africanized bees and rattlesnakes….

IMG_2510

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.

IMG_2515

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.)

IMG_2518

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.

IMG_2508

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.

IMG_2511IMG_2502IMG_2505

IMG_2519

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.

IMG_1996

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

IMG_1894

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.

IMG_1893

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

IMG_2494

We also brought several winter squash, spaghetti and delicata.

IMG_2077

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.

IMG_2493

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

IMG_2495

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.

IMG_2496

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)

IMG_1880

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.

IMG_2473

And them great sunsets just keep coming

IMG_2445

 

Much love to all and merry christmas.

 

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.

img_1519

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.

img_1518

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

img_1505

larger chalcedony rose wth an agate geode.

img_1444

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

img_1496

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.

img_1503

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.

img_1520

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

img_1494

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

img_1490

an agate.

img_1522

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.

dsc_0667

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.

img_1353

img_1354

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/

img_1796

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

dsc_0685

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.

dsc_0713

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.

dsc_0721

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

dsc_0727

dsc_0738

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.

img_1823

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.

dsc_0686

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.

img_1834

 

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.

img_1846

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.

img_1822

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.

img_1853

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