Rain, rain, and more rain. Not the insistent downpours my friends in Texas are getting, but a steady, day by day rain that keeps you inside while the grass grows, and grows, and grows. It may be good for ranchers (who are, after all, grass farmers) but it can be unnerving for those who would like to be outside. Like my dawgz. We've gotten over 6" so far in May, and that's about half of our annual rainfall.
Yesterday, though, we got the first weather window in a couple of weeks: a lovely Sunday afternoon with warm sun and balmy breezes. It allowed me to get out and do some jungle-hacking with a weed-eater as well as a few more outdoor chores. But then, as the day waned, the sky 'stormed up' and it looked like a return to the days of gloom and rainfall. And, sure enough, it rained again over-night.
The forecast is for another week, at least, of the same. Going to town for me involves about seventeen miles of tarred two-track and then another seventeen miles of dirt. Given even two days of rain, or a sudden soaking downpour, the dirt becomes gumbo and virtually impassable, even for a 4WD vehicle.
We'll be needing dogfood toward the end of the week, rain or no rain.
He developed a cough on our trip. Not extreme, but intermittent. At a recent routine exam/vaccination visit to my vet, he thought some x-rays might be in order. The radiographs revealed spots on his lymph nodes.
Since we had been in the desert Southwest, and since Jack had been digging in pursuit of the elusive marmot, Desert Fever of course reared its ugly head. A serum sample was sent off to the vet school clinic at Fort Collins. A week of tenterhooks, for me, followed.
The report came back negative for VF. That's good news, in itself, but opens up the specter of lymphoma. My vet, in whom I have great confidence, felt that Jack was not presenting as had most of the dogs he had seen who had turned out to have a lymphoma condition. So a 21-day course of antibiotics was launched, to combat some other, unknown, infection. Jack is on day three. At the end of the 21-days a new set of x-rays will be made. If there is no improvement it will mean a trip to Fort Collins and an aspirant biopsy.
I am so afraid of lymphoma. My last three males died of some sort of cancer before their time.
Fortunately, Jack shows no sign of illness except for an occasional gagging cough. Today a bit of that, y'day none at all. I do so hope that is a good sign. He is active, appetite good, spirits normal. I would give a finger or two to keep it that way.
Later we camped for a few weeks in the Prescott National Forest. The urge to explore and reach out into the countryside got even stronger. There were miles and miles of NF roads and trails and ranch roads that begged to be ridden, explored, photographed. I did the best I could with the fine little bike, and got a lot done, but realized that there had to be a better way for an ol' guy to get around in such country and not be deprived of any Go-See compulsions.
When I got home I made the decision:
There were weight considerations, since I intended carrying the moto-pony in a special carrier on the back of the trailer. I figured that less than two-hundred pounds was the limit. Reliability was also a serious issue. Getting ten miles out in the desert is great; getting back is even greater. The 100cc Honda fit the bill on both counts. Only 10HP and 170-pounds but it's a peppy little cayuse and will take me where I want to go and get me back to camp without a lot of stress. I also appreciate that Honda says it has a "bullet-proof power plant." I don't take that literally, but I know about Honda reliability from other equipment I own and it is very reassuring. I have several months to get used to it here on the place and on a couple of summer trips before we get back to the Southwest next winter. I'm looking forward to it.
Sunrise from our camp west of Quartzsite. Quartzsite is a very strange place indeed. It has the air of a carnival, and the overall feeling is that you will come back in the morning to find everything, and everyone gone, nothing left but a few tent pegs and some discarded beer bottles. We camped about seven miles west of the town itself and thus avoided much of the sleaze.
I found myself wanting to explore more of the desert than I could manage on foot, so I decided to buy a bicycle. I made the trip down to Yuma and came back with a nice hybrid mountain bike.
The bike worked a treat, but I found the going (i.e., pedaling) pretty hard work on most of the desert terrain. As much as I liked the bike I realized that if I were to have real access to the desert I would need something that catered a little more to this Ol' Guy's abilities. The story continues...
Where we stayed for that month in New Mexico was surrounded by desert flatland-- at the foot of the Chiricahuas to the west and the Peloncillos on the east. My Shorthairs, Jack and Emma, loved to take long, rambling walks in the desert. There were plenty of doves and occasionally quail for them to sniff out, point, and wonder at why I did not have the Browning.
They have different hunting styles, those two. Em stays erect and moves gracefully from thicket to thicket, head up and alert. Jack, on the other hand, 'does the lowdown.' When he gets birdy he crouches as low as he can get and glides across the ground. When he's really on the prod he scrapes his chest.
We started our Southwestern hegira in New Mexico, after spending about a week in Texas. I am not one for 'RV parks,' preferring instead to boondock-- camping off by ourselves in remote areas and depending on the solar rig and the generator to give us what power and creature-comforts we need.
But we found a really different kind of RV park in New Mexico, fifty miles from the border at Douglas, AZ, and just a few miles north of the tiny village of Rodeo. We liked it so much we stayed for a month. The Chiricahuas loomed to the west and made a great backdrop for those awesome sunsets, of which there were many.
This was pleasant living: we had water, sewer, and electricity hook-ups and there was wifi right to the trailer. What more could we want? And because the 'lots' were huge we never felt crowded.
Rodeo was a hop and a skip away. There isn't much there, but they do have a café where I dined often. The huevos rancheros there, for breakfast, were the best I've ever had. Be worth going back for them alone!
We're back. After 4.5 months (140 days) and almost 9000 miles of vagabondage! A great trip through the Southwest, where we boondocked in many wonderful spots.I don't know who was happier with our gypsy life: me or the pupz.
I owe an apology to regulars to my blog for my non-attention. I'd like to remedy that, but we'll have to see how that works out.
I'll try to post some updates on our trip. Bear with me, friends!
Miss Mags. She is not the outdoor dog that the other two are. We hit some pretty cold weather, even got snowed on, and she found herself much happier in the trailer. I think the trailer is her favorite place in the whole world.
I shouldn’t blame this entirely on her, but being a Boston Terrier her obedience factor is in inverse proportion to how far away from me she is. Under 25’ and she is an angel of compliance. Over 50’ and she can’t hear me for beans. Thus, she spent a good bit of her outside time on a lead attached to a sand-spike. She actually didn’t seem to mind the restriction very much, finding all sorts of trouble to get into within the reach of her tether. It’s not all her fault: she didn’t get the kind of intense training the Shorthairs did. All my fault.
She also hates cameras. Bring one out and she refuses to look at it and will try to go “somewhere else.” This one, above, is a purely lucky grab shot that I got away with before she realized what was happening. Her lens-aversion is the main reason I have so few good pix of her.
I haven’t written on a gun topic in a very long time. But here’s a recent addition to the stable that I thought some folks might enjoy seeing.
It’s one of the Lipsey’s special-run Rugers on the smaller, flat-top frame, of which I am a great fan. It’s a .45 Colt with an auxiliary .45 Auto cylinder, which makes it a very versatile handgun indeed.
This is the first 5-1/2” barrel I’ve ever owned. I prefer the 4-3/4” (4-5/8” in the case of Rugers), or the 6.5” or 7.5” barrels. I’ve just never cared for the looks of the “artillery” model. It's an esthetic thing, and not ballistic or mechanical.
NOTE: The original Colt single-action army revolver, adopted by the army in 1873, eventually appeared in three different standard barrel lengths: the 7-1/2”, or “cavalry” model; the 5-1/2” or “artillery” model; and the 4-3/4”, or “civilian” model. Why Ruger decided to shorten the 4-3/4” to 4-5/8” is unknown to me.
Anyway, the 5-1/2”-er is really growing on me. It hangs very well, and so far the few groups that I have shot with it are completely satisfactory.
I have no doubt that this revolver will be sharing our wild-country rambles in the near future.
While Jack had nothing but exuberant enthusiasm for our recent two-week-+ trip into wild places, Emma ran him a close second with her quiet, but intense, enjoyment of places that she loves.
Emma is twelve-and-a-half, which is getting up there for Shorthairs. In her case she has several fused disks at the base of her spine, is dysplastic, and also going blind— which I have only recently discovered. When we took walks she would sometimes lose sight of us and her near-panic was obvious as she tried to figure out where we were. So I took to talking to her almost constantly and waving my arms when she would turn her head my way. This evidently pleased and reassured her as her tail was in almost constant motion.
She has always loved streams and creeks and so if there was one without reach, that's where we headed. Playing paddy-tootsie in a cool creek is definitely one of her premium delights. Jack is not as fond of water as she is, but he humored her.
Dogs give us everything, without stint, and if we can't give back some of that as they need us most then we shouldn't have the privilege of living with them in the first place. Anyway, that's my story...