Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Full Bloom

Good things come to those who wait. Heinz ketchup. Remember that one? Guinness beer. Gotta pour it real slowly. And a saguaro in full regalia. They won't all be in full bloom by the time we pull out on or about May 1, but more and more of them are beginning the bloom every day now and a few, like you will see today, are going all out. They are just crawling with honey bees and a whole host of other insects and the small hummers look like little helicopters flying security for the bees. We are so happy we extended our stay and waited out their arrival. Good things come to those who wait.

Monday, April 25, 2011

T Minus Five

Only five days before we head out of Dodge and head back East, mid-west weather permitting. In a way we are sad to go because, and Lynn-Jude said it best, when the campers leave, the critters move back in. 'Tis true, 'tis true. A couple days back we showed you the two rams that moved in for a drink up on Chapel Hill above camp. Well today, while we were on our way back to the wash with a van full of five gallon buckets to help ourselves to some of the choice gravel in the wash, Marilyn once again spotted some movement up on the hill. Yep, another ram. We watched him for a while through the binoculars, then spotted some more movement in his vicinity. A ewe. First one, then another and another and another, and some lambs- first one, then another....until we had our sights set on 10 sheep. They stayed on the ridge near the water and the chapel site, then moved over the ridge and out of sight. But like the last time, we guessed perfectly where they might come down the other side of the mountain and we were there and waiting as they started down while the ram watched, and then finally followed. Now when we get to the slide show you will see I have probably quite a few more entries in the photo contest than a guy would ordinarily be allowed. But positioning yourself right smack dab into the herd is not an everyday occurrence and I had no intentions of doing anything other than keep pressing the shutter button while the chance was there.

Please look carefully at the saguaros as the sheep cross the face of the hill on their way down to where we were waiting. You will notice, with a sharp eye, that some of the buds at the top of the cacti are starting to open...and just in time, considering our scheduled departure in just a few days. So once I get the sheep shots up and running, I'll follow that with a closer look at the saguaro flowers, which, but the way, are totally awesome, even if a bit hard to get an angle on with the camera from ground level- and trust me, no one will be climbing up the cactus for a better shot.

But first, a look at some imposters: these little lizards were trying to look like the rams keeping watch over the flock- sticking their heads and upper bodies out over the rock ledges to see what they can see.... please remember: you can enlarge any photo by clicking on it, then back arrow to return to the blog text.

Then this little bee, stinger at the ready, hovering beside his saguaro flower and warning off all others...

And a look at the ram's head and horns when I was at my closest...

And two other cactus blooms I haven't shown before...
Slide Show: Ramicans and Lambicans:

Blooming Saguaros:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Guess Who's Coming To Happy Hour

Sitting in the shade of the shed! Say THAT three times fast while holding the tip of your tongue.

That's what we were doing ( the sitting in the shade part, not the saying stuff while holding the tips of our tongues) when Marilyn noticed movement up on the foothill that is our primary view looking out the front of the coach and toward the grander mountains off in the distance. We were sipping a beverage. It was the appointed time of Happy Hour. Marilyn ran to grab the binoculars...and sure enough there were two large rams moving across the face of the hill just below the ridge.

We left the iced drinks to melt in the heat, grabbed the camera, jumped on the bike (that is reference to the ATV- no I am not peddling anything) and darted off in the direction of the foot of the hill. There they were, moving left to right towards the higher points behind the park. Moving higher as they went to take the better vantage of the ridge. I scurried up the hill on foot to get closer and got what pictures I could. Then I bolted back down the hill and we rode around the backside of the hill anticipating the place where they might cross the flats and gravel yard to get back to the wash and then up into the mountains....

Now why call this post anything having to do with Happy Hour? Well, the water towers that are the holding tanks for the wells that the park uses are atop the hill. Below the water tanks is a float controlled watering hole provided for wildlife. And while the time when any given form of wildlife may choose to come in for a cool drink of water has nothing to do with it being "5'oclock somewhere," that is in fact the timing more or less of this occasion.

And lucky I was on this occasion that I happened to pick the very best spot around the back of the hill to wait in photo-ambush of the big rams. As it turned out they crossed gravel flats right smack dab in front of me. How cool is that! Actually, I may have preferred that I had a little more distance between them and me as they were big animals, with big horns, and had they decided to engage me rather than avoid me (they knew darn well I was there) I would not have been fast enough to run circles around the saguaro I was trying to hide behind to escape whatever they may have had in mind for me- sticking a camera in their face like that while they were trying to unwind from a hard day in the desert.

One thing to watch for in the photos, one of the rams had a horn broken off- so he was carrying only one. I don't know if horns grow back when broken in the same fashion as antlers are dropped and regrown the following season. But I had no intentions of tangling with a ram, no matter how many horns he was sporting.

And speaking of Happy Hour- I guess it really was. A jackrabbit and some quail were out and about at the same time. Cheers everyone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blooming Thursday

In the beginning...............there was Happy Tuesday. Nearing the end of our season in the desert, we are declaring today to be Blooming Thursday. Taking it easy today. Laying low. Put in our hour long walk early today, then took a little bike ride around the park and into the desert to see what we could find blooming. Now nearly every species is sporting something in the way of some blooms. The saguaro are budding nicely but so far they are the primary holdout. They are often among the last to bloom anyhow, but this year they seem to be running even later than usual. With only a bit more than a week here, maybe they will bloom before we depart and maybe not. Hope so.

So here's what IS putting on the colorama for Blooming Thursday today.

Of Purple Doors And Dirty Boogers

WARNING: This post contains material not suitable.............. Period!

Well, the shed is finished. The landscape is finished for now (I think). What we have done to this lot in the last 30 days is kind of amazing even to us, given the issue of the heat and the lack of the tools of the trade. Bare hands. Sweaty brows. Cactus scratches. Blisters. It's been some tough work, but a labor of love. Never-the-less, we're tired now. Dog tired. And "tired" can make for some funny times and funny lines.

Ever notice the colors of the desert. You might think its primary color is brown, as in dirt. And to someone who has no eye for color, or who just doesn't care to look for color, I suppose that might be true. But actually the desert is a very colorful place, especially now as the colors of Spring venture forth with or without April showers. We've been here five months more or less already and only four maybe five days have we seen with any rain at all, and only one of them would I call a true day of rain. But I digress.

Color. It comes from the spectrum of light. And perhaps no where is the spectrum more spectacular than in the desert when it's flinging its palette on the mountains as the sun first peeks over the hills in the morning, then changes positions in the sky and then dips below the horizon in an all out assault - throwing color to the heavens for all the world to behold. It can be beautiful. It can be unbelievable. It can be tropical. It can be cold. It can be coral. It can be purple.

Purple doors on a shed? Even Marilyn who ventured the idea of this color for the doors went running for the color swatch we had picked out at Home Depot when we first began to brush the doors on the front of the shed. The label on the swatch said, "Vintage Grape." But, hell, it sure looked like purple to me. I was expecting a soft violet, which, though bolder in nature than my usually preferred pristine paint palette of white or neutral buff I still thought would look good with the Caribbean Coral of the other cans of paint that I had picked to be close to Sedona Red Rock Rose. But purple? Well, it's a hundred miles to Home Depot more or less, so purple it was. Besides, things are winding down here out of time and necessity and hundred degree days and so the decision was is what it is!

It grows on you. Isn't that what they say? And so it did. I like it now. Now I think we are bold masters of the use of the desert colors. The red rock rose of the area and the power tint of the morning sky and the purple majesty of the mountains as the sun kisses them good night. Ah, yes, give me color....

The first person to comment called it "colorful." The second person to comment acknowledged that, "it doesn't offend me." What seemed like it could go down hill rapidly, though, turned around quickly as the colors began to "work" with the surroundings and then "grew" on everyone else watching the process as well. Now we love it. A lot. I think. I'm pretty sure. The owners of the campground like it a lot- the whole lot, a whole lot. The managers of the park stop by regularly to express their delight at the process and prospect. The maintenance crew has all been great, lending a helping hand when they are able. Some of the neighbors have begun new gardens and one guy has a new shed too and is thinking about painting the door red. Neato! And absolutely no one has said they don't care for it (even if that is the case, which we hope it isn't).

So yesterday, as we sat in the late afternoon shade of the shed, feet propped up, sucking down yet another big glass of ice water to try to rehydrate, we felt a sense of accomplishment. We looked for....and saw, all the colors of the shed as the sun bade us all farewell. It felt good. Tired can feel good when the work is all done and the results are good too.

But my nose was running. I took the clean white handkerchief from my pocket and.... I blew. Working hard and riding in the desert in this environment where dust is the major component of every breath you take has one very negative side effect: dirty boogers. I couldn't help observing the dirty little boogers as I "checked the contents" before putting the hankerchief back in my pocket for the next time it might be needed. It was nasty, but nothing new....and all you riders of the dust devils know where-of I am speaking, admit it or not. But while I had blown my nose to eliminate the "nastys" before, you know - those semi detached morsels that sort of race up and down your nostril without deciding which way they really intend to travel- it all of a sudden dawned on me, in all my kicked back tiredness and perhaps bordering on the verge of giddiness, that since we have been here, I have not seen my bride blow her nose even a single time....

"Man, these are some dirty boogers," says I.

"Absolutely", says she.

Then, for whatever reason, I had the urge to question: "So, have you had dirty boogers out here too?"


"Well, I've never seen you use a hanky or go a pickin and a grinin..."

"Of course not,", she said without blinking an eye.

And then my always adorable, and usually but not always proper, wife got up out of her chair and started walking toward the coach to start dinner. And as she walked away, and without turning around to get a reaction, she said to me,

"I've been saving mine up to coat your chicken; it's gonna be extra crispy tonight...."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Under Construction- A & B

Under Construction: A is for Animal..... Since we've changed the make-up of the wash wall from a concrete pour to a real rock wall, the wildlife has been moving into the newly created habitat left and right. We are seeing an influx of lizards, everything from the tiny geckos to the larger chuckwallas and everything in between. There are so many new nooks and crannies, and the far side of the wash still has the weeds and scrub brush for a lizard buffet. It is great to see the new neighbors burrowing and building beside us in the wash....

And speaking of building- the new shed is also under construction. Day one saw the skids leveled, the floor framed and the decking put down. Day two, we put up the framed walls, spacers across the front... and the header went in. On the schedule for tomorrow, wind permitting (it was blowing pretty good by the time we quit for the day) - sheeting the sides and framing the roof, maybe we'll even get the roofing started. The 10 x 10 structure is going up well and looking pretty good so far.....

Monday, April 11, 2011

El Aguila Ha Aterrizado

So how's your Spanish?

Today, with the landscaping pretty much "closed up" for what we are able to do at this point, we packed up the coach, the grill, the tables, the bike, the smoker, and the van...and made the move from A63 to the corner lot F1. A63 was not a bad lot, but F1 is way bigger- downright roomy- and has mountain views pretty much 360 degrees. We were happy with the work we'd done to improve the lot, but by the time we got situated on the space and got the whole impact of the space with all our stuff nestled into its assigned areas, we were downright thrilled. If there was any question that we had done a lot of work with no real justification, that all went away as soon as we settled in. It just looks good and feels our humble opinion. We have about 20 days left here to get the feel of the place before heading out for the summer run. Next post hopefully displays our new shed. Unless of course we get some awesome new blooming going on before the shed is ready.

Here's what we look like at this point in time. Tomorrow, the materials for the shed are due to arrive. Whoopee!
Clean picture window to improve the view of the mountains:
The new view out the front window...
Mountains out the back too...
Little House In The Desert:
And we built our first Inukshuk! It brings our "arctic" experience to meet our desert foray. No glue, no cement- just rocks in balance.

Have you figured out the translation for the title of the post yet? Yep: The Eagle Has Landed!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Lots" More...

Work continues at Lot F1- Desert Gold RV Resort in Brenda, AZ. The heavy lifting is now pretty much complete, and, knock on wood, the backs are holding up pretty well, although some days dealing with the heat has been a challenge. The reverse osmosis system we put in the coach way back when is certainly paying for itself many times over- as the water here, while potable, is not really good drinking water by any means. I would say the water we drink daily now must surely be measured in gallons per day. Not to mention the ice we go through. Were it not for the r/o, we'd be buying and hauling water more often than not.

The old concrete corner is gone on the new lot and the rock retaining wall in the wash is pretty much built. Some fine tuning remains of course- neither Rome nor F1 was built in a day! But considering we hauled the first rocks and dropped them on the lot boundary just two weeks ago, we've come a long way baby. So today we'd like to give you a before and after look at the portions of the lot where we have been working daily. Materials for a storage shed are scheduled to be delivered this coming Tuesday. That's probably good timing because the wind has started kicking up pretty rough and there is some rain in the forecast. April showers bring......well, you know. And maybe, just maybe there will be time for some shade structure too before we get back on the road the beginning of May. Time will tell!

Meanwhile we'd like to express thanks to everyone who stopped by to "marvel" at the transformation of the lot and to cheer us on. And to the grounds crew who brought the heavy equipment over to help us break up and remove the thick concrete pour at the back corner of the lot. I tried to break it out with a hand maul and a chisel- tough going! And another round of thanks to everyone who volunteered a plant or two that they didn't need to the effort. Team work always produces good results, so "Go Team Brenda!"

Concrete Corner Before:
Rock Wall After:
Rock Hauled and ready for placing, Corner Planting....Before:
Side Border Garden...After:
Corner Planting ...After:
Looking Down the Back Wash....Before:
Looking Down the back Wash...After:
The New Corner....After:

And we found two new desert plants blooming today....and both of them were right in our own new back yard landscape: a red pad prickly pair and a red yucca!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Now Blooming

Like the proverbial, quintessential western desert movie, here's the "What's Playing", i.e. "What's Blooming" in the desert around Quartzsite this week. You can watch for an early look at what is shaping up to be the first bloom showing up on one of the big Saguaros. The "buds" are popping, but no flowering yet. It appears to be a long way ahead of most of it's neighbors, but I hear from the year-rounders that that is often the case: some of the cactus bloom in a sequence and it is sometimes predictable within a region which specimen will do its thing first. The Saguaro flowers are, as best I know, the largest of the blooms, so waiting for the first one is kind of exciting; I'll be keeping my eyes open for the first chance to grab a picture.

What's Playing on lot F1? Well, the cement pour at the back corner of the wash is gone and today we started the back breaking, sweat making, muscle bruising task of laying the first course of mega rock- those big enough to withstand the force of the water on those occasions when the wash is ripping with flash flood currents. Haven't seen the real deal up close and personal yet, but I guess it's the closest thing to a tsunami that the desert will see any time soon. We're trying to build for a worst case scenario. We actually got more done today than I expected to- what with the heat and a mid-day break to join what's left of the Class of Brenda for Happy Tuesday. On the menu today- baked Alaska salmon, roast turkey (the whole big bird), mashed potatoes, corn bread stuffing, gravy, broccoli and bacon salad. Just like Basking Robins----Yummmmmm!

OK, here come the pics.... A few stills and a slide show. Enjoy. Hopefully the next post will begin to reveal the new wash rock wall.

Monday, April 4, 2011

New Beginnings

Still riding. Still going off to see new things here and there. But two new endeavors have begun in earnest:

First- the desert blooms we have been awaiting are starting to arrive in earnest. Not from the rain, because we have still only had three days of rain since early December. Rather it seems the flowers are being pulled into bloom by the heat. Two days ago, our thermometer read 115 in the sun, 104 in the shade. Lynn's reading on the north side of his rig had 103.9 as confirmation that we really did have that kind of heat and not a busted thermometer. One never knows on April Fool's day! So for this post, I'll just put up a few of the first bloom shots. Much more to come, and I am guessing they will come pretty fast now.

And because we have come to really love this part of the country in the winter and spring months, we have signed on to an annual lease of a spot. The cost is reasonable enough that reserving an entire year is more cost effective than even a month would cost in some other places, like Florida Keys for example. And with fuel costs being what they are right now, honkering down for longer stays seems like a good idea. So we picked a corner lot- pretty much a bare lot (although I forgot to take a picture before our first efforts to improve the lot began). We are permitted, and this is part of the reason we decided to do this, to landscape the lot the way we wish. We can create shade structures, a shed, and a layout of the space to suit what we would like to have. We have missed that "this is ours" feeling that you get when you own a piece of land or a home, and this gives us a bit of that feeling back without having to make a costly and/or long term commitment.It just feels right. And even though we extended this year's stay here by a month, we are still running way short on the time to do all the things we would like to be doing. That being the case, we can make the case for spending more time least until that no longer feels right. So a slide show of the lot and the beginnings of the work will appear in today's post. Days were spent hauling rock from the desert (where allowed). There are stone borders to be built and a rock barrier and retaining wall on the wash that makes the back of the lot. Concrete dumped there to control erosion prior to our taking the lot will be removed and "beautified and fortified." Plants are being introduced where once there were none and this too is only a beginning. A shed is in the planning and some nice shade structures are on the drawing board. We are pleased with the progress and the rate of the progress to date. For sure a lot of neighbors like what they see and are dropping by to offer encouragement..if not a helping hand. A few have wondered why we would put this kind of effort into someone else's property. In a word- FUN! I trust you will see the developments as this and other slides shows will demonstrate. We must be careful though- the last time we put this kind of effort into 'scaping a place it turned into a full time business. Already we have been asked to do some other lots....maybe a few- but no new business; I mean it this time!

And there have been a few other developments with the coming of the heat. Snakes and lizards are starting to venture out. No snake shots this time around, but how about a nice big fat Chuckwalla munching on a weed near our concrete slab?

...and another one of those famous Arizona sunsets!