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!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

15 February, 2014 Kayaking, outdoor cooking and more...

After looking at this segment of my blog I got to thinking that we should spend a little more time doing something productive so my wife and I spent about two hours soaking up the sun in our lawn chairs this morning and discussed the issue and came to the conclusion that ... we'd be working our tails off soon enough this spring, summer and fall.  For now we're going to spend time having fun and just enjoying life.  Of course we enjoy our life anyway and feel particularly fortunate that we can live our lives just the way we want and be thankful that even our "work" is something we enjoy doing.  We also spend time writing while we are snowbirding so even though you can't really tell it by our blog, we are still at work!  (We just don't want to let on about it!)

Scott's boots and helmet showed up for his space suit.  He loves it and insists that he's going to the moon someday.  In a sad commentary on our times the suit has a warning that it is not a real space suit! Duh!

Susan keeping up on her journal.

One of Scott's favorite activities ... wagon rides!

Odie got to try out her new life jacket.  We plan on taking her across the lake on the kayak and wanted something to keep her afloat if she fell or jumped out.  It also has a handle on top to make it easier to retrieve her from the water.  She isn't quite sure what to think about it and seemed to think it was some kind of punishment being inflicted upon her.  She got used to it though.

Scott in one of his favorite pastimes ... playing in the water!

Dinner cooked over an open fire.  In this case it's pork roast and potatoes and carrots in the pot and fried biscuits in the skillet.

Add some fresh iced tea and yes, it is as good as it looks!

One of our bicycle trips into Overton.  Depending upon where we go in town these are from 36 to 42 miles round trip.  At our leisurely pace it takes us about 4 1/2 to 5 hours of riding round trip.

In case you're wondering if this is comfortable for Scott I brought in a close-up of the top of the trailer.  He has his foot sticking out on the left and his hand on the right.  He tends to make himself at home!

When we got into Overton and opened up the canopy this is what his "office" is like.  Three empty boxes of chocolate milk and his blanket.  Under the blanket is a pillow and his DVD player (so he can watch movies while riding).

Our first stop (per Scott's request) was the ice cream shop.  They also serve food.  We had lunch while Scott chose an ice cream cone (and helped himself to our lunch).

I had Susan's bike tied up so I could crank the pedals and adjust the cables to the brakes and shifters.  Scott was delighted to turn the peddles for me.

Scott wanted some train pancakes so Susan ordered some train cookie cutters and used them for a form to make the pancakes.

They came out pretty good too!

The solar cooker making our dinner.  On a clear day the sun is intense and perfect for solar cooking.

We ordered a single wheel trailer for my bicycle.  Scott wanted a quick ride in it when I got it together.

Here it is with the bag on our way to Overton for the day.  We have one large hill to climb and the road faces straight west.  We need to leave early enough that the sun is still high because if it's near the horizon drivers cannot see on certain parts of the road.  We have no desire to become a hood ornament because some idiot didn't see us because he was blinded by the sun.  We normally head home about 2:00 pm.

We got to the post office and found out that the package we were picking up is slightly oversized for the bike trailer.  We took it to out storage unit and will take it back to the camper when we have the car next time.

Our next stop is the bike shop.  We had them order parts for Susan's bicycle.  It needs a new rear gear set and chain and I'm having them replace all the cables while they have it.  The parts should arrive in a week or so.

We often use the internet at McDonalds when we are uploading photos or doing things that take a lot of data.  It saves us money since we have to buy data cards for our Straight Talk Box.

We had a hard time getting out because Scott didn't want to leave his "girls."  He is a chick magnet and knows it. They were spoiling him rotten.  I hope he gets a little more shy when he hits the teen years.

Another meal at the outdoor serving center (fire pit).

We ordered a sand/water wheel for Scott.  He liked it and would have played with it more except the next item came in the same day.

His "space shuttle" just kind of stole the show and the sand toy was nearly ignored.

Oops ... time for repairs already?  No, just curious!

The water is about like a cool bath and feels good on a bright sunny day and not too bad even when it's kind of cloudy and overcast.

More kayaking with friends.

Scott brought along his "Cars" umbrella this time.  He also brought his DVD player and is watching it in the bottom of the kayak.  The wind began to pick up and we headed for shore right after this photo was taken.  We had some choppy water to negotiate while the wind did a complete 180.  When we got back to the vehicles the waves were going the exact opposite direction from when we launched earlier.