Borrego Springs, CA

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lettuce Days Festival

Headed out early this morning to be one of the first visitors to the Yuma Lettuce Festival.  For the first time it was held at the University of Arizona Yuma Agricultural Center. 


I was determined to get a ticket for one of the University tours of their agricultural fields.  Just like the Date Festival and the Behind the Big Guns Tour, I didn’t succeed.  Seems I didn’t know they sold tickets ahead of time at the Yuma Visitors Center.  Dog gone it!  There was not one seat available all weekend long.  There’s just too many old fart snowbirds down here that can just drive over to get tickets any time they want.  (I know I’m one of them, but I’m just feeling a little crotchety tonight.) 

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After that disappointment, I decided to enjoy the festival anyway.  Since I’m not fond of huge crowds, I like to arrive early before the hordes descend.  That means I was only there about two hours before the place was jam packed.  Tonight I’ll just show you several of the things I liked best.

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One of my first stops was at the booth of Chef Ray Duey.  Seems Chef Ray was a Food Network Challenge winner, and returned to the festival to demonstrate his vegetable and fruit carving skills.  Can you believe those melons in the top right?  And if you look closely in the background of that pic you can see where he carved out a flower from a watermelon.  That flower is in the lower right hand picture.  That man didn’t say one word as he worked.  I wish he would have talked a bit about how he constructed these designs.

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Along the same line of booths, was The Salsa Cantina run by the AWC (Arizona Western College?) culinary students.  I don’t know much about salsa, so I enjoyed the fun here.  For three bucks, the students would build a salsa to your own tastes.  You moved down the line, and the students added the ingredients you chose.  I pretty much relied on this chef-to-be to make me something savory that was not spicy.  I had it at home for lunch and it was very tasty.  Next time, though, I think I’d skip the cilantro.  There was also a choice of having a sweet salsa made with different chopped fruits.  I could kick myself now for not getting a container of each.

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After the booths, I moved out into the fields where there were farmers and students explaining planting machines and horticultural problems.  I stopped at the plant diseases table to learn about sclerotinia drop.  If you look at the photos from right to left, you can see the results of this drop on a head of lettuce.  Ick!!

I think the best display at the festival was put on by Dole.  Got a free sample of mandarin oranges, and really found their posters on the growing and harvesting of vegetables in this area very educational.  I also had a nice chat with a young Dole employee about how difficult it is to be a field hand out picking all those vegetables that we throw into our cart at the grocery store.  A pleasant morning off of the refuge.

According to the weather guessers, we’re going to be in for some moisture replacing the high winds of the last few days.  That means the dirt roads to the refuge will probably be a mess with possible flooding.  I’m hoping it holds off until after my bird tour tomorrow morning.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The visit according to Phoebe

All but one of tonight’s photos were taken by five year old grandgirl Phoebe.  My daughter Robyn emailed me and asked if I could do a post on their visit here last week through Phoebe’s eyes.  As a mother, she is rightly proud of her daughter.  So here it is.  This is Phoebe’s first foray into the world of photography.  She used her mother’s Nikon camera.


Phoebe is pretty much attached to her mother’s hip at this point in her life, so of course she went with Robyn to check out and use the volunteer building’s bathroom.  Only a five year old would document a men’s urinal. Winking smile


      Next up was documenting the patio.  I had enough rockers this year that all of us got to sit in one.

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The first night involved picking out the dolls for her and her sister.  She also got a shot of Chef Jay, but neglected to take a picture of his wife Linda, the maker of the dolls.  Handsome men appear to be more important than crocheting ladies in this little girl’s eyes.


  The next day we did the Painted Desert Trail hike, and all three of us were busy with our cameras.

p6We did quite a bit of driving around, and I guess this is the view a five year old gets from the back seat. p7

On the home front, water problems seem to follow me around.  There was the brown water issue at Tamarac, the leaking fresh water tank since then, and here at Imperial the water quits running quite regularly.  My water tank seems to have magically corrected itself so it’s not as much an issue as earlier.  However, today a staff member delivered 35 bottles of water to my site.  Even after having an electrician out the water problem has not been solved.  Staff works four ten hour days here, so the water supply was to help me make it through the weekend should the water go out again.  I’ve got 2/3 tank of water and all those bottles, so I think I’ll be OK.  Aging physical infrastructure and budget cuts sure are effecting things on our refuges.


Lots of people love the desert southwest, but I’m thinking I’m not so enthusiastic about it.  Aside from my disappointing experience here at Imperial, I find I really like the greenness of the east.  Anahuac NWR is calling me home, and I do believe I’ll return there next winter.  I’m happy I spent a winter in the desert, but I’m yearning to see High Island and the coastal marshes once again. Before my mother suffered from the ravages of Alzheimer's, she always said I’d end up in Texas.  Perhaps she was right.

To finish up this post, I leave you with one last photo from Phoebe.  It’s not my favorite for obvious reasons, but I guess the acorn doesn’t fall too far from the tree…Smile


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Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Some stuff that’s happened

I’m still working on getting my blogging mojo back, so thought I’d post some things that I’ve found interesting to me.

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One of the things that I forgot to mention about Robyn and Phoebe’s visit is that I had asked fellow volunteer Linda to crochet two dolls… one with brown curly hair, and one with straight blonde hair.  Linda is always keeping herself busy, and had a big selection of dolls for Phoebe to pick from for herself and her sister Avery.  I was thrilled when Phoebe picked out the two dolls I had thought matched them.  Can’t imagine being able to make these cute things.  They even had underwear!

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After the girls took off from the Yuma airport on Saturday, I got things ready for my Sunday morning bird tour.  Most of the wintering waterfowl have left to make their way slowly north, but this young red-tailed hawk was still around.  It was a good tour despite the lack of ducks, but I did encounter an interesting situation with one of the tour participants.  It was a first for me.  Before we left on the tour, one of the gentlemen approached me with a question.  He told me he was very ‘regular’, and had brought his own roll of toilet paper so could he make a dash to the woods during the middle of the tour?  What??  I told him that we only had one small woodlot at the beginning of the tour, and I didn’t think it would be appropriate for him to relieve himself.  He then said, “Oh, that’s okay, I’ll just hide behind a cactus.”  Ha!  There aren’t any cactus either… it’s just open fields.  OMG!  I almost burst out laughing.  I suggested he try to take care of business before we left at the public bathrooms.  That seemed to work.  Confused smile Can you believe that?

I then spent the rest of the day and Monday and today working the VC.  Not very interesting.  The wind really blasted all day today, and I came home tonight to things being blown around my site.


Emma and I sat outside as the sun was slowly sinking in the west.  She’s been inside the last three days while I worked so we took advantage of the time outside despite the high winds.


It wasn’t long before hundreds of turkey vultures were overhead.  I’ve never had a dog before that watched the sky so much.  She usually ignores birds, but turkey vultures just set her off.  What’s with that?  Bark, bark, bark!


Throughout the winter, I’ve seen an occasional turkey vulture working the sky, but lately they’re moving through in droves.


                              Very interesting.  Maybe they’re all making their way to Hinckley, Ohio?


Since there aren’t any squirrels around my site, I guess Emma is guarding us in case I pass out on the patio. Thinking smile

I’ve got a few days off, and I’ve got to take care of taxes and changing my address.  I’m thinking of going to the Lettuce Days Festival if I can force myself into getting the bookwork stuff done by Saturday.  We’ll see if that happens.


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Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Time out for family

Don’t think I’ve ever gone this long without doing a blog post, but sometimes life gets in the way of the blogger thing.  I’ve kind of enjoyed the respite, and especially enjoyed the reason for it this week.  Last Tuesday my daughter Robyn and grandgirl Phoebe flew in to Yuma to spend the rest of the week with me.


They left below zero temperatures in Chicago behind to don some shorts and soak up the sun in our 80* temps this week.  Besides not blogging, I also took very few pictures.  I just wanted to enjoy our time together, so most of the pics are from our hike on Wednesday along the Painted Desert Trail.


I had promised Phoebe a ‘date shake’ if she came to visit, so that was one of the first things we did.  We stopped at “From the Farm” on our way back to the rig from the airport to have the shakes and some tasty tacos.  Phoebe is an Olympic style eater for a five year old; willing to try most everything and making it easy on me for meals.  She’s not picky at all when it comes to food.  Very refreshing!


Both of them liked the food there so much that we made a return trip on another day.  I’ve got one of those small Bullet blenders, and Robyn even made fresh chocolate date malts one afternoon. 

_MG_1570 _MG_1568Seems there’s a budding photographer following in her mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps.  Winking smile

A five year old can definitely wear a person out each day!  This year she wasn’t afraid of Emma, and they got along just fabulously.  Phoebe figured out early on Emma’s favorite ‘sweet spots’ for scratching, and that’s all it took.

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As we made our way through the Yuma Proving Grounds (YPG) one day, the paratroopers were falling out of the sky.  How can you not take pictures of our warriors?  Robyn was thrilled to watch, and so was I.

Phoebe and I snuck off yesterday afternoon while Robyn was taking a nap for a ‘secret’ mission.  We had a plan to make some chocolate chip cookies in the volunteer building that has a full sized oven.  As we were sneaking away, Phoebe looked at me and said, “ I know why we’re doing this.  It’s because you love my mom.”  I told her she was exactly right!

As we waited for the oven to preheat, and the batches of cookies to cook, there wasn’t much to do.  The only book with pictures in it in the volunteer library was an old edition of a National Geographic magazine, so that’s what we looked at.  This issue was all about the ‘Brain’.  Oh my goodness, what graphic pictures there were!  Phoebe squealed a lot, but kept wanting to see more. Surprised smile  And of course there were pictures of naked folks in Africa.  You can just imagine her comments about that.  What a hoot!

It was a wonderful visit, and I sadly took them back to the airport this morning for their return to the cold north.

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Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Muddling through

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and I suppose that’s because my excitement about this place has been squashed.  I’m trying not to dwell on that as I finish up the next six weeks or so.  There are some good things on my horizon, and I’m centering on those.


Had an interesting encounter with this coyote on the bird tour last Sunday.  It seems we interrupted this guy’s normal routine, and he wasn’t thrilled about it.  He ran away from us, and then returned.  My tour path seemed to be the same as his early morning wanderings.  For more than half the tour, he could have been the guide.  We gave him plenty of room, but he led the way down my looping path through the land management areas.  What a treat.


In case you haven’t noticed, spring migration has begun.  This huge batch of turkey vultures caught some thermals above my RV site yesterday afternoon, and followed the slip-stream north. 


A pair of osprey have also been working the pond in front of my site.  I’ve noticed there are less and less waterfowl visible on the ponds during my bird tours.  It’s a little too early for me to migrate, but my heart is with those avian friends winging their way north.

I sat outside for a while with Emma this morning, and then went in to fix my breakfast.  Emma began her alarm barking, so I ran outside to bring her in.  I figured it was the coyotes again, but I was wrong.


Seems there was a little bandit clinging to the side of the bunk house next door.  I figured these guys were eating up the empty orange peels from the mesquite tree each night, but I was surprised to see one so close during daylight hours.


                            I put two orange halves out each morning for the little verdin to snack on.

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Between the verdin and the Gila woodpeckers, the orange halves are totally emptied by nightfall.  Each morning the tree is bare of oranges, and there’s not a scrap left behind.  Fellow volunteer Gail watched three of the raccoons out her rig’s window this morning before one of them came over toward my site.  Due to Emma, that little bandit will have to wait until tonight to snack on the bitter peels.

Next Tuesday, my daughter Robyn and grandgirl Phoebe arrive for a four night stay with me.  I’m very excited about that.  It’s one of the good things that is helping me ‘muddle through’.  If anything interesting happens before their arrival, I’ll let you know. 


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Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Sunday afternoon drive

Back before 1956, when my Dad died, I remember him taking us on Sunday afternoon drives to get out of the city of Chicago.  That was before those suburbs like Rolling Meadows even existed.  We’d drive out to see the farm fields, and occasionally end up at Russell’s for a BBQ pulled pork sandwich.  My brother Kurt, aka Nurse Ratchet, and I were small enough that we’d split a sandwich and fries.  I can still conjure up the taste of that pork in my mind. 

Anyway, seeing as my work week starts tomorrow, I thought I’d take Emma on a ‘Sunday afternoon drive’ on Saturday.  I’m just about out of those ‘bargain’ shriveled oranges that I bought a month ago, and the Gila woodpecker screams at me each morning for his orange halves stuck on the mesquite tree. 


After picking up a month’s supply of ‘bird’ oranges for four bucks, I decided to take a side road south of the Imperial Dam LTVA area to Mittry Lake.  I hadn’t been there before, and wanted to check it out.


With no wind today, the lake was as smooth as glass and would have been perfect for kayaking.  Only problem is I don’t have a kayak.  Thinking smile  I also noticed that the shoreline was becoming choked with phragmites, an invasive species.  That’s the tall stuff with the puffs on top.  It’s a problem along many waterways in the south.


The boondock camping places here have a ten day limit per calendar year.  Most spots today seemed to be taken by weekend campers.


I did find one empty spot though with a wonderful view.  If I were a boondocker, I’d like this one.  See that white dot at the top right?  It’s the radar blimp put up by the Army on the Yuma Proving Grounds.  I can see that blimp from the refuge.  And that bump in the mountains on the far right is Castle Dome.  I can see that from my rig also, and it’s about twenty miles away as the crow flies from this spot.  You sure can see a long way here in the desert.


Some of you may remember this pic I took from the VC on Christmas Eve of the fire south of us near Mittry Lake.


Well, I saw the burnt results of that fire today.  In areas with water, the green is quickly coming back.  Fire is a natural occurrence, and Mother Nature knows how to deal with it.  Not sure this fire started naturally, but things will grow back.  There’s that seed bank buried underneath you know.

It was a great day for a drive.  Tomorrow it’s back to work in the VC.  Thankfully, I have all seats reserved for the bird tour.  It’s the highlight of my week.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy