Rainy day… came our way…

July 25th, 2010

We’re back on the move again and slowly making our way through Texas in what can only be described as damn hot weather. More importantly though, the household has expanded. While we were at Caverns of Sonora, the ranch manager’s dog had a litter of puppies. After much hemming and hawing over whether or not we could care for a dog in this lifestyle, we finally decided that if we didn’t have the time for a dog now, then we never would.

Rain enjoying homemade hail on a hot day.
Rain enjoying a cool ice ball on a hot day.

So, making her Internet debut, we present Rain. Her parents are both working dogs that have worked cattle, sheep and goats in all sorts of weather ranging from snow and ice to hotter than hell southern Texas. Casey, her mother, is a blue heeler and her father is Slick, a border collie. Odds are pretty good that she’s too smart for either one of us, but with a little luck and a lot of treats, maybe she’ll tell us what we’re doing wrong.

The first few days, there was a lot of tension between her and the cats, but they are slowly getting used to her and only hissing when she gets seriously into their personal space. I’d rather not talk about my scars when she met Hunter the first time, though. Rain seems to be adjusting to a nomadic lifestyle much better than she liked the first couple of weeks while we were still working. Rather than spending so much time locked up to stay safe from the cats, she gets to go where we go and do what we do. In less than a week since we left the cave, she is already a different dog, and apparently, much happier!

Oh, if you were wondering, she’s currently 8 1/2 weeks old and her birthday is 5/25 if you want to send her presents.

Lights in the sky

March 20th, 2009

FInally, I get to see the stars the way I remember them as a kid! Since we hit Texas a while back, we’ve been treated to some great night skies. You’ve really got to get away from the cities these days to enjoy the stars. The last couple of nights, outside of Quartzsite, AZ I’ve seen quite a few falling stars streak across the sky. However, none of them compare to our UFO sighting in Phoenix.

That’s right, I said ‘UFO’. Call in the media, the Air Force and my personal head shrinker. At least let me tell the story first though, OK? I’m sure there’s a rational explanation, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

So, we’re out for a stroll in the late evening. The moon is about half full and there are a few clouds in the sky. We’re not talking about a lot of clouds, just enough to create a sort of haze in front of the moon. The moon is at, perhaps, sixty degrees in the sky and backlighting a small cloud bank. At this point, I notice what initially seems to be a searchlight from the ground sweeping through this cloud bank. Then it hits me. The ‘searchlight’ is actually darkening the clouds rather than lighting them up. I say something insightful, such as “that’s weird” and Jenn notices it too. Over the next fifteen to twenty seconds, we watch it continue to arc through the cloud bank and disappear. We stay outside another five or ten minutes, occasionally glancing at the moon, but never notice a repeat of the phenomenon.

Now, common sense would indicate that any light shining up from the ground would work in the usual way and actually light things up instead of darken them. I would expect to see this sort of effect if there were an object between the moon and the clouds, but what sort of object is going to be that high up, rectangular shaped (at least the ‘visible’ portion), move in an arc, and be large enough to obscure light from the moon across the entire height of a cloud bank? Various things in space might fit the bill except for the size they’d have to be to actually be seen from the ground.

Ok, we were in the Phoenix area, which is a pretty large town, but we were on the outskirts. During the time of the sighting, the moon was out over the desert with not too much in the way of developed land in that direction. There is also a pretty large Air Force base in the area that was flying over and around us nearly constantly. So, it could have been anything and maybe nothing more sinister than an optical illusion caused by a ground based searchlight, which is what it most resembled. It’s been nagging at me off and on for a couple of weeks that I can’t come up with a better explanation. Any ideas?

A Railroad Tycoon’s RV

February 21st, 2009

Jay Gould's Exquisite Railway Car

What do you get when you combine one of Jenn’s favorite games (Railroad Tycoon) and the RV lifestyle? You get a railroad car fitted out for fulltiming! That’s just what we found as we were passing through Jefferson, Texas a couple of weeks ago. The Garden Club has acquired the personal car of Jay Gould, a railroad tycoon, and restored it to something close to it’s original splendor.

The car had four staterooms for passengers, two of which were adjoining with a bathroom, including tub and shower between them. The others all had their own plumbing, even if a bit primitive by modern standards. There was a couch as well as a pullman bed in each of the staterooms. The car would be able to take on water at the same water depots that the train used. We didn’t ask, but I assume the black and gray water would have been simply dumped along the tracks as soon as it was generated.

There were two rooms devoted to cooking with a pass through between them. Based on the layout, I would assume that the car originally had bunks for two servants, but only one of the kitchen cars still had a pullman berth at the ceiling. The icebox had something I think we could all use today, a glass door. How often have you opened the fridge and stared at what was there while deciding what you wanted?

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Building a bat gate

September 24th, 2008

Well, we’ve got more than a bar of Internet tonight, so I figure it’s time we got caught up on some blogging.

Horn Hollow Cave

After we spent a couple of weekends at the Great Saltpetre Preserve caving with some great people from the area, we headed towards Boone, NC to start our next stint as carnies. However, we got sidetracked leaving Kentucky as Jenn noticed Carter Caves State Park was just a few miles out of the way. As this is where Crawl-a-thon is held in January, we decided it would be worth a quick stop over and looksee.

We got up bright and early and explored Laurel and Horn Hollow caves. Both are rather short trips, that have been ‘prepared’ for tourists, but they are still unlit, self-led trips. Horn Hollow has a beautiful entrance, but is otherwise not much to look at from inside. Laurel was quite a pretty little cave and we were able to get off-trail and explore the upper passage as well as climb a small waterfall that most non-cavers would have never seen.

Roy and Jerry. The gate is now complete.

Once we got to the camper, covered in cave mud, and I got stripped down to my high performance underwear, a couple of guys walked up, and rather than running away, they wanted to chat, which marked them as cavers and not afraid of dirty, half-dressed hippies in a parking lot. This was our introduction to Roy and Jerry. They were in the area building a bat gate, which is designed to let bats in, but keep people out during bat hibernation season. Since we were the only muddy folks around with a bat sticker on our vehicle, they assumed we’d be good suckers, err… candidates, to volunteer to help out.

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