Saturday, December 8, 2012

Holidays, Happiness and Hopes

It only took about 15 minutes to decorate the house for Hanukkah. Jasper was unimpressed and did not leave his bed on the dash although he did show his disinterest by turning his back to the decor... and to the candle lighting ceremony.

Tonight marked the beginning of the eight day celebration we call Chanukah... or Hanukkah, if you prefer. Both are correct, which has always bothered me. But we'll let it go for now and just enjoy the story of the brave Maccadbees. Google that name and enjoy!

It's been a while since I last posted, so you haven't heard about our Thanksgiving yet. Our sweet granddaughter Tia took us out to dinner along with some of her friends. We went to the Grand Lux Cafe in the Venetian Hotel/Casino on the Strip. The food was great and the company even better. We have so much to be thankful for! 

 Last weekend we did a first. We went to a boat Parade of Lights. We gathered up the dog and some sodas and drove down to the beach where cars were lined up all along the shore. We got there early so were in the front row, but by the time the first boat sailed by, there were many more behind us. Our neighbors on the right built a big bonfire but the lights on the boats were not to be outdone by anything. We didn't count the boats, but the show lasted almost an hour. It was wonderful!

I wish I had a better picture, but you get the idea.

This was taken at one of the places we pick up recyclable plastic and aluminum. Living and working here has been so fun! It's a great place to spend the winter doing something useful and living in such a peaceful place yet so near a city full of entertainment and dining greats. We will serve here until the end of March. 

We are already shopping for our next volunteer gig... lighthouse keepers or endangered shore bird guardians or high mountain emergency road service providers? Or we could choose something more commonplace like Camp Hosting, but we probably won't. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

All Sorts of Wild Life

We love wildlife and always keep an eye out for a tortoise, hare or big horn sheep during our volunteer routes or when walking our little dog Bingo. And we see wildlife often here, even from the windows of our coach. But alas, I am not fast with the camera, so if I get a picture at all, it is usually a blurry shot of the hind quarters in full retreat. Once in a rare while, though, I luck out and get a nice shot like this one of a young ewe and a big ram. Look closely and you'll see him in the background.

Notice the rocks set all in a line. You can't really see it well in the picture, but there is a short wire weave fence folded out and held in place along the ground to keep the endangered tortoises off the roadway. These short fences run for miles. They funnel the tortoises to culverts running under the road in various places.

Another type of wildlife can be found in the Las Vegas area. Here, an Elvis wanna-be chats with a passer-by while a fellow in a Zoot suit talks on the phone and an off duty casino worker woos a gal in a mini dress. You can stand along the Strip or here, at the Fremont Street Experience and see an amazing stream of humanity. Some make you laugh and others bring tears to your eyes, but they are always fascinating.

Bingo had a $46 grooming session which left him smelling and looking much better. The hair cut is pretty uneven, especially for that price, but I know he feels so much better without all his matted fur.

Notice his eyes... how they glow yellow in flash pictures. Freaky, yes? And if I don't use flash, he just comes out looking like a black blob.

Now that Bingo has had a chance to become adjusted to living with Jasper, who is quite a cranky fellow, and us, he has developed some routines and seems quite content.

He's much less flighty than at first and has stopped most of his little dog yapping, thank heavens. He loves to play and carries his toys all over. At bed time, he often brings them all into our bed so he can have his people, his cat and all his toys together. He is very excited about life and everything in it. He's good for us, keeps us going.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Times... They Are A Changing

It's been some time since I posted, and a major change has taken place. After several more episodes of destructiveness when we left Chase alone for a few minutes to a few hours, and after working with an animal behavioralist, we agreed that Chase's separation anxiety was not going to improve with the standard cures such as long walks, etc.

Life in a motorhome just was not great for Chase, so he has found a home with folks who have a large yard and do not work. Meanwhile, we brought home Bingo, an eight pound ball of matted fluff who had been picked up by Animal Control. He probably got lost from his family not long before being picked up because he is not equipped for life on the street and would not have lasted long at all.

Bingo got the cone off his head today and, after a visit to the vet for motion sickness pills and a shot, was bathed, shaved and groomed, not to mention a pedicure! Jasper went to see the vet today also. He has stopped peeing in his littler box and is now anointing every corner, nook and cranny. So, he was catheterized and we will have his results tomorrow and know if it is behavioral or physical. He is pretty upset he cannot go in and out at will, but even as I type this Bingo is up in the front window barking at the group of coyotes just outside.

One of the many perks of our volunteer gig is training field trips. We recently were sent on a bus tour which included Wetlands Park along the river created by treated water returning from Las Vegas to Lake Mead and a visit to the Atomic Testing Museum. Lunch was also a freebie. Nice trip, great day! We both had fun and learned a lot.

Until last Tuesday, we had no regular vehicle, so cleaning out the recycle carts took several pickup loads, but now we have a stake truck parked at our RV site at the ready to work whenever we are.

Here, the truck is ready to haul a load of plastics to the city recycling center. The objective we have been called to is to reduce the number of pounds of plastic and aluminum Lake Mead deposits to local land fills and, of course, contribute to the overall recycling effort of the nation.

This load is the amount of plastic we gathered in two mornings from metal carts like the one in the picture below. Most RVers and campers are diligent recyclers as well, so they use the carts.

Here are the unsorted bags (2 truckloads) gathered on 2 mornings in one campground (3 carts). It would have taken so much longer to do this with a pickup!

We service carts like this one all around the Lake Mead National Recreation area, collecting recyclables from as far as 90 miles away.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Settling In

As we settle into a routine with our volunteer work and life in the Lake Mead National Recreation area, Chase is becoming more comfortable with life in a motorhome and dealing with his separation anxieties.

Even though Chase has found and chewed up my name badge, our Volunteer handbook, the back cover to our Mifi, my 100-year old phylacteries, Richard's Bible and several cloth items, he has not damaged anything in the past two days.

Nonetheless, we still get a few butterflies in the tummy each time we come back from being gone, even for a few minutes.

We were away three hours this morning and when we came back, everything was in place... well almost everything. Chase had visited the dirty clothes hamper. It was very touching to find our faithful dog cuddled up on the bed with a PAIR of Richard's socks. A PAIR of my socks was on the floor at the foot of the bed. So amazing he got PAIRS of socks to comfort himself. What a smart dog is he!

Another good report for Chase The Wind was his trip to town. We went shopping at Petco and worked a bit with the dog trainer. Chase tried on several collars and toured the store, happy as could be with all the attention, smells and sights. It was a cool, rainy day, so we opened the windows a bit and made a short stop at Wal-Mart. We left Chase in the car and snuck back to see how he was doing. He was a good boy, just gnawing away on his Nylabone. We were gone 20 minutes and he did fine. I am so proud of our pup!

I'm also proud to be part of the recycling team and find it very satisfying to empty and process the plastic and aluminum the public leaves in our containers. We are still working on coordinating and unifying efforts at the various marinas, campgrounds, residential areas, etc. of this vast recreation area comprising of over 1.4 million acres!

There are carts like this one at most public areas plus several other containers that require more frequent oversight. This is my favorite because it is secure from animal pilfering and does not allow large garbage deposits. Also, it can hold a lot, and since some of our sites are over 100 miles away, large carts allow us to make less frequent visits.

Richard and Chase took a long walk yesterday afternoon and discovered a spring. Chase loves water and had a big time playing and rolling in it. He was having so much fun he almost missed the big horn sheep on the hill just above them! There were seven, a family with a ram, ewes and a young one. Over a thousand big horns live in the Lake Mead Recreation Area. It's exciting they come so near our house!!

Speaking of excitement, this week was deeply significant and filled with joy as special holy days observed by Jews and Messianics ended with Simchat Torah (the Joy of Torah). We were so thankful to celebrate Sukkot and Simchat Torah with Congregation Lev HaShem where we have been attending since coming to this area.

Below is Temple Bar where there is a marina, camping and serenity, not to mention the friendliest staff anywhere.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

New Beginnings

Well, on September 27, we pulled all the plugs and made our way from Cedar City, Utah to Lake Mead Nat'l. Recreation Area,  near Boulder City, Nevada.

Jasper did not approve of the move and made his opinion known as only he can do, but we were quite thrilled with the easy ride and a great spot in the Volunteers Campground.

This shady desert oasis is secluded from the public and has a limited number of sites. There is even a free laundromat! Volunteers stay here free, and it is one if the nicest campgrounds we have been to. Right now, there are only a total of six RVs camped here.

We spent a few days getting settled in and going through orientation, and then succumbed to dog loneliness and went to search dog pounds for a canine friend. It is always so hard. We wanted to bring them all home, but eventually a mixed breed won our hearts.

Chase the Wind (Chase for short) was neutered and came home with us yesterday. Today was his first day in his new home and our first day on duty as volunteers...
 That's right, we even have uniform tops and hats. Pretty dashing, I must say.
And while we were out checking the recycling situation, Chase was recuperating quietly on the couch... NOT!!!

When we came in the door, Chase was falling off the dash. The laptop and mouse were on the floor by the fuel pedal, the cat water bowl was in the waste basket (it had been on the dash along with the cat bed and cat food dispenser) the cat food was spilled and the couch pillows were all over the floor. Chase, himself was a disheveled mess, cone unhooked and dangling from his neck by one corner, paws all wet and spittle all over his chest.

What was it the vet said about him being drowsy and taking it easy for several days...

Oh, well, everything is now cleaned up and Jasper has demonstrated that he was not cowed by Chase's antics. Jasper came and took over Chase's new bed, while Chase curled up on the floor next to it.

As for us and our furry family, we are ready for tomorrow... Looking forward to another day in a great working environment.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Rockin' On Down to Lake Mead

So much has happened since I last posted, and I have had very poor internet service, too. We had thought that we might have problems getting a fall and winter workamping gig in a warm climate since we didn't start seriously looking until September!

We hoped to get on at Lake Mead near Las Vegas, so put off applying at other sites... but realistically speaking, we had little chance of such a choice spot so late.

As we waited for Lake Mead to call, we toured more of the stunning areas around Cedar City. In vain, we looked for more wild horses. we went for a fall color ride and drove out to Escalante to check out the Petrified Forest State Park where we were encouraged to call about the winter camp host position. It's a lovely park and would have been perfect except for the freezing winter temperatures. Bbbbrrrrrrr!!!

Then at last we made a few calls here and there and were offered a spot on the first call! We also applied for several slots listed on and received some offers or hopefuls from there... This is a great site and includes online applications which people respond to quickly (some the same day!) and the openings are nation wide and from all government agencies. Really cool!

So then, as we had three places on the string (I had told them we couldn't accept anything until we heard from Lake Mead because we had promised we would take the spot if offered) finally, a call from an operations manager asking us to come join their team... Yay! The reason we got in is that this is a brand new slot. All the other volunteer positions
I love the fall colors!
We took one last ride before departing Utah and again enjoyed the fall colors, stunning geology and amazing skies of southern Utah... they don't call it "Color Country" for nothing. But amid all the beauty, there was a troubling aspect, hundreds, probably tens of thousands of dead and dying trees... I am praying for the trees, that they can somehow be saved before this blight takes an even higher toll.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Improving the rig and the self

We went back to the National Park offices Thursday morning and filled out applications for camp host or similar workcamping gigs at Lake Mead. The host slots were all full for fall and winter, but they can place us on stand-by and we lucked out because they had a possible recycling slot. A different person was in charge of those services, so our paperwork was to be passed on to him. The opening must be ready now since they asked us to hold off a week before renting anything in a park. Well, we were stoked!

Excited to see where we might live for several months, we drove on down to where the maintenance volunteers' RV pads were. They were wonderful, shady full hookup spaces with lots of trees and room. Very, very nice. The work would be pleasant and important, also. We would pick up recyclables from the different campgrounds and boat ramps and haul them to a central location for processing.

As you recall, we left out rig in the shop to have the wheels balanced, the fuel filter changed out, the electrical issues tended to, etc. When we picked it up everything was done except the steps which will need a more extensive work over and some rebuilding of the wood, relaying of the tile... The mechanics at Color Country Diesel were right to assume we would rather do that ourselves than pay their hourly rate for it. All that they did was well done and very reasonable, and we were pleasantly surprised at the bill.

Another improvement we got for the Safari was window shade material. A sheet bigger than our front windshields was only $20 at Camping World. You just cut it to fit and set it in place. It is nothing more than stiff bubble wrap covered with a silver coating of some sort, but it is very effective in keeping the heat and light out... so much better than our curtains! 

Inspired by my friend Eva, I began eating differently yesterday. My doctors have encouraged me to lose weight for some time now, and I know that with my cholesterol issues, I need to make better choices, but I am not a successful dieter. I lose weight for a short while, then put it all right back on... plus I HATE having to think about calories or depriving myself of favorite foods. I need a life style change, not a diet. 

Sooo, I checked out a portion control system, because I know that I overeat all the time, and this was the only eating plan I have seen that is affordable and makes sense. LifeSize Portions has a system I think I can live with because it's so simple! There are various measuring devices for meats, carbs, dairy, etc. and a simple chart that tells you how much you can have in each type of portion. You are allowed six portions a day, no matter which ones you choose. Then there is a ton of FREE food you can eat all you want of. No calorie counting, a very relaxed approach, and very affordable. I have worked with it two days and so far, it's a breeze... and I'm not hungry! 

At sundown, Yom Teruah (Day of Blowing - Lev 23:23-25 and Num 29:1-6) began for observant Jews and Messianics. There is not a congregation near us, so we drove up to Three Peaks and held our own private service there. It was beautiful and very touching, but pressed on us the need to find others of like faith. We are anxious to relocate to the Las Vegas area where there are at least three Messianic congregations. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wet and Wild

We missed our target date to go to Las Vegas looking for our next place to stay a bit, but Tuesday morning the rig and paperwork were all set, so we tried to start the rig to take her to the shop. They will be balancing wheels and doing some other varied chores like welding a part of our steps. 

No go. The rig will not start. Earlier, a light weight wire joining two positive posts had burnt off its insulation, so Richard was using a jumper cable... long story. But these batteries were DEAD. We started the genny (Onan 6300 generator) and went back inside the Safari to let things get charged up.  
It was raining hard and I noticed the carpet was wet in front of the passenger seat... Then I saw the water pouring in the window and down the wall. But the window was securely closed! 

We keep a bunch of towels for pets, beaches, washing the coach, etc. and I used every one, plus some baking pans trying to keep up with the water and soak up what had already been absorbed by our thick carpeting. 

Heading Out... Notice raggy towels on fence, LOL
Finally, after many trips out into the elements because one battery was not charging, we were able to get started, but by this time, Richard was as soaked as our carpet. While he got into dry duds, I hung our raggy towels on the fence and we drove off at last. Jasper was left in Stephanie's house with his litter box, a ton of food, four water bowls and two beds.

We dropped off the motorhome at  Color Country Diesel and at last headed to Vegas in the rain. We took the scenic route, west on Utah 56, south on US 93. It was a good ride. On the way, we discovered our car alerts us of of low tire pressure. One tire had gone down to 24 psi and the others were all 28. We aired up and it's been fine since.
 Tia (from a visit to FL)

It was great to see our granddaughter Tia again. She is always such a warm and welcoming hostess even when she is super busy with work, an M.A. program and managing her houseful of our great grandfuzzyies.

So today, we got our Shooting Complex applications in and went lot shopping after doing and exhaustive search of RV parks all around the area. There are nice ones and trashy ones, but no cheap ones... and no GRASSY ones! They are all blacktop or gravel or dirt... NO GRASS! We kept hearing, "You are in a desert, there is no grass here." Well, the casinos have grass... oh, yeah, and money. Hmmm

In our wanderings from park to park, we saw some very interesting rigs. There were two fifth wheels with add-ons. Take a look... And that is just a sampling of the one-of-a-kind outfits we found.

At last, we found a park with some grass and few rules. So many will not let you wash your rig or car or put up a little cabana tent. So, we have about decided that Kings Row will be where we park until (or if not) we get a workamping position somewhere. 

Our last stop of the day was Lake Mead National Park... well, as many of you know, we are gonna look up a park if we can. So as we were marveling at the many mobile homes permanently planted in one of the campgrounds, a park host drove up in a golf cart and we visited about workamping for a while. We learned a bunch from Dawn and will be headed out in the morning to the National Park office in Boulder City. What a great and productive and fun few days we've had in Las Vegas!
Lake Mead

Monday, September 10, 2012

No Bad Days Here

We had planned to finish organizing our motorhome Sunday and get it to the shop today. We have a leaky fuel filter and our front tires need balanced. We had also planned to head for Las Vegas by noon so as to deliver our applications to the Clark County Shooting Complex by this afternoon... but I am ahead of myself, or perhaps beside myself, so let me start over, one thing at a time.

As we headed west a few months back, we noticed a drippy leak from our old style (meaning no longer available) fuel filter/water separator system. We were in Gunnison, Colorado and the only fix available was an O-ring made of non-diesel safe material, meaning diesel fuel will eventually destroy the O-ring. Well, after consulting several shops along the way, we have concluded the best fix is to swap out the out-dated filter system for a currently available one. Since the filter is leaking again, now is the time.

I drove most of the way from Salt lake City down here to Cedar City and was not pleased with the bounce at certain speeds. Time to balance the steer tires. This is our home and it is precious to me. I don't want it shaken apart. One visit to the shop for both problems, we thought, just as soon as I do a few things on the computer.

This morning, I planned to touch up and print our resumes and create a cover letter about us and our rig aimed at anyone who might take us on as camp hosts, etc. I also needed to finish the application for Clark County. I estimated these tasks to take about an hour... 90 minutes tops. It was almost four when I finished them!

First, our resumes were seriously out of date, and they looked old and were laden with uninteresting details. They were focused on impressing the reader with our credentials, education and professional competence, whereas now, we want to leave the reader with a desire to get to know us better, hang out and work with us as we help others have a good time. 

A redesign takes time. Streamlining the info takes time. I decided to add photos to the paperwork and resumes... But somehow the file of Richard's pictures was missing. Another hour gone, tick, tick, tick. Then there were the applications to finish. 

Finally time to print. Oops! We were out of ink. Off to Wal-Mart for an ink cartridge, then back to work. Ready to print! No, we only have 10 sheets of paper and two of them are dirty. Oh, well, too late to go to the shop today anyway. 

What a crazy day. They happen, so we decided to go out to eat. After all, this IS a day the Lord has made and we were glad and rejoicing in it. After eating hearty dinners and reading Bad Day jokes, we took off exploring to the east of town.

We investigated several side roads as the sun crept slowly toward the western horizon. The terrain in the region is just amazing and ever changing. At last, we ran out of drivable road so headed back to town where even more discoveries awaited us.

We are always on the lookout for RVs, any size style intrigues us, but we are especially excited to see another Safari. So, when I saw a row of trailers on a little side street, we turned around to investigate. 

One area in this tiny park had mobile home, but another had old and small trailers and one Class C motorhome. All were there to stay, even a tiny little teardrop camper. People had lovingly cared for these mini RVs and were living in them full time. It made me glad. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Workamping Dreams

Although we have Richard's pensions and our Social Security checks to live on, and they are enough for a modest lifestyle, there isn't enough to cover extensive travel, repairs to the rig or any of the upgrades we hope to make so we can efficiently boondock (live in the rig without the electrical, water and sewer hookups found in RV parks).

Fuel is at an all time high and going up almost every day, so having been parked here at our daughter's vacant house in Cedar City, Utah for almost two months has been a real blessing. It's been a good arrangement for both sides. We have stayed cost free and she has benefited from the work we've done around the place. Sort of a family workamping affair. 

Workamping is popular among full timers, and you need to apply early because slots are filled way in advance.  Just as we have had lots of time to play tourist here, the same is true of most workamping arrangements.

Not long ago, we headed out exploring and to see the Parowan Gap Petroglyphs. On the way, we encountered a slight delay. A covered wagon and a convoy of Model Ts! We didn't mind waiting at all, and after we spent some time admiring the petroglyphs done by ancient native Americans in a stunning gap carved by nature in a line of hills, we headed on east in the direction of the strange caravan that had delayed us earlier. 

We didn't get far before overtaking a troupe of antique farm tractors all restored beautifully. We weren't sure what the event was, but there had to be big doings ahead... It was the Iron County Fair! Yay, we love a fair. The local music was great and the displays just stunning.  

So much talent, so many loving hours poured into each project. Wow! The only disappointment, no animals. Where was the livestock? We found out the next day that the critters were at another location as were the old car displays, tractors, etc.

Later, we drove west on a 200 mile trek and were again reminded of the vastness of this region. We went to the eastern Visitors' Center of the Great Basin, the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America, meaning all the water falling here stays here, none flows to a sea. From one crest to another we could see the road stretching for miles. It was awesome.

We then headed south toward Cathedral Gorge State Park (Nevada), where there is a workamping opening, and we were surprised to see a wind farm with about a hundred turbines all turning slowly on their lofty pedestals. There is something strangely fascinating about these tri-blade windmills... almost mesmerizing. 

As for Cathedral Gorge, lovely, but we later found the winter temperatures are far too low for us. We're mobile and will head for the warm and balmy days south of here.

Next week, we will head to Las Vegas to check out some other workamping possibilities. We want to get moving soon, but not too far with the price of fuel so high.