Saturday, December 19, 2009

santa rosa, oasis, bottomless, more déjà vu,
and five great lessons

Santa Rosa only had two other rigs here. Sites are close to the road but very little traffic in the winter. M/O out on one of our late afternoon walks. At some point on every walk, Meadow or Onyx will sit in ambush until the other one comes along, then pounce and roll around together. Sometimes if Onyx is crouched and waiting, Meadow will sprint past and they both go running up the trail with their tails straight up in the air. Meadow has no qualms about slamming into Onyx but she would just as soon not have the same happen to her. Very, very entertaining.

Had a few cold days with two single-digit nights. Meadow and Onyx bagged the walks. Had to stay an extra day because the roads were pretty icy and snow covered.

Meadow was watching something out the window one day. I looked out and saw this fox rooting around in the ground.

The morning I rolled out of Santa Rosa State Park, I stopped for breakfast at Joseph’s out on rt66. Had a tasty omelet and hit the road with, believe it or not, a TAILWIND. These seem to be few and far between for me. Always knew there were gods. Stayed at Oasis a couple days. Good loop for our walks and the water has been holding in the pond. Had a thin layer of ice on the water. Drove into Portales for web access and to pick up a few jars of the local peanut butter that Sunland makes from Valencia peanuts. Stayed an extra day because very heavy winds were forecasted (accurately). Coming out the next morning, I picked out eleven tumbleweeds wedges under the casita and Cherokee. Jeez, had it been blowin’.

I was listening to an 80’s show on the fm and the programmer was throwing out tidbits between the tunes. One was that an oft requested song at funerals is Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’. Now those are my kind of people—humor right to the end.

Got my favorite site at Bottomless. For us, the three best sites at Bottomless are out in the primitive area. This year there was not a single other camper in any of the primitive sites while we were here. Not bad. Only part way through winter and already I am having disperse-camping-site withdrawal, so this was good. Maybe I should look into becoming a monk.
There was a lidless trashcan not far from the camper and the first night there was some noise out there after dark. I shined a flashlight out the window and there was a large raccoon going through the trash. Not the least bit fazed that a light was shining on it. Like I did not have ENOUGH of raccoons up in South Willow Canyon this past summer!

I’ve been weeding through my MacBook lately and have been coming across stories that I’ve saved over the years. The following is one of them. I tried to find out on the web who wrote this one but it was always ‘Unknown Author’. Oldies but goodies.

‘FIVE GREAT LESSONS—The Important Things Life Teaches You...

Number One: The Most Important Question.
During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?" Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired, and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. "Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello.'" I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

Number Two: Pickup in the Rain.
One night, at 11:30 PM, an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her— generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance, and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry! She wrote down his address, thanked him, and drove away. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain had drenched not only my clothes, but my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others. Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole."

Number Three: Always Remember Those Who Serve.
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. "How much is an ice cream sundae?" "Fifty cents," replied the waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied a number of coins in it. "How much is a dish of plain ice cream?" he inquired. Some people were now waiting for a table and the waitress was a bit impatient. "Thirty-five cents," she said brusquely. The little boy again counted the coins. "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table, and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier, and departed. When the waitress came back, she began wiping down the table and then swallowed hard at what she saw. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies—her tip.

Number Four: The Obstacle in Our Path.
In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the big stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. On approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. As the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many others never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve one's condition.

Number Five: Giving Blood.
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at Stanford Hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease, and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes, I'll do it if it will save Liz." As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?" Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood. Attitude, after all, is everything.’

Now those—are sovereign.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

Thursday, December 10, 2009

navajo lake, heron, water heater flush,
day-to-day variances, three ravens,
onyx and the shower bag, co-op, villanueva,
and the cold moon

I hate headwinds. Heading down rt191 towards Monticello with the pedal-to-the-metal, the ’91 Cherokee was only going 45 mph. Two more years and I’m getting an 8 cylinder. Driving over to Cortez and Durango was easier going. Didn’t stock up until Durango since I did not want to be dragging the weight from Cortez. There was an Albertsons, Wal-mart, and Home Depot in town.
Rt172 south was a nice, laidback drive until I hit New Mexico. The road then got rougher and was a steep 25-30 mph climb up the mountain, with no passing lanes. It took us quite a while to reach the top and luckily there was not any traffic. Sure looking forward to that 8.

Picked up another annual pass at Navajo Lake state park. It’s a decent campground but, as you know, campgrounds don’t generally work for Meadow and Onyx. The only campground that was open this time of year was Pine. Not many people here since they are mostly much farther south by this time. Damn do I plan well. I got a decent site for the little ones so they could go out but only because the three sites close to us were empty. Beautiful place if you have a boat. Only stayed here a few days because there were not any decent places to run or hike and only one walking loop for M/O. Don’t think I will be coming back here unless I find a solo canoe at some point. It sure is hard to find a used 12’ one. Caught up on various tasks. Picked up a 32 GB flash drive in Durango and have been backing up all the pictures and files I’ve been working on this year. My smaller flash drives were maxed. Working on converting my blog to html. Just for fun and to make sure I have not forgotten how to write the code and css.
I drained the water heater before I left South Willow. Finally remembered to take my flushing wand and flush out the accumulated sediment. Jeez, did a lot of crud come out. It’s been quite a while since I flushed out the heater. Sediment buildup in the bottom of the water heater tank is always a problem. When the heater is running, sediment collects on the anode rod (which is a real good thing [replace yours yet, Siscily?]). Sediment drops to the bottom of the heater and becomes crystallized so the tank should be flushed out whenever you check the anode for wear.

There are three more campgrounds up the road that were closed. These are just photos of a couple sites. Siscily told me last winter that I would probably like Sims campground best but it was closed. A ranger here said they might not open it next year since they might not have the personnel and money to run it. That’s too bad.

Went to open the door one morning at 5:00 to let Meadow and Onyx out—and the lock was frozen so the door would not open. Guano. It was not even that cold, just in the low twenties. I guess some rain from the day before got in the lock and froze. Every once in a while I get a chuckle out of how my day-to-day life compares to that of most others.

Just missed a week of single digit night temperatures at Heron Lake. They were still down in the teens while we were here, though. The first shot is of my site and the second is of the morning fog rising over the lake. It was good to see Siscily again. One night she came over for a game of Mexican Train. There was a bottle of merlot sitting on the table. There must have been a crack in the bottle. By the time we finished with the game, the wine was gone.

One morning Siscily met me at Three Ravens Coffee House in Tierra Amarilla. Fabulous shop. The photos only cover a tiny portion of the building. It had been boarded up for years. Paul Namkung has been restoring the old adobe building over the last ten years and has recently opened the coffee house. Absolutely stellar job with the restoration. The mud on the interior and exterior walls is the traditional mix of dirt, straw, sand, and water. It looks way cool. A small cup of the High Octane coffee had me buzzing for the rest of the morning. The hot portabella panini sandwich I had was delicious. Paul is a drum maker ( and his woodshop is also in the building. Be sure to have him play a bit for you and, if you are interested, show you his shop. Definitely a MUST stop if you are in the area.
Siscily is a park ranger at Heron Lake and is taking a leave for the winter and pulling her Casita and packing her feline, Buddy, down to Texas and will be working at the Amistad National Recreation Area through the cold months. Stop and visit if you pass near there.
Showers at Heron were turned off for the season by the time I got there and with snow on the ground, the sun shower was not my first choice. Tierra Amarilla has a town pool where one can shower. I did fill up the sun shower one day to wash my hair. The Cherokee was parked in shade so I could not put the bag up on or hang it from the Jeep’s roof rack. So I laid it out on a bench. Any guesses on what happened? Remember I have two cats. Yep, Onyx checked out the bag, first with a paw, and then with a claw. I noticed something was wrong when I saw water running over the bench. Guano. I used a bicycle tube patch to fix the hole. How many lives is that now for Onyx? MUST be close to nine.
I use a Bic lighter to light the galley stove. I know the mornings when I will be layering on additional clothing before going out for a run. They are the mornings when I have to rub the lighter in my hands to warm up the fuel. Always get some of those mornings.

Stayed in Heron a couple days longer so I could have my mail forwarded. It’s been over a month so might as well see what’s there. I heard some geese flying over the other evening. Need to pick up the pace a bit. Stopped at Three Ravens as I headed out for another cup of High Octane for the road and chatted with Paul for a while. The building he has been restoring was built in 1885. When he opened, one of his neighbors was brought over by her grandson. She walked into the middle of the shop and slowly turned all around as she checked everything out. The lady then thanked Paul for the restoration. When she was a child, her mother used to bring her in when the building was a mercantile. There were some moist eyes at that point.

While passing through Santa Fe, I stopped at the LaMontanita Co-op on W Alameda St, off Saint Francis, like last year. It’s only a couple blocks out of the way. Fabulous food and supplies.

The upper loop at Villanueva State Park was closed for repairs. Guano. For us, the best sites are up in the loop. No hookups but early morning sun, space, and M/O can roam without the danger of dogs because the RVers tend to stay down below at the hookup sites. So we had to take a site down along the Pecos. Luckily the park was pretty empty. Still, I only let M/O out for their 5:00 run in the mornings. Stayed a week. Longer than I had planned but it warmed up and there are plenty of places to hike. I also really enjoyed listening to KBAC, 98.1 Radio Free Santa Fe. A good mix of music.
The third photo is a shot of the upper loop from the trail on the other side of the Pecos.

I’m not into Thanksgiving Day. I go out and give thanks just about every morning. I also look at my birthday as my special day each year for being thankful for all that has occurred that year. A generic day in November doesn’t do anything for me. Be that as it may, a couple from Colorado came through for a couple days in their tent trailer. Eric, Monica, and Kiera along with Sammy and Zero (the dogs) invited me over for a Thanksgiving Day meal. Very nice. Good company and good food. I just passed on the turkey and stuffing. Eric is getting close to 25 years in the air force and does quite a bit of mountain biking. Eric and Monica took one of those supported mountain bike tours out of Moab down to the Kaibab Plateau in Arizona one summer so we talked about the Kaibab and biking for a while. What a bike Eric has! I had no idea such features come on bikes. Maybe if I win the lottery. Later, around the fire, we had a round-robin scary turkey story. It’s been years since I’ve done something like that.

One day I biked into Villanueva and came across a dirt road that climbed up out of town. Miles and miles of dirt roads up there. Very nice. I came across the grotto of Our Lady of Guadalupe and took the shot of looking down on the town.

Stopped on Las Vegas for a few hours to access the web at the library, do some laundry, and pick up some supplies. Passed on a couple state parks that I was not impressed with last year and drove down to Santa Rosa. Not one of my favorites but there’s a decent hiking loop and quiet roads for bicycling. I’m going to also pass Sumner Lake this year and only spend a couple days at Oasis to see what they did with the pond. Remember the entry from last February about all the water leaking out? Then probably a couple days at a non-hookup site in Bottomless in order to get in some rides on the mountain bike trail. I plan to spend two or three weeks at Brantley Lake and then check out Oliver Lee. I did not get a chance to camp at Oliver Lee last winter and a couple people said I might like it. I also want to check out some BLM land down in that area. Then on to my favorite state park for getting in some serious exercise—City of Rocks. If I’m going to do any mountain biking with David when I get to Bisbee, I am going to have to do a few laps out on the trail including the Overlook switchbacks every day I’m there. The primitive sites are generally nice and quiet out next to the rocks, away for the hookup sites. Remember I only do these parks in winter. There are 45 sites out there and I’ve managed to get one or the other of my two favorites, the three times I’ve camped there. These two sites are not any of the more popular ones, so that helps, and they work best for Meadow and Onyx. Then on to Lynn’s place in Bisbee for a while. One of the high points of my annual loop.

December – The Full Cold Moon; among some tribes, the Full Long Nights Moon. In this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and the nights are at their longest and darkest. Also sometimes called the “Moon before Yule”. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long and the Moon is above the horizon a long time. The midwinter full Moon takes a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite to the low Sun.

‘I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand,
as in what direction we are moving.
To reach the port, we must sail sometimes with the wind
and sometimes against it
but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.’ Oliver Wendell Holmes

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’