A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.





Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Taking Out the Trash


The dumpsters are a mile and a half up the dirt road from our camp.  A nice walk or a stop off on the way into town for whatever reason.
Hmm...someone isn't scheduling the trash trucks very well.
Last year when the government had that silly shutdown because our goofy congress couldn't agree on the budget, this scene was much worse.  
The piles on the ground were bigger and taller than the dumpsters.
You can imagine what the winds did with that.


Here's a Beans photo for you.


Saturday, February 22, 2020

Electrical! Why Did it Have to be Electrical?


Living in an RV isn't much different than in a house in regards to the fact that things break.  As I was getting ready for bed last night I noticed the display on the solar charge controller was blank.  
No power.  Nothing worked.  Groan, I don't need this!!
I dug out the papers on the device, looked online to see if they still made this particular one (they do, $29.95. Guaranteed delivery by Monday if you order in the next xxx hours) and tried to get it out of my mind so I could go to sleep.  I'll deal with it in the morning.
Rain was scheduled for the morning so that was okay.  I'd be trapped inside anyway.  Its just electrical stuff isn't my strong suit.  I feel like a first grader when doing electrical things.


I had to clear out and disassemble the cabinet beneath the sink to track down wires seeing which was which and went to where.  In spite of my limited electrical expertise I should give myself credit in the fact that I at least have done all the electrical work including installing the solar system all myself without burning down the house. At any rate, anytime I have to fix something I have to reeducate myself on what I had created long ago.


First thing was to establish that the unit was toast.  I bypassed everything connecting it directly to the batteries.  Glory be, the display came on!  Well that's encouraging.  Its not the unit itself.  I began tracking wires and checking for a break in the delivery of juice.  I found it.  A crimped connection that looked well and good yet inside there was a build up of green corrosion.  I cut that away and put in a new crimp connection and we have power!  This took all morning but I was fine with it since the surgery was successful.  If the patient was truly dead, then I wouldn't be as happy as I am right now.
The rain stopped, the sun came out and oh happy day!
No shower of sparks occurred during this project.  That's always nice.


And with that I close with a cute picture of Beans.
Dad, I heard something out there.



Thursday, February 20, 2020

Ants


Darn near everywhere I have camped over the years there is an ant colony nearby.
Different sizes, different colors, different attitudes.
Some are just a nuisance crawling over everything including me and Beans.
  I've never had an invasion inside the RV though. Sometimes I'll move.
Other ants are sheer ornery and will bite or sting for no reason.  
I'll definitely move then.


These guys, well really they are girls, all workers are female, are really nice.  They don't pester us at all. They just go about their business every day.  I have two colonies right outside the door.  If I swat fly I'll take the carcass and leave it at their doorway.  I've done this with ants at other places also.  
The nice ants, not the biters.  They are always grateful.


 I had some congealed fat from a can of meat I left for my neighbors here.  They got on it and by morning it was all gone.  Years ago I took the time to follow one single ant and was amazed at how far away he went, well over a couple hundred feet away which would be many miles and miles for us.  They always find their way back home somehow.


Here you can see winged ants.  I'm pretty sure they are males.  They'll fly off to start a new colony somewhere if they find a fertile female, a queen.  (I used to know all that stuff but think I got it kind of right here. Too lazy to look it up and reeducate myself)  There have been two separate flights since we were here.  I recall a termite colony at a house we lived at long ago.  Their flight occurred only once a year, at the same time each year and it seemed to coincide with a phase of the moon. Full?  I don't remember.  So I was surprised there were two separate hatching of males with these ants, weeks apart.  When one takes off he's all out of control flying around in circles at the mercy of the wind.  The success rate for the hundreds of males emerging from the colony probably is extremely small. 
That's why there are so many.  Guess it's much like sperm.
Okay, I'll stop there.


Monday, February 17, 2020

Sticks


In my spare time, which seems I don't have that much of, I will work on making walking/hiking sticks.  I've been carrying these around for a couple years now and thought I'd tried to get them finished this winter.  The two on the left which I've started on are of Utah Juniper. They require a bit more work in that I have to remove all the fibrous bark in order to oil the finished piece.  I'll stay away from that wood in the future. The three on the right are Gamble Oak.  It is more difficult than you might imagine in finding suitable pieces to make hiking sticks from.  Naturally they must be pretty much straight and not too thick or too thin but just right to hold in your hand.


 These three are my personal sticks not intended to be given away as the others are.  The one in the center is from a dead immature Ponderosa Pine near camp at Tres Predias, New Mexico.  It was about ten or twelve feet tall.  I pushed it over and cut off the top which that stick is the trunk of the tree, not a branch.  It is the straightest piece I have and is my favorite to use just going for a walk.  The one on the right is my go-to hiking stick and the one on the left is just decorative, not used.


This is the decorative stick. 
I like the beetle groves in it.




My go-to hiking stick is one of the first I made years ago.  It is a branch from a Douglas Fir tree in Annadel Park back home.  It must have a few thousand miles on it by now. 


It has the perfect fit in the palm of my hand.  I prefer my sticks to be no longer than the distance from hand to ground with my arm bent at a forty-five degree angle.  I see people using staffs that Moses would have, or Friar Tuck preparing to joust with Robin Hood.  Way too much stick in my mind. 


I angle the top slightly for sometimes I place my thumb there.  My walking stick is perfectly molded on top for my thumb to rest without an edge cutting into the joint. 


I met a lady early on near camp this year.  First thing she remarked on "Nice walking stick".  I was using that real straight Ponderosa Pine stick.  She was short, barely five feet tall if that.  I got out my shortest stick, filed down all the rough parts, sanded it and gave it a coating of tung oil.  Christmas Eve day she was away from her camp.  I left the stick leaning against the trailer by her door with a Merry Christmas note on it.  It was fun watching her return home, see the stick, look around and take it inside.  She still has no idea who or where it came from.  Hee-hee.


Saturday, February 15, 2020

Something's Missing


Quartzsite, Arizona

One day I had a hankering for a burrito.  There are three Mexican food stands I know of in town.   One guy had indoor dining and his burritos were priced at $10.  Down a ways was a lady with a covered eating area.  Her burritos were priced at $6.



 I ordered a carne asada with green sauce to go.  While she was preparing my burrito I could hear someone coughing in the kitchen just out of view. 
Hmm...is coughing one of the symptoms of the coronavirus?
This is the small.  It looked great and I was looking forward to getting into it.


First bite, mmm...okay.  Second bite, something's missing.  I looked closer...there's no cheese.  Then I noticed it seemed like the meat was ground hamburger, not grilled thin strips of steak.  I looked closer.  It was steak but ground up much finer than I had ever had in a carne asada burrito before.  And it was salty, more so than I would have liked.  


I ate the whole thing and when done was left with some disappointment and some indigestion.
The third stand is down the road from the Unwrapped Bacon Hot Dog guy. 
I'll give them a try the next time I have a hankering for a burrito.
I still have faith that one day I'll find some decent food in this town.
The quest continues.




Thursday, February 13, 2020

On Stake-out


(something's wrong with the first two pictures. owner error of the iPhone user - sorry)

Beans sat there for over an hour waiting for a lizard to reappear.
My, that is patience.


He never showed. 
 I felt so sorry for her.


But she does catch them now and then and usually they shed their tail, a survival technique. 
It is interesting to feel the nerves and muscle within the tail twitch.  It will do so for ten to fifteen minutes after breaking loose from the body.  If the tail were lying on the ground it would squirm about detracting the attention of the predator so the lizard can make good his escape. 
 It works as I've watched Beans lose lizards because of the tail moving about.



A lizard minus his tail.  I wonder if that hurts?


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Grinding Seeds


Along the dried river bed where the petroglyphs are I discovered these holes in the rock where the early inhabitants to this area ground seeds.  Try to imagine how much grinding took place to wear holes in the rock this large.  The rock surface is level. it just appears slanted from the way I took the photo.  Hopefully it was nicer times many hundreds of years ago and water was flowing in the river.  My this just hurts my back thinking about sitting here pounding rock against rock.


The one on the left was the largest and over a foot deep.



Sunday, February 9, 2020

Dad! Wait For Me!


Quartzsite, Arizona


Here is a blown up image.  
You can see she's achieved lift-off.



Friday, February 7, 2020

The Science of Bacon


Quartzsite, Arizona

I worked up an appetite looking at all the junk at the flea market.  I rode Gracie on down the boulevard to where I knew some food vendors were set up.  SAUSAGE WORLD.  He had me on the Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog.  The eight panel sign hanging over the window is the menu.  I saw no sausage listed.  That's okay, I was after the hot dog.  Nice friendly guy was running the stand for his wife while she was away.  Evidently it was her enterprise. I ordered my bacon wrapped hot dog and when he slid it to me I noticed something missing. "Where's the bacon?"  
"Oh its underneath the hot dog."
"But I thought it was going to be wrapped around the hot dog."
"We can't do that anymore.  But you get more bacon this way."
And so began the tale of the great bacon wrapped hot dog controversy.


He tells me the health department said he couldn't wrap bacon around his hot dogs. 
"I had to pay a guy $32 to unwrap all the hot dogs."   Don't ask why.  I didn't.
"Now across the highway over there at Tyson Wash they can sell bacon wrapped hot dogs.  But not here."
"Why's that?" I asked.  "Is it some different jurisdiction of health departments over there?"
With a wave of a hand behind him he says they removed a big septic tank out back some time ago and the soil hasn't been tested yet for contaminants.  "That's what I was told."
So what have we learned here?
Bacon wrapped around a hot dog is an attractant for airborne fecal matter.  Placing bacon beneath the hot dog now makes your dog safe to eat.  Floating poop particles wont land on your hot dog with the bacon removed.  Isn't science amazing?
I said he's going to have to change his sign.  Hot Dog on a Bed of Bacon.  "Don't want to get sued for false advertising now do you?"


Just another story about this crazy town of Quartzsite who continually makes it more and more difficult for vendors and store owners which really are the lifeblood of this town.  Each year more and more choose not to come back and I have seen this myself in the number of years I've been coming here.


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Everyday Flea Market


Quartzsite, Arizona

One day I went to visit the "flea market" on the main drag through town.  Not your typical flea market for some of these sellers have been here for as long as I can remember, live on their space all year round (and they look it) and have so much JUNK its not possible to move.  But for the most part the remaining sellers are only here for the tourist season (4 to 6 months).  I got to talking to this lady (blue top big straw hat) for I overheard her telling a couple ladies that she had only been on the road for a year now.  She was cute, very nice and would be turning 70 next month she said.  She had been trying to find places to stay for free yet still be able to set up and sell her stuff which for the most part were nick-nacks, some jewelry and whatever. I didn't look that closely.  A lady stopped by to look and picked up a bowl.  In mid-conversion with me she said "That bowl is ten dollars".  She said she pays $230 a month for the spot she's in.  Other sellers I saw had hook-ups (water, electricity and sewer dump) and I hope she did for that price.  Her truck was in need of some repair work.  Transmission I think she said.  She had two dogs but were unable to keep them outside.  They would become aggressive if another dog came by which would run off potential customers. That white box is her trailer.  I felt so bad for her that I didn't ask about the trailer.  Its embarrassing.  I'm paying $180 for seven months.  True, I don't have hook-ups and she couldn't set up her store on BLM land.  But I couldn't help but think of the money she could save.  No way can she be selling enough to make even a dent in her $230 a month fee.  She must have additional income some way.  Has to.  I wished her well and had to walk away before I started giving her unsolicited advice on how to live cheaply.   


Another seller, one of those lifers on site, had these gas pumps among some other "antique" items.
The red gas pump had a tag on it $1500.  The white one in the back $1000.
The price tags were so faded I could barely make them out. How many years of exposure to the sun?
And wouldn't you know I left camp without my check book.



Sunday, February 2, 2020

Aw...come on now!


We've been enjoying weather in the 70's for a long time and now look at this!
A twenty-two degree drop over night tonight!
Not happy!!


Saturday, February 1, 2020

Lost Dog


Quartzsite, Arizona

This was taped up on the ice machine at the Roadrunner Market.
How do you set a price for a reward on your pet?  That's got to be an extremely hard decision.  I'd give literally anything to get my Beans back.  Then too, if you found this dog and was able to get it back to its owners, would you accept the $500 reward?  I couldn't.  Just seeing their happiness and relief would be all the reward I'd need.  If they insisted I'd tell them to make a donation to the local shelter.  "Designate if for the cats though."


As I was preparing to sit down and make up a couple blog posts someone decided to jump up and lay down on the table.  I guess the laptop will have to wait until later.



Thursday, January 30, 2020

Expiration Dates Are For the Weak


Quartzsite, Arizona

Along vendors row is this large tent.  They take in pallets of discarded food items from supermarkets like Safeway.  Many are past their 'Best by' date.  Others with still good dates like the cans may be dented.  Bottled items the label could be torn.  There are items of all nature that you'd find at your local grocer including, vitamins, over the counters medicines, pet items and more.  That pallet to the left stacked with 40 quart electric coolers are labeled $40 each.  I looked them up on Amazon. $140.
Even produce shows up at times, cheap and nothing wrong with it.


Stock is changed daily all depending on what they get it.  Most everything is marked fifty cents or a dollar.  Gourmet items a bit more.  I bought a jar of pimento stuffed olives for $2.00 from Safeway.  Date good to 9/12/22. Can't see a thing wrong with it.  A jar of Safeway dill pickles with a torn label 12/14/20 $1.50.  Annies organic protein bars box of five 10/7/19 $1.00.  They might be a bit chewy.
There are boxes of breakfast cereal one or two dollars less than half the store price.  Usually the box is crunched or torn. Ocean Spray and similar juices four dollar plus in the store, here half that.  Lots of coffee styles and brands and those prices are only slightly less than in store. Coffee holds it value.  


Relish!?  Gee, I had that on my list and overlooked it!  I'll have to go back.
Anything you want me to get for you?


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Beans Leaves Her Mark


Quartzsite, Arizona


The people who ran us off from our previous camp where the Midnight Pooper lives left after only four days of being there.  Odd.  Seems hardly worth the effort coming in all this way on a dirt road. Whatever, fine with us.  I went back to look at our site, not difficult to find as you can see the drag marks from Beans' five pound lead weight.  


In between the two sites is this poor old abused saguaro, still alive though.



One day on a hike I discovered this hole in the ground, an abandoned mine.  I've lightened up the image so you can see what appears to be the bottom.  It may go off from there but I wasn't about to go down there and see if it did.  Maybe at one point in my life when I was young and foolish, but not now.  If I did I most likely...


...would end up here.



Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Midnight Pooper


Quartzsite, Arizona

At our previous camp site we would receive a gift like every other night.  
They would always leave their deposit on Bean's five pound weight.   


Then one morning I stepped outside to see this.  Her cord chewed in two.  
Someone really had some issues with Beans.


Maybe because one day she decided to pee on their turf.


Or perhaps it was because she accidentally killed one of their own.
I didn't mean for him to die.  I just wanted to play.


Now I pick up her weight and cord each evening hopefully putting a stop to the Midnight Pooper.
Whoever he is he is bigger than this little pack rat judging by the size of the "gift".  

Most cats like to lay on keyboards.  Beans is such a good girl.  
She's happy to be just near me curled up next to the laptop.