digging them up and the rabbits and burros from eating them.

Susan made Scott some rocket, train and plane pancakes using cookie cutters.

They came out pretty good and Scott loves them.

That snow is too close for comfort!  We had a cold night and when we got up the next morning there was new snow on the mountains to the south and north of us.

We took Scott's bicycle into Overton so he could ride it on pavement.  It's the first time he's been able to do that and really enjoyed it.

It's the first time he's used the child swings too.

And this was his favorite way to swing!

Scott in his batman cape throwing the ball for Molly (Rusty's dog).  He can't throw it that far but she's a good sport and brings it back to him.  Odie just looks at the ball and waits for  him to throw it again ... only farther!

Pork chops over a bed of coals!

Scott shooting his bow.

Scott and grandpa at Roger's Spring.  He likes me to swing him over the channel.  The water flow had decreased in their measuring system and they sent someone out to see why.  When the flows of a spring decrease it's possible that there's a problem in the aquifer feeding it (which could be a big problem in some cases).  In this instance the water had washed out a channel around the concrete spillway.  They just filled in the channel and everything's back to normal.

We took a little  hike back into the desert from the spring.  There were fresh burro tracks and Scott wanted to follow them.  Pretty soon he wanted to follow them from grandpas's shoulders which worked for me as well. (Faster!)

Susan and Scott goofing off.

Been a long day and we had a tired little boy who went to sleep snuggled against grandma while eating supper.

Grandma playing with Scott.  She's an "angel" and he's a "butterfly."

We decided to start making our own coffee drinks to take with us when we're driving late.  We couldn't find the kind we like on our last late trip into Henderson so I had some coffee from a 7-11 store.  It was very strong (Marine Corp coffee!) and even though I diluted it with about 20 percent water I still couldn't get to sleep for about three hours after we made it home.

Barbecue time!  Chicken breasts in the middle with red bell peppers around the edge.  In the foil we put sliced sweet potatoes with a gob of butter and some spices.  It was great!

Scott and Odie putting in some "quality time."

We've been questioning whether our wind generator was working so I installed an amp meter.  With a light wind we are getting about 10 amps output.  We  haven't had any high wind since then but if it's doing ten amps now it should be better with more wind.  We'll see!

Susan has a blog up that gives a little more info on what we're up to on a daily basis.  If you want to see it got to:  Steven and Susan Snowbirding, Season Five

I also have a new series on my Grit blog.  I'll be looking back over the last 12 years of our Montana homestead.  There'll be lots of photos!