Monday, June 21. 2010
Friday, May 14. 2010
Enjoying Life is a Matter of Balance....
That is the reason for a change. The Serendipity blogging software worked, but I was never completely satisfied with it.
So along with millions of other bloggers, the move was made to Google's Blogger software.
The new blog address: http://wandrinlloyd.blogspot.com/
Head over to the Wandrin's blog at Blogger and bookmark it or subscribe to it with RSS.
Wednesday, May 12. 2010
Driving across the country, I've frequently encountered superlative words on a sign or billboard describing something in terms of biggest, world's largest, rated best, must see, etc. This time it was the "World's Largest Kokopelli" found in a strip shopping center at Campe Verde just off I-17 at AZ Hwy 260. The image of the Kokopelli is used throughout Arizona and beyond on trinkets to businesses.
Checking the Guinness World Records web site, there was no match for Kokopelli. Does the claim on the base of this statue make it true.
Speaking of records in terms of largest or most. Today when I was laundering a portion of my Hawaiian shirt collection, I realized that I might have the largest collection of Hawaiian shirts in a Recreational Vehicle. There are 34 cotton Hawaiian shirts in the current rotation. There are an additional six in silk.
Sure sounds like an addiction. Perhaps there is a twelve step program for me. Hey. Wandrin Lloyd. How about NOT taking that first step into a thrift store.
When I do find another for the collection (after exiting the thrift store), I tell myself that one in the collection will go. Doesn't seem to work. How do I decide. Sure there are some that are not favored for one reason or another. The most frequent reason is that some launder poorly -- lots of wrinkles. Poor laundry results combined with a poor look and they are donated to the thrift store on the next visit. There's that first step problem again.
Sunday, May 9. 2010
Why that window in the door of trailers. Provides light through the patterned glass. No one can see in nor can anyone see out. So what is the point of the glass. That doesn't stop the heat of the sun from sending solar energy into Wandrin Wagon. Time to do something about that issue. Put up with that for too many years.
Purchased a remnant of solar screen fabric. This was going to be an easy job. Or so I thought. I removed the screws of the frame on the inside. Cut and fit the solar screen over the window. Now put the frame back and... Oops. The outside part of the frame didn't stay. The whole thing -- frame, glass, solar screen -- fell to the ground. Wow. And the glass didn't break. So far so good.
After another hour of screwing the frame to the door and silicone glue, the project was finally complete. The solar screen was doing its job. It was cutting down the solar by 90%. The same thing could have been accomplished by painting the outside of the window with white paint.
Regardless. For me it was declared a success. There were no trips to the hardware store to finish the job.
Thursday, May 6. 2010
The desert terrain is deceptively beautiful. The spring time greening, cactus flowering and reptile action made for beautiful walks in Usery Park near Mesa, Arizona. Several morning hikes provide this small sampling of photos that were taken. Some photo ops were missed. Before the camera could be drawn from its holster, a missed shot was of the deformed lizard. On closer inspection, it was two lizards -- coupling.
Finding large sticks on a desert trail is ---. Whoa. That is not a stick. Once aware of my presence, the rattles started and continued until I retreated and took a path off trail and beyond the rattlesnake.
Too much water makes the saguaro top heavy and a little wind becomes dangerous. There were several of these monsters lying flat on the desert floor as nature recycled for another generation of desert plants.
A few varieties of cholla and a cactus that make this desert their home.
Walking in the desert getting that perfect photo of a blooming cactus or cholla does have its negatives. Removing my boots and socks after my hike, souvenirs of the desert were found attached firmly on my leg. This was painless compared to a years ago experience with the "jumping cholla".
Wednesday, May 5. 2010
The location of Usery Mtn Park means it gets lots of Phoenix area visitors on weekends. It also seems that the destination for most is Wind Cave. Destination is important for many. Just a hike with desert views doesn't seem to qualify as a good day. Might be the competitive nature of most people.
Having done the Wind Cave hike on a weekend in a previous visit to this park a couple of years ago, I waited until Monday to do the hike. Not a difficult hike, it is a bit more than three miles round trip. On the trail by 8:30, I met two hikers coming down. Returning to the trail head I met four hikers and two runners.
The desert scenery is diverse and blooming -- the ocotillo, several species of cholla, the saguaro, the prickly pear, etc. Along the trail there were the usual lizards scurrying along the path. Some were stub tailed -- obviously sacrificed to save their life. There was a shed snake skin, but no snake. Why is there a dead mouse right in the middle of the trail.
In the photos, arrows point to Wind Cave or to the trail head and parking lot.
Wind Cave is an overhang of rock -- more like a grotto. There are some water seeps within the back wall which draw bees looking for moisture. With that little moisture seeping out of the wall, a few green plants have set root in those cracks.
The toys in my life have to be used. Frequently, the Garmin eTrex records my trail along with the mileage. This is my journey superimposed on a Topo map of the area.
Tuesday, May 4. 2010
The Wandrin iPad is now a month old. No buyer's remorse. It is great. I thought I would keep the Kindle eReader, but it is losing its appeal -- even for reading in bed. Since I typically read two or three books at a time, the paper back books (from the used book stores) are the solution for bedtime reading.
When I first acquired the iPad, my access to the internet was to search out a free Wi-Fi service someplace. It was an inconvenience. Both the Verizon air-card and Verizon cell phone were beyond their two year update anniversary. About the same time the iPad came into my life, the Verizon air-card USB 720 started to get flaky. Eventually, it stopped working. Headed off to a Verizon store to get the USB 760. There I learned about Mi-Fi -- a Wi-Fi hot spot air card.
Two problems with the Mi-Fi card... (1) New contract required. (2) No external antenna capability. My current contract with Verizon allows me unlimited usage on the USB 720 air card. Considering my remote parking on occasion, the external antenna is required to pick up a weak Verizon signal. So the solution was the USB 760 and no new contract so I could keep the unlimited usage provision.
That solution didn't resolve the need for convenient Wi-Fi access for the iPad. Verizon came up with a solution. The Palm Pre (cell phone) can be set up as a Wi-Fi hot spot. Other Palm Pre capabilities include apps to do those functions to compete with the iPhone and Blackberry products. None of that comes free. However, the positive is that I can set up the Palm Pre as a Wi-Fi hot spot and connect to the internet on my iPad -- or the iPod Touch.
Now that I have made the new contracts and have the new hardware, the 3GStore announces a New $49.95/mo No-Contract Verizon Mobile Broadband Plan. Rats. Double darn. %$#@&
Oh well. Life goes on.
The positive is internet access on the iPad without leaving the Wandrin Wagon. I can now surf the internet and read the news while I have my morning shake. It is also the path to get eBooks from Amazon.
Note: for those who need a phone and also need internet access for their laptop, the Palm Pre would be the solution. It can be a phone. It can also be internet access. The data limit is 5GB. That is more than enough for most internet users. Downside: for those traveling in low signal areas, there is no external antenna capability.
Monday, May 3. 2010
No long drives (a mile to trail head) required to go hiking, so I decided to extend my stay at Usery Mtn Park in Mesa until Thursday.
After one morning hike, I did some nearby exploring from the driver's seat of the Silver Slug. Driving along Main Street in Mesa, I spotted a vintage motel complex called the Buckhorn Mineral Baths -- no longer in business. This was worth a photo stop. After just one photo, I was chased off the property. At least they didn't have guns.
From there it was to a grocery store to get some salad fixings for my dinner. Of the people coming and going to the grocery store, half of them had a cell phone on an ear.
There were three ladies with child seats in their grocery buggy and each had the cell phone tucked between the shoulder and the ear as they moved the groceries and child to the car. Privy to their conversations... "Did you see the poster from my bathroom. I sent you an email.... You never get my emails."... "I made a fruit salad of mostly strawberries. That was good enough."... "He has to earn his allowance. There is a list and he gets paid by the job."
As I approached Silver Slug in the "no scratch" zone, another lady on a cell phone driving by with the window open, "I'm not going to put up with it anymore. I've had it..."
That was enough for me too. Time to get out of the world of cell phones and too many people. Back at the park, it was sunsets. The sunset in the west followed by looking east and the sun reflections.
Note: All photos are Photoshop(ed).
Saturday, May 1. 2010
Spring and warmer weather is coming in fits and bursts as my stay is extended in the Phoenix area. Just three days ago, the day time temps were in the 90s. For the past two days, the temps climbed up to 70 degrees briefly before dropping back once again. Wear a jacket -- or not. That has been the indecision. The Hawaiian shirt was not an option, but to stay warm a jacket was required. That was especially true to counter the cooling wind.
No complaints -- really. My Colorado friends are experiencing a long drawn out winter with snow falling this past week. Just because the calendar says the first of May, that is no guarantee that will be the end of snow. When living in Denver many years ago, there was a snowfall on the 30th of May.
Recall that Silver Slug celebrated 200,000 miles this last summer. However, with that goes the signs of old age. It was that periodic creaking sound that was heard that could not be masked with turning up the volume on the radio that caused me to check into "urgent care" at the nearby Ford dealer. Yup. Replacement of the hubs was required.
The walk back to Wandrin Wagon for the day and the return at the end of the day to retrieve Silver Slug was a good way to exercise. Sure wasn't a walk in the nearby hills -- let alone a park. It was a walk along city streets and sometimes without sidewalks. Once again, Silver Slug is rolling along without noises that need to be masked with radio volume.
Curiosity is why Silver Slug is needed. That curiosity is all about the world in which I live. The natural world of animals and plants. The man made and altered world. Sitting at a coffee shop and watching people. That is curiosity. Perhaps overhearing conversations at the coffee shop could be called nosy, but the term curiosity is politically correct.
Most RV parks are not located in that preferred natural world. Most are located just off the busy road and next to a shopping center -- and coffee shop. The exceptions are the Thousand Trails "preserves" -- a campground membership that I have. My preferred places to camp are the Thousand Trails parks along with state parks, federal parks, and other public parks. My current stop is the Usery Mountain Park near Mesa, AZ. Sure it costs more, but this is where I want to explore. My plan is to spend my savings to enjoy and live each day.
That curiosity will find -- in Arizona -- the unusual and non-native species such as a flowering crab tree most usually found in those northern climes with snow fall.
The state flower of Arizona is the Saguaro blossom. Considering the blooms are at least ten to fifteen feet off the ground, my curiosity to take a close up photo of the blossom is difficult. So this telephoto lens shot will have to satisfy. Considering that the saguaro is growing throughout the neighborhoods of Phoenix, I haven't given up hope of getting a closeup of that one rare blossom that is more like six feet off the ground.
Off to satisfy curiosity -- and keep the balance.
Tuesday, April 27. 2010
It wasn't strenuous enough to be called a hike so it is dubbed a walk. The elevation gain was about a 1000 feet in just under two miles where I turned around and headed back.
Seems many of my spring hikes in Arizona are met with snakes on the trail. However, this time it wasn't a rattlesnake, but what may have been some western version of a garter snake. Here is the snake protecting its lizard kill. I waited far away to watch with the hope that the snake would start to ingest the lizard. After about five to ten minutes I bored of the scene and continued my hike. It was gone when I returned to the trail head.
Perhaps the message about a hungry snake had gotten around. This lizard was safe atop this post. Or perhaps the lizard was just sight seeing.
Along the trail is this photo scene of a Wandrin path, the lone saguaro and the Superstitions to the left. Since I've hiked this trail several times before, there are several photos of this particular scene in my photo archives.
Farther along the trail is a prolific Teddybear Cholla with all its cloned offspring. A lone saguaro provides another photo op.
The day was warming up to a high in the low 90s. The hike was over and it was time to head home.
Barb and Ron of The Road Less Traveled have a home in Mesa when they are not traveling. They would be on the road traveling except for Ron's finger that is infected from some thing. Surgery will keep them around far longer than they had hoped. We got together for lunch and got caught up on lives and living -- and their life as home owners.
Considering that May was so close, I had commented that I had yet to see any saguaros in bloom. Barb volunteered that there was one right across the street. If I wanted a ladder to get a close up photo, they would provide that as well. I declined on the ladder offer and took a photo from a sturdy ground position.
Monday, April 26. 2010
Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park is about 25 miles east of Apache Junction. It was a good day for a photo tour of desert flora -- local and around the world collected by the Boyce Thompson beginning back early in the 20th century.
This is just one of many Wandrin paths through the park flanked by desert flora from around the world.
With a river flowing through the park, the riparian area provides a variety of birds to call the area their home. There are two "P" birds that have names that are unpronounceable. The Phainopepla and the Pyrrhuloxia. I usually refer to them as the "P" bird and leave it at that. This is the Phainopepla. Who comes up with the names for these birds. How about something a little easier to remember -- and pronounceable.
As a desert garden there were many blooms to choose from for the photo ops. A close up of the bloom of one. The second bloom is in the midst of a Desert Christmas Cactus (a pencil variety of cholla).
As a one time working farm growing vegetables and plants, these buildings date to those earlier days of the mid 20th century. With a little artistic license, the photos were enhanced with Topaz plug-ins.
There may be hope. I seem to be recovering from the condition diagnosed by Boonie and known as Constant Travel Syndrome.
Sunday, April 25. 2010
Ripe strawberries would be great. A half a pound of ripe strawberries would be outstanding. Strawberry smells wafting from the refrigerator would be a reason to stand there and inhale those aromas.
Okay. So it is a fantasy.
Strawberries at 88 cents a pound meant going through stacks of boxes to find a box with the most red berries. Not easy since the packers have it all planned; they put an equal number of green or not quite ripe in every container. Standing there in the grocery with stacks and stacks of strawberries, the aroma should be filling the air. It wasn't.
A product of Mexico at 88 cents a pound meant the berries were picked several days ago and have finally arrived at the grocer via the grocer's warehouse and distribution systems. Wonder how much the Mexican laborer received to fill that one pound container. Perhaps a penny or two.
Back on the farm, Mom had gardens for many years. Included were the strawberries. Picking strawberries when they were ripe meant cleaning, packing and freezing that delightful flavor for a cold winters day. Picking strawberries was hard work and the berries weren't large -- rarely reaching the size of those in the photo. Fortunately, that is what was there.
That basket of berries has been sliced and sugared. Later last evening some of the berries (selected riper ones) were slathered over French Vanilla ice cream. Tasty memories.
Friday, April 23. 2010
I have a serious case of doldrums and lack of curiosity. In previous visits to Arizona, there have been visits and exploring and hiking around Benson, Tucson, Phoenix, etc.... Been there. Did that.
Time to put some balance into my life. Check out something new. How about a new hiking trail. In spite of the lecturing to Wandrin Lloyd, there has been no change.
To while away my time between reading, eating too much and taking naps, I did manage to spend time in front of the computer messing around with some recent photo images from my stay at Catalina State Park.
With Photoshop and plug-ins from Topaz, here are the results of trying to maintain some kind of balance in my life.
There you have the results of what might be a bi-polar condition -- the low point in the cycle. Hoping for the upswing one of these days.
Wednesday, April 21. 2010
To get the money to improve their lives, they come from the all across Mexico trying to cross the border into the USA to get jobs that no American will do. They do it for low pay, long hours and no benefits.
However, they are stopped at the US/Mexico border. So they enter illegally via The Devil’s Highway. This is the title of the book by Luis Alberto Urrea. The Devil's Highway is deserts and mountains in southern Arizona where no one lives. This well researched book is the saga of 26 Mexicans crossing illegally to find that job to improve their life. The book details the lives of the 14 that died while trying, the survivors, the coyote "business", the coyote guide who is in prison for murder of the those who died in the attempt, the US Border Patrol and all the other government agencies on both sides of the border that are involved in the effort to slow those looking for a way to better their lives.
The American consumer is used to cheap. Especially food. Agriculture is where most of the illegal aliens find jobs. They arrive at the job at six in the morning, do physically challenging work and work long hours with no benefits. This is not a job that Americans want. However, there are many Americans who want to stop the job seekers at the border. Why. The media talks about the very small percentage of those illegals that take advantage of the US social systems or commit crimes.
It's too bad that the media doesn't spend as much time talking about all those miserable jobs the illegals do or what they actually contribute to the US economy. They pay sales tax on everything they buy. Many even contribute to social security and can never collect a dime. Could be a good way to keep the system solvent for a few more years.
Using the agriculture industry as an example…. Is there a solution. Sure. Will the American consumer like the solution. No. The result will be more expensive food. When the agriculture worker gets better wages, better working conditions, better housing for the temporary workers and benefits, the price that consumer pays goes up. There will be picket lines at the grocery stores. Government and industry doesn't like that. Nothing changes.
An alternate solution to expensive food would be to import it from China. Sure. Like that is a good idea. Then I have to wonder why we import food from China since the USA is supposedly feeding the world. But that is another issue.
This makes my head hurt. Time to get out and do some exploring....
Sunday, April 18. 2010
Thanks to a note from Judy of Straw Cottage who gave me the heads up to check out a near by happening. The Overland Expo was having their annual expo at Amado at the Amado Territory Inn and surrounding desert land for the campers.
Want to get away from RV parks and away from roads or adventure travel is your focus, there are many travel and camping options from which to choose. There is the simple and inexpensive. However, another option is "if you have the money you can do anything".
Click on the icon (below) to view a few of the many adventure off road traveling and camping options that are available. Some of these were in the exhibitors' area. Others were found in the camping area.
In addition to the how to do it, there were others who had written books about their travel adventures. Some I had read of their adventures. Others were new to me and their books were placed on the "to be read list". That list is getting way too long.
Not all the gifted writers are represented in the printed book form. Others write and maintain blogs. One of those is Ara Gugherian writing in Oasis of My Soul. Not only does he write well, but he also is a great photographer. I've been following Ara for many years. This was a great opportunity to meet Ara and Spirit -- his traveling companion.
Vicarious travel is great. Meeting with those who are braver than me was a great way to spend a very warm day.
The world of RVers is small. As I was walking among the exhibit area, I met Oland and Gary walking around. Gary lives in Prescott and talked Oland (winters in Verde Valley TT in Cottonwood) to come to Overland Expo. Without an RV on this trip, they were tent camping. I've crossed Oland and Gary's path two previous times this past winter. We have to stop meeting this way.
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