A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

I'm Cheap

I was asked in the comments recently what I was reading.  It's been asked before what I like to read so I thought I'd address that. I have several types of interests for reading.  History, travel and mystery or crime novels mostly.  On the latter I recently discovered cozy mysteries which are less violent.  And then there are the apocalyptic books.  I do like reading surviving in a world that no longer exists stories.  I'll have as many as three books going at once.  One on my Paperwhite Kindle, the Kindle app on my iPad and my favorite, a good old hold-in-your-hand book you get to actually flip pages.  Now all of these I come by for free.  I never buy any.  That's the I'm Cheap part.

So with the apocalyptic stories, everything came to an end because of some catastrophe of some sort.  A nuclear war, an EMP and of course a good old plague of some unknown virus.  With the plague stories there are usually zombies involved.  I'd much rather have it be like Stephen King's The Stand which was zombie-less.  Nevertheless if there are zombies in the story so be it.   

Now a lot of these free books are Book Number One of a series the author wrote.  He puts the first one out there to get you hooked into buying the following books so you can find out how everything goes.  Usually the first books are the better and towards the end the story goes kind of wonky.
 I'm always good with letting it go there.  That is until I read this book.

The story goes as if you are reading our hero's journal.  I liked the author's witty and humorous style in the journal and for that reason I went ahead and purchased the download for Book Number Two.  First time I ever bought one for the Kindle remember, and I've got dozens and dozens of downloads on it.  I wasn't disappointed and am now currently in Book Number Three (the final) with no regrets spending the $4.99 on each.  In fact, I hate to see it end so I started another eBook set in 1890 England and am hooked on it.

I'll get back to dealing with zombies later.
I will add I enjoy enjoy reading stories with a strong female character the most be she a woman traveling alone, a detective or private eye, or a woman surviving in a world gone mad even if there are zombies involved causing her problems.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Queen Beans

Yeah sure, lie right there. 
 I really didn't want to set my cup of tea on the table anyway.

At bedtime. 
Most every evening I have to slip a leg down each side.
Don't mind me Beans, I'll just take what available room that is left over.
And she doesn't move an inch either.

One evening I was lying there reading when all of sudden she jumped down and ran forward to look out her window.  Great!  I'll claim that vacated space.  But curiosity got to me and I wondered what it was she heard.  I got up, turned on the outside light and there was a cute little desert fox in our yard.  It had made no noise yet she heard something.  That cat has amazing hearing.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Canned Condensed Milk

This not unusual to find wandering around the desert.  Back in the day it was the only means to pack in milk for whatever reason you needed some milk.  I just wished I knew when "back in the day" was.  The cans never have a date of any kind stamped in them..  That is because back in the day no one ever cared about expiration dates yet every one survived.  
I recently came across an article explaining the difference between best by dates and expiration dates.  The article went on to say that these items were still good to use by the listed time periods beyond their stated best by date.
Bread - one week
Milk - a week past, maybe two
Eggs - five weeks
Cheese - six weeks
What is the furthest you have ever eaten something past their best by date?
I don't pay attention.  If it looks good and smells okay, its fair game.
Expiration dates are for the weak.

Here is today's Beans picture.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

A Water Run

I use fresh filtered water for my drinking and coffee and tea making.  Water for cooking I use what is on board the RV and it goes through a water filter.  Gracie comes in handy for refilling these bottles.  In the past I would have to break camp and go shopping on the RV.  It cost 30 cents a bottle to refill.  Or I can get a new filled bottle at the store for one dollar.  What would you do?  
Four jugs fit just right in my carrier.  I'll run a bungee cord through the white strap handles when empty for the four and a half mile ride into town.  On the way back the weight of the water is enough to keep them in place, unless I go too fast over a bump and one flies out like what happened on this run.  I hit that bump, looked back and just caught the jug before it left the basket. 
 I have to admit I was impressed with myself on that save.  

Here's your Beans picture for today

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


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


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

On Stake Out Once Again

This time it is these ground squirrels out from camp about a 100 feet away.
It sure is fun to watch her run after them. 
 It would make for a good video but the chase is over in a blink of an eye.

The rodents never showed themselves and I was eventually able to get her to come away.
Part of the reason the corn bread burned.

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.