Archive for the ‘desert’ Category
Please Note: The comments on my blog stopped working a couple or so months ago. I’ve been trying to repair the database – called the host’s tech support, etc… and so far, have been unable to get them working again. My workaround was to modify another blog on the same host as a “new” version of this blog. I’ll continue to put up new blog posts here, but if you want to see a version with working comments, go to http://magickcanoe.com/blog10. Sorry for the inconvenience!
It’s been a very long time since I posted anything to my blog. I had hoped to keep up with it, but then the blog was plagued with technical problems that remained unresolved. I was in Arizona for the winter with just the iPad and a limited net connection, so I abandoned any attempt to sort out the problems. Even now, this solution isn’t exactly ideal. I’ve had to resurrect an old blog and repurpose it as the new version of Journey To the Center, and hope that it will keep working right. I’ve already spent a bunch of time on the phone with the server tech support and they can’t seem to fix the problems with the original blog, so this work around will have to do until I come up with a more permanent solution.
Anyhow, enough about the technical problems. I’m going to try to pick up where I left off last autumn after finishing the fifth summer of work on the house at Round Hill.
I began the trip to Arizona around the first of November. I’m often asked what I would do if my truck broke down on the way. I’ve thought through several scenarios that include such things as renting a U-Haul van to drive the rest of the way, or even buying another van. However, I try to keep a positive mindset when I set out on my almost 4,000 mile journey. If I didn’t think positively, I’d never be able to make myself go. This trip was no different than the others. I set out with my plan to drive for eight days. I knew where I would stop at the end of each day. However, there’s that saying about the best laid plan. On the first day of travel after setting out from my Mom’s place in Ottawa, about three hours after crossing into the U.S., the truck broke down on the side of the freeway near Batavia, New York. I sized up the situation — the truck had blown a heater hose and lost a lot of coolant. I filled the rad with water as best as I could manage, and used wire and tape to attach the broken hose together (it was a broken off plastic T-fitting). In about eight very short hops to prevent the engine from overheating badly, I managed to drive the last few miles to the Batavia exit and limped into the parking lot of the Days Inn. Fortunately, I got a room for a couple of nights and the next morning, made a couple of calls and had the van towed to a shop for repair. To make a very long story short, I was back on the road within two days — not trusting the van too much — so I spent the first day back on the road, taking the scenic route on toward my next night’s stop in Pennsylvania. Emboldened by no further catastrophes, I got back on the freeway the next morning and followed the rest of my original trip plan.
This winter marked a change in my accommodations. In previous years, I rented a house in the Mule Mountains on the outskirts of Old Bisbee. This winter, I would be living in a cabin in the desert valley, just a few miles from Bisbee. Although I enjoyed all the winters at the Bisbee house, it always felt a little confining as there were steep slopes just beyond the garden. The cabin offered something completely different – a greater feeling of freedom – of being able to just walk out the door and go rambling with the dogs – no one in sight, no cars, no need for leashes. Although it was fairly spartan living, it was comfortable enough. A good bed. A convenient place to cook meals. And terrific views of mountains and incredible skies.
Those who know me well, know that I do most of my cooking outdoors spring through autumn while at the place in Round Hill. Doing so in the desert was old hat for me as I spent several autumns camping my way around Utah, California and southern Oregon. However, the winds tend to be rather challenging at times. Still, it’s not too difficult to produce excellent meals on a gas burner or in the barbecue.
The rewards for roughing it are many. A fabulous 360 view of the sky, with mountain ranges in every direction. Good weather for the most part. Almost absolute silence. The photo just below was taken through the west window while sitting on the bed.
Did I mention the sunrises and sunsets? Cooking in the outdoor kitchen was such a wonderful thing. I never missed a terrific sunset. I could look around while I cut up vegetables, or tossed a stir fry on the bbq, and see all of these amazing things happening in the sky in every direction. It was wonderful. I’ll write some more about last winter in Arizona in the next day or two – then it will be back to the present here in Round Hill.
As mentioned in my last post, I left Bisbee, Arizona, on April 1st and crossed into Canada on April 9th. For now, I’m in Ontario, getting tools and materials together, and fabricating a couple of things to take to the old house in Nova Scotia. Although I’m planning another ambitious summer of work, I’ve also decided to knock back the pace a bit and spend more time going out hiking and maybe even do some paddling on the nearby lakes. I still have a couple of more posts to write about Utah and my visit to Chaco Canyon, in New Mexico. Also, a bit to write about the trip eastward, although I spent most of my time driving and shot comparatively few photos. However, today, I wanted to share a few photos taken shortly before leaving Bisbee.
The top photo (click on all photos to see larger views) is of a Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor). It was taken on March 23rd, when the apricot trees in the garden were in blossom. When at their peak, several butterflies could always be seen nectaring during the day. Around sunset, several dozen White-lined Sphinx Moths (Hyles lineata) moved in to take their place. One evening, I captured one in a plastic bag, put it in the fridge for a minute or two, shot some photos (see below), and then let it go on its way. The concentration of moths on the blossoms was really quite a sight.
The final week of my stay was hectic. I had volunteered to work on the welcome desk at the MAKE children’s art festival at the Central School (community arts center) in Bisbee. The event was very successful, featuring a lot of talented artists, musicians and other performers, and attracted a huge number of children from the town and neighboring communities.
In addition to getting the van packed and the house cleaned up, I decided to create an art chair to leave with friends in town. They will take it to the annual art chair auction this autumn. I had wanted to donate a chair last year, but the timing of my arrival is too close to the date of the auction. Creating a chair ahead of time seemed like a great solution. However, I’d underestimated how much time and energy I would have during my final days in Bisbee. As it turned out, I spent most of my final 24 hours in town, working on the chair. Of course, nothing ever goes quite according to plan. The day before leaving, with the chair only about 1/3 finished, I was stung on my right forearm, by an Arizona Bark Scorpion like the one that stung me back in December 2009. Fortunately, the sting didn’t hurt quite as much this time, otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have had time to finish the chair. I did manage to get it done, and to pack the van and be on the road by around noon the next day. The art chair was painted indoors the evening before leaving. When mixing the blue for the chair back, I hoped to capture the incredible blue of a springtime Arizona sky. I was thinking that I had made it a little too bright and blue, but when I photographed the chair out in the garden the next morning — well, it was actually pretty close!