Thursday, November 19, 2015

Roadtrip Day 133

Roadtrip Day 133

11/18 Wednesday

Ahhh, lovely night and a pleasant morning. Some errands around town and some socializing. Life in La Jolla does not suck.


Roadtrip Day 132

Roadtrip Day 132

11/17 Tuesday

PITA. We had more wind last night. Not as bad as the night before but bothersome. Finally, as the night progressed, it quieted down and we slept well. Up now for breakfast and packup/foldup with cool-but-pleasant CAVU. The friendly saguaro right outside our starboard window seems to be waving goodbye.

See y’all in La Jolla 5 hours or so after we hit the road - I-10 to I-8 and right to Ronnie’s sister’s place. We’ll spend a few days there, a few days at her dad’s in San Diego – all good.

BTW, gas is less than $2/gallon around here. Because we get over 20MPG even when towing, that makes long travels pretty painless. Gas wasn’t so cheap in California when we were there a while back.

Made it. Hanging out with Lynn and Artie and da boyz.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Roadtrip Day 131

Roadtrip Day 131

11/16 Monday

Wow! Windstorm night! Gusting hard all night long. Two of the trailer feet walked off their little wood pads. We slept poorly but hadda get up and get going this am to look at a place for potential rent January thru May. We may have seen little snow spits on the windshield in the little town where we were looking. It wasn’t quite right but we’re still working out our plans for the post-holiday season. I’m hoping to stay in Seattle long enough to test for rank in iaido and kendo which will happen soonish in the new year but I dunno exactly. Ronnie wants to go away again soon after the holidays so we’re working on a divide et superum plan for the beginning of the year. We see how any or all of that actually works out.

We took a nap this afternoon to try to make up for short sleep but it was still pretty blustery and not totally restful. The sky today has certainly been interesting. Now I’m organizing my personal stuff to have it in the car because from here until home we’ll be at people’s homes or hotels so the trailer will be closed up until we’re back at home and we’ll be living out of the car and suitcases.

Tomorrow we close up the trailer, which will stay that way until we get home, and we’ll head to San Diego and some family visiting with Ronnie’s dad and sister and families.

Roadtrip Day 130

Roadtrip Day 130

11/15 Sunday

Got some rain last night. More predicted for today. None right now but very overcast and cool with slight sunbreaks. We forgetfully left our towels hung outside last night after our showers. Oops. They didn’t dry; that’s for sure.

Amazingly, the campground was mostly quiet last night despite being full of partiers and families and we slept happily and cozily in our little tv-dinner bedroom. Ronnie created a hotspot from her phone and I got some new library books. Think I’ll take a break from murder and mayhem two millennia ago in the Hindu Kush and read somebody else’s writing.

Speaking of murder and mayhem, Ronnie’s mom, Mary, informed us that there was a Civil War battle here at Pikacho. Who knew? The fierce battle (about two dozen combatants total) was followed not long after by a bloodless takeover of Tucson by Union troops out of California. I can’t seem to escape my Southern heritage no matter where I am. Amusingly, there is a reenactment held here. There are more reenactors than there were original troops.


Roadtrip Day 129

Roadtrip Day 129

11/14 Saturday (no photos)

Supposed to hit 80 today. Sunny enough and warm enough that it could do it. If I had checked online sooner I could have made kendo practice in Tucson this morning; but I didn’t and it was too late when I saw that it was available. Maybe next time. Full campground for the weekend. Noisy people, barking dogs, crying babies/kids, etc. Think I’ll escape to the Hindu Kush with Flavius and da boyz for a while. Get the rough draft done before the end of this year. Organize some beta readers and make an editing pass in early ’16. Publish for my birthday in late April? That might be a fun milestone.

I don’t think it hit 80 here today. Very sunny and warm but not quite 80. We’re looking at the calendar and getting on a fairly rigorous timetable as we come to the holidays. As we finish our time here, we move into a couple of weeks of places to be at specific times before returning home for (about) the beginning of December. Look out, Seattle area, they’re baaaaaaaack. Almost.

Roadtrip Day 128

Roadtrip Day 128

11/13 Friday

Happy Friday the 13th. Dads’ Night last night was very fun. There was a variety of food and a pleasant bunch of dads. We played an interesting card game and snacked. Ronnie played with the kids. (grin) Ronnie and I got home about 1 AM and crashed hard. On the good side, our newest tv-dinner enclosure is The Winner. Just our tent-end all covered in e-blankets and the heater pointing right in at us. PERFECT. We were cozy, cozy, cozy.

Their Tucson unschoolers’ group camped at Picacho last week. A coupla of the guys said the climb to the peak was pretty tough. We’ll see.

I got up at 10:30. Hahahaha! I think it’s time for blueberry muffins and eggnog. That’s a good breakfast/brunch, right? Sunny, warm, and beautiful now. From the port side windows, I see Picacho Peak. To starboard, there’s a vista of cacti, a coupla big saguaros right near us, and a smallish minimountain nearby, with a grander mountain range in the distance. Saguaros are pretty cool.

Rice, Brussels sprouts, and nice sole fillets sautéed in butter. Some sleep now, I think.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Roadtrip Day 127

Roadtrip Day 127
11/12 Thursday

Travel day. Not too far, just going to the local manga/anime campground - Pikachu Peak. Or something like that. The locals call it Picacho but what do they know?

Between campgrounds we stopped for propane, gas, and groceries. As it turned out, we also stopped for credit card theft. Our card was declined at the grocery. We figured it was just the card company being stupid (again) cuz we’re (still) travelling out of state. However, it was not just that. Somebody tried to spend $1300 or so in Singapore or something. So, goodbye, old card. Cards all cut up and now we hafta get new ones. In snail mail. Swell. Oh well…

Once we get set up completely and settled in, we’re gonna drive back into Tucson for a little social time – unschooling dads’ night at Kristin and Craig Post’s house. Ronnie and Kristin can hang out and watch football or something while I commune with Craig and the other unschooling dads.

Roadtrip Day 126

Roadtrip Day 126

11/11 Wednesday

We’ve had some chilly nights during this entire trip and now that we’re moving into November, we expect to see more, especially since we’re gonna be home for the Xmas holidays – cold and damp. So yesterday we bought an electric space heater which we can use when we have shorepower (aka hookups), which we’ll certainly have at home and which we have sometimes when camping. More often we do not have shorepower/hookups but then we use our propane heater. We also refined our tv-dinner insulation scheme by totally enclosing the tent-end we sleep in with spaceblankets. Tonight I think we’ll refine it a bit more by better placement of the spaceheater and using another spaceblanket to block off most of the trailer from the heater when we go to bed, just heating our little tent-end.

Ronnie reminds me that tv dinners have not been encased in aluminum/tinfoil for many, many years. It’s the Age of the Microwave. Damn, I must be old. Aluminum-container tv dinner, cooked in the oven, served on a metal tv-dinner tray at the sofa, while we watch black-and-white tv. Hi-ho, Silver! Away! Twilight Zone – Eek!

But y’all understand the reference, right?

Last night was comfy. I was happy. I slept well after staying up late to watch a movie on my new laptop. Good sound quality and a crisp, clear picture. Now I’m typing this post on it, still enjoying the experience, and getting used to Win10 and Word2016. Thank Jupiter for compatibility mode. I have so many old docs which I sometimes reuse or forward, some of which were written in Word95; I don’t think I still have any which I wrote earlier than that. Gotta support that legacy code. (grin)

Did some real-world paperwork today and we chatted some about stuff we hafta do when we’re home in December. Ick. Not the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Or naked. Not that I’d do financial paperwork naked. Not til later this afternoon, anyway; it’s a little chilly for nudity right now.

Had lunch then hiked up the Montrose Pass trail to the pools, which were still there, even in November, and which were c-o-l-d. Didn’t go all the million miles to the pass; going to the pools was far enough. Back at the campground now to update this and jingoism abounds here for Veterans’ Day. I’m enjoying some refreshing lemonade-tea and I think I’ll open up “The Lost century” and write fiction instead of my travelogue for a while.


Roadtrip Day 125

Roadtrip Day 125

11/10 Tuesday
Mister sunshine is warming things up now and it's time to see what this day brings. We were in the "overflow" camping in the picnic area over the weekend. Today, we moved to the actual campground - with full hookups, so we have city water and power, unlimited 120AC power! Bwahahahaha! I even managed to get my old laptop to accept a charge in case I need to copy anything else from it. Once I get Office set up, I can get back to making progress with Flavius and da boyz.

Thanx and a tip o’ the hat to Scott for getting me Office and to Ronnie for helping me get it all set up using up lots of her bandwidth. I feel so contemporary with Win10 and new Office. We tried to get wifi a coupla places and both were sooooooo SLOW. Finally used most of Ronnie’s hotspot ability to get it done. Also on the side of successes today, we got a spaceheater and it’s been wonderful. Gonna be a cozy night tonight.

Strange weather today. Reports were for no rain but there were sure a lot of dark, dark clouds hanging low all afternoon; but it’s true that it never did rain. Exhausting day so it’s bedtime for me. 

Roadtrip Day 124

Roadtrip Day 124

11/09 Monday
Took a beautiful drive to Summerhaven above 8000 feet on Mt. Lemmon. The entire drive was spectacular as we travelled from cactus-covered slopes to a point above the cactus-line and into the forest. Got all the way up to SNOW. Yep. 80 degrees in the city but snow on the side of the road and up the slopes at 8K-ft.-plus. Bought some heath-flavored fudge at the general store. Yum! We were tempted to complete the loop North to Oracle then back to Tucson but the road from Summerhaven to Oracle is dirt and not maintained and marked "high-clearance vehicle recommended." So we turned around and went back down the way we came. It was still beautiful.

Spent some time transferring stuff from my old laptop to this new one with Ronnie's slick external harddrive and learning how to use Win10. I think I like it ok.

Roadtrip Day 123

Roadtrip Day 123

11/08 Sunday

Cool last night but warming quickly as the sun climbs fully above the mountains. Ronnie ran errands while I rested from feeling bad, creaky back and neck. We both went to the laundromat to wash and dry a lotta dirty stuff. Parenthetically, my very old laptop has been having power-cord problems for a good while now. The connection is sloppy and it's an act of concentration and luck to get it to connect and actually take a charge, aside from the fact that it's very old and kinda tired. So, we stopped at the local Best Buy and I'm writing this on a new hp laptop. Wow!

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Roadtrip Day 122

Roadtrip Day 122

11/07 Saturday

Woke up, had breakfast, and got to packing. All done and folded up by 10:30 so we beat the 11AM checkout time. (grin) Chiricahua was lovely but the nights were kinda chilly; down the road a bit now.

Lunch in Tucson – Popeye’s. Now I’m happy. Luv dat chickin from Popeye’s. Their red beans and rice ain’t bad, too, cher. Made it to Catalina State Park just a tad North of Tucson. Official campground was full but they were making room in the “picnic area”. Half the price? Good enough for us. Picked a spot and set up camp. Phew! Warmer here. Setup was tiring. Once we were set up, we drove over to the showers. No showers in the picnic area but our fee for picnic-area camping covered use of the camping-area showers.

Bliss! Some campground showers are free but the water never gets really warm and you have to push a button every 20 seconds or so for more water. These showers are lovely. Big, comfy, tiled, and all the water you want. And it gets HOT. Heaven for me.

Now we’re back in the trailer, clean as angels, clean as the preacher’s sheets, clean as… anyway, we’re well-showered and running the genny so I’m catching up on today’s blog post. Ronnie’s had this stop on her personal list since we started. Huge saguaro cacti all around and a coupla excellent hikes to collector pools above us on the mountain waiting for us to do while we’re here.

Amusing camping anecdote. Ronnie has this large metal decorative frog her mom gave her which is charmingly painted. She hangs it on out tent trailer when we’re in a campsite. It’s homey; it’s our signature. Well today somebody recognized our signature. We were sitting in our camp chairs and this couple says, “Hi! We recognize your frog. We were just at Chiricahua with you.” And then we had a very pleasant conversation with them. Frog as icebreaker. Nice.

Hope your Saturday was nice. I expect to be warm tonight without running the heater. Ahhhhhhh!


Roadtrip Day 121

Roadtrip Day 121

11/06 Friday

Our last full day here. We’re gonna pack and leave tomorrow. Another sunny but cold morning. After we had breakfast and got moving, Ronnie decided she really wanted to hike the Sugarloaf trail. It’s about 2 miles, pretty steep up to a fire lookout. I decided to pass and just laze about in camp.

She says it was fabulous. Magnificent views, fascinating rocks, and a million big metallic lizards. We’ve seen them occasionally but there was a sunny spot on that trail where they congregated en masse. She has lots of wonderful photos.

Evening is coming on now and it’s getting to be time to close up after the warmth of the afternoon. A little genny time then we’ll recreate our tv-dinner interior and have some actual dinner.

Looking forward to a comfy night’s sleep tonight and an efficient takedown tomorrow. Then we’ll ease on down the road.

Roadtrip Day 120

Roadtrip Day 120

11/05 Thursday

I think our space-blanket (thermal-blanket, e-blanket, whatever you call ‘em) insulation effort works pretty well. Not very aesthetic, but efficient. It feels like we’re inside a TV dinner, looking at all that crinkly, reflective foil surrounding us. Being warm trumps aesthetics, however, so in that context, I like being inside a TV dinner.

Big news in pseudohistory of the year circa700 a.u.c. (“from the founding of Rome” or as we know it, circa 53 BC or BCE), I’ve finished chapter 15. Phew, just two more to go until the end of this adventure of Flavius’ Furies, the most badass century in the legions.

Sunny this morning, thank Apollo. Maybe Ra. Weather report calls for sun and no more rain so we decided to hike the Massai Loop – down Massai, along Hailstone, then up Echo, which we had gone down the other day, and finally back to Massai. A total of about 4 miles down then up, unlike our trip from Echo to the Visitors’ Center which was all down. Pretty chilly, so we started in long sleeves, Ronnie even wore her pile jacket. She started in sweatpants but I went ahead and just started in shorts.

If you remember from my earliest posts, I bought some new hiking boots for this trip, a pair of nice, moderate-quality boots. Much more supportive than tennies but still fairly lightweight and flexible. When we did the Echo-to-Visitors’ Center hike, the bottoms of my feet got very worn and tired from the rockiness of the trails because some portions are very uneven and composed of various-sized rocks with no smooth spaces to step. For today’s hike, I went for a Throwback Thursday look. I also had with us my old-school, full-steel-shank monster boots. No flex from those babies and support up the yin-yang. The price for those features is weight. Those old boots weigh 10#. Each.

Ok, not quite, but they are more than 5# each, which is a lot of what car guys would call unsprung weight. It’s just hanging there at the end of your leg. I mean, people wear 5# ankle weights to increase their exercise effort. Nonetheless, they were just what I wanted. Despite the weight, they fully supported my feet over the very uneven terrain and I came back to the tent trailer with happy and untired footsies. Hooray.

When we got back, we both stripped down to comfy clothes and stretched out on our respective dinette benches and lazed the rest of the afternoon away. Ronnie mostly read, while I mostly dozed. Very pleasant.

Hot dogs for dinner. Yum! A very camping-ish food. If I’m at a ballgame at the stadium, I don’t especially mind eating the lips and assholes and roach parts and rodent hairs which comprise the vast majority of the contents of a stadium dog; but we kinda wanted actual meat in our camping doggies, so we opted for Hebrew National brand franks. They’re the best kind of frank besides, you know, ME!

Ok, enough for today. See ya tomorrow.

Roadtrip Day 119

Roadtrip Day 119

11/04 Wednesday

Good morning. It’s 11AM. Hahahaha! We didn’t get the kind of cold we anticipated last night but a front blew through and we had bands of wind and rain throughout the night. A gust of wind would build and hit and plummeting acorns would machinegun our roof. Then a band of rain would come through and that would machinegun the roof. It was fun to differentiate between the acorn clatter and the rain clatter. Given that that crap went on through the morning, we just stayed in bed and snuggled until… well, 11 AM. Time now for some breakfast.

Sun’s trying to break through as I type but we’re still getting wind gusts and it’s chilly. Usually by this time we’d be in shorts and T-shirt couture. Not today. Maybe a good day for sit-baths, reading, and getting my legionaries engaged in active combat with the vampires while we sit and relax inside our heated tent trailer. Flavius and da boyz are close. When I left them last night, they were prepped and ready to start toward the vampire nest for the final conflict – a daytime assault, an all-or-nothing throw of the die. As Caesar said when he prepared to cross the Rubicon, alea iacta est. Flavius has put all his eggs in one basket, committed all his legionaries (6 combat-effective troopers, 2 NCOs, and Flavius himself) to one massive assault to eradicate those who stalk by night.

It’s gonna be bloody, messy, and gruesome.

Suits me to a “T”. (wink)

I think it’ll be cold tonight. It was cloudy all day and never warmed up but now that the sun is down the sky is clear. Clear sky will let the earth release its heat to the sky efficiently, so it’s gonna be a cold one. Hooray for Ms. Heater; she’ll be the heroine of the night, just as she’s been during this chilly day.

Roadtrip Day 118

Roadtrip Day 118

11/03 Tuesday

Windy last night and early this AM but sunny and mostly still now with only occasional wind gusts. Not too chilly last night, either. I don’t think the heater came on at all. Speaking of which, we finally ran our current propane tank dry trying to heat water this AM; that sucker lasted a long time what with running the fridge, cooking, and running the heater a bunch lately. This morning we switched to the full tank (We have two attached to the trailer.), so we’re fresh and good to go for a while now. We’ve been on the road 118 days and that was approximately our third tank of propane; we’re now starting our kinda fourth. You can do the math. We did a partial fill at one point so our volume use estimate is imperfect. Fairly accurate to say that a tank lasts about a month. They only cost $10-15 bucks to fill or about $20~25 to simply do a tank swap at one of those tank-swap places like Safeway supermarket, Home Depot home improvement store, et al.

Speaking of money, Ronnie has calculated that our average nightly camping cost is (still) running under $10, despite the extravagance of our $70/night stay in the fancy San Diego Resort Park and the $14/night fee at several state parks we’ve used. My “old codger” pass gets us into National Parks, Monuments, and Forest areas free plus it gets us half-priced camping in those areas. Some National Parks are a bit pricey to enter per day, so that pass has certainly been a boon.

Parking follies are entertaining. It’s just like being at anchor someplace and watching incompetent sailors trying to get anchored. For example, those of you who’ve been sailing in the Virgin Islands definitely know what I’m talking about. The charter companies there will rent a boat to pretty much anybody who can pay their fees. Then those people head out to the various islands and try to anchor. Hahahaha! Shit! Most of ‘em can’t even pick up a mooring line from a mooring ball. Same with people trying to back their trailers in.

The spaces here are somewhat small, I’ll grant. Maximum allowable length in this campground is 29 feet, and that’s for the roads; most campsites can’t handle anything that big. But, dear Gawd in heaven!, the horror. The horror. It can take anybody a couple (or even a few) tries to get in the way they want to be situated; but, just like husbands and wives yelling angrily across the 40 feet or so of deck from cockpit to bow when trying (and failing) to anchor, you hear voices drifting back and forth from across the campground through *multiple* back-and-fill efforts. It sounds like unhappy sex.

“No! No! More to the left!”

“I AM to the left. You hafta tell me sooner.”

“I told you but you didn’t listen. Now you’re in there all cockeyed.”

“Well, that’s YOUR fault. Just lemme do it myself.”

“Fine! Go ahead. I’m done here.”

Hahahahaha! I’m easily entertained imaging that it’s their bedroom communication style.

Anyway, Ronnie is being an evil, bad campground citizen feeding the Mexican Jays. They’ll come right up to her but won’t take food from her hand. I guess they’re more civilized than our Northwest Stellar’s Jays who’ve been known to swoop down and grab something out of your hand as it’s going to your own mouth. I hope the rangers don’t catch her. (grin) It’s not like we’re feeding the bears.

Oh yeah, in case I didn’t mention it, this is black bear country; so we’re supposed to be using bear-country protocols. I confess, we did NOT carry bear spray on our hikes and we’ve been a little casual about putting *everything* in the car at night instead of leaving it in the trailer. The campground host said there hadn’t been a bear in the campground in collective memory. What the campground does get is skunks. I’m pretty sure no skunk is gonna tear into our fiberglass sides or even through our tent-sides just to get at our toothpaste.

Drove to the Visitors’ Center to extend our stay through Saturday morning; saw the Cochise County Bookmobile there. Most amusing. Then we motored to the top (Massai Point) and did the pretty, little Massai Nature Trail. Kinda blustery up there. Back to camp for lunch with two deer who were snacking not far from us. We got a bag of tiny Milk Dud boxes and fun-sized caramel Milky Ways for Halloween, just in case. No one came by so now we have them all for ourselves. Mmmmmmmm, dessert after lunch = GOOD!

Predicted lows for the next few days are down in the mid-30s. I’m glad we have a fresh, full propane tank supplying our needs. Sung to the tune of “Born to be Wild”: Get yer heater runnin’. Snuggle in your bedding. Lookin’ for some comfort. And the comin’ of the day.

In preparation for the cold nights, we’ve decided to address our insulation issue. The heater is very powerful and efficient, but heat leaks out of our upper tent sides like shit through a goose. For tonight, we’ve hung thermal blankets over the unused tent end and the big, long window over the settee and galley. If we had another, we’d hang it over the window by the door. Since we don’t, we’ll hang the sunshades we use in the car windshield for that window. Let’s see how all that works tonight.


Roadtrip Day 117

Roadtrip Day 117

11/02 Monday

A beautiful night last night. The moon was stunningly bright and the stars were brilliant jewels against the back velvet of deep space. Now it’s sunny and lovely. In the realm of funny but annoying, we’re parked under an Arizona White Oak, a couple of them actually, and the local “camp robber” bird (Mexican Jay) spent the morning bombarding us with acorns. Blapping on the roof like gunshots. Like gang-warfare gunshots, blast after blast. Brazen devils.

So we drove to Willcox today to take care of a few real-life things and get some supplies, e,g, I needed some plumber’s putty to take care of a little leak in our sink drain. Back to camp and nature. Ahhhh, much better. Ronnie hiked out to the meadow while I rested and read a novel. She got to see a dozen or so deer so I guess she won, if there were a contest.

Boneless pork ribs on the grill, mashed potatoes and asparagus on the stove as darkness falls. Tired now. Doing life chores is more exhausting than hiking. Dunno if I have the energy to write about Flavius and the boys. Maybe after I read and digest a while.

Later, gators.


Monday, November 02, 2015

Roadtrip Day 116

Roadtrip Day 116

11/01 Sunday

Thank Hypnos for a good night’s sleep. And the propane heater. We left it on all night and it came on with some regularity. Kept things from getting too chilly. We both woke before the alarm we had set to get ourselves up and ready and to the Visitors’ Center for the 9AM shuttle to the top. We dressed somewhat warmly because it was cold right then but we knew it’d warm up as the day progressed while we were exerting. We drove on over to the Center, checked in at the desk, and caught the shuttle.

When we got to the top, with three other shuttle passengers, we stripped off most of our warmer gear cuz the sun was warm and burgeoning and there was no significant chill to the breeze. I was in shorts and a T-shirt with a long thermal shirt over it and had double socks and my gaiters on my lowers. Started down the Echo Canyon trail which would take us to Upper Rhyolite which would take us to Lower Rhyolite and back to the Visitors’ Center, a total of 5ish miles.

We started down the trail among all those incredible rock formations. Didn’t take us too long before we stripped down. I got rid of my thermal shirt, the gaiters, and the outer socks. I’d worn my watchcap (knit cap) riding up but packed it in favor of sun hat and sunglasses at the very start of the hike. The entire Echo Canyon trail winds among those fabulous rock formations. Stunning. We eventually got to Echo Canyon itself and a change in terrain and biome. Still lovely with wonderful views of the rocks formations but changing from being in the pure heart of the rocks.

By the time we got to Upper Rhyolite, it was time for a sit-down lunch. We chose a pleasant spot with a good mix of warm sun and cool shade and passed a pleasant time. Hiking Upper Rhyolite was pretty with impressive views of the rocks. Getting down to Lower Rhyolite we were basically in a riparian environment on mostly-level trail and the pleasure of it came from views of the rocks and – surprise! – a view which opened to the lower valley and out to the plains beyond and the mountain range beyond that.

The entire trip we could easily imagine Magnus Colorado, Cochise, Geronimo, and their people living in this area and using it as a defensive stronghold against the genocidal U.S. and Mexican invaders. This entire day, we also had to keep recalculating what time it actually was. With Daylight Savings changing to “Fall Back” last night but Arizona not participating in Daylight Savings at all, we had to keep rethinking whether it was 1PM or noon or 2PM. Ball of confusion!

Anyway, it was a wonderful hike and a beautiful day. Now we’re back at camp, resting and running the genny for some power for all our electronics and to recharge the trailer’s deep-cycle battery. Might be 2pm or 3 or 4. I have no fucking idea; but the sun is warm and nuturing, some of the trees are showing Fall colors, and many of the weekend campers have checked out, leaving the campground quieter.


Hiking boots off, sitting crosswise on the dinette bench so my legs are up, and with a nest of pillows at my back, I am contentedly recovering from our exertions of the day. Squirrels and birds have no fear and surround us in great numbers. We’ve also seen a momma deer and her youngster right nearby both morning and evening, so I’ll be looking for them as Apollo dives toward the Western horizon. I think I’ll just enjoy the beauties of the campsite for a while now. Later it’ll be time to switch to warm clothes, have dinner, and maybe see just how the slaughter of the vampires is coming for my now-aggressive legionaries.

Roadtrip Day 115

Roadtrip Day 115

10/31 Saturday

Happy Halloween! I have my kendo gear with me, so I guess I have a pretty good costume, despite being on the road. Ha!

After cruising in late(er than their hours) yesterday and getting settled for one night in site 21, we woke and got to the Visitors’ Center promptly at 8:30 when they opened to try for additional nights in this site. A poor, dead Titanic victim let us in and a lovely good witch set us up for three additional nights in this campsite. Hooray for costumed National Park staff. While we were there, we also signed up for the morning shuttle for tomorrow to the top of the park where we’ll take the 5ish-mile long, steepish hike from the top back to the Visitors’ Center. We did this hike with the girls about a decade ago and it’s magnificent. My knees are not as good now as they were then but I’ll make it.

On the unpleasant side, why do we always get campsites next to loud motherfuckers? We got set up efficiently last night, fired up the heater, had our dinner, then settled in. Schmuck with a BIG voice was pontificating to his campmates til after midnight. We jokingly talked about getting up at 7 and making noise but at 7 we were still snuggled up and HE was up, continuing his jeremiad.

Oh well.

It’s a beautiful, sunny day now. Still chilly but warming up as Ra takes his rightful place in the heavens. We decided to hike the Silver Spur Meadow Trail to Faraway Ranch, which used to be a private ranch in the late 1800s, soon after the Apaches who’d been led Cochise and Geronimo surrendered, and then was turned into a dude ranch from WWI until the 70s. The NPS acquired it after it folded.

Our timing was serendipitous. We got there while a ranger was waiting to do a guided tour of the house. It was a bit past time for the tour to start and no one had shown up. We were the only ones there so we got a private tour. It was delightful. Nice to have a ranger all to yourself to explore a place which originated in the European-American settlements of the post-Indian-Wars years and which had been a dude ranch until the 70s.

I wish I’d spent a week there before it closed. Years ago, after our visit here with the girls, we looked at one dude ranch nearby which did trail rides here in the park. That would have been so cool; but they, too, have since ceased operating. Woulda been just the kids and me probably, given Ronnie’s allergies. Who knows? We still might do a dude ranch vacation someday – the girls and me to the dude ranch and Ronnie could have a week doing something she’d like to do that didn’t involve dying from lung failure.

After that, it was back to camp for some lunch. We decided on tuna salad sandwiches. I added some chopped shallots to it and I used some wasabi on mine (Ronnie opted for no wasabi - grin) along with sliced extra-sharp cheddar. Chased it with a Coke into which I squeezed a whole fresh lime. Mmm-mmmmm! I skipped the rum but thought about it. Yes, I did. Now it’s bath and generator time. No showers here, so we’re doing our sit-bath thing with water boiled on the stove and using a large plastic bin for a tub while assisting each other with the rinsing task. It really works pretty well.

Clean and refreshed, we figure it’s time for some relaxation and changing into evening clothes, meaning warmer stuff than the shorts and T-shirts we were sporting after our hike. With the sun falling fast toward the horizon, Boreas begins whispering through the trees. Mini-nilla wafers and eggnog make for a delightful afternoon snack while I compose this post.


Roadtrip Day 114

Roadtrip Day 114

10/30 Friday

Wow! What a night. There were a couple of brief pauses with no rain but it basically came down all night. Sometimes moderate but often very hard with significant wind. It was truly a dark and stormy night. We snuggled in our little tent trailer and were soooo happy with it and pleased with the quality. In all that intense rain, not a drop got into the interior.

Morning announced its presence meekly. Rainy rain, rain, rain, with a forecast of more rain. We had breakfast and decided to settle in for an inside day and move tomorrow when there was supposed to be a break in the rain.

However, by 10ish, the rain had stopped and the sky looked pretty good on the weatherfront. Ronnie said, Let’s go for it. So we did.

Got packed up and outa there in an hourish and headed through Alamogordo toward the West and Las Cruces where we could jump on the I-10. Made it through the White Sands missile range without getting blown up. Phew! We were pretty efficient getting to where we thought we might stop for a while but then decided to just go for Chiricahua National Monument, a place we like a lot.

Stopped in Willson, AZ. for food and propane then made it to Chiricahua and got into the campground around twilight. There were two, count ‘em, TWO, campsites available so we jumped in one of ‘em and set up in record time. Pretty darned chilly here. With a fresh propane tank to back up the one we’ve been using, I think we’ll run the heater tonight without worrying about our propane supply.

Spaghetti with meat sauce for dinner, hot and filling. And easy.

There used to be a dude ranch near here that did a trail ride down from the peak. We always wanted to spend a week at a dude ranch and that one, with that ride, was high on the list. Sadly, they now seem to be out of business, We did it as a  hike last time we were here with the girls. We’ll do it as a couple, probably Sunday, this visit.

Low battery on the laptop and my old body. Talk atcha tomorrow.

Roadtrip Day 113

Roadtrip Day 113

10/29 Thursday

A little drizzle last night and overcast and cool this AM. Some sun after breakfast then a little drizzle now just overcast but with a HUGE black front looming and working its way here. Ronnie and I were talking about a hike up the canyon but not if it’s gonna rain, and LIGHTNING, on us while we’re exposed up there. We’ll see aht this big, black front does.

Fascinating. We can now see the rain kicking up dust from the plains a mile or so from us. Heading this way behind the wind gusts which are already plucking at our tent fabric. I think we’re in for an exciting midday.

Grey is getting closer and the wind is gusting. Thunderstorm party in the tent trailer. And here’s the beginning of the rain. Visibility is down to 50 yards.

Fun. The first wave of the storm has passed now and visibility is back to several miles but the next wave of clouds is moving this way behind the one that just passed.

Wave after wave. It’s a nice afternoon to be inside, drinking warm beverages with a good book. Not much lightning and the rain isn’t heavy but it’s consistent.


Roadtrip Day 112

Roadtrip Day 112

10/28 Wednesday

Windy night last night and overcast this morning. It’s burning off now and promises to be a sunny day. Mostly. I dunno how Ronnie’s feeling this morning but I’m feeling like having a lazy, LAZY day. We’ll see.

Predicted high today is only 72. Brrr! And mostly overcast. Think I need some hot lunch instead of just a sandwich or something. (wink)

We had a nice afternoon hike along the riparian trail from the Visitors’ Center. I followed that with a shower. Sadly, the water in the showers here is not hot. Tepid, at best. Very disappointing fro me cuz I like it HOT.

Getting towards sunset now. Time to think about starting some dinner. The sun is brighter now than it’s been all day.

Roadtrip Day 111

Roadtrip Day 111

10/27 Tuesday

Pleasant night and an all-blue-sky morning. Chocolate milk and donuts to get my motor started. The air is so fresh and refreshing. Color me invigorated. And donutted and choco-fied. Perhaps a visit to White Sands today.

White Sands was as I remembered it. The sand is so fine and granular it remains cool even when the sun is blazing down on it. It reminds me of our time in Destin, the sand on that part of the Florida coast is the same way. It can be over 90 but the sand is still bright white and cool.

We were here a decade or so ago and we let MJ drive the car on the sand “roads” after the end of the pavement. Memories. Today Ronnie and I walked the dunes with the temp in the high 70s and the sand as cool and refreshing as always. Ronnie explored more dune area than I and tried sledding with a ThermaRest but it didn’t work very well.

We did a little hike out from the road on an official trail and enjoyed their informative signs. When we were done, we headed into Alamagordo to use the library for free (and fast!) wifi. I uploaded recent roadtrip blogposts, check in on Facebook, and got 10 new books from my library.

Pretty late when we got back to camp so we whipped up a quick dinner of leftover pasta and chicken in the skillet with some fresh shallots with a side of freshly-cooked broccoli. Tasty enuf.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Roadtrip Day 110

Roadtrip Day 110

10/26 Monday

This morning is as beautiful as yesterday. Marvelous scenery all around and sunny blue skies with just a few clouds on the far horizon. Let’s see what mischief we can get into today.

We had PG Tips for tea this morning cuz we found some at the Carlsbad Albertsons. $10 for 80 is not as good a deal as that $1 for 100 box we found in Wherever, Nowhere, but even I, nowhere close to being a tea connoisseur, can taste the difference. I think.

Ha! I met a sweet, sweet dog today. As I was walking back to our campsite from the bathroom, this beautiful mid-sized dog that looked mostly like an Australian shepherd came RUNNING up to me wiggling and nuzzling and whining, desperate to be petted. She was dragging a leash, so I figured she’d just gotten away from her owner(s) on a walk and they’d soon come along.

The dog continued to attack me with love, pathetic for attention. When Ronnie stepped out of the trailer to see what was up, she (the dog, not Ronnie) was so excited she peed herself. We petted her for quite a while and she calmed a little bit but continued whining piteously with happiness at being with someone. Eventually, she calmed enough that we could take her for a walk up the road to look for her owner. We hadn’t gotten too far when her mom met us with thanks. The dog had been out for a walk with a 4-year-old kid and when a rabbit appeared in the bush nearby…ZOOM! Kid on his/her face, dog on the loose.

Now that we were down the road a short way from our site, we heard the kid crying back at their campsite. So, we said goodbye and mom and dog headed back to comfort the crying kid. You know the appropriate Shakespeare quote that goes here.

Getting on toward evening now and we’re running the genny. My poor little laptop needs it. I’ve added 5 pages to chapter 14 since my last full charge and my battery is tired. Getting repowered now. Hooray! Let’s see what those wacky legionaries are up to.


Roadtrip Day 109

Roadtrip Day 109

10/25 Sunday
Good morning, Dawn Patrol. Errol Flynn had the boys up at oh-dark-thirty to prep their crates for an attack against the German lines. Sounded like the mechanics were hard at work pounding metal into submission for a long time getting the craft ready for the flyboys. After a while, the pounding was done and those dashing old retirees cranked up their engines. Sounded a lot like radials, original, unmuffled aircraft radials, not Wankels.

After their typical overly-long warmup period, they powered up and headed into battle. Good luck, you decrepit old bastards, heading out to face the enemy on that freeway in the sky. Or the one in Southeastern New Mexico, anyway.

Damn!, I am not a morning person. Getting prepped and on the road before the sun is fully above the horizon is just… Shudder! The exodus continued as the later waves headed into metal-to-metal combat. I gave in and got up around 8:30. *We* will be on the road before noon. Probably. Ronnie found me some more of that local, full-fat chocolate milk – Price’s TruMoo. Yum! That and donuts makes for the perfect breakfast of champions. Yeah, it’d be better if it were Brown’s Velvet full-fat chocolate milk and French Quarter donuts, aka beignets, from Café du Monde but we ain’t in New Orleans, so I gotta make do.

Chilly last night and this morning but the sun is bright and it’s warming quickly. Man!, that bat exodus was spectacular. Ah well, time to pack up and roll. Alamagordo and White Sands, here we come.

Not a terribly long drive and a very impressive one coming out of the mountains into Alamagordo. Beautiful vista. From the first view of the area as we descended from the pass, we thought there was a low cloud cover over part of the land in the distance. Eventually, we realized it was the White Sands area. Hoo-boy! We’re camped at Oliver Lee State Park just South of Alamagordo. We stayed here once upon a time in the past with the girls. Ronnie remembers it well; I kinda do. Lovely cacti, ocotillo, and assorted scrub and shrubs all around us. A nearby camper said hello and watch for snakes. Ok, we will.

We’re nestled up against mountains to the East and there’s a wide valley (White Sands in the distance) leading to a mountain range West of us. Sunset is gonna be pretty.

Had some leftover BBQ for dinner and a little butterscotch pudding to settle it down. I might write a little but I think it’s gonna be a fairly early night for this momma’s boy.

Roadtrip Day 108

Roadtrip Day 108

10/24 Saturday

Hello to our last full day in the Carlsbad area. Woke to a totally overcast sky, kinda small-lump spackly clouds rather than huge cumulonimbus stormbringers. Some tea and oatmeal to get this coolish day started.

Overcast burned off to give us a sunny, hot afternoon. We hiked locally and are getting ready to go to Carlsbad Caverns for the evening bat exodus. Planning on a grocery trip and bed after that.

Well that was magnificent. First, there was the sunset itself. We were facing Eastish and there was a distinct line of clouds underlit in all those beautiful orange-salmon- red colors with the ¾ moon hanging above. Then the swallows started returning to the cave mouth and their nest therein. Fabulous. Finally, the bats themselves began their exodus. In swarms. Amazing covered in awesomesauce with a side of magnificent. But wait! There’s more. A hawk swooped in from the periphery, zooming through the bat cloud and landed on a nearby rock to devour his catch of the day. His first catch of the day. He repeated this process five or six times as the bats continued their exodus. Simply incredible. We’ve seen the bat show before. It was never this good. Leaving, we drove West into the end of the pure sunset and it was lovely. What an experience. Had some BBQ at a local joint and continued to talk about the evening with astonishment. Eventually, finally we hit the grocery and returned to camp. Very tired now.

As for my legionaries, after I finished chapter 13, I was a little tired of writing and unmotivated to start on chapter 14. In the past when I felt this way, I’d jump to my epilogue and work on that but I have now also finished the epilogue. Well, damn. I wanted to write something more but if I wasn’t willing to work on chapter 14 what could I do?

Our friend Lisa in her talk about her self-publishing efforts stressed the importance of writing books in series instead of an endless string of stand-alones. She also seems to end her books with cliffhangers, although I can’t say that as a universal truth cuz I haven’t read much of her work. I had never considered “The Lost Century” as anything but a stand-alone; however, I had always intended to end it with the survival of some of the legionaries and the last bit would be them heading off into the sunrise. So, that’s essentially an opportunity for them to have additional adventures. Personally, I dislike books that end in cliffhangers, forcing me to read the next one. “The Lost Century” will have a definite end with a completed story. However, they will be alive, (relatively) safe, and heading off into the sunrise; so…

Having been unwilling at first to consider a series about “Flavius’ Furies,” I gave in and decided to write a teaser for/from the (possible) next book of the legionaries’ adventures since I felt like writing but didn’t wanna work on chapter 14. I dunno whether I’ll use it, rewrite it, or throw it completely away; but it was a fun exercise to keep me writing about them, even if it wasn’t for the current book.

Here’s the teaser, as written on the spur of the moment with no thought to how the actual story might go, except *of course* the “dragons” would be living fossils – horse-sized (?) therapods, pack hunters, maybe able to come to these lands after a huge earthquake demolished some geologic feature which previously kept them separate (and alive for the past 65MM years). Or something like that. Here tis:


“Dragons, Sir?” Rock said skeptically. “Are you sure he said ‘dragons’?”


“Neptune’s incestuous daughters!, Rock, I dunno,” Flavius replied, frustrated and tired from his efforts at an awkward three-way negotiation. “This guy speaks terrible Greek and he’s translating from that guy’s barbarian blabber. He probably speaks terrible barbarian, too. For all I know, the village wants to hire us to kill a horde of beautiful virgins who’ve come down from the nearby hills and are rampaging through their crops and absconding with wandering villagers, male and female, old and young. Oh, and they’ve also slaughtered some local troops who went to kill them. Sounds like they might be some badass virgins.”


“Well, ask him if it’s ok if we rape ‘em before we kill ‘em,” Rock retorted.


Flavius glowered at Rock and Gus put a hand on Rock’s forearm, saying, “We’re all tired. Let the Centurion get this done.”


Rock nodded his assent, “Sorry, Centurion. Are we really gettin’ anywhere here?”


Flavius said something in Greek to the translator who turned and started jabbering with the village elder. Flavius turned to his NCOs and took a sip of the slightly bitter, slightly alcoholic beverage they’d been served during these negotiations.


The small room was decently lit with oil lamps and they all sat on thick, beautifully-woven rugs as Flavius faced his NCOs and summarized. “This process is slow and frustrating, BUT… Their village is being attacked by something nastier than they can handle with the local forces who now refuse to face whatever it is after losing some of their troops. They’ve heard from the caravan master that we’re tough guys who can face anything and they wanna hire us. The important part here is that they’ll pay us the weight of a man in gold to kill the ‘dragons’, whatever the hell they are. The weight of a man in gold just to face some predatory animals.


“We could use that kinda payday.”


Rock and Gus both went quiet. They were flinty men, used to keeping their emotions off their faces but had to work hard to do so now. Gus spoke first, “That’s a lotta gold. Are we sure these guys have that kinda loot?”


Flavius nodded to his Third Officer, “This city is a crucial spot on the Silk Road; the wealth of Croesus exists in this area. That guy’s village is essentially an exurbs where a lotta the wealthy merchants have homes. Money is much less of a problem to them than being eaten in their own neighborhood, no matter what exactly it is doing the eating.”


Rock chimed in, “Hades!, Sir! We’ve fought vampires. We can absolutely whip a buncha lizards no matter how big they are. So, is that the weight of a man their size, cuz they’re smaller than us, or more like, say, Blue’s size?”


Flavius grinned, the exhaustion falling from his features. Blue was a legionary who originally came from the Germanic areas North of Rome’s territories and he was a head taller than most legionaries and stocky in his build. “Now you’re thinking, Optio,” he said, citing Rock’s rank as his top sergeant. “That’s an important negotiating consideration.”


Gus smiled slyly, “Well, ‘dragons’ or ‘beautiful virgins’, it’s all Greek to me. But I sure understand ‘Blue’s weight in gold’. I understand the shit out of that, by Jupiter.”


They all considered it while the translator and village elder chattered. Blue’s weight in gold to kill some pesky lizards. After all they’d been through, how hard could it be?

Roadtrip Day 107

Roadtrip Day 107

10/23 Friday

Another lovely day, although the threat of rain continues in the forecast for the area. We’ve decided to stay here through Sunday morning, so Sunday will be a travel day. I’m thinking that by Sunday I’ll have my legionaries settled into their new site and ready to make their massive, genocidal, joli-rouge attack against the “vampires.” Hmmmm, if I keep up a decent writing pace, I might finish by NaNoWriMo (November). It’d be amusing to use NaNoWriMo as a month for my first (ever) editing pass on this effort rather than speed-writing with no editing, especially because I started this novel as a NaNoWriMo effort in 2010 to force myself to write without editing – any kind of editing, even the most minimal – and finished the first 18K words then.

Lunchtime and I have indeed finished chapter 13 (Chapter 13. Preparation Is the Key But to What Lock?). The legionaries have arrived safely at their new location as the day draws to a close and are getting ready for their fourth night since the big battle in chapter 1 where they got reduced to a single squad from their full century. What will this night bring? Bwahahaha! Only chapter 14 will tell. Chapter 14. Hide and Seek.

Hmmm, sounds ominous. Happily, my outline only calls for 17 chapters plus an epilogue, which is already completed. I’m gonna try to write 1K words/day from now until I’m done. That’d make for a nominal 16 days to completion based on my guesstimate of what’s coming up, not quite the beginning of November but not too far into the month. Of course, then comes the horribly daunting task of editing this sow’s ear into a Gucci handbag. Or, at least, a decent Target wallet. Compared to many (most) people I know who are writing, I am S-L-O-W. Even when I’m trying to write “quickly” with no editing, no going back over it, it takes me almost two hours to write 500 words; so that’s an idea of my writing pace.

Some grey clouds obscured part of the afternoon but the sun returned to finish out the day here. Ra is descending now and the mantle of darkness is preparing to cover the earth. Must be getting to be dinnertime. Let’s see what’s in the larder. We’re getting low on food supplies. Time for a grocery trip tomorrow, I’m thinking.

Roadtrip Day 106

Roadtrip Day 106

10/22 Thursday

Last night was quite the doozy. (Or deusie, if you like to think of that expression being based on the exquisite Deusenberg automobile.) Huge, long-lasting thunderstorms –lotsa lightning, lotsa thunder, big winds – for a LONG time. We were shimmying and shaking. The lake is significantly higher. This morning, in contrast, is sunny, warm, and beautiful. Only scattered clouds in a freshly-washed blue sky.

Oh, Ronnie tells me that the Seahawks are on Thursday Night Football, so we’re thinking about going into Carlsbad (city) to someplace sports-bar-ish to watch the game – Chili’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, or…? Trying some local place would be fun.

We made tasty grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch with Tillamook extra-sharp cheddar. I put some wasabi on mine; that made it even better. Getting to be time to restock our butter now; I used a lot making those grilled cheeses. (grin)

Go, Seahawks! We drove into town and got a table at Chili’s. Before you berate me for my pedestrian taste, lemme explain that we had a gift card. Free is good and suits our budget to a “T”. It was actually a lovely date night, the food was fine, the drinks were good, and the waitress was a sweetheart about letting us have a S-L-O-W meal which lasted the entire game. Yes, we left her a fat tip. And the ‘hawks won. W00t!

Back to the campsite at 10PM and I’m ready to crash. Sheet lightning on the horizon but 65 (F) and half-moon clear skies overhead.

Roadtrip Day 105

Roadtrip Day 105

10/21 Wednesday

Good morning, grey skies. We did get (a little) rain last night and today is universal, lowering grey skies and “damp.” Feels rainy although it isn’t actually. It’s a bit cooler than usual but still very pleasant. It’s 9 AM but there’s one owl who’s still awake, eternally questioning. Severe thunderstorm warning just North of here, 2” hail, 60MPH wind gusts, and tornado warning. Eek! But it seems to start North of here and it’s moving Northeast. Stay there. Ok?

Ronnie reminds me that it’s “Back to the Future” day. Where’s my flying car conversion?!?!?!? The theater in Carlsbad (city) is NOT showing any individual movie, much less the full trilogy. Well, bah, humbug. Maybe we should drive to El Paso for the day. I’m sure *some* theater there is doing the honors.

The sun tried to come out briefly this afternoon but I guess it was overcome by shyness and retreated behind the horizon-to-horizon cloud sea. Now, with evening approaching, we’re getting a little rain.

Hoo-boy! HUGE thunderstorm this evening. Lessening now but it was significant and went on for a good, long while. Time to snuggle up and get some sleep.