Safari

Of all things, we are currently at a Safari International rally. We are just north of Quartzite and there are many many OTHER rallies going on around us.  I guess it is just an easy place for people to meet up….. and spend time.

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This is basically what the land around Quartzite looks like for miles and miles in every direction.  All of these large swaths of basic parking lots are divided by “washes”, where the rivers flow when there is water.  So essentially this month every area within miles and miles of Quartzite fills up with rigs like this.  (At least the swaths of land that rigs can get to, the picture above, we had to walk through a large wash to get to)    I have read that as many as a million people are here visiting at any time in January.

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Our motorhome is a 1995 Safari. Safari used to be a big name in motorhomes, but  then got bought out by someone else, and then someone else.  There is an online group that Ken has been on for a few years now where he gets all the details on how to fix our RV, and this site has been our lifeline for keeping this rig running. (I guess you could call it our 911, But we call it the old farts forum)   So we thought we would attend the rally since we are in the vicinity anyways.  This is the first time we have ever attended anything like this, but it is going well … so far so good. (Of course I have not brought up politics though  🙂  )

Oddly enough, no one else here has even heard much about the rock show, they really just come for the rally.

Tucker has made a few friends.

The thing about Safari’s that makes them unique is the painting on the back of them, they are all African animals. Everyone unique.

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So I went around all the rigs this morning to get pictures (of the pictures). I learned something along the way, and that is that each picture has hidden figures with in it. This one has a mouse, the rocks in front are actually fish.

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not quite sure how this one fits………

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The older ones are more simplistic.

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This one just pulled in, seems like a much newer rig.  Odd looking panther….

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AND THEN there is ours. (our rig is the second oldest one of those that are here now)IMG_2777

 

We woke to the sound of generators this morning. Loud and clear. GROAN.

We were moving our solar panels around this morning to get the batteries charged and one lady said, “I just don’t understand why you do not just use your generator” 🙂

Everyone seems very nice, and many of them seem to know each other already.  But we joined the big circle last night and good old Tucker won everyone over, he makes making friends easy.  Ken is having fun seeing what all other people have done in the way of renovations.

We will be here a few days to learn as much as we can from other RVers experiences.. then back to quiet mornings.

So now you will know, when you see painting on the back of the motorhome, that it is a Safari.

I have to edit this, Tonite I found out from one of the people here that every painting on every Safari is different.  The guy actually painted on each of them to make each one unique..  There IS a signature on each of them. So there I learned a lot doing this blog.

Much Love to all

Janet

KOFA… and the YUMA proving grounds

We have spent a few days at different parts of KOFA national wildlife reserve.  It was established in 1939 to protect the desert bighorn sheep, following a campaign by the Arizona boy scouts. Major Burnham who was  a frontiersman, and become and conservationist observed that the populations of bighorn sheep were sharply declining and encouraged the boy scouts to take up the campaign.  For 2 years, 10,000 boy scouts  campaigned through a “save the bighorn” poster contest.  The name KOFA, was derived from an acronym of one of the areas most notable mines the King OF Arizona gold mine.  Oddly though, hunting IS allowed for the big horn sheep, but limited.

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The mountain range although not particularly high, is extremely rugged, so provides excellent habitat for plant and animals adapted to the harsh desert climate.

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The larger mammals like the bighorn sheep and mule deer find refuge from the heat in the caves. We did not actually see any wildlife, as we stayed outside the refuge with the road looking a little much for our rig.  The closest we came was Tucker found a shell of a tortoise.  Looks like a piece of paper in front of him…

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These area are all close to each other, Brenda, Quartzite Blythe. While hiking around Brenda, we were hearing VERY loud sounds…. ….. Guessing we thought they sounded like thunder, or the sound a jet makes when it overcomes the speed of sound (sonic boom).  We just did not get what these sounds were. We thought we might come over the next ridge to see that a huge bomb had been dropped.

We put it all together yesterday, hearing these sounds again, realizing that they actually DO test bombs at Yuma proving grounds, which is adjacent to the KOFA wildlife reserve.

Interesting bedfellows?  The first area we camped alongside the KOFA mountain range, we had to travel 5 miles along a road going through the proving grounds.

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I did not get a picture of the sign as you start into this. It basically said that you were not allowed to stop for any reason over the next 5 miles, as it was military property.  Driving south from Quartzite to Yuma, there was a figure in the air that you could see for at least 40 miles in each direction.  When we stopped to camp for the night we looked up and OMG, of all the places we could have chosen to camp for the night, we were directly below it. Tucker looked up and barked at it. Ken looked with binoculars and it is attached by cables and the whole lower part of it is cameras…… hmmmm

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Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) is a United States Army facility and one of the largest military installations in the world. Situated in southwestern La Pas county and western  in southwestern Yuma county approximately the proving ground REALLY IS used  for testing military equipment.  And here I thought we would be safe by avoiding malls and theatres.

In a typical year, over 500,000 artillery, mortar, and missile rounds are fired, 36,000 parachute drops take place, 200,000 miles (320,000 km) are driven on military vehicles, and over 4000 air sorties are flown from the proving ground’s Laguna military airfield. Though about 90 percent of the proving ground’s workload is devoted to the test and evaluation of weapon systems and munitions, training activities are important. Dozens of units visit the proving ground each year for realistic desert training, especially before deploying overseas.

With regards to the blimp, I found this information. We had thought it was to do with Yuma Proving ground, but turns out it is more about border surveillance.

“For the past two decades, a large aerostat balloon maintained by the U.S. Air Force has rivaled Castle Dome as a fixed point of reference over the southern portion of YPG’s range.
Providing an important link in the “radar fence” along the international border that detects drug-smuggling airplanes, the same principle has been applied to supporting American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For nearly a year, motorists traveling the isolated stretch of Highway 95 that passes through the northern-most section of Yuma Proving Ground have been treated to the site of several more white blimps floating high above the desert floor. They look quaint and placid as they hover, but these dirigibles are being rigorously prepared for action overseas.

Persistent Ground Surveillance Systems (PGSS) marry the most cutting-edge, high-tech detection sensors to an inexpensive platform: an ordinary blimp. The moored lighter-than-air craft float as high as 3,000 feet above the ground, lofting a sensor suite that allows ground controllers to continuously monitor a huge swath of land.”

Which would explain the ever apparent border patrol vehicles.

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Ken and I were looking for a certain rock site 2.5 miles south of ” STONE CABIN”, and the directions in the book were a little vague, so I drove the car back up to get my bearings from STONE CABIN and had to go through a border patrol  inspection site, complete with dogs etc.  This site is permanent between Yuma and Quartzite.  I was wondering what they thought about us going back and forth through the site …… looking for a rock site.

Although I do not believe my photos do it justice, these mountains are the most spectacular that we have seen on this trip.

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AND then the kitchen sink drain started to leak…..

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…. and one more BRAND NEW part to our motor home, gradually we are getting a new motorhome.

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MUCH LOVE TO ALL

Janet

 

 

 

 

Fire Agates

Ken and I have become quite interested in Fire agates after finding them at Saddle mountain and near Oatman, Arizona. One might say we have become obsessed……

I should note here that we did not find our treasures in precisely the place the book outlined that we would. Perhaps we were….. thinking outside the box.   Turning left instead of right, on one side of the road instead of the other….

It has been hard to envision how the rough form of Fire agate becomes the gems seen in many booths at quartzsite.

rough one of mine…  thin layers will need to be removed.

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rough of mine

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gems at quartzsite

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Just google ” fire agates” to see much better photos of them.  I HAVE tried stealing pictures off the internet, but am not computer savvy enough to figure out how to do it.

What we have discovered is that there is a little more work involved in getting the rough stone down to the fire agate gem.

The following is an excerpt from an article by Edgar B. Heylmun, PhD 2002 (of course I HAVE corrected his spelling of the word colour)  🙂

Agate nodules are created when silica, in solution, enters and slowly fills a gas cavity in volcanic rocks. Agate and volcanic rocks have more porosity and permeability than what meets the eye, and layer upon layer of silica is deposited in the cavity until it is filled. Agate may also be deposited in seams and fractures in volcanic rocks. The mineralized solutions were probably formed during the cooling of the volcanic rocks, though considerable silica could be deposited over the years by cold circulating ground water. The porosity of agate is demonstrated by the ease in which agate can be artifically coloured.

Fire agate is a challenge to cut and polish in such a way as to preserve the fire, so it is popular with lapidary artists. The fire is caused by a thin layer of iridescent iron oxide that was deposited in a botryoidal (bubbly) manner. The bubbly nature of the layer was probably caused by small gas bubbles that were later filled with silica and water. It is imperative that the layer of silica covering the iron oxide be clear. Otherwise, the fire would not be discovered. When grinding, a lot of delicate work is required, aided by microscopic examination. There may be several thin layers of iron oxide, each with fire of a different colour, so it is quite a challenge to cut and polish such material en cabochon. The principal flashes of fire are golden yellow to green, but some valuable specimens exhibit a brilliant red. Sometimes, fire is evident in specimens before any cutting is done. The iron oxide is hydrous, so water in the thin layer adds to the fire, as does water in inter-layered silica which may, in fact, be fire opal. One of the lapidary rules is to wet grind fire agate, not saw it.”

 

There is a “fire” that exists deep in the stone that you must grind/Dremel….. your way into without destroying the stone within. You must use diamond blades and Dremel tools …. but bearing in mind that diamonds are harder than agates, so if you go too far you destroy the “fire agate”.

This is one that I have found that has very little chalcedony covering the fire. I guess it was with this one that we began to understand the process.

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I am thinking the process will be great fun, sort of like cleaning the garlic, you peel away the outside layers of the garlic to reveal the colours within.  I LOVE that part of being a garlic grower.

 

… and flowers on the cactus…

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Tucker pretending to be a coyote.

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and Mr RV repairman KEN…. Kitchen sink was leaking yesterday, now we need to get a new drain. Piece by piece we are buying ourself a brand new RV…….. 🙂

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I have struggled writing this Blog, because I did it 2 days ago, and went to post it and it disappeared   Hard to write the same thing twice.

MUCH love to all

Janet

 

 

Biking and Brenda

We are having a total blast with these bikes.

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We have been experimenting with Tucker, as I realized that it is likely the heat that wears him out. It is not THAT hot here, but there is no real shade. So while we are out on the bikes, he finds whatever places he can for shade. We stop every 1 mile to give him a break, and water, and he seems to be doing better. Yesterday I tried a makeshift “cooling collar”, soaking wet facecloth, but he got it off, today we will try a wet scarf.

Scotch Creek (where we live) is a LOT hotter than this in the summer, but the trails we hike usually have lots of shake trees.

Also sticking to the “roads” which are basically very very rough 4×4 roads, he is not getting any cactus spines in his feet.

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AND ME…. I am becoming a real mountain biker. Ken is amazed of the terrain I just weave my way through. BRAVE BRAVE Janet…..  These fat tires just ride over everything, and I am now actually trying to steer around big rocks.  Usually I see something scary and for some reason just steer straight towards it.  I have not crashed in 3 whole days, amazing. The gravel is often quite thick, and with the pedal assist function, (and the fat tires) you just keep going through the gravel….. and yes fishtailing.   Ken has this BIG smile on his face.

So each day we are heading out on the bikes, going anywhere from 2-3 miles out and stopping frequently to look for rocks, scenery etc… Having picnics….. getting back to the MH at about 3 in the afternoon.  Then we clean all of our rocks, and try to keep only the best.

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Which brings me to the part about rock graveyards.

Whenever we find more rocks, we have to go through what we already have and throw some out. So each place we camp, usually has a pile of “what we thought were treasures, but do not think are treasures anymore”.  Often what you find today, makes yesterdays finds look like JUST ROCKS.

We CAN tell others do this too, in that often we find other rockhounds rock graveyards. Sometimes we pick through them for special rocks we do not have samples of, but usually end up throwing them away at the next stop.  I am sure this entity will be very confusing to geologists in the future.

Well yesterday was laundry day…… and I was wondering what this guy had on his right hip….? Not seen one of those before, likely something to keep his quarters in 🙂

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So once a week we go back into town (quartzite ) do the sani dump thing…. fill up with fresh water, drop off our small bags of garbage at the dump and do laundry.  That took 2 hours and so we spent the afternoon looking at the thousands of rocks at the gem show which is on now in quartzite.

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These are mexican fire agates, we are just learning about how to work with fire agates…. how to bring out the fire, which would be the dark spots on these.  I fear my pictures never do the rocks justice.

and a lovely sink we bought for 150.00….  made of limestone from Morocco.   We also looked at plates.IMG_2632

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and some incredible tigers eye from Australia. Tigers eye  is a chatoyant gemstone that the way the minerals align within the rock it gives a wavy type of appearance.  Again I wish my pictures did the rocks justice.

The show that is on now is pretty large, and is called the Desert Gardens Gem and mineral show, and it goes the whole month and then from the 17th to the 21st is the HUGE QIA POWWOW which is all the same sellers that are here now, plus many many more.  Many specialized rock people JUST come to the pow wow.  At least that is how I understand it.

We have met sellers from India, Morocco, South Africa, Argentina,  and TEXAS so far. It truly is fun just looking at all the rocks. We have lots of books for identifying the rocks we find, but just like I cannot do the rocks justice with pictures, it seems that neither can anyone else. Much better to see them LIVE.  AND all the sellers are more than happy to tell you ALL about the rocks. Great place to learn.

Well back to sorting rocks.

Much love to everyone

Janet

Tucker tales and a story about a very very special person

I decided to write a blog for Tucker. A friend suggested that dogs might be interested in what dogs are doing in Arizona with 2 rockhounding parents, in a motor home. Then I decided to add another important story.

Well to begin with, Tucker has more or less told us that he would rather chew his feet off than wear those F&)*)*&ing booties.  WE remind him about his booties as we pull the cactus thorns (spines) out of his feet. To his credit though, he HAS gotten a whole lot better at avoiding them.

He carefully places his front feet, and then gets the hind feet in the same (safe) spot.

He has a new problem however, and that is where he sticks his NOSE…..  In his diligent search for rabbits his nose goes down a fretfully large number of …HOLES… in the ground and getting spines stuck in his nose and mouth. It is quite a challenge getting them out of his tongue, and we even pulled one out that had gone all the way from outside his mouth through into the mouth.  We have now been at a spot where there are no Cacti. Will be staying for awhile.

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(HE just digs down into the dirt when we get home, rolls around in it, then lies down.)

The bikes have not worked out all that well with regards to Tucker either. He only has the stamina to go maybe 3-4 miles and then he is exhausted, but perhaps if we can keep him from running the 3-4 miles chasing rabbits, he might do better.  We are thinking of getting a bike trailer to haul him home in.

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Then to change the subject.  2018……

This first week of the year has been a very different time for me. It all started reading a post of a friend of my sons, asking how to change a persons Facebook page to memorial, as it is emotionally charging to get the birthday reminders of people who have died. (apparently it has to be the person who is in charge of the page)

Anyways it got me thinking about the people I have on Facebook who have died.  My thoughts then went to Other people who had died and I had a sudden brainstorm, in that Facebook might be a place to find someone whom I thought had died, but had no idea how to find her.

Back about 40 years…….. I had a very good friend named Maxine. We were both nurses in Williams Lake and both single. WE did a lot of great road trips, many adventures together.  Time went by, I went north and she went to Kamloops. We stayed in touch, in fact I remember her partner Don giving me a rough time because every paragraph in the letters I wrote started with “Well”

Well, Maxine was an incredible person. Just one of those people from my past that was truly wonderful.  A great friend.

Then many years went by, I got married, went back to university, had kids, moved to Chilliwack and then to Oregon.  WE DID LOSE TOUCH.

Then in January 2009, Ken and I were performing for a concert (up from Oregon) in Williams Lake at the recreation centre. After the concert a woman came up to me, saying that her name was Anne… and that we had worked as nurses together back in the late 70s in Williams Lake(I did remember her) , and she knew that I had been a friend of Maxine’s.  She went on to say that Maxine had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer (Ovarian, I thought, turns out it was colon), and that she had been told to “get her affairs in order”. Anne said that she had moved up north to ?Smithers?.

It was a very brief meeting, with all that has to be done taking down after  a concert, it was late. I had not thought to get contact information (which I forever regretted)

It was a very busy week in our lives, we were dropping our son off at university and had to be back to Oregon. Thoughts of finding Maxine were put off.

It was quite ironic because within a few very short weeks, I was given the diagnosis with advanced endometrial cancer (not terminal necessarily) so underwent very aggressive treatment Surgey, chemo, radiation and then more chemo, and then…. the waiting around bit.

So essentially a year later, when life was no longer all about me, I guess I thought perhaps that with the significant diagnosis, that Maxine has succumbed to the disease. I thought about her a lot, but really lacked the knowledge of how to find someone you wanted to find.

Over the years I have often tried to find out about what had happened, doing internet searches, searching through nursing sites….

I did not find out until January 1st 2018. … I decided to do a Facebook search and there she was.  I had only started Facebook in 2008 and had never  expected Maxine to be there, but there she was. Anne was a friend of hers on Facebook , so I contacted Anne to find out what all had happened and got the story. ( I guess I wondered what would happen if you sent a friend request to someone who had died, if it was just be a painful reminder to the person she was with.)

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Anyways, sadly Maxine died December 20 2010. She apparently took the diagnosis and decided to try to do everything she could to beat it. She did many natural things, trying to live healthier.  She apparently DID go through Chemo while up in Smithers, and from what I gather, we likely would have been doing it at the same time.

I am very sad that I found her so late, but still glad that I did find out about her.

I guess I wanted to share this story because I think we all have special people in our pasts. I was given a second chance to reconnect, but … I guess circumstances failed me….or I just did not try hard enough.

Don’t let those very special people get away from you…..

MUCH LOVE

Janet

Quartzsite

Quartzsite is our short term destination. It is in Arizona, just a few miles from the California border. It is at the crossroads of highway 10 and  HWY 95. The population is 3600 people and it is often the hottest place in the USA in the summer time.

The winter is when all the action takes place there though. The population at any one time in the winter is 250,000 and they get 1.5 million visitors a year.

The weather is one attraction, but there is no way a town that small can host that many people. The key is that there are hundreds of miles of flat BLM land surrounding Quartzite and the “boondocking” or dry camping capital of the US. As one guy at a solar place told us last year “the only place where someone spends 300,000 on a motor home to go camping for free in the desert.”  We have been boon docking for 6 weeks now and are not sure we want to camp alongside that many people, after all part of the reason we do this is for the wide open spaces we get.

Back to the OTHER reason we are attracted to QuartzSite….ROCKS.

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Now is not the greatest time to be in Quartzite, so we just spent part of a day there and then left, there are a few rock shops open now, but the shows begin in January. THIS IS VARIETIES of quartz… I think.  HUGE.

During January, there are 3 major shows, that draw in sellers and buyers from all over the world.  Rocks and things made with rocks … jewellery and apparently many very unusual things. We have not been in Quartzite in January, so  will likely have much more to tell after we have been.  That and likely LOTS of pictures. What we hope to do is to learn more about the rocks we find, how to recognize them and how to work with them. We have some lapidary equipment at home, and each rock is dealt with a little differently.

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OH and I put this one in here for Tucker…. his goals are very different from ours. Imagine if HE was writing this blog. 🙂

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So for now, we left Quartzite and found some great places to camp 30 miles north east, with the plans to rent a car for a month, and camp out of town and travel in with the car.

We are thinking seriously about getting a tow vehicle, but it will be much more complicated and expensive getting one here, so we thought we would just get the rental for this year and decide when we get home, what to do.

I thought I would include a cute little story about our christmas day dinner.  Years ago when we first moved to Bandon Oregon, we had some friends over for supper and made something sort of fancy with Scallops.  The recipe was from a cooking light magazine and it was delicious.  I loved cooking light recipes and so over the years I collected the magazines and then the annual books.  I had them all. Finally they became an online entity, and eventually I was just looking up my recipes online so gave away all the books.

Well it turns out that you can no longer GET recipes from 1997 online. So Ken and I set out to try to remember all that was in that recipe. It is always funny how things come to you in the middle of the night. One night after letting Tucker out during the night he came back and said “Asparagus”…… and then ” I think there was asparagus in that recipe”. So we gradually pieced together that there was also lemon rind… and juice…..etc.

So we made the dinner for boxing day, and took all the pictures like they do on recipe blogs. So here it is.

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First you roll the scallops in corn starch,  then heat  up olive oil in pan,  fry them for about 3 minutes on each side, then remove from pan.

Add 3/4 cup of white wine, then the lemon juice, rind, CHILI PUREE (we used 1/4 cup of our homemade tomato sauce)   and asparagus. x about 5 minutes, then add the scallops to the dish. Heat x 1 minute or so.

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then serve over rice.

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my lousy selfie…… I still feel that there might have been something else in the dish, but it was still great. Now if only I could find a 1997 cooking light magazine.

 

Much love and Happy New YEAR

janet

 

 

africanized bees and rattlesnakes….

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Today we are somewhere east of Phoenix, with good internet and so thought I would take a chance to display some of the rocks, and tell a few stories.

We stayed at Wickenburg for 3 days, the rockhounding book had said to go 3 miles east of town to find geodes and agates, but we found a community campground (no services, but 7$/night) just one mile east of town.  We went for walk that night and found lots of geodes both exploded and unexploded.

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Unexploded… I find they look like hand grenades… and it has taken us 2 years to FINALLY learn how to recognize the unexploded ones.

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THE EXPLODER……

Some times we are convinced they are a geode, but alas JUST a “leaverite” rock (leaver right where you found er)IMG_2517

This is what we usually find, … parts of geodes that someone else has smashed and left bits behind.

“Geodes are spherical to subspherical rock structures with an internal cavity lined with mineral materials. They have a durable outer wall that is more resistant to weathering than the surrounding bedrock. This allows the geode to survive intact when the surrounding bedrock weathers away. The mineral lining the cavity is often a scintillating druse of tiny quartz crystals underlain by multiple bands of translucent gray and white agate. Many are lined with more spectacular treasures.

Rich purple amethyst, perfect white calcite crystals, and colorful banded agate are other common linings. Rare geodes can be filled with beautiful blue gem silica, pink rhodochrosite, spectacular opal with vivid play-of-color or other rare materials. Geodes range in size from under one centimeter to several meters in length. From the outside most geodes look like common rocks, but when they are opened the sight can be breathtaking.”  ( I copied this from a site on geodes to explain what they are.)

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The object with geodes is to recognize them in the rough, so you can bring them home and properly cut them with a saw to display the crystals inside. There are amethysts in the area of Wickenburg, who knows, perhaps some of these might have some amethyst in them.

So about RATTLESNAKES.  We were walking along (with Tucker) and heard a HISS sound (hiss without the sss). It sounded important enough, so we backed off. We did not see anything, but large holes in the ground around the base of the bushes.  So came back to the internet and searched for rattlesnake sounds and sure enough it was. Apparently it is not unheard of for them to be out in the winter, and the day was quite warm. They actually can hibernate at different times of the year, and they also tend to avoid the real heat of summer. Uncertain of what to do, I figured that there ARE rattlesnakes around Kamloops near where we live, so we opted to avoid the thick grasses.  So all in all a happy rattlesnake story.IMG_2475

We are now east of Phoenix, on our way to Quartzsite, at some point. We have found some of the most beautiful agates here.  We believe they are Fire agates, at least of moderate to low quality, but very beautiful cut. WE DO HAVE A ROCK SAW….  🙂IMG_2506

Yesterday while we were out looking for rocks we got swarmed by bees.  They were very different from any other bees we have seen in that they were quite aggressive. It did not seem to matter what we did they would not go away. We came back to camp and saw that they were totally swarming around my bucket with rocks in it. (we were soaking the rocks in soapy water to clean them).  WE clean our rocks and decide which ones to keep at the end of the day.

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As you can see there were many dead bees in the water, because it contained soap. The only thing I could think was that they were attracted by the water, no other water source out here, and when we are walking we have wet cloths with us to wipe of the rocks. They, I believe, were attracted by the moisture. I went and researched them and apparently 90% of Arizona wild bees have become africanized.  They are much more aggressive and travel in larger groups, and destroy the resident honey bee populations.

https://www.cvbugle.com/news/2017/mar/25/behind-buzz/

Great article on them.  SOOO I did not feel so bad that my rock water had killed so many bees.  Good news, we did not get bit, they seemed to be after anything with moisture, sweaty back pack, wet cleaning cloth, tuckers water dish.

I thought I would show you a few pictures of some of the rocks we have found here, cut.

We do not have the greatest saw, plan to cut them on a better saw when we get home, it is just nice here to be able to see what the inside looks like.

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Well it is Christmas morning and I feel the rest of the family stirring in the back (tucker takes my spot in bed when I get up). This is the view out my window now.

Merry christmas and lots of love to everyone

Janet

Still enjoying garden, 5 weeks out….

Five weeks on the road, and we are still eating food from our garden. In the fall we harvested, canned, dried and froze a lot of food to take along on this trip.  We had over a hundred heirloom tomato plants so after the farmers market ended, we started drying and canning the tomatoes.

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We made roasted heirloom tomato sauce which we have brought about 30 pints.

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Also apple, green tomato chutney x 12 jars (great on rice, easy dinner).  We dried tomatoes as well and put them in oil in a jar for putting on pizzas and stir fries.

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We put the dried tomatoes into olive oil to reconstitute them and keep them in the fridge then.

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We also brought several winter squash, spaghetti and delicata.

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Ken was adamant this year that we were not going to waste any fruit, so took on the huge task of peeling, coring and slicing (we have a gadget that does this), and drying all of the apples, pears, peaches and we even dried raspberries.(and some grapes)

We also have dried beans that we have grown called calypso beans.

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I also made 2 types of pesto and froze it, Basil, parsley (italian and curly)

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I did a lot of research last year about crossing borders and food and found that essentially preserved food is allowed. (not meat). Of course there are always border crossing workers who opt to write their own laws, as many of the Canadian citizens  with coloured skin were not allowed into the US with the recent border changes.

But last year we brought canned tomatoes etc   and were searched (as we often are being a motorhome) and all he was looking for was sheep or goat meat.

Why do this?  Well one this is cost, organic food is expensive especially produce, and having all of it at home for free. At home we also work hard at achieving the 100 mile diet. Eating foods that were grown within 100 miles is an environment choice. They say that the food in the grocery store has travelled further than the average person travels on vacation.  We also do this for political reasons, why buy food that is from half way around the world, when you can support local growers?

We also buy our own locally grown grains, such as rye and fife, and  grind them with a stone grinder.  Have ground a few large bins of flour for the trip, for the pizzas and breads along the way.

Then for fresh produce we have a map of all of the trader joe stores along the way and stop there once a week.

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We have a great system for composting, an IKEA rack attached to the wall, and we fill up biodegradable bags with compost and then bury them out in the desert. I am sure that some poor tomato plants will start growing in spring only to look around and say, WHAT AM I DOING HERE?… and then quickly die in the heat.

OH and we are growing mung beans to have for dinner once a week.

We are pretty conservative with our water, so head to a sani dump every 5 days to fill up and dump the tank, but usually we have 3/4 of a tank of water left, so we could likely last for a few weeks without more water etc..  The solar panels in the day are enough to run the LED lights and the furnace and other devices for the evening.

So we are pretty self sufficient.

And while we are traipsing around the desert we have our 3600 garlic planted and protected (back home) , hopefully our biggest garlic ever. (perhaps enough to fund next years trip)

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and DID I mention we are finding rocks, perhaps I need to write a blog one of these days to show all the rocks we have found once I figure out for sure what they all are.

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And them great sunsets just keep coming

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Much love to all and merry christmas.

 

Drive through red……

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It never ceases to amaze me the clever beer labels.  I always choose the beer with the funkiest labels.  🙂  Quite appropriate today, as I drove  through some teddybear cholla cacti and my poor tire suffered “the attack of the teddybear cholla”.  I hardly knew I had a flat tire until Ken HAD TO take the thorn out… and then the tire went down quickly. I also fell again damaging a few things on the bike so now it is in “KENS SHOP”, getting fixed…..

Lets see, we have spent a few days  at Burro creek area hiking 900 feet down a very steep bank that apparently cows manage to make it up, to search for some wonderful pink chalcedony that we remembered seeing last year.IMG_2398

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Fortunately there was water at the bottom, which is the first water we have seen on any of our hikes.

It was also the day of the election in Alabama, and I thought that perhaps this might have been what Alabama had to say to Trump.

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Then we went to Prescott, where we stayed in a campground to get all our laundry done and I managed to leave Kens clothes in the dryer…….  Then we went from Prescott to Jerome. I have seen the drive described on a motorcycle blog as “127 curves in 12 miles”. Now I can see that as being exhilarating on a Harley Davidson, but in a 35 foot motorhome… Well lets just say we are not going back for Kens Laundry.

Now Jerome is considered to be a vertical town (imagine the Popeye movie with no ocean). NOT a place for a motorhome. The town was a copper mining town and at one time, the 4th largest city in the Arizona territory. The town had its hayday in the 1920s, decline in the depression of the 1930s, and then a reincarnation in the WW2 times, then decline. The past 30 years have given the town a whole new direction with the tourist industry. My theory is that a town that is on a vertical cliff facing the grand Canyon (or at least that is what I think it is) is what truly attracts people. Of course none of my pictures will do it justice, …..

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In my defence, we WERE a little shaken by the trip there, but we both feel we would LOVE to go back to Jerome sometime and stay at a bed and breakfast, I am sure it would be impossible NOT to have the incredible view of the lovely canyon  from every window in Jerome.  (which MIGHT …..be the Grand Canyon).    There was apparently shopping there was well. They have a parking lot from the old mine, that they have a shuttle going back and forth to the town area, which on some level might seem ridiculous, but if you really see how steep this town is, makes sense.

We had planned to drive up a 9.7 mile road from Jerome to go searching for the “most beautiful agates in central Arizona”, but realized that our motorhome was not up to the journey and 9.7 x 2 was possibly too much for Tucker, … so we moved on.

So we are now in Carefree Arizona. We are having stir fry tonite from sprouts I have been growing in the motorhome, gardening on the road.

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First 3 days…

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6 days…. yum.

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Must love to all

Janet

 

 

Doggies in the desert and electric bikes

Enemy number one. This plant in the desert is ruining our days. It is called Teddybear cholla. Odd name for something that you cannot touch,  let alone HUG.IMG_2349

Pictured here are the plant and the offending little beasties that are likely their way to reproduce.

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If you get one stuck to your foot… when you try to pull it out, you will get another barb stuck in your finger.

What happens is that Tucker is walking along, gets one of these in his foot and immediately tries to get it out with his mouth, then he has it stuck in his mouth which is really bad, and he starts thrashing around, LOTS of drool. So then Ken and I swing into action, Ken with his leather mans tool pliers and me holding tucker still.

Hence the booties.

 

Short video of his first steps in booties…. He got better.

The first day with the booties, although he seemed to do well, he was exhausted for 2 days (only 3 year old dog). We figure that perhaps it was more draining because he does not have a good grip, without his claws being out, so he is working twice has hard to get the same distance.  We are now in search of booties with treads on them.  OH and we are also spending as much time looking for lost booties than we are for rocks 🙂  Stay tuned for what we find works. Tucker is back to normal after 2 days of sleeping.

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Last year we were limited as to the sites we could  get to because our motorhome is not exactly an all terrain vehicle, MORE OF A one terrain vehicle, pavement and VERY good gravel roads. (last year we did damage to the motorhome (TAJ)….. by going where we should not have gone )     So to solve this we though  through many possible options, like hauling another vehicle, but were not ready to do that. SO a friend suggested Electric bikes, and we said YES…..which we have recently purchased.

Two ways to describe electric bikes, one is like a small motorcycle that has an electric motor that you can pedal to save electricity.

The other way to describe them is they are a mountain bike  that has less gears and a pedal assist engine for you get bogged down in the sand.

Sorry no action shots….. just this one picture of one of the fat tire bikes

Last year we attempted to ride our bikes to some of these remote spots, but it was very tough riding through the sand, especially uphill…….. and with rocks.  So we have bought heavy duty mountain bikes with fat tires that can ride over very large rocks no problem. I am pretty much of a fraidy cat mountain biker and pretty much bail whenever i get into any scary situation. With this motor (and the HUGE TIRES), I just push the throttle and ZOOM over obstacles.  Ken is pretty amazed at the terrain I am riding in no problem.  I have only fallen twice and I have to admit that ONE TIME … was because I noticed a nice rock on the side and was not paying attention. (Paying attention is a bit important).

The other really cool thing about the bikes is that if you are a lousy biker like me and struggle to get started on an uphill with loose gravel, I just push on the throttle, and ZOOM.  Another important thing about the bikes is that they have VERY VERY good disc brakes.  We bought the bikes in Canada and the electric bike rebuild Kit in the US, and Ken put it all together.  Saved a lot of money by him doing this part himself, and also he knows all about the workings when things need to be adjusted.

I would have to say that the electric part was as important as the fat tire part to make these bikes perfect for driving in the desert.

I do not have many GB left on my plan, so only a few pictures this time

MUCH LOVE

JanetIMG_2333