Texas this time….

October 30th, 2010

We continue our annual road trips by picking up our car in San Diego, then driving along the southern-most routes into Texas….except it’s about 114F in the Salton Sea/Indio California valleys so we head north into northern Arizona and camp at Prescott. I wouldn’t complain if this was Farenheit but this is Celsius!

So we drive northward to the Grand Canyon and experience a fabulous two days of lightening storms.

What an exhilarating experience to wake up to the huge canyon walls on each side of your campsight….

In Grand Canyon we correct our displays with updated posters and work eastward through the Hopi and Navajo Reservations stopping at the Hubble Trading post and also Ganado


This rug will fetch about $6000 when completed–this Navajo weaver has already spent about 4 months on this one and this does not count the making of the yarn.

Leaving Ganado, we stop by the Tomahawk Bar, but just for a photograph:

It’s on into New Mexico to Santa Fe where we set up a basecamp with a friend and then head back up to Bandelier National Monument. This is a very unique place for a many reasons; not the least, it’s completely designed and built by the CCC.

The Ancestral Puebloan (the current PC term replacing Anasazi) dwellings have decomposed leaving holes in the canyon walls–you can visualize the various levels of living areas complete with inlaid artwork on the back wall here:

Seven hundred years later, the CCC built a very elegant, functional and simple fireplace.

They made everything from furniture to the perforated tin lamps:

We stop for lunch here–delicious bread right out of the oven. They measure the temperature by throwning a corn husk–if it blackens, it’s probably over 400F. If it browns and holds some color, it’s 350F….just right. With butter and honey, of course!

Leaving Santa Fe, we meander through the rest of South Central New Mexico stopping for a look at the balloon festival in Albuquerque–this is the mass ascension. I heard there were over 400 balloons and about 100,000 people here and it’s 7am!

This is the Lady’s Club building in Carrizozo, NM also built by the CCC in 1939. The town is now a beautiful arts community with many restored buildings:


We skip Roswell but visit White Sands National Monument, another CCC rich park:

Here Martina and I enjoy the sunset with fellow campers–note our cellophane ‘fireplace’ in the foreground….which didn’t deter this visitor who walked under our chairs moments later:

This is their mating season and they are everywhere. We close the window screens that evening and shake out the bedding before turning in.

A must stop….then….

….we cross into Texas and are greeted by this vista for miles and miles and miles…..

Albany Texas tries to recruit us to live there–here’s the gas station:

and we almost accept!

Arriving in Mineral Springs, we discover this old hotel which was built in 1899 and featured mineral baths. FDR visited here often. Today, it lies empty and in complete disrepair.

Well, it’s time to ride off into the sunset. Stay tuned….

Halibut Fishing

September 15th, 2010

Martina and I decide to go halibut fishing. Enroute to town we encounter the Chugach–the last of a fleet of US Forest Service boats. I tied up next to the Ranger IX for about 5 years when I lived on the Katahdin in Seattle. The Chugach still patrols the coast here and ties up about a mile from us….. but it’s time to catch some bait.

We’re after fresh herring for bait. We’re guests in our neighbor Tom’s boat and he’s the one to find these fish! Just look for gulls and other sport boats with the same idea….

Another favorite boat slips past–the St. Lazaria bound for the fishing grounds. After the Winimac sank 20 years ago, I looked at this for a replacement here in Alaska. Well, it’s still fishing under the guidance of Cap’t Thompson. This is a beautiful vessel!

We’ve now a bucket of herring so it’s off down the narrows to Round Island and the sea lion rookery….

After most of the day, we come home empty handed…..and at the cost of $200 for fuel! Not to give up when we can do it again the next day, but this time we drive north into Frederick Sound….

Here, in Frederick Sound, we’re baiting hooks–and placing the herring way down deep; so we secure the herring with ligature wire. Where Frederick Sound meets Stevens Passage near Cape Fanshaw is spectacular. I’ve always seen whales here where these waters converge and this is also where the halibut hang out on sea-mounts three hundred feet below….

and some tail action….

But, enough of whales. We’re after halibut….. and we don’t catch one here either. The sport fishing limit was lowered this year to one fish (guided–out of state fishery but not locals). So we motor to Thomas Bay (where our good government wants to build a dam) and put down some more bait. No sooner than we bounce off the bottom, a halibut strikes!

Tom rams a harpoon through the gill area and bleeds it while still in the water. A small, yet, tasty one!

Martina makes the best Thai curry halibut soup…..and thanks Thomas….this was really your fish. Some day I’ll get with the program and learn where these critters hang out.

Gravely Tractors

September 15th, 2010

Remember that old tractor laying about under the trees 5 years ago? Bet you forgot; not me. It’s a 1961 Model L Gravely; a collector’s item so I can’t let any more rust ruin this ‘Terraplane of Tractors.’

Yikes! The head had been removed and water in the cylinder isn’t good. The rims have rusted through exposing the inner tubes! And parts are missing… This was a mess….

First step is to strip off the body and degrease everything, then de-rust it with “Ospho.” I hooked up temporary gas tank and she started on the second pull. OK, I thought, it’s time to order some real parts….

Well, here she is today. Everything was renewed and in case you think this is a spray can job, here’s a look under the hood:

Thanks to the internet, I found all the parts online and an expert who used to be a factory rep for this Model L built in 1961 by the Studebaker factory. This beast starts on the second pull, too! Here’s the first…..

It usually starts on the first pull, really! Here I’m off and running hauling wood:

It’s off to the garden! Wait a minute….this looks like work!

Then it’s a coat of paint for the outhouse…..or is it an outhouse? No, it’s a pilothouse using the old doors/windows from the Katahdin that doubles as an outhouse….

Then nailing down the last of the roof on the gazebo–I used up every last shake and finished with about a dozen shingles….we’re getting this place in shape!

OK….what do the kids in this town do for fun? 1.) they sit at the east end of the airport and watch the jets land right over their heads….and 2.) They crawl up in this old fishing net strung in a group of trees, and drink beer…. Now why didn’t I think of this?

Stay tuned.