Friday, June 25, 2010

I still like blogger

 Capitol City - up Henson Creek from Lake City

I've been noticing fellow bloggers talk about other kinds of blogging platforms - and I think this one is fine for my needs. I like the new template designer, and this one will suit me just fine for now.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

National Parks Meme

Donna posted this meme today. It is two lists of National Parks, the Most Visited and the Least Visited. Instructions are to bold the ones you have visited, and italicize the ones you have never heard of.

So here are mine:

Most visited:

10: Glacier
9: Acadia
8: Grand Teton
7: Cuyahoga Valley
6: Rocky Mountain
5: Olympic
4: Yellowstone
3: Yosemite
2: Grand Canyon
1: Great Smoky Mountains

Least Visited:
10: City of Rocks NR, Idaho
9: Cumberland Island NS, Georgia
8: Florissant Fossil Beds NM, Colorado
7: Chiricahua NM, Arizona
6: Tonto NM, Arizona
5: Dry Tortugas NP, Florida
4: Katmai NP & Preserve, Alaska
3: Kalaupapa NHP, Hawaii
2: Hagerman Fossil Beds NM, Idaho
1: Russel Cave NM, Alabama

So, how does your list stack up?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Geocaching in Lake City again

Today was a little bit frustrating and a little bit exciting.  We found one cache and didn't find two - for two different reasons.

We started the morning with cereal, since we both gorged ourselves at last night's barbecue and potluck.  After watching a little of the World Cup soccer, we decided to go find a couple of caches in Lake City. I thought we'd start with the easiest one first.  It was NOT easy.   The terrain was easy, but we never did find the cache, even though my GPS showed we were right on top of it. It was a micro, and was definitely hidden very well.  We searched for 30 minutes with no luck, and around noon, we both decided to give up and get some lunch.  That cereal just didn't last.

Lunch was great - we visited the Tic Toc Diner, which wasn't even 100 yards away from where the cache was. Don had a hoagie/sub called the Ham Load - and it had ham, cheese, and grilled bell peppers - an unusual combination, but something he really enjoyed. I had the cheeseburger - which came with grilled onions on it.  Yum.

Our next attempt at finding a cache was successful.  This one was about half a mile up Henson Creek along a pedestrian/hiking trail, and right next to the creek.

It was micro, so all we could do was sign the log - and we learned that we were the first to find it.  Yay! Our first "first!" We got back to the truck and I realized I'd forgotten to put the date on the log - and while I went back to do so,  I lost Don.  Wouldn't you know, he'd gotten his fly rod and was trying out the creek!

The next cache was supposed to involve a little bit of a hike.  We found the parking area, and then the trail  - which headed nearly straight up the mountain.  The description stated that it would "start out steep, then level out."  One of the logs (from a previous finder) stated that the steep part was only 20 yards.  WRONG.  The angle was extremely steep - dangerously so, for coming back down - and was at least 100 yards as far as we could tell.  However, after about 30 yards, we decided to give up. (Add to that, the mosquitoes were eating me alive!)  Don almost fell coming back down (which only bolstered our decision to quit.)

We came back to the trailer about 2 - and of course, Don decided to go fishing. I crashed.  I felt like I'd climbed a mountain.  Must have been the overeating the night before (and the hamburger for lunch) that made me feel so sluggish. I slept for an hour, and have been relaxing and browsing the internet.

Don just came back - said he had some great catches today. One was a 2 1/2-3 pound rainbow, another about 2, and the third about a pound and a half.  He never expected to catch any fish at all in the heat of the day, so he feels pretty good about his success.

We're kicking back now watching tv and enjoying the cool evening. I'm sure we'll both sleep well. I'm heading to Gunnison in the morning - I need to get my nails done and do some grocery shopping.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Lunch: Cajun Potato-Sausage Salad

Don likes spicy food - and while I normally don't like Cajun seasonings, the ones in this recipe are seasonings I eat all the time. This was really tasty:

Cajun Potato Sausage-Salad
    6 small red potatoes (about 2-3" in diameter)
½ cup chopped red onion
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
6 Tablespoons cider vinegar, divided
½ lb kielbasa sausage, sliced
6 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon pepper
¼-½ teaspoon cayenne

Boil the potatoes 15-20 minutes or until knife inserts cleanly.  Drain; cut in 1/4" slices. Add onion, parsley and 3 tablespoons vinegar. Toss. Cook sausage in oil 5-10 minutes or until browned. Add to potato mixture. To the drippings in the pan, add the remaining ingredients, including the 3 tablespoons remaining vinegar. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Pour over salad; serve immediately.

Enjoying local produce

Every Saturday Lake City has a small outdoor market, and has vendors selling arts and crafts and sometimes local produce. Yesterday there were only three vendors set up - and one was a guy from Montrose with organic produce.  I like to support vendors like that, so I stopped by and bought a small bag of mesclun (baby greens) and a bundle of asparagus.  Both were picked that morning.  The mesclun was the salad we had with our barbecued chicken for dinner, and the asparagus - oh, the asparagus! - was cooked in foil on the grill.

"Grilled" Asparagus
(I call this "grilled" because it's really steamed in the foil)

Snap each spear at the cut end to remove the woodiest part. Lay all the spears on a sheet of foil and dot with a couple tablespoons of butter. Wrap in foil - it's best to use two layers.  Grill for the same amount of time you grill your meat, turning often.

Remembering Daddy

Silverton, Colorado 1992

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since Daddy died.  My sisters and brother (and I'm sure my mother) and I still find ourselves reaching for the phone to call him up and tell him the latest news.

Daddy was the original wanderer - he's the one I credit with instilling the wanderlust in me.  

For all of you who still have a father to call, pick up that phone right now and tell him you love him.

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

San Juan Solstice 50-Mile Run

I need to start off today's post with an explanation - I guess I wasn't clear or complete in my previous post.  Here's the rest of the conversation:  I AM RETIRING ON JUNE 2, 2011.  Really.  There is just no way I can delay our dream any longer; Don's been retired from the Air Force since 1990 - it's about time I joined him.  (He didn't go into a second career like a lot of retirees do - but he had a full-time job. He is the one who got the kids up, dressed, fed, and off to school, was there when they came home, cleaned the house, and was the most fabulous, supportive husband anyone could ask for while I continued to work.)  So the countdown definitely continues!

Now, for today's fun:  the San Juan Solstice 50-Mile Run. It's an ultra-marathon - for those in the running community who like to do 50 miles or more, with extreme elevation changes. This one starts in Lake City at the town park, goes up Henson Creek to Alpine Gulch, complete with a number of cold-water crossings. It stays above timberline for 5-6 miles, then drops down Williams Creek to the Lake Fork at Williams Creek.  The race then climbs up to the old mining town of Carson, and picks up the Continental Divide Trail.  Again it's miles and miles above timberline, dropping slightly to Slumgullion Pass. From there it goes over the Cannibal Plateau and the Vickers Hump, and drops back down into Lake City with a finish back where it began.  The highest point of the race is at 12,800 feet. 

It takes most runners 10 to 16 hours to finish the race.  Don and I went into town at 6 pm for some ice cream and decided to stay and watch a few runners finish. 

By then it was 13 hours of racing, and only 80 of the 200 runners had already finished. We watched about 15 come in during our time there, including a married couple from Huntsville, Alabama.

I walked over to the finish board to check out the times, and learned that this year's winner, a 19-year-old, finished in 8 hours, 13 minutes.  The course record is 7 hours, 59 minutes.  We also learned that when they closed the last aid station (there were 6 along the course) there were a good number of runners who hadn't made it yet.  They cut off the times, giving runners 16 hours to complete the race and get an official time.  The race organizer said 70 to 80 percent of the runners make it within the 16-hour cut-off time.

Around 7, Don and I decided to go upriver and look at some fishing spots.  As we got about 11 miles upriver, we passed a runner who was walking along the road back towards town.  (Clearly not on the course any longer.)  We decided on our way back to see if he wanted a ride back to town.  As we pulled alongside him, Don asked him if he was interested in a ride.   He asked, "How far is it back?"  I said, "About 10 miles."  He said, "Nah, it's not that far, is it?"  I was insistent, and he said, "You know, I think I'd better ride."  He was from Steamboat Springs, and was a late entrant into the race.  He made it up Alpine Gulch, across to Williams Creek, and up to Carson and the Continental Divide.  But he said he sprung a leak in his Camelback water carrier, and realized that he was not going to be able to make the cutoff at the next aid station. He was advised by someone at the Divide aid station that he could go back down via the Camp Trail - and was about a mile past the bottom of that trail when we picked him up.  He said his legs were giving out from the downhills - and when we dropped him off back at the finish line, he could barely walk.  Looking at the map, my guess is he made about 30 miles. Still an achievement of some magnitude!

If you'd like to look at a fabulous slideshow of last year's race, go here.  You get to see some wonderful shots of the terrain above timberline in several parts of the course.  For all the information on the race, go to the San Juan Solstice website. There's a good topographic map of the course here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

One of those big (significant) conversations

I was reading Myrddin's description of a grand conversation his owners, Jim and Linda, had about their future and their decision to continue full-timing with their current RV.  It was interesting reading, and interesting timing - Don and I just had a similar conversation yesterday.  Actually, it took two days.

It started with our wishing to own a home here in Lake City.  We looked at real estate ads, both in the papers and online, and discovered we couldn't afford a place here. So we looked at other places - towns in Colorado, Arkansas, and even Texas (affordable, family, etc.).   Over a two-day period, we came to a number of realizations:
1. If we want to keep our house in Forest Falls, I can't retire next June.
2. If we want to own a house ANYWHERE I can't retire next June.
3. All of our calculations that "allow" me to retire next June are based on being without a house and its accompanying expenses (propane, electricity, trailer storage, water, firewood, and so on).
4. The only way I can retire next June is if we sell the Forest Falls house and become full-time RVers.
5. It was fear of the unknown (about full-timing) that prompted Don to have the doubts that started the conversation in the first place.
6. If we look at full-timing as we do the first half of our lives, that is, if we embrace our nomadic military life that we really did enjoy, we will be fine. It's just that staying in one house as long as we have (only 10 years, but for us that's a long time) has caused Don to be a little unsettled about going back into a nomadic life.
7. I need to continue to be a "cheerleader," and to be positive about the upcoming change in our lives. That'll be easy - it's my dream, my goal, my hope - I get GIDDY thinking about it.  I need to be infectious with that giddiness and not let Don's fears overcome his desire to travel and fish this continent.

If you've read all this, thanks for sticking with it.  I needed to get it out.  The countdown happily continues!

Another day closer...

p.s. the recliner's working out fabulously!

Exploring near the Continental Divide

Thursday, June 17:  Don wanted to do a little fishing at Rito Hondo Reservoir, which is up past Slumgullion and Spring Creek passes near the Continental Divide. When I looked up caches in the area, I saw that there was one at Slumgullion Campground, which was on the way, as well as a couple others.

When you're using an iphone for geocaching, you can't find any or use the application if you don't have cell phone reception. What you need to do is write down the coordinates beforehand, and use either a GPS or the GPS application on the iphone to locate the cache. This was the first time I'd use the GPS app, so it took a lot of tramping around in the woods to find the cache.

This is the old road from the campground that we followed for about 2/10ths of a mile too far:

Once I figured out where we were supposed to be going, we headed off into the forest. I had my iphone and notepad in one hand, and my camera in the other - so when I tripped over a log, I had no choice but to do a faceplant into the brush. My right leg caught on several broken off limbs - and I scraped it badly in 3 different places. Upon standing up and brushing myself off, I was relieved to learn I hadn't broken any bones or tweaked any joints - but my leg sure was a mess on the outside!

It didn't take me more than 2 minutes after that to spot the cache - that horizontal log just looked a bit out of place:

This cache was a 2-quart jar covered in cammo tape, and it had all kinds of swag inside. I signed the log, left a domino, and took an Air Force lanyard to drop off at our next find.

Our next stop was North Clear Creek Falls.  The stream meanders through an 11,000' valley for about 6 miles, then drops off a basalt cliff:

There is a cache nearby, but for some reason, my GPS was telling me that it was 8 miles away. I checked on the correct coordinates when we got back to the trailer, and I'd written them down correctly; I don't know what I did wrong for this one.  We're going to try it again in a few days since we want to go to Creede and it's on the way.

After the falls we went over to find a cache that was supposed to be near a waterfall going into Brown Lakes.  This was a fun one, and I did a better job using the GPS. At first we were on the wrong side of the falls. We moved over to the other side, and it took about 10 minutes of climbing up the left side of the falls to find the cache.  It was a 3" thick PVC pipe, about a foot long - also with a log and swag.  I dropped off the Air Force lanyard and a domino, and took a wooden geocaching token from a Kansas University geocaching club.

Here are the Brown Lakes. The large mountain in the center is the Rio Grande Pyramid.

Hinsdale County Museum

Wednesday, June 16 - we'd heard at the barbecue Monday night that the museum had been greatly improved in the past few years - we'd visited it 8-10 years ago. So we went again to see what else they'd done with it.  One of the biggest things they'd done was add a lot of outdoor exhibits and a transportation building - those weren't there the last time we went.

Inside, the first thing you come to is a textile exhibit - complete with a loom, spinning wheel, sewing machines, and samples of clothing from the days when Lake City was first being settled.

Moving on from the textiles we saw a collection of late 19th Century glassplate negatives from pioneering Lake City photographer Thomas E. Barnhouse.  These were photos taken during the mining days and were a fascinating look at how life was a century and a half ago.

There was still an Alferd Packer exhibit (see my previous post), as well as exhibits about musicians an music of the times, antique firearms, and an example of an assay office:

Outside was an example of a jail, which Don briefly explored:

Next, we visited the new transportation building, which had an old fire tender wagon, a boiler train, some wagons, and lots of old signs. Next to that was an old caboose, which you could enter and see in its restored condition:

Also outside was an old playhouse - and the placard stated that there are still Lake City citizens who remember playing in it as a child:

The last exhibit was a restored 2-room home, complete with a fully-equipped kitchen, and a bedroom/living room with a child's bed. The bed had this antique quilt on it:

We think the repeat visit was definitely worth the $6 entrance fee.

Geocaching in Lake City

When I did a search for geocaches in or around Lake City, we found two that were pretty close. (The rest are up in the mountains or up Henson Creek canyon.)  The first one was underneath a pedestrian-only bridge across the Lake Fork.

Using the clues, we searched for about 15 minutes on the wrong side of the bridge. When we decided to go to the other side, we found it easily.

The second cache of the day was a virtual cache - and we had already visited that site during previous trips to Lake City. We went back, found the answer to the question, and claimed the "find."  This one has a lot of history - it's the memorial site where Alferd Packer killed and then cannibalized his companions during a disastrous winter expedition.

Here's the story:

If  Hannibal Lector had a Grandfather, his name would be Alferd Packer, a man convicted of eating his partners.

The Packer case was the first, and possibly the only incident of cannibalism tried in the U.S. court system. He was born in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in 1842 and migrated west in 1862. There is some confusion about the spelling of his first name. His tombstone reads "Alferd" and some say he spelled it this way.
    In the winter of 1873 he was hired as a guide in Salt Lake City by 20 men for a prospecting trip into the San Juan mountains of Colorado.
    He claimed to have driven an ore wagon in some of the mining camps of Colorado and that he could lead them to the valuable ore they were looking for. In truth, he knew very little about this region.
In January 1874 the group stopped over at the village of Chief Ouray and were warned not to try crossing the mountains until spring. Packer and five of the group decided to continue on into the mountains.
During early spring the rest of the group traveled across the mountains and inquired about the Packer party. A search team was then sent out to look for the missing men.
     Two months earlier, Packer had appeared at the Los Pinos Indian Agency looking fit and well fed. His primary interest was in obtaining some whiskey, not food, and he had a large roll of money to pay for it.
He first said that he had been left behind by the others due to a leg injury. His story was to change several times...later being that one of the men went berserk and killed the others and that he had shot the man in self-defense.
    An Indian guide found strips of human flesh on the trail and Packer was questioned. In August of 1894 the camp of the five missing men was found near Slumgullion Pass, 2 miles from Lake City.
Packer was jailed in Saguache and later escaped to Wyoming, and for 9 years lived under an assumed name until his capture. Packer was returned to Lake City in 1883 to stand trial.
    The verdict was guilty, with death by hanging. The legend was that Judge Melville B. Gerry, on pronouncing sentencing said..."...There was siven Dimmycrats in Hinsdale County! But you, yah voracious, main-eatin son of a bitch, yah et five of them, therefor I sentence ye T' be hanged by the neck until y're dead, dead, dead!". This was probably not the exact statement made by the judge as he was a well educated man, but makes for good story-telling.
     Later the sentence was reduced to manslaughter and he was given 40 years to be served at the prison in Canon City.
See http://www.archives.state.co.us/packer.html for additional information on Mr. Packer.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Montrose to Lake City

Our view from the trailer

We finally made it to our "home" for the next few weeks - Highlander RV & Campground in Lake City, Colorado. It was a beautiful drive - the section of US 50 between Montrose and Gunnison is one of the loveliest drives I've ever been on, with the basalt palisades, pines, aspen glades, and rivers.  About 10 miles out of Montrose, we came across a traffic jam:
The sheepherders were driving an enormous herd from some unknown pasture to the sheep camp we saw another 4 miles up the highway.  They were escorted by drivers in cars waving large red flags to slow the traffic down in case a sheep decided to dart out onto the highway.

We stopped to stretch our legs at the bridge across Blue Mesa Reservoir, and I remembered when I came through there in 1977.  At that time the lake and rivers were so low, the  river was flowing under the bridge. This summer the lake is almost completely full, and so it's backed up many miles eastward towards Gunnison.  I took this shot looking west across the lake:

We pulled into the Highlander, and we welcomed warmly by Don and Dianne Campbell.  Don is a retired Air Force pilot, and he and Don talk a lot of "Air Force talk" when we stay with them. They're getting ready to retire from the campground owning business in a year or so, and their son Scott, who is a Lt. Col. in the Army will be retiring and taking over the Highlander.  But for now, Don and Dianne are our hosts, and they gave us one of the best sites for our stay here:

There's no one on this side of us, so we have a nice grassy area instead. We're close enough to the little waterfall to hear it cascade softly down the hillside behind us. We have a view out our slide window of the rest of the campground and the mountain behind it, and the view the other direction is the photo at the top of this post. 

Tonight is the first of weekly potluck barbecues - everyone brings their own meat to cook and a dish to share.  I've got a thick sirloin thawing, and will make a big German green salad to share.  The food is always so good at potlucks!

It's so nice to be here! 

Easy Apple-Nut Coffee Cake

I call this easy, since it can be thrown together in about 5 minutes, cooks for about 15, and tastes sooo  good.  I always have those ingredients on hand in the trailer, so I think it's a good traveling breakfast. This is what we had for breakfast here in Montrose this morning. We'll be leaving in an hour for Lake City.

Easy Apple-Nut Coffee Cake

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 tart, firm apple, diced (I used granny smith)
1 cup multigrain baking mix (I used Trader Joe's)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350˚.  Lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8- or 9-inch cake pan.  Put the butter in the pan (I just melted it in the pan over a burner for a few seconds). Sprinkle butter with brown sugar, nuts, and diced apple. In a bowl, combine baking mix, egg, milk, oil, and sugar.  Pour over mixture in pan. Bake approx. 15 minutes or until set and cooked through.  Loosen edges by running a knife around the insides of the pan, and invert onto a plate.  Enjoy!  Serves 2 hungry people.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Easy drive today

Dolores to Montrose - 128 miles. The first leg goes up and over Lizard Head Pass and down to Telluride. This was taken looking east from the top of the pass.

The second leg goes up and over the Dallas Divide, famous for its views of the Sneffels Range (but we didn't stop for a photo - we'll be back there in 4 weeks.)

We're now at Cedar Creek RV Park in Montrose - a spotless, pretty little campground but with tight, small spaces.  If it weren't for the small spaces, this campground would be a gem.  It's still nice - and we are here for just one night anyway.

Tomorrow we'll be at our favorite campground in Colorado - the Highlander in Lake City. We'll be there for 15 days, then we'll go to Lakeview Campground up in Taylor Park for 12 days.  After that we backtrack a little and go to Ridgway State Park for 14 days, then back down the Dolores River to Priest Gulch for 14 days.  

Geocaching around Dolores

While Don was fishing between thunderstorms yesterday, I decided to got try to find a couple geocaches that were in the area.

The first one was supposed to be an easy find - but, once again, I made the mistake of not wearing my hiking boots. In addition, as soon as I got to where the cache was supposed to be, I lost cell phone reception and couldn't get more information (such as hints and logs of other people).  It appeared that the place I needed to go look was across a small ditch and in some thick brush.  Oh well.

The second one was a "virtual" cache - you go to the coordinates, and then answer a question posted by the person who "placed" the cache. In this case, the coordinates were in downtown Dolrores, next to the railroad museum.  The question had to do with the Galloping Goose parked out front. I answered the question via email, and was rewarded with a response that had links to several videos about the Galloping Goose.  These were "busses" equipped for rail use to carry people, equipment and light freight between Dolores and Ridgway during the 1930s and 1040s.

The next cache was also railroad-related. It was along an old railroad bed in Lost Canyon, to the east of Dolores. I spent about 15 minutes walking along the wrong side of the creek, but once I figured that out it was an easy find.

Here's the old railroad bed:

Catching Up: We're in Colorado Now

Thursday: Finally, the long-awaited journey began. Our drive across the desert (through Yucca Valley and Amboy) was uneventful – and then we arrived in Needles. As we pulled into the gas station, a mechanics pointed out to Don that one of our trailer tires was wobbly. He explained to Don that the tread was separating, so Don told me we were going to have to replace the tire – and he meant use the spare. I went to the air conditioned waiting room, did a few crossword puzzles on my iphone, and then Don came it with the news:  “We’re going to have to replace all 4 trailer tires.” I asked why, and he stated that they were all bad. Now call me skeptical – I am, and I HATE spending money unnecessarily, but who am I to argue with the all-knowing menfolk? They all (5 of them, counting Don) were in agreement that the original trailer tires were shot, that we were lucky to have avoided disaster in the first 2 years we owned the trailer, yada, yada, yada, they were cheap nylon tires, we needed radials, yada, yada, yada.

$973 later we hit the road, Don with peace of mind, me with the belief I’d scrimped and saved for this trip only to blow a thousand dollars on the first day. Now, don’t post a comment telling me I’m wrong, or how important it is to have good tires, and so on. I can be a reasonable person. It’s just that I really, really, scrimped and saved – and it just hurts. I told Don I hoped that there wasn’t a group of men high-fiving each other as we drove off, saying,”Ha ha, we got those suckers!”

We continued eastward on the 40 and the wind picked up – yet another thing for Don to be upset about. He hates driving in wind, and does his best to load the trailer with the weight in front of the axles. However, our trailer has the refrigerator and pantry cabinets behind the axles, and I filled them up. In his agitation about the wind, he tried to tell me that I’m not supposed to put anything in the refrigerator or pantry while the trailer is on the road – that I’m supposed to go shopping when we get to our destination to get everything we need. Really? I told him he was full of it and no way was that ever going to be a consideration. I chocked it up to his anxiousness about the wind, and later he agreed he was just trying to make a point about loading the trailer correctly. (Now, why do they even make models with kitchens in the rear or in the middle, if you can’t USE the darn things?)

We drove on, and fought the wind all the way to Camp Navajo. Camp Navajo is a National Guard post in Bellemont, Arizona, between Williams and Flagstaff. They have a very nice little campground there for military folks – it has 14 sites, water and electric (there’s a dump station), and the nicest bath house I’ve seen in a while. It sits at the edge of the woods – where about 5 of the sites are in the trees and the rest in the sun. We took site #1, and backed into it easily. It was so level, we didn’t have to do a thing – and were able to keep it hooked up for the night. It was fairly warm when we got there, but cooled down nicely in the evening.  Dinner was our traditional first-night-out chili dogs and fries – and we settled down to watch a little TV before we went to bed early.

The San Francisco Peaks - the highest in Arizona - Mt. Humphries and Mt. Agassiz

Friday: We awoke to a lovely morning – overcast and cool but not cold, with the mountains to the east making their own cloud cover.

After a quick breakfast at the McDonald’s across the interstate, we hit the road for Colorado. It stayed overcast all day, and the winds didn’t really start until after we left Kayenta. Even then, they weren’t as bad as the first day, and we made it to Four Corners around 11 am. The last time we were at Four Corners you could drive in and park right next to the marker – but now it’s all fenced off and under construction. They (the Navajos and the National Park Service) are building it up with concrete walkways, and until that’s finished you don’t have to pay to go in the “park.” All that’s there are the dozens of vendors – mostly jewelry, but a few with other Native American things such as sand paintings, replica tomahawks and bows/arrows, and the ubiquitous Navajo fry bread. We took a short walk past all the vendors – I was looking for a silver and turquoise watch band to go with a Timex watch I have, but the ones I could afford were too small for the watch So we went back to the trailer, ate a lunch of tuna salad, and continued on.

We reached Dolores around 1:30, and checked into the Dolores River RV Park. The site we’re in, #61, is a peculiar one – it’s a pull-through, really close to #62. Our electricity is on the “wrong” side, but easily reached. The water and sewer are in the same skinny island as the water and sewer for #62 – it took us a while to figure out whose was whose, but now it makes sense.

We unhooked and set up, and then drove back into Dolores so Don could get a fishing license and some beer. While we were at the liquor store, it began to thunder and rain – and I realized how much I miss thunderstorms living in southern California. We get thunder about once a year there. [When I lived in Lubbock, I used to LOVE going out in the back yard at night to watch the huge thunderstorms roll in from the southwest. There’s something magical about the lightning and the powerful sound it creates.] I told Don having a thunderstorm our first day in Colorado felt like coming home.

Since the skies cleared up in the late afternoon, Don decided to go give the river a try. It’s running high since it’s still late spring, and he didn’t have any luck – but he enjoyed himself nevertheless. I grabbed a John Connolly book (Every Dead Thing), and relaxed for a while with the exploits of Charlie Parker.

Dinner was pork chops, rice, salad, and a new-to-me recipe, Magical Butter Sauce. It’s a quick and simple recipe, and makes enough sauce for the chops and the rice. I thought it was going to be too sweet – but it really wasn’t. It was quite savory and went well with the chops and rice.

Magical Butter Sauce

1/3 cup butter
2 tablespoons raspberry jam (you can also try with orange marmalade or blackberry jam for a different taste)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
a few twists of the pepper mill
a pinch of salt

Melt the butter in small saucepan. Add the jam, vinegar, pepper, and salt, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until jam is melted. Serve over meat and rice. Makes enough for 2-4 people.

Both of us were exhausted from the day, so we were in bed pretty early – about 9:30 Colorado time, 8:30 California time. We heard thunder most of the night, though it didn’t rain. (It must have all been further up the river in the mountains.)

Saturday: This morning we were up early – 5:30 California time – and turned on the TV to watch some World Cup games. That’s the major reason we decided to stay in parks with hookups all summer – between the World Cup and Wimbledon we want to be able to enjoy the contests. Breakfast was hearty – biscuits and gravy. All morning it continued to thunder above, and every once in a while a strong shower of rain or hail moved through. It’s a dreary day – but that’s just the skies. I’m loving it. Don doesn’t mind since he doesn’t want to fish anyway with the soccer games on. So we’re both kicking back in our recliner watching the games.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oh, what a night...and the day, too

Yesterday we set the trailer up at Yucaipa Regional Park for 2 days in order to make it easier to get ready to go to Colorado.  After I got off work, I went over to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening. The day was hot, so Don had the air conditioner going. While we were eating supper, it went off.  I thought it still felt warm inside, so I went to kick it down a notch - and it didn't come back on.  Of course, thoughts of delays, repair shop, and such went through my head.  After about 5 minutes of worry and troubleshooting, I asked Don if it could have just popped a fuse. He found the breakers, and sure enough, that's what had happened.  Whew.  First disaster averted.

Then next, after supper, we were watching television and Don commented that the "auto" light on the refrigerator hadn't been on all day.  I checked inside, and it was cooling and freezing just fine.  So again, panic set in momentarily.  (The first summer we had our Wave the refrigerator died 2 days into the trip, and we went all summer using a cooler and bagged ice for everything.) Don went outside to shut the power off completely, and I walked over to the unit to see what happened.  That's when I noticed that he'd accidentally hit the "gas" button - it's ON when it's OUT, and he thought it was ON when it was IN. So the refrigerator was getting a message to stay on GAS, even though we were on shore power.  I hit the button, and the "auto" light came on like it should, and the gas went off.  The refrigerator had been running on propane since he'd set the trailer up at noon.  Second disaster averted.

As it cooled down at night, we opened up all the windows, and lay down for a night's rest around 10 pm.  At 11:30, we were awakened by the roar of what sounded like a geyser underneath the kitchen window (which opens outward from the bottom.)  Water was spraying into the kitchen, and it wasn't just plain water - it was stinky smelly recycled water.  The staff of the park had forgotten to turn the sprinklers off near our site, and a broken sprinkler head was erupting upwards - and it was huge!  It sprayed the underside of the awning, and into the trailer through the kitchen window.  The only thing Don could do was close the window and take his folding camp chair and place it over the geyser, which at least stopped the spraying all over the side of trailer.  Since it was so forceful, and was hitting canvas, it was loud - so we couldn't get back to sleep until it stopped - which was after midnight.  At 4 am, the sprinkler underneath the slideout came on - unbelievable. I slept through it, but dreamed of nasty smelly things. Don got up and stayed up, fuming, until he was able to go over to the camp office at 7 and discuss things with whomever was there. 

They were apologetic, offered a claim form in case anything was damaged (nothing was), and promised to a) come over and repair the broken sprinkler head, and b) turn the water off for tonight. We learned that the sprinkler heads near the pavement get run over often by RVs, and they don't know if one's broken until someone comes and reports it.  (They only water at night.)  What a system, huh?!

I truly hope this is not a portent of things to come.

We DID enjoy our evening in the trailer, even though we haven't left on the trip yet.  I LOVE the new reclining loveseat - it makes all the difference in the world!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What on Earth?

This was spotted at the grocery store in Mentone.  See the window-mounted air conditioner in front of the trailer? Pretty interesting.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Panum Crater - and a geocache on top

After visiting the South Tufa towers, we thought we'd stop by Panum Crater for a look.  I saw on my Geocaching app that there was a cache at the top - so we decided to go find it.

Panum Crater is a rhyolite dome crater - meaning the typical round crater with an indention formed first, then a hard lava plug formed in the middle.  In Panum, the plug is made of obsidian and rhyolite, and is higher than the rim of the crater itself. Below is a tower of obsidian about halfway up the climb.

Here, Don stops about 2/3 of the way up. He's looking north towards Mono Lake and Lee Vining.  In the center right of the photo you can see a ridgeline with two pine trees - we were headed for the pine tree on the right.

This is a shot looking northwest from the cache.

This is looking south from the cache.

Here's another shot of the ridge line we'd climbed - it was a bit steeper than it looks, but we had no problems. The hike back down was nice, except I hadn't planned on hiking, and was wearing Keen thong sandals.  I kept getting rocks under my feet all the way down. I sure was glad when the trail leveled out. I've learned my lesson - always keep the hiking boots in the truck!

Mono Lake - South Tufa Towers

Last summer we stopped at the Mono Lake Visitor Center, but didn't take the time to go see the tufa towers. This time I told Don we were going to go see them. There's a nice trail through them, with interpretive signs.  We were able to see some of the brine shrimp, as well as lots of gulls, ospreys, and other birds.

As were were leaving, this couple came down to the water's edge.  The woman had on a wetsuit under her robe, and was carrying a metal box (camera? makeup?).  She and the guy were looking for the right place for a photo shoot - for the wetsuit.