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What the Hay?

Did the annual “What the Hay?” contest on Sunday.  What a kick!  It is actually an 11-mile drive through the rolling hills between Hobson and Utica, MT.  The contest is a popularity competition where the public, and there were hundreds upon hundreds there, votes for their choice.  There were more than 40 entries which are creations in hay, some sculpted, some full bales, and all fun.   A few made political statements but most illustrated their creators delightful sense of humor.

Here are some of my favorites:

Jess-Hay-James

Jess-Hay-James

Smart Hay Pants

Smart Hay Pants

Mat-Hay-Tor, the tow truck from Cars

Mat-Hay-Tor, the tow truck from Cars

DespicaBale Me 2

DespicaBale Me 2

Here’s a link to see all the other entries and results of the voting http://www.montanabaletrail.com/index.html.

 

 

 

 

 

Central Montana is eye opening

Imagine living at least 100 miles from the nearest Walmart, about 50 miles from your children’s school (and there is a stretch of gravel road between your home and the paved highway), or dealing with almost 200 miles from quality clothing store such as Kohl or Macy. That’s what life is like in central Montana.

central-mt

This photograph was taken on a stretch of U.S. Hwy 191 between Lewistown and Malta, MT. Glorious country with a surprising number of small lakes and pond and a near absence of trees. You can count all the houses along this 73 miles of 191 and those one-ton hay bales out number the number of cattle grazing in endless fields of grass.

fence

I think this special land needs an equally special person to live here.

Fire, fire, fire – all around

We took a short break from our US Hwy 191-a road less traveled research to get Fred’s laptop fixed.  While doing that, and enjoying some time with our daughter and her family in Ennis MT, fire broke out to the south (the Eureka fire), to the east (Paradise Miner Complex fire), and most of Idaho started burning!  It only took a day for the towering mountains to be disappear in a gray fog.  After a few days, folks started to bail from the campground, looking for someplace with less stuff in the air.

Paradise Miner Complex smoke plume - one day old

Paradise Miner Complex smoke plume – one day old

Now, I have COPD.  You know that problem in the advertisement with the “elephant-sitting-on-my-chest”.  Well, with all this smoke and soot in the air, there are times when it feels like the elephant has grabbed my ankle and is dunking me deep into water.  There is a sense I’m not getting enough oxygen into my body.  I feel achy.  My head hurts and eyes scratch.  My mood isn’t great.  And there ‘s a slight panic lurking at the edge of my mind.

We are returning to our research and, after being blessed with a couple of afternoons of rain showers, hope the fires have been “tapped” down.  Clear air makes for much more attractive photographs and a happy co-pilot <G>.

 

Treasures from Navajo Land

Been hearing a lot about “Buy Local.” Well, I did just that during our time in Canyon de Chelly.

Here are my treasures:

Little vase is about the height of my finger or maybe 3-inches

Little vase is about the height of my finger or maybe 3-inches

Plate for my wall - love the four deer

Plate for my wall – love the four deer

 

Tips and insights when traveling through Navajo Land

Our time in Navajo Land was amazing.  Not only were the sights beyond description but interacting with a different culture eye-opening.   First, we must remember that any Reservation, including Navajo and Hopi, is a separate and sovereign country unto itself – we are guests and should behave accordingly.

Eye contact is a major difference between Navajo and European-American cultures. While eye contact is consider appropriate and polite among member of the European-American cultures, it is perceived as impolite among people of Navajo culture. It is not unusual to observe two Navajo people deep in conversation, standing side by side, looking straight ahead and not at each other. In other words, do not expect eye contact when talking to a sales person. This lack of eye contact does not mean you do not have the other’s full attention but a sign of respect.

Another glaring difference between cultures is the easy of striking up a conversation. From childhood, Navajos at taught not to talk too much, be loud, or “forward” with strangers. This is not the case among family or friends when Navajos are exuberant and jolly.

Physical contact is very limited among the Navajo people. Generally, the only physical contact you will see is handshaking. Note, a firm grip is interpreted as being overbearing and impolite. A light touch is seen as most appropriate.

Individual Navajos do not own the land upon which they live but families do hold traditional use rights under tribal customary law. Nearly all land on the Navajo Nation is part of someone’s traditional use area.

Sheep, goats, cattle and horses are important to a way of life for many Navajos. Much of the Navajo’s land is open range and small herds move about freely, crossing roadways with little thought to the danger of fast moving cars. Use caution, especially at and after sunset. Also recognize dogs are used to protect livestock. If you come in contact with a free ranging dog, do not assume it is someone’s family pet

Four is a sacred number to the Navajo culture. There are four directions, four seasons, the first four clans (Harris, our Canyon de Chelly guide, cites his first four clans with their numbers and other data without a moments hesitation), four colors that are associated with the four sacred mountains which border the Navajo’s land. These mountains are Mt. Blanca, Mt. Taylor, San Francisco Peak, and Mt. Hesperus. The color associated with each is White Shell, Turquoise, Yellow Abalone, and Jet Black respectively.

Digital Medical Records for Dani

Last week, Dani was drinking gallons of water and panting constantly but it was miserably hot. She was sleeping most of the day but we were in our motorhome, driving, alot. But most concerning, Dani wasn’t eating. For a Golden Retriever to pass up food is a rare thing so we took our girl, immediately, to a Vet (Dr. Gostlin of Dog & Cat Clinic of MoaB) in Moab, UT. Fortunately, he accepted walk-ins plus he had had a Golden Retriever (his grown son is now the keeper of Goldens).

The doctor probed, poked, and did all those doctor things to Dani and couldn’t find anything immediately wrong. Dani has a thyroid condition so that was the next thing to consider. Our vet in Bisbee faxed up a bunch of test results and it was decided we should run a blood test for her thyroid. Sure enough her thyroid was off kilter and her medication needs to be adjusted.

The point of this story is to remind you, if you travel with a pet, bring along their medical records. Our vet in Bisbee, AZ was super to fax all those old test results so the Moab vet could have a baseline. If we had digitized those records they would be with us and a solution would have been reached sooner.

So next year, besides a digital file of our own medical records and we’ll have one for Dani and one for Ralf.  Again our thanks to Dr. Gostlin for his immediate and thorough care of Dani.

The "kids" and me - Seeking shade on a hot day at Canyon de Chelly

The “kids” and me – Seeking shade on a hot day at Canyon de Chelly

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site

Trading posts have, since the first white man stepped foot on this continent, been a primary place for native people and those from Europe to interact. Trading posts were a center of commerce, of social interactions, and culture. A stone’s throw from US Hwy 191 in Ganado, is Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, a well preserved example of a Southwest’s trading post. It was very much the Walmart of its day. Everything you could want, need, or dream of was available at many trading posts, including Hubbell.

Hubbell Trading Post

While there were many trading posts scattered throughout the Southwest, Hubbell Trading Post was the oldest continuously operated trading post in the US. Established in 1876, the Hubell Trading Post was a place Navajos would meet and socialize in the days before the advent of the automobile as well as obtain “modern” objects.

Wandering the grounds it becomes clear, Hubbell wasn’t some shoe-string operation. The Hubbell Trading Post is a cross between a compound, ranch, farm, and commercial operation. It must have a little town with the hustle and bustle of many individuals coming and going. Just how many might be illustrated by the quantity of bread baked in their dinner table size brick oven out behind the main house – a reported 500 loaves each week!

Hubbell Trading Post interior

Even today visitors can and do “trade” their cash for goods the line the Trading Post’s shelves. Toilet paper and hand soap to silver jewelry and Navajo dolls are available as well as some of the most beautiful Navajo rugs. In the Trading Post’s barn you might see bags of sheared wool separated by color that will someday be woven into a rug by a Navajo weaver and sold to a visitor from far away. At one time, the trade or sale of such a rug would afford the weaver a new cookstove or some such wonderful object for her home. For many Navajo weavers it the sale of their woven masterpieces still helps make ends meet.

During our time there, we were told, Hubbell Trading Post is still a focus of culture for the Navajo. Although not an everyday occurrence, festivals and special days are still celebrated in the parking area in front of the old Trading Post building. We were told not to be surprised if we saw a group of dancers, dressed in their customs, came walking onto the grounds.

While Hubbell Trading Post is right on US Hwy 191, there are other trading posts. Check DiscoverNavajo.com for a dozen or so trading posts still active in the Navajo Nation.

Beware however because many establishments that calls themselves a “trading post” is little more than a convenience store. Which is exactly what the community needs but might disappoint visitors from other places.

NOTE:  Parking area can be a challenge for really big rvs.

 

Re-purposed Tic-tac container

Rather than hauling everything from your spice rack the next time you go camping, consider transferring favorite herbs and spices into empty Tic-Tac containers.  Here’s how:

tic-tac-a

First you need some  empty Tic-Tac containers.

tic-tac-1That means either you or your children will have to eat all those little candies.

tic-tac-2Remove the labels and pop the tops.

tic-tac-4Fill the empty, clean containers and pop the tops back on.

tic-tac-5Add a new label to identify the content and you have a nice compact, light-weight container to store your favorite herbs or spices.

Last week’s adventures

It has been a busy and fabulous week that started in Canyon de Chelly and ended with time in the Moab, UT area.  Here are some photographs from our week:

At Devil's Canyon campground in Manti-LaSal NF

At Devil’s Canyon campground in Manti-LaSal NF

Distressing sight - the massive Wallow Fire Burn

Distressing sight – the massive Wallow Fire Burn

Twin Navajo formation in Bluff, UT

Twin Navajo formation in Bluff, UT

Fred doing his thing at Park Avenue in Arches National Forest

Fred doing his thing at Park Avenue in Arches National Park

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch

Colorado River just north of Moab, UT

Colorado River just north of Moab, UT

A local described Moab as “Hell in a Hole.”  The temperature this week would suggest the accuracy of her statement but I doubt there would be so much fun stuff there.  Probably different for someone who lives here.   I would  recommend Moab to anyone looking for a great vacation spot as long as they don’t mind heat.  If they do, than they should drive up the LaSal Mountain Range to either Warren or Oowah campgrounds for an equally fabulous environment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Douglas to Safford, AZ in photos

US Highway 191 begins.

US Highway 191 begins.

This is what 191 looks like just north of Douglas, AZ – open, dry, and more brown than green even after several flooding monsoon rains.   Note the monsoon clouds forming on the horizon.  It’s proper name is Sulphur Springs Valley but many locales call it “Suffering Valley.”

Small town information highway - the local country store.

Small town information highway – the local country store.

Elfrida is the “largest” town on the Sulphur Springs Valley stretch of 191.  It even has a very nice public park with tables, playground, shade, and adequate parking for large rigs.  (Note the wood bench but, according to the gentleman “nothing fits better than a stack of feed bags.”

So green it almost hurts

So green it almost hurts

North of Elfrida the landscape changes to fields of green growing stuff.  There was pecan trees, corn, and maybe beans and hay.  Guess if you have water you can grow something anywhere.

Wilcox playa

Wilcox playa

Basically, a playa is the bottom of an ancient lake or sea.  This playa stretches for miles.  The railroad track is on a bed established more than a hundred years ago when the now semi-ghostown of  Cochise was built to support the train and its passenger.

5-dust-b4-monsoon-4This time of year, when the sky gets this inky color and you start seeing puffs of dust, you know rain isn’t too far behind.

Dust storm!

Dust storm!

The playa’s bare surface, plus the winds from the upcoming monsoon storm have hidden the massive mountains seen in the earlier photo.  The rain held off until we got onto the I-10 portion of 191 and then it poured.

Sunrise over Roper Lake

Sunrise over Roper Lake

We camped at Roper Lake State Park and enjoyed a glorious sunrise.

Mt. Graham at sunrise

Mt. Graham at sunrise

Mt. Graham’s foothills have an alpen glow in the morning sun.  Mt. Graham is hidden by the overcast sky but you can just see how the peaks tend to grab passing clouds.

Dani takes a break from play.

Dani takes a break from play.

Roper Lake State Park has a lot of great features but Dani and Ralf really liked the large, fenced dog park where they could run and play off leash.

They call it a "hot tub" but I call it pure delight.

They call it a “hot tub” but I call it pure delight.

Another wonderful feature of Roper Lake State Park was their “Hot Tub” fed by a natural hot springs.  Delicious after a day in the car.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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