Borrego Springs, CA

Friday, November 28, 2014

A possible short move. What do you think?

Barring a government shutdown, this refuge is only closed two days per year… Thanksgiving and Christmas.  That meant that all ten volunteers here had the same day off.  Since we man the refuge seven days a week, this only happens twice a year.

79 Imperial NWR 2014-152Did we get together to celebrate the holiday?  You betcha!  We also invited the refuge interns to join us.  One couple was not present since they were visiting their daughter.  Happy hour was first up before the feast.

IMG_0934We had the usual sides to accompany the ‘bird’.  The chest freezer was  disguised as the desert table, and I didn’t get a picture of that.

IMG_0931The star of the show, of course, was the stuffed turkey.  Jay, one of the volunteers, was a chef before he retired.  He deboned the turkey before stuffing and baking it, and carved and served each of us.  It doesn’t get much better than having a professional chef in your midst.  I wish I had seen how he deboned that turkey.  I’m not a big fan of stuffing, but this stuff (pun intended) was delicious.  I can’t remember all the ingredients, but I do know Oregon cherries were one of them. 

I behaved myself and didn’t rip off a big piece of breast skin to savor.  I just love browned turkey breast skin with a little salt on it.  It’s probably my favorite thing about Thanksgiving dinner.  Guess I’ll have to wait until next year. Crying face

Now for my little dilemma.  While I was taking Emma for a walk this afternoon, we stopped at one of the two unused volunteer pads.  I’m thinking I might like to move over to this site, but there are pros and cons.  Let me explain.

_MG_1234This is my present site, #5.  It’s on the end of  one of the two rows of sites.  Hard to see, but notice the very small cement patio.  The site is surrounded by a shallow layer of gravel over the dusty desert land.

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This is the view from my rocker as I sit outside with Emma.  Not bad; enough room between rigs since no one is parked right beside me, but Emma stirs up plenty of dust, and rolls around in the rocks.  She is filthy!  If you pat her sides or back, puffs of dust rise.


This is the view out the front window of the site I’m thinking of moving to with the maintenance area in the distance.  It’s not much different from my view out the front of my present site, although it’s a little closer at the new (to me) site.


This is the view from the very large patio of the new site where I would sit out with Emma.  I’m guessing this patio is six or so times the size of my present patio, and the rig would also sit on pavement.

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You can’t see it in these photos, but the pond below is loaded with coots, cormorants, ducks, and some white pelicans.  When we were there, little birds were also bubbling through the mesquite and shrubs out in front.  There’s also gravel surrounding the pavement for Emma to do her ‘business’.  Did you notice that saguaro on the right?  One of the few that are around this part of the desert.


If I move here, the bunkhouse for interns is right behind, but I don’t have a window facing back anyway.  I like that good sized tree on the left, and bushes on the right.  So, what’s not to love about this site?  A beautiful view, a not so dusty Emma, and maybe the pavement would help trim down her nails a bit.  Seems like a no brainer, right?

HOWEVER, the site only has 30 amps. I live in a 50 amp rig with a residential AC/heat pump and convection oven.  I’m still running the AC every afternoon, and by February and March the temps are sure to rise.  This is the desert after all.

If I remember correctly, the AC/heat pump pulls about 22 amps (I think) and the residential fridge pulls about 1 or 2 amps normally.  That leaves me about 6 amps for the microwave/convection oven, the hot water heater, lights, TV, toaster, and computer, etc.  I can switch the water heater to propane.  I lived on 30 amps for five years before I got this rig but I didn’t have that residential AC/heat pump thing then.  I also think the rig is supposed to shut down some things being used if I near the 30 amp limit.  I also have the volunteer building nearby if I want to use a real oven. 

I’m leaning toward moving, but I’d like to know what you think.  Can any of you see what problems I might have with only 30 amps that I haven’t thought of? 

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Brassieres and Mousetraps?

I finished up my three days in the VC yesterday.  I brought my big camera along with me on Tuesday hoping to get some pictures of the American pipit that hangs around the building.


We open up at 8:00, and there aren’t very many people that come to visit that early in the morning.  It’s a good time though to watch the birds moving around.


Several batches of cormorants were on the move heading for the Colorado River.  The early morning light lit up their heads and chests.


Then I spotted that little pipit perched on one of the cacti in the desert garden surrounding the VC.  This little dude often runs around the sidewalk trying to catch unsuspecting bugs, while all the while doing what I call deep knee bends.  They sure do bob a lot.


They also don’t sit still for very long.  The next thing I knew, it had flown up to the VC rooftop.  It’s a bit chilly in the mornings in the desert, so it’s kind of puffed up to conserve warmth.  You know, I’m not exactly certain about this ID.  I’ve never seen a pipit that was quite this pale before, and I haven’t spent much time in the desert.  So, if my ID is incorrect, I’d sure appreciate being corrected.

Wednesday is my first day off each week, and I generally spend it doing laundry, grocery shopping, and running errands.  Today was no exception, but I did have the most exciting time doing the laundry that I’ve ever had.  Emma was on her lead outside as I walked to the volunteer building to get the wash out of the dryer.  I made it about half way when I heard her give her unusual bark.  Last time that happened, a rattlesnake was outside our rig.  I immediately did an about face and hot-footed it back to the rig.  No rattlesnake this time, Emma’s hair was standing on edge, and two coyotes were on the other side of the rig!

I waved my arms and shouted, “You guys get out of here!”  They looked my way, gave me the ‘stink eye’ and headed off, but not without sounding a few yips and howls in protest.  I, of course, put Emma back inside before going the short distance to the laundry room.  I’ve heard the coyotes yodeling away many nights here, but I was surprised to see them so close at 9:30 in the morning.

So what do brassieres and mousetraps have to do with all this?  Well, I wanted to talk about Amazon tonight, but I just had to add the encounter with the coyotes first.  Anyway, in the past I’ve maybe ordered something from Amazon once a year.  It seems I’ve lately become a convert.  I’ve never signed up for Prime since I didn’t think it was worth it for me, but now I wonder.  It sure does seem that they deliver about anything you might want.

Last week it was tire covers, RV drawer latches, and a new hummingbird feeder.  Sunday Janna (from Montana) sent me an email telling me where to get the best ever mousetraps… Amazon. 


Janna sent me two of these traps several years ago when I was experiencing a terrible mouse invasion at Anahuac NWR.  I think they’re the best thing since sliced bread if you have a mouse problem.  I still have those original two traps, but wanted a few more just in case.  I’ve looked for them ever since in any store I’ve been in, but could never find them.  Of course, buying a package of six mouse traps didn’t qualify for free shipping, so I had to beef up my order.  Hence the brassieres.  Turned out they were about half the price of what I’ve paid in stores.  I’ve pretty much always gone to stores to purchase what I need, but I just may change my ways.  It does seem rather convenient when you’re located out in the middle of nowhere. 

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, November 23, 2014

B & B - Birds and Blogging

Today was the first morning I officially had people signed up for the bird tour.  Two fellow volunteers were also going to be coming along, so I was a little pumped.  Winds were predicted to be almost as bad as last Sunday, but they were calm as I headed to open the gate at 7:30.  The couple from Alaska was waiting for me at the gate.


This week I added a stop at the beginning of the tour at a small pond close to the RV sites.  I had seen these four ‘snowbirds’ arrive yesterday as I sat outside with Emma.  Check off white pelican on the list.

On the way to the rest of the ponds we spotted a big raccoon making its way to the spillway.  No bobcat this morning, but I think I’ll see it again one of these mornings.  We circled a couple of the ponds and found that more waterfowl has moved in for the winter.  Besides all the coots and ruddy ducks, we saw quite a few canvasbacks, eared grebes, and gadwall.  Each week is a little different.


As we rounded a corner, I told the Alaska folks that a young vermillion flycatcher liked to hang out in this area.  Right on queue, the little dude appeared.  Guess I’d better give him a raise.  Winking smile  After less than an hour into the tour, the predicted winds descended on us.  Little birds hunkered down, and the waterfowl made their way to protected areas.  Even the raptors were having a hard time maneuvering.  You just can’t control the weather on these tours.

Yesterday afternoon, one of the maintenance volunteers came over to seal my picnic table.  I brought Emma inside so she wouldn’t get in his way.  (Those of you that know Emma, can understand why I brought her inside.)  IMG_8955After Dick had finished his work and left, I noticed a male Gambel’s quail making its way through the campsite.  So Emma and I sat on the inside steps of the rig and I took these shots through the handle opening of the screen door.

IMG_8974It wasn’t long before the rest of the flock came wandering through.  I really like these comical looking birds with their stunning topknots and babbling chatter.  Close up, I like the scaled quality of their neck feathers.


Last week when I went to the local post office to pick up the refuge mail, I found one of these beautiful birds sitting stunned in the middle of the road.  I pulled over to the side of the road, got out, and picked it up to move it under a small mesquite bush in the shade.  It didn’t protest, and when I came back down the road it was gone.  I felt like I did my good deed for the day.  Don’t know if it flew into a car or what, but I savored the feeling of having that soft bird in my hands for a moment.  A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, don’t-cha know. In love

So that’s it for the birds for today, and now on to Blogging.  As some have noticed, I switched to Google+ for my comments a couple of days ago.  I did that because sometimes commenters ask questions, and g-mail doesn’t always allow me to respond to those questions.  With some help from Rick it was an easy transition, I thought.  In order to comment now, you need a G+ page or profile, so I knew this would not work for some people.  I had mixed emotions about that since I really enjoy reading the comments readers make (except for those spammers of course).  Well, after a day and a half, I received three emails from folks saying they wouldn’t be interested in doing the G+ thing.  That was it.  There were no other comments in my email account.  If I viewed my blog on my dashboard, it said there were zero comments.

Made me think I had made my readers really mad.  I checked my G+ page, and did find one comment.  Finally this morning, I went to my dashboard, clicked on view blog, and then clicked on 0 comments.  Viola!  There were comments there, but I hadn’t been notified.  Don’t know why not.  I checked my settings, and it says I’ll be notified by email of any comments, but that’s not happening.  It seems the only way to know is to view the blog and then click on comments even though it says there aren’t any.  That’s a pain.  Is this how everyone that has switched to G+ comments has to do it?  I’d appreciate your input.


                                                                              THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, November 21, 2014

Life on the refuge

I’m certainly enjoying my first winter in the desert here at Imperial NWR, but life is not all roses as they say.  Tonight I want to tell you about a few of the things that aren’t so great.  First of all, I have next to no cell phone service here.  That can pose problems.  I can very seldom call my kids or take care of business over the phone.  I switched to AT&T on Robyn and Dennis’ family plan to save about $50/month.  Luckily I kept my Verizon internet service, and that does well.

Then there’s the water problems that seem to be the bane of my existence the last eight months or so.  First I had the brown water problems at Tamarac NWR, then the water pressure problems in Casa Grande, and now getting consistent water is a problem.  Didn’t know it until I arrived, but we must each haul our drinking water from a small reverse osmosis machine in the kitchen of the volunteer building.  I can deal with that.  Had to do the same thing at Anahuac NWR.  However, every week or so, the well water out of the hookup at the rig quits.  Couple that with the leak in my fresh water tank, and the result is no water in the rig at all.

That happened again yesterday afternoon, and there was no water available anywhere on the refuge until about 10:00 this morning.  (no water means no flushing, etc.)  Ugh!  I’m working on the fresh water tank problem, but I have no control over the well problem.  It was interesting when 60 or so fourth graders arrived from near the border this morning.  They couldn’t use the bathrooms and the bus had to go another four miles on the very bumpy and rustic overlook road to the two pit toilets at the Painted Desert Trailhead.


I’m also having a challenge with my hummingbird feeders.  In the last few days bees have invaded us.


             I just refilled this feeder yesterday.  The liquid is clear, but sure doesn’t look like it now.


Can you believe the number of bees that have drowned themselves in just 24 hours?  I find it astounding.  I think I’m going to have to take the feeder down.  There are so many bees that the hummers can barely get in for a sip.  I don’t know if my friend Marilyn can tell me what kind of bees these are, but I sure don’t want to cause their decimation.

None of these small issues are enough to make me pack up and leave, but I sure would appreciate a consistent water supply.  And with the cold front that has hit the country, I’ll barely mention my beginning battle with the mouse population. Sad smile  When you live on a wildlife refuge, you have to expect some things.

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On a lighter note, I’ll leave you tonight with pictures of a couple of the road signs I encounter every time I go to town in Yuma.  I’m guessing that not too many of you have to watch out for burros and tanks crossing the road!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A hair raising experience?

After going to the Date Festival in Yuma on Saturday, I had to get ready for three days of work in the VC.  At four in the morning on Sunday a front began to move through, and Holy Mackerel! did the winds ever kick up.  Woke me up out of a deep sleep.  I had to roll in the window awnings and pull in the slides.  Not much sleep after that.


Once there was a little daylight, I looked out the side window of the rig.  That’s not fog, it’s blowing dust.  Normally, I have a grand view of the Chocolate Mountains out my window.  We had two days of high winds and below normal temps.  You just felt kind of gritty when you came inside.


By Tuesday, the winds had abated some so the scheduled prescribed burn of pond #5 could happen.  Last week the pond was drained, and all native fish species were captured and removed for later reintroduction.  The burn was to remove invasive plant species and clear off the island in the pond for use by wintering waterfowl.


Rockets with fireballs for ammunition were used to launch fire onto the island.  Turned out that the burn wasn’t as good as hoped for.  I’ll be out there next Sunday to see what it accomplished.  Those mountains in the background are what I usually see out my window, so if you compare that to my first pic in this post you can get an idea of how dense the dust was on Sunday.

Today was my first day off this week so I took care of laundry and then headed for Yuma to take care of errands and grocery shopping.  My first stop was at the Verizon store to get my USB air card disconnected.  Last week I had purchased a Jetpack for internet reception on a trial basis to see if I could use not only my laptop, but my i-Pad.   After some initial glitches that were eating up my gigabytes, I think I’ll be happy with the Jetpack.  Of course, the ‘associate’ that I had today couldn’t produce what the guy I talked to last week had promised.  I sure wish these yahoos would get on the same page.  Ugh!

Anyway, after that unpleasant experience I decided to get a hair cut at a place close by that I had a one half off coupon for that came on the back of my last receipt from Fry’s grocery store.  The name of the place was SportClips.  Never heard of that chain before, and I was a bit taken aback as I entered the establishment.

As I walked in, there was a huge screen TV with sports guys talking about college football.  The waiting area chairs were actually three rows of football or baseball stadium seats.  Oddest looking beauty parlor I’d ever seen.  I waited by the desk to ask one of the hair stylists (barbers?) if this was a men’s only type of place.  She assured me it wasn’t.  Well, I have to tell you that I was the only woman that came in for a cut.  The stylists wore sports type uniforms with stripes, and their services included hot facial towels (around your beard area), neck massages, and a message shampoo!  Kind of made me chuckle as I waited for my turn.  This would be a new experience.

As I was led to my chair, the haircutting area was surrounded by four more TV’s with the sports mouths blabbing away.  Kind of felt like I was in a man cave or something.  There was even a tiled area in the back that said “Showers”. Disappointed smile  In for a penny, in for a pound…

The hairstylist did a very nice job with my cut, but slopped on a bunch of goop on my head to start with.  She said it was conditioner.  Do you have any idea what conditioner does to a person with very fine hair?  It made my hair just flatten down on my head.  I told her I thought I’d need a shampoo to get it out.

We went through the ‘Shower’ opening for the shampoo.  Turns out there aren’t any showers, that’s just where the shampoo sinks are.  These chairs and sinks are obviously made for tall men.  The sink to lay my head back in was way too high for me.  No problem… the chair went up, a footrest came out, and the chair started vibrating like those long ago ‘magic fingers’!  I’ve never quite had an experience like this in a beauty salon.

With my coupon as a new customer, the cost for this cut was $8.50.  Can’t beat that.  I’m thinking I may just get the MVP full treatment the next time with the hot towels, massage, and all.  That would bump the price to $20, but I’ve paid more for a lot less before.  I’m just not sure about those beard towels though.  I’ve got a few more long hairs on my chin since menopause, but I surely don’t consider it a beard! Who me?

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Can a little old lady get a date?

You betcha!  Especially if she visited Yuma today for the Date Festival.  So that’s just what I did.


Along with hundreds of other people. Disappointed smile  It was packed.  Not my favorite thing, and this was fairly early.  Not early enough though.  I had hoped to take a farm tour or date packaging tour, but all spots were sold out in less than an hour.  Shucks!

Unlike most of the nation, it’s still hot down here (by my standards).  Main street in Yuma was blocked off for the celebration, and vendors set up along the street.  People walked on the hot pavement of the street.  A couple of things perplexed me.  First, I wondered why people would bring their dogs to this venue?  That black dog in the photo was panting like crazy.  Do dogs eat dates?  It was a hot day for a black dog.

Secondly, I wondered what things like tamales and foot long NY Italian sausages had to do with dates?  I guess I’m na├»ve, but I expected a date festival to be all about dates.  


I was happy to see there were several date vendors though.  I even bought a pound and a half bag of Medjool dates for $5.  Not fancy ones like these, but I wanted some to use to make my own date bars.  One of my fondest food memories is of the delicious date bars that Ackerman’s Bakery used to make when I was a kid in Chicago.


I was hoping to find a recipe for those date bars, so I stopped to listen to a date cooking demonstration put on by the teachers (chefs) and students from Arizona Western College.  I did end up with quite a few recipes for dates, but not for the kind of bars I was hoping for.


The cooking demonstration also included being able to taste what the students made.  Everything’s better with bacon, right?  They were trying to demonstrate how dates can be used in almost any dish.  I thought this was the best part of the whole festival, but I’m not sure if they toasted the sliced French baguette or just let it dry out in the Arizona sun.  Winking smile  I did learn something though, so here’s your date trivia fact for the day:  dates only grow where there are at least 100 days of temperatures at or above 100* per year.  Now that’s hot for a long time!

On my way home, I stopped at a farm stand that opened up this week.  The produce is fresh and quite a bit cheaper than the grocery stores.  Among other things, I bought what I thought was a cantaloupe for $1.75.  It appeared to be perfectly ripe with the background to the webbing on the skin a pale yellow color.  Do you know what I mean?  Well, when I got it home, I was shocked to find the flesh of the melon was white to pale green, kind of like a honey dew melon.  Honey dews, to my knowledge, have a smooth rind with no webbing.  So I have no idea what kind of melon this is.  Anyone got any idea?  Whatever it is, chunks of it are going into my lunch bucket for the next three days at work.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Chuckle for the day

World's Shortest Psychiatric Joke - an easy diagnosis

A man walks into a psychiatrist's office, wearing only underwear made of Saran Wrap.......
The psychiatrist says, ‘Well, I can clearly see your nuts.”

My sister sent me this, and I just had to share.  Made me chuckle.  Open-mouthed smile

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Digger and Dozer

One of the duties of working the Visitors Center is to monitor and feed the two resident desert tortoises, Digger and Dozer.


There are three tortoise habitats located on the south side of the VC.  Maybe you can spot the tunnel at the top middle of the habitat.  Desert tortoises spend a lot of time underground.  This is Digger’s home.


He’s a pretty good size, and is about 50 years old.  I got thinking about his age the other day, and figured out that he hatched when I was 17 and attending Chicago Teacher’s College.  We both seem to have the same amount of wrinkles though.  Sad smile


After having a few bites to eat out of his food bowl, he headed back to his tunnel.  Eat, drink, and sleep is mostly what he does.


But this is how I think he got his name.  He’s been working on digging a new tunnel under a mesquite tree for over a year now.  Slow and steady wins the race I guess.


Meet Dozer.  He’s a much smaller tortoise and only about four or five years old.  He’s about one fourth the size of Digger. 


Monday was a bonus day, as both tortoises were out and about at the same time.  Visitors like to see them, and it isn’t often that they cooperate. 

Today after finishing laundry and cleaning chores I headed to town to upgrade my air card.  For eight years I’ve been using one of those USB stick cards.  There is no Wi-Fi of any kind here at Imperial, so my new iPad has been pretty much useless.  I thought if I switched to a Mi-Fi Jetpack, I could use the iPad when I work the VC.  Of course that means you have to pay for the new device.  Okay, but it really irks me that you have to pay a $30 change fee.  It seems to me that if you upgrade your service with the same company you shouldn’t have to pay a penalty to do it.  I had already more than met my previous two year contract, but that didn’t make any difference.  I also had to sign a new two year contract.  At least I have 14 days to decide if the Jetpack will work out for me.


On the way back home, the paratroopers were out doing their thing on the Yuma Proving Grounds.  All those tiny black dots in the sky aren’t specks of dust, but paratroopers floating down.  You can’t pull over or stop any closer than this to watch.

Well, that’s about it for tonight.  I guess I’ll now see how this new Jetpack works on publishing this post.  I leave you with last night’s beautiful sunset.


Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy