Wednesday, March 20, 2024

They ask me why / why I’m a hairy guy

The original plan had been to let my hair grow until my birthday. But even though that’s only three weeks away, I couldn’t stand it any longer (in time or length of hair). So I decided the vernal equinox was an appropriate end date. It has sort of been my winter hair. Now back to the low-maintenance Daylight Saving Time look.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Another desert spring day

Several of my friends and family (some of them just a few hours’ drive away) are shoveling snow and slush. They have my condolences.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

What is it?

If you have the correct answer you win… well, only the satisfaction of being right.

So, my stove connects to a bulk propane tank via a hose, naturally. But unlike my past stoves, this one is intended for use only with bulk tanks. And the hose connects to the stove via a somewhat permanent fitting.

That’s not an issue 99.9% of the time. But let’s say I haven’t paid much attention to my propane level and I run out at an inconvenient time. With my past stoves I could change to a hose with different connectors and use a small, easy-to-store green propane bottle until I could get the tank refilled. That’s not the case with this stove and this hose.

Fortunately, I’m not the only one in the propane user universe to have faced the same issue. There are enough of us for someone to manufacture the adapter pictured at the top of the story. Screw it into the end of the bulk tank hose, and presto! Not only is it a simple solution, it takes up way less space than an extra hose.

The only hitch is that I didn’t get the adapter until after I had given away the three propane bottles I had. Oh well.

Friday, March 15, 2024

What’s that sound?

I woke up at about 2:45 to pee. When I got back in bed I heard a faint and irregular pit… tik……pit it……tak… pit…

What was it? Where was it? Should I worry? A mouse nibbling on a bit of plastic perhaps? I sniffed. No mouse odor.

I held still, listening. It seemed to be at the back, by the floor. I turned on a light, moved some things around and… I saw nothing.

Then the sound stopped. Then it started again. What was it?!?!

I spent about fifteen minutes trying to find the source of the sound. Then it was more rapid and louder.

Oh. It was rain. That’s cool.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Trapped by an invisible force

Who has seen the wind?

Neither you nor I

But when semis tip over on I-10

The wind is blowing like a mother…

My friend LaVonne is in Palm Springs before heading off on a cross-country trek. She flew in from Washington state last night to pick up a van from other friends. I hadn’t seen LaVonne in a few years and wanted to say hi/bye. 

So yesterday I drove from Quartzsite (where I had been taking care of some business) to the camping area at the south entrance to Joshua Tree. Hey, wasn’t I here just last week?

During the night the wind started blowing. Hard. Probably the hardest I’ve experienced in the Rolling Steel Tent. It got so bad I had to get up at about 2:45 AM to face the van more into the wind. Even then it was a bouncy ride all night.

You can see I-10 from the campsite. The lights of vehicles passed both directions during the night. “Okay,” I thought, “It’s still not too windy to drive. At least not for the pros and the foolish.” 

But when daylight came and I finally dragged my sleep-deprived self out of bed I saw traffic was now totally stopped. Semis lined up as far as I could see in the eastbound lanes, no vehicles passing in the westbound lanes. And the wind was still howling. I checked Google Maps and it showed the dreaded red line stretching about 5 miles in each direction from Chiriaco Summit. And patches of yellow all the way to Desert Center in the east and Indio in the west.

So I notified LaVonne I’m staying put at least for a few hours.

I suppose, if I really wanted to, I could take the longer route through the park to Highway 62 and down Morongo Valley to Palm Springs. Or through Box Canyon to Mecca then north to Indio and onward to Palm Springs without getting on the freeway. I’ll see how conditions change. The wind has lessened a wee bit in the past hour, so the original plan might be on once the backed up traffic clears.

Yay life on the road! Yay desert!

UPDATE: News reports said one semi was blocking all eastbound lanes, and a second rig was partially blocking one of the westbound lanes. Driver injuries were minor. While returning to Quartzsite to pick up a package at my mail forwarder I passed the scene where crews were still working on the trailer that had been blocking westbound traffic. Eastbound was totally clear.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Crossing time zones: actual and virtual

About, oh, nine years ago I was camped in Ehrenburg AZ with a group of fellow wanderers. We were putting together a pot luck Thanksgiving dinner and I had volunteered to supply mashed potatoes. I had everything planned out — except for one thing. My phone was my only clock and I wasn’t aware it was picking up its cell signal from across the Colorado river, in California, in the Pacific Time Zone. So I was an hour late with the spuds.

Since I would making the Arizona-to-California crossing again this week, I wanted to learn exactly where my Verizon phone would recognize my change of time zone. I kept checking the phone, checking the phone, checking the phone, and… Blip. It changed near the Arizona port of entry weigh station, which is about three miles from the state line. At least that was the result at that time, under those atmospheric conditions.

My turn

My nomad friend Roxy went to Joshua Tree National park a few weeks ago when it was still cold. She has greater tolerance of low temperatures, maybe even an affinity for it.

My former coworker friend Jon, and his wife Katherine, made a pilgrimage to Joshua Tree and surrounding areas last month in honor of one of his favorite musicians, Gram Parsons. It will be their last visit for a while since they’re moving from Southern California to Tennessee to be near a grandchild. They stayed in the hotel Parsons frequented, so freezing nights were not an issue.

And my friend Melinda and her sister (whom I have never met) also spent time in Joshua Tree last month, also staying in a warm hotel like normal civilized people.

I go to Joshua Tree at least once a year, so it was on my list. And I had been itching to wander out of Yuma, where I spend most of the winter because it’s not cold. 

I had been watching the forecasts for Joshua Tree, and nope. Until this week. While it was still freezing at night in the park, which is at 6,000 feet, it would be merely comfortably cool at the lower elevations outside the park’s boundaries. So off I went.

I like poking around in the rocks

Monday, March 4, 2024

No hum

Tonight I’m camped at a popular spot by the south entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. There are more than a dozen rigs here, most of them RVs. We’re closer together than I prefer, but that’s what the area is like. Hey, it’s free, it’s convenient, so…

However, one thing has surprised me: no generator noise. If anyone is using them they must be well muffled. Or my hearing has gotten very bad. Either way, it’s nice and quiet.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Saturday morning at the butcher and car show

Food City was out of pollo asado so I went to another latino-focused grocery, Del Sol. Both have excellent butcher departments. I could see into the back where seven butchers were breaking down bigger cuts for packaging. In front of them was a display of seasoned meats where along with chorizos, chicharrĂ³nes, and carnitas was plenty of pollo asado.

There were a couple of men ahead of me in line. One had ordered a stack of steaks about a foot high. Big barbecue this weekend, I suppose. He left with his mountain of meat, but shortly after the butcher who had been helping him hefted another pile of steaks onto the counter. The butcher looked around, obviously wondering where the customer had gone.

Meanwhile, another butcher filled my pollo asado order. The missing meat customer was at the self-checkout when I got there. 

“Hey, I think you left the rest of your meat order,” I said.

“Nah, I got it all. Just 15 pounds.”

“Okay. Have a good day then.”

I left wondering if the guy would be back after getting home and counting his steaks.

Out in the parking lot, a man was getting out of a Nissan Rogue in a glorious metallic burnt orange color, the morning sun making it glow. Such a refreshing break from the mass of white, silver and black vehicles. Nissan calls the color Sunset Drift ChromaFlair®.

Much brighter in person

I said, “I really like the color of your car.”

He nodded his thanks but didn’t seem as enthused about the color. Or he thought I was a weirdo who should be avoided. But a dude farther along heartily agreed with my positive assessment of his lowered step-side GMC pickup. He might have talked about it all morning if it hadn’t been for his esposa pulling him to the store. Maybe they also needed a pile of meat.

So, as a very late lunch/early dinner I cooked up some of the pollo and made a burrito. It was perfect. It made me as happy as the orange car.

Enough left for two more meals. The marinade is almost the color of the Nissan.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Version update

The 013 version of the Rolling Steel Tent has served well, but the latest system upgrades — engine, transmission, solar capacity, interior fittings — call for a new version designation.