Thursday, September 29, 2011

Just A Blade of Grass

The mantis is well camouflaged looking like a faded piece of grass.

Eagle eyed Wandrin Lloyd spotted the attempt at camouflage. With no movement, the mantis is probably pretty safe from avian species.

Cropping that same photo for a closer look, note the insect green matches the grass.

Wish that I had taken the first photo from eye height to relate what I first saw.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Should Have Read A Book

Been there before a couple of times. However with nothing better to do and with 90+ degree temps, I decided a return visit to Jerome would be a way to do some exploring.

Jerome wasn't new and I wasn't exploring. Been there. Did that. When I arrived on this visit, my first stop was at the art co-op. When I walked outside the art coop, I questioned my reasoning (sanity) for this journey to Jerome. In previous visits, I had walked the streets visiting some of the art galleries, antique shops, rock shops, etc. Then there are the "gift" shops where the intent is to sell something for the friends and relatives back home. What else would you call something that no one really wants.

After exiting the art co-op, I decided on (warm) exercise as I walked the streets looking for an intesting photo or two. (That also was done in previous visits). This sign on the wall dates to 1929. Without a doubt it has been touched up a few times in the past 80 years. Still admire its historic look.

Soon my wandering brought me back to Silver Slug and the journey back home. Where I picked up a book.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Internet Links To Share

Notational Velocity (Mac software) is used to keep track of blog thoughts, ideas, things to share, etc. The list of items became rather lengthy. Time to do some housekeeping. Writing a blog about some of those notes would take more time than I wish to expend this morning, so here are some internet links that I found fascinating and original.

"3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage... all to turn 3 ambitious linear concepts based on movement, learning and food ....into 3 beautiful and hopefully compelling short films....." My choice of the three films produced is Move. Watch the one minute video more than once to see the individual second(s) long great scenes.

I'm not a fan of rap, but videos by Aussie Christiaan Van Vuuren made while in TB quarantine are a pleasure to watch. One of those is Life In Quarantine.

A talented "Weird Al" Yankovic produces great parodies of pop music. However, by far the best of his material may be this Stop Forwarding That Crap To Me on YouTube.

Through DropBox and the SimpleNote App on the iPad and iPod Touch, I can keep all my note taking in sync with Notational Velocity on the MacBook.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mini Book Review -- Finding Everett Ruess

Written by David Roberts, the book is subtitled: The Life and Unsolved Disappearance of a Legendary Wilderness Explorer

To familiarize the reader with the subject of this book, check out the Wikipedia entry for Everett Ruess

My first read about Ruess was in my early nomadic years of 2002/2003 when I happened across the book A Vagabond for Beauty by W.L. Rusho's (published 1973 -- now available in Kindle format). Ruess' story has fascinated me ever since. His love and admiration of the rugged rock beauty of the Four Corners is like my own feelings for the area.

First half of Roberts' book a biography of Ruess. As a biography, it starts with Everett Ruess' childhood and ends with his disappearance in 1934. Original materials of letters, diaries, art work form the basis for the short productive years of Ruess' life. Other authors -- including Krakauer and Stegner -- have also been fascinated by Ruess and wrote about him. Roberts also includes edited material from those writers.

What has happened since 1934 is included in the second half of the book. It is a review of others' attempts to solve the disappearance -- the crack pots, con artists and the serious searchers. Then the author tries his hand to solve the 1934 disappearance of Ruess. The plot thickens as the author discovers that some of Ruess's original materials are in the hands of a private collector. Roberts includes the 2008 stories of discovery of bones in a crevice thought to be Ruess'. With forensic work and DNA tests, the first tests showed a match. However with questions outstanding, subsequent tests proved that the bones were American Indian.

The mystery of Everett Ruess remains. Perhaps that is best for a myth.

Roberts book is a great read covering everything about Ruess' short life and the 70 plus years since his disappearance.

From Everett Ruess' own writings, he may well have written his own autobiography:
Say that I starved; that I was lost and weary;
That I was burned and blinded by the desert sun;
Footsore, thirsty, sick with strange diseases;
Lonely and wet and cold... but that I kept my dream!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Moods of Monument Valley

Arrival at Monument Valley was in a light rain. Through the afternoon and evening, several photos were taken in attempt to relate the beauty of these rock monoliths. Not to bore the reader, here is a selection of the many photos that were taken.

Low hanging clouds provide the gray cast to the scene.

High clouds shade parts of the monoliths.

As an afternoon rain shower cleared, a rainbow appeared.

Closing the day with a sunlight reflection.

Following morning sunrise.

Up in the middle of the night, I checked that scene with an almost full moon. Thought about setting up the camera to capture the scene. Needed a tripod. Would have to take several photos before I "might" get one that my eyes see. I decided to rely on my memory for future recall. Imagine the rock monoliths silhouette in a world of grays with a blue cast.

There was a brave attempt to try to reproduce that image with an existing photo and Photoshop. Perhaps it could be done, but my skills with Photoshop were not up to the task. The results of my lame attempt:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monument Valley Teaser

I followed Diana's suggestion to remove the white car from the photo that I took through the window of Wandrin Wagon. Photoshop does wonders.

Much better photo without the car.

Wandrin Wagon and Silver Slug are frequently found in my photos. Those photos will eventually appear on the masthead of my blog. Not the best shot of the mittens in the background, but it is unmistakably Monument Valley where I am parked.

Primitive camping included RVs of all sizes, tents, vans, etc. The reason to be here was to capture a photo of the monuments at sunset. And sunrise. Of those many photographers, Dave was from Tampa. Another was Zoltan from Las Vegas. They were just two of many many more. They were here -- like me -- to capture the many moods of Monument Valley.

This post closes with a silhouette of one of those many photographers at sunset. 

Tomorrow's post will -- finally -- be photos of Monument Valley's many moods.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Gadget Review -- Wilson Sleek

About 20 miles from downtown Flagstaff is the Bonita NF Campground at the entrance to Sunset Crater NM. Good place to park and test the new gadget -- Wilson Sleek signal booster. I knew from a previous stop that Verizon signal was poor to non-existent. Dry camping at Bonita and parked in the midst of the Ponderosa pines on a floor of volcanic cinders. The pines cast shadows impacting solar panel output to recharge the batteries. (But that is another story.)

Although the Wilson Sleek comes with a very small antenna, I knew from experience that the outside antenna atop the flag pole would give better results. Attached the outside antenna to the Sleek. Attached the Sleek to a power source. The Wilson trucker's antenna is mounted atop a fiberglass flag pole to get the elusive that Verizon signal.

The Verizon voice/cell phone test.... Before using the Sleek, the Verizon cell phone display would alternate between a Verizon 1X signal with zero bars or "No Service". Placed the cell phone in the Sleek cradle. The signal display now showed 1X with two bars and EVDO appeared with one bar. Don't know if a phone call could have been made and staying connected.

The Verizon MiFi 4G LTE test.... Before placing the MiFi card into the cradle, the MiFi display showed signal strength with no bars. When placed into the cradle, the display showed two bars -- occasionally one bar. Turned on the computer and turned on Wi-Fi to connect to the MiFi unit. Most of the time, data transfers were at 1X speeds. A rare moment it transferred at EVDO speeds. (Note: the Sleek does not amplify 4G signal.)

Tests with Wilson amplifier... (already in the gadget collection). I expected the signal strength to be better with the directly connected amplifier. And it was. There is no external antenna connection for the cell phone, so the test for comparison was done with the MiFI card.

With the MiFi card via amplifier direct connect, the display on the MiFi card showed two bars all the time with an occasional three bars. Transfers were typically at EVDO speeds. In a later test, the MiFi display showed only one bar and speeds were at 1X.

Bottom line... It works for data -- some. Regardless of the connectivity -- Sleek or amplifier -- speeds were rarely consistent. Response time was highly erratic when accessing a new URL. Other times, it appears that the communication between here and there stopped. Stopped the access and tried again helped sometimes.

However, this test may have compromised from the start. Trying to go from no signal detected (at this location) to one bar may be pushing the technology. Add to that the forest of Ponderosa trees impacting signal. The first test was done before that large Class A RV that moved into the next space. That could also have impacted the already weak signal when I tested the second time.

My recommendation.... Save your money. To get internet connectivity, head down the road or to the nearest coffee shop. Or read a book. That is hard for someone with an internet addiction. I know. However, I did find that I survived a several nights without internet. Kind of like the old days -- as little as five years ago.

Unfortunately, that recommendation is partially colored by my current internet experience at the Verde Valley Thousand Trails RV park at Cottonwood, AZ. Although the MiFi display shows a four bar signal strength, the throughput speeds are erratic. Sometimes veeery slow. No doubt some of that is affected by other Verizon users putting heavy demands on a limited bandwidth

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Small World

Arrived at Monument Valley in the rain. Wandering around the parking lot taking photos in the rain I heard, "Is that you, Lloyd". Turned around to see Diana. Wondered if I was going to stay in primitive parking. I was.

Parked. Could the view get any better from the window of Wandrin Wagon.

Later chatted with Diana and Phil. We caught up on each others lives and travels. It's a small world after all. (Now try to get that tune out of your head.)

A post in a few days will be of photos of the beautiful moods of Monument Valley.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sole Support

Not really sole support. Shoes are about sole protection from natural elements like sharp stones or goat heads which are found in the plains and mountains of the west. Comfort is no shoes at all -- barefoot. Inside Wandrin Wagon. Outside not so good.

The barefoot craze started with Christopher McDougall's Born To Run. (My mini review of the book.) With barefoot not an option and to get foot protection, I endure the ordeal of getting a good shoe fit. Foot pain and discomfort are great incentives to achieve a comfortable shoe.

Unfortunately, the inexpensive China Inc. manufactured shoes don't provide that comfort. Some people -- like Boonie -- can purchase those shoes and walk out the store with a new spring in their step. Not me. For me it is OUCH. Actually, the shoes don't get out the store with me.

My first hiking shoes were purchased in the early/mid 1980s. As the soles wore away due to hiking, the shoes required new soles and heels. Done several times until the mid 1990s. Unfortunately, after ten tears of poor shoe maintenance on my part, the uppers of the shoe were worn so the cobbler could not repair them -- or resole them.

In the 1990s, it was the throw away hiking shoe. No more resoling of a comfortable shoe. With REI's generous return policy, it was several false starts with other hiking shoe brands. Eventually, I ended up with Merrell. It is the one hiking shoe that is comfortable walking out the door.

Although my exploring shoes (known as tennies or gym shoes when I was a kid) may be made by China Inc., the 2E width is not a popular option. The sizes might include D and 4E. So over the past decade -- perhaps longer -- I have found that I can always get New Balance shoes (in the 2E size) to fit. Always about $100 a pair, at least I can walk in comfort.

Sandals.... Too much leather on most sandals. A sandal is a flip flop that would stay on my feet -- a strap across the heel and instep. Took two/three years to find the Teva Zilch. I can actually run (not done often) in the shoe. With little material compressing the ball of the foot, it is very comfortable. The shoe is pretty close to barefoot with a 3/8 inch sole and no raised heel or instep. Great shoe -- for summer -- or extended winter stays in Palm Springs. 

A normal foot would mean less expensive footwear purchased at Walmart -- like Boonie. However, Wandrin Lloyd has never been considered normal. Yup. Includes abnormal feet.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Enough Already

That was the reaction when I heard rain on the roof -- once again last evening. Colorado in September should be clear cool days as the leaves take on fall color. The cool part was 42 degrees one morning (on my thermometer). But we are missing the clear part. Nor is there fall color.

Not this year. The only fall aspen color was right next to me at Ridgway SP. Note the sky in the background of the photo. That is the usual texture to the skies each day. The daily 50% chance of rain and cloudy skies does get in the way of enjoyable hiking. 

Boonie, Coffee Girl and I did manage to hike parts of the Perimeter Trail around Ouray. At one point we found ourselves far above Ouray on some cross trail. Turning around and heading back it was a longer hike than intended. Good exercise (the positive spin to the unintended).

During the hike we came up with solutions for world economic problems and design of a great RVing home on wheels for a single guy. Less conversation and trail concentration would have been a good idea. But what fun is there in that. Getting lost is fun and adds a little excitement to life. And Coffee Girl was having a great time.

Hitching up Wandrin Wagon the day after tomorrow, we are hoping for one good day of hiking tomorrow. No real complaints. Whatever happens, it will still be a great day.

Note: Boonie is driveway sitting for Mark and Bobbie as they travel and explore the Northwest US.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fishing On The Wolf RIver

A nostalgic recollection.... Daughter Vanita, nephew Marc and son TJ on their Grandpa K's dock. Marc is fishing while the other two seem to be consulting. At least TJ seems to be doing some talking.

Grandpa K retired from the farm to a home on the Wolf River (Shawano Wisconsin). With not enough time to go fishing while farming, Grandpa K was making up for lost time during his retirement. It was also a great place for grand kids. Grandpa K was more than willing to give a few fishing lessons to the grand kids.

On this same summer visit to Grandpa and Grandma, Vanita tried her hand at fishing. Sitting on the dock waiting for a fish to come by to find the bait required more patience than Vanita could spare. Perhaps she was doing some physics experiment testing drag as she moved the line from left to right in the water. Starting slowly she started to move it faster left to right. Grandpa K consulted that Vanita would not catch a fish that way.

That was when she pulled a fish out of the water with the hook firmly snagged on the fish's back. Vanita looked at Grandpa K. Needless to say, Grandpa K was struck at how wrong he was about fishing. He said that was the last time he would give fishing lessons. Don't know if this is the same fish, but this is Vanita showing a catch.

Vanita -- and Gabe -- now fish for tuna in the waters off the shores of San Diego.

Today, 35 years later, Grandpa K's retirement home on the Wolf River is now the retirement home for Marc's father -- Emil. Much of Emil's summer is spent on the river fishing -- and catching. When my nomadic travels take me to Wisconsin, a visit to Emil is part of the journey. The visit will include a treat to the latest catch or some that were previously frozen. Never get away empty handed, I end up with a "care package" including some maple syrup that he harvested the previous spring.

Good life in 1975 and a great life today.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Wandrin at Ridgway SP

Date line: Late morning on Labor Day

I arrived mid yesterday at Ridgway State Park near Ridgway Colorado (how come spelled without the "e") and 15 miles from Ouray. With few exceptions, every campground space is occupied.

This morning after the Labor Day weekend, the camping family and friends are packing to meet check out time at noon. Bicycles, grills, tents and dog cages are stowed and after one last check around the campsite, the campers are pulling out. Soon this park will be mine -- or mostly mine. The weekend campers are going back to school or work. None of that for me. The park is a great place to stay and enjoy what will be a very quiet park.

Ridgway at 7000 feet is higher than the last stop at Grand Junction by 2500 feet. Ridgway temperatures are in the high 70s versus the 90s in Grand Junction. No more noisy air conditioning. Great place to be parked.

Bobbie and Mark have a home in Ouray and my plans were to visit them a time or two while I was in the area. Once they heard I was coming, they decided to head to the Northwest for some traveling of their own. By the time of their planned return in October, I will be in Cottonwood Arizona.

Good part about Bobbie and Mark leaving is that Boonie is driveway sitting in their abscence. We will do some area exploring and walking before I move on in about two weeks.

Great views and quiet. Great Verizon signal. Nomadic life doesn't get much better.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rock Beauty

The geologic region known as the Colorado Plateau encompasses several National Parks. Others are Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Grand Canyon, Black Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands and Mesa Verde. Dinosaur National Monument is also in this geologic region.

With Colorado National Monument I've been able to check another of park off the list -- or bucket list if I had one. Dinosaur is the only one I haven't visited in these ten years although it was visited in the early nineties on a road trip. Plans are to catch that one in the spring of 2012 on the way north for summer exploring.

My tour of the Colorado National Monument included driving tours and hikes. Those ancient rocks make me realize my insignificance in the natural world. At the same time I marvel at my significance to be there and witness a slice of the millions of years of geologic history before me.

Throughout the park, there is evidence of continuing geologic change. After some rock had fallen from the canyon wall, the patina had not darkened the rock surface once again.

Independence Rock and numeroous other named monoliths in the monument are the result of many years of wind and water erosion. That also continues.

Throughout the Monument are gnarled juniper hanging on to the little moisture that falls on the Monument. No doubt some of these junipers were ancient -- 100 years old or more. During my walks or driving tours, I noted several trees that were natural bonsais. Noted one juniper that was no more than two feet high, but the trunk at its base was about two inches across.

I continue to be awed by Nature's artistic creations: the rock shapes, textures, rock varieties, colors and structures.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bad Service Savings

The Dinosaur Museum (in Fruita) was driven by several times as I explored the area. On one pass with nothing better to do, I drove into the parking lot. There I sat having an argument with myself about the pros and cons of going in. Couldn't resolve the argument so I went into the Museum.

No one was at the counter to take my money. I could see the clerk at another counter in the gift shop. She could see me, but for whatever reason, she didn't come to get my money. While standing there --  from the museum -- I could hear the dinosaur roars directly from a Japanese monster horror flick. Also a couple of kid screams was when I opted not to do the museum. Good thing she didn't come.

I would check the book selection in the gift store. The place was designed for kids. After scanning the few books that were not designed for children, I found one that identified the archaeology and anthropology stops in Colorado. Sounded like a nice guide for current and future reference. Wandered to the counter to pay. Now the clerk was sitting in the office at a desk. If she looked up she could see me. She didn't. Waiting patiently, I looked at dinosaur themed times on the counter. Still no clerk. I took the selected book back to the shelf. Good thing she didn't come.

Bad service had just saved me over $20. It was a good day.

Friday, September 2, 2011


A fungi met a nice algae. Decided they would live together. They took a lichen to this rock and made a home.