Thursday, January 30, 2014

Desert Loving

We took advantage of the 3 day weekend and headed out to Death Valley. I love the desert so much. I LOVE IT! I want to yell it from the mountain tops! I LOVE THE DESERT! Or better yet, yell it from the basin floor. I LOVE THE DESERT! Death Valley is home to the lowest point in the Continental USA, Badwater Basin -282 feet. The photo above is from the drive out to Eureka Dunes, although it looks more like the drive to Joshua Tree National Park.

The trip didn't involve much planning, but when Saturday came around the crew appeared like magic and before we knew it we were caravaning into no man's land.    

The Eureka Dunes rise a staggering 700 feet out of the valley floor and do something that doesn't seem possible, or even conceivable... they sing. I know, I didn't believe it either, but yes. When the loose sand slides down the face of the dune, the vibrations travel between the dense sand and the less dense sand to make a vibrating humming sound. Check out this YouTube clip. It was filmed at the Eureka Dunes. Here is another video that is explains the phenomenon pretty well.
We spent Saturday playing at the dunes, set up camp and played some bocci ball with Patty. There Phil is below making us some sandwiches, Grandpappy Phil with his glasses hanging off his nose.
This is my kind of camp ground. Look at that view.

Hiking up the dunes were as you may imagine, incredibly exhausting and a little frustrating. Talk about one step forward and two steps back.
I'm happy to be sitting on the top in this photo, although Phil still had quite a bit more work to do.   It's not out of character for Phil to sleep a ton but after that hike Phil crawled into the tent and didn't emerge until the sun was about to set.
In the photo above you can see the 10 mile dirt road that takes you straight to the dunes. And the photo below, Amo is happy to eat some bread.
At first the thought of "I don't really want to get sand all over my body" crossed my mind, but once I got a little sand in my shoes, I thought, "What the hell, might as well go all out." Steve was somersaulting down the hill and I was log rolling down before I knew it. Yes I had sand in my underwear like when I was a kid sitting in the ocean at low tide, but I didn't care.

This photo below was actually taken in the early a.m.  which I just learned stands for ante meridian, meaning "before noon."
We said goodbye to Patty at the Dunes and continued further into the national park, the next destination being the Ubehebe Crater.

Here is a photo of the crater below, it is about 600 feet deep and was created from a volcanic explosion only about 2,000 years ago. If you look closely you can see some people at the bottom. We didn't hike all the way down, maybe next time.

Next we headed to Scotty's Castle, a beautifully elaborate Spanish-style mansion tucked in the middle of a desert. It seems very bizarre driving for hours on what feels and looks like the moon, then rounding a dirt mountain to see a few cottonwood trees, date palms and Abrakadabrah! A 1920's millionaire's vacation retreat. 
I love the story of the castle and how it came to be, so I'll share it with you if you don't already know.

The story starts with someone who become known as Death Valley Scotty. Scotty started working for the Buffalo Bill's Wild West Horse Show after being scouted by Bill himself. He traveled for years with the show until one day he showed up late, probably drunk, as it seemed drinking was one of his favorite past times, and was fired.

He didn't know what to do with himself so he headed to Colorado to tour a gold mine. He received a piece of ore as a souvenir. That little hunk of rock soon became his best friend. He took that piece of ore to investors all over Chicago and New York, telling them about his mine in Death Valley. Yes, he would tell them that all they had to do was invest X amount of dollars and they would be rolling in the returns in no time.

So what did ol' Scotty do with all that money? He began living large. Tipping waitresses fifty dollars, buying rounds for the house and tossing coins into the streets. You can imagine this guy created quite a reputation for himself. Well one of the investors, Albert Johnson finally decided to catch up with ol' Scotty since he hadn't seen any of the returns he had been promised.
Johnson decided he would take a trip out to Death Valley to see the mine for himself. Scotty, being quick on his feet decided that he and his friend would host a heist hoax and scare the city slicker millionaire right back to the East where he belongs. Well.... not so much.

See, Johnson grew up reading penny comics about the wild west and LOVED the idea of cowboys, robbers, saloons, bar fights, all that. So when he and Scotty were intercepted by the "robbers," shots were fired, Scotty told them to shoot high, but the guys decided in their drunken stupor that it would be more believable if the shot low, in the dirt.

As you can imagine, that wasn't such a good idea. Scotty's own brother was shot and Scotty called 'uncle' in the whole debacle. Johnson was loving every moment of the cowboy shoot out but quickly put together that something wasn't right. Outlaws don't just stop shooting when they are asked to. His thoughts, I imagine, were linked together pretty quickly. This is weird. Cowboys aren't like this in the books. Scotty is playing me. There is no gold mine.

A side note, Scotty's brother survived. 
Instead of Johnson loosing his cool, he befriended Scotty. Scotty was Johnson's ticket to The Wild West.

And that was the start of a beautiful friendship. 

Now, the castle comes into existence because Johnson's wife, Betsy, was a city girl. She didn't want to miss out on all the fun but didn't like the idea of camping. And anything worth doing is worth over doing? I guess it you're a millionaire.

This place had hand painted lamb skin curtains, paintings imported from Italy, Spain, a theater style self-playing organ, plans for a swimming pool, hand made/custom EVERYTHING. It was incredible, this place was amazing. They called it Scotty's Castle because the Johnson's were modest people and didn't want the attention.

The three lived a good life in the desert, the ended up turning the castle into a tourist destination, allowing guests to stay and be entertained by Scotty himself. I wish we could have been able to experience the castle then.

Annnnnywayyyyyy. Definitely a trip worth making! I can't wait to go back. Gotta love that desert. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

It's Not All Bad News

Although I am left feeling quite a bit uneasy about my decision to call a tech support to fix the virus on Phil's computer (and after a Google search, thinking I over paid... ok, WAY over paid), I decided, that it's not all bad news.

The company that helped me out, Niva Solutions Inc. seemed to be quite knowledgeable and helpful, and the two computer techs that I talked to seemed quite nice. Through their heavy Indian accents they assured me that everything was going to be ok and not to worry. Mike (yeah, don't think that was his real name) even went as far as telling me to get a cup of coffee, sit down and watch the computer screen as they fix everything.

After everything, I'm still a little confused as to what happened to the computer in the first place, what was fixed and how our computer got hacked any how.

Water under the bridge now. I'm just going to try to forget everything, be happy to know that we now have 24/7 lifetime computer tech support and a friend somewhere in India.

So it's really not all bad news. While our computer was being worked on, I sat in the kitchen and watched the computer with a cup of coffee and worried my ass off but to my surprise, I looked out the kitchen window, and THE BIRDS FINALLY FOUND THE BIRD FEEDER! It's been almost a month and I haven't seen a single one until today. I told my dad the day I hung the feeder, "feed them and they shall come..." and well, I was a little worried they wouldn't but they finally did. So that's good.
AND, to make it even better, I finished my first peyote cuff bracelet thanks to a half dozen YouTube videos and about 6 hours of my time. AND it came out even better then I had hoped. So that's also good.

So, yes, the day turned out to not be so bad, again, trying to forget how much I spent of getting this computer fixed, but, it IS fixed, we have birds eating from the feeder, I finished my bracelet AND now Phil's home from work, so maybe go climbing and blow off some steam...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

How Did That Happen?

This blog post never made it to fruition. I was just browsing through some old posts and stumbled on this draft... it's from October 2010. Here it is.

I purchased my second vehicle last week. A 1995 Ford Ranger. Two doors, camper shell, manual. I would like to present David Douglas.

Here Fumie and I are sitting on the tail gate at Shelf Road, it's the only picture I could find of David.
My first car, a 1988 Toyota Camry was named by my dad. Lidia.  I bought Lidia from my friend Alyssa for $400. The back 2 doors didn't open but I thought, hey I always wanted a 2 door car. The speedometer didn't work, you just had to feel out what you thought 30 mph was or 70 mph was. Then the Avalon, yeah, my dad named her too, Phoebe. I went back to driving Lidia when the opportunity to but the ranger came along. When I bought the ranger I knew it needed a name pranto.

The name came after a visit to a pick-your-own pumpkin patch. Named after a dog.  The dog belonged to Jake the farmer, off of Hwy 34. Jake grows a lot of pumpkins, also veggies. Firewood... and apparently he naming genius when it comes to naming dogs. He named German shepherd David, now the name sake to my 95 Ranger. And the Doug just came naturally. David or Doug, both too good to be true, but with the help of my good and faithful friend, Cake, I mean Kate, we decided on David Douglas.

The Maiden Voyage

Last weekend I went on a spur of the moment trip up to Pingree. I wanted Ally to get her jollies out, as my dad says, and at the same time give myself a little vacation from the ranch. I packed haphazardly. Throwing everything into a box. Thinking.. humm... headlamp, check. Sleeping bag, check. Sleeping pad, check. Food, check. Warm clothes, check. With those few things I felt I pretty much had all my bases covered.

I was anxious to get out of here since I wanted to arrive with some day light left to set up camp. I made one trip to the truck, throwing in my box, Ally, and my hiking boots. Came back to the Hillcrest Trailer, looked around. Went into my room to grab a pillow, I mean if you're going to car camp, you may as well, right? Did my final go around and loaded up.

It's a beautiful drive to Pingree. Up through Buckhorn Canyon, left on 44 and about an hour later your looking at the Mummy Mountain Range.

I don't know how it happened, even with all that looking around, I forgot the box of food. Yes, all of it, well, all I had was a little beef jerky AND Ally's dog food (at least I brought that).

After a really rough night,* I called the day at Cirque Meadows, totaling a womping 6 miles. Prematurely headed back to the Ranch, and took a nap and ate some food. 

Well worth it? Always.

The rough night, it was the roughest night. In October it's already quite cold up in the mountains so Ally and I were seriously bundled up in out sleeping bags. I had on multiple layers of clothes and was totally cinched into my mummy bag. We were sleeping in the back of my truck, which you can't lock the shell, and were feeling really vulnerable. I was thinking, if someone wanted to come in here and give us a hard time, I would be totally trapped... well while we were going to sleep, we could hear some people a few sites down blasting Nine Inch Nails and System of a Down... not the most enchanting music to fall asleep too... and it just left me thinking, what if those are the people that I'm worried about and what if they decide to give me a hard time?

Well sometime after falling asleep, I don't know what time it was but I think I was dreaming it or it may of actually been happening. I hear foot steps outside of my truck. I jolted straight up as Ally begun to bark. Whatever I heard, she heard too. I tried looking out the window but saw nothing. I thought about letting Ally out to attack whatever it was we heard but decided against it on the off chance it was a moose or something.

I laid back down on my sleeping pad making sure my Leatherman tool was close at hand. Somehow I managed to go back to sleep. And nothing else ever became of the mysterious foot steps.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Red Kuri Souffle

Here it is. I got a carrot souffle recipe from Dave and Alisha a couple years back, chances are if you are reading this you have probably tried said souffle, being it is really easy to make and ALWAYS a crowd pleaser at pot lucks, it's my go-to dish.

Tonight Phil and I are going to a Dia de los Muertos party.... and I went climbing a little too long today at the Buttermilks, so I was scrambling to put something together for the pot luck. I thought, "Souffle!" Duh, it's your go-to dish like you just said, but we have no carrots! But we do have that kuri squash that I wanted to make soup with... and that's how it happened.

I can't tell you if it's good or not, I will have to wait till we get to the party to try it, but it smells good, looks good and chances are... it's going to be good!

If you want to try it at home, it's quite easy. All you need is:

1 red kuri squash (I boiled it because I felt pressed for time, but it would probably be better if you roasted it. Whatever way you get there, you want it easily squashed (haha, pun) with a fork)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (I never add this because I always use salted butter)

Put everything in a processor, grease a 9" glass pie dish, cook at 325 (don't forget to preheat) for about 50 minutes. And tah-dah! Souffle!

It always looks best right when you pull it out of the oven, after a little reading online, souffles fall. It's just want they do, so don't be upset when it happens. I read something about adding egg white powder to make the egg protein more hardy and make it more firm... I didn't do this but who cares what it looks like anyway as long as it tastes good! And I don't know if this one will or not*, but if you substitute the kuri for 1 lb. carrots you absolutely will not go wrong.

*OMG, yes, it's good.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Lake Sabrina?

Phil and I decided since he wasn't working today and I... well I'm not working at all... should go for a Halloween drive up to Lake Sabrina, or what's left of it. Unlike Rock Creek Lake, Lake Sabrina is a reservoir that (after a quick wiki search) constantly flows into a hydraulic power plant. At least when there is enough water to do so. Supplying water, and apparently power to Bishop area.
A little fun fact that I just happened to stumble upon, thanks wikipedia, is that Lake Sabrina, which everyone pronounces "Sab-bry-nuh" is actually named after the wife of the general who built the dam in 1907-1908, Mrs. Sabrina Hobbs. But she pronounces her name "Sah-BREE-nuh." No one knows why the pronunciation was changed. They can't blame it on an illiterate sign maker like at Bodie State Park, which was originally Bodey. But with that one they welcomed the spelling change to ensure correct pronunciation. "Sab-bry-nuh" and "Suh-BREE-nuh" are both spelled Sabrina. I digress.
Our Halloween hike was not filled with smelling trick or treaters feet and getting our underwear pulled down, but Phil found a rock to climb (not hard to do here) and I brought my favorite candy along for the novelty. York peppermint patties.

Although the lake was quite smaller in volume then it normally is, it was quite a beautiful sight. Walking on the floor on the lake bed was actually quite (I'm looking for an adjective here to describe the feeling and when I asked Phil how he would complete the sentence, he said) fulfilling. I guess it was an unexpected surprise, which fulfilled us. Thanks Phil.
A Halloween isn't complete with out a scary face. That's what we were going for here. Maybe those faces would scare a baby but that's probably about it. And that's all that matters.

Pretty Little Things

This is the newest pretty little thing I've made. Thanks to Jennifer, Phil's mom, who taught me how to make this style of bracelet. Or I should say, thank you Aunt Jan! Aunt Jan taught Jennifer who then taught me.

I am taking my first beading class at the Venerable Bead in Bishop on November 3, I can't wait! The class is for a wrap bracelet like the one above but with leather straps and... well I don't really know for sure but I'll post a pic if it comes out nicely!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Phil Fishes and I...

... take jumping pictures. They really never get old, do they?

Phil and I hiked up to Francis Lake on one of our last days at the resort. It was a little bit of a blessing in disguise. Phil was up there fishing a few days before and left his fishing net. I had been wanting to make the hike but just never got around to it this season. So, since we he to go up there anyway, I thought, "Hey! this will be my first and last hike up there for the season!"

The hike isn't too long, it takes about an hour but its mostly uphill. When we got there I was pretty warmed up but once Phil got settled in and started fishing that morning chill began to creep up on me. I stretched, walked around a little, enjoyed the views. But then I started to get cold and my creative genius kicked in and I though, jumping pictures!

Before long I was sweating my ass off and completely out of breath. It was great.

Francis Lake proved to be yet again a very difficult lake to catch a fish in. Phil left with out a bite but it definitely WAS worth the trip. How else could I have gotten all these great pictures? We will see you again next season Francis.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Arctic Chill

There were strange things done in the midnight sun, by the men who moil for gold
The arctic trails have their secret tales, that would make your blood run cold
The northern lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see
Was the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge that I cremated Sam McGee

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and grows
Why he left his house in the South to roam 'round the pole, God only knows...

-Robert W. Service

From left to right, Star Mountain, Half Moon Pass and Flat Top (aka Pointless Peak/ Mono Mesa)
I thought it would be a good brain exercise to memorize a poem. I thought, how hard could it be? and isn't it good to play memory games and such to keep your brain smart? Those six lines above were my best attempt at memorizing The Cremation of Sam McGee, by Robert W. Service. A poem containing fifty lines. I was just a little short but maybe I'll give it another attempt. I love the poem.

The first time I heard it was on my first day of dendrology with Rocky, the tree loving fanatic, at Colorado State University. Rocky had memorized and recited the poem to the class upon his introduction. I didn't know if I loved him or if I was more concerned for what the rest of the semester was going to hold.

Rock Coleman, just as you may have imagined him.

Although Rocky probably would not be impressed with my meager attempt at Mr. Service's masterpiece, maybe he would be happy to know I'm still out there enjoying the outdoors and taking a few pictures to prove it.

Here are some shots taken just after a nice nine inches of snow fell on Rock Creek Canyon.

Rock Creek Lake
Peanut walking on thin ice
Peanut, who I affectionately call Peanut Butter Ding Dong
Phil wading in the ice water to catch a fish. He's crazy.