Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Time 2012

Some construction projects at our annual site, some good food in the tent with our friends, some wildlife around camp, and a few specially conceived Christmas present for "them that deserved em." It was another good season of the year in Arizona. Nationwide we go into the new year with the same political crap of the old year, and facing the prospects that even if a "deal" is agreed to, we just may wind up worse off than if one isn't reached. We have to swallow hard to keep a positive attitude, but there are some things more important than all that, I guess, and we just have to try to zero in on those aspects of our lives.

For us personally, it was a marvelous year. For our coach, it was a piss poor year, which forced us to deal with our own budget at the same time we fretted about the country's. Still, nothing exists in a vacuum, so we try our level best to keep an eye on everything. And enjoy life all the while. Sometimes that is easier than other times.

 Linda starts the pot of beans for Christmas dinner in the tent.
Barlow is gifted a block of wood for under the gas pedal of his Ranger to keep him from speeding (anything over 10 mph) in the park.
 We bubble wrapped Franny to keep her from bruising herself any further. Now there's a Christmas present you won't see very often.
 "Ma and Pa"- a sculpture we made to hang in our garden with a couple cow bells from my parent's house.
 Marilyn stains one of the two new plant benches we built
 And the hummers partied on.....

To end the year, just a few pics and couple slide shows of life here in the winter.....

Happy New Year to you and yours! See you in the new year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Welcoming The Baby Cheeses

Don't think for one second I am trying to be sacrilegious at Christmas time or any time. But when I posted on Facebook a few days ago that I had received the cheese making supplies I had ordered from to launch my "I want to learn how to make cheese" mission, my rather witty kid Derek commented that I was getting ready to "welcome the baby cheeses" for Christmas. Have to admit I laughed out loud at that as did a few others. Clever to say the least!

And so a few days later we located a source for some traditionally pasteurized milk, brought it back to the coach and made our first attempt at some cheese- choosing mozzarella as our first try. Halleluiah. It worked. Now I missed photographing a few steps along the whey (I mean way) because cheese making happens fast- by the minute, by the temperature, by the chemical recipe, and there were a few steps like stretching and salting that we just couldn't film and do properly so the photos had to pay the price. Next time.

So our first results were very promising. Cheese looked like and tasted like mozzarella cheese. Could have been seasoned a bit better- but all in all, not that bad! Definitely NOT a deal breaker or something to make us quit right here right now. Not sure what recipe we try next, but that is part of the fun of something new.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Desert Rain

It's the desert! Enough with the rain already!

I think this is day three in a row with rain, and while it's wonderful to see it rain in the desert, I'm thinking about an hour or so is good enough. We've already had way more rain in the last couple days than we had for a 6 month stretch last winter. Not complaining though, just anticipating the return of warm sunny days with gusto.

So here are a few images you won't get to see very often this time of year in the desert.....or so I hope.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Bouse Like House; Not Boose Like Moose

It's Bouse, like "house." It's a thriving metropolis a few miles away from Brenda. OK, it's a large city near Brenda. No? OK, a huge town near Brenda. Oh heck, it's a tiny little village but it really is only a short ride across the desert by atv from Brenda- about 18 miles, and we made the ride a couple days ago to take in the Bouse Christmas Bazaar. And it was- bizarre so to speak, but well worth the ride which included a side trip following Dandy Don back in to the hills and a canyon we call "Sheep Canyon." It's a beautiful piece of real estate and while many others have reported sheep sightings in the canyon, I personally had never found one back in there. But on this day, they were pretty much everywhere. A single ram as we headed back in, then an old boys club with four more rams and then a group of four ewes. We had plenty of time so we took plenty of time to just watch what these fine animals were doing. Many were eating- browsing on creosote bush, Palo Verde scrub brush and small mesquite trees. Nearly all of them seemed intent on doing some head rubbing against the saguaro cactus, and we couldn't be sure whether they were just scratching an itch or whether they were removing spines so they could take a bite out of the water storing capabilities of this mighty cactus. Our visit to Bouse included a visit to the assay office and an old pit mine where we mined a few old metal relic pieces to bring back for the "desert junk" garden I'm starting.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Back In The Saddle Again

Many thousands of miles have we rolled since last I posted to Gundyville. During that time we drove back east to Pennsylvania to visit my mother and do a few chores "at home" then we moved back down to Florida for the annual physical and financial checkups and now we are back in Arizona at our winter headquarters. As we had driven this route and done these very things quite a few times it felt too much like old news to be trying to keep up with posts, not to mention that that is one powerful lot of driving and a bit tiring and grueling to boot. This was the 13th time we have crossed the country in the last seven years!

But like I said, we are back in the saddle again. Had an all day quad ride into the desert to see a bunch of old mines and helped Lynn locate some geocaches on that first ride. It was pretty much an all day affair and we were rewarded with aching bones and muscles but with smiling faces. It is good to be back. Nearly all the gang is back and raring to go. Our Happy Tuesday tent is re-established and it would seem that no one lost any cooking skills over the summer- the treats have been really fine as in the past.

Here at our site in F-1, the gardens are pruned and looking super. The vegetable garden is planted and everything is up and running. Flowers are in hanging baskets, new hummingbird feeders are drawing lots of hummers (and not so many bees as last year) and we have stared a few new projects here and there at our place and around the park as well. Marilyn is in the Christmas decorating spirit- our tree - all 20 inches of it- is up and we have shatter proof balls on the mostly dead but making a comeback mesquite tree on the back wash.

A couple days ago a small group of us (I think there were 9 of us) got up at 5:30 and headed out on a full moon into sunrise desert ride that was totally awesome. Started out in only moon light (very dark to be riding) and set up a camp to make breakfast just as the sun came up behind a hill picked specially for the occasion. The black silhouettes of the saguaro cactus and mountains against the brilliant red sky at sunrise was all we had hoped for. There are only two good reasons to get up early when you don't have to: night riding like this in the desert is one and fishing is the other.

A couple of still shots for you today, a slide show, and a video clip if it will cooperate. And let me just explain that I will try to have this winter's posts be a bit more micro and or macro depending on what is going on. I plan to do considerably less of the story telling, unless of course a really good one comes along, and more of an up close and personal look at the things we see and do while we are playing in the desert. Hopefully that will mean more pictures, fewer words, but we'll have to see how things shape up.
Just one more small explanation for what you will see in the pics. We did not make breakfast like the cowboys used to do. No cast iron skillets, no steak on the fire coals, no kettle of coffee on an open fire. Nope. This was a ride hard and cook fast operation. To that end we all filled a quart sized zip lock bag with a couple raw scrambled eggs and whatever else we wanted to have in our "omelet"- mine for example had some slices of smoked turkey sausage and some cooked up bacon nibbles. Some folks added a few slices of mushroom. When we "made camp" we lit a propane tank hooked up to a single burner stove, heated a big kettle of water and then all threw our baggie omelets in the boiling water. By the time we had our sunrise photos well in hand, we had breakfast in a bag all ready- just dump onto a paper plate and eat. I'm not gonna tell you they were the most beautiful omelets I have ever seen, but they sure were tasty and doing the dishes was a total no-brainer. It's for sure we are gonna do this again!