Friday, June 26, 2009

A Question for you all

My wife and I were talking over dinner the other day and said "Bon app├ętit!". Then we got started talking about how we know several European version of that phrase but none in English. Does anyone know of such a phrase? For that matter, what about other languages? Is there something one should say in China or Japan or Serbia or???

Obviously things have been quiet around here. LOL We went to Las Vegas to return our pickup shell to the dealer for repair and to check out some trailers. The shell had a manufacturing defect that means it will have to go back to the California factory for repair. Our trailer is nine years old and has seen better days however, we didn't see anything we wanted to bring home with us.

This weekend we are going back to Las Vegas to celebrate our 25th anniversary with the kids being present. We carefully planned things way back in '84 so that they could both be with us when we got married so it's going to be fun having them around for this minor milestone. (Took them on the Honeymoon with us too but that's another story!) The actual anniversary was last Monday but this weekend is the time they could make it so that is the important thing. It won't be a big deal, just dinner then we wander off in our separate directions leaving a few bucks at the various casinos.

No one has offered to help me put a feed on the blog so I guess I'll have another shot at it next week. These 'Help' pages shouldn't be that tough to understand but I'm sure having trouble. At any rate, be careful, it's dangerous out there!

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Someone suggested that I provide an RSS feed. I'd love to but I keep going around in circles trying to manage it. Can anyone tell me in REALLY SIMPLE WORDS what I need to do? Whatever Blogger is telling me just isn't working for me.

Thinking about the pioneers

Whenever I go for a drive around here I think of the folks who were here when walking or horseback riding was the mode of travel. I jump into the truck and head for Las Vegas thinking nothing of it. This was four or five days travel in olden times. I came across this historical marker on my last trip. The distance from Las Vegas to Blue Diamond was one day; Blue Diamond to the top of the pass at Mountain Springs was another day. You traveled from place to place out here based on the availability of water. I can hardly imagine the hardships faced by those early travelers.

There is another marker that I saw (but managed NOT to photograph) that indicated the next part of the trail after leaving the mountain pass was to a place where if you dug down a bit you would gradually get some water accumulation. That was twenty-five miles (forty km) from the pass. Then twenty miles (thirty-two km) further on you came to another 'real' spring. What a harsh, demanding life! Ten hours of walking through rough country with lots of dry stream beds to get to a place where you might get water by digging for it.

Here's another marker that shows the trail from Colorado to the coast.

You couldn't leave Colorado in the winter so it would be HOT by the time you got to the desert. At least that would mean it was dry. Here if there is heavy rain in the mountains, there are flash floods that still kill people. Not to mention that the clay soil becomes mud with any tiny amount of moisture. You would really need a good reason to travel this land; but, of course, once you started it would be just as tough to return to where you started!

Take it easy, it's still dangerous out there!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What were they thinking!

Went to Vegas on Monday to get the shell for the truck. $1500 later we have a nice fiberglass cover over the bed of the truck. We got one for our first truck back in 1982 and have had one on every truck since. You just get used to having all that protected space. It's doesn't do anything about someone who would like to rob you but then again I don't know that anything does.

I did do something I've wanted to do since we got here; I took a photo!

Now honestly, do you think it is a tree? Out in the middle of the desert like this; the stupid straight branches look real don't they. Jeez! I mean a cell tower is a cell tower; what were they thinking? I'd love to see the justification for spending the extra money for those 'branches'.

Gotta go. Be careful, it's dangerous out there!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Flag Day

Here in the U.S. it is Flag Day. A fairly odd holiday but why not? Our flag moved with us from humid Florida to the desert and mountains of Nevada.

Be careful, it's dangerous out there!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Death and whatever

I was over at Croft's site where he talked a bit about his brother's burial. It sound like the whole family was there for the occasion and were comforted by the ceremony. I'm happy for them.

It made me want to talk about the deaths of my mother and my mother-in-law. Mom died in September of 2005. She had been a victim of dementia for nine years. One day she just stopped eating or drinking; the home informed us immediately but there was nothing anyone could do. Mom died a couple of days later.

Nine years ago she had told me she wanted to be buried in her special dress but it was certainly nothing special and we wanted to get her something that fit better so we did. It was a simple deep red dress that complimented her nicely. She died in St. Petersburg, FL and was flown to Iowa for her internment. There was room next to my dad for her; he died in 1982. We had a quiet ceremony at the grave site for perhaps fifteen relatives and a couple of friends. The Presbyterian pastor, who had never met my mom, asked for people to talk about mom and I started things off by saying how I was sure she would have liked the gathering; just wished the occasion was different! Other people added their thoughts and the body was lowered into the earth. Then we went off to the local crappy diner and had coffee and cake. It was a nice gathering, as such things are like to be, and we dispersed going our own ways.

Just after we got home from the funeral in Iowa, my wife took her mother to the doctor with a complaint about her breathing. The doctor prescribed full time oxygen and suggested to my wife that she could enroll her mom in Hospice. (In this country the hospice organizations care for the terminally ill . Normally people in Hospice are expected to die within six months.) At any rate, she moved into a nursing home on November 31 and died on January 6. She was a Catholic but had not asked for any service. She wanted to be cremated in an old pair of short and a shirt. My wife couldn't let her go in those old clothes so substituted a nicer shirt and shorts outfit. Her remains were kept in our closet (with those of her beloved Doberman dog) until Easter of 2007 when we spread them in the desert outside of Bullhead City, AZ. Well, we put them both there; according to her wishes.

It is odd the difference, even for us atheists, between the formal leave-taking that marked my mother's internment and the less formal but no less meaningful distribution of my mother-in-law's ashes. The internment was a lot like "drawing a line in the sand". It is a place we could return expecting to have a rock with my mother's name and the years she was on earth. There is no such place or thing for my mother-in-law. My wife and I, alone, could possibly identify the place we left her. Her remains are now certainly blown all over the area.

We are comfortable that we treated each of our mother's in the way they wanted to be treated and with total respect. Is one way better than the other? Not for me and I don't believe for my wife. We did what our mother's wanted and both experiences honored their lives and their end. I must admit that her mother was a sort of drag on us until we had taken her to Arizona as we had promised. As the saying goes, funerals are for the living; in our experience, it doesn't have to be a funeral, simply a good bye is enough.

Take it easy, it's dangerous out there!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Red Rock Canyon

Just outside of Las Vegas is a place that is really amazing that I got to visit yesterday. It is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Here is the official government site. Apparently it is one of the top five rock climbing destinations in the U.S. The BLM (Bureau of Land Management - the overseeing government organization) claims there are over two thousand climbing routes and nineteen different hiking trails. I don't know, I've got acrophobia. But some of the rock really is red!

The part of the park that I really liked was a little side area called Red Spring. It shows, very dramatically I thought, what some water does to the desert. There are certainly many small springs like this throughout the mountains but this is easily accessible by over a million visitors a year. Here is a photo of the little canyon that is below the spring.

Quite different from the desert landscape that I'm always photographing, isn't it. Because it is so heavily visited one is required to stay on the built-up wooden pathway but that works for me; otherwise all this life would be trampled by people. Now to the cool thing. We do get some rain around here. Most hits the ground and runs off which can cause flash floods but some does seep into the ground. There is a lot of limestone and sandstone around here that lets the water into the aquifer and some escapes as a spring. Here is the spring that makes such a difference to the life in this little canyon.

That spring was perhaps a yard (or meter) across and maybe six inches (15 cm) deep but what a difference it makes! Can you imagine what finding a place like this meant to the pioneers. Today Nevada is claimed to be home to half of the countries population of wild horses and burros (about 15,000). Little canyons like these are where those animals can find the water to live. There are supposed to be wild horses and burros in the area and we did find some though I didn't photograph them. This area has some private residences including two small towns! We drove through one (Blue Diamond, NV) and saw some burros dining on someone's lawn. The population sign outside town said "Altitude High, Population Low, Burros ??". Cute little town but what a change it would be to work in a Las Vegas casino and live there!

Be careful out there, it's dangerous!

Monday, June 08, 2009


“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

- Robert Heinlein’s character Lazarus Long in Time Enough for Love.

Ok, so how do you do? Well, here's my answers.

Change a diaper - yep.
Plan an invasion - untried but I imagine I could.
Butcher a hog - untried - I'm great at chickens though!
Conn a ship - small boats, yes; ship, maybe.
Design a building - I often wish I'd become an architect - easily!
Write a sonnet - nope - even with a BA in English from a pretty good school.
Balance accounts - yep, minor in accounting
Build a wall - yep - at least in wood; stone I don't know about!
Set a bone - haven't tried but....
Comfort the dying - I hope so; my parents and my wife's are all gone
Take orders - U.S. Army training
Give orders - see above
Cooperate - see above
Act alone - see above
Solve equations - yep, minor in math
Analyze a new problem - BS in Comp. Sci. - 20 years experience
Pitch manure - had a horse when I was a kid; also cows and goats
Program a computer - about that BS in Comp. Sci.
Cook a tasty meal - see yesterday's bbq salmon or I'll send you a recipe
Fight efficiently - U.S. Army training
Die gallantly - haven't gotten there yet; would prefer a quiet death but.....

Be careful it's still dangerous out there!

Trip out of Pahrump

I've finally driven up the mountain side on a gravel road known as Wheeler Pass Road. I suppose there is a pass up there somewhere but I didn't get there. I only went about 10 miles (16km) and turned around. It was really very nice but I need to remember that I'm retired and don't need to go up there on the weekend! Got tired of eating the dust from the various motorcycles and four-wheelers. At least you could see from the dust that someone was coming long before they showed up.

First we have a Joshua tree; there were a lot of them but this guy is pretty large:

Then a bit of a view - I liked the way the trees look against the blue sky:

Finally a view of the amazing striations of the rock in the mountain. Pahrump valley is in the distance.

Have a good one but be careful, it's dangerous out there!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Another week!!!

Jeez, guess I just don't have a good sense of time. I see my last post was last Sunday - a mere four hours away from a week ago! Sorry about that.

Not a lot happening around here. Went to Vegas last Wednesday to order a cover for the back of the truck. You have to be careful because there are lots of options but I think we got it ordered correctly. I'll probably post a photo once we get the thing (in a couple of weeks). We also wandered around looking at the Strip. Our twenty-fifth anniversary is coming up and we hope to celebrate with the kids in Las Vegas. We've got reservations for dinner & a hotel but have never seen either so thought it might be worth checking out. It should be ok; one of our daughter's friends recommended the restaurant so we have some hope. Finally we went and spent money on various "necessities" at Sams Club.

One of the things we brought home from Sams was some shelving for the garage. We've had all the garage "stuff" lying around on the floor so now we have a place for it. Earlier in the week I bought some lumber from our local supplier to make into a workbench. Looked at a bunch of plans online and kind of sorted out what I want and have started building it. Nothing fancy just big with lots of storage.

We did meet the folks who live just down the street. Nice couple a few years older than we but not ancient. Turns out they have another home in Ocala, Florida - maybe a hundred and fifty miles from our old home. I've NO IDEA why they have two homes 2,300 miles (3,700km) apart - it's not like the climates are so different; not like Maine and Florida. Maybe I need to learn about these strange choices; just a matter of interest - I'd never tell anyone they were acting stupidly. (Think it, yeah, right!)

Next week should be equally uninteresting. More work on the workbench; reading my library book, etc. Have a great week but be careful, it's dangerous out there!