Sunday, June 21, 2015

Jupiter, Venus and the Moon

This weekend, the night sky gave us a treat: a half moon hanging out with Jupiter, Venus and the star Regulus.

I snapped a few photos, and finally got a decent shot of the four of them from behind our old man Saguaro in the back yard.

From left to right: the Moon, Regulus, Jupiter and Venus.

No matter the weather, heat or cold, get outside.  If only for a few minutes.  
Take a deep breath and watch the stars.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Camping in a Winter Wonderla---Wait, its May in Arizona!!?

Friday was our fifth wedding anniversary.  This weekend is the Overland Expo.  We decided that a 3 day weekend was in order.  Last year we camped on site.  It was packed.  At the end of the weekend last year, we scouted off site camping spots.  So we had a spot in mind.

I knew ahead of time that this weekend would be cold, wet and possibly snowy.  I wasn't prepared to see snow as soon as we hit dirt.

I'm not impressed with how Youtube makes my otherwise nice videos seem crappy.  But incase the embedding doesn't work here's a link.

I was worried that there would be a lot of competition for camping.  This area was packed last year.  And with the expo raising their prices, I was sure there would be a ton of people out here.  Nope.  The weather forecast scared everyone but us away.

We made it to the S Tree camp site without any issue.  While we travelled here alone, Mandy, Pete and their kids, plus Mandy's brother and friend were coming.  We knew we would need a decent sized site.  The snow stopped to allow us to set up.  How polite.

We got the basics set up then due to the cold and weather, made our way to the Mormon Lake lodge for pizza.

Back to camp, and a bit of play was in order.

We laid down for a rest;  the rest of the gang arrived after 3PM.  While the weather was polite enough to wait until we set up camp, that went out the window.  They set up in sleet, then finally snow.

The forecast only called for 1 inch of snow.  We had an inch before bed.  Mike woke at 3AM to find it actively snowing and piling up.  By morning, we had about 3-4 inches.  The dogs had a blast.

Elly played with Rommel.  Rommel played with the kids.  Kids two legged and four legged enjoyed the snow.  

The flora wasn't impressed with this odd, out of place May snowstorm.

By the end of breakfast the snow was starting to melt.  Our campsite would get soggy.  

We made our way to the Overland Expo and were sorely disappointed.  As its hosted on a lake bed it was muddy and wet.  It was crowded and the vendors were disappointing.  Collectively, we decided that this year would probably be our last year attending.  That and the weatherman lied to us.  Nothing but cloudy skies was forecast.  It rained off and on all day.  

The most exciting thing at the Expo was a field mouse that Elly tried to eat.  It was a brave little dude and came close to its end several times.

Back to camp, more crappy weather.  Lots of relaxing was in order.  And bundling up.  And fire in a can.  Mandy made dinner, it rained some more.  A rainbow briefly appeared behind camp.

We all turned in early due to the weather and cold.  By morning, the sun was shining, and the temperatures were rising.  Elly enjoyed the sun.

While we all packed up, Rommel was allowed to play again (he hurt his shoulder on Saturday), and Elly recharged her solar batteries.

We drove out to blue skies and a red, muddy road.  Several hours and 30 degrees later, we arrived home.  From the mid 50's to the mid 80's is a leap, but at least it was warm for the dogs to have a bath.  Mike spent lots of time power washing the red mud off the trailer and Jeep.  

Another weekend gone.  The first weekend camping in months.  And our first time camping in the snow.  Despite the weather, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and feel relaxed.  

Until next time...


Monday, March 30, 2015

Springtime Sunset

It's been non-stop house stuff since January.  Every weekend is consumed with updates, repairs, additions, wiring, painting, building....  It's been months since we had an adventure, or a break.  And we really do love it here.  It's been important to get these things done before the oppressive summer heat arrives.

But, the new house has its perks.  We have space, quiet, views and dark, star studded evening skies.  And while not every sunset is worthy, this one was.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Dump Truck Planter

New house means loads of projects.  All of the heavy projects are time consuming and irritating. Once in a while I need a tiny project - instant gratification.

A few years back, Mike's mom sent over an old dump truck that he played with as a child.  It was a rusted, beat up, well used.  Not too long ago, while browsing Pinterest (yes, I'm on Pinterest.  Deal with it.), I saw a succulent garden inside an old toy truck.

Today, I made it happen.  I bought some sealant and after drilling drain holes, I sealed the whole truck. Then I planted some succulents, added some river rock and watered it.

Now this cool little dude is chilling on my back patio.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Citrus fetch

Life. Right now our newest adventure is our new house. We finally scored a few acres near the mountain. As thrilling as that is, I'm in moving hell right now. But things are settling down and as seen above, Rommel has learned that fallen grapefruit are not proper fetch toys.

It's the little things in life kids.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The weight of Monotony

Photo curtosy of Post Secret

"Routine leads to regret, habit leads to unhappiness. Certainty leads to boredom. And fear? Fear kills more dreams than failure. Passion. Passion is the only force that leads to destiny. To live the life we've always dreamed of and to become who it is we know we truly are requires acting on desire, taking risks and ferociously (or foolishly) pursuing whatever it is we love."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Vandalism, Graffiti and Garbage: A Rant

Recently, Mike and I ventured into the Utah wilderness for an escape.  It was great.  Except for the excessive garbage littering up a mountain stream and every empty campsite.  As usual, I was both irate and confused. 

The anger should need no explanation.  As an avid camper and off road enthusiast I want to enjoy every place I go to.  One of the top reasons I enjoy camping is to get away from the filth that comes along with humanity.  To be in a park and be faced with garbage or graffiti sullies the moment.  It takes away from the peace and solitude and serves as a reminder of how selfish of a species we are.

The confusion follows the anger.  There is garbage or graffiti in otherwise pristine wilderness.  So someone wanted to be here.  Someone wanted to experience this place for what it offers, whether that is camping, hiking or off road exploration.  What would possess that person or persons to then deface the same place they wanted to enjoy?   Why would they want to take away the beauty from the next person?  And really, how hard is it for you to take out what you brought in?

Garbage.  You are only what you leave behind in the world.  Therefore, you are garbage.  Carry in, Carry out.  It's not that hard. On our last trip, Mike and I conversed with a local man on an ATV.  He was out in the area specifically looking for aluminum cans.  Great! Someone who was picking up.  Then I realized how sad that statement was.  He is so sure that visitors are filthy pigs that he can come out and scrounge up cans to recycle. 

Shooting.  On several occasions, we've been nearby to other campers who decided that the woods were their own personal firing range: at least twice in Arizona, and once in Utah.  I just read the Arizona statute pertaining to firearms in state parks.  Arizona is a conceal/open carry state. We're all about second amendment rights.  That does not mean you can wantonly shoot wherever you want.  Safety, asshats. In Utah, the shooters were barely 100 yards from our campsite.  That is shockingly close when discussing flying bullets.  You aren't just disturbing fellow campers, you are disrupting all the wildlife in the area. You are leaving lead and casings lying about.  You aren't hunting, you are being a jerk. 

Vandalism.  I've entered restrooms in parks, both National and State.  And I've seen hell.  Why on earth would you poop on the floor?  Or smear your feces all over the wall?  There is something fundamentally wrong with people who do those things.

Roads.  Please stay on designated trails.  In my favorite places, I rarely see jerks creating their own roads.  But I work with BLM in southern Arizona and they are in a never-ending battle with smugglers who carve their own roads through protected land.   Tread Lightly.  There are specific reasons why you shouldn't carve new roads into the desert, to include: endangered animals or plants, and most of the time because the ground is actually alive.  There are mosses and organisms that live on the top layer of the soil.  They spring to life during a rain, but hibernate most of the time.  They also keep the soil from eroding and blowing away.  All of those deadly sandstorms that ravage I-10?  Most of those organisms have long ago been destroyed by farming and residential building and there is little to nothing keeping the top layer of soil from getting gathered up by a dust storm. 

Graffiti.  Every time I see a carved Aspen tree I die a little inside.  You marred and otherwise beautiful tree with your stupid initials, or carving.  I'm betting 90% of those idiots never return to said tree to observe them again.  (I'm also hoping that there is some tree karma at work and if you carve into a living growing tree, you will face some cosmic consequences later in life). And the 10% who do traipse through someone's campsite, complete with bored kids in tow to find the tree they carved a decade earlier.  Without an apology, mind you.  That happened to us in Utah this past summer.

On the road from Florence to Kelvin:  there is a beautiful and expansive area of boulders that, presumably, the nearby teens have designated as theirs.  There is nothing beautiful or artistic about this spray paint. It is difficult to find an unsullied, untouched surface here.
Spray painted rocks and boulders and other wanton destruction.  Last year (I believe), Boyscout Scout Masters took it upon themselves to push over a balanced rock on a popular trail in Moab.  Said rock was a marker for most hikers and riders.  They claimed they did it for the good of everyone, that the rock was a danger, but the posted YouTube video shows otherwise.  It took several healthy, strong men to dislodge the rock.  And these men are routinely entrusted with young boys, who they are supposed to be leaders and examples for.

Most recently, the National Park Service announced graffiti was found in several parks.  Spray paint.  Some stupid young woman decided that her art needed to be plastered in our nations parks.  And before you say, who cares, you should care.  Your tax dollars go towards maintaining these parks.  These parks are a national investment in our natural history.  Photography is a passion of mine.  I appreciate art in most of its forms.  There is a time and place where you can express yourself.  Spray painting a boulder in one of nature's playgrounds is less than unsatisfactory. 

There is a special ring of hell designated for these people.  I understand that by simply camping, I am impacting my favorite nature spots.  But I make sure to pack out all my garbage.  Bury my human and canine waste if applicable and to only tread on preexisting roads and trails.  I don't allow my dogs to chase wildlife, no matter how much they want to.  I don't leave food behind or feed wild animals.  I don't chop down trees for a fire.  I carry weapons for personal safety against bears, big cats and Jason. All of these things are simple to accomplish or avoid.

Enjoy the wild spaces, but leave them as if you were never there.

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