Friday, April 25, 2014

April 16-24, 2014 - Hiking, Weed Picking, Desert Bighorn Sheep and the packing begins.

We've had several days of high wind since the last post.  I thought all the loose sand had already been blown away but the wind always seems to find more of it to fill the air with.

Scott liked the hot springs so much we made a return trip.  It was nice in the water but you got cold in a hurry once you stood up in the wind.

More time on the lake with the kayaks.  If you look close to the left front of my kayak you can see a couple of fish in the water.

Scott decided it was nap time about when we were within sight of the car.

He has some "drinking glasses."  You can stick one end of the tube into the cup and suck on the other end and drink through the tubing. 

Whatever we do, he does!

He's commandeered my reading glasses.  It's a good thing I have several pairs of extra's.

Susan stopped to pull some weeds.  This variety looks like a "good" weed but the leaves are different and they smell like broccoli.

We we're too late for this batch (they'd already gone to seed) because we'd been locked out of the area.  The Park Service had this part closed for awhile due to the Bundy cow round-up.  We've done some volunteer work while here this year.  Our official duty now is weed control.  The nice thing is we can work when and how much we want and stay in one area as long as we want.  (No time limits as long as we are "working.")

"As small as a mustard seed?"  You can see the seed pod and the seeds it contains in Susan's hand.

Took another hike into the Bowl of Fire.  We're running out of time this year but next year we'll take some of the grandkids and bring a lunch.  They'd love exploring the caves and climbing the rocks.

Scott escorting Susan up the trail.

Finally, some shade and a nice breeze.

Susan and Scott trying out one of the small caves.  It was open on both sides and gave shade while allowing plenty of ventilation.  You kinda' have to watch for snakes this time of year.

Another local.  We've passed this group of three before so we were watching for them.  This guy was the closest and not as camera shy.

He gave us a lot of good photo opportunities before we headed on down the road.
It's another windy day with more wind for tomorrow so we made a trip into town to use the internet (we're about to the limit for our monthly ration through the jetpack).  We've begun packing things away for the trip home later next week. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

1-15 April, 2014 - Hiking, Rock Climbing, Kayaking, Swimming, Campfires, Visitors, and Moonlit Nghts

We've managed to get some outdoor time in the last couple of weeks despite days of high winds and blowing sand.  The tax forms are completed (have been for awhile) and in the mail but since we owed them (lots!) of money we waited until the 14th to send them in.

The local Dollar General Store had some small wading pools at a decent price so we got one for Scott. Needless to say it was an immediate hit on these hot spring days.

And what do you do with water if you're an enterprising three-year-old?  You make mud pies!  Sorry Odie, we'll find another bowl for your dog food.

Calm nights call for campfires.  Scott had a long day and soon conked out on Susan's lap.

We went to the Clark County Fair on Saturday and Scott decided he "needed" another gun.  I'd say that he has his "war face" on but he's mostly peeved at having his picture taken.

When we went to the library he couldn't wait to show me his "monster and robot" book.  It's about the characters in Star Wars.

This is one of the photos of the eclipse. We learned that automatic focusing cameras are not the best to use when taking photos of the moon.

These guys showed up one morning.  The dog was on the other side of the camper and the wind was blowing their scent away from us so she never did spot them.

This is another visitor.  The wind was blowing sand and dirt around making it seem darker than it was.

On windless days we had outside fun.  Here we launched kayaks at Echo Bay and explored some new territory.

We went hiking up a draw near Rogers Spring.  There were three hawks that took off from a ridge.  They took turns coming back to look us over.  I got a lot of photos of them taking turns standing watch.  The hawk is below the arrow.

Here's the same hawk with the telephoto at maximum extension.  I need to start packing a tripod.

Some of the many boulders we climbed over on our way to the top of the draw.  Scott absolutely loves climbing up.  He's not so thrilled about the trip back and we end up carrying him most of the way. By then he's pretty well worn out. ...

at least until it was time to cool the feet off after the hike back.

Well, okay, maybe cool the legs off as well.

The boys in green were out for awhile this morning.

We've had some beautiful sunsets as well.
As usual, lots of good photos that didn't make it due to space and time limitations.  The weather is getting pretty hot so we'll probably be heading home before too long.  We have lots of plans for the upcoming summer.  More about that later.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

January - March, 2014 - No Snow!

Would saying it's been awhile be too much of an understatement?

We've been a little busier than usual this year.  We hit the road on January 2 to head south for the winter (once more).  We gave the Cherokee to a daughter and SIL because it had so many miles on it and we wanted something larger for our road trips so we bought a Ford Expedition from one of our sons.  He purchases them (usually not in running condition), gets them running and sells them again.  This one was too good to pass up.  It's definitely a dream to travel in with electric everything, comfortable (heated or cooled) leather seats and individual climate control for each seat.  It has a built in DVD player which Scott adores. 

But despite the comfort it's still nice to be "home" again.  Scott was so tired of travelling he began asking to go "home" several hours  before we reached our destination in Overton.  As soon as he saw the motorhome he relaxed and simply said "home."  Here he's curled up on the couch with the cat beside him.  We spent a few days at the Overton Wildlife Management Area before heading farther south to the Boulder Beach Campground.
We volunteered to work for the Park Service for awhile and in return for 20 hours a week of labor they paid the fees for the camping site.  We spent a few weeks at the campground, doing volunteer work then headed for Stewart's Point.  We liked the work but were tired of living in a "parking lot."

Scott appears to be quite comfortable sitting on the ball while watching a DVD on the television.
The trip to Stewart's Point was uneventful but once we got here the transmission went out on the car.  We were without transportation for a few weeks until our son and DIL brought down another vehicle for us to drive and trailered the Expedition back home with them.  They spent about a week with us before going back home. 
In the meantime another daughter and SIL came down with their camper to spend a few weeks here vacationing. 

We needed some boards to level the motorhome so I bought a couple of long 2X8's and Scott and I cut them down to size.  This is at the Boulder Beach Campground.  Note the bare feet, short sleeves, sunshine, and NO SNOW!

We took the Expedition on a road trip to visit a friend in AZ then went up to the Grand Canyon.  On the way we made some side trips.  We're working on a prepper book to counteract some of the nonsense from televised shows like Doomsday Preppers and wanted to do some research and take some photos of ancient Indian dwellings.  This is Montezuma's Castle.

Scott was in charge of security so he brought his rocket along.

This is at Walnut Canyon with dwellings built into the mountainside caves.  It was really impressive.  You have to wonder what kind of leg muscles those people had after climbing up and down all day long.

This is Wapatki and another example of ancient life on high mountain plateaus.

Now we're at the Grand Canyon.  It was an overcast day so the colors are washed out a bunch.  Photos do not do justice to what you see.  The canyon is so deep, wide and colorful that film can't begin to capture it's grandeur.
It too has some great American Indian history.  The Havasu lived in the bottom of the canyon during the hot summers, growing their gardens.  In the winter they lived on the plateau on top, hunting and supplementing their summer crops with meat.

This is back At Stewart's Point.  Scott is enjoying a little "splash time" in the lake.  If you stay in the shallow water it's nice and warm!  His "boat" has leg holes in it so he's basically wading in the water.

As usual we're using our solar cooker for everything from food preparation to heating hot water for washing dishes.

Another side trip to do some rock climbing/exploring.

Scott loves playing in the caves of all sizes.

While our daughter and her children were here we spent a Saturday at the atlatl competition.  The park service had extra atlatls and darts for use by visitors so we got to try out several different types of throwers and different types/lengths of darts.  As usual there was a pretty stiff wind that day but we all had a great time.  Afterwards we drove over to see Moose's Tank and let the kids do some climbing around.

We put up the wind generator this year.  We bought 20 feet of steel pipe then sawed off a six foot section of one.  That will put the generator about six feet above the motorhome roof.

I ran the wires through the pipe then installed the wind turbine.  This is a Whisper Quiet 400 watt unit.  We brought two, 165 watt panels with us.  I'll permanently install them on the roof next year.  We thought about making mounts to keep them on the ground so we could turn them to the sun easier but after cleaning them off several times after Scott rubbed mud on them (he was making mud while playing in the water and clay) we decided that the roof would be the best place for them!

There was a Navy plane landing and taking off on the water so Susan and Scott got on the roof for a better look.

This is the charge controller for the solar panels and the inverter to power the 110 volt electricity in the camper.  We're running an electric refrigerator since the propane unit didn't work and it's cheaper to replace it with an electric one.  We don't have to buy as much propane either when we're away from electric hookups (which is most of the time!).  There's a 25 amp "smart charger" at the left of the charge controller.  In the lower shelf there are four golf cart batteries which are connected to another 12 volt deep cycle battery in the original battery compartment.  We've never even come close to running out of power this winter.  We are going to upgrade to a larger inverter next winter.  This one is only a thousand watts.  We want two thousand watts minimum.

The battery went dead on the Expedition while it was sitting so I took it out and wired it to the output on the wind generator.  That was in the afternoon on a windy day.  By morning it was fully charged and ready to go again.

While we were between visits from our kids and without motorized transportation we made several trip into Overton on our bicycles.  Susan usually had Scott on the bike seat and I took along the trailer behind my bike.  It's 34 miles round trip with a couple of very steep, long grades and is quite a workout.  We ordered some gas motors for the bicycles but I can't put it on hers (bike frame is too small).  This is my bike with the motor.  We've used it for trash runs and short trips but haven't taken it to Overton yet.
I've been using some of my VA medical benefits while in Nevada.  It's easier here than in Montana because it's over 300 miles to the nearest VA hospital in MT.  It's my first time using the VA and while the service I get is good the wait times are unbelievably long.  Most of it will just have to wait until we're back next winter.