Sunday, July 15, 2018

Desert Blooms

The rains they are a coming!!  Warnings of extended thunderstorms just came across my phone this morning.  Maybe I'll be able to get some good lightning images.  It has actually been raining a little ever day ... sometimes a LOT.  Guess I won't be needing those sprinklers for awhile.

Water means everything is blooming in the desert.  These have to be my all time favorite plant.  As usual, I don't know what it is.  I even downloaded an app on my phone where I could take a picture and it would identify it for me.  Trouble is, it never works.  It always says it can't find anything like the picture.
Isn't this a magnificent view?  Right in my back yard.  
I was out cleaning up ... actually cutting and hacking away at the bushes ... making way for the lawn mower.  I even used the electric weed whacker ... boy that was a scary proposition.  I had rocks and grass flying all over the patio!!  

I did have one little oops!!  When I went to cut back the bushes even more, I discovered a piece of drip tubing with an emitter attached.  Unfortunately the tubing was no longer attached to anything.  I've no idea where it came from, but I imagine I whacked something in half.
There are even rose bushes planted here ... all very beautiful and blooming.  I hear the deer love to munch on them, as evidenced by deer tracks (deer poop) in the grass.  They are rather a pain when it comes to pruning, but I promised the previous owner I would try to keep them alive.
Even the trees outside the yard are blooming and the hummingbirds are going crazy.  All of this makes for lots of sneezing of course.
Just before I left last time, I had a yard service come out and prune this palm tree.  Not three months later and it needed a haircut again.  Unfortunately, the chainsaw on a stick is too short to reach.  Me on a ladder with a chainsaw is probably not a good idea, so I hotfooted it down to Lowes and got a hand saw on a stick.  This one extends to something like 18 feet long.  

I've never worked so hard in my life, and I'm pretty sure I sweated every single ounce of water out of my system.  Even at 6:00 in the morning it was hot.  I sawed and sawed, trying to get the blade wedged in between the fronds at the base.  

That's when it all came to a screeching halt.  The blade got stuck and it wasn't coming loose.  RATS!!  I pulled on it and the handle extended, meaning it wasn't tight enough.  Now I'll NEVER get it loose. I was never meant for this kind of manual labor.  With a ladder and shovel, I was finally able to extract it and continue the job.
When I headed over to the second little palm tree and began my investigation into how I could trim it, I found a sweet little dove sitting on a nest.  There will be no trimming of this palm tree.  Poor baby, even in all the rain, she never leaves.
WAIT ..... it just popped into my head.  That beautiful orange flower is a Mexican Bird of Paradise!! See??  Sometimes I really CAN remember things.

Now it's time to figure out why a light bulb fell from the ceiling in my bedroom this morning.  Sometimes the weirdest things happen to me.  By the way, I did not mention that I could not get the garbage disposal to work, so I was planning on a complete kitchen remodel.  Sink, disposal, dish washer .. might as well add in a stove and fridge.

When I added up the cost, I grabbed a long knife, stuck it in the hole and gave the disposal several hard raps.  Magically, when I hit the switch, it came on.  The kitchen remodel has been postponed.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Do It Yourself!!

I've always been a do-it-yourself kind of girl.  I remember way back in grammar school when they taught us to work together on a social studies project.  I got a D because we were graded on our whole project, not individually.  My partner didn't do ANY of her work.  I decided right then and there that I would always do it myself.

Sometimes that gets me into trouble, but at least I generally know when to call UNCLE and get someone who knows what they are doing.  Such was the case with the sprinklers.  This one was broken, so I brought another from California.  It can't be too hard, just unscrew the old one, screw in the new one.

Not so fast Miss Nancy ... seems the new one is WAY too big.  With the valves stuck open and watering the entire two acres, I called out the calvary.  Able from Arcadia Landscape came by yesterday morning.
Wasn't I shocked when he said it would cost $600 to replace these four sprinkler valves.  Good grief Able ... don't scare me like that!!  He said he would clean the bad one first and see if that worked.  I asked if I could watch and maybe do the rest myself.  

The nice man said certainly ... he would be happy to teach me all about them.  We unscrewed the top and discovered lots of gritty white junk from the hard water here.  All cleaned out, he unscrewed the anti-siphon side and gave it the once over.  Once back together, we turned on the water and it worked just fine.  He also showed me how to adjust each valve for water flow so it would quit blowing the emitters off the end of the lines.
Now to repair the broken sprinkler ... come to find out it was the correct size, but whoever installed it attached the water line permanently to the side instead of the bottom.  That meant cutting the pipe and making the same type of repair.  Probably $50 for that one!!  No matter, the new one is working great!

The next cool morning, I'll grab my screwdriver and clean out all the other valves.  Able said they would send me a bill for his time ... that's a scary prospect since he had no idea how much it would be.  Any questions about your valves, just give me a call.  I've got Able on speed dial. 

Here's something new I learned about yard work.  Seems there's always something to learn.  While waiting for Able, I started pulling weeds from the flowerbed, overgrown from WAY too much water.  I actually did wear a pair of gloves, not that they helped much.  I kept running into that nice little cactus plant.

Two hours later, I discovered I am covered from head to toe with little tiny minuscule cactus spines in my hands, arms, legs and feet, and a couple other places I won't mention.  I figure I'll have to live with it because I can't see them at all.  Note to self:  be more careful when pulling weeds around the cactus.
Deciding to treat myself for lunch, I made a quick trip to Dairy Queen just down the road.  A dangerous place when you don't have much self control.  However, they have a great meal deal.  I got seven chicken strips with a load of fries, two pieces of garlic toast and all the dipping sauce I would ever need, all for $9.50.  Not bad since it made three meals for me.  MUCH better than Taco Bell.
I've procrastinated long enough ... today is Mow-The-Lawn day before it rains again.  

Friday, July 13, 2018

Rumbling In The Night and A New Game

Remember those train tracks just a quarter mile from my back door?  They've apparently been good to me up until now.  It seems they have been doing some weird shuffling as of late.  This image is for my Canadian friends.  I've never seen Ferromex before ... anyone know where they are from?

The train went by the house SO slowly and finally stopped with this rear engine in view.  Fifteen minutes later, it backed up completely out of sight.  Another twenty minutes passed and it started up the hill again, this time to disappear over the ridge.  No problem it's day time, right?

Well last night it did it again, only I think BOTH diesel engines were parked just outside my patio door.  The rumblings went on and on, followed by rain.
That wasn't all that was rumbling either.  Thunder and lightning continued all through the night.  Its not easy to get night lightning images ... our little phones just weren't made for nighttime photography.
Most were huge blinding flashes that lit up the entire sky.
Needless to say I didn't get any sleep.  Miss Jessie, who is just as afraid of thunder as she is firecrackers, kept trying to find a quiet spot on the bed, which wasn't happening.  Sleep wasn't happening either.  It's all good though, because I LOVE being in the desert!
I'm so excited to show you my latest game ... how many differences can you find in the next two pictures?

If you said TWO, you were right.  Aren't they just fabulous?  Funny the things that excite me nowadays.  Door and drawer handles.  I can't tell you how nice it is to open the doors now.  No struggling with finger tips getting caught.  

On a quick trip to Lowes yesterday, I found these knobs and pulls, grabbed my little cordless drill and went to work.  What a mess to clean up afterward.  Once done, I kept going back into the kitchen and opening cupboards, just because I could.  I can't believe I did this myself.
I'll be going back again soon because I forgot to get something called reflectix that I can line the cupboards of my motorhome with to help keep the heat down.  Anyone tried it?  They say it will reduce the inside heat ten degrees or so.  People put it behind the couch on the wall, inside cupboards and even inside the back closet.  I'm going to give it a shot and see if it helps.  

The sprinkler repair guy is due here at 8:00 so I better get my act together.  

Thursday, July 12, 2018

My List Grows

We settled in very nicely the first day except for twelve runs to the rig to get things I missed the first eleven times.  Just when I think I've got everything I need, something else jumps up.

Knowing Cooper would have a hard time getting on the couch, neighbors Patty and Dan brought over a set of stairs they had used for their puppy.  I actually succeeded in getting Cooper to go up twice, but instead of going DOWN the stairs, he jumped clean over them.  Of course he did, right?
This was my final solution.  Of course the queen of the house Jessie immediately took up residency in Cooper's spot.  The cushion seemed to make a perfect stair step because Cooper went up and down all day with no problem.  
Having been living on leftovers and popcorn since I can't seem to bring myself to eat in the heat, I decided to splurge on dinner.  Arizona Pizza Company makes a pretty good one, leaving me plenty for next week's lunches.
I picked up a job while here in trade for mowing my lawn when I'm gone.  Plant sitting.  Can you believe it?  I'm doing my very best to keep them all alive until the Chance family returns from their mountain cabin summer vacation.  These live in a magnificent greenhouse but can't be left alone.  Talk about green thumbs ... those two can grow anything!
As I wandered around the yard looking at all the green growy things in the desert, I heard what sounded like my air conditioning unit coming apart at the seams.  I envisioned it destroying my house it's so huge.  

So first thing yesterday, I starting making a list.  AC unit, sprinklers, drawer handles for the kitchen, carpet stretching so I don't fall down tripping over the big lumps, repairing the front entrance tile.  My list grows on an hourly basis.

Desert Valley Aire, the company who installed this unit, put me on their schedule immediately.  The nice guy showed up the same day at 4:30.  He took the top off and lifted the fan blades out.  No pack rats this time.  He thought it was the top bouncing because the braces had vibrated loose.  

In no time, he was inside the unit, pushing and pulling before announcing it was fixed.  YAY!!  He put the top back on, we turned it on and VOILA!!  It made just as much racket as previously.  Turns out it was the collar inside that lost a rivet and was vibrating, making all the noise.  

It was a five minute fix that I'm sure any handy guy could have made.  Even I could have done that.  $165 later, it's purring like a kitten.  Mark one off the list.
While out front, I realized the Chance family might have made a mistake having me take care of their plants.  This is what several of mine look like.  Dead.  The good news is that I called the local sprinkler supply company and got recommendations for repair services.

Carlos called yesterday and he will be here at 8:00 Friday morning to fix my sprinkler valves.  I think I'll have him revamp the entire back yard system so I won't go to jail for using too much water.
In the meantime, I've scheduled a trip to Lowes today.  There's a bright red light in my refrigerator that says I need a new filter.  I went on-line to look for something reasonably priced, but this unit is almost 15 years old and I couldn't find the right number to order.  My list grows again but I could care less.  I'm enjoying amazing thunderstorms in the desert and I can't wait to get out and explore.  Pictures to follow.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Playing Tag With Thunderstorms

A quick recap because I didn't process these images from my camera in a timely manner.  One of the really cool things about staying at the RV park in Tehachapi is it's location right next to the little Mountain Valley Airport.

By the way, don't trim the trees under threat of extinction.  On occasion I have had to leave one slide in so as not to get hung up, but for the most part, there is plenty of room.
Throughout the year, this airport is the site of weekend glider fanatics who risk life and limb to glide around the skies.  In order to get up there, they are towed by this little beast.  Actually, it's an old crop-duster.  
They are attached by a long cable as they fly off in circles overhead to get the height they need before the cable is disconnected.
It's pretty fun to watch as the long winged glider gets pulled into the sky.  
Back to Quartzsite .... I was keeping a close eye on this storm that was heading right for me.  There were dust storm warnings and microburst warnings galore.  I was beginning to get a little nervous when I heard a storm in Buckley resulted in three mobile homes being turned upside down and thrashed to bits.  I had to go right through Buckley.
After dumping my tanks with ... can you believe it ... even blacker water than before, I took off very early in the morning hoping I would be able to skirt around the edges of the thunderstorms.  Naturally, in Buckley the black clouds darkened and the rain began to fall.  I drove a little faster, missing most of the wet stuff.

I hit Highway 8 East just barely missing a downpour that looked something like this.  Radar showed Tucson was going to get hit by 1:00.  I drove a little faster.  At long last I arrived at my humble little abode just in time to miss this deluge.

I unloaded the pups and Jonathan, turned on the AC (it was about 95 degrees) and sat on the porch listening to the thunder.  Pretty soon the wind came up and cool air washed over us.  What a storm that was!!
I spent the next couple hours unloading stuff because I just couldn't sit still on the couch, tired as I was.   Finally the heat got the best of me.  I turned the AC down a little more, only to hear a terrible racket outside ... coincidentally right where the AC unit sits.  It's working, but it's making lots of bad noises.  That will be my first call this morning.

My second call will be to a sprinkler repair company.  It seems one of my valves is stuck in the open position, allowing more than my share of water to make my plants really happy.  It did NOT make the water company happy however since I discovered a note on my door.  I'm sure it's another threat of extinction if I don't curb my water usage.  What is it with me and sprinkler systems???

It's a gorgeous day in the desert!!!  

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Rocking and Rolling

Well hasn't THIS just been the most interesting trip!!  I left Tehachapi ... nice cool Tehachapi and headed South on 395.  Almost immediately I was stopped for about 20 minutes.  They are finally fixing that section right out of Four Corners and making it much wider.  The line of cars and trucks going the other direction was over two miles long.

By the time I hit Adelanto, it was foggy.  That's weird ... I guess it's the hot low air hitting the cool high desert air.  Nope ... it was SMOG!  In no time my eyes were burning.  As I got down into Indio, it was even worse.  You couldn't even see the mountains.   Thankfully there was no 116 degrees, only 102.
That's when I noticed my hitchhiker.  At the bottom of the wiper ... a nice spider's web with lots of dead dinner critters.  
On I trudged with the AC going full blast.  That's when we came across these little palm trees.  Anyone know what kind of dates these are?  They were all full of fruit, but only five feet tall.
Out of Indio, everything is uphill as I climbed out of the smog, keeping a sharp eye on my temperature gauge.  Luckily I didn't have a single OH NO moment.  In no time, I spotted the Arizona border sign.  YAY!!  I'm almost home!
Instantly the fuel prices changed from $4.49 to $2.92.  You've got to love Arizona for that!!
Plodding along, Quartzsite finally came into view.  Seconds after I took this image, a small sports car went off the road rolling over many times by the parts laying all over the ground.  Lucky for them, I watched as both doors opened and they started to get out.  Whew!  That was close.
At long last, 6-1/2 hours later, I arrived at Park Place.  It's a ghost town, although there is one other rig here besides me.  That's when I got the weather alert on my phone ... a huge dust storm warning near Phoenix.  In no time there was a second one for thunderstorms, and they were headed right for me.
My plan was to dump my tanks while here since it doesn't cost me extra.  It's really not full enough, but HAS to be done.  I grabbed my bucket and went to the outside faucet.  Gosh ... that water smelled funny.  And it was HOT!  I let it run into the bucket, but it didn't get any better.  

Pretty soon I smelled sulfur and something else I can't explain.  That's when I noticed the water is dark grey.  Are you kidding me?  This is what people hook up to and drink while here?  I let it run some more, but it didn't get any better.  It was so bad that later back in the rig, I couldn't seem to get the smell off my hands.  What's up with that???
Between the rocking and rolling of the thunderstorm winds (no rain actually fell) and the 90 degrees nighttime temperature, I hardly slept a wink.  I left the back air conditioner on and set a fan up front, but it didn't help much.  It was a L O N G night.
I'm leaving fairly early.  After dumping the tanks and getting fuel I'll be back on the road, hopefully missing all the microbursts on my way further south.  Storms usually pick up in the afternoon they say, but I should be home by lunch time.  

Monday, July 9, 2018

On The Road Again

I awoke to a beautiful sunrise and my insides shaking.  I don't understand.  I have no problem with driving at all.  I guess it's the unknown ... what MIGHT happen.  Gosh ... what a waste of good energy!

I finished packing in the blink of an eye.  After seven years on the road, I'm finally getting to the point of not taking absolutely everything with me.  That mostly involves food.  I pack WAY too much food.
It being a Sunday morning, traffic was light.  While perusing my phone I actually discovered a new Pilot fuel station on Highway 99 near Chowchilla.  In no time I dropped $300.  I'm not saying they are ripping you off, but they are 25 cents a gallon more expensive than anyone else I saw.

Honestly, it doesn't matter to me.  If I can get in, get fuel and get out, I'm a happy camper.

Except for one thing ... I couldn't seem to get the overhead air conditioning to work.  I set it before I left, then figured just turning on the generator would keep us cool in the 102 degree weather.  I don't know what happened, but it did not come on.  

TWO stops later, I was beginning to think I should just turn around and go home.  I didn't think the small bedroom AC would keep us alive.  All of a sudden ... whoosh!!  COOL AIR!  Yay, it's working!!

As the morning wore on, traffic got worse and worse.  No worries, I just kept to my 55 mph in the right hand lane.  In no time at all I was in the big town of Bakersfield.  Yes, this is pretty much what it looks like.  I can talk bad about it because I spent a lot of my younger life smelling the oil wafting on the breeze.  

I had some cousins that lived in Bakersfield for a time, meaning we spent most every Christmas there.  Mostly I didn't like it because there were no stores open on Christmas day so I could spend my $5 in silver dollars, a gift I received every year.  It also happens to be where my parents met in high school.  There was no high school in Lake Isabella, so everyone was bussed to Bakersfield.
At any rate, over Tehachapi we went, with me staying in lower gears to keep the engine temperature down.  It's a cat and mouse game with the big trucks going 70 downhill, then me passing them going up.  

We finally took the offramp to one of my favorite little RV parks ... Mountain Valley just above Tehachapi.  It's rather small, so make reservations in advance, but will fit big rigs if you don't mind a few little branches.  I always ask for site #25 ... it's long and wide.  

The kids crashed right away.  Cooper has been doing well with me lifting him up and down the couch and the steps.  He drives me crazy in the mornings because there is still no ball game.
Where was Miss Jessie?  Believe it or not, all three of us were on the couch.  She's barely hanging on, but insists on sleeping next to me.
So this morning we are off again for a long seven hour drive to Quartzsite.  Won't it be fun in July?  Actually, it's supposed to be cloudy and only 101 today.  Keep your fingers crossed that we don't end up well done in the desert oven.