Saturday, March 29, 2014


Out in the middle of nowhere.  That is where we were.  We could envision Dad working in the mill, cooled by all of the water there, while Mom, the newly-wed, sweltered through the day in the over 100 degree heat.  It would have been miserable for us too had it not been the perfect day.

When my parents were married, Dad's first job was in the mill of the Keystone Mine in Sandy, Nevada. Bart had visited the mine several years ago, and I wanted to see it.  So Friday was the day.  We decided to go when the temperature was going to be in the 70s rather than in the 90s, as was predicted for Saturday.

After going into the "town" to see the mill, we headed to the mine.  Good thing Bart had been here before.  Otherwise we would not have found it.

The ten-stamp mill left from the days Dad worked in the mine
As it was, there was little to distinguish it from anything else.  A few wooden structures, some holes in the ground.  But I loved seeing it.  It helped me understand a part of my parents' life that I had not really connected with.

I understand why my mother did not like Sandy - they did not even have air conditioning, although some of the people in the town did.  You would think the son of the owner would have it, but not in this case.  It was hot, dirty, dry . . . and unfulfilling for a young bride.  I am glad I did not have to endure such a thing, but seeing it gave me a great appreciation for the dedication my mother had for my father.

Nipton, California

Nipton, California.  Population under 50 . . . or fewer.  

Nipton, California.  In the middle of nowhere.  Borders the Mojave Wilderness area.  Used to be a place where cattle would be herded to be put on the train.  Now it is a virtual ghost town.

Currently, Nipton is the home of the Hotel Nipton, a cute little B&B with an awesome cactus garden in front, a general store, and the Whistlestop cafe.  We decided to eat there, and it was a great decision.  The homemade burgers satisfied more than most, and the homemade fries were well worth the wait!  We were able to visit with two park archaeologists from the Mojave Wilderness area, and their explanations of the fauna of the area made for greater enjoyment as we drove to Sandy.

While sitting at the picnic table (with seats so low, I thought I was going to fall down) we could also see the solar-powered generating station.  Thousands of mirrors are focused on a tower that is filled with salt.  As the salt melts, it sinks into the ground, heating the water that then creates steam that generates electricity.  It is a great application of solar energy, except that it is incredibly expensive.  And birds, bats, and other flying creatures can be vaporized flying through the 1000 degree plus heat near the towers.  I guess every technology has its downside, and this one has some big ones . . . but it was cool seeing it.

Someday, I think it would be fun to spend a night in the Nipton B&B.  It would be a different experience, but it would support the area . . . all good things!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Driving in the wind

Peter, Paul and Mary made a song famous . . . Blowing in the Wind.  Today was that day.

We had heard the wind was going to be bad as we headed west.  Although it was quite breezy when we arrived in Gallup, it was not unmanageable.  After lunch at the El Rancho, we walked to several of the trading posts there and the small museum in the train station.  

By the time we were ready to leave the museum, the flags outside gave us an indication as to the strength of the winds.  Our guess was that they were blowing at 40+ miles per hour, so we knew we needed to head out.  The forecast showed a high wind warning, and with Bart driving a trailer, we knew we needed to get on the road.

Not long after we left Gallup, we knew we were in trouble.  We were trying to get to Williams, about six hours down the road, but Don could tell we should not go that far.  As we headed into a dust storm, we decided to stop instead in Holbrook, which was only 80 miles from Gallup.

We arrived early, but that was ok.  We heard it was far windier west of Holbrook, and one person in the campground actually had a police escort because it was so dangerous.

We spent the afternoon reading, talking, and playing gin rummy, all while prying we did not lose an awning or roof cover.  By about 9:00, the wind lessened, and it look like tomorrow is going to be much more pleasant.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


We knew we were going to be in Albuquerque, and when we are, I always try to set up lunch with Aunt Ruth.  Although she is over 90, she still delivers Meals-on-Wheels, works at the church, and volunteers at the hospital.  She is still a good driver, but she knows her limits and exercises them. She is quite a gal.

She mentioned to us several months ago that she had been talking with a friend who used to babysit for us.  She said the woman would like to see us, and since she was our favorite babysitter of all time, I jumped at the chance.  So on Tuesday we met for lunch.

It was so fun seeing her.  I know when she was staying with us, we thought she was so old . . . Turns out she was maybe 25! Ha!  I recognized her immediately, though I have not seen her for 50 years.  But she made a huge impression on us, and it shows.

One of the beauties of aging (yes, there are a few), is that reconnecting is fun.  Younger people are too busy to enjoy it, I think, but as the years wear on, it is nice to remember fun times.  I can say I thoroughly enjoyed reuniting with Pat and hope it is not the last time I see her!

How to Do a Face Plant

It was not pretty.  It was not graceful.  But it was funny.

Yes, oh yes.  The face plant.

Don and I were driving west of Dodge City on our way to Albuquerque.  Kenneth was on Don's speaker phone, which I was delicately holding in my right hand so Don could hear the conversation.  Babs was curled up next to me in the seat, in her "Alaska position."

I needed to get up for a minute and go to the back of the RV.  I stood up, which I have done hundreds of times.  This time, however, my foot got a little crooked. That caused me to sway.  Because the phone was in my hand, I could not catch myself as I normally would.  I could not sit down, for fear of squishing said Babs.  But I was not yet falling . . . Until a wind gust came up.

The wind was a cross wind that Don was having to fight, and although he is very good at keeping the RV on the road, sometimes the vehicle jerks . . .as it did this time. Oh no!  There was no hope.

I could see in slow motion what was going to happen.  Slowly I curled my body so that I could catch myself somewhat . . . as Don watched me go down.  He was hoping I would not grab his arm, as that could have caused the RV to swerve.  I slowly landed between the couch and the swivel chair, phone still intact, body unharmed (for the most part), pride swallowed.  Kenneth had no idea what happened, I got up, assured Don I was ok, and proceeded on my errand.

Just another exciting day in the RV.

Monday, March 24, 2014


The value of punctuation cannot be over emphasized.  Proof once again came to me last Thursday.

I was in the doctor's office for my annual check-up.  I was bemoaning the fact that I had lost all that weight and have put so much of it back on.  "I hate being fat," I said.

"You are not fat," she said.

"I hate the way I look," I said.

She paused.  "Whoa," she said.  "You are fat."

I looked up at her as she brought her computer to me.  She said, "Look at this.  You weigh over 1,000 pounds and have a BMI of 345."

She was laughing as she explained that her assistant had misplaced a comma or a period, which reflected poorly on my weight!  Gratefully, it was an easy fix.

So do not let anyone tell you punctuation is not important.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Baseball and Wind

Our nephew, CJ, plays baseball for Benedictine College, which allows him to visit the Wichita area at times.  This year, during his spring break, two of his games were in our area.  Bart and Jerri came to Kansas City to watch him play over the weekend, and then they came here on Monday to watch the game at Sterling and then at Lawrence Dumont on Tuesday.

Monday was spectacularly gorgeous, even hot!  Light winds, bright sunshine and family were the perfect combination for a baseball game.  Unfortunately, that was not enough for a win for the Ravens. That evening, after dinner at Mike's Wine Dive, we picked CJ up to spend the night with us.  I baked cookies for CJ's team, which went over well with all, and we enjoyed being with Bart, Jerri and CJ.

Tuesday, after getting CJ to the team hotel, Bart, Jerri, Don and I went to the zoo.  Many of the animals were still in for the winter, but the walk around the zoo was reason enough to be there.  The light winds and cool air allowed us to thoroughly enjoy the day.  After lunch at the Old Mill Tasty Shop and a visit to First Gear for some shoes, we headed to Lawrence Dumont to see the game.  About 3:15, we noticed the winds violently changed from southern to northern, and the speed of the winds really ramped up.  The dirt on the streets in downtown was sent skyward, just like in dust bowl days.  Unfortunately, the wind did not settle down until way after dark, so we sat in the stadium with 50 - 60 mph winds beating our faces.

The results for the game were the same as the ones the day before, which was too bad, but we did get to see CJ play the whole game.  After the team left, we had dinner at Red Rock, and the next morning, Bart and Jerri drove back to KC to catch their plane.  Don and I had trouble adjusting - Wednesday felt a lot like a Monday to us!  Having our Albuquerque family in town is a rare treat, and we tried to make the most of it!

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Benton Airport

Today, Don decided to give the Willie a little exercise.  We need to do that periodically to keep the batteries charged.  This time we decided to go have lunch at the Benton airport.

We have been there one other time, but we were about the only ones in the restaurant.  This time that was not the case.  The parking lot was full, or nearly so.  Don said it is a happening place.  And I guess it is.  I hadn't noticed how many hangars surround the runway, and quite a few planes were parked outside.  The server said that in good weather, the restaurant is very busy.

The first item I noticed when walking in was the Big Ass Fan.  It is the biggest fan I have ever seen.  I thought they were specially made for the airport, but Don said not.  He has specified them for several applications including the State Fair and several airplane factories.  It was set to barely move but because it is so big, it still moved a lot!

Don ordered the fish and chips, and I had 1/2 of a Reuben and onion rings.  Yum.  I have to say it was pretty good!

Then we turned around and came home.  Not a long trip, but enough to give the Willie an exercise and us a nice lunch together.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bald Eagle Nest

I have been monitoring the bald eagle nest at Berry College.  It is a very close-up camera of the nest, and it even has night vision.  I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the eaglet in the nest and have wondered about the extra egg that has not hatched yet.

Apparently it is very common for the second egg not to hatch.  Just as it is common for miscarriages to occur, the same can happen to an egg.  In the case of eagles, they frequently continue to sit on the egg until it disintegrates or breaks, as it appears was happening with this eagle pair's second egg.

I came upon this video of a March 2 event that is pretty fun to watch.  Click on the link below and go to the 2 hour 33 minute section of the tape.  I watched through about the 2 hour 47 minute section.  In that section, the mother is eating what I believe is a loon but could be another kind of the bird, the father buries the egg, the mother feeds her eaglet, and then she settles on the nest.  Some have said she appears to be uncovering the buried egg . . . I couldn't tell.

Anyway, it is a fun video to watch!  Enjoy!