While We Were Hiking

lizardWhile my wife and I were hiking this morning, we noticed a young Chuckwalla warming itself on the rocks.   From nose to tip of tail, this one was probably 4 inches (10 cm) long and when (if) this one grows up, it will be 3 to 4 times longer.  Among “local lizards”, only the Gila Monster is bigger.

When they feel threatened they will run into a narrow crevice in the rocks and take a deep breath.  Their loose skin allows them to expand and that wedges them in the crevice.  Fully expanded and at the back of a deep crevice, they are difficult to dislodge and are immune to most threats.


Bugs and Ice

The desert southwest has had morning low temperatures dipping below freezing and is a bit cold for us desert dwellers.  For someone living “up north”, slightly below freezing isn’t that cold, but we aren’t accustomed to cold.  Heat, on the other hand–I’ve been running when it’s 110F/43C and  had lots of company on the trail.


The “bug” was probably 3 inches/7cm long from head to tail and I was kind of surprised to see it out and about.  Desert bugs don’t like the cold either.

If you look closely at the top right area of the image…that’s ice floating atop the water at the spring….at 2pm….

Bugy, it’s cold outside.

Nice Weather for a Hike

Winter in the USA desert southwest is the best time for hiking.  The temperatures are nice (40F-70F/4C-20C) and there are usually winter rains that bring the desert life out into the open.

Today my wife and I went on a 6 hour (10  mile) walk in a desert wash in the nearby mountains.

If you’re not familiar with the term “desert wash”, “arroyo” and “wadi” are equally good words to describe this.   Imagine a sandy bottomed dry stream bed that has water only during (and shortly after) a rain.  Since we were in the mountains, put the dry stream bed in a small canyon, add gravel, rocks and house sized boulders, and you have an idea of what we were hiking through.


For a sense of scale, the rock in the picture is about 15 feet wide and most likely got moved here by the rushing water….so this is not a hike for a rainy day.

This also shows how the rushing water can erode the rock to form low spots where water can be trapped.


Just above this clean pool of water was another, much smaller pool.  This one was covered in algae.

While we were standing there, enjoying the complete absence of man made noise, we watched the bees land on the algae, collect water and fly off.  At any one time, there were probably 50-60 bees sitting atop the algae.  I tried, several times, to get a decent picture of the whole bee covered pool, but they didn’t show up in the image.  So, I went the other way and got a nice (for a cellphone camera) closeup of a bee.

For what it’s worth, if you have never experienced a “no made made noise” place, you should seek one out as it is a most amazing experience.


The sides of the wash that are shaded for most of the day are still damp and the desert plants are making the most of the opportunity.


Outside Stove

One of the few problems with living in the USA desert southwest (not counting my opinion of the area’s water policy) is using the kitchen oven in the summertime.  When it’s 110F/43C degrees outside, like it is right now, it seems foolish to pay to heat the oven that ends up heating up the kitchen at the same time I’m paying to have the air conditioner keep the house cool.

The neighbor across the street mentioned that his kitchen range (combination stove and oven) wasn’t working.  I offered to fix it for him (these are easy to fix), but he had already purchased a new one.  He went on to say that he was going to put the old one out on the sidewalk with a “free–needs fixing” sign on it and if it was still there the next morning, he would pay to have it hauled to the recycling facility.

I saved him the need to pay to have it hauled away and brought it to my enclosed back porch.  The prior owners of our house had an electrically powered hot-tub and the electric outlet for it was still in place.  The stove needed an electric circuit with less capacity than was needed for the hot tub, so I simply changed the circuit breaker to a smaller one and changed the electrical outlet to the correct one.  The wires are slightly larger than needed, but that’s perfectly acceptable.

Every Thanksgiving holiday I’ve complained about not having enough stove and oven space and every summer I’ve complained about paying to heat the house that I’m also paying to keep cool.


I’ve fixed two of my complaints for less than $100 and 2 hours of time.  It turned out that the appliance parts store was only 1-1/2 miles (2.5k) from the house, so I walked there and even got some exercise in the process.


And the Ranger Laughed

My physician sent some orders to the medical testing lab and today I took care of that; 5 vials of blood and a “whiz quiz” (urinalysis).  I had to fast for these tests, so I hadn’t eaten anything since yesterday evening and the earliest available appointment was 9:30am.  I would have liked to have been finished with this earlier, but that’s OK.  I’ll live. 🙂

I got home, ate some food, drank some water, did some yard work and then decided to go running.  It was 103F when I started.

After about 1-1/2 miles on the trail, I decided I’d turn around early and head back to the car.

On the way back to my car, I was sweating enough that I began to think, “If I collapse and die out here, will the medical examiner need to examine my bone structure to determine my gender?”  Farther along, I began to think of  “The Night of the King’s Castration”.

I made it back to the parking lot….looking like I had crawled out of a swamp and laughing out loud.

I guess looking like one had crawled out of a swamp and laughing out loud is enough to concern the park rangers.  As I walked to my car, a ranger approached me to find out if I was OK.  So, I told him why I was laughing.

And the ranger laughed, but not because he had to.






speedometerAt 7:32am PDT, the car I was driving reached a milestone.  250,000 miles. It’s my 1995 Isuzu Trooper.

I’m hoping I can continue to drive it for another 5 or 6 years.  I have high hopes that this will happen.

Right now, it’s after 10pm, it’s still over 100F (a bit warmer than 35C) degrees and I’m sitting outside watching chicken cook on the grill.  This food is for tomorrow evening.  It’s nothing fancy.  I do like “cooking fancy”, but not after 10pm.

My wife is a physics teacher, school just started and the air conditioning isn’t working in her classroom.  Today she said it was 95F (35C) degrees in her room.  I do know she was pretty tired today.  Since I like cooking, I try to do as much of it as possible so she can “just come home and relax.”

I think she had it easier when she was working as a nuclear engineer, but that wasn’t her passion. Teaching is her passion.  I understand.