Saturday, February 14, 2009

An Atypical Valentine's Day

This weekend we drove to California to pick up two 2,500 gallons water cisterns to be used for rainwater harvesting. I could get them from the factory for six to seven hundred dollars less than I could buy them locally. After paying trip expenses we saved a few hundred dollars. In addition to saving money we had another adventure. Here are some of our experiences.

On the trip toward California the car started missing on one cylinder. I checked all the plug wires and found a replacement wire that was touching a hot tube coming out of the exhaust manifold. The heat had burned through the jacket. I replaced it with a new wire that I had and the problem disappeared.

We stopped to get gas and Julie went in to get a cup of coffee and two spoons. As I waited I watched her through the window and wondered why she was taking so long. She was obviously talking with someone out of sight. In a while she came and explained she had met some man who wanted to tell his life story -- recovering alcoholic, former cocaine addict, had lost over 100 pounds in weight, etc, etc. While listening and being polite she took only one spoon. We ate in shifts.

After loading the tanks we planned a slightly different route home that took us over the mountains via the same pass that we had used earlier in the day. We had received some rain just before loading the tanks but the mountains had received snow. The mountain highways were icy, two trucks were blocking the road and we were turned back at a roadblock before we could get to the base of the mountains. We checked our options and found a fifty mile detour to the south over another pass.

Water tanks.
We stopped on a section of historic route 66 in the Mojave desert, propped the camera on a bank and took this photo. (Larger version)

We took a route over part of historic 66 that parallels the interstate before crossing a road that leads to Laughlin, Nevada. We planned a lunch on the river walk. As we ate a small bird landed about three feet in front of us and looked up hopefully. I tossed a few grains of rice on the walk and the lone bird was joined instantly by twenty others including two Mallards and three pigeons. It was good fun feeding them and watching their behavior.

At a gas stop a clerk came out and asked where we bought the cisterns. He has horses, pumps water from a well and needed additional storage.

The strangest question came from a man from Las Vegas that we met this morning outside a motel in Barstow, California. "What is that? A bomb shelter?" He had arrived at the motel after dark, saw the trailer with the cisterns and was curious. He said he had dreamed about them during the night.

It was a good trip. I'll forget these and other people we met -- like the extremely polite driver of the gasoline truck or the young waitress from Idaho who's husband is a Marine at a base near Barstow. I'll forget them but not the conversation with Julie or her laughter as we listened to "A Prairie Home Companion" or her comments about the beauty of the land. These will stay with

It wasn't a typical Valentine's Day but it was an enjoyable day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Morning After

We have snow! It may be the largest snow that we've had. Four years ago there was a snow in March that rivaled this snow.

Snow on trees and roof.
Almost a foot of snow. (Larger version)

The University closed at 3 P.M. on Monday and was closed yesterday because Flagstaff received a little over 16 inches of snow. Normally Flagstaff will get several inches of snow and we will get a dusting.

Two Juncos awaiting breakfast sit on the snow above the fence rail. The galvanized can behind them holds birdseed. (Larger version)

Snow is good! When it rains the water runs off so quickly that most ground remains hard and dry. A snow melts slowly and soaks in to the depth of the tree roots.

Monday, February 09, 2009

In Plain Sight

A year-long search unexpectedly ended Friday. I had misplaced a few disks containing photos from 2002 through 2005. I couldn't find them after repeated searches but knew they would be found some day.

I have an oak secretary that was my grandfather's and my father's. I opened the front looking for a notebook and saw a stack of disks in plain sight. Ah, ha!

Serene pool.
Serene pool in Rocky Mountain National Park. (Larger version)

Among the missing photos were a trip in July 2005 with my son and daughter-in-law. We stopped at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Arches National Park in Utah and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

Taking a break.
Julie taking a break by a high mountain lake. (Larger version)

The photos are mediocre but they bring back some excellent memories.

Now, I need to burn copies for my son. Like me, he misplaced his photos.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Eastern Sky

The Eastern Sky.
The eastern sky above North Sheba cinder hill - February 1, 2009. (Larger version)