Saturday, March 30, 2013

This Week In The Desert

Well I had decided how to approach this post and how I wanted to present the slide show.....that was about 5 hours ago when I realized that Picasa Web Albums which I have used to manage both my photo edits as well as select html code for embedding slide show is currently transitioning to the all new (but not as good if you ask me) Google Plus. I might have had some choice in the matter but as they often do, they trick you into something like an update to your profile which automatically "enrolls" you in something new and unfamiliar. To say that annoys me would be an understatement. Slide shows no longer work- at least not yet and not right now. Bummer. Because now I either post a hundred individual slides and take up a lot of space to do it, or lose some of the photos that I thought to be important to the story at hand. Annoyed. Yes, that pretty much says it, especially after 5 hours of trying to figure out how to do something that thus far has not been implemented by Google. Rats!

Any way, the point of the post was to be this: Our garden and our plants are all blooming beautifully. The cactus is starting its annual parade of color in the campground and out on the desert, especially at some elevations, the flowers are out in full force and magnificent to behold. That doesn't mean that life here is easy though and on our last ride we came across the carcass of a cow that had succumbed to the elements out on the open range and was posing as the classic western image of cow skull and loose bones laying in the dust under a hot sun. Then too there were some very unique beetles found- no idea what it was, so if you know please write in.

The slide show which will NOT be seen today as explained was fully captioned so as to provide some info of what you were seeing. Don't know if I will go to the mat on redoing all that or not- maybe just here and there. Pictures R US:

 Beaver tails cactus:
Cow's Tongue:
 Santa Rita:
Squash plants:
yard plants:
salad patch:
summer squash:
desert toll:

 stretching our legs on a 90 mile ride:
Hedgehog in bloom:
Ocotillo in bloom:
 red barrels on the rocks:
 the perfect desert still life:
 out by "Gene Autrey's Hideout":

so bright it looked like night:

The Flintstones Cabin- a "cave" in the boulders:
Wandering Garter Snake's tail end!
 Guzzler- wildlife water collection station:
Tank Pass- 1000 ft drop over a quarter mile, then big boulders to climb at the bottom...
Canal pumping station:

 Single barrel blooming on a hilltop:
 the geocache champion of the world:
 caliche collapse:
 soil particles cemented by natural lime and pressure- CALICHE LAYER
 mule deer:
 Tell me what it is- I can't find it anywhere....??? Pretty and ugly at the same time.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Get The Lead Out!

This time we use the "Dutch Oven" with Donnie, not to make dinner, but rather to melt down some lead in order to facilitate part of the "reload and make your own bullets" process. It was fascinating and fun and we were amazed at the process and the color variation of the metal as the melting and skimming and pouring processes take place. Donnie is a treasure trove of information for shooters at all levels and for us pistol packing newbies this was a real eye-opener and learning opportunity. And as it gets harder and harder to get ammunition as our government scarfs it all off the shelves for God knows what reason, this is a skill that will certainly come in handy.

In the first shot here, the bullets of lead and copper covered lead jackets have been crushed so as to "crack" the jacket so the lead can melt out. They are just staring to heat in the pot over a propane burner.

We started out with 52 pounds of "bullets" that Marilyn and I picked up from the back berm at the rifle range. When the process was completed we wound up with 38 pounds of good clean usable lead. Recycling at its finest! Green shooters we are!

 If you look closely, you will see that many of the jackets are now empty, the lead is melting out and "floating" the jackets and other non-lead materials so they can be skimmed off. You might be able to see what looks like melted gold in the pot. Trust me- it isn't. No alchemy here.

As most of the copper was removed from the surface, the lead took on its characteristic blue or purple color for a short while as the impurities burned off.

Donnie demonstrates the safe technique for ladling  molten lead into molds for cooling. From there, they will be re melted in a different machine to be molded into projectiles for the ammunition.

Observatory Trail

I've been busy! This post and these photos have been sitting on the computer just begging for a little attention. What can I say? Too much fun for a writer to pay attention to the craft!

This was another Brenda Gang outing to Harquahala Mountain to "scale" the mountain with our quads and other 4WD vehicles to reach the summit with an amazing view from the spot where the Smithsonian once monitored climatic events from the highest spot in SW Arizona. Remnants of the equipment can still be seen, but rather than being used to "observe" the universe according to the state of Arizona, it now has had its equipment modified so that it controls the extensive canal system that delivers water to various parts of the desert. That in and of itself is pretty interesting, but the views from up there are just magnifico, and the ride up is quite exhilarating as the "road" we travel (more appropriately called a trail- especially in places) rises 4000 feet over the 10 mile length of the trail. It is one of the few rides where going up is actually easier than coming down, as low gears and brakes are the order of the day. Focus! No guard rails up here.

As is often the case AND also the reason we travel in the desert as a group, we had a breakdown three quarters of the way up. Randy's bike started leaking fuel and the carburetor, although the mechanics in the group attempted a "field rebuild" decided that it would agree to go down the hill later but not up the hill now. Shift riders. Up and onward. We'll pick it up on the way down.

Below, Randy owned the breakdown of the week:


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pinzgauer Parading

What, pray tell, is a PINZGAUER? A pinzgauer is to military style all wheel drive vehicles what the Swiss army knife is to jackknives. It is Swiss. You can take it absolutely anywhere. It will do whatever you need it to do whenever you need to do it. We paraded around the desert with our Happy Tuesday gang and a host of others in three pinzgauers. We went cross country. We went off road. We went up hills. We went down hills. We climbed over rocks. We laughed. We cried. We screamed every so often just to keep it real. And, like on the Big Boy Ride, a story much earlier in the blog from the Yuma area, I think it may have been appropriate to check the under-drawers for the occasional skid mark. Because frankly my dear, we went some places that I didn't think those vehicles could go, should go, and after we went there I may have pondered whether or not I would get back to where the trip started- at least in the condition in which I set out. The scenery was sensational. The experience was not to be missed no matter what questions may have arisen while climbing or descending a rock wall on a trail that was basically less wide on occasion than the vehicle in which we were riding...or so it may have seemed to some at the time. But as you can tell since I am writing this little tale, we all made it back and no, I am not wearing a cast on any of my limbs.

The day long excursion is FREE to campers- one expedition per month during season. Each month explores a different trip and venue, This trip known as one of the most scenic and the most challenging was all it was cracked up to be and then some. Three vehicles, three drivers and we rode with Travis, the owner of our campground. Travis is a really nice guy and a damn fine driver, otherwise I just might be wearing that cast right about now. I say Travis is a good driver....and now I will follow that by telling you that his passion is for racing these incredible machines at BAJA. So if you think he is a timid driver, that would not be correct. And if you think he can't make you feel like you are about to roll over even though HE knows full well you will not- why then you would be correct about that. If you think there is a more invigorating ride, maybe a roller coaster, in some amusement park somewhere then by all means give that a go. otherwise you should plan a trip to Desert Gold RV in the winter season just for this experience if not for any other. I am so glad I went on the ride. Not as happy as I was to get back alive, but happy none-the-less!!!

This trip by name, should you decide to put it on your bucket list is: Vampire Mine. The mine was cool, but getting up there and back down the other side of the mountain- well that is just something you have to experience to believe. You will see in pictures one of the vehicles actually lay over on its side in a dry wash gulley and then right itself and continue on. And one of our drivers went down the steepest hill of the day- stopped in the middle and then backed up the hill in reverse before "coming back to earth." I was not in that vehicle. I will tell you I am glad of that so that I could take the pictures from the vehicle in front. While I did like taking the pictures for sure, that may or may not be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me clean underwear!


 Slide Show of the Pinzgauer Parade:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sheep Walking

News of the Week:  A Sunday ride on the ATVs to Sheep Canyon proved fruitful and made it clear why the canyon is named what it is. We traveled all the way into the canyon as far as we could go before spotting the sheep but there were two large groups of them at the base of the canyon wall and we sat up our lunch as watched in amazement as the sheep made their way right on up the sheer wall of the canyon and in and out of a series of canyon wall caves. It was most fascinating to take it all in while we ate, like a real live dinner theater.

 Then too, the ongoing moving of sheds from one site to another was in full swing again this week and this two story jobbie rolled down the street and moving in a couple slips down the road from us. Tight fit.

And here are the slide shows of all the activity: