December 9, 2011

Christmas 2011

Happy Holidays and Warmest Season’s Wishes from the Taylor home, still on wheels. Greetings and hugs to our family and friends! And welcome to our other visitors, too!

We’ve added another year to our personal chronicle, and wonder…How could it have flown so quickly, yet given us so many new experiences and memories? We’re now having a bit of cool weather and welcome rain here in Austin. It’s perfect for a good hot soup and sharing a few 2011 tales.

Wupatki Pueblo (11)Chuck & Gigi at Cleator

2011 Main Stomping Ground: Arizona – far enough north to touch the Utah border on the way to Monument Valley; and New Mexico – four passes through, including a hop north to Rico, CO. In Texas, we were east to Bastrop and south to Port Mansfield. That’s a sport fishermen’s town on the Gulf, where our previous boat home for 21 years is now at the dock. She’s no longer called La Mouette, but she may travel again!

Number of 2011 Campsites: Thirty-one. This includes brief stops and longer, but we rarely rush off before we’re ready. We’ve been tethered to Austin for medical biz and follow-ups, three visits. 

Here are a few 2011 superlatives.

Good Friends: We shared our time this year with many we visited on our travels. It’s always wonderful to connect with family, with sailing, radio and camping friends, and even one of Gigi’s college roomies. Happily, they’re to be found all over the country, especially in the southwest. We track them down. Too many to embarrass them all with their pictures here!

Favorite Campsite: El Morro RV, Ramah, NM. In August the woods, ground cover and flowers were fragrant, campsite casual, hiking handy and sights nearby include Morro Rock, Zuni Pueblo, Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, Art Gallery, more. This busy crowd was always there – at our two feeders! 

El Morro Hummingbird (46)

Zuni Pueblo: At the Old Zuni Mission, men are buried to the left and women to the right. Traditionally, men are responsible for the spirit and ceremonial; women for the home. These craftsmen sell light switch covers.

Zuni Church (5)Zuni Church (2)

Spirit Wolf Sanctuary: Sadly, many  people want Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary (3)to own a wolf-dog mix, so people do breed them. Most end up in shelters or in sanctuaries. Here there are full-blooded wolves, too, like this white one (typical big feet).  Some come from small zoos that go under or can’t handle them.

Produce market at Ramah: Held weekly outside the community historic museum. Yum.Ramah Historical Museum (1)

Toadlena, NM (31)Favorite Place Revisited: We were heading south to Gallup through the Navajo reservation and meant to pass by until we saw the sign. Our wheels turned down the road to Historic Toadlena Trading Post, where owners sell daily goods as they celebrate and support the weaver’s art through exhibitions and more. We arrived in time to join a collectors’ tour of the current exhibition, and to view the owner’s residence and special pieces.

Toadlena, NM

Best Parade: In Gallup, NM, the annual Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial parade included Native American tribes from the US and Mexico. We’ve seen it before, and enjoyed it again. Later in the day, the Rodeo and dances were pretty much rained out!

Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Parade (19)Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Parade (27)

Tijeras SnowMost welcome departure: At the Tijeras, NM campground east of Albuquerque, we had snow…but had to stay two more days because, well, we were paid up!

Easiest Park to photograph: Monument Valley, where you cannot take a bad photograph! Eons ago, this land was beneath the Sea of Cortez, Mexico.

Monument Valley (31)Monument Valley (65)

Awesome-est Place: Canyon de Chelly National Monument. It was also the toughest park to photograph. It’s just too grand to express through the limiting lens. But I tried. And tried. Left pix: There are ruins in the low dark alcove. Right: Spider Rock below, 800 feet high.

Chelly S Rim (50)White House (58)Chelly S Rim (98) Spider Rock Area

If you go, take a tour of the Canyon! The road in is also the river bed. 

Chelly S Rim (50)White House (37)

 Tour (48) Pictograph Tour Pictograph Stop 2-4

We chose Antelope Tours, and saw several ruins and many pictographs. Ben, our guide, took us to his family home, located next to Antelope ruins. Maybe because we liked his stories so much, he did a u-turn to give us an extra view of Standing Rock, located in a family pasture lined with old apple trees that the bears love. Here, a small Navajo group fought to successfully escape the Long Walk, the most terrible part of the tribe’s history and a shameful tactic by US troops that led to the death of thousands.

Tour (79) Standing Rock

Thinking of Christmas:

Nice potential gift for her (silver hair ornament):

Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial Parade (64)

Nice gift for him (pick one only) Belen, NM:

Harla May Fat Boy Grill Oysterz

Happy New Year!!!

November 29, 2011

Rain at Last

RAIN! We’re having a downpour at this very moment! Every day since April 1 they’ve predicted thunderstorms and rain, but not a drop. The reservoirs are down, indiscriminate watering prohibited, fires through the state.

A couple of days ago, we were cruelly teased with a shower.
This is REAL rain! Thunder and lightning! I wonder if wild flowers will appear…

Austin Campground Neighbor

I was standing in the empty Mid-Town Campground laundromat watching the dryer go round. The classy wool jacket I’d bought for $2.40 in a thrift store was stripped of lining, shoulder pads and collar, reduced to bright red wool pieces and washed. New wool is $22/yard. I couldn’t wait for it to get dry, to see how the results would suit me for hooking.

An old man ambled in wearing an old unbuttoned striped cotton shirt, and stopped in front of two quiet dryers. He’s tall, but looks little because he’s so thin. Maybe he’s little but looks tall because he’s so thin. He stood still for a moment and looked around. I could count the ribs sticking out of his pale chest above a scooped-in belly, but didn’t want to stare. Instead, I said hi. “Here I am, once a month!” he announced, and started to unload sheets and worn cotton quilts. He shook each, and piled them one by one on his right shoulder, corners nearly touching the ground fore and aft. The pile began to cover his ear. On to the shirts and jeans in the other dryer, which he laid over his left shoulder. In a bit he had to stack some on top of the sheets. As the pile rose, he tipped a little and peered at me from his left eye, “Only need one eye to see!” The load began to look precarious, and the sheets to drag a bit. I say, “Can I help you?” “Only got 60 feet to go!” he grinned, and walked out.

The red wool looks fabulous!

October 2, 2011

Keeping Us Rolling

Sometimes I wonder if readers think that this blog seems to be all about me, me, me. Not!
Chuck w TiresWho hitches us up and gets us around, through rain, heat, long days, traffic, tight corners and close quarters? Who feeds the cat and clips his nails and manages the engines, electrics and electronics? From road to roof, he’s checked, tended and repaired it.
So it was on our ketch, La Mouette … and so it is yet.
This month seems to have set some sort of record. Clean the carburetor on the generator. Buy a new starter because the old one truly burned up. Then the truck wouldn’t run - we’d somehow blown a 20-amp fuse.
Chuck Generator Work (1)  Chuck Truck Fuse
                       And a bad light socket.
Chuck Fixes LIght

We finally ordered and installed a new awning to replace the threadbare one we’d also scraped with a tree driving down a narrow tree-lined dirt road in Mexico over a year ago.
Awining Installation (2)   Awining Installation (4)
                            I helped.
                   Awining Installation Gigi
DSC02111When the starter again blew a fuse three days ago here at Navajo Monument, AZ, we knew it was trouble. Our campground is 30 miles from the nearest town, tiny Kayenta. Trying to fix it with no luck, Chuck called the park maintenance department willing to pay someone who’d give him a ride to a Napa store in Kayenta for a new starter. Surprisingly, the head ranger showed up shortly as a volunteer chauffer! A tall, charming guy who took one glance and probably wanted to get us out of here. Blocked on the starter, Chuck was in the process of removing the wheels to check the balancers.
Before installing the new starter, Chuck searched the Internet, searching for a potential underlying cause. He found a Tech Bulletin published 10 years ago for our particular model Dodge truck, indicating that it was necessary to add a special relay and fuse harness (I just type what he says) to prevent fuse failure. It’s amazing we’d not had the problem before!
DSC02180A diagram was included in the bulletin. So Chuck built one, borrowing a relay, he tells me, from the power distribution block in the truck. (Ok, whatever!) When my job holding wires during soldering was done, I took a picture of the new harness ready to install. It’s those blue, red and white wires. He decided to try installing the old starter.
And I went on a walk to the Betatakin ruins overlook, sadly realizing that I should skip the ‘strenuous’ 5-mile group hike down the canyon to the site! Look closely, the ruin’s in the alcove! This shows the beautiful setting – it’s actually closer.

DSC02253When I got back, the truck was gone!! Installation successful!! Chuck was off to buy a new relay and to return the Kayenta starter. We don’t need it - the old one works now.

September 19, 2011

Land of Beauty

Behind us for now, land of drought. Where the ancient ones lived, we have been surrounded by beauty. And, we have seen rain.
In beauty, happily I walk.
With beauty before me, I walk.
With beauty behind me, I walk.
With beauty below me, I walk. 
With beauty above me, I walk.
With beauty all around me, I walk.
It is finished again in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.    -- Hozhogo Naasha
El Morro National Monument and ruin:
El Morro National Monument (17)  El Morro National Monument (26)
Hello, again! It appears that this blog has not been nurtured! I guess we’ve been  enchanted.  Since leaving Austin, we’ve been roaming the awesomely beautiful lands of northern NM and southwestern CO.
Taos: St Francis de Asis front and rear:
Taos San Francisco de Asis Church (8)  Taos San Francisco de Asis Church (9)
                   1890 merry-go-round at Taos fair:
               NM 1890Taos Merry-Go-Round (1)
The High Road landscape; Truchas Church:
High Road Dry Country  Truchas Church Chuck
Echo Amphitheater and Ghost Ranch
Echo Ampitheater (5)  Ghost Ranch O'Keefe (2)
Ute Mountain Indian Reservation; road to Telluride:
Drive to Rico Chimney Rock (4)  Drive to Teluride (4)
Now we’re in east-central AZ. We just left Show Low and Lakeside, a mountainous summer retreat area for folks living in lowland AZ. There, we rendezvous’d with sailing friends and Chuck accomplished surprise truck repairs and planned RV repairs. I’ve had budget busting surprise dental work and done a bit of hooking – and if that sounds odd, check our previous blogs!
Oh, a couple more pix… Old Zuni Mission (awesome murals inside) and cemetery, men’s graves to the left, women’s to the right. Craftsmen selling hand-carved and painted light switch covers.
Zuni Church (5)  Zuni Church (2)
Zuni Pueblo ovens, where women work together baking bread, and sacred mesa:
               Zuni Pueblo (26)