A life in a day….

We have been camping out in the desert for about 6 weeks now, a few nights in campgrounds and a few nights with friends outside of Phoenix. It really is the most laid back trip we have ever had. We have been back and forth across the border of California and Arizona a lot and have been near the border a lot. So rather than change our clocks over and over, we just decided to pick a time zone and stick with it.  We like Arizona time.

Our motorhome is showing some signs of abuse, with us trying to get to places we likely should not get into.  I love to see the smirks on peoples faces as they drive by us in their 4×4 vehicles, out in the middle of nowhere. We can usually see civilization from where we camp, but are usually 2-3 miles or more away from it. Tonite I can see the highway and trains 2 miles from here.  Deserts are like that.

We found that the campgrounds usually had very poor internet, so are relying on our AT&T cards. We have found that it is a pretty good deal, 10$ for a GB.  We can buy the refill cards in the grocery stores. We are not streaming anything (and have turned off automatic stream) and are able to work on the blog, check email, news, and although these days we are trying to avoid it, Facebook. 🙂  So it is costing us 40-50 dollars a month for internet.  We fill up water and dump sani at stations after every 4-5 days out.  Our only issue is garbage, which we have very little of…..  We use all cardboard boxes to fill with rocks, 🙂   not really but some.  We bury all out compost out in the desert.

We often stay at the same places a few days and cover on average 60 miles every few days driving. We walk between 3-5 miles a day looking for rocks, and some days biking (one day we biked 17 miles, half up hill in sand. was not part of the plan)

When we get back we set up our table scrub off our rocks to find which ones are keepers and which ones are not.  We smash some to make sure.  🙂   We now have several reference books to help us ID stuff.

We have wine, stoned wheat thins, and watch the sun sets. (or suns set)    We have wonderful gourmet dinners, and some days leftovers of gourmet dinners.  Then we play crib. Ken usually beats me, but last night we tried out a different deck of cards and I started winning.   Nice days. OH and reading lots of books.

These are Chalcedony Roses.  Essentially the same stuff that make up Agates, with out the lines (bands) . We have some pink ones and some white as well…..They will tumble up beautifully, when we get back to our tumbler.


This is a geode. We see them everywhere here.  We have yet to find an unopened one though we have smashed a lot of ordinary rocks to see if there were geodes.


This is a rockhound.img_1506

This is an agate with some opal in it, with part of a geode???

img_1514This is jasper/agate that has formed within a seam (the space between two rocks layers).  I should add that these are my interpretations


larger chalcedony rose wth an agate geode.


This is an agate geode with some amethyst ? centrally, and some copper minerals around the edges??


I am not totally sure what this is, but every piece of it looked like hunks of wood, but they were completely very fragile crystals.


I know this looks like a hunk of rotten beef… it is rather complex and will take cutting etc to bring out the full beauty.  I am hoping my friend the gemologist will add to this and I will edit this then.


This is an amethyst geode with some…?opal, chrysocolla  around it.


We think that this is a jasper/agate with central brown jasper and some opal around the edges.


an agate.


Well it is 7:30, ARIZONA time…….

Through the desert in a house with no name

We have definitely stayed at some extremely cool spots thus far. I have been trying to take pictures of each of the places.


This was actually in a park, but no services, Valley of fire state park. wonderful red rock formations. Indian writing on wall. Just outside of Vegas.img_1779

This was next to where we had camped. WAY up a road in Nevada where a blue quartz mine was. We walked all the way up to the mine and looked all over to find that we really did not LIKE blue quartz. Funny how that works, but the view was worth the climb.



This was on the ROUTE 66, a very old little shop called Cold springs. We camped further out in the desert the night before, but the lady who ran the shop told us to stay there the next night, as the guy who usually did security was gone.  Really a cool little museum. Here is link for more info http://azrt66.com/cool-springs/


To get any further on this road to Oatman was too risky for a long vehicle, so we stayed at cool springs.


We have to date managed 5 days  in a row with no services, and have found that if you google RV dumps, you can find places where you just pay a fee of 10-20 bucks to sani dump and add fresh water.


Not all days have been totally perfect. Days like yesterday, the rockhounding book said that the “area” was 10.3 miles down a dirt road, and that all vehicles could make it. Said that there were soft areas, but that you should just keep moving. Well we have some to learn that “all vehicles” does not necessarily mean a 35 foot Motorhome.  There are a few questions that go through our minds as we move one down these roads. One is….. I wonder if there will be a place to turn this rig around?  Another is “I wonder if the AAA has limits to where they will go to haul out a motorhome?    yet another question we wondered a few days ago was…. ” I wonder if Chains would work as well in sand as they do in snow”

WE are not at all sure if we are being as kind to our motorhome as it has been to us . After the bind we got into yesterday, we have vowed that we WILL Look closer on Google earth.dsc_0737

This was just outside Parker Arizona, … actually closer to Earp California.  Not the greatest picture, but definitely a spot we will go back to.  6 miles from town and sitting above looking out a mountains all around.


also one of the most dramatic sunsets I believe I have ever seen. Oh and sunrise as well.



We are now on the California side of Lake Havasu.  Total wilderness, looking across the lake at a large city.  After my last blog several people encouraged us NOT to head home too soon, as it is much colder.  We WILL however slowly wind our way north now, and hope for better weather for those north of us.

BLM camping in Arizona, and cool rocks.

I have to say we are having the time of our lives down here. I had always questioned the whole snowbird thing, go south, somewhere hot, play golf and hang around a swimming pool. Besides, I really hate the heat anyways. This year to avoid the dreadful storms along the Oregon coast that we experienced last year, we decided to go inland a bit, then a bit more and suddenly found ourselves down in Arizona.  Last year we stuck to the coast to avoid the freezing temps, our RV is older and not set up for really cold temps. This year the weather was good in early November, so we cautiously went down through Nevada, closely watching temperatures and elevations.  We took 95, which  runs down a long valley with mountains on both sides. Essentially high desert. We did not spend as much time as we would have liked to, as we were trying to stay ahead of a storm that was bringing colder weather. (Perhaps next year we will hit this area earlier).  Arizona is lower in elevation, and further south, and so warmer.  Even where we are (near Quartzite) it gets down close to freezing at night.


We have also been staying out in the desert on BLM land. It is free and the views cannot be beat. Most of Nevada and Arizona are public land, and we have an APP, that shows is where BLM land is. Also signage usually indicates where private land is.  We are self sustained, with 3 solar panels and an inverter to convert the power to ac power. SO if our water tank is full, we can actually spend several days out in the desert quite comfortably.


I had never really understood the beauty of the desert, but I realize it is more than something a picture can take. I am not even sure I can describe it in words. I guess it is one of those “you had to be there” things.  I would have to say “solitude” would enter into the descriptive terms.



What has led us out here, has been the search of rocks, but we still love the days even when we find nothing.  We have “THE BOOKS”, rockhounding in _______.  You can get one for each state (and province by the way).  They give descriptions of places to find certain “gems”.  Then they describe how to get there. Usually they are at best vague, and at worst misleading. HOWEVER that just adds to the fun. I am up every morning studying the books, and have 3 different map types on my iPad. Oddly enough, often the RV camping app has the best maps.  Oh and google earth as well.

So I start with a place that is interesting, then I have to figure out if we can get there. Our RV is not a 4 wheel drive, although we do get as far away from the main roads as we can. THEN WE WALK, or cycle to get to the designated places that most people take ATVs or 4 wheel drives. WE GET MORE EXERCISE, and find more rocks on the way  TO the designated places.


We likely also see more of the wild burros when walking. They were apparently let loose by  prospectors who had run into bad times or other issues….and they have multiplied out in the desert over the many years. I wish I could get a better picture of them.


There is so much about all of this type of travel that I have found hard to find the info I wanted, so thought I would write a bit about it.


The sun has just come over the nearest hill, so I had better get to the books and plan today out.


Jackrabbits and Geodes.


We have discovered Nevada, and WOW.  LOVE IT.  It is the most unusual place I have been, perhaps ever.  I had always thought it was all about gambling…. and YES we did stop in Reno, but I am not going to talk about that.  Carson city, on the other hand was a very cool place. We learned LOTS about trains at the train museum.




AND then we did the BLUE line walking tour past all the historic buildings, somehow THIS ONE, was most memorable


Which was Orion Clemens home…. and we all know who Orion Clemens was….


Ken and I are officially rockhounds now. We have the pick axes…… and well Ken even has a pick axe holder.  Of course we have the protective eyewear. We have maps and charts, and GPS. AND we are in Nevada.  Nevada is a state that is bursting with cool treasures, and also is mostly BLM land.  (bureau of land management), which means that it is public land. You can camp free on BLM, which we have been doing. You get the very best views and VERY private spots. Unfortunately ONLY KEN has a pick ax…. I lost mine yesterday, I thought I had found some GOLD, and just set down my pick ax and walked away. We spent a few hours looking for it… but….

We are not really sure of what all we have found,


but we have spent every day out hiking across the desert, looking for cool rocks. We have even found a teensy bit of turquoise.


We have found Obsidian, quartz crystals, agates, jasper,  at least we think. The place we have found the most stuff was just north of Beatty NV.


We were hiking for miles around, thinking we WERE In the middle of nowhere, and were wondering what was with all those large black helicopters, and then when we looked at a map, we were right next to  Nellis air force range, which is just next to Nevada test site.

Now if you want to do something interesting, go to google earth and look up Hawthorne NV.  I was trying to figure out where the campground was and looked at a satellite view.


Hard to know what all of those extremely symmetrical lumps that seem to go for miles….. could be. Turns out Hawthorne is the worlds largest munitions dump.  Very interesting and a little bit eery. Apparently private companies manage the dumps.



One of these rocks I found by the ocean and the rest the high desert of Nevada….can you tell which is which?

So while Ken and I try to figure out the best landscapes to find certain stones, Tucker is studying which types of plants do the Jackrabbits live under.  img_1383

But the Jackrabbits are MUCH faster than he is.



Burney falls campground

North Eastern California

mount Shasta  with some tourists and a dog


Hard to know what gets you going in one direction or another. This time it was rocks, saw a reference to Burney falls in a rockhounding site, saw there was an open state campground, so headed there.



Apparently one of the oldest of the California state campgrounds. Theodore Roosevelt declared the falls “the eighth natural wonder” in the world. Not sure where that went, but the falls are extremely unusual.  There is the main falls, 129 feet high, coming from Burney Creek, and then mid way down the falls is another set of falls that is essentially springs coming between  VERY old volcanic rock and someone old volcanic rock.


Quite beautiful.  There is a hike around the falls, 1.5 miles, and then THIS trail actually joins the Pacific crest trail.  No dogs allowed even on leashes on the main trails in the park, but they are allowed on the Pacific crest trail (PCT).


So we now have hiked two parts of the PCT, and both have been beautiful, so we are having “stirrings” about perhaps one day hiking it.  Advantages over the Camino, you can camp anywhere you end up, disadvantages, you would be camping in a tent. Other advantage you can bring your dog on the PCT, not the Camino.  MMMMM  I am sure that the camping mattresses MUST have improved in 30 years. (since we last tented) There is a pioneers graveyard.


No rocks to speak of, but volcanic rock everywhere.  The campground is exquisite, with large sites, essentially no services this time of year though.  Our motor home has generator (for running my blender) and solar panels for running almost everything else, so we can stay for up to several days in these  campgrounds.  The hike down to Burney Lake was very foggy,so great for pictures …MY boys.



Then onwards to Nevada.


Hiking on the Rogue

We have gone inland.  After all the rain on the coast last year and after several wonderful days on the coast this year we decided not to push our luck… so hope to take advantage of this being a bit milder year, and heading inland for sunshine and different adventures.

First stop, Grants Pass. A city along the Rogue River, where we have some friends who also used to live in Bandon.  It is always harder camping in the cities.  The  RV parks are much more crowded, and we find there is much less to do than in the rural areas.

Fortunately our friends took us hiking down the Rogue river, on the river trail.


Turns out it is a part of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT),  and actually follows the Rogue River all the way down to Gold Beach.



It is a very interesting river, I believe because of its depth, and the fact that much of the river is only accessible by boat, so quite rugged.

imageWith the depth, boats can travel the entire length from Grants Pass to the ocean. People also float down on rafts. You cannot go down the river without a permit though, they limit the numbers to protect the wilderness.

I thought this was interesting, amazing how high floods can go in a narrow valley. I guess the water has to go somewhere…..UP



We only did 3 miles down the trail, but it was a treat to hike along a small part of the pacific crest trail



Rogue River Agates

The agates from the Rogue River.

We spent a night at the campground right down on the Jetty in Gold beach.  Ocean very rough, swells large, so we found a gravel area mid way up the jetty, where it was a little safer. Met one of the regulars, and he “educated” us about the local agates.


They are much larger than the ones we have found elsewhere, and quite rough. He told us that is because they are coming down directly from Crater lake, so “Fresher” more recent agates that have not been churned and tumbled by the ocean. They have large pits, and our experience from last year is that these ones are much harder to tumble, perhaps we just need to use a different technique.  WE LOVE this campground, but not one you would want to be in, in a tsunami.  WE did in fact hear a siren and were madly checking the news…. but they DO have to test their tsunami warning sirens from time to time.

Since we have not had internet enough to post pictures I have gotten way behind in my blog, so am catching up now. (This is from over  a week ago, we are now in Carson City.)

Agates 101…….

We have left the cabin tarpapered for the winter, planted 1200 garlic, harvested our grapes,


and other fruit, and got our motorhome ready for the trip down south. WE did bring 12 jars of homemade heirloom tomato sauce, 5 jars of Jam, several bags of frozen raspberries, and even delicata squash, which I looked into on the border (what can I bring) site and it is all allowed, so we have MUCH of our garden.  My only concern was several thanksgiving day dinner leftover dishes, because they had meat in them. In the end we left them with Kens uncle in Chilliwack, who had just got out of hospital and maintained that those dinners saved his life  🙂

We had a lot of problems last year with leaking and eventually the whole roof started leaking in a storm, so had to replace that while down here.  Ken has done a lot of other repairs over the summer. It is a 1995 motorhome, so par for the course.  We are in Oregon, where we lived for 13 years, visiting friends, walking beaches, mushroom picking and …

so….a rainy day on the coast, imagine that! Time to once again resume my blog, especially now that we are onto our next obsession: agates.  These are from last year, we learned also how to tumble them.


Only thing is that this year is our second year of being rock hounds, and while last year we were adolescent rock hounds, going mainly for the shiny agates, the prettiest  ones we tumbled from last year were the Jasper. Our “repertoire” has essentially doubled.  We are now looking for pretty jasper.

Agates, from what we learned last year, are formed from silica bearing waters that fill the gas bubbles in solidifying lava,  creating a gel.  The water, being alkali, reacts with the iron in the lava, which when it dries leaves lines of iron hydroxide, which forms bands in the finished agate.  I have seen the layers described like the Russian dolls.

Last year we met people on our beach walks who told us what to look for, and so then we had to find out where to find more.   We have only searched on ocean beaches, but they can be found in many other situations. In general they tend to be near where rivers meet the ocean, bringing agates down from areas where volcanoes have erupted years ago.

They say that agates are found near where rivers meet the ocean, and so we fully investigated the Elk river, the Sixes river and the Coquille river.

Problem with the Coquille river is that it has a large jetty fortifying the mouth of the river. I believe that that complicates the agate journey, so very few agates near the Coquille. However the Elk river opens into the ocean a few miles south of the Cape Blanco lighthouse and some days we found agates. It is a 1.5 mile walk down the beach to get to the river, and you might find agates there one day, and the next day it might all be sand, but for us we love the walk anyways.  In many ways we just need a reason for the walk, we also love hunting for mushrooms.

This year we walked to the Elk river from the south side, Paridise point. It was about a 3.5 mile walk.

The thing about agates is that over the summer they lie deep under all the sand that the wind brings, and they are only revealed when the winter storms with the large swells drag the sand back revealing the hidden treasures.  There are some “agate beds” that remain hidden for many years, only becoming visible with the most severe storms.  We were amazed last year with beaches like Merchants beach. It is north of Bandon, which is a very flat beach, all sand. WE were wondering what the booklet said about finding agates there, as we found nothing but old car engines,


but then one day it all opened up and it became a gravel beach with large stones.  Mostly jasper… more on that later..  The other thing that is interesting is how much the direction of the river changes day to day, and year to year. I guess that is part of the reason for the Jetties….as well as break waters. I mean one day you could be river frontage and then next day you could be IN the river.

The next thing is the tides. It seems that the really low tides in the winter are always during the night.  THEN the size of swells, which I did not fully appreciate until being out on a low tide day with large swells, might just as well have been a high tide. Also on a high tide day with no swells it is like a low tide.  So figuring out how to get down a beach that disappears during a high tide, is important to make sure you do not get stranded somewhere.  Rain and wind are only “relatively” important. Depending on how water proof your clothes are, and just how motivated you are. We have gone out on days we should not have….. not photos though.

It really helps, when you are looking for agates, if the sun is shining. The sun actually “lights them up” like little lanterns, so you will see a bed of gravel and when you are facing the sun, the agates will shine like little flashlights.

So an ideal day is sunny, lots of gravel and a favourable tide.  Here are a few that show the lines..img_1163

The fall update

Summer has abruptly ended, at least the warm summer nights did. Our cabin project was moving along, and we miscalculated how quickly we would need heat at night.  Since we took out the wood stove to put in the back wall,  we have had no means of heating.  Just last night we finally got the new/old wood stove installed.   It was a stove we were given, by friends who had removed it from a cabin they were going to rent out. (GOOD IDEA). The stove is very small and is a very old Norwegian stove, called ULEFOS. The company began in the 1700s making stoves, and is no longer making them. They clearly knew what they were doing, the stove is very solid, and beautiful.img_1072img_1071



Other things since the last post… Basement. We would like to ignore the basement, but we have friends from the US who have threatened to move up here if Trump is elected, and other friends who have threatened to move up here is Hillary is elected so we figured we needed to get a move on on the downstairs bedroom  🙂

There is a bedroom under the main living room, that was essentially an afterthought and has not been at all impervious to mice. YEARS AND YEARS of mice. Last year we took down the ceiling to expose generations of mice communities, and all they leave behind when the go, (in more ways that one). We have struggled to get rid of the smell, thinking it was essentially coming from the MICE RUINS within the ceiling.   Well apparently there were suburbs  in this mice haven, the ceiling being the BIG CITY, with the suburbs in the walls. At first we thought about taking out the inside walls,  but THEN we decided it might be better to take out the outside walls.img_1027

that is a destruction tool in my hand. I tend to be better at destruction than construction.img_1031

so inside wall exposed and lots of remains of mice going and going and going….


and can you believe it, we just happened to have a window to fit into that spot, so that the room could have a southern window.


Then the front wall of the basement



So while I worked on the downstairs, Ken worked on the upstairs,  moving the bedroom wall over and making a place for the composting toilet.



Other areas of work have involved a fridge.  We have been trying to find a fridge that we can power with our solar system, but all quite expensive right now and one of our neighbours out here suggested that the old fridge that is covered with tarps and we have been trying to figure out HOW we will get rid of……. might work.

So Ken took to his mechanical skills,  puttered away with it for awhile and lo and behold it DOES work.  img_1064

After some research, I estimate it to be from about 1954 or so.  They were eventually  recalled, as being unsafe, so we will likely keep it outside for now.


It is lacking proper seals around doors, but all and all a decent fridge, think I will paint it red, and put a green peace sign on it  🙂

The other item we found down in the “dungeon” a scary room in the basement…. was this little stove … originally from an RV  (again back in the 50s). All the burners work, and so does the oven EXCEPT the oven only has a top heating element, so great for broiling but baking…. not so much. I think we will try to find another one, perhaps  few years newer with a lower element.


So I think that catches the blog up to where the house is ….except for my bear story….the one that got away….img_1045


The final outside wall….

Well this is a very exciting step indeed.  In this last step we will be replacing the very last of the outside wall.  Essentially a new home….. (with the exception of the ceiling and everything above it, and the floor and everything below) (and of course MOST of the materials we are using are recycled, which is the fun bit)  Old windows are way more interesting that new ones…. and not always totally predictable. The window we are putting in this spot, we had to do some repairs on, as it had been damaged when it was being removed from its previous home. I am always totally confident that Ken can fix anything so I did not hesitate to take a damaged window.  I am sure at times he wishes I did not have  QUITE so much confidence in his abilities. SO this is the kitchen complete with a blue stove that only 2 burners work on. We have decided to get rid of it, since it taking up WAYYY to much space for its abilities. The counter tops here have all been purchased at RESTORE last year.  You will notice that I have also painted everything red


This is the last part of the wall from the outside… obscured by the laundry 🙂


..and yet another before picture.


As you can see a lot of water damage. We figure, likely because snow has sat on the deck in the winter, melting and soaking the wall. We will take this into consideration with our new siding.

SO DESTRUCTION once again and now since it has been 8 weeks since I broke my shoulder, it seems to be healed enough to be knocking out walls. Ken cannot have all the fun.


some of the floor rotting.. will need to also replace.



OK so the destruction is complete, at it is only 10 AM


all fixed….



floor fixed.





I took the following picture to show how we actually got each of these walls into place. After the first wall we decided it was easier to hit the frame with a sledgehammer from below than from above, so we move the piece into place at the top and then sludge it into place from below. (bear in mind that this is a massive over simplification, as you can imagine)


We decided that it was likely a whole lot easier to build a house, than to renovate another one, it would be SOOO much easier to build a wall and THEN put on the ceiling vs the alternative.  We ran into a major problem here …. we were having to slide the framed wall into place because a pipe bringing water to the kitchen sink was in the way. We tried drilling holes in the floor to move the pipe over. Unfortunately  BLUSH, I drilled a hole in the pipe causing a flood… that put us WAY behind….. and without a kitchen sink for now.


and the we got the board on the outside, just in time for the big storm…


So tar paper around the window.


This is the lovely rebuilt window from my sisters house. The kitchen is brighter already.


So there you have it the last wall, and the place is a total disaster, but at least the wall is up.IMG_0953

So now the fun begins….