Pickamania!

Saturday, September 13
We’d heard about a bluegrass festival to be held in the city park in downtown Silver City. While we’d never heard of any of the groups slated to perform, it sounded like fun anyway. The morning was pretty cloudy, but it looked like it would clear. The day was breezy but it turned out to be a very nice with plenty of sun and breeze to cool off with. There was music all day, but we showed up around 3:30 to catch a couple of acts.
2520_picamania2The groups’ set-up and played on a nice little stage raised a few feet high so everyone around can see. Lawn chairs were allowed and the crowd numbered maybe 200-300 people. First we saw an all girl group called hONEyhoUSe. They could be called bluegrass I guess, but I’d call them more country than anything else. They were quite good and the harmonies were very nice.2518_picamania1During the break between acts, we walked around the grounds a bit, taking in the local crowd and checking out the food. Crowd was mostly local hippies, both old and young, and various visitors from out of town. Food was pretty mediocre. Hard to make mediocre barbecue, but there you have it. I did enjoy some green chili stew a little earlier, but overall, not so great.2525_picamania4Next up were Fishtank Ensemble. This group was an eclectic bunch from L.A. who pay for their travel from major venue to venue by playing these small festivals. They were really fun to listen to, but I’d be really hard pressed to call them bluegrass. The hippie crowd seemed challenged trying to dance to the strange warbling singer. They did have a fiddle player, but I’d call them closer to Pink Martini than anything else, though on they did come up with a bluegrass lick every now and then.2523_picamania3They finished up their set with a rendition on Sweet Chile of Mine, by Guns and Roses. It was actually a really nice rendition with violin taking place of electric guitar. We stayed for the raffle results – a really sweet electric guitar – sadly we did not win it. Sunday’s raffle include a beautiful mandolin and a goggle tablet. It was a fun day and tomorrow we plan a hike to some dragonfly pictographs.2526_picamania5

Dragonfly Trail
Sunday, September 14
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Today we went out in search of the Dragonfly Trail. This is about a 3 mile loop trail with a set of petroglyphs in the middle. Weather was a bit cloudy and breezy. Perfect for this open country hike. We found the trail without much trouble and headed out. The rolling hills and well marked trail made this an effortless hike, although we did miss the petroglyphs at first. We had to backtrack maybe 1/8 mile to find them. These are the first dragonfly petroglyphs we’ve seen, so the uniqueness made them a little more special.
2546_dragonfly5 2551_dragonfly6 2556_dragonfly7 2561_dragonfly8Along the way, we stopped often to check out the interesting flora and fauna.2529_dragonfly1 2544_dragonfly4 2538_dragonfly3After lunch at the panels, we headed back. We were moving along the trail quite nicely, when suddenly I heard from behind some crashing through the brush and rather loud thumping. I got just a glimpse of a large tan animal on the other side of some bushes rushing by. Since this was a horse trail, it crossed my mind that a runaway horse was on the loose, but when Mary caught up to me, she said it was an elk that was startled by her and bolted through some bushes and took off up the hill. A little further down the trail, I came upon a cute little snake that seemed to be very aware of me, but wasn’t moving. A little later, another snake crossed our path. Neither were rattlers, so they were fun to observe.
2563_dragonfly9We had planned on head east today on NM-152 to Elephant Butte, but a part of the road is closed due to flooding from storms a few days ago. It was going to be a long twisty road to navigate anyway (including some very low clearance bridges), so we’ve opted to head up highway 180 to Glenwood and check out the catwalk. We hope to stay at forest service campground called Bighorn.

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Silver City and Gila Cliff Dwellings

Thursday, September 11

Hummingbirds abound in the campground.

Hummingbirds abound in the campground.

We headed back to Silver City today. It’s just a 30-40 mile drive up Highway 180, so it didn’t take too long. We’d planned on staying at Manzano’s RV Park for 3-5 days, but when we arrived we found they could only give us 2 days. We stayed at Silver City RV Park for a night our first time here, but I didn’t really like the crowded sites. Our 3rd choice was Rose Valley RV Ranch. It turned out to be a good choice. It is a Passport America campground, and quite a nice one at that. Located about 1/4 mile off the highway at the end of Memory Lane. Also at the end of Memory Lane is a cemetery. This should guarantee quiet neighbors. The sites are well spaced for an RV Park, and each has a dividing fence for privacy. Mary was quite happy with the size of the laundry whereas Manzano’s had 1 washer and dryer. We got our 3 nights with the option of staying longer if we wish.

At the end of Memory Lane.

At the end of Memory Lane.

It is also much cooler here at 6000’. The last 2 nights were the first we’ve slept with a blanket and all windows and vents closed since we left home 3 week ago. Cooler weather is coming in as well. We are going from 90’s to 70’s over the next couple of days, with a good chance of rain/thunder showers.

Friday, September 122434_gila1First on our agenda was a trip to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. The monument sits at the end of 44 miles of winding highway 15. It’s a slow go and took us a good hour plus to get there. We were taking a bit of a chance going at all because of the thunderstorms predicted for later in the afternoon, but we decided there would be enough time to get there, hike and return before (or if) the came in.
2440_gila2 2443_gila3 2447_gila4We got there around 10 AM and after talking with the volunteer at the visitor center where we were warned against bringing food on the trail – why, I don’t really know – also warned about the aggressive Black Tailed Rattlesnakes. The ruins themselves sit in the middle of a 1 mile loop trail up in several caves in the side of the cliff. The trail quite pleasantly rises up a couple hundred feet through a shady forested canyon. There are a few open spots to view the ruins from a distance. In the shade it was very nice, but as soon as we hit open ground on the cliff, it got hot again. Inside the caves, it was once again cool.2459_gila5 2470_gila7 2476_gila8We got to the ruins in time to take the tour with another volunteer. I tend to shy away from tours because I’d rather just wander around on my own, but since these dwellings were occupied by a group (the Mongollon) not normally seen in the area, I went along. Also because another group of 12 was coming up behind us and I figured they’d be in the way of photos for a while anyway. It turned out to be pretty interesting. As is usual for these kinds of places, 80% is speculation, but the interesting part for me is how this site was so neglected and under funded for so long. Early archeologists did such a poor job of cataloging artifacts, that much was lost in confusion. The full story of the site is unclear.2480_gila9 2497_gila10First discovered by a prospector in 1878, it had already been heavily looted and vandalized by the time the first archeologist had arrived in 1884. The site was proclaimed a national monument in 1907 to stem further damage, but it didn’t really help much, since it wasn’t really funded until the 1960’s. Even today the entire monument seems to be run by volunteers. I  never saw a park ranger the whole time there. Megan, our tour guide, told us the only archeology work going on now is by the rodents who occasionally dig up a corncob or two. Despite all this, what remains is a quite impressive set of structures.2498_gila11Once our tour ended, we were free to wander the site at will. Few other cliff ruins will allow this sort of freedom to roam. After finishing with the ruins, it was time to head back down the cliff. This part of the trail was in full hot sun by now, but soon wrapped around the canyon and back down into a burned tree area. Surprisingly abundant wildflowers lined this section of trail. We began noticing the afternoon clouds quickly building and the distant thunder suggested we should probably head back. But not before checking out another rock art site in a different part of the monument. There were a few interesting images of frogs and what looked like lightning. The real thunder and lightning was getting our attention more by now and we decided to make haste.2500_gila12 2502_gila13 2505_gila14As soon as we started rising back up the mountain road, the rain started. Followed by increasing thunder and lightning. By the time we were 10 miles in, we had reached the hight of the storm. Heavy rain, hail, thunder and lightning was all around us. My danger radar (Mary) was moving toward the red by now. What were bone dry stream beds on the way in, were now raging torrents. Streams of red mud laden water were flowing across the road in several places. Looking over to Mary, I thought I was looking at one of those Garfield suction cup animals you see stuck to car windows. She let out her first warning of “I dunno Dave”, and I knew she was pretty nervous. It was kind of bad, but I also was pretty sure we would be out of it soon, so wasn’t too worried. And we were. Just like that, it eased, then nearly stopped. A couple more showers here and there on the way back home and that was it. Back at camp, things were only just minimally wet. That is the nature of thunderstorms.

A rather sweet memorial along highway 15.

A rather sweet memorial along highway 15.

We watched the remnants of the lightning storm pass over the mountain from the LD over a couple fingers of whiskey. Tomorrow we get to attend Pickamania, a bluegrass festival for the weekend. Should be fun.

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Moonlit Dune Walk

Sunday, September 7
2238_tresselWe weren’t up for more hiking after the hot Saturday venture into the dunes, so we hung around the campground for the morning. All the promises of rain were not coming to pass in our particular area – plenty of clouds, but no rain – and it was too hot, and now humid, to do much else. We decided to do a little drive up to Cloudcroft – a small community in the mountains at around 8000 ft. If nothing else, it would be cooler up there. Well, we found the rain. All the clouds that had been clinging to the mountains behind us we dropping moisture in the higher elevations. It wasn’t a lot, but it was nice to feel the cool wetness on our faces. Really, the highlight of the day was dinner. Mary fixed a great potato salad with kielbasa, and we opened one of our nice Tobin James wines we’d picked up with the gift certificate friends Mary & Rick had given us before we left.

Monday, September 82246_campViewAnother warm day in the making. We were up and out early for a hike up a portion of the Dog Canyon Trail that leaves from Oliver Lee State Park. All of the recent monsoon rains have really made the area feel as lush as a desert can feel. The Ocotillo is all full leafy green – some even blooming, and there many more wildflowers than I would have ever expected. The portion of the trail we did rises moderately for about 1/2 a mile before leveling off onto the first bench. We hiked along here for another mile or so, but decided to turn back when we reached the next rise to bench 2.
and there many more wildflowers than I would have ever expected. The portion of the trail we did rises moderately for about 1/2 a mile before leveling off onto the first bench. We hiked along here for another mile or so, but decided to turn back when we reached the next rise to bench 2.2250_ocotillo2253_MaryTrail 2258_agave 2260_TrailViewBefore we started out, I noticed a group of about 8 young men who had gotten out before us. They were zipping up the cliff like no one’s business. I didn’t think we’d see them again. but on our way down, a couple actually passed us by. There was no way they could have gone all the way (5 miles and 3000 ft), so I asked one how far they’d gone. Perhaps it was my commanding presence, or maybe it was the camo SF Giants hat I was wearing, but his reply contained the word “Sir”. As in “About 2.5 miles Sir”. It is more likely they were military and have that sort of lingo embedded in their heads.2276_MoonDuneHike1We stayed in camp the rest of the afternoon until around 3:30. Tonight is supposed to be another “Super Moon” and we wanted to see it rise over the dunes at White Sands. Normally the park closes about an hour after sunset, but because of the full moon, they had extended the hours to 10 PM. We headed into Alamogordo to pick-up some take out from the Keep on Smoking Barbecue and headed for the dunes.2282_MoonDuneHike2 2287_MoonDuneHike3 2294_MoonDuneHike4Even at 5:30 it was still very hot. We ate our delightful dinner at one of the picnic shelters and dithered a bit about when we should start walking. Mary was inclined to wait a while, but I wanted to get out there sooner. We started out around 6 PM on the same dune trail we’d done on Saturday. I am really glad we went so early after the rains that day. The dunes were pristine like with no footprints except the one’s we left. Today however was a different story. The calm weather wasn’t wiping the dunes clear of the daily foot traffic and they were simply covered with the marks of other peoples’ trails. This made making photographs a little more challenging. But the area is so vast that good compositions were still possible with just a little extra effort (and a very long lens).2306_MoonDuneHike5 2312_MoonDuneHike6 2321_MoonDuneHike7It was still quite hot, but cooling nicely now that the sun was about to set. Once it did, the air became very still and absolutely wonderful. We hiked out about a 1/4 mile photographing and looking for a good place to set up for moonrise. We were treated to a subtle but lovely scene once the moon began to rise. We could see people scattered all around the dunes enjoying the same scene. Heading back to the car, we watched the last light on the thunderheads blossoming in the distance. We zoomed home with the moonroof wide open and reveled the nice cool air. Back in camp, we finished off with 15 yr old Glenlevit whiskey. Another fine day.2322_MoonDuneHike8 2331_MoonDuneHike92341_MoonDuneHike102348_MoonDuneHike11 2357_MoonDuneHike12Tuesday, September 9
2410_COR11On Tuesday, we began our drive back to Silver City, but before that we decided to stop for a couple of days at City of Rocks. We wanted to check it out for the first time and the elevation is a little higher than White Sands, so we figured why not? It has really lived up to expectations. Of the 10 electric sites there, 4 were available and we ended up taking Pluto – yes, they name the sites after planets and star clusters. Having power is once again proving very helpful, though I would rather pay less for the non-electric, the $14 per night charge is well worth it. It was a long drive again, but once here, we had our happy hour in the now pleasantly cool air watching another great sunset over the wide open desert.2364_COR12390_COR6In the morning we were up fairly early and exploring the jumble of rocks that is The City. Mary had spoken with the camp host and found out there were petroglyphs and pictographs located at various campsites. We went in search of them. Most were not anything special, but we did find a couple of depictions of Kokopelli that were quite special. Most of the time, the pictographs could only loosely be described as a depiction of the fluted trickster, but the two we found here were classic and in great shape. One was located in a small hole in one of the large boulders. It was hidden by a small rock you had to remove to view it. It was about at eye level and perfectly formed. The other was located high at the tip of a rock in another campground. This one was again in the classic pose, but this time, the legs were squiggly. Never seen that before. We walked around again later in the day, and I photographed the pictographs when the light was better.

Dedicated to friends D & D.

Dedicated to friends D & D.

2398_COR82396_COR72363_vultureWe really didn’t need to move around much to see the wildlife. Just in our campground alone, we’ve seen woodpeckers, quail, buzzards, hawks and several other birds we haven’t been able to positively identify. The ground squirrels have been quite amusing as well, climbing up the long yucca stalks to munch on seed pods. There have also been cottontails, plenty of lizards, but thankfully not rattlers.2367_COR2 2369_COR3 2380_COR4 2401_COR9 2407_COR10

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Change of Plans

September 5
You may have noticed a bit of a change to my blog. I changed themes mostly due to the tiny text size I was forced to use. There was no way for me to increase the size, so I chucked the old theme and added this new one. It’s a little cleaner I think and easier to read. There will be a few other changes soon, but mostly just cosmetic.
1982_BufBarWe had originally planned to drive from Globe, AZ and stay in Silver City, NM for several days to escape the heat of the lower elevations. We arrived in Silver City RV Park late afternoon on Thursday after another long 250 mile drive, and discovered it still was hot, but not as bad, and the higher elevation meant much cooler nights at least. Watching the weather reports though, it became clear that some major monsoon moisture was headed up from Mexico and promised to cool and dampen much of southern New Mexico. Since our main destination for the first part of this trip is White Sands, we decided perhaps we should head down there now to take advantage of the relatively cooler (mid 80’s) weather. White Sands is at around 4,200’ and can seem much hotter when walking out on the dunes. It might also be cool to watch some lightning storms as they pass through. But it did mean more driving – another 190 miles – but once there, we will stick for 5-7 days.1974_GilaMovieBefore leaving Silver City however, we decided a morning stroll through the old downtown might be interesting. First we walked along the Big Ditch. This was originally the main street of Silver City, but in 1895, after a huge cloudburst, a 12 ft. high, 300 ft. wide wall of water came barreling down main street, taking it out. When it happened again 10 years later – this time scouring down to bedrock, the town decided to just let it be and made a park out of it. Today it is a tree-lined 50 ft. deep ditch, and has a bit of a stream flowing through it. It really is not much to look at, but it does make for a nice shady stroll.1977_SilverCityHat 1985_CityHallThe old downtown is much like countless others in these small western towns – lots of abandoned historical buildings. Here, however, they’ve done a nice job of restoration and moved lots of arts and crafts, and government offices in. There are 2 movie houses that no longer show movies. One is vacant, the other a barbershop. We walked along the street photographing the various buildings and storefronts before heading back to the RV park. Mary had spied a fresh mini-donut making machine in the office of the RV park, and you can guess what we had for breakfast – along with a peach.1997_MaryDriveThen it was back on the road again. The drive was simple. Pretty much point south and drive. These New Mexicans seem to believe in really straight roads that go on forever. We eventually hit Interstate 10, and then Highway 70 into Alamogordo. As we drove and the day progressed, we watched the thunder clouds increase. We pulled into Oliver Lee Memorial State Park nestled up against the Sacramento Mountains. We were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves right about now. It was still hot – and windy – but the approaching clouds would be changing that soon.1993_US70tow

When we pulled into Oliver Lee, we were the only ones in the 44 space campground. 33 of the sites have electricity and water and some even have small shelters. Free hot shower are available in the restrooms. We took one of the sheltered sites and immediately turned on the air conditioner. I don’t think we’ve ever use it so much in one trip before, but it is SO nice to have right now. Later, another couple showed up. Of course they decided to camp right across the road from us. Oh well, they are quiet and it looks like they are just here for the day.2004_FromCamp1After getting set up, it was happy hour time. We set up the chairs in front of our panoramic view of the valley, and watched as the thunder clouds gathered, began dropping rain, and throwing lightning off in the distance. After dinner, we stepped out again to watch the ever increasing thunder and lightning. It was a spectacular light show. Up until this point, we had seen no rain come our way. That changed quickly. One minute it was dry, the next it was pouring. It didn’t really stop all night. It was a light rain most of the night, but steady. Most of the lightning had stopped by now (9 PM), but there were still occasional flashes and distant thunder till the early hours.2015_FromCamp2 2018_FromCamp3 2026_FromCamp4Friday morning and the rain has stopped. We are left with low clouds, but they seem to be clearing. It is deliciously cool and wet – though drying fast. We thought we would go out to White Sands National Monument this morning, but decided we had earned a day of not moving much. While cooler, it is still quite warm and looking out toward the dunes, we could see they were in full sun. But it was a good day of rest for us. Turns out last evenings’ rain was enough to close the road into White Sands. Our neighbor relayed that info to us. In addition, the visitor center’s gift shop had buckets all over the place catching the rain leaking through the ceiling. We’d made the right choice to stay put.2040_FromCamp5You might think that the travel gods might punish us for being so lazy all day, but in the evening after dinner, we were treated to a really beautiful sunset – rainbow and all. We could see distant rain showers slowly pass across the desert floor, and the lowering sun cast warm colored light over the ballooning thunderheads. We wanted to just enjoy our last glasses of wine watching the sunset, but were compelled to pull out the cameras and click away. It was worth it I think.2041_FromCamp6 2047_FromCamp7 2051_FromCamp8 2056_FromCamp9 2058_FromCamp10 2075_FromCamp11 2072_FromCamp12September 62077_WhiteSands1This morning we got out early and headed for the dunes. The only inconvenience to Oliver Lee State Park is that it is 34 miles from the park. We’ve stayed in town at RV parks much closer to the park on previous visits, but Oliver Lee is so much nicer we are OK with the drive. If we could drive as the crow flies, we could easily cut 20 or so miles off the distance. Instead, we have to drive toward town for 16 miles, turn left almost 180˚and drive 18 miles to the park.2079_WhiteSands3 2093_WhiteSands4Secondly there are relatively few really high dunes, so the extreme exertion required to traverse the highs and lows is very limited. Oh, and one little side note: the dunes are not really white. They have a slight tan tint to them. The extreme reflectance creates the illusion of white. Seeing the dunes wet confirms this, but we also had the chance to see them covered in snow many years ago after a brief flurry, and could clearly see the tan color next to the snow.2097_WhiteSands5 2103_WhiteSands6 2106_WhiteSands7We had a nice light partial cloud cover to begin with, but that was gone about an hour into the hike. It was much cooler today (mid 70’s at this point) and there was a nice cool breeze. I was a little worried this breeze would turn into a raging windstorm – that happens often here – butt that never came to pass. Instead the breeze was just enough to keep us cool. Each time we crested a dune ridge, we were greeted with a welcomed coolness. It was an exceptional hike – at least 3/4 of it anyway. Towards the end, the temps were up and the breeze was down. Mary had turned what I call “Mary Red” which only happens when she is overly hot. I could see the strain on her and was relieved our hike was so close to the end.

Trail markers.

Trail markers.

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In Transit

Tuesday September 3AlexAylsonArborIt’s a little difficult to think about our trip as having actually started. Aside from the first several days, it mostly seems like what we’ve done is drive. Today we find ourselves in Globe AZ, in another parking lot of an RV park called Apache Gold RV. This time next to a Casino. Yesterday we stayed a night in Yuma. The only unifying theme is the heat. 112 in Yuma and 95 in Globe. But at 3000’, at least Globe cools down a bit a night. Not like the blast furnace of Yuma. We are in transit to Silver City in New Mexico for a few days. At 6000’, it promises to be a bit cooler still. The RV parks the last couple of days are a must due to the heat. In Yuma, we ran the air conditioner all night. Here, we just need it during the day. We are staying a couple of days mainly because we are tired of driving, and we do need to do laundry and shop because there won’t be much in the was of services in the BLM camps we are aiming for.

Alex, Alyaon & Maid of Honor.

Alex, Alyaon & Maid of Honor.

When last we left you, we were battling ants in the rig and preparing for my nephew’s wedding to be held Saturday August 30. The wedding went off mostly really well. The country club it was held at was in a lovely setting and the building was very nice – all just 2 miles from our campground. Good thing because there was an open bar all night and we all made very good use of it. The only drawback was the air conditioning had failed in the morning and was still not working by the evening. I was expecting a wonderful blast of cool air when walking into the building in my buttoned up blue suit, but what I got was just a slightly cooler version of being outside. It did not bode well for the rest of the evening and in fact it was really warm all night. Once the ceremony was over, all jackets came off, and more drink was consumed. All of the wedding pictures here are from friends and/or family. I didn’t even bring a camera with me because I knew there would be so many others there already.

Alyson looking very Goth.

Alyson looking very Goth.

This one is for Don M.

This one is for Don M.

My nephew Alex, was married to his girl, Alyson, in front of many family and close friends. All parents and grandparents were beaming and it was really nice to see all my family together for such a happy event. The band was great and we all danced despite the heat, Alex is a very handsome guy and Alyson is just gorgeous. and everyone seemed to have a great time.

The flower girl and her friends found something cool.

The flower girl and her friends found something cool.

The wedding party.

The wedding party.

The very warm Dave & Mary.

The very warm Dave & Mary.

We both really enjoyed the wedding, but it was also nice to say goodbye and be on our way. Returning to the LD, we discovered the battle with the ants was still raging. I’d have to say the ants won, but not without taking huge losses. A few stragglers are still with us, but it took leaving the campground to stem the tide. Even with spraying around the tires and the cords leading into the RV, they still seemed to be finding a way in. On Sunday morning our next battle was with the infamous L.A. Freeways. As we sat in stop and go traffic, looking at the lines of cars stretching for miles before us, I couldn’t help thinking of the lines of ants we had just (mostly) left behind. At least the ants were moving.1963_WestwardRVWe did finally get out of L.A. and made it as far as Yuma, AZ, before stoping for the night. We thought it was hot in L.A. but at 112 degrees, it was an out of the frying pan situation in Yuma. I’m talking blast furnace hot. We found an RV Park with an open site, pulled in and hit the air conditioner.  How hot was it outside? For showers, we didn’t need to turn on the hot water heater. Cold water straight out of the ground was heated just right.

Some of the typical doublewide homes in this permanent mobile home community.

Some of the typical doublewide homes in this permanent mobile home community.

Not a lot of activity at this time of year in Yuma.

Not a lot of activity at this time of year in Yuma.

It was a little late and Mary didn’t feel like cooking (other than sitting in the RV) so our RV park host recommended the terrific Mi Rancho Mexican restaurant for dinner. She was so right. Great food, JUMBO margarita’s (a couple each), and air conditioned – the comfort trifecta!056DGiPhoneYumaMiRancho

Mary titles this one, "So many hot choices", but really, there is only one right choice.

Mary titles this one, “So many hot choices”, but really, there is only one right choice.

In the morning, after filling up with cheapish Arizona gas ($3.25 at Arco) we again headed east on Highway 8 to where we are now, the Apache Gold RV Park. Since they have a pool, and there is a scenic drive nearby, we plan on staying a couple of days. It will also allow the recent heat to pass a bit. There is slightly cooler weather and thunder showers predicted for later in the week, and at the higher elevation, hopefully life will get a little easier soon. We’ve never traveled in this part of the country at quite this time of year, and the heat is proving daunting. I’m really hoping White Sands will be tolerable by the time we get there in a week or two.ApacheGoldRV

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A Day at the Beach

August 30
For the past 2 days, we have been ensconced at O’Neill Regional Park near Rancho Santa Margarita in Southern California. We are here to attend my nephew’s wedding later today, then we are headed east to New Mexico. It is hot. Like 99 degrees hot. There are no hook-ups here, but our site is very shady and with the slight breeze, it is almost tolerable. The site is just on the other side of a berm where the stream flows. Well, it would flow if there was any water in it. Bone dry!

Once again, having the extra solar panel is proving vital to our happiness. The one problem with it so far has been the way the cables attach on the back into the solar controller. They seem to have used a very heavy gauge wire that doesn’t really fit well into the compression connections. They were put in securely at the factory I’m sure, but moving it around puts stress on the connectors at the controller on the back and they eventually just pulled out. It is extremely difficult to get the wire squeezed together enough to fit back in. I’ve had to take to cutting some of the strands off in order to reduce the thickness. Not a great solution. There is no fastening system to keep the cable in place. Had I realized this would be a problem, I would had taken preventive steps to secure the cable to the back of the panel better – thereby keeping any stress on the cable and connection to a minimum. I have fashioned a temporary fix with, what else, duct tape. I tried using the same tape used for sealing the LD seams, but when the panel has been in the sun for very long, that stuff just melts off – doesn’t hold at all. A small but annoying problem.
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1802_EmmaWoods1We knew it would be hot here. Since we had a extra day before our reservations at O’Neill, we decided an evening near the coast would be nice. It was an easy 120 mile  drive down U.S 101 from Pizmo Beach. We found Emma Woods State Park, north of Ventura and managed to get in. This park has no facilities whatsoever. Well, it did have a garbage can. It is also pretty much a squeezed in angled parking lot. But you can’t beat the location. Literally 50 ft. from the ocean. A number of the sites are parallel park type sites, and they are a little better because there is more of a feeling of privacy. Unfortunately, there were none available.

1807_Emma-Woods3Because of large storms out in the pacific, the surf has been unusually large. Some of the parking spots, er, campgrounds have been closed due to high waves breaking onto them. It’s not like scary large surf, but it is definitely bigger than normal. With our ringside seats, it made for a really enjoyable day/evening of wave watching and photographing. The weather is perfect for this. Highs, mid-70’s with a little breeze and no fog.1841_Emma-Woods7We had fun with long exposures of the rolling surf.
1869_Emma-Woods8We also worked up a mighty thirst.
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1873_Emma-Woods9As dusk fell, we saw that there was a sliver of a moon about to set – another bonus. After dark, I stepped out to photograph the surf at night. The milky way was surprisingly bright this evening, and my photographs show it quite well. I got close to the surf to catch the foggy appearance of the water after long exposures, but not so close, I thought, that I would be in danger of sneaker waves. This went well for about an hour. The tide was still coming in, and I guess I pushed my luck a little too far. As I finished one last exposure, I was suddenly hit in the face with a wave. Oh yes, I got wet, the camera too. But it wasn’t like a tsunami type sneaker wave. More of a roll up the beach, then up me kind of wave. I did get a little hurt as I sprang up, turned and scrambled up the rocky beach, I stumbled over some of the larger rocks and took a spill because I was trying to protect the camera from the rocks. Not bad hurt, but I now have a bruise on my thigh and a slightly sore shoulder – and I still banged the camera on a rock. Being a California native, I should have known better. This wave was far stronger than any of the others – the classic sneaker wave. An no, I would not allow Mary to take a picture of me post wave – I have my pride after all. It’s just a little soggy now.1897_Emma-Woods11

1911_Emma-Woods12In the morning, we were up and out early again to photograph the immediate area. It was slightly misty and with the waves still pounding, and the morning trains buzzing by, we had another fun session.1915_Emma-Woods13

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Neighbor's set-up.

Neighbor’s set-up.

So the only other problem with the current campground are the ants. Thousands invaded us yesterday and all we had was some mosquito repellent to combat them. We kept them at by most of the day, but ultimately lost the battle after we went to bed. They didn’t, and when we awoke, there were lines of them everywhere. Surprisingly, they didn’t seem to be going for food. I don’t know what they were looking for, but they did seem to be congregating around water more than anything else. I had to make a special trip to the store for ant spray to spray around the tires and anything else that touches the ground. Oh well…

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Back on the Road

Tuesday August 26
Pre review photography reception.The past 7 months since we returned from Quartzsite have been very busy for us and we are glad to be on the road again. For me, much of my time was spent getting ready for, and attending Review Santa Fe, a portfolio review held in New Mexico. This is considered the premiere review event in the photo world. It is a juried event, which means hopeful attendees submit portfolio’s in hopes of being selected to attend. 100 photographers are selected, I among them.

Public portfolio viewing.

Public portfolio viewing.

I had a chance to meet 9 representatives from various corners of the photo world. The real point of the reviews are to make connections and network with people who can offer opportunities for exposure. One can never expect good things from these reviews, but one also hopes they happen. It is also a great time to meet other photographers and see their work in person. This is almost as much fun as getting together with them after each review day for drinks and hanging out. I met a bunch of new photographers whose work I had only seen online. Seeing the actual prints is a real treat.

Hanging with friends after day 1 of Review Santa Fe.

Hanging with friends after day 1 of Review Santa Fe.

Good outcomes for me included meeting a writer for Wired Online who did a feature on my Marking Our Place in the World project, a possible show of my Nomads project at a gallery in Durango, Colorado at  and a possible invitation to Japan late next year for a photo festival. I think my most gratifying review came from Verna Curtis, curator of photography at the Library of Congress, who seemed genuinely intrigued by the work. It wasn’t quite right for the Library at this point – she wanted to see more in depth personal stories – but she said she would continue to follow me and my progress. The next day, during a “gallery crawl” event, she made a point of telling me of all the work she’d seen during the reviews, mine was the work she remembered. That was nice to hear.

Cathy Scholl, Kate Ware and Verna Curtis..

Cathy Scholl, Kate Ware and Verna Curtis..

Another thing keeping me busy was an exhibit in upstate New York. The Davis/Orton Gallery in Hudson, NY, selected 12 prints from my Nomads project to exhibit during August. A couple of friends have been able to see the show back their and report that it looked great.

F-Stop Magazine also featured my project on their website, as did site Distractify. Lots of great things for the past months.

It is good to be traveling again though. Seven months is a long time to be home and we were anxious to get going. The final thing we did before we left was my fathers 90th birthday party at Waterbar in San Francisco. It was a great venue to hold a party. We had a room on the 2nd floor with a balcony overlooking the embarcadero and the Bay Bridge. Dad truly enjoyed the celebration which included all the kids and wives, a few grandkids and a couple of cousins. 7 days later, we were away.

Mom and Dad at Waterbar.

Mom and Dad at Waterbar.

The Gang.

The Gang.

It’s not that easy disentangling however. Our first main stop will be the wedding of one of my nephew’s and his girl in the L.A. area. We’ve stopped here at Pizmo Beach State Park in Central California for a couple of days as we work our way down the coast. My new portable solar panel came in very handy right away. The site we reserved turned out to have the largest pine tree in the campground sitting in perfect position to block most all the afternoon sun from our rooftop panels. With the portable panel, I can now find a sunny spot and aim the panel for maximum output.
First order of business, a walk down the shoreline. The weather is perfect right now.

While here, we’ve had a chance to hike with friends Fred and Susan Miller at Montana de Oro State Park. It was a lovely hike along the bluffs above the ocean. A good leg stretcher after so many months of not hiking. Afterwards was a wonderful lunch at Celia’s Garden Cafe just outside the park.

 

 

Fred on a ledge.

Fred on a ledge.

Yesterday (Tuesday), we drove into Paso Robles for some wine tasting (and buying). But first we stopped for a late breakfast at a place Fred and Susan told us about. Joe’s Other Cafe makes probably the best hash browns ever. They are crispy on the outside, soft, but not mushy, on the inside. The rest of the breakfast was equally as yummy. A must experience experience!
Breakfast at Joe's Other Cafe.Other friends, Rick and Mary in San Francisco, gave us a gift certificate for a favorite winery here, and it was burning a hole in our pockets. Being members at the Tobin James winery also gave us a 20% discount on our purchase. We still managed to spend a lot but we got some great wines that we will just have to consume quickly. The RV just gets too hot for long term storage and even though I’ve built and added a wine rack to the rig, it is not the place to store for long.

Today we head a little further south to Emma Woods State Park. There are no woods at Emma Woods park. I guess thats her name. Anyway, this park is on a bluff just above the ocean. It is basically a parking lot with no services, but the location is spectacular. Should be good for a night. I’m hoping to make an image to go along with a quote I want to use for the project.

 

 

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