Sears at-home service

We started off Saturday morning with an early call from Sears At-Home service. It was expected, since they were supposed to come fix the brakes on the tractor. What I wasn’t expecting was him to tell me he couldn’t get up the road because a tree was down. Its June – weather is clear/sunny, no wind. Trees are just randomly falling now… hmmm

Anyway, went down the road with the chainsaw and after some bit of work, got enough of it cleared so he could get up the road. The Sears guy (and some other folks who were coming up to cut a neighbors grass), helped by pulling branches out of the road as I cut stuff up.

I can’t say the same of the handful of neighbors that were either coming up or down the road while it was blocked – they just wanted to know when I’d have it clear but otherwise didn’t really offer to help – hmpf… not impressed.

Normally I wouldn’t tromp thru the park (“regional wilderness”) harvesting firewood, but if I’m clearing it off the road, its payment for services rendered 🙂

As for the tractor, no dice on the repair. The stupid automatic/hydrostatic transmission isn’t playing nice with the brakes and now it doesn’t work too well in reverse. So, Sears ordered $1200 more in parts and made an appt to come back in a couple weeks. Sure am glad that we decided to pay a couple hundred $ for that ‘extended protection plan’. Its really paying for itself now.

Alive and well in Hatch NM

Disco, that is.

and serving cold beer for takeout if you don’t feel brave enough to enter and partake of the dank and sweaty disco fever that obviously is so rampant past the black maw of a hole that passes for a door.

Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.

Justice the founder of my fabric mov’d:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.

Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
All hope abandon ye who enter here.

Such characters in colour dim I mark’d
Over a portal’s lofty arch inscrib’d:
Whereat I thus: Master, these words import.

Thank you Dante, because I couldn’t have said it better.

But Fraley might…..

Ahem, back to my story

Okay, let’s wrap this up because we have a lot of other things to post about.

I drove out to Chaco ahead of Art and Laura/Jeff to get stuff set up. Good thing, it was a full weekend out there, despite the non-paved shake your teeth loose road out there.

Darby in the desert

There was a jack rabbit way off in the distance, too much effort in the heat.

and lots of free range ranch horses.

lots of elk too, although I think I was the only one out of all of us that actually saw them.

It was near dark by the time I got in, and completely dark by the time I got our campsites claimed. Which meant putting up the new tent blind, as previously posted.

The next day was just Dretti, DeeDee, Q, Darby and me. Art the Husband wasn’t scheduled to show up until later in the evening. So we hung out, went for a hike (way too hot, as I discovered AFTER the hike by means of 4 exhausted dogs and one very sunburnt overheated me). It wasn’t really even a hike, so much as a 2 mile walk down a very sandy heat-baked desert road. It ended in a set of ruins (Wajiji Ruins) that dated back to 850ad. Relatively young, from what history I gathered.

We didn’t go very close, no dogs allowed in the ruins. That’s probably a good thing.
We drank all of our water and made it back to the air conditioned goodness of the van. The digital temp read from the van said it was 96 degrees outside. Ooops. We drank lots of water and headed back to the campsite to read and nap in the comfort of our conservatively ultra-spacious tent. And then, mid afternoon, a thunderstorm rolled through. Downpour, thunder, lightning….awesome. We zipped up the tent and listened to the New Mexico skies rant and rage. For about 10 minutes. And it was done. Art rolled in about 8pm, just in time for dinner. Yay for camping dinner;

In case you were wondering

Wait a minute! Who’s tending the farm while you guys are off gallivanting across the country?!??! Why, Fraley, of course.

Except he didn’t wear the tux.

Paul Fraley is Art’s BFF, and seems to actually LIKE coming up here to watch the farm (water plants, feed the cats, tend to the chickens and collect eggs, maintain a secure perimeter, etc.). This job is not with out it’s risks, but Fraley is a risk-taker, and is well versed in chicken behavior and methodology.

and they were, too, oh yes, they were.

This time there were no horses for him to fuss with though. For as long as we were going to be gone we decided to take them out to Indian Hills Ranch and board them for the duration. Horsie Club Med.

Jack was housed next to the only other Rocky Mountain Horse at the ranch, by complete coincidence.

She absolutely hated him.

But his other neighbor ‘Bob’ was his instant best buddy. Tsk, boys.

All in all, we really liked Indian Hills Ranch. The people were very nice, management and the other boarders, and the horses were all extremely well cared for. Our trainer Tracy Mauer was there for part of their stay and gave them some time riding them and turning them out. She’s impressed with their retention of manners and training. 🙂 I love these horses. They’re good kids. Lemme know if your in the market for a RMH, I know a really good person who’s very selective about her breeding and acquisition of horses. If she didn’t breed it (Izzy was bred by her), she hand picks em (Jack was hand picked from a farm in Kentucky by Pam Higgins)

“On the road again….”, “Alllll by my-seeelllfffff, all by myself….”

Art left a day before me to go to some tactical gun training thing out in the desert. For some guy-reason he feels the need to learn to shoot a gun at human shaped targets in situations that unless he is cast in a leading role of an action/comedy film or by some miracle the world’s population is diminished to a few chosen few who must survive by shooting skillfully at human shaped targets (this is possible I surmise due to the astounding number of movies made with that theme), unless those situations come about he will never use. Or I hope he won’t (a gun fight from the drivers seat of a car parked in the driveway of a crack house where someone is holding his friends exwife’s child hostage, at night, with no cover, you know, for example. Sheesh). According to AtH, it could happen.

Anyway, I left the day after he did with all 4 dogs and not much of a plan other than to make it to Chaco Canyon by Thursday night. Not an unrealistic goal. Originally I was going to swing thru Albuquerque first, but after thinking about it I decided to get there sooner than later to secure campsites for both ourselves and my sister (who wouldn’t be arriving until sometime on Saturday) It’s Memorial Day weekend, it could be packed, this was my reasoning.* And away we went. Roadtripping is awesome to me, I love to drive, by myself (just a dog or 4 to keep me company), doing my own thing on my own schedule. This, to me, is heaven. I smile a lot. We made it to Kingman, AZ on Wednesday by about 9pm-ish. About 11 hours on the road. After driving to Fort Worth and back, this is my standard. I average about 11-14 hours a day driving. Sometimes I tool around taking my time, other times I just drive balls out. Either way, I love love love it.

And so do the dogs.

They’re pretty good travelers, and excellent company. They don’t mess with the mirrors or the seat settings, they don’t change the radio station or whine about my taste in music. They don’t ask if we’re there yet. They don’t have to pee every 50 miles. They have the entire back of the van to lounge in, a portable no-spill waterboy, plenty of treats to chew and windows to hang out of. Mostly they sleep.

We stay at Best Westerns, mainly because when you travel with a dog or a handful of dogs your lodging choices become limited. The dogs are FABULOUS in hotels. I’m pretty sure the Best Western in Kingman had no clue I actually had 4 dogs in the room. (I didn’t lie so much as avoid the question of ‘how many dogs do you have’, I told them I had my dog(z) with me) They don’t bark, they don’t pee on the floor, they don’t chew things up. They’re better than most kids I know. They go into the room, sniff around, Dretti bounces on the bed and nips at the blankets then everyone settles down and goes to sleep. Pretty simple. Very comfortable. And there’s free hot breakfast in the morning. We love waffles. All of us.

* I was right. The campground was 100% full by Friday. Phew, bullet dodged. We got two sites back to back (instead of side by side). It worked out very well.

Happy Anniversary, Baby, now let’s get dirty….

As Art posted, we celebrated our 5 year anniversary with a roadtrip. I love roadtrips (the next post will be a retropost from my roadtrip to Texas back at the end of March, yes, it was voluntary), and LauraJeff were taking a vacation over the Memorial Day weekend, so Art and I decided to bust in on their fun! They were headed out in their FunMover to Chaco Canyon, NM to start. Camping for several days out in the desert amongst the Chaco Ruins. Roadtrips are one thing, a roadtrip with camping is another creature entirely, which requires ‘gear’. So I pulled out the ‘generously sized’ tent I purchased about 4 years ago and never got around to even taking out of the box. There was a reason for that. #1, the damn thing is a little over 50lb. #2 (and why I didn’t realize this when I bought it….) it measures 15 x 20 feet and takes a small highly communicative family with individual degrees in engineering to assemble (as long as there’s no wind or other elements to consider that is. Then you might need extended family members. With degrees in higher math and/or physics.)

Misleading advertising; there is NOTHING for size comparison here. You know, like a small child, or a Honda Civic.

Or a pack of dogs.

Art cannot touch the ceiling (he’s over 6 feet tall, mind you).

It has 2 freakin’ ROOMS.

I could park my Jeep in it. Seriously.

So, figuring it was highly unlikely that even an RV campsite would be able to accommodate this monster (and where was I going to find the staff to help me put it together????) I made a trip to REI to relinquish a portion of our annual dividend. I came home with this: the Hobitat6*. Home Sweet Camping Home.

*X-pens and white-trash tarp not included.

It’s 6 feet tall (Art Friendly), square footprint, one room, two doors, mostly mesh so you can stargaze. And to it’s credit, I was able to put this together in the dark, by myself, with a stiff wind for the first time out of the bag. Rainfly too. In under 1/2 and hour. By myself. Because I rolled into camp a day before Art the Husband, two days before Laura and Jeff. It held up to strong New Mexico winds, a wicked downpour and was roomy enough for 4 dogs, AtH and myself. Room to spare even.

Thumbs up for this tent. And although the dogs loved the MonsterTruckTent, I don’t think New Mexico is big enough to accomodate it. Maybe Utah, or Wyoming.

Congratulations, it’s a beer!

He didn’t mention the crapload of beer from the Moab Brewery he toted home. Art went to Moab, whilst I went south into NM. He brought home a shit-ton of beer from the Moab Brewery. He stocked up on so much, he decided to bring them home in a gigantic Styrofoam cooler bedded down in a ton of ice. Which soaked the sixpack boxes and the labels by the time he got home. You shoulda seen the look on his face. He must have spent an hour sitting on the front porch drying each bottle carefully and then laying out the sixpack forms so they could dry in the sun the next day. Then he scrounged up the clear packing tape, tediously taped the sixpacks back together and boxed up his treasures. You should see the looks I get when I drink one, or gawd forbid, two. I think he inventories them daily. 🙂

I think this one needs changing.

5 years

We’ve been married 5 years now as of last weekend – time flies when yer having fun. Lisa’s sister Laura and her boyfriend Jeff planned a trip this year down to Chaco Canyon in New Mexico and invited us along. Lisa and I boarded the horses at a nearby stable, packed up the dogs and gear and set out in separate vehicles with the goal to meet up in Chaco. I took a side trip thru Death Valley & Nevada for a couple days and Lisa left the next day to explore some of Arizona before getting into Chaco to secure campsites for the weekend (Chaco doesn’t have many sites and it was also Memorial Day weekend so I was surprised we managed to get sites for all of us).

I’ve not been to much of New Mexico before this, so it was a new area to explore for me. Lisa got to spend some time in New Mexico earlier this year on the way back from a dog show in Texas and really liked it alot.

Lisa got to Chaco on Thursday, and did an amazing job of getting a new REI 6 person tent setup in the dark with a pretty stiff wind blowing thru camp. Kudos to REI for making a tent that doesn’t suck. The dogs really liked having all the space to stretch out in.

I spent Thursday in Kingman AZ – on the road there from Vegas, I saw a couple rattlesnakes on or next to the road every mile for the last 30 miles or so into Kingman. If it weren’t for all the rodents I also saw crossing the road, I would have to conclude that Kingman is some Mecca for rattlers.

Friday Lisa took the pups for a walk in Chaco – it was a tad warm and they got tired pretty quick. After getting thru several sandstorms thru the Navajo Nation, I rolled into Chaco just in time for Lisa taking a burger off the grill 🙂 – nice timing.

I had read a little about Chaco before going, but was really amazed at the scope of the ruins there. It was much more extensive than I thought.

There was a good trail going up thru a crack in the face of the cliffs that gets you on top of the mesa overlooking the largest structure – its the only way to really appreciate the scale of the construction.

This is but one small example of the graffiti, er, artwork on the walls around Chaco:

Lots of fossilized remains at the top of the mesa:

I thought this looked like a dino print, but if it were, it will be depressed into the rock, not the other way. Its more of the fossilized sea life that was in this ancient sea floor that is now up at 6000 ft.

This rock looks like a huge skull (well, to me anyway):

My half-hearted attempt at trick photography. I saw these arches under a ledge on the mesa. They look big, but the image of Lisa and Laura in the background give it away. The arches were really only 8 inches or so high 🙂

Time to hit the road. More posts to come.