Tag Archives: camping

Burnin’ Rubber

13 Apr

This weekend I took Wally (that’s my Airstream’s name) out and about for some New Mexican adventures. I got her a new trailer adapter for this trip, to convert the 7 pin system to 6 flat, so that the tail lights and blinkers would work with my truck and I wouldn’t have panic attacks about changing lanes on the highway.

As it turns out, when the adapter is plugged in, my right side trailer brake randomly engages and won’t let up. I found this out when the trailer jolted me to a stop and smoke came up from my tire. Absolutely terrifying. The only solution I could come up with on the road was to leave the adapter unplugged (meaning no turn signals and tail lights).

So that’s an electrical issue, the first of probably many issues to come. Life is largely just maintenance anyhow, so that’s ok.

Fishing was awesome except I met my white whale, a monster channel cat, that literally swam just at the surface in front of me for about half an hour, looking me in the eye and snubbing my bait. No doubt he was laughing at me and calling me names. I must catch that fish. So I was so focused on him I completely ignored the trout and wound up not catching anything at all. No worries. It was still a good day with Frank.

The water valve on Wally has been shut for so long that I needed a wrench to unscrew it, and of course I didn’t have one. So we drank bottled water and showered at the campground. Add bring a wrench and WD-40 to the list. Also add ‘figure out the toilet and blackwater tank’ to that list, because the year long rule of don’t poop in the trailer still stands, and can add a splash of excitement when you leave in a hurry in search off a campground toilet and forget your headlamp.

Overall the trip was great, even though the brake issue is terrifying. Frank and I had fun and that’s what matters. I got to drive my rolling toaster around and that is a great feeling.

Hopefully my restoration project won’t take my entire income this summer.

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Alligator Rodeo

9 Aug

Had the privilege this weekend of tagging along with a friend to an Alligator Rodeo in Southern Colorado.

You read that correctly.

Wranglers wade out into an alligator pond until they bump into one underwater, toe around and feel where its legs are, then hop on its back, lasso it around the neck, and drag it ashore. Points are given for speed and length of the alligator.

I was an observer and data recorder, NOT an actual participant. I’d like to stress that. I’m well aware that I’m not the kind of person who should be dancing with danger so closely. I know this. It is pretty awesome to watch others do it, though.

A local vet tech scans the gators for tags, and if they are new (untagged) they get a tag and a name. I have an alligator named after me after this weekend. If there are any injuries (apparently alligators’ hobbies include beating the crap out of one another) they are treated and then sent back into their habitat. I got to see a toe amputation- that was gruesome.

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Sometimes I wonder if rednecks aren’t having the most fun of us all. After a day of mud and gators, we went to a local hot spring to relax and then drank some wine by a fire and enjoyed watching the stars. I slept in the bed of a truck. In the morning we pointed an old iron cannon at watermelons (firing gumballs) until we actually blew up the cannon and were forced to contemplate our own mortality. Funny, how gratifying terror can be sometimes. On the drive home we stopped and explored an old ghost town. Fun times.

How was your weekend?

Phew. For a minute there, I lost myself

11 Sep

Sleeping in the rainforest. I was dreaming about the memory again last night.

We set up camp in the Olympic Mountains underneath a giant tree stump as big as the truck. We ate the fresh salmon we had bought in Olympia. After dinner we walked down to Hood Canal and took a swim in the bioluminescence. The water was cool and clear and glowing and perfect.

And for a moment there was peace. 

We got out of the water and walked along the shoreline for a while. The beach was dark and quiet and serene. So dark, in fact, that we had somehow missed this sign:

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I should know better than to think things can be so perfect.

Wild Pack of Family Dogs

15 Jul

Bekah and I met in Belize. Boston, barracudas, viper, and archaeology were involved. But that’s a story for later. That’s a story I will write next week. But anyhow, so we met in the summer of 2005 in Belize and somehow I convinced her to move to New Mexico and attend UNM with me. We got a crappy dumpy house next to the university and a blow up mattress, some folding lawn chairs, and stole WiFi from the Wendy’s. On the weekends we would go out and explore the archaeological sites of northern New Mexico and made friends with our idiotic frat boy neighbors. Back when we were young, (even more) silly, and full of wonder. When we had nothing, and yet we had it all.

This picture from 2006 sums it up rather nicely. (I’m the one with the pickle).

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Bekah had never been camping before. Being a city girl, fresh from Boston, she hadn’t done lots of things. Learned to drive a car, ridden a bike… but camping. That just seemed such a shame to me. We had just spent a summer or two in the rainforest and so we were up for anything. I had spent a research semester working at Chaco Canyon and I convinced Bekah and some of our idiotic neighbors to come out for the weekend with me so I could show them around all the sites. Chaco Canyon is unparalleled in beauty and culture and history. It really is a must see.

So it came to be that Bekah went on her first camping trip.

We packed up the old Subaru and headed out. We wanted a scenic route. And we also thought we were invincible. And we were both somewhat new to the desert southwest.

The Chaco Canyon website has this warning:

Warning: Some of the local roads recommended by map publishers and services using GPS devised to access Chaco are unsafe for passenger cars. Please use our written directions below to avoid getting lost or stuck.

I had even spent a semester out there and chose somehow to not heed this warning. So… yes we started late in the day. Yes, it got dark. We got lost. The water was up in the wash and we were afraid to try to cross. What to do? We set up camp right where we were- wherever that was.

There was no moon and it was really dark. We pulled our little caravan into a U shape and pitched the tents. Pulled out the hot dogs, snacks, some beer, and I’m fairly certain someone brought out a hookah. We proceeded to eat, drink, and be merry out in the middle of the desert, far from anyone or anything.

We thought.

One of the neighbors we brought along was a little green (I’m pretty sure he was still a teenager, if memory serves me) and he ended up a little sick and woozy, lying at the edge of our camp circle staring out into the distance.

“Guys. Guys. Guys.” he was shouting. We were ignoring him. “Something is out there! Something is watching me!”

“Shut up” we laughed, tossing bits of bread and things at him.

And then after a few minutes he would start again. Finally he was getting quite persistent and borderline hysterical, so we all looked over at him, out across the sagebrush and prickly pear and into…

A pair of eyes reflecting red in the beams of our flashlights. And then another pair.

A wild pack of dogs had smelled us and heard our commotion and come up on us without our noticing. A panic ensued, with folks tripping over other folks and screaming and running. I ended up in the car with Bekah. The sick boy was in the backseat, moaning. She and I were frantically running over scenarios of what to do, how we could get away. Finally (and this is how she tells it though I personally deny all suggestions about my inner redneck) I looked over at Bekah, dead serious and straight faced, and proclaimed, “Imma git ’em.”

I proceeded to put the car in drive and to the appropriate tune of banjo music I bounced us over the brush and dirt and actually tried to chase off the dogs, the kid in back dangling his head out the window and puking the whole time.

Well, I guess I did chase off the dogs, and I don’t remember how but we did end up getting to sleep that night. When we awoke in the morning we discovered that we had camped right on the EDGE OF A GIANT CLIFF.

And that was Bekah’s first camping trip.

Remind me sometime to tell you about the second time we encountered a wild dog out west. 😉

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