Friday, August 28, 2009

onyx thwarted, skiers cabin, where am i

We are SO ready to head out. Ready to get down to the desert to enjoy sites like this one that we had last spring for a while.

I’ve managed to thwart Onyx. Remember how I occasionally grouse about how he opens the screen door and leaves it open? No more. I cut a length of PVC, inserted two #3 rubber corks in the ends, and wedge it into the doorframe. The first time Onyx went to open the door, he actually did a pull-up. He put both paws up on the bar and pulled down on it. He went up. His feet actually left the step and he pulled his chin up to the bar. Tell me that did not have me roaring with laughter. All is not perfect, however. One evening as it was getting dark, I snagged Meadow, put her inside, and went looking for Onyx. I neglected to wedge in the door bar. Onyx must have been under the camper. When I could not find him, I went back to the casita. Yep, the door was open, Meadow had come back out, and they both were off out of sight. Times like this make me glad I do not always carry a gun.
Even to the extent that I have simplified my life over the last three years, the gods seem to just throw me a curve from time to time. What—like I’m a pawn here? Is my purpose in life to amuse the gods? Well, a sense of humor is important. I guess I can’t grouse if they have one. But can’t they like annoy someone else? Didn’t Arnold say something like that?

There is an old cabin up in the wilderness area. It was possibly an old hunting cabin but now it’s primarily used by backcountry skiers. A ‘Black Diamond’ sticker on the door kind of gives it away. The cabin is framed out with logs from the area and covered with tarps. The frame is old and there are no active trails to the cabin. It won’t be there much longer. Forest rangers found it while spending two days in the area making note of disperse campsites in the wilderness area. No permanent structures in the wilderness. Oh well. Sure was cool to come across. I was up there again the other morning. It was drizzling and the air had that still, heavy feeling. Colors were sharp and sounds were muted. Sure had me chompin’ to get back to disperse camping.

Sold more of my silverwork this summer than last. That’s always a good thing. I need to keep more men’s medallions in stock.

Meadow and Onyx usually spend the middle of the day in their window cage.
Last season here, Meadow and Onyx were ready to move on around mid-September. This summer they were showing signs by early August. They aren’t off roaming as much and spend more time just sitting around. Whenever I have the Cherokee’s doors open, they jump in and take up their driving positions. They’ve become as antsy as me.

The hummingbirds started to head south earlier this summer. Instead of the end of August, they left in the middle of the month. There are still some stragglers and some transients coming through but not all that many. Does this mean it might be an early winter?

A couple times people (can’t bring myself to call them ‘campers’) came up here after stopping at Wal-mart to pick up a tent, sleeping bags, a propane stove, and, for one group, a hatchet (a hatchet?! Come oooon!). I eventually got to their sites (no pay envelope in the post either time) and notice all the empty camp supply boxes. They ask:
‘Where do you sell firewood?’
‘I don’t sell firewood.’
‘Where can we get some?’
‘We’re in a forest. It should not be all that difficult to find wood.’
Like, WHERE am I?!

One evening I went into a campground and noticed a couple in one of the sites. Checked the pay-post—no envelope. What a surprise. Walked over and they were sitting there eating steaks. ‘We just got here.’ I looked at the fire-pit. Wood had burned down to coals and there was a grill over the coals on which they had cooked the steaks. What—do I LOOK like an idiot?!
I wonder if they have ever tested the local water.
Thankfully there are some absolutely wonderful campers, hikers, and climbers who come up here who I thoroughly enjoy spending time with. Makes the summer truly memorable (along with all the time out on the trails).

‘Not all those who wander are lost.’
J.R.R. Tolkien in The Fellowship of the Ring

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

evicted once again, the yungas road, feed pan,
take your last breath, pulse, the book thief,
cretin with a horse, and the sturgeon moon

Didn’t this happen here last August?! There was a threat of a fire coming over the ridge from Skull Valley to the west and sweeping down the canyon so the forest service evacuated all the campers and myself. It was a much larger fire than the one last summer with 45,000 acres burned. Ordinarily it takes me an hour to break camp when I’m out dry camping. Since I was planning to be here for over 3 months, I had all kinds of things set up and it took me 3 hours to break camp. Granted, people dropped by from time to time asking what’s up—but still. Guano. Shortly after I started out, it got dark. I HATE driving in the dark. Then the highway I had to take over to Salt Lake closed due to another fire. Traffic was creeping along for as far as I could see along the detour so I pulled into an industrial park to try to catch some sleep. How those RVers sleep in parking lots is beyond me. Anyway, it did not work out well. Definitely threw a curve to Meadow and Onyx but they seemed to handle it okay. Pulled in front of a friend’s house early the next morning. Janet and Mauricio are fun to visit with and they have a great place up in the Avenues. Stayed a few days and took care of a number of tasks that I was planning to work through when I got to SLC in October. Went over to friends of theirs for brunch one day. A stellar time. Introduced to the game of Sapo, a great south american tossing game for all ages.

Mauricio is from Bolivia. A couple years ago he told me about ‘the most dangerous road in the world’ (Yungas Road) and showed me pictures of it. Both he and Janet have been on it. Janet said sometimes they sat up on top of produce in the back of a truck. NO WAY would one ever catch me on the road let alone sitting so high off the ground. Mauricio said that sometimes vehicles that have pulled over to the edge so another could pass by have been pushed off the road and down the cliff. Unreal. There is one guy who went off the road twice and lived. Now if he gets on a bus, many people get off and wait for the next bus or it the bus driver knows him, he won’t let him on the bus.

Feed pans from a place like CAL ranch stores ($6) or steel oil drain pans make good portable fire pits. My friend Cathy pointed out that one can place the pan up on some flat stones so the ground does not get scorched. Remember, I make small fires using only wood I can break over my knee or by stepping on it.

On a hike a while back, this grouse jumped out of the brush and landed in front of me. She was trying to draw me away from her little ones so I just took a quick shot and kept going.
Recently saw some wild turkeys with a new brood. Didn’t know that they had two broods in a summer. Thought that was cool.

Sometimes a gate is left open or cows find a break in the fence and we then get some free-range cows in the canyon. One morning I went out and there were three pair and a bull bedded down in the yard so I closed the gate and called the rancher. I try to help the ranchers out any way I can with their cattle. I’ve seen how hard they have to work when the cows get down in the scrub brush. I would HATE doing that job. While waiting for the rancher, I was sitting in a low-rider chair reading a paperback and having a mug of coffee. The bull eventually came grazing to within 5’ of me. As you can imagine—no camera.

After WAY too many times saying, ‘I wish I had a camera with me’, I bought a small Sony Cyber-shot to carry in a pocket. I generally wear Tru-Spec BDUs so there is not a shortage of pockets. It is proving to be a real treat to always have a camera handy. I just have to remember that it’s always with me. I missed a shot of the Sapo game.

My camper is parked in the shade. The sun never hits the 50-watt solar panel on the roof but it still keeps the battery fully charged and provides juice to the LED lights, CD player, Dremel, and my MacBook. A very pleasant surprise. I was planning on taking the panel down and running it out in the sun like I did last summer before mounting it on the roof. The only time I start up the Honda 1000 is to charge the Cherokee once a month.

This early warning speaker is just behind my camper up in the horse pasture. It is suppose to go off every Wednesday at 4:00. It is loud enough to be heard in the whole canyon. There is an announcement about if there is an emergency, instructions would be given about how to evacuate. Like with one road—I have a choice? With Dugway proving grounds upwind with their chemical and biological weapons (defense systems), the announcement would really be saying—‘Take your LAST breath.’ For joy.

Almost hit a deer the other morning. I mountain bike to the top of the road one morning a week and do some laps around the top campground. As I was coming back down, at a pretty good clip, a deer jumped up out of the creek onto the road right in front of me. First time I used maximum braking with the disc brakes. Could not have come any closer. Sure did not need coffee to wake me up that morning.

Meadow and Onyx still enjoy sitting and watching the hummingbirds.

A cretin up here rode a horse hard in the heat one day and did not give it enough water. At the corral, the horse started to act up and another horseman told the rider that horse has colic and you need to go down and get some meds for it. The rider said no, the horse was all right. When the horse started rolling on its back the horseman said you need to get the horse up or he will twist his guts. The rider said the horse was just scratching himself. The horse started to get weaker and the horseman said you need to get the horse in your trailer before it dies. Oh, he’s not going to die. It died there on the ground. What a sh*t. Needless to say the horseman was really pissed at the rider. The horse was not even the rider’s horse but belonged to a friend of his. Unreal.

Ordered a copy of the DVD ‘Pulse – A Stomp Odyssey’ that Lynn showed me down in Bisbee. Absolutely stellar. The flamenco dance by Eva Yerbabuena alone makes it worth getting this DVD. How can one be so attuned to exactly what every part of one’s body is doing? It just all flows flawlessly. Superb. The celebration of the global beat is explored with sights and sounds of different cultures: the Pooram festival in Thrissur, India; the Timbalada and Os Zarabe drum groups from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil (each with over 100 members!); the Kodo ensemble from Sado Island, Japan on the taiko drum; the American Indian Dance Theater performing in Red Rock Canyon State Park; the Jersey Surf Drum and Bugle Corps and the Jackie Robinson Steppers; Shafaatullah Khan from Kolkata, India; the Bayeza Cultural Dancers from Johannesburg; the Winchester Cathedral Bellringers; Les Percussions De Guinee from the Republic of Guinea; the Moremogolo Tswanna Traditional Dancers from Zeerust, The Republic of South Africa; the Qwii Music Arts’ Trust Khoi San Music from Botswana, Africa; and of course, a number of pieces by Stomp. Probably not for most people but then again, most of what I am into would not be for most people.

Janet lent me a copy to The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. A good read. Never read a book from Death’s perspective. Good characters and very well written.

The August full moon is called the Full Sturgeon Moon, when this large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water like Lake Champlain is most readily caught. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because the moon rises looking reddish through sultry haze, or the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.

Cultivate a simple lifestyle of few desires.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’