Thursday, July 7, 2016

early morning wakeup call, frogs,
rattlesnakes and cowpies,
and in a barrel



A little after 5:00 one morning, an animal sound that I was not familiar with, just outside my window, woke me up. It was getting near time to get up anyway, so I did. After a couple minutes, I pulled up the back blinds, and there was the source of the sound, a little elk. I love these little unexpected treasures that Nature offers up.

Last month I wrote about local mega-fires. Remember I mentioned the lost hiker? A local told me that the hiker did everything right with her signal fire and kept it contained. The local said that the helicopter flew directly over her fire and the down draft spread it out of control. The people on the chopper denied it. I wonder what the true story is.

On my last town-run, I was in a laundromat that had a local radio station playing. At one point, the host started talking about the towns of Show Low, Lakeside, and Pinetop being on pre-evacuation notice. I was doing my laundry in Lakeside. I asked the lady working in the laundromat what the story was. I then learned about the Cedar Creek wildfire that started the day before. I had noticed smoke while driving into town. The people overseeing the containment had trigger points set up almost nine miles from the city. If the fire reached a trigger point, evacuation would commence. At one time later on, the fire got within a quarter mile of one of the trigger points.


The following morning, back at camp, the smoke was visible and the smell was pretty strong. I’m not off the grid here; I have one bar of signal strength on my tracfone and can receive some radio stations so I was keeping informed of the fire’s progress. Most days the smoke smell did not reach here. There were only two evenings when I had to come inside because of the smoke.


I decided to cut my time short here, and will hopefully, roll out in a few days. There’s still areas I wanted to explore on my mtn. bike and hiking boots but I wanted to get out of here before the monsoons start. There are a few places along the first 20 minutes of driving where I would probably get mired down with the Nash, judging by the deep dried ruts. And a couple of the sections are too long to just get up some speed to power through like I had to do a couple times with the Cherokee and Casita. Unfortunately, it rained quite a bit last week; I’m hoping the roads dry up enough by Monday. I was also hoping for dry weather so Mesa will spend more time outside. He gets way pissy, and vocal, when he has to spend too much time in the Nash.
I think this has been the longest period of time without sunshine for the solar panels. Had to run the Honda 1000 for an hour a day, and conserved power so that was enough.
I’m going to work my way up to Utah to check out an area that Glen and Lisa told me about last fall.

Part of simple living is simple entertainment. I was sitting outside reading early one evening when some cows came along, four pair, four cows with their little ones. There is one remaining deep puddle, from snowmelt and rain, about 80 yards from the Nash. It stays in the shade throughout the day but I’m surprised it had not dried up yet. After the cows were there a while, five elk came along. They moved in close but wouldn’t come up to the water. When one went to approach closer, a cow blocked the elk, which backed off a bit and laid down to wait with the other elk. After the cows left, the elk had their fill and a couple of the little ones started jumping and splashing around in the puddle. Cute. They all left and them maybe 15-20 minutes later, a larger group of elk came along to water. It does not take much to entertain me. M&M were sitting there watching all this too.


Most of the national forests I spend time in offer grazing rights to ranchers, so there are generally cows around. There has been two spots I set-up over the years, where I looked around for rattlesnakes before going down the steps. In free-range areas, I look around for fresh, wet, smelly cowpies. I don’t want to blindly step down and inadvertently find myself in an early morning game of real nasty hopscotch. But it’s no big thing, just part of the lifestyle.
Wouldn’t it be a hoot if cattle dug catholes? The waste would start to break down much quicker, putting nutrients into the soil for plants. I mean, they do sell it as fertilizer. There were/are even cultures where human waste is used as fertilizer.
One hears about waste treatment plants overflowing during storms, 80-90 year old sewage pipes breaking down, development outpacing the capacity to channel waste, leaking dump stations, septic tanks, and whatnot. I don’t see anything wrong with an isolated camper using catholes. It’s not as if they can be smelled or seen, and the poot quickly breaks down in the soil. It’s less than a drop in the bucket. It’s just something true campers, are quite familiar with. When one is backpacking, there are no campgrounds, outhouses, or holding tanks around. You’re out there in Nature—camping. And talk about a room with a view!
Gee, I wonder where this came from?

The hummingbird feeder generally gets used only in the early morning and the evenings. During the days of rain, it got a lot of use. I felt guilty when I had to take it down and boil new sugar water for it. One hummingbird or another sat on the hanger looking in the back window for much of the time, as if to hurry up the process.


Another evening I was inside sitting in my favorite spot, reading. Apparently I was quite engrossed in the story. Maybe some movement caught my eye. When I glanced up, there were 15-20 grazing elk in view. I don’t think I’ve had so much wildlife in view at one time, out the back window. The kindle was turned off, I poured a glass of wine, and I just sat there watching the elk. So peaceful, so comforting. As Scott and Helen Nearing would have said, living the good life.

One night while outside just before turning in, I heard another animal sound I was not familiar with. I looked around and noticed an owl in a nearby tree. The owl was making the sound but it was not anywhere near a ‘hoot.’ Another little, unexpected treat.


I could be wrong, but is seems that Dave’s Killer bread has reduced the size of their loaves. I wonder if they were losing sales to Eureka and had to cut costs. Think I’ll switch to Eureka.

Thrushes take hundreds of power naps a day, a few seconds at a time, in midflight.
I wonder how long they live.


I had thought frogs coming out after heavy rains was just a desert thing. I first experienced it a year ago last June while camping on Cedar Mesa in Utah. Last week, it happened here, in the woods, at 8100 feet. Wish I had more time for the web, to look into all the stuff that interests me during these months of only one or two town-runs a month. Anyway, after all the rain last week, a depression filled back up with water and one evening I heard quite a chorus of frogs letting it out. I walked over with a Maglite and was able to see a few. It took a while; they mostly ducked under the water. They were about 2” for nose to end of toes, with their legs stretched out. A very unexpected treat from Nature. The second evening there seemed to be not all that many frogs goin’ vocal. I’m not sure if I heard any on the third evening and on the fourth evening, none. Definitely want to look this up next winter. This photo is of the puddle on the third day; it had gone down quite a bit.

I’m on my second book of sudoku puzzles. I’m liking medium extreme puzzles, where the two diagonals also have to have 1-9 in the spaces. The puzzles are more interesting to me as I learn new strategies. I’m starting to use pattern solving techniques to fill in as many spaces as I can before resorting to 1-9. Working 1 through 9 can quickly get dull. More logic is called for with these other techniques, or at least at my present level. I have an awful lot yet to learn.

Last winter, I was at my weakest, physically, as I’ve been for quite some time. Recently, when I started to get back into something I’ve not been doing, it finally clicked as to what my problem was. As you can imagine, if you read these pages, I started doing something about it and have been making progress.
This spot has been good for me. If it wasn’t for the roads into here, I’d stick around.


In 1901, Annie Edson Taylor, a 63-year old school teacher from Michigan, was the first to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive, sustaining only a few cuts. I wonder if this photo was taken the day after; her eyes look hammered. 63 years old! And the surviving part—that’s always good.
Miss Taylor had a barrel custom made out of oak and iron and padded with a mattress. A couple days before she went over the falls, they sent a cat (one in photo?) over in her barrel. Reminds me of the chimp on the rocket from years back. The feline survived, the barrel held together, and it was all good-to-go. Miss Taylor was hoping this endeavor would earn her some money for retirement. Thankfully, for us, there is social security.

June sixty minutes sixty years— 1825 minutes
June Triple 18—pecs/delts: 2340; core: 2835; legs: 2885

You create your life with each choice you make.
from ‘Illuminations’


RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’

3 comments:

Greg in Los alamos said...

I think you are right that Dave's Killer Bread has reduced their loaf size. Also, it's nearly impossible to find in our local store. They get a few loaves in and they're gone within hours. I can sometimes find the frozen ones, but they are really small, as you said. Hope you are doing well.

Sooper Edd said...

Dave's makes the best white bread; yummy for toast.

Mdm Librarian said...

My favorite wildlife to watch is quail. I think they are so comical with those wild topknots!