Saturday, January 30, 2016

31 January, 2018 Desert Wanderings

So, what do you do when you're enjoying sunshiny days while you're stuck out in the southern Nevada desert in January and most of your friends and family are in the grip of cloudy, cold, and snowy winter days way up in northern Montana?

You have campfires and toast marshmallows in the evenings.

You explore desert washes on sunny afternoons.

This one and the photo above are on the "road" going to Fire Cove at Lake Mead.  The road in this instance is a wash going down to the cove.  A lot of the back country roads are like this because they do no harm to the desert surface because the next time it rains the tracks are filled in with sand and rocks.  Of course you have to keep an eye on the weather.  A heavy rain miles upstream can send a rushing torrent of water down these things.  Getting caught in a flash flood is not a recommended experience.

At the end of the road we took a burro trail around to the next wash over.  I saw this little group of barrel cactus growing on the hillside.  I've never seen them in a group like this before.

Fire Cove.  The lake (Lake Mead) used to come up this high but it has a serious water shortage at this time.

We visited a friend whose little dog "Gibby" is one of Scott's favorite playmates.

Scott found one of the old video game controls at the thrift store.  The games it has programmed in were some of the originals us "old" people played when a big hard drive on a computer was 80 MB.

Scott and his winter tree at the library.  Some of the kids who live here have never actually touched snow.  Scott, of course, was eager to tell them all about what real snow was like.

Scott, in his never ending quest for independence, insisted on pumping up his own tires. 

Susan is drying some spinach leaves over the fire grate sitting on the dash of our motor home.

This is on a trail just west of our motor home.  Scott walked a couple of miles before he asked to ride on Papa's shoulders.

We graveled our parking spot by transferring gravel from the edge of the road to the front of our motor home where we park the car.  The soil has a lot of sand and clay in it and turns to a sticky muck when it rains.  This way we can get in and out of the car without wading through the mud.

Scott came up topside with me to help seal some roof leaks.  The solar panels are 135 watts each which gives us plenty of power to run the refrigerator and the lights along with enough for a nightly movie on the television (Blue Ray player) and to keep all of the electronics charged up.  The wind generator provides up to four hundred watts of power on windy days or nights.  As I type this the wind is howling outside so power is not problem tonight (and probably for the next three days).

This is in a little wash about a quarter-mile from our camper.  Scott likes jumping off the edge into the wash below.  This was about his twentieth jump.

This is another wash we hiked up that is outside of town (Overton) a few miles.  This photo was taken from the far end which dead-ended against some cliffs.

Scott doing what he likes doing best ... climbing on rocks.

Scott in one of his favorite shirts (he calls it the "bone guy shirt") along with his favorite bone guy bike helmet.

We set up our 25 power binoculars to see what we could see.  The tripod is a necessity.  Otherwise there's so much "shake" you can't focus on anything.  It's a lot of fun at night for star gazing too.

Scott and I both like shooting our bows.

Susan took this looking through the binoculars with her camera (on her phone).  The arrow points to a wild burro (in the circle) that's on the other side of the lake about three miles away. You can see it a lot better with your eye instead of the camera.

We took another little walk through the desert going southwest from our camper.  Our motor home is the little white dot to the left of center in the photo.

Scott was doing his best to fill in the wash in front of him with rocks.  I was looking for coyotes through the binoculars.  These are only ten power.  I didn't see any coyotes but I did spot a couple of rabbits about a half-mile away.

Susan in her "office."  We're both early risers so we do our writing between 6:00 until Scott gets up around 8:00 or later.  That's my breakfast cooking on top of the wood stove I made out of a 30 lb. propane cylinder.  I already made sausage.

We were on one of our hikes when Scott told Susan he was cold.  She gave him her sweatshirt/jacket.  He used it about 10 minutes then decided he didn't need it anymore and gave it back. 

This was taken in the canyon outside of Overton.  The opening is hand dug and goes back in about 20 feet.  I don't have a clue why it was excavated.  I thought the "rock" formation was cool the way it had been kind of rolled over at some point in the past.

Susan and Scott climbing up the rocks to a series of small pools at the base of the cliffs.

More rock "squiggles."  

This is the old access road to Stewarts Point at Lake Mead.  It was closed and made into a walking trail.  If you follow it down to the lake you'll end up in front of our motor home.

We rode bicycles down it instead of walking.

Scott helping grandma fix supper.

Barbecued chicken breast with sweet potatoes inside the foil.

The cell service is marginal at best inside the motor home or at ground level so Susan took this call (and the folding chair) on the roof of the motor home.

While we were messing around with the high powered binoculars I spotted this eagle on it's perch.  I quickly put my camera on the tripod and took it's picture.  This is on 200 power telephoto.

Friday, January 22, 2016

January 9, 2016 Montana to Nevada

We're back ... or are we gone again?  We made the trip south and are once again camped at Lake Mead in the Nevada desert.  It's been cold lately with lows in the 30's and highs in the 50's.  We've also had lots of rain (for a desert environment anyway!).  Unfortunately we also found that we have multiple leaks in the roof of our motor home.  That has been an adventure by itself!  We've put two gallons of roof sealer ($60.00) along the seams on the top and around every mount for the solar panels.  We felt sure we had all the bases covered then it rained again.  We still have a leak over the sink!!!!  So we go to plan "B"  (as soon as we figure out what that is!).

Anyway, we camped for a few days at the Overton Wildlife Management Area to take care of a few things but now we're back out to Lake Mead where we'll be awhile.  We have the wind tower put up now and have settled in for the long haul.

One of the reasons I like being out and away from "civilization" are the things that sometimes happen.  We'd been in our current camping spot for a day when we heard Odie barking outside.  I opened the door and stepped out just in time to see a cottontail rabbit running by our motor home with a coyote (literally!) right on his tail!  Odie was still barking and trying to make up her mind whether to chase the rabbit or the coyote when they raced by.  I yelled at Odie to stay.  The rabbit spotted Odie and slowed momentarily which almost made it the main course for breakfast for the coyote. The coyote nipped at it and missed by inches. The rabbit turned on the afterburners and gained a couple of feet and they both disappeared in the desert.  I don't think the coyote ever paid any attention to any of us.  He was totally committed to catching breakfast.  Afterwards Susan and I were debating which we should have cheered for ... the rabbit or the coyote! The coyote looked pretty well fed which probably bodes ill for the rabbit.

So, speaking of feed ...

One of the great things about being home are the meals.  Here we're having bacon, egg and cheese omelettes with toast and milk for breakfast.  That was back in Montana where we spent most of our time being snowed in.  Well, we weren't really snowed in but we had about two feet of the stuff on the ground around our cabin and it was cold enough that staying home was our best option most of the time.  That wood fire is hard to get too far away from when the highs never got above 20 degrees for the last two weeks we were there.

Chicken and dumplings for supper!

Susan made enchiladas one day.  She rolled out her own tortillas ...

Then cooked them in the skillet.

Cookie time again.  This is from dough leftover from making Christmas cookies.  She put it in a Ziploc bag and left it out on the front porch.  It was frozen solid within an hour and stayed that way until she used it a week or so later.  We unplug the refrigerator in the winter.  It's cold enough that we can leave stuff we want frozen in a cooler on the porch.  Things we just want chilled we leave in a cooler in an unheated room.  We just set it next to the outside door and throw a blanket over it to insulate it from the heat in the room.  Sometimes the milk will still freeze in the cooler so we take it into the kitchen to thaw it out.

And stir fry.  One of our favorites.  This was taken in our motor home in Nevada.

Again in Nevada, We love lemonade made from fresh lemons.  The lemons here are large and cheap compared to those we get in Montana.

This is in the cabin in Montana.  We keep a kettle of water on the stove all of the time.  That keeps some humidity in the air and we have hot water for washing dishes or baths.  Under the upside down steel bowl she is letting dinner rolls raise while the soup is cooking in the pot on the right.  Behind the stove my coveralls are drying out.  The pant legs always get wet from working outside (cutting and splitting firewood). 

Looking west from the upstairs bedroom.

Looking south over the garden.

One of the great things about winter is the snow.  We've been skiing and sledding and I did a little snow shoeing as well.  The temperature when this was taken was a balmy 10 degrees.  The snow was perfect and fast.

Susan and Scott walking back up the hill.  When we are not sledding this is the road to our cabin. 

The snowman managed to stay frozen for several weeks.  The snow kept piling up higher and higher on it until he looks more like a Russian Cossack than a Montana snow man.  This was taken on our way out of the driveway the morning we headed back to Nevada.

Ah, palm trees and ... rain?  This is supposed to be the Mojave Desert!  It's also been one of the wettest Januaries on record.  We got into Overton about 4:00 AM and slept in the car at the Wildlife Management Area until it got light outside.  Our first stop was breakfast at McDonalds.  Scott loves their pancakes.

After breakfast we went to get our motor home out of storage.  Unfortunately, the soil is mostly clay and sand and I didn't make it far until I was stuck in the mud.  (The desert doesn't handle rain well!)

The tow truck driver was on his way to Las Vegas when we called.  He'd just had a call to get a car unlocked for a woman and once it was unlocked she still couldn't find her keys so he transported her and her car to Vegas.  When he got back to Overton later in the morning he ran about 120 feet of cable out and winched us to the pavement.

Scott was confined to the car but obviously thought it was great fun to watch the motor home being winched out.

Dry ground at last and we were on our way to the wildlife area.

We got set up complete with our "lawn" and lawn chairs and we were ready to spend a few days there before heading out to the lake.  The wildlife area has hunting on even days of the calendar during the waterfowl season so every other morning we woke up to the sound of shotguns and goose calls.

One of the reasons we stop here every year is because we usually have some things to do on the motor home before heading out.  The wildlife area is only a mile outside of Overton so it's easier to get what we need in town.  Here I'm scraping out the old sealer on the roof and putting on the new stuff. 

We just bought a half-cord of firewood last fall when we were here so we had wood for the wood stove in the motor home.  I made a wood stove out of an old 30 pound propane cylinder last year (?) so we have wood heat in the camper.  It's a lot better than trying to warm the monstrosity with propane.  We like to boon-dock camp meaning we camp where it's free and we have no hook-ups for electricity.  Our solar panels don't leave us enough power to run the furnace blower in the camper.  Especially when the temperatures are down around freezing every night.

Susan and Scott were playing with the play dough.  He loves rockets, trains, and robots.

This was taken at the wildlife area.  After our time in Montana we were content to just look at the snow on the distant (about 15 miles) mountains.