Fulltime Roadrunners

Fulltime Roadrunners
Winter Boondocking in the desert. Summer Workamping wherever

What a Difference…

November 4th, 2014

…a few days make.  Our weather lately has been perfect!  No more having to run the A/C. We’re keeping the windows open all day long and for a while there we were keeping them open all night long, but the last couple of nights we’ve had to close them because it’s been getting too cool.

We’ve acclimated so well that the low temp of 48° yesterday was quite cold for us and even at 67° I’m wearing long sleeves and pants.  Thom is still in tee shirts and shorts, but he wears shorts until it freezes.

Things have really slowed down here in the campground.  The cooler weather causes the river and back waters to cool down too making it less desirable for both recreationists and fishermen.  The fish are still biting, they’re just a bit deeper now.  The temp of the river has dropped from about 88° to 75° which makes the water-boarders, skiers, and tubers stay away. 

About all we’re getting in the campground now are the really avid fishermen, snowbirds, cyclists, canoes and the occasional hunter.  The ducks have just starting coming south so we should be getting more hunters in soon.

We just got word from the Yuma Office this morning that we will be getting a large group (48) of students and faculty from Evergreen State College out of Washington state to camp here from the 6th to the 8th.  Then 24 of them will leave and 24 will stay until the 12th.  That’s just 2 days from now.  They will be doing some work and/or study of trees over in the Cibola Wildlife refuge while here.  The college is in my old stomping grounds.  I lived in Western Washington for 18 years.

Yesterday morning Thom drove all the way into Blythe to get water and discovered water is no longer available at the place we were getting it.  He was able to get the load of water out of Cibola, but we can’t do that on a regular basis.  He drove back to Blythe yesterday afternoon to talk to the water dept. and/or parks dept. to see if we could work something out, but it’s a no go.  He also talked to some water suppliers like sparklets to get rates.  The cost is pretty prohibitive.  We’re still working on checking into options.

Tomorrow we are going in to Quartzsite to visit with Lee and Ilse and are going to take our water trailer with us to fill at the BLM La Posa South LTVA (Long Term Visitor Area).  It’s about 46 miles to the LTVA.  We can’t afford to drive 96 miles every 5 or so days to get water.  We’ll figure something out.  We’re still looking for options.

Quartzsite is starting a new Farmer’s Market tomorrow.  It will be every Wednesday from 8 a.m. to noon.  It’s located in the front row of Desert Gardens Gem show.  There will be fresh baked goods, local crafts and, of course, local produce.  The Eastside Breadery will be there with baked goods, Van Dyke Farms out of Blythe will be there with their produce and goods.  I’m not sure who else, but I’ll report back after we’ve experienced it tomorrow.  It should just get better and better as more snowbirds arrive.  I’ll try to take pics too.

I’ve got a few orders for my beaded hummingbirds so I’ve been spending a lot of time working on those and not near enough time on housework and other things.  I don’t have any time at all to get out and go fishing or work at getting my garden so it will grow plants.  I’ve got 4 birds to make right now and it takes a minimum of two days to get them done.  I’m limited to about 3 to 4 hours a day, after that I start making careless mistakes and spend more time undoing than doing.

As you might know, AZ doesn’t observe Daylight Savings so we didn’t turn back our clocks.  Our cell tower doesn’t know we are in AZ because it’s in CA so our phones tell us it’s an hour earlier than it really is here.  Minor frustrations, but sometimes still confusing.

That’s all for now, I’ll try to get some pics ready to post and get pics of the Farmer’s Market to share.

Ya’ll stay healthy ‘n happy!

Tah.

Life at Oxbow

October 25th, 2014

We got our washer ‘n dryer home on Thursday.  We definitely needed the help of the firemen to get unloaded.  Thom has spent the better part of yesterday and today getting them set up and ready to run.  Tried the first test run and the washer wouldn’t run.  He’s been tinkering with it for the past hour and I just heard the generator start again so we’ll see if it works this time.  This is one of those times when being off grid is definitely  a pain in the neck.  Having to rely on a generator for power and a water tank and pump for water (cold water only) can be challenging, especially when you are dealing with appliances with minimum power and water pressure requirements.  Will let you know if we ever get it gong.  Thom did get it going and we did get one load washed and dried, will do the last tomorrow.  Although the sales person told us we only needed to connect the cold water hose if we were only using cold water.  After much digging in the instruction booklet Thom found in trouble shooting section that both hoses had to be connected in order to run.

On our way back from getting the washer ‘n dryer, we stopped to check mail in Cibola and a truck driver was there trying to get directions from a resident to get to Hwy. 78.  Thom told the driver we were going that way and if he just followed us we’d show him where to turn to get to hwy. 78.  When we stopped to point to the road to turn on, he got out of his truck, got into the back and brought out a whole case of fresh Snow Peas and handed it to Thom.  I’ve been sharing with our guests here in the campground, but I’ve still got lots left.  They’ve only been in the fridge for 2 days so are still very fresh.  If anyone in Quartzsite or Blythe or anywhere else nearby want’s to have a sir-fry in the near future, drop on by and I’ll share until I’ve no more to share.  Just PM me in FB for my phone number or directions to the campground, or email me. Thom and I can only eat so many sauté’s snow peas or salads with snow peas, etc..

Our group of guys that come here on a “mancation” to fish catfish were back.  Once again they held a fish fry.  This time I made up a big potato salad and we ate at their place.  Yummy!  They’ll be back again sometime in March I think.  Our Firemen will be back in late March or a couple of weeks before Easter.  They all know to avoid the week before Easter because that is when the Chosen Few motorcycle group come in… if they are coming.

We have a couple of local Bass Fishing clubs launch here and stage their weigh-ins in our parking lot for the day.  Weigh-in is usually at 3 p.m. and after that they release all if their catch in our lagoon right at the ramp.  Bass fishing is pretty good that evening and next morning.

We haven’t done any fishing to speak of all year.  It’s either been too hot, or I’m just too frustrated with my fishing line to try to get it straightened out and back on the reel.  I need to change line completely.  In the meantime I’m thinking I’ll take my lightweight trout pole out to the lagoon and see what I can catch with it.  A couple of pan sized bass or large blue-gill, maybe a 1 or 2 lb catfish.  That would be a nice supplement to the diet.

I’m now going to share some photos from our last few months out here.  Remember, you can click on the photo to get the larger picture in a new window.  Just close that window to come back to the blog.

These are a couple of the more frightening critters we get here in the campground.  They are frightening mostly because of their size.  This first one is the Apache Click Beetle (aka Black ‘n White Click Beetle), this one was 2-1/2” long.
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This other one is the Palo Verde Borer Beetle.  This one is a little longer than 3”.
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The other reason these guys are frightening is their life cycle.  Both of these beetles lay their eggs in burrows at the base of the trees.  The grubs bore through and eat the roots of the trees.  If there are enough of the grubs, they will destroy a tree in short order.  The Click beetle’s cycle is 1 year underground then a few months to a year as an adult.  The Palo Verde Borer (so named because it’s preferred host tree is the Palo Verde) is an adult just long enough to breed, gather nutrition, and lay eggs.  The grubs spend up to 3 years underground eating roots of the trees.

Just because I love them and was so thrilled when Thom called me on the radio to tell me this guy was on the bathroom wall… I’m sharing a new reptile with you.  It the Western Banded Gecko. We tell our guests that if they see it on the wall, don’t panic and, by all means, don’t kill it!  They eat spiders almost exclusively and we get a lot of spiders in the bathrooms.
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You can tell when a gecko is well fed because they store their fat in their tails.  See where it’s tail is a bit thicker?  If you are thinking of buying a gecko from a pet store, make sure it has a healthy fat tail to know it’s well taken care of.

We have our true beautiful jewels out here as well.  This is a Blue Ringed Dancer damsel fly.
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Our Widow Skimmer Dragonfly
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The Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly
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All in all, it’s beautiful out here and we love it.  Life is truly good when you can wake up with this as your greeting to a new day.
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Ya’ll stay healthy ‘n happy!

Toodles.

Would like Your Input

October 22nd, 2014

I know it’s been months since I last posted.

When I started this blog many years ago, we were just making plans to become full-time RVers with the plans of boondocking much of the time.  I intended the blog to follow our expectations, preparations and learnings as we progressed, with the hopes of helping others benefit from our experiences and learnings.

Along the way we enjoyed sharing life on the road, the pluses and minuses of Workamping and the joys and frustrations of meeting all kinds of people.

Well, the summer of 2013 we pretty much quit being on the road. We spent the summer at Senator’s Wash Reservoir volunteering for the BLM and then they asked us to move to the Oxbow Campground.  We jumped at the chance and are now planning on being here for as long as the BLM needs us and lets us stay.  This means we are no longer on the road, not on the grid, but not totally off the grid (boondocking).  I quite writing the blog because I figured people no longer would want to follow my blog since I have no sharings regarding being on the road, or experiencing new places and situations.

Since I quite writing to the blog I’ve had several people who follow the blog comment to me on the fact that they miss it.  I found that there are a number of readers following the blog I didn’t know were reading it and they too missed it.

So, now, I would like those of you who read this to let me know if you want me to continue to write about our experiences out here at Oxbow campground, the wildlife we enjoy, our experiences with the BLM (with whom we have no complaints at all…so far), and our experiences with the diverse guests we get out here.

Please click on the comment link at the bottom of this post, or send an email to judy@jggrafx.com and tell me what you feel and what you’d like to hear about.

Now I’ll try to do catch-up in a capsule for the last 3 months.

As we were told, the summer here was hotter and more uncomfortable than at Senator’s Wash in spite of the fact that Senator’s is further south and we are right on the river.  Thom was able to deal with it much better than I, but we both spent as much of the heat of the day as we could in the air conditioned RV .

We didn’t get as much usage this summer as they did last summer.  I don’t think any recreational areas did.  We do, currently, have the retired and active firefighter’s group in here.  They started arriving a week ago and many of them plan on staying until Friday.  Great, fun people (men) who do a great job of policing themselves. They keep offering to help us however they can and  tomorrow we may take advantage of that offer.  The water pump in our washing machine gave up the ghost.  Because it’s a Swedish compact, it would take about $1000 to get someone out here to fix it, assuming the part can be found.  We found a Whirlpool set at the Sears in Blythe at a closeout price for about the same price, so we go pick it up tomorrow and will ask the guys to help unload if we need them.  My back hasn’t been happy for days (since I ran out of glucosamine/condroitin).

We’ve enjoyed the cycle of critters we get in here.  Many migrating birds from orioles to tanagers to warblers to water birds.  The rabbits and other mammals are more evident at different times of the year and the lizards are out and about all the time.  Rattlesnake sightings are rare and King and Gopher Snakes are beautiful and plentiful, which may account for the rattlers being scarce.

Enough for now.  I hope to choose what to share and get pics shared in the next few days, from our guests enjoying the water and campground to the critters we get to enjoy.  Maybe even a shot or two of the beadings I’ve done in the last 3 months.

Again, let me know what you think about my continuing the blog.

Ya’ll stay healthy and happy.

Toodles!

The Heat is On

July 25th, 2014

We have had consistent 110°+ for a week now.  Up to and over 120° a couple of days.  I understand this is normal for the Oxbow Campground from mid-July through August.  We are supposed to have a few breaks under 110°, but none below 100° until September.

It is currently 111° with a humidity of 42%.  It’s not real comfortable to be outside.  We’ve the same humidity inside but the temp is only 84°.  What’s sad is it is only noon, so we have hotter temps to look forward to today.  There is a 10% chance of thunder storms all week long.  10% means plenty of humidity but no rain.

About 1-1/2 months ago Stan, our maintenance guy, had to come out and scrub each of our 300 gallon drinking water tanks.  It had a fierce algae bloom going on.  He then “shocked” it with bleach, dumped that water out and rinsed it good and refilled it with fresh water.  Now, just 1.5 months later it has developed another algae bloom.  We’ve just decided to quit using those tanks and use just our 125 gal. tank on the little trailer and our fresh water tank in the RV.  Of course, we are still using our fantastical Big Berkey water filter for drinking and cooking water.  At least now, our shower water doesn’t smell musty from the algae.  Since we were filling our RV tank from the 300 gal. tanks, we had to shock our RV tank again with bleach before putting any fresh water from Blythe directly into the RV tank.

It’s kind of funny… the telling of things is quick and simple, but the doing can sometimes wear a person out.  Dealing with the worry, planning, figuring out what to do and how to do it, and then the actual act of doing it.  The power situation was a real headache and still wears us out.  Thom has to get up and turn off the diesel generator by 6 or 7 in the morning, switch power cords from genny to solar power (there are 4 of them with 2 being out by shed and cargo trailer), start the Honda genny to run the portable a/c and periodically check the power level at the solar system.  We’ve learned that if we run the portable a/c on the Honda we can turn the big a/c on in the RV around 10 a.m.  Every time we switch the power source we have to go to the inverter and turn off the charger because it doesn’t work and sucks power from the house batteries.  It automatically goes on when power source changes.  We get the diesel genny running again around 4 or 4:30 p.m., switching all the cords again.  When the diesel gets running, I turn the fridge to electric and turn on both big a/c’s and the portable a/c.  Some of those of you in stick houses don’t realize how much simpler it is for you.  It does keep us more active than we’d normally be in all this heat, but it’s also a bit wearing.  We’re just happy we are able to stay relatively cool and comfortable.

Thom has been on the hunt for a relatively inexpensive generator that will run our washer and dryer.  It took him several days, but he did find one at Home Depot that was on sale with $200 off.  It’s a Duramax 10K that runs on gasoline.  It’s a bit louder than our old Diesel (72 dB) but we’ll only be running it to do laundry or if we lose all other sources of power.  It should be at the store for pickup around Aug 4.  We did the math and counting gas to get to Blythe and back it’s costing us about $45/month to do laundry.

I haven’t been out much to take pics, but I do have a couple of new ones.  Yesterday on our way back from doing laundry one of the farmers fields had been flooded for irrigation which brought a bunch of White-faced Ibis in.

My Desert Spiny Lizard come by every morning and climbs up into one of the trees.  Here he is on the Cottonwood tree right out my front door.  This is the smaller one of my two big ones, he’s about 12” from nose to tail.

While trying to sneak around the tree to get this shot I almost stepped on a snake.  I caught the movement out of the corner of my eye and looked down.  It was a lovely 4.5’ Gopher Snake (thank heavens – wouldn’t have wanted to be that close to a rattler).  It was so intent on the hunt it didn’t even pay any attention to me.

 


That’s all for now.  Hope to post again soon.

Ya’ll stay healthy ‘n happy!

Tah!

Still Coping

July 19th, 2014

We’re still doing good out here.  When things go wrong we have been able to either work around it or fix them.  It’s not been fun and every time we think we’re on the road to being able to work on catching up and getting ahead we end up having to spend more to make things work.  We haven’t gone under though, so all is well and life is good.

The Monsoons still haven’t hit here, all around us, but not here.  This morning was the first time it looked like it might happen since I last posted, but it didn’t hit.  I think it dropped 10 or 12 raindrops, and no wind to speak of.  The dark clouds did keep the temps down and with the breeze it was quite comfortable outside this morning.  An hour ago, though, it was 111° and no so comfortable.  A pic of our dark skies this morning.
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In managing our power and a/c usage, we don’t use the smaller a/c over the bedroom until we get the diesel generator going.  This is during the hottest part of the day when the sun is beating directly on the a/c unit.  On the hotter days it will run for about 15 minutes then trip the breaker.  After it has a chance to cool down, we get it going again.  When the temp gets below 100° it will stay on.  Thom went on top to get dimensions and figure out how to mount a shade cloth over it.  Unfortunately there isn’t any way to anchor it.  Back to square one.   Earlier this week the diesel genny would shut down in the middle of the night and Thom had to go out to get it started.. two and 3 time a few nights in a row.  We called the rental company and they brought out another exchange.  We’re on our third one now.  This one is working great… for now.  I hope it continues.  I can just see the rental company telling us we’re a jinx and they aren’t sending any more.  He he.

Our little oscillating fan fell to the floor and broke a blade so it’s no longer usable.  I didn’t realize until it broke how much I rely on it to help keep us cool.  I have to go to Quartzsite on Monday, so I’m definitely going to stop at ACE Hardware or Kmart to replace it.  I’m going to Q to buy some beads I’ll need for a project I want to try, and to pick up some apricots I’m buying from a friend there, Pamela.

I finished and sent off the Seattle Seahawk hummingbird my cousin’s daughter ordered and plan to make one for myself, only with a regular short beak.  
 seahawk2-0714    seahawback2-0714

Before I start that one though, I’m going to try to make a Bullock’s Oriole.  They are so striking and beautiful… that’s the one I need the beads for.
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The water pump that was here for pumping water from the lagoon to water trees wasn’t in working order so it was sent in to be fixed.  Got it back, ran fine but still wouldn’t pump water.  Sent it back, was gone for about 2 weeks, but when it came back it finally worked.  So now Thom is pumping river water from the lagoon into our portable black water tank (had been cleaned) and is now driving it around to water the trees in the campground.  If I ever get a working garden, we’ll use this to water the garden too.  I don’t want to try to plant anything without having the shade cloth to protect the young plants, not even the jicama which is supposed to be a lover of full sun and heat.

We’re still not besieged by rattlesnakes.  Thom did see one two nights ago while walking Willow at 10 p.m., but it was on the edge of our campground.  I couldn’t get out there fast enough to get a pic before it headed down into a field.  Yesterday morning we did have a lovely 4-1/2 foot California King snake hunt through our yard.  I love these guys.
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The Gentian (Texas Bluebell) is finally blooming down by the lagoon.  It should continue to bloom through the summer and in to September.  Another thing of nature I love here.
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My mind has gone blank so I’m going to say g’bye for now.  Will post again when I’ve something to say.

For my “parting shot” - Post Sunrise this morning with sun path on the Colorado River.
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Ya’ll stay healthy ‘n happy.

Toodles!

Last Couple of Months

July 10th, 2014

I just haven’t felt like posting lately.  Don’t know why.  Maybe I’m just afraid everything I have will be negative in spite of all the positives we still have in our life.  One of the negatives is the heat.  The positive that comes with it is we have learned to deal with it, adjust, and we are acclimating.

We’ve had high temps in the 3 digits every day since early June.  In order to keep cool we had to use our big diesel generator to help run the RV air conditioners.  The big diesel genny isn’t meant to be run in hot temps, but we had to use it or melt in our house.  In the process of keeping us cool, the generator worked too hard and just quit, never to run again.  Luckily we still have our Honda 2000s and the portable room air conditioner, plus the BLM’s solar system and propane generator to supplement when the sun was scarce so we were able to get by for the couple of days until the BLM rented and brought out a 20K Whispersoft Generator.  The rental agreement allows us to run the 20K for 16 hours/day.

We are now getting high temps running 110° and higher consistently.  We are managing to deal with it by running our portable a/c with the solar system from the time we get out of bed until the temp in the house gets uncomfortable, then we switch on the large RV a/c and turn off the portable, running it occasionally to boost the cool… still on the solar system.  We usually run the propane generator an hour or so in the morning to top off the batteries on the solar system.  At 3:00 p.m. we start the 20K generator (diesel), switch our power cords to it and run the whole RV on it’s generated power until 6:00 a.m.  Then we start all over again the next day.  If we have to go someplace, like Yuma or Blythe, we leave the portable a/c running so the pets don’t get too hot.  It’s a challenge and sometimes a hassle, but we’re getting by.  I do have to admit there are times when I wonder just what the heck we were thinking when we signed up to do this, especially on a particularly hot weekend and I have to spend more time outside with guests than I do inside in the cool air, but then I remember all the plusses and joys.  The heat and discomfort only lasts 3.5 months while we have lovely wonderful weather the rest of the year.

Monsoon season has started and will continue now through August and into early September.  We have had no rain, but have had some wind.  We had one night with thunder and lightning, but it was happening a few miles away from us so we only got a smattering of rain drops, not even enough to wet the ground, just enough to smell good and drop the temp by 10 degrees.  I hope we get at least one good rain storm in here.  For the rest of the summer we have to pay attention to what’s happening around us.  If there are storms to the south of us we probably won’t be able to get to Yuma unless we go the long way around through Quartzsite.  Even going through Quartzsite might not let us get there.  This week they have been hammered by two storms.  Extensive damage to RV’s, carports, windows blown out and flooded washes closing roads.  The wind caused two RV’s to roll over, one of them 3 or 4 rolls with 3 people inside.  The people only had a few cuts and scratches, thank heavens.The owner is a BLM volunteer, working maintenance during the summer.

We’ve been getting a lot more critters through here since it started heating up.  I’ve seen several migratory birds – two types of Tanagers, 2 types of Orioles, 3 or 4 types of Warblers, and the Black-headed Grosbeak.  AZ also get the Blue Grosbeak and Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and the Cardinal, but I’ve never seen any of these.  I’ve seen 5 different types of Hummingbirds out here – the Black-chinned, Anna’s, Costa’s, Calliope, and Rufus.  I may have seen an Allen’s, but I wasn’t able to verify it.  We get lots of different water birds.  We’ve seen Bobcat (Willow chased one), Cougar, Raccoon (Willow chases these every time she sees one), Skunk, Cottontail Rabbits, 1 Rattlesnake last year, 1 King Snake and 3 Gopher Snakes.  Two of the Gophers and the King were 6 feet long, the 3rd Gopher was about 5 feet and the Rattler was about 4 feet.  We haven’t seen any Rattlesnakes this year yet.  Lots of different lizards.  And, of course, we have a gazillion bugs!  The Apache Cicadas have been vibrating very loudly for the past 3 weeks.  Today I finally got a picture of one in a tree.  They blend in quite well.

This heat makes it difficult for me to cook.  When it’s 84 to 86° inside you don’t want to use the oven or stand over a hot stove.  When it’s 110° it’s difficult to keep the BBQ cool enough to not burn your food.  We’re not necessarily eating healthy right now.  We do eat more salad though, it’s easy to fix and requires no heat.
We had to go to Yuma yesterday so I got a very large pork picnic roast going in the crock pot before we left.  We now have enough leftovers for lunch and dinner for 3 days, plus meaty bones for yummy soup when it starts to cool down.  The crockpot did warm up the house a bit, but not too bad.

If anyone wants me to share more of something or want me/us to share more about our living where and how we do, just email me or post a comment.

Now I’m going to share some of the photos I’m taken the last two months.

Black-chinned Hummer – male        Cedar Waxwing
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Cottontail Rabbit eating Birdseed        Desert Spiny Lizard (8” w/o tail)
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                                              6’ Gopher Snake
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Special Guests having fun                           Apache Cicada
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Widow Skimmer Dragonfly                    3” Palo Verde Borer Beetle
widowskmmrfem-0604  palovrdeborerbtl-0704

Ya’ll stay healthy ‘n happy!

Toodles.

Time Flies!

May 6th, 2014

It seems like January was just a few days ago, yet here it is May already. 

We’re getting a few things accomplished out here.  The BLM gave us an “easy-up” shade canopy to put over the table outside where I write the annual passes for our guests.  I managed to get it put up all by myself other than having to have Thom help me position it over the table to give us the best shade.  It’s a great place to sit and bead while watching for new arrivals.

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Thom finished putting together and filling our raised garden.  Just yesterday I transplanted some Armenian Cucumbers to it.  I’ve started some Jicama also, but the plants are teeny tiny still.  If they survive and get big enough, I’ll transplant them into the garden near the cukes.  They both need something to climb on so we’ll be putting in trellises on that end of the garden.  We also want to put up some shade cloth before the summer gets too hot.  At least we’ve got it started and we’ve got plenty of time to work on it as we can.
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It’s getting hotter out here in the desert.  We’ve had several days in the 3 digits.  Thom is getting quite acclimated to the heat, he will go outside and sit in the shade to watch the arrival and departure of our guests.  I can only last 15 or 20 minutes out there, even in the shade and with a breeze.  105° is quite warm whether it’s in the shade or not.  I hope we can do well when the temps get above 110°.  I understand that when they do it’s not for many days so hopefully we can get through without it costing us an arm and a leg in diesel for the big generator.

Spring at Oxbow Campground and the surrounding area is a bird watcher’s paradise.  We get all kinds of warblers, tanagers and orioles.  The last couple of days any time I look out my window I see up to 6 or 7 Black-headed Grosbeak.  The first one is the Male, second a female.

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We get a Lazuli Bunting now and then, and, of course, all those hummingbirds! 

Yesterday on our way in to Quartzsite I had Thom stop above this place across the river from us called the Hippy Hole” so I could take a photo of the American Avocet all in a row.  I think they are so pretty.
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I made a hummingbird for a gal in Quartzsite and delivered it yesterday.
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The gal I buy my 3D bead patterns from has created a new pattern for a beaded Phoenix.  I bought the pattern and now I’m excited to get it started and see the results.  While in Quartzsite I bought some beads I need for the new pattern..  As soon as I’ve finished this post I’m going to bring out the beads and start working on it.  Today is a cooler day, 9 a.m. and still only 67°.  Only supposed to get up to 78°.  It’s windy though and supposed to get windier.  Since I’ll be pretty much holed up inside anyway, it seems only right that I do some beading.

The Bureau of Reclamation is still releasing copious amounts of water from Parker Dam.  I’m beginning to wonder if we will ever have a beach on the pond again.  The boaters are loving it though.  Fishermen not so much.  At least the people fishing the river aren’t real happy, but those fishing the backwaters and lakes are still getting lots of action.

I do need to get a couple of things done before I can bring out the beads, so I’m going to say g’bye for now and get busy.

Ya’ll stay healthy ‘n happy!

Toodles!

Desert’s Dangerous? Critters

April 26th, 2014

I want to write a post basically devoted to the dangerous critters of the Sonoran desert and truths about their actual danger.

But first just a note to let you know we are doing fine out here.  The weather hasn’t gotten hot yet, just relatively warm.  That’s a good thing since it may take a bit longer than we’d hoped to get shore power. It seems the bid came in quite high, prohibitively high.  The powers that be are trying to find a work around and/or get the electric company to revise their bid somehow.

One of our regular guests was fishing the other day and caught a turtle.  The only turtles we have out here are Soft-shell Turtles and I’ve been told they are quite aggressive, their heads look like snapping turtles.  This lady turtle had a 10 inch shell.  Cliff decided to keep her, butcher her and make a meal or two from her.  She had 32 eggs in her in various stages of development.  I’m not sorry she won’t be laying those eggs, we don’t need a bunch more turtles in our pond.

Okay, on to the “Dangerous Critters”.  I’m only going to share what I have found out about the ones I’ve managed to see and take photos of.

One thing to keep in mind in the desert – where bugs are concerned, red usually means danger, keep a wide birth.

Starting small, the Velvet Ant is very wide spread and there are several different kinds.  I’ve seen the Red Velvet Ant (very pretty) which comes in Red, Orange, White and Beige; and the Thistledown Velvet Ant (camouflaged as a thistledown blowing on the ground).
0708rdvlvtant2about 3/4” long

thistledownvelvetant-1010thistledownvelvetant-1017About 1/2” long

The velvet ant is actually a female wasp without wings who wanders the desert looking for a nest of a ground wasp.  She lays her egg in a hole she’s eaten into the legless pupae of the ground wasp which becomes the food for her baby until it matures.  The female Velvet Ant has a stinger and her sting is very, very painful.  They are not aggressive and will try to avoid you if possible.  The name "Cow Killer Ant" was given to the velvet ant because of the reputation of the female’s sting. It is said that the sting is so painful that it could kill a cow.  Don’t allow your children to go without shoes in the desert, even around your yard, and don’t YOU go barefoot.  If you get stung by this lady, you’ll wish you never took the shoes off.

Blister Beetles

Arizona Master Beetle
0406blisterbeetle2About 1-3/4” long

These blister beetles get very large, up to 2 inches long.  They respond to disturbances by reflex bleeding from knee-joints and other body parts. If this clear green blood gets on your skin it causes painful, itchy blisters which take a very long time to heal. In the process of mating it also secretes this blood and transfers it to the female.  I’ve experienced the blistering of the Master Beetle personally.  We were in Quartzsite and they were on the ground and climbing the grass plants to breed.  Apparently they’d left their blood on the plants so when I walked through the little plants the chemicals got on my ankles.  I broke out in painful blisters that took 1-1/2 months to heal.

Inflated Beetle (AKA Desert Spider Beetle)
0406inflatedbeetleAbout 1” long

Upper surface coated with yellow or white nitrogenous secretions which can cause painful blisters if it gets on your skin.  These beetles are not always yellow, sometimes their secretions will be white or greenish.  These beetles will also appear mostly black.  When I see one of these, I think of it as a “trundle bug” because it’s goes trundling around the desert floor.

I’ve only seen the Blister Beetles in the spring.

Tarantula Hawk
tarantulawasp3-1101Nearly 2” long

The Tarantula Hawk is not aggressive except with a Tarantula spider or if you annoy it somehow…. swatting, etc.  The female tarantula hawk captures, stings, and paralyzes the spider, then either drags her prey back into her own burrow or transports it to a specially prepared nest, where a single egg is laid on the spider’s abdomen, and the entrance is covered. When the wasp larva hatches, it creates a small hole in the spider’s abdomen, then enters and feeds, avoiding vital organs for as long as possible to keep the spider alive. After several weeks, the larva pupates. Finally, the wasp becomes an adult, and emerges from the spider’s abdomen to continue the life cycle.

Because tarantulas are not easy prey, tarantula hawks are equipped with a powerful venom that is reputed to create one of the most painful stings in the insect world. In fact, according to the Schmidt Sting Pain Index — a pain scale rating the relative pain caused by some insect stings — the tarantula hawk rates as the second most painful sting ever measured.
This is a good link for more info on the Tarantula Hawk:
 http://www.desertusa.com/insects/tarantula-hawks.html

Tarantula

Tarantulas give some people the creeps because of their large, hairy bodies and legs. But these spiders are harmless to humans (except for a painful bite), and their mild venom is weaker than a typical bee’s.

Scorpion:
scorpion1

Most of the scorpions we see in the Quartzsite, Yuma area are Giant Hairy Scorpions which can get up to 5” long.  They look dangerous, but their sting is no worse than a bee’s.  If you open this photo to it’s larger size, you can see the hairs on it’s appendages.

We do have a scorpion with a rather potent venom: the Arizona bark scorpion, found at higher elevations on trees, under bark. I wouldn’t recommend sitting against a tree to take a nap.  At best, a sting from that scorpion can be rather annoying, or, at worst, the scorpion sting can be extremely painful with longer lasting effects.

Deaths from scorpion stings are very rare. People who are prone to have allergic reactions to stings, and those with undeveloped or compromised immune systems (the very young and very old), may have strong or severe reactions. Small pets may also have adverse reactions.

Rattlesnakes:

Western Diamondback
0324snake1

Speckled Rattlesnake
0630spkledrtlsnake2

Sidewinder
0330sidewinder4

I love snakes, they can be so beautiful.  Rattlesnakes can be a bit scary though.  I can be comfortable around one as long as I can keep my eye on it at all times and it’s at least 6 feet away. Rattlesnakes rarely bite unless provoked or threatened; and if treated promptly, the bites are rarely fatal.  They are more afraid of us than we are of them.  They will try to get away rather than attack you.  Snakes don’t see us so much as feel the vibration of our approach and sense the heat of our bodies.  If we surprise them before they feel these two senses they will rattle to warn us we are too close, otherwise they will move away.

Rattlesnakes can control the amount of venom they deliver (babies cannot).  Many times they don’t deliver any venom with their bites and it’s quite rare for them to deliver all their venom.

I’ve not got a photo of the Mohave but it is usually a darker version of the Western Diamondback.  I do need to warn you with a quote from DesertUSA regarding the Mohave:  “The Mohave rattlesnake may be the most dangerous venomous snake in the Sonoran Desert. Quick to go on the defensive, the Mohave has very toxic venom that has caused human fatalities. Venom toxicity varies among different populations. The seriousness of a bite from this rattlesnake, as from any rattlesnake, depends on many factors, including, but not limited to, the amount of venom injected and the health and size of the victim. A person bitten by a Mohave rattlesnake should seek medical attention immediately.”

Another quote from one of the sources I found:  “Rattlesnakes tend to avoid wide open spaces where they cannot hide from predators and will generally avoid humans if they are aware of their approach. Rattlesnakes rarely bite unless they feel threatened or provoked. A majority of victims are males, often young and intoxicated. Approximately half of bites occur in cases where the victim saw the snake yet made no effort to move away. Caution is advised even when snakes are believed to be dead; rattlesnake heads can see, flick the tongue, and inflict venomous bites for up to an hour after being severed from the body. Most species of rattlesnakes can control how much venom to inject and have hemotoxic venom, destroying tissue, causing necrosis and coagulopathy (disrupted blood clotting).”

When I get a photo of a Centipede and hopefully Giant Desert Centipede, I’ll share it.  In the meantime, know that they do bite (pinch with pincers), and it can be painful, but not dangerous.

That’s all for now ya’ll.

Please feel free to share this information with people you think need to know.  My blog is open to the public.  I do monitor comments so spammers can’t use the blog to spread their evil.

Ya’ll stay healthy and happy!

Toodles!

Easter Weekend at Oxbow

April 20th, 2014

Apparently we have two groups that come here every Easter Weekend, one a large family & friends group and the other a large friends group.  Both groups camped on the point so they got acquainted and turned into one big group – boating, jet-skiing, swimming, ATV’g, motor bikes and evening partying.  Both groups were very nice, fun people so it’s not been a chore having them here.  It will be nice to have a quiet, peaceful campground when they are gone today.  One of our regular boaters is friends with the family group and they came out to go boating with them.  When they got here yesterday, the gal came over with an Easter basket for Thom and I.  There was a note on it saying “thank-you for all you do.”  That was a nice pick-me-up.

Last Friday we had several military helicopters fly by, mostly over the river.  I was told it was the Marines doing training for terrorist attacks.  They flew by at least 5 times.  Yesterday we had the military jets fly the river.  Here’s a couple of shots of the helicopters.
marineopovrrvr-0417

marineopovrrvr2-0417
They were both quite low and loud, especially the 2nd one.  I kinda like the “whomp whomp” sound of the big blades.

We still haven’t started building our garden.  I was hoping to have it ready for my seedling cukes and jicama.  Probably won’t be ready for the cukes, but maybe the jicama.  The jicama hasn’t sprouted yet, it takes quite a while for them to grow but they are heat tolerant plants.  We certainly have a long growing season here , so I’m not worried about that.  We’re supposed to take two days off every week, but Thom is so intent on making this campground better and keeping it well maintained, I’ve not yet managed to get him to take a full day off work at the campground.  I’m trying to get him to give some time to the garden.  I can’t lift those big concrete blocks without hurting my back.

The birds out here sure know it’s spring.  The Grackles are all doing their whistling, screeching and calling while stretching, puffing, fluffing and bobbing to attract a make.  We have both European Collared Dove and White-winged Dove puffing, fluffing, cooing and chasing to try to get a mate.  When the dove start chasing each other the flap of wings almost sound like small guns.  The bull-frogs are calling, woodpeckers pecking trees to mark territory and squawking when any critter gets too close to the boundary, and the warblers are singing their beautiful songs.  Spring is definitely not a quiet season here, especially when you consider the people coming out in their noisy boats and the jet-skis (I call them river maggots) buzzing and blasting up and down the river.  I’ll take the critters any day!

Here’s a couple of the migrating birds that go through every year.  We had the Lazuli Bunting in Ogden Canyon all summer long up in Utah, but they only come through here on their way to their summer homes.  This guy hasn’t quite got all his spring finery on yet, but I’m sure he’ll be bright and handsome when it’s time.
lazulibnting-0418

And this one is a new one for my Life List.  It’s not really a remarkable looking bird, just tiny and cute.  This is a Cassin’s Vireo.
cassinsvireo3-0416

We have a whole bunch of hummingbirds out here, mostly black-chinned hummers.  They go through approximately 5 cups of sugar water a day… if I make it every day.  I mix it light on sugar, but that doesn’t seem to bother them.  Standard mix is 1 part sugar to 4 parts water and I mix it a little less than 1 cup sugar to 5 parts water.  That still means I use nearly 1 cup of sugar every time I make it.  I have 4 feeders, but many times I’ll let one or two sit empty for a day or two.  If a feeder has nectar in it this is what it usually looks like.  Quite often we will see a hummingbird with a tuft of feathers sticking out on the the back of it’s neck or back… that’s from the other hummers poking at it with their beaks.
busyfeeder3-0408 

Tomorrow we are going to Quartzsite so I can pick up some more beads for an order I got for another Anna’s Hummingbird.  Since we are going to be there, I placed an order at the East Side Breadery to pick up while there.  Jenny makes yummy breads and goodies!  Gonna get gas at the Flying J (cheaper than Yuma even) then head over to Blythe to do a bit of grocery shopping.  If we’ve time we will stop at Lee & Ilse’s place for a short visit.  I’m going to do my best to keep us away from the campground as long as possible.  We definitely need a day off!

The day’s half over now, but I still want to leave this sentiment for ya’ll.


healthhappiness

Toodles!

Back to Normal

April 16th, 2014

Our Motorcycle group trickled out Sunday morning.  It’s taken this long for me to get to a point where I want to talk about it so I’ve just stayed away from the blog for a few days.

We had well over 100 people in here from toddlers to grandpas.  Friday night was non-stop noise until after Thom went out to try to quiet them down around 2:30 a.m.  Then they were back at it around 7 a.m. Saturday morning.  Bill, our supervisor and another ranger, Ray, were here all day Saturday.  The booming of rap music and foul language flying around all day (from both the music and the campers) was hard to take.  About 3:30 Sat. afternoon, Bill told Thom and I to lock up the house, hop in the car and get away from the nearly over-powering noise for an hour.  It was heaven.  We just went to check mail and took a drive through the refuge.

The campground did very well income wise, but it also took a bit of a beating.  In spite of the fact that we handed out 1-1/2 cases of 55 gal. trash bags, Thom picked up 3-1/2 fifty-five gallon trash bags of trash, 3 broken camp chairs, an empty ice chest, cardboard boxes, etc.   We found unused trash bags on the ground.  We saw many trash bags filled with their belongings being packed into their cars.  We’re still running into trash here and there.  They also deliberately broke large branches off two trees along the river. 

Bill talked to the officers of each of the 4 chapters (San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles and Phoenix AZ) Saturday morning telling them that in the future they need to call him well in advance to make arrangements for coming here, always the weekend before Easter.  He will set some ground rules and they are expected to see they are obeyed.  Because it is usually only them in here at that time, we give them some leeway, such as quiet down a little at 10 p.m., more at midnight and no noise after 2 a.m.

Saturday when Bill left he told us to go into our house, shut the door and do not interact with the group at all.  We were off duty unless there is an emergency.  Our Law Enforcement Officer also stopped by and told us to lock ourselves in, there were some “thugs” out there and we were to stay away at night.  Wow!

There were some really nice people in the group and they were fun to talk to and help out. 

A couple of pics of the weekend “party”.

Parking lot side of campground. Nice Harleys.


River side of campground.


Launching their jet-skis.

The water level of the river is still quite high, but they are slowing down the heavy release from Parker Dam.  It will be interesting to see if we have sandbars when we have low water.

Our temps have gotten warmer than I expected for April but for the most part it’s still only in the 90’s and relatively comfortable.  It could be a long, hot summer.  We did pretty good at Senator’s Wash and should do just fine here.  In the meantime, it’s spring and the mesquite trees are covered with blossoms and I even have a flower on one of the Desert Lilies in the campground.
dsrtwllw3-041514
Desert Willow

mesquiteflwrs3-0329
Honey Mesquite Flowers

Spring also brings the Warblers back.  Here is a Wilson’s Warbler taking a shower/bath in our sprinkler.
wilsons2-0405wilsons-0405

I have a potato salad to throw together and a beaded Anna’s Hummingbird to finish.  I better hop to it!

Ya’ll stay healthy ‘n happy!

Tah!

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