Monday, February 22, 2016

The balloon burst and Nightmare at the ATM!

Call off the search parties.  We haven’t gotten lost in the desert.
We moved back into California for a while – back on Ogilby Rd again.  Not too much was happening, except FINALLY the warm weather arrived with a vengeance!  They’ve been setting records down here for the earliest time of the year where they have broken 90F.
At last no heat is needed at night and windows can be left open without risk of frostbite Winking smile
There is usually some sort of air show going on out here.  This time it was some big ‘V’s of geese warming up for the long flight north.  Too high for photos.  The next craft were easy to see, and a lot easier to hear.  Too easy in fact.

There were some night time visitors to camp.  I suspected as much when I found some signs of fresh digging in the morning.  This little fox is the main suspect.
I wondered if Wandering Willy might still be in the area, but he and his friends were gone. Turns out, he has already finished the long drive home to BC.  Jean & Skip recently paid a visit to the Bayfield Bunch, and are now on their northward migration to Vancouver Island.  Wheeling It  made a one night stop here on their way from their long layover in SanDiego headed for points eastward, but they were gone before I realized it ;-(
It was so hot and sunny that I even pulled out my awning for the first time in months.  Good thing, since it was still wet from the last rains in December.  It’ very dry now!  There were even a couple of trees perfectly spaced for hanging up my hammock.
I wanted to be a bit closer to Yuma to enable some visiting with relatives, so after a few more enjoyable days at Ogilby, we cruised back through Yuma.  It was time to visit an ATM to replenish the funds a bit.  I love it how in addition to the horrible exchange rate for Canadian dollars, the dang machines politely ask you if you would like to donate another $3. to their profits to get your own money!!  Well, of course I said ‘yes’, but what happened next was straight out of nightmare!  The ATM was outdoors in a small strip mall.  Much to my surprise and horror, the machine began flinging the money right out onto the ground where the breeze was doing it’s best to blow it away – one after another, as I stood there shell shocked and immobile!  At least the silly machine was only flipping out 20’s, not a hundred ($140.Can) dollar bill like the atm at the casino did.  Luckily for me, there were a couple of nice Border Patrol members behind me who helped me corral the runaways, just like they were undocumented aliens!  If the wind would have been stronger, much of that money would have been wafting through traffic on Foothills, border patrol or not.
I am a rather inactive Ham (amateur) radio operator, but when I found out there was a Hamfest going on at the country fairgrounds, I knew I had to attend and check out all the cool equipment etc.
I had to do a quick check of my clothing to make sure I followed the dress code!
Come to thnk of it, there were lots of dogs inside, but not a single street gang.  Just the opposite in fact; just a whole bunch of polite, well-mannered young folks in uniform from the Civil Air Patrol.

I attended a few of the seminars – most of which were WAY over my head, but I did end up building an antenna, and buying another one to use with my scanner.  There was enough shiny stuff there to have any radio person drooling!
One interesting sideshow was put on by the Arizona Near Space Research people.  They launched a large weather balloon right from the fairgrounds on Saturday morning.  Hanging beneath it was a large array of research and test equipment that they were sending aloft.

They had some high tech tracking equipment they used to follow the flight and receive data, including a live video feed that could be seen by the assembled crowd.
The balloon made it to almost 100,000’ before finally bursting and drifting back down to earth on it’s parachute – out near Tacna, east of Yuma.  Unfortunately, it landed on military reserve land, so would not be recovered till the following Monday.

The other sideshow – and frequent conversation stopper – is the fact that the Marine Corps Air Station’s active runway takes off right across the fairgrounds.
There was regular activity from a whole variety of aircraft.  “What’s that”?  I can’t HEAR you!!IMG_0771IMG_0763IMG_0752IMG_0766IMG_0762

Meanwhile, back in camp …

Monday, February 8, 2016

Mittry Lake Superbowl

Apparently (!) there was a big game on Sunday? 

I watched it at Mittry lake wildlife area.  The opening anthem was by a coot couple, backed up by an entire chorus of red-winged blackbirds.  A hercules from the nearby base provided the required fly past.


Spectators lined the seats, err … branches.


Game time snacks were provided and devoured with gusto.IMG_0582IMG_0680

IMG_0566From the sidelines, the head official watched intently – for any out of bounds fish or frog. 

In the opening half, it was all about defense.  The one boss defensive back hummingbird did his best to prevent any scoring at the feeder by the other side.  They got close a few times and tried various tactics, but they were amazed by the lightning speed of the defence!IMG_0653

At half-time, entertainment was provided by Wile E Coyote and a few of his friends providing backup.  imageRoadrunner did not show.

In the second half, as darkness fell, the offence took over.  The offensive line swooped and dived, and were so fast they were hard to see.  It was the little brown bat line that really took it to the flying insects ineffective defence.

When I finally went inside and turned on the TV, there was some sort of celebration going on, and a trophy presentation.  I guess there must have been some sporting event on TV as well?

IMG_0612I had heard about Mittry Lake area for years from fellow RV bloggers, and pretty much knew where it was, but never quite firgured out how to get there.  This year was different.  As I cruised by on my way to/from the Imperial dam area, I finally spotted the small sign at the turnoff.  Since it was still early in the day, I decided to head in to Mittry just to check it out for future reference.  The five miles of gravel road along the canal was rough, dusty, and had some decent washboard sections, so I was tempted to turn around, since I was towing the rig at the time.  But since I knew that I was unlikely to pass this way again, I decided to grit my teeth and just check it out anyway.  The area is co-managed by BLM and Az Fish & Wildlife, and has a couple of boat launches and some fishing piers.  When I finally reached the lake shore, I found that most of the nicer water-front spots were already taken.  There were lots of gravel areas up to the rear, but they did not appeal to me that much. 


I drove right through to the south end where the road exits into agriculture areas, then turned around and came back.  There was one spot near the water and possibly recently vacated that looked like it just might be adequate for a single night.  After a quick chat with the next door neighbours, I was soon set up no more than 10 feet from the water!  After only a few minutes at happy hour under the palm trees, it became evident that this was not going to be just an overnight stop!


The neighbours were a bit closer than I usually prefer, and there were a few more generators running at night, and the road was closer and dustier than it could have been, but being on the water, among the palms, and having lots of wildlife around made up for it.

Being situated between the Marine Corps station at Yuma and within sight of the airfield at the Proving Ground, there were a fair number of aircraft in the area.  Paratroops made regular drops to the north, and I could hear all sorts of shooting and missiles and target information on my radio scanner! 


I discovered that it was only 20 km north of Yuma through more intensely farmed and irrigated land, and there is decent hiking back up in the hills, so I took advantage of both, several times.

Recent rains have inspired the ocotillo cactus to sprout their leaves and a few blossoms.


Hailey had full time scenery and wildlfe to watch right out her window, and she of course enjoyed hunting out in the tall grass along the shoreline – but only when it wasn’t too windy.


And of course, there was a sunset, every single night!P2061216

Where to next?  Anyone’s guess.  I’ll let you know when I get there.