Tuesday, April 21, 2009

ravens, one life less for onyx, and bikes

Had a headwind while heading back to New Mexico. Going and coming, go figure. Awful gas mileage—might as well get a class A. Oh well, had another podcast of ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me’ to keep me chuckling.

Purchase two new tires for the casita while in Bisbee. With the narrower cross-section and less rolling resistance I should get much better gas mileage.

Yet another stellar spot for working at the bench. But—I don’t know—maybe a little closed-in?

The first hummingbird of the year came by the other day so I mixed up some sugar water and hung up the feeder. Now there are a couple visitors in the morning and late afternoon.

There was a raven nest up in the rocks, not 50’ from the camper at one place we camped. Didn’t see it until I had set up camp. Maintained a quiet, laid-back site while there, trying not to disturb the birds. Judging from their behavior, they were not the least bit concerned. It was a fabulous experience. Prior to this time I had known two different sounds that ravens make. Here I learned of four more—all very distinct. Way cool. The ravens took turns sitting in the nest and sometimes they both just took off for a while and frolicked in the wind together. Took awhile to get anywhere near a decent shot. I swear the ravens waited till I held up my camera before flying away or ducking down in the nest. The eggs hatched before I left and in one shot you can somewhat see the little ones being fed. I still had two seed suet bricks so I kept putting pieces out on a rock behind the camper along with a dish of water.

Well, I almost shot Onyx the other day. The little twit was outside one morning and the cat door was closed so he did his standard trick of stretching up from the doorstep and opening the screen door. This time however, he walked in with a live kangaroo rat in his mouth and when he got inside. Yep, you got it—he let it go. Son of a bi*ch. As luck would have it—no, that can NOT be the correct word—the little long-tail ran through the opening I had cut in a back bench so M/O can go in and out when the locker door is open. Guano. Hey, no problem, ALL I had to do was clear off the table and remove it, take down 30” of books stacked on a shelf under the table, remove the bench cushions, take out the 8 screws holding the bench in place, go outside and turn off the propane, disconnect the gas line to the Wave catalytic heater and remove the heater. Most of this time I was thinking that a shooting would be an absolutely stellar occurrence. Then I grabbed a pair of leather gloves and a towel and pulled out the bench. The rodent was hiding behind the fresh water tank. If he had taken off—I would have needed TWO cartridges. I caught the little guy and after making sure neither Meadow nor Onyx was around I put him out in the field. While putting everything back, I was still thinking of Onyx’s impending death. But since he is no doubt down to his last life or two, I decided to cut him some slack. Maybe next week.

Stopped in Silver City and bought a mountain bike at Gila Hike and Bike on College St in the Historic Downtown area. The people at Gila Hike and Bike are wonderful. If you pass through the area and need outdoor gear, a new bike, or accessories, definitely check out this shop. The Gary Fisher I had picked up at a pawnshop up in Utah after trashing my Specialized was too small but I wanted something to tie me over. I asked in the Gila shop if they knew of anyone I could give the bike to and they suggested it be donated to The Bikeworks. The Bikeworks is a community bicycle workshop that promotes bicycling. They offer hands-on learning, weekly rides, and an earn-a-bike program. So there it went. The new bike is working out really well. It’s the first time I rode on 2.25 tires with the narrow rims of disc brakes. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! The ride is comparatively so smooth I swear I rode the first few miles with a big grin on my face and let out a hoot from time to time. It was SO much fun. I’m talkin’ single-tracks here—rocks, roots, small jumps and drop-offs, switchbacks, and whatnot. Damn—and I’m nearly 60! Never did believe in the status quo rate of aging. I’ve come across too many older people who have slowed down their aging process big time. They all exhibit self-respect, discipline, and knowledge of how the body works. Then there is always the idea of appreciating what one has been given and showing thanks by taking care of it. I know, I know—not AT ALL popular.

Well, back to the Gila forest for a few weeks.

In lands of plenty, in the lap of luxury, in the fast lane,
we’re stuck doing—over and over—things we do not want to do.
Stuck in places we do not want to be.
Stuck with people we do not want to see.
Stuck with stuff…
No population anywhere has ever been so free as we.
And yet—somehow we all feel stuck.
from ‘Stuck: Why We Can’t (Or Won’t) Move On’ by Anneli Rufus

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

Saturday, April 4, 2009

back to bisbee - nixing the A/C,
and the pink moon

I don’t feel especially safe dry-camping down in Cochise county with all the UDAs passing through. I use to live in Bisbee and have just heard and read too many stories. This trip I stayed in a friend’s driveway. In the past I’ve dry-camped in the Chiricahua Mountains, east of Bisbee. No problem but I just felt on edge most of the time. I feel somewhat safer in the Dragoon mountains northeast of Tombstone. Drive out Middlemarch Road (a bit north of town) for ten miles and there are all kinds of places to disperse camp. There is also the Whitewater Draw National Wildlife Area, out in the Double Adobe area a few miles east of Bisbee on Central Highway. They allow camping there. I think it was free. No hookups.
A few other places to check out for dry camping are: the Coronado National Forest south of Patagonia; maybe along Sybil Rd between St. David and Dragoon; off Charleston Rd by San Pedro River between Sierra Vista and Tombstone; and the South Fork of Cave Creek and Rucker Canyons in the Chiricahua Mountains.

It worked out well, staying at Lynn’s. And whenever she came home and needed help unloading her van, she just ran it into the casita. Very effective—no need for tooting the horn or calling out. Whenever the trailer rocked, I knew Lynn was home. We did have some laughs during my stay. I also got to take a hot bubble bath! Two things I miss the most with this lifestyle are daily internet access and hot baths. Different strokes. The first morning, she took me for breakfast in a laundromat. What!? Yes, it was cool. The laundromat is out in the Don Luis area of Bisbee. Good food, the largest selection of books for exchange that I’ve come across—whole bookcases, and, of course, you can do your laundry. I brought some friends who winter in Naco there one morning because Daisy thought it sounded neat. They liked it so much they were going to bring some friends back for a meal. The café is set up so you really don’t know the machines are there once you sit down at a table. I mean like how many people can say they’ve eaten in a Laundromat (and enjoyed it)?

If you want laundry with hookups rather than laundry with breakfast, Double Adobe RV Park has new owners as of two years ago and it’s MUCH better than it was. Not bad at all, definitely worth a look. Turquoise Valley RV Park down in Naco, six miles south of Bisbee is another RV park worth checking out. Well run with good rates. Decent café. Naco is a border town with the fence going right through it. Sure was convenient for a Sonora drug store and a good dentist. If you want a funky little park, stay at Shady Dell (theshadydell.com) in Lowell (a section of Bisbee), right by the circle. It’s full of vintage trailers. Dot’s diner is right out front and the Bisbee Breakfast Club (must do) is just up the road.

Bisbee has twelve neighborhoods from Highland Park to Don Luis and San Jose. Prior to Bisbee incorporating in the 1950s, they were all individual small towns. Out-of-towners think Old Bisbee is all there is to Bisbee but the town actually spreads out nearly five miles. Old Bisbee is an artist community and it’s interesting to see what some have done with their houses, fences, retaining walls, and yards. If you really want to see Old Bisbee, go to the visitor center and get a copy of the Bisbee Stairclimb course. It is 5K and walking the course will enable you to see a truer vision of Bisbee than most people see. Forget the walking tour map that you will be offered. It just covers the three blocks of the downtown area and does not get you up into the town. Don’t miss visiting the library. The coffee shop has wi-fi with a purchase of coffee. Maybe check out some of my silverwork in Finders Keepers and 55 Main Gallery. If you pass through in October, be sure to watch the Bisbee Stairclimb and the Ice Man competition. Holiday weekends are an absolute hoot! Music, dancing in the street, loads of art vendors—a whole lot of fun.

Be sure to check out the community bulletin boards in front of the post office and in front of the food co-op in Lowell to find out what’s happening while you are there. They don’t deliver mail in Old Bisbee so everybody has a free PO box. You can imagine that the bulletin board gets a lot of use.

Bisbee has the absolute BEST geocache I have ever gone after—Bisbee Stair Climb I. I did it with Lynn, and it definitely took both our efforts to find all the clues. One has to follow a set of close-up pictures through the town. For example, one picture was a very small section of a gate on a dead end road. It was WAY fun. We snagged another quick one by Lavender pit. Lynn tried to pull the ore cars out of the way but then we decided to just look underneath. There are others up above the tunnel, down at Fort Newell in Naco, as well as other locations.

Tombstone is definitely worth a visit and is just 25 miles up the road. If you are into art, make time to spend a day in Tubac. You will see some fabulous artwork. The Newby Gallery has a fabulous sculpture garden spanning two acres. Z Forrest Gallery has beautiful hardwood furniture and kitchen wares with fine turquoise inlaid in the natural cracks and veins in the wood. REALLY nice work. Old Presidio Traders boasts the largest selection of quality reservation-pawned jewelry in Southern Arizona. In February, Tubac is home to a Festival of the Arts. Hundreds of artists, craftspeople, and musicians participate, coming form all over the US and Canada. Stop in Patagonia while passing through and also pick up some local wine in Elgin or Sonoita on the way back. In the Huachuca Mountains there is the nature preserve in Ramsey Canyon; in Dragoon the Amerind Foundation is worth a visit; also the Cochise Stronghold; and a bit east, the Chiricahua National Monument.

In Old Bisbee there are a number of good places to eat so I’ll just point out my favorites: Roka’s, Santiago, Cornucopia, and High Desert across from the Iron Man. Some of my favorite galleries are: PanTerra, Sam Poe, 55 Main, Belleza, Twist, and Biz Art (an artist co-op up the Gulch). Also check out Atalanta’s Book Store, Kate Drew-Wilkinson Designs, Primitive’s, and the Bisbee Bicycle Brothel (many restored vintage European racing bicycles and Ken has a vast knowledge of the sport). There are also plenty of others to check out.

A stellar book about Cochise county is ‘Going Back to Bisbee’ by Richard Shelton. Shelton was a teacher in Bisbee back in the ‘50’s and in the book he gets into his van and drives from Tucson, where he is presently living, and meanders down through Cochise county covering its history. In fact, he does not get back to Bisbee until the last chapter when he has dinner with someone he used to teach with. A good read.
J.A. Jance is a very popular author in SE Arizona. She used to live in Bisbee and her series with Sheriff Joanna Brady is set in the area and locals will recognize all the roads and areas. And there really is a High Lonesome Rd where the sheriff has her ranch. If you drive it, be sure you have 4-wheel drive.

Got in a great hike one day with another friend. David is a jewelry artist and does some fabulous work. His gallery, Jewelry Designs by Owen is on Main St. at the corner of Subway We hiked up in the Dragoons in the Cochise Stronghold area. Man, I can’t see how the solders could take on the Apaches in a location like that. We also hiked up to Council Rocks on the way out and looked at some of the pictographs.

Pulled the A/C unit off the casita and installed a Fantastic Fan. Since I generally dry-camp, I didn’t really have a use for the A/C. Shade, windows, blinds, two roof vents, and a DC oscillating fan will take care of summer heat. Now there is also room to install another solar panel if I ever feel that I need one. Sure wish I could install the A/C on the Cherokee. As I was sliding the unit, on a rug remnant, off the top of the Casita, and easing down the ladder—I happened to look in the back window and saw Meadow crouch down on the table, wiggling her butt and getting ready to jump out the hole in the roof to freedom. I started shouting, ‘Meadow—No, No!’ as I continued to ease down the ladder with the A/C. It was SO much fun, I almost wanted to do it again. And I swear the Casita was also whispering, ‘Thank you, thank you’ (the unit weighs a ton!).

One evening we watched ‘Pulse – A Stomp Odyssey’ presented by Honda. I HAVE GOT TO get a copy of this DVD. Absolutely stellar performances.

The Cherokee got hung up in 4-wheel drive so it went back into a shop. Luckily it was only a wire that had gotten caught up in the drive shaft and ripped out.

Well, getting ready to head back to New Mexico and start meandering north. Don’t have to be in Utah until just before Memorial Day weekend.

April’s full moon is known as the Pink Moon. The grass pink or wild ground phlox is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names were the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes, the Full Fish Moon, when the shad came upstream to spawn.

Spring is the gods’ way of saying, ‘One more time!’

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

Thursday, April 2, 2009

RVwest magazine article - following a free spirit

Tanya is a stellar person to work with.

RVwest article ‘Following a free spirit’

Make room for yourself in your life—by keeping it simple.
from Illuminations