First Close Encounter with a Rattlesnake and Canyon Lake

Friday morning Cori and Greg headed out bright and early, and since we didn’t have any plans until lunch Lee decided to empty some of the grey tank into our blue boy so he could do a little laundry and still have a full gray tank to flush when we leave on Sunday. Because it sits up in the bed of the truck, Lee pumps the grey water through a macerator pump and into the tank and then drives it to the dump station.  He had just finished filling it and was walking to the truck to drive it down when he saw a 5 foot rattlesnake between the grassy area and the driver’s door.  Thankfully he was being aware. I’ll be honest, I have been paying close attention when we are out on the paths, but around the campsite I have been less than vigilant.

The diamond pattern on the back shows it is a diamondback. I didn’t even notice until Lee pointed it out. Too busy looking at the head where the fangs are.

 

They really blend in

 

I appreciate they serve an important purpose in the ecosystem, but Yikes!!

I texted Deb and she came over and we all tried to shoo it away from the truck. Unfortunately the snake was having none of it, and after throwing pebbles towards it to encourage to move along, and even a couple of larger items what worked was when I turned the generator on.  They don’t like vibration and that worked, although it took it’s sweet time.  We heard later from a local that if you have a hose handy spraying them with water works very well, so that’s good to know, but it wasn’t easy using what we had at hand.  And that wasn’t all! When Lee returned, there was another much larger snake under the rig, but we don’t think it was a rattler. It meandered around for a few minutes under the rig and then worked it’s way over to the picnic table and under a nearby bush. I was feeling decidedly uneasy.

My concern is that my eyesight isn’t that good, and now I feel I need to walk everywhere looking at the ground all the time.  For the record, this one never rattled once despite the fact that we were annoying it, so you can’t really rely on that.  For the next couple of days I was obsessively looking under everything, and really for me that’s not my favorite way to live.  In all fairness this was our first snake encounter of any kind in 2-1/2 years on the road and they really don’t come out when the weather is cooler, but it definitely is part of desert living, and you should know it’s always a possibility.

The next morning we had bunnies and I was obviously way happier about that

After our snake encounter we left to meet Chloe and Dale for lunch.  Chloe reads the blog, grew up in the area, and reached out to see if we wanted to meet up.  We had met briefly in Quartzsite and they know many people we know, but Lee had never met them.  I asked for a reasonably priced local restaurant and they recommended the Iowa Cafe which serves breakfast and lunch.  I loved the food there.  Large portions, reasonably priced, and attentive service.  We had a great conversation with Chloe and Dale and they were a font of information about the area.  Since we are definitely coming back here we were excited to add some “local” places to our list and we also really enjoyed learning about them.  Dale was a real live cowboy for awhile (which piques Lee’s interest) and Chloe was a steamboat captain for awhile.  Very interesting people, and really glad we got to meet them.  Plus she made Lee a lemon pie with real lemons from her garden and it was a big hit at dinner that night.

Dale, me, and Chloe (I was trying to get Dale to smile for the picture and he was humoring me!)

Lemon pie!

That night Steve, Deb, Kat, Bert, and Lee and I all ate together, but everyone just brought the leftovers from their fridge.  This is a fun way to eat, and everyone feeds each other, so I gave Steve leftover hot dogs, Bert fed Deb chicken legs, and Lee ate leftover steak.  Meals like that always manage to come together and are a great way of cleaning out the fridge.  We had a fire and talked some more and then called it a night because Saturday morning we were going kayaking with Deb and Steve at Canyon Lake.  We have an inflatable Sea Eagle Fast Track kayak which is great, but for one reason or another we barely get to use.  Deb and Steve use their kayak pretty frequently and wanted to show us a special spot they found.  We got up early and left around 9:15am after saying goodbye to Kat and Bert.  They had an all day family event and we weren’t sure we would see them before we left.  So glad we got to hang out though, and know them better, and they may be heading to Oregon this summer, so hopefully we will get to see them there also.  Either way, once you connect with people it’s easier than you would think to meet up with them in your travels so I know we will see them down the road.

Before heading to the lake we did have to stop and get a day pass.  Most gas stations sell them and they are $8 per vehicle, so we grabbed a pass and headed out. The drive itself to the lake was absolutely beautiful.  The road was very curvy and went through Tonto National Forest.  We stopped and took several pictures  at scenic vistas and the views were great.

The pointed rock in the back is Weaver’s Needle. Deb said the view is much better from the other side, so she’s already planned a hike for us to take next time we are here 🙂

Extra bonus of being with friends is we can get pictures of the two of us. Deb took this one

Someone buried their dog here. Deb and I were very touched by that.

I loved, loved this formation. The picture doesn’t do it justice.

We arrived pretty early at the lake and it was starting to fill up.  It’s actually three lakes with three dams and connecting waterways and supports larger boats and a marina.  We went to the very end and put our kayaks in along the edge.  Since there is some chop on the lake from the bigger boats we stayed near the edge and went around the corner , under the bridge, and into a narrow waterway.  Wow!!  Deb and Steve find the coolest places, and although the section isn’t very long, paddling with the cliff walls on either side was amazing.  We went to the end and then turned around and had some lunch in the boats (that requires some coordination) and then headed back out. Stunning, and unfortunately the pictures simply don’t do it justice.  I am a much better photographer on dry land lol.

Bridge we kayaked under to get to the canyon

Steve, Hurley, and Deb

Good fishing at the entrance

The entrance was around the smaller rock in the front

There were only a couple other kayaks we met along the way, it was very quiet and peaceful

 

 

I loved this rock.!

We reached the end and you could hike from there, but we didn’t have the shoes for it so we turned around and headed back out

Going back out was even prettier than coming in

Love how the plants grow on the rock walls

We ate our lunch tucked back in here

Since it was a shorter paddle than Deb remembered and Lee really wanted to see the other side of the lake we decided to try and make our way across.  We stayed along the edge on the way out and looked into a few inlets and even got to see one of the dams and a cute baby duck.  When we made it to the main waterway for the boats, I was ready to call it quits and looked up and saw a mountain sheep high up on the  cliff.  Got some decent shots with the long lens despite the water being choppy, but then I was ready to go back.  We all decided to try to go straight across the lake and we made it fine, but my shoulders are pretty sore today.

Overview of the lake.  Black arrow to the right is where we started.  We went around the edge in the front of the picture to the second arrow on the left where we saw the sheep.  Then we went straight across to get back.  I was pretty proud of Lee and I since we aren’t experienced kayakers and it took less time than I would have thought to complete all of that.

The speed boats were courteous but there was unavoidable chop

Loved, loved the bright green of the lichen on the rocks

One of the three dams

Around the bend to the left of Deb and Steve’s kayak is the main waterway

Saw the sheep on the top of a rock this high.  See Deb and Steve kayak at the bottom for scale.

 

 

Not bad considering the bounce. Hard to keep the camera steady

After kayaking we headed back and got ready for Lee’s step sister Lisa, and her husband Dave.  They live in Gilbert and she reached out and wanted to come see the rig.  They aren’t RVers, so we gave them the nickel tour, and then I made Boursin Chicken for dinner.  I like making real dinners when non-rvers come to visit so they can see it isn’t all hamburgers and hot dogs and the chicken is simple but still a little fancy.  We even used regular plates and Lee busted out a table cloth so we were super fancy!!

Lee getting ready

Lisa and Dave talking to Deb

From left: Dave, Steve, Deb, and Lisa (Check out Lisa and Deb.  Seriously I need to start hanging out around less attractive people I am starting to get a complex :P)

Dave, Lisa, me, and Lee

We got to know Dave and they had lots of questions about the lifestyle which was really fun to talk about.  The six of us had a nice dinner and a campfire and then Lisa presented a HUGE apple pie.

Seriously monster pie with my hand for scale.

OK, let’s talk about the pie a little.  It’s so sweet that everyone gives Lee pie, and he is incredibly grateful, but I do want to go on record here that the man is definitely not suffering in the dessert department, despite his post/Facebook comments to the contrary.  So please know that pie is always appreciated, but it’s not like he needs the pie or his life won’t be complete. (Don’t pay any attention to her, she’s getting older and starting to get a little loopy. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. There is no such thing as too much pie, or too many pies, and it brings such joy to our friends and relatives to give me pie, who am I to stand in the way of making the world a better place? It might be the best thing that happens to them all day, what kind of person would take that away from someone? She’s really mean. – Lee)

Anyway, we had a lovely talk and I really enjoyed getting to know Lisa better, and we both were really glad to meet Dave. She is a beautiful person inside and out, and since they live so close to one of our new favorite places I am excited about seeing more of her and her family and in the future.  Next up Cottonwood, Sedona, and Flagstaff.  We are packing a lot in during our time off, but it’s great because I don’t feel pressured or rushed in anyway.  Really like traveling like this with short hops to the next destination.

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer. 

First Time at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

The next day all eight of us left early for the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  I learned about this place from reading other people’s blogs, and although it wasn’t as good as the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum we liked it a lot and felt at $12.50 it was very reasonably priced.  The trails are a bit convoluted, so we made Kat our navigator, and Lee was totally in the zone taking pictures.  Most of these flower pictures are his and he was using our macro lens (which I am always too lazy to pull out) to great effect.  The Arboretum started as a rich man’s private garden and grew into a large complex, which was eventually donated to the state.  We see this phenomena quite frequently in our travels and I always enjoy these types of gardens because they are a combination of plants and sculpture. 

What sets the Boyd Thompson apart are it’s location (it is surrounded by beautiful hills and rocky walls which become part of the scenery) and the collection of plants from arid regions around the world.  In particular I liked the Australian outback setting, and it was cool to see plants from there.  Kat, who is originally from England, has traveled extensively and it was neat talking to her about Australia, New Zealand, etc as we walked along.  I also really liked the cactus garden.  I was prepared to be unimpressed, we are surrounded by cactus everywhere here, after all, but the types and arrangements of the cactus were beyond anything I have ever seen and it was clear that particular care was taken with this garden layout.   I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.  This is a small sampling of what we saw, and I highly recommend trying it out if you are in this area.  Just go early, because it did get very hot around noon. We both took lots of pictures, because the place was incredibly photogenic, and we’re trying to make up for two months worth of gate-guarding posts. Plus, Lee’s mom loves flowers and all things green and growing!

Kat trying to navigate us herd cats.


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From left: Deb, Cori, Kat, and Bert.  That’s a good looking group!

Lee was in the creative zone. Greg said later when he’s taking pictures we say “Hi” at the beginning of the walk and then talk to him at the end, which made me laugh because it’s so true. Kat did make sure with all the twists and turns we kept him in sight, so we didn’t lose him, which was not always easy!

Love this pic of Lee’s with the shadows

Lee’s pic

He took some amazing closeups of flowers

This was one of my favorites

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Lee loves this one with a before and after of the same flower.

I liked this sculpture a lot

I actually took this one with the long lens and liked the way it turned out

This sign made me laugh. What a great way to keep people on the path

Deb and I both liked these flowers. They are stiff to the touch and feel like heavy stock paper

Walking close to the canyon walls was very cool.

At the top of one of the trails the views were great.

Lots of lizards on the trails. Lee got this shot with his phone, the lizard was very patient while he crept up really close to get it.

This wall was hand built and really beautiful

This was a man-made pond which helps support the ecosystem.

My favorite was the cactus garden

Prickly pears!

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Love when they grown in half circles like this

Another One of my favorites

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I got a pic of a new bird the Phainopepla in the cactus garden

And I spotted this caterpillar and Lee got a close-up for me

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They had a beautiful legacy rose garden

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This is another before and after set that Lee loved.

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Although it was hot they had several places to stop along the way for some shade. This was my favorite.

I really liked it and they open early in the morning for folks (like us) who want to beat the heat.  Plus I was glad our schedules gave us time to do something with Bert and Kat.  They are seeing family in the area, Cori and Steve are working, and we all have overlapping travel schedules, so finding a day and time to hang out with all 8 of us was a little challenging. Steve actually took a vacation day to make it work, which was very nice of him!  After the arboretum, Bert and Kat went to see Bert’s niece, and the rest of us came back to the campground.  Cori and I planned a surprise party for Deb for her (REDACTED)th birthday, which is next week, so we decorated, baked and iced a cake, and surprised her when she came over for happy hour.  It’s nice when people are together for their birthdays and we decided this was definitely close enough!

Since everything in the landscape here has thorns we were limited on our decorating options

Chocolate with chocolate icing. Deb’s favorite. It was a joint effort, I baked it and Cori frosted and decorated it.

Deb was a good sport about wearing her tiara

Although the dogs (Hurley on left and Hobie on right) were not big fans

Cori walking out the cake

Note to self, do not buy candles at the dollar store! Deb just thought it was funny. Love that about her.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer. 

First Time at Usery Mountain Regional Park

I am pretty sure that we had our shortest travel day ever as we only had to drive 13 miles from Lost Dutchman State Park to Usery Mountain Regional Park.  Even though they cost the same and the basic terrain is the same, the two parks have a very different vibe.  Lost Dutchman has better views and it’s extremely clean and orderly, but Usery has a more natural landscape, the sites are bigger and more spaced out, and the vibe is much more relaxed.  Because there were more openings at Usery we were able to get campsites all in a row and despite different departure times we all rolled in around the same time.  The park is water and electric only, so we visited the dump station right when we arrived and met a very nice couple from Connecticut who had just retired and purchased their first ever small travel trailer.  The husband was dumping for the first time and since he was only using what the dealer gave him in the way of hose, seemed at a bit of a loss.  The etiquette is to never offer assistance unless it’s requested, but when the gentleman was honest about how he wasn’t sure what to do Lee spent some time walking him through it.  Lots of people helped us when we first started out, so we always like to pay it forward, but again, only if someone asks.

After we got them squared away we emptied our own tanks, and then headed to our site, and it was a beauty.  The angle was a bit odd, so it took a few tries for Lee to put the rig right where he wanted it, but once we were settled I was really happy with the surroundings.  Deb did walk over and say they saw a pretty big snake when they pulled in to their site, so I was very careful about where I walked during setup.  In the entire time we’ve been on the road I have never seen a snake of any kind in the wild, which is fine with me because while I appreciate their purpose, I’m not a huge fan.

Our site, taken from the very back end. In the next picture you see can the picnic table in the distance, that should give you an idea how roomy these sites are.

Our rig

Deb and Steve on one side

Cori and Greg on the other

Cori made ribs for everyone for dinner in the Instant Pot and I paid close attention to how she did it.  She uses hers all the time with great success, and although I like mine I am not nearly as advanced as she is.  Once the ribs were finished, Greg crisped them up on the grill and added the sauce and everyone loved them.  They were fall off the bone tender and really flavorful.  I am definitely adding the recipe to my next cookbook, once I try it myself to make sure I can duplicate her efforts.  She also made Macaroni and cheese in the Instant Pot and cole slaw, and Deb made strawberry shortcake!!  Then we all settled in for a nice fire and enjoyed the night.  Unfortunately, one of those fast desert storms came up with wind, lightning, and rain and we all had to go inside, but it was a great way to break in a new campground since none of us had been here before.

Deb added lemon flavored olive oil which made this desert extra yummy

The next morning I got up pretty early (Lee and I are still trying to get readjusted back to our pre-gate guarding sleep schedule) and decided to take a walk and get some pictures.  Right across from Deb’s campsite is a 1/2 mile nature trail, which has signs showing the different plants and is a paved path.  You can walk through the desert here, but I was nervous about it so felt much better staying on the path.  I saw lots of birds, several chipmunks (couldn’t get a pic) and enjoyed the flowers in bloom.  There isn’t as much color here as there was in Lost Dutchman, but I actually saw more animals on the walk.

This beautiful house is on a hill behind the campground. Nice pad. (Update: We learned later this is Stevie Nicks’ house)

People sometimes have the misconception that the desert is barren, and certainly some desert we have seen is, but in the area near Tuscon and Phoenix it is full of stuff and has it’s own beauty. It is also teeming with wildlife.  We have seen doves, quail, roadrunners, and hawks along with lizards and chipmunks.  Most everything is a brown or grey color to blend in so you have to look harder, but it’s all there.  I came back from the walk and got our laundry together because Cori, Deb, and I all went to a local laundromat.  We didn’t absolutely need to go, but it’s best to stay on top of it when you are on partial hookups plus it was a chance to hang out with the girls. On the way I saw my very first snake. Thankfully I was in the truck and it was stretched out on the black top covering about half the road but on the other side from where I was driving.  I slowed down to get a look, and it had the coloring of a rattlesnake, but to be honest I am not totally sure if that’s what it was.  It wasn’t that scary since I was sitting in my big truck, and I wish I would have taken my camera with me.  I swear that happens every time I leave it behind.

After that bit of exictement I followed Cori and Deb to the laundromat and unfortunately for me it was not the greatest.  I must be spoiled by the excellent one in Dilley, TX, but this one was crowded, had no restroom, and very limited seating.  But as Cori said, it served it’s purpose, I was just happy to get back to the peaceful campground.  Plus Kat and Bert were coming in today and I wanted to greet them.  We met Kat and Bert at the 2016 RV-Dreams rally and liked them right away.  We met tons of great people at that rally, but they are the first to be in the same area we are.  Bert reads the blog and reached out when she saw our paths would cross, and she ended up booking a spot in the same campground. I wanted to make them dinner since it was their travel day, and we all met for happy hour and I made chimichangas.  Cooking for 8 can be a little challenging with limited kitchen space, but Deb loaned me her stove and with some careful coordination we made it work.  Deb made beans and Cori made rice so we had a full meal which I was pretty happy with.

From left: Kat, Bert, Steve, Lee, a mountain top, Cori, Greg, Deb, and me, and a cactus.

My pretty chimis and they tasted good too.  I also served Kelly’s Queso dip as an appetizer. Made a double batch, Kelly, and it was almost all gone at the end.

After dinner we had a campfire and stayed up until 10pm telling stories and exchanging experiences.  It was really nice getting to know them better, and they were very patient listening to our stories. The next morning we all wanted to go kayaking, but the wind was too strong, so six of us went to the Superstitioun Mountain museum and Goldfield, and old gold mine town.  Both were free and a little touristy, but we did have some opportunity for some great pics. (The gift shop and outside area of the museum was free, but the interior museum required admission. – Lee) 

The museum

Some movies were shot here and I liked the cowboy boot prints

Who knew there were this many kinds of rattlesnakes??? Yikes!!

Giant stamping machine used in the 1800s to pulverize ore. It was moved here and restored, and they operate it on weekends for visitors.

Yes I have to always sit on the thing and take the pic!

Everyone’s favorite was this giant, outdoor train with tons of detail really neat

This little guy was my favorite. The sign was pointing to the Lost Dutchman Mine

(I took lots and lots of pictures of the model railroad, because I think they’re incredibly cool. Tracy says it’s not a good idea to put too many pictures in one post. I don’t work and play well with others. If you don’t like super awesome pictures of model railroads, go ahead and scroll past the next 20 pictures. But if you’re one of the cool kids, and also like pie, welcome to the club. Enjoy. – Lee) 

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I wasn’t supposed to put this one in because it’s the same one she put in above, but hers didn’t include the bear. 

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OK, back to the regular post.

The gold mine was right down the road mainly shops, but had a neat vibe. We went straight to lunch at this Saloon

Hats and boots on the ceiling

Our waitress was the only one wearing a costume.

Service was slow, portions were small, and on the pricey side, but the company was awesome!!

We went straight from the restaurant to a geocache hotel

Lee and Cori figuring it out

It was heavy!

The black and white tube was a huge log you could write on

The “sheet” to sign

Steve talking Cori and Lee through how to handle trackables

Cool cowboy church

I really liked the bordello

This was by far the best shop. All handmade.

Touristy, but a neat place to stop

Had to take some black and white

After we ate and shopped we came back and dropped off our extra books in the little free book area of the campground and then Kat and Bert treated us to Spaghetti Bolognese and bruschetta with homemade flatbread.  So, so good, and Steve broke out some nice red wine he brought from their personal collection in California.  Another nice campfire and then off to bed.  Tomorrow is the Boyd Thompson Arboretum.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer. 

First Time at Lost Dutchman State Park

Our relief didn’t show up until 2:40pm, so we got a late start getting out, and weren’t on the road until 3pm.  Originally we had planned on a six hour drive and were going to push through but when we stopped for gas in Junction I called it because we were both too tired.  Lee is still waking up at 4am, and the thought of me driving in the dark to get to the next available campground just didn’t seem like a good idea.  So I found a Good Sam park close by called North Llano River RV resort and we drove a few miles down the road until we were there.  Lee wasn’t thrilled about the $37 Good Sam price, but I pointed out that we were going to grab some fast food to keep driving and the cost would roughly be the same if we ate in the rig. (It’s amazing how after a long period of not having to pay for a site, any price seems steep. – Lee)

It turned out to be a good call.  The office was closed when we pulled up but they had maps all ready with the available sites marked.  We chose site 33 and right when we were going to drive back one of the staff came up and helped us pull in.  It was a great site.  On the edge of the park, with it’s own patio and grill and so very quiet.  Plus it was blessedly dark when night came and we were able to open the windows, enjoy the breeze and not have to worry about  generator noise and lights for the first time in months.  Lee was also able to rinse our black tank out repeatedly which it really needed since we haven’t been able to do that for the last couple of months either.  It was well worth the money and we really liked it.  The only weird thing was we seem to have picked up several hitchhiker crickets.  We had two in the bathroom and one bouncing around the living room and they really wanted to get out.  We didn’t have any of them in the house the whole time we were at the gate, but Lee thought they might have come in through the slides.  Either way it did make me a little jumpy, because they grow bugs big in Texas.

Out site had a really nice patio

And was on a corner so we had a great view

The second day of driving was a long one.  We left at 9am and didn’t reach our campground until 8pm (it was 7pm local time because we lost an hour).  Part of that was due to trying to make up time from yesterday, part of it was due to high winds and dust storms, and part was because we hit El Paso at 4pm on a Friday.  Sometimes things just happen like that, and we decided to go ahead and hopefully beat the worst of the traffic (which we did) and because Lee was just coming off a two hour shift I drove. Oh, and as we were entering town we passed an RV that looked fine from the back, but when we went around it, the front half of it was completely burned up and it was actually being towed.  I managed to get a couple of pictures. Pretty crazy, we’ve never seen anything like that.

The back of the RV looked totally fine and was on it’s wheels. You can see where the fire stopped here. Not sure how that was even possible

The front and middle was totally gone.  Not that safe driving down the highway with this as stuff was falling off

Generally I don’t mind driving in cities, even in traffic.  All I need to do is stay in my lane and keep enough distance between the car in front of me but this was a tough one.  There was major construction and I got behind an oversized vehicle in the middle lane.  The right side break down lane was gone and no trucks were allowed in the left lane so I was going 45 mph for about 15 miles, with lots of people passing on the right and then getting stuck because of the narrow clearance of the wide load in front of me. The winds were not helping,and visibility was not great so I really had to pay attention.  When we got through the city it was getting close to 5pm (6pm in the time zone we came from) so I asked Lee how he felt about stopping at Cracker Barrel.

It used to be every Cracker Barrel we saw had huge RV and bus parking but that is not always the case now so Lee checked it out and saw it had a big enough parking lot.  Unfortunately someone parked lengthwise in one row and was taking up four of the long spaces.  Wow, I really hate that, and although there were two left they were on the short side so it took awhile for me to get the rig properly lined up. (If you’re in a pickup, or a car, PLEASE don’t park in the RV/bus lanes. – Lee) We did enjoy dinner, despite the restaurant being full it came out within 15 minutes so we ate and were back on the road.  Lee took the wheel this time and we were about 40 minutes away from our campground.  At least that what we thought.

We decided to stop at El Rancho Lobo which is Passport America, only $11 for the night, and right off I-10.  All those things were true, but I didn’t read the fine print.  The direct road leading to the campground was closed, so we had to travel 9 miles down a side road and then 2-1/2 miles down a gravel road to get to the campground.  It added an additional 20 minutes to our drive.  When we arrived, someone did come up immediately and were very nice, but they informed me it was $11 plus electric.  OK, no problem, but then I was told I couldn’t pay until the morning because they had to calculate the electric unless we paid a $4 flat fee.  I knew we would probably be up and out before the office opened at 9am, but I was pretty irritated by the whole thing.  It didn’t help that the sites face the highway, are very close to each other, and had none of last night’s experience.  It’s true, you often get what you pay for, but I was disappointed.  I will mention though that they have a mail service at the campground which looks pretty well formed, so if you were thinking about getting a mail service in New Mexico you might want to check them out.

The highway was right past the sign and the campground was on this corner

I was pretty excited because the next day we had an opportunity to go on a road less traveled.  I have kept track of our routes using a paper trucker’s atlas, and have each year marked in a different color highlighter.  It’s cool because I have access to it when we travel, and sometimes we can go on a side road that we have never been on, and it takes less time.  We have to be careful though because not every road has easy to access gas stations and sometimes the road is more challenging, but it is almost always worth it so we decided to take Route 70 and then Route 60 to get to Apache Junction, rather than I-10 through Tuscon, which we had already been on.  The scenery was really great as we traveled, and we passed through several small towns that seemed like they would be worth a second look when we had more time.  We also traveled through the Apache Reservation and part of the Tonto National Forest.  The road through the National Forest was great, but it was narrow and curvy and there were two steep downgrades that even Lee found challenging.  It was fun though and we still ended up at Apache Junction by 12:30pm (Mountain time, but since it’s AZ, it’s the same as Pacfific).

Beautiful drive

I’ve heard quite a bit about Apache Junction from friends and other people’s blogs, but you never know until you get to a place how you will like it.  We pulled in.  The people at the check-in were very friendly and the place was just beautiful.  The Superstition Mountains are very close and you know it’s a nice park when the view from the dump station is amazing!

Views from the dumpstation

The campground

Superstition Mountains

Our site

Our view

We were in site 103, which was the only site available when we booked, and turned out to be one of the best spots in the loop.  There was a bit of concern though when we pulled in and caution tape was blocking the site.  There was also some chalk on the pavement and my immediate thought was, “Crap.  Someone hit the water line.”  So I got out and walked over and then I heard a growling noise from the bushes. Turns out it was an April Fool’s joke from Cori/Greg/Deb/Steve.  So there were lots of hugs all around.  We saw Cori and Greg in Texas over the holidays but it had been a year since we have seen Deb and Steve and it was awesome being with everyone.

Couldn’t see the specifics of the drawings until we got out.

When I saw the bear I knew something was up

They laid on the ground for the chalk drawings and Greg added some extra booty to Cori. Goofballs

They were hiding behind the bush, but I didn’t see them and then Steve growled.

And Deb pops out

The motley crew of hooligans Steve (in red), Greg, Deb, and Cori

Plus as a bonus as soon as things settled down the cactus wren jumped up on our tires (and on our front grill) and started eating the smooshed bugs. Never saw that before

They let us get set up, which was fast since we weren’t planning on unhitching.  We couldn’t get over our view from our front door.  We’ve been to many places, but I don’t think we have ever had a better view right from our front door.  Amazing. The sites are really nice too, and the campground hosts are amazing.  This campground is spotless.

Our view

As soon as people vacate camp hosts come clean and rake the site

So happy the flowers are in bloom

After setting up we went down and hung out with everyone.  I took Hurley (Deb’s dog) and Hobie (Greg’s dog) their dog toys and they made fast work of chewing them to pieces.  Still, what’s the fun of being Aunt Tracy if I can’t bring them stuff to rip apart? Cori made a shrimp boil for dinner for everyone since it was our travel day, and then we had a great campfire, had some adult beverages, and caught up.

From left: Greg, Deb, Steve, Lee, and Cori

 

The next morning we all decided to take a hike.  Now, if you are going to hang out with Deb, hiking is definitely in the itinerary, and although she is a very considerate hiking partner, she tends to downplay the level of difficulty for us newbies.  Her heart is in the right place.  She loves to hike and wants to get everyone moving, but I have learned from past experience to gear up for these adventures.  So we put on our Outdoor Hydration packs, took some snacks, and I grabbed my hiking poles just in case. (We also made out a will, and scheduled a rescue helo and had EMTs standing by for the “moderate” hike. Deb’s nickname should be “Just A Little Farther. – Lee) I’m glad I did.  The hike was beautiful, but it had a steady incline and the path was loose gravel, which are two things I found challenging.  The poles help me in particular on the way down, providing a steadiness I need and taking some stress off my knees.

There are trails in the park itself, but it also abuts Tonto National forest and that’s where the more serious trails are.  Deb and Steve had hiked to Flatiron earlier in the week, which is an intense hike that at least once a week someone needs to get helicopter rescue from, but we just did the base of the trail to the beginning of the canyon.  Deb’s plan is to hike the highest peak in every state as they travel, and Steve is going along with the plan.  I love that they have a specific thing to do in each state, but I’ll never love hiking for the sake of hiking the way she does.  We hiked Siphon Draw #53 but stopped about halfway up to Flatiron.   Keeping in mind I an not an experienced hiker, I found the trail to that point moderately difficult, but it was definitely doable. Just watch your footing. If you keep going to Flatiron that is extremely difficult and took Deb and Steve about 8 hours to do round trip. (In the second picture, you can see a small triangular shaped rock almost right in the center. When you get to it, that rock is probably 40 feet tall. That was about the halfway point for our hike, and the first two pictures were right after we left the campground. – Lee)

 

Deb and Steve hiked up to flat iron which is the rock in the upper right which has a white line in the middle

There were lots of side trails. We saw some people hiking up in this canyon

The views looking backwards were great. Houses right up to the edge of the National Forest

Loved this one and it had an amazing view

Lots of flowers in bloom

So pretty

Deb loves this dead cactus because it points to flatiron

We finally made it to thumb rock. This is about the halfway point.

And a nice cool place we could take a rest

Hurley was with me it was too hot

 

At this point everyone wanted to keep walking up and see the basin, but I was done.  I learned a while ago that it’s OK to cry uncle, so I walked down by my self, and the group went on another 15-20 minutes up a steep winding trail.  I normally wouldn’t walk back alone but there were lots of people on the trail and I enjoyed taking my time and taking some pictures.

Steep winding trail they went up

I went back down

That night Steve and Deb treated us all with some beautiful bone-in ribeyes and we had another fire.  I skipped the adult beverages because I was worried about dehydration, but overall I felt really good.  4 1/2 miles round trip isn’t bad for someone who hasn’t hiked in a while and I was tired, but not super sore.  Tomorrow we all head to Usery Mountain and we are looking forward to meeting up with Kat and Bert who we met at the last rally we went to about a year ago.  They’ve been on the road for close to a year, but haven’t met that many other Dreamers while on the road, so I hope we don’t traumatize them!  Actually knowing Kat’s wicked sense of humor, she may traumatize us lol.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer. 

 

 

 

 

 

March Budget 2017

Another great budget month!  We made $3,468.74, and spent $2843.41, for a net of $625.33.  From a pure cash flow perspective we spent more because we prepaid three weeks of April campground fees, but we are tracking those in the month the stays occur, so they will show up in April. We also paid taxes, but since that amount was roughly the return we got last year and was set aside in a separate account that was a wash.  The details are listed below.  By the way, April 15th will be one year since we have supported ourselves exclusively through our various work kamping efforts, and I will be doing another post on how the 12 month period went.  I was going to include it here but I think it deserves it’s own  summary. 

 

Campground FeesJust a couple of nights when we left our oilfield gate. 

Food –  Almost exactly to budget.  The totals were a little higher than last month because we stocked up on meat and a few other items at Costco, but we were careful to stay within budget.  In the past we have gone over budget when stocking up in the hopes our bill the following month would be lower, but then it never is, so we aren’t doing that anymore.  We intentionally bought enough to get us through the month and will have another Costco run next month. (I would also like to point out that I have stopped buying Pepsi, and pie. There’s some serious savings there. – Lee) 

Alcohol Stocked up in anticipation of being with our friends.  We are almost always under in this category so not a big deal going over $8 one month. 

Dining OutWe were about $50 to the good overall.  I got lazy at the end and we grabbed fast food here and there, and then I bought some Church’s chicken for travel days. 

Entertainment – Lee bought a couple of computer games and I bought some music.  I usually only buy it when The Voice is on (big fan of that show). 

Truck Fuel – The bulk of the $258 was spent in the last couple of days of the month because we traveled from south Texas to the Phoenix area. The good news is our trips are much shorter in April, so we will see how we do on truck fuel through the end of the month. (Our distance from the gate to Lost Dutchman state park was 1000 miles in three days, but from Lost Dutchman to Las Vegas, which we’re essentially taking three weeks in April to do, is only 370 miles, so we might actually end up on budget or under for fuel in April. – Lee)

RV Insurance – They over charged us a couple months ago (it’s auto deducted) so they have been taking out less making that up. 

Cigarettes – We have been buying tobacco and tubes in bulk since the summer, so this is three months worth. 

Gifts – I spent $200 on the one-on-one session with my favorite author.  $100 of that my father gave me as a Christmas gift so I put the other $100 in the gift category.  I could have put it in entertainment, I guess, but it felt right going here.

Home Repair – We spent nothing in this category which is a huge deal. Last year we were routinely spending $200 or more per month in this category but Lee has really focused on this.  We were going to replace our Vornado fan, but couldn’t find one locally so decided to wait until we reached Phoenix and pick one up there. 

It was another good month from a budget perspective.  We will see what happens in April since we will be moving so much, staying in campgrounds, and hanging out with friends.

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer. 

Gate Guarding Work Kamping Overview

For those who aren’t interested in our daily descriptions of gate guarding we have provided an overview.  It is important to note that there can be significant variations from gate to gate, but most are scaled to pay more if the traffic is higher and/or the weather and gate conditions are more difficult.  The pay also varies significantly based on the current oil prices.  This account is based on a singular experience in South Texas working a brand new gate with three wells on it that were not drilled when we got here. The more wells, the more traffic, and in our case there was additional traffic initially to build the lease road which leads to the oil pad, and the fracking pond, which would already be done at an established gate.  We also did not experience the fracking process, which is a high volume activity that occurs at the end right before the well starts producing oil. These numbers are a summary of our 79 days in the position between January 11 and March 30.  The hourly wage depends upon how you look at the position.  Since it is a 24/7 gate, you can look at all the hours in the day, or just the hours between when the first truck comes and the last truck leaves, or only hours where a truck came or left.

 

By The Numbers

  • We worked 79 days, which was not the complete cycle of time between drilling the well and oil production.  Wells can be dug and oil flowing in less time, but due to a shortage of resources in the area there were delays to the schedule.  One of the downsides to the job is you never really know how long a position will last.    There is a project plan and an overall schedule, but this is rarely shared with the gate guards or the gate guarding company.
  • We opened or shut the gate a total of 5,722 times.  Each passage was logged into the computer and the entire process takes approximately 2 minutes. The only exception to this would be when a truck wasn’t in the system and all the information had to be added, or when gravel trucks came through and we only needed to capture a check mark on a sheet.  Those were the exception though, so for simplicity’s sake we will estimate 2 minutes.    Using this logic pure task time was 191 hours.  We had to be available 1,896 hours so that works out to we were opening and the shutting the gate roughly 10% of the time.  
  • The busiest day we had 422 trucks (the bulk of these were gravel trucks) and the slowest day we had was 0.
  • Our average work day (if you look from when the first truck came until the last truck left) was 12.5 hours.  Our average number of trucks per hour was 6.  The bulk of the traffic was between 6am and 6pm, but there were several days where we had trucks all night long. 
  • For the 79 days we made a total of $9,750.  We did take off a partial day for our anniversary and they deducted $31.26 for those 7 hours.
  • The site and services are also covered, which some people include in their wages.  We don’t, so I didn’t include that here.  I will say our costs were the lowest they have been on the road, because our schedule and location made it easy to keep costs down.

Hourly rate is interesting.  If you count the 24 hour period, the rate was $5.21 which is below minimum wage.  If you look at the rate between the first and last truck it was $8.09 an hour, which is above minimum wage in Texas, but because it is a contract position no taxes were taken out and their might (depending on your deductions) be an extra tax burden.   If you just look at hours we got trucks the rate is $9.95, which is better but still under $10.

More details 

  • In Texas you do need a state license to do this work, but not all states with oil activity require one.  Our company worked with us to complete the application, test, and background check, and made it extremely easy.  The cost for both of us was under $100, although Lee got a military discount for his past military service.  Once you get the license it is renewable online. Not all companies help with this though, and it does take some time, so if you are thinking about doing this I recommend starting to work on that in advance.  You do NOT have to be a Texas resident to get a Texas security license.
  • Some positions have guard shacks, but most allow you to work from your rig.  This is a huge benefit as you can watch TV, read, complete personal chores, etc during your down time.  You could even work a second job, if the job was virtual and  allowed tasks to be completed at nonspecific times. Since you never know what the schedule will be from day to day it would be difficult to have a job where you were required to complete tasks at a certain time of day.
  • We were allowed to split the day however we wanted and both work a 4-4 shift, which is somewhat unusual.  It worked for us because Lee is an early riser and I was able to go to sleep while it was still dark outside, which made working nights much more pleasant for me.  We were individually able to take time and run errands, but neither of us did anything fun away from the RV during the time period.  Partly because we couldn’t go together, but mainly because there wasn’t much to do in the immediate area.  Lee went into San Antonio a couple of times to buy things we needed, but I never felt the desire to drive that far on my awake time off.
  • There is minimal supervision and the people we have met have been very nice. Sure, you get the occasional cranky person, but nothing particularly obnoxious.  The oil business is a small community and few people want to cause an issue for someone else because you never know who you will be working with down the road.  It’s also important to note that the contracts are written so your job responsibilities can be changed.
  • The positions come with a water tank, a generator for power, and weekly dump services, and no fees are paid by us.  You certainly can boon dock cheaply in the winter, but the cost for full hookups in a winter friendly place is generally not cheap.
  • The work is mostly easy, but it is outside and elements can be at play.  Extreme heat, high winds, thunderstorms and tornadoes can all be a factor, and vary from day-to day.  Rattlesnakes are also a concern in the more remote areas along with illegal immigrants in some areas.   Also your house WILL become extremely dusty if you take one of these positions, as the constant traffic and dry conditions make dust clouds a near constant element.
  • We were issued safety vests, two chimes (which worked poorly in general and particularly poorly on windy days), a cell booster, and two tablets. Safety was  a major concern and stressed to us from Day 1.  We were encouraged more than once to wave trucks through if they started to stack up on the road, which made the job much easier.  The only safety issue we had was initially the gate did not have drop rods and while I was struggling with the gate in the wind I fell into the cattle guard and banged my leg up pretty bad.  Once we reported the problem they did fix the issue and our company does provide workers compensation, although not all do.  It is recommended that you take off your rings if you are working one of these positions because they can get caught in the gate and hurt you. We’ve heard stories of people losing fingers when the wind grabs the gate and a finger gets caught in it.
  • The location of the jobs is usually pretty remote and cell/internet services can be limited.  Grocery stores, and laundromats can be far away and since one person needs to be onsite at all times, errands must be done by one person during their “off” time.

What We Thought

We both liked it, although we did have a few rough days when the volume was particularly high.  The slow days though are extremely pleasant, especially if you have hobbies or side projects you want to work on.  I like the fact that unlike most work kamping positions there are jobs year round, although I would have to be hard pressed to take a position down here in the summer, because we don’t handle extreme heat well.  The winter weather was really great.  It can be windy and the dust can certainly get annoying, but after we started we mostly kept our rig closed and ran our two air conditioners which kept the dust down. Now that we have experienced it start to finish we would both definitely do it again. We would be careful  though to ask questions regarding traffic volume, whether we could work out of our rig,  and internet availability.  Using my triangle scale to determine if we liked a job or not it was great on time, and OK on quality and money.  If we were on a busier gate, or the work conditions/weather were extremely unpleasant this would change for us significantly.

 

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer. 

First Time Gate Guarding – Days 75 – 78

Day 75

I was thinking this morning about a drinking game we used to play in college called “I Never.”  The way it works is each person takes a turn stating something they have never done and anyone who HAS done it has to take a drink.  No one is allowed to ask followup questions and explanations can be volunteered but are never required.  The game starts as fun and relatively harmless when it starts (never had a parking ticket, never been to Vegas etc), but as the alcohol flows and people loosen up you can learn some interesting things about people.   The trick by the way is to pick something you haven’t done that you think other people have.  That’s what makes it fun.  So because things are still slow (6 days left!!) I thought I would list all the things that are off the table for me since  becoming a full timer.

  • I never saw a grizzly bear in the wild
  • I never went to Alaska
  • I never walked on a glacier
  • I never saw a bald eagle in the wild.
  • I never stood inside a giant waterfall.
  • I never watched a full moon rise over the ocean.
  • I have never been to New Orleans.
  • I have never been to a rally.
  • I have never seen wild horses.
  • I have never heard coyotes.
  • I have never  touched a Redwood Tree.
  • I have never been to Lake Tahoe.
  • I have never been to Hearst Castle.
  • I have never seen the Rose Bowl Parade.
  • I have never seen an Intaglio.
  • I have never been to Quartzsite.
  • I have never been to Tombstone.
  • I have never visited a plantation.
  • I have never been to Wall Drug.
  • I have never soaked in a hot spring.

There are more, of course, but those are the ones that easily come to mind.  I can’t wait to see what we can knock off the list next.  It might make the game harder, but I think I can live with that.

Oh, and I forgot; I have never seen a road runner!  I guess I can mark that one off the list as well.

Our friend was preening the other day for his girlfriend. I never saw one all fluffed up like this before. He spent a long time, fixing his feathers.  It was pretty cute.

 

Day 76

I’m feeling pretty groggy as I attempt to change my sleep schedule.  I am now going to bed at 1:30am and getting up around 9am, with 5 days left that’s pretty close.  Since we are going to be traveling the next month or so, I found a place somewhat nearby that sells wood and Lee left as soon as I woke up to pick it up.  Texas, in general, is a pretty good place to buy wood, and Arizona is, in general, not, so we are stocking up.  I found a guy on Craigslist who appears to have well seasoned and split oak and mesquite for $15 a wheelbarrow or 3 for $40, which is a pretty good deal.  Wood prices vary wildly from place to place, and it’s not always based on the availability of the wood.  Demand for wood also comes into play, so April in Texas is a good combination.  Plus we love the way mesquite smells when it burns. As an added bonus there was a haircut place in the town Lee went to and he finally got a haircut.  I know, it’s his hair and I shouldn’t care, but I find long hair on him a little disconcerting.  Too many years together where he had a very specific hair cut.

Oh, and the paperwork for Amazon is complete, so we are on the list for Campbellsville, KY!  It doesn’t appear that they are going to have any work kampers in Texas, which is a little disappointing.  The idea that we could do Amazon in Texas and then start gate guarding is appealing.  There was high demand for the Texas locations from work kampers and we saw help wanted signs at the distribution center in San Marcus all through the holiday season and beyond, so we were a bit surprised to hear that.  Maybe it was the lack of decent campgrounds in the area?  Since Amazon pays for your site, to some extent they own issues that arise from those stays.  I’m sure word on why will get out though, it’s a pretty small community.  Since many of those people won’t necessarily want to travel back east for the season some of them could spend that time gate guarding which would increase supply of employees and drive down daily wages.  There are a ton of ifs in that statement, but the important point to realize in gate guarding in particular is availability of people who want the jobs (along with oil prices)  absolutely drives the amount that companies are paying.

We have seen positions ranging from $125 a day on the low-end to $300 a day on the high-end, although right now the average seems to be $150-175. As the temperature gets hotter though, and snowbirds start to head north we are seeing wages go up. Once you are locked into a contract you are locked into that rate and it’s too small of a hiring community to be jumping around for a better deal.  You could try it of course, but I wouldn’t.  Either way the wages aren’t as high as an Amazon position, but the work is also much easier and there are vacancies year round, so you wouldn’t be limited to working just the holiday season.

While Lee was gone our account manager and ranch owner stopped by.  It has been a couple of weeks since I have seen either of them, so I took the time to thank both of them for the opportunity.  They both thanked me for the great job we have done, and the account manager said to be sure and contact her when we were ready to work again.  It’s really nice having a work option that isn’t tied to a particular season, and something we both find palatable.  She also mentioned wages were going up and hopefully that trend will continue into next year.

Day 77

I thought I was making good progress on changing my sleep schedule, but that came to a halt last night.  I went to bed a little after midnight then slept for 20 minutes and was wide awake.  I tried to go back to sleep but couldn’t, so I finally got up and read a book.  I was near the end, it was a good book, and when I was done I saw it was past 3am.  Still awake, I took a couple Tylenol PM’s and slept until 11am.  I needed to sleep, but now I am back to the drawing board which changes things around.  The weekend traffic has been non-existent so we took the day and just chilled. Lee watched John Wayne movies (yes he is a huge fan of westerners and The Duke in particular) and I wrote a bit and read.

One of our readers was kind enough to let me know I had misspelled dessert several times in the cookbook, and I was trying to figure out how to handle that.  The Kindle version can be updated pretty easily, for an additional $9.99, the hard copy for an additional $5.99, but the iBooks version cannot be updated at all.  The only way to fix that one is to delete the book and resubmit for approval.  Since the approval process worries me, I may just have to leave it in the iTunes version, but that bums me out.  The whole thing bums me out actually, because that is a stupid mistake to make.  Spellcheck didn’t catch it because desert is a legitimate word, and obviously my copy editor (Lee) didn’t catch it either.  I know many people would say “leave it” because of the additional cost, heck that was Lee’s take on it, but leaving a known error out there isn’t really in my nature.  Don’t get me wrong, I know this blog has spelling and grammar errors despite my our efforts, but a blog audience (at least in my mind) is a little more forgiving.  After thinking it through I am going to bite the bullet and fix what I can.  I don’t know if Kindle allows for free downloads of new versions like iTunes, but if it does, a new version is out there.

Day 78

The weather has gotten really warm, well over 90 every day, and there are so many butterflies out it’s crazy.  I have never seen so many in an area where there are hardly any flowers but they are abundant.  When you walk outside they land on you and when I sit outside they land on me as well.  With the butterflies are a ton of new birds and the most exciting for us was two pairs of scissor-tailed flycatchers.  We have never seen these before and they were having a field day eating all the bugs.

Lee took this one right before it flew away

And this one. Great “Bird on a wire” shot

Day 79 

Last full day.  Our relief is coming tomorrow, and we are definitely ready to leave.  I’m looking forward to getting back to my regular posts that are based more on when things happen than a daily accounting.  I think it’s important for some jobs to give a day by day description but when things are slow as they have been I know its all a bit tedious.  So I will just leave you with our final tracking sheet and look for a summary of the experience, which will show an overview of all of the numbers.

 


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