December 31, 2008: A Gardener's Resolution

I've been reading a few other blogs today and some, like Daphne at Daphne's Dandelions, have made a resolution to keep track of their garden expenses versus yield. I've basically made the same resolution. My problem this year was that I forgot to weigh a lot of my produce, or it was handed over to a neighbor across the fence before it could get weighed. I wish I had a produce scale that could hang in my garden!

Daphne was wondering how to estimate the value of her produce. I rounded off the amount I felt my produce was worth to $2 a pound. I don't know how close that was, but I went by the prices charged at the local farm markets. I raised mesclun for a pet rabbit, and that was costing $6 for 10 ounces (a one week supply) in the store, so that harvest from one packet of seeds was a tremendous saving! My garden was small, and I usually picked about 7 pounds of assorted vegetables two or three times a week. At $2 a pound, that was quite a savings.....assuming I would have actually purchased that much to begin with, which I wouldn't. Mr. H got quite sick of eating green beans every day.

In 2008 I had the expense of building all new garden boxes. This cost was kept quite reasonable because I reused wood from a deck we had removed from our house for most of the project. I also used a lot of leftover seed from previous years. My main expenses were for compost to fill the boxes and for fencing to keep the new puppies out of my new garden. My total expenses were $380.80. That was some expensive produce, but most of that was a one time expense. Now that the boxes are built, filled and fenced off, there should be minimum cost for 2009.

I already have almost all of my seeds for 2009, which came to $0. My daughter bought them for me for Christmas, plus I have a few left from the 2008 season. All I need is one packet of broccoli seeds, as Ed Hume Seeds didn't have the variety I wanted.

I want to buy a few boards to join my 4'x4' beds together to make one long bed. And I'll probably add some boards to last season's mesclun bed to make it deeper, as I want to plant potatoes there in 2009.

I'd like to buy 4 raspberry bushes, 64 strawberry plants and one or two blueberry bushes. I lost one of my three blueberries a couple of years ago, and it must have been my pollinator, as I only got a cup of tiny berries last summer. Since I have no idea what kind the other two are, I may buy two varieties and replace one original that isn't looking terribly healthy. I will also buy tomato and pepper plants, as I won't be back home early enough to start my own.

I would like to begin the installation of a drip watering system. I currently have large Rainbird impulse sprinklers that do a good job, but keep the foliage wet on the tomatoes, squash and cucumbers. Those plants would do much better with drip irrigation.

I want to start my own "real" compost pile. The ugly black composter is a joke, and the bottom of it will be turned into a planter for some sweet potatoes in 2009. I'll definitely buy one more load of compost to top off the new beds, as there has been some settling, but my neighbor has saved her leaves for me, so I can start my own compost pile next spring. That should end my need for purchased compost in the future.

So those are my garden resolutions for 2009. I can't hardly wait!

December 27, 2008: I'm NOT Old! I'm Not!

Next month I'm going to be an OLD LADY. At sixty-nine, I'm just a young chick, but in January I'll turn *shudder* SEVENTY *shudder*.

I don't feel old. In fact, I think I'm in pretty good shape for my age. Mr. H, who is almost seventy-four, recently joined me in this little routine. Don't you think we're quite agile for our ages?

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December 25, 2008: A Head Start on Garden 2009

What a wonderful Christmas gift I received from my daughter and her family!

Now that's a gift that will keep on giving! Thank you Amy, Bryan, Alicia and Alicyn.

December 18, 2008: It Never Rains in Sunny Arizona

Oh yes it does! We had a trip scheduled for yesterday, a visit to a mine, and it had to be canceled because of rain. You see, when it does rain here in the desert it rains hard. Very hard. Our desert trips almost always require some driving through washes, and that's not where one wants to be in a rainstorm. For instance, our very own Bouse Wash, that runs right through the middle of this small town, is nothing but dry sand for about 99% of the time. But when it rains hard, this is what it looks like:

It can be treacherous driving through the washes, as well as on the highways. In many places the water from the washes will flood the road, and have been known to run so hard and fast as to drown occupants of vehicles that may get caught in them. A couple of years ago I was driving home from Phoenix when we experienced a cloudburst. Visibility was nearly zero on the freeway, thanks to the many trucks whose drivers felt the need to pass everyone, spraying solid walls of water on our windshields. I decided to take a secondary highway the last thirty miles or so, and not being familiar with the route I found myself driving through flooded dips in the road time and time again. We began counting how many washes were flooding that highway, and I remember it being well over 50 times that I drove through water that was probably 6-12 inches deep. That was minor flooding compared to what sometimes takes place. Two lives were lost just this year due to autos being caught in the rushing water of nearby right here in our little town.

So while many of you are experiencing snow and bitterly cold weather right now, I'm waiting for the sun to shine again.

"Sunny Arizona" from my front porch!

December 13, 2008: Dear Readers

Dear Readers,

Yesterday my Grandma put on a funny red hat and went to a restaurant in Wendon, Arizona. It had a funny name, Ingredients. There were a lot of grandmas there, and they all had funny red hats on their heads! They ate lunch and they talked and laughed and acted really silly. I thought us kids were supposed to giggle and act silly, not the grandmas.

After the grandmas ate their lunch, they all went out to the back yard. I didn't know restaurants had back yards. There were funny things in the back yard.

Is my Grandma going to take a bath outside?

Is this what my Grandma calls a flower bed?

I wish I could put on my red hat and go with Grandma and the Silly Ladies, but she says I'm not old enough yet.


December 11, 2008: Where in the World is EG's Little Traveling Box? #3

Where in the World is EG's Little Traveling Box?

The caravan of eight vehicles left Bouse at 9:00 a.m., heading for California and the Whipple Mountains. Our destination was what some of us call "The Finger" and others call "The Needle".

This was a fairly easy trip of 60 miles (one way), the first thirty miles being on paved highway. Once we exited the highway we drove up a smooth, sandy wash.

The only obstacle we encountered was a large boulder that wasn't too difficult to maneuver around for most of us, but gave Jerry and his big Dodge pickup a bit of trouble because of the long wheel base. It was at this time, as I began to take a video of Jerry's rough trip around the boulder, that I discovered the memory card from my camera had been left back home in my laptop and the camera's internal memory was full. It was necessary to delete the video clip to free up room for the rest of the day's photos.

About ten miles into the mountains the wash became rough, and we had to put the Ranger into four-wheel-drive. There wasn't a lot of pretty scenery (vegetation) on this side of the Colorado River. The pretty desert is the Sonoran, and here we are in the Mohave. The rock formations are fascinatingly beautiful, though.

We reached an abandoned mine shaft, and got out to explore a bit.

Just around the bend, above the mine, are the buildings that housed the Colorado Arizona Mining Company.

The buildings have suffered a lot of damage in recent years, from weather and vandalism, but there are still shelf after shelf of core samples to be seen.

The miners would drill out cores of rock that would then be cut and crushed, bagged and sent to an assayer to check for ore content. This mine must not have panned out by the looks of the thousands upon thousands of samples left behind.

After a leisurely lunch, we ventured further up the mountain until we were right beneath the "finger".

There we discovered another building that contained box after box of core samples that hadn't been crushed, and my friend Marge discovered an extra 1 GB SD card that she loaned me for my camera. Hooray! I can take more pictures!

Six of the vehicles went on to view a nearby lake, but since we had been there several times and the area is fenced so there is no public access, we decided to follow Jerry and Marge back to town to do some grocery shopping. We made our way back through the beautiful rock formations, some of which were playing peek-a-boo with the sky.

Usually we see wild burros on this route, but today the only wildlife we saw was this small tarantula crossing the wash. The group that came behind us spotted several bighorn sheep.

Annie is getting better on the trips. She didn't "barf" until we got back into town and stopped at the grocery store. I think I may have to buy her some Dramamine. Both pups were on their best behavior again today, and were a joy to have along on the ride.

December 6, 2008: Just for Laughs

I was going through this year's photos, dating and naming them so they would be in order for printing and placing in my 2008 album, and I came across a few that made me smile. In fact, they made me laugh. I'd like to share a few with you.

Just for Laughs
Alicyn's first "real" smile.

Devil Dog!
Otto is as sweet and gentle as a dog can be....except when he's playing with Annie! The camera flash caused his eyes to look illuminated, but the teeth are all his.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

And Let Sleeping Babies Lie

Smile, Annie, You're on Candid Camera!

Alicyn gives Big Sister Alicia a Raspberry

Just Because This Makes Me Laugh

December3, 2008: Money Laundering

I really didn't mean to wash Mr. H's wallet with the laundry this morning.

December 1, 2008: Where in the World is EG's Little Traveling Box? #2

Where in the World is EG's Little Traveling Box?

Today's desert trip was much easier than the last one. For one thing, the first 30 miles were via paved highways, and the last leg of the trip did not require a four wheel drive. I wouldn't advise taking a passenger car in there, but any pickup or SUV could easily make it.

Our caravan of seven vehicles left at 9:30 a.m. We headed SE on Arizona Highway 72 until we reached the Junction with AZ 60. Turning left onto 60, we proceeded on to the town of Salome. From there, we took a primitive road, and then a wash, northwest to our destination, Indian Springs

One of the more scenic places in our area, Indian Springs is the site of an old granite quarry. Massive granite boulders and rock formations make this a unique place to visit. Granite from the quarry at this site was used for an addition to the Arizona State Capital in 1949. I have also heard it was used in both the Territorial Prison at Yuma, and the Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott. It has been said that inmates were transported by wagon train to the site to work the quarry. There is a large rock that had been dynamited to form a makeshift jail for the workers. Some of the iron bars can still be seen protruding from the entrance to the man made cave.

We enjoyed a stroll through the quarry, some of the brave even climbed to the top for a better view. Today we didn't hike to the spring, but there is a good sized pool nearby. After a very enjoyable picnic lunch, we returned home...a fun trip of five hours total, not long, dusty and tiring like the last one!

Little Box sits on the ledge that once held sleeping prisoners who worked the granite quarry.

The entrance to the temporary jail. Note the iron bar protruding from the opening on the left. The steps and the ledge were formed from granite blocks, the top of the ledg and some of the interior walls were concrete.

You can see how massive the jail rock is, the entrance to it is on the left in this photo.

The rock formations are absolutely beautiful.

A close inspection of the granite shows the marks of the
pins and feathers that are used to cut the slabs.

One brave soul climbed to the top.

Can you spot EG's Little Traveling Box enjoying lunch with us?

One of the largest, prettiest saguaros I've ever seen
is next to the road on the way out.

The desert is pretty here, and the cholla cactus
is showing its yellow blossoms.

November 30, 2008: Where in the World is EG's Little Traveling Box? #1

Where in the World is EG's Little Traveling Box?

On Monday, November 24, the caravan of five vehicles gathers at 9:00 a.m., anxious to head into the desert for our first group run of the year. What is that on the hood of our Ranger? Look real might have to click on the picture to make it looks like a little talking box!

Annie and Otter Dawg are excited to be included.

We leave Bouse, Arizona, heading NE on the old Swansea Road. This portion of the road is smooth, having been recently graded, but the dust is rising so thickly behind our rigs that visibility is limited, causing us to keep a good distance between vehicles and holding our speed at a maximum of 30-35 mph.

We turn right on the Lincoln Ranch Road. These are all "primitive" roads, but easily traversed by a two-wheel-drive vehicle until we pass under the power lines, where the road narrows and can get quite bumpy in places. We are still in 2WD, but it's rough. We soon come to Johnson Ranch Road. I would suggest only 4WD vehicles continue on from this point, as we find ourselves driving down the wash toward the Bill Williams River. For those of you not familiar with a wash, think of a dry riverbed with loose sand, and sometimes large rock "falls".

It is soon time for potty breaks all around, from guys on the right, gals on the left, and dogs wherever they want! Needless to say, there are no luxurious rest stops out here.

Back into the rigs, we have to cross through the river in two places (the big red X on the map). I'm not expecting to reach the river this soon and don't have my camera ready, but we've made this trip several times before so I have an older photo of one of the group crossing.

Sometimes this section of the river is underground, sometimes it is so deep as to be impassable. Today it is just a refreshing little "swim".

Once we cross the river, the road is rough, narrow and like a roller coaster. It isn't long before Annie gets carsick and barfs all over her blanket. We had expected her to get sick, she usually does, so we are well equipped with water and paper towels for cleaning up.

Once again we enter a wash. This one is confusing. There are many possible ways to go, but our fearless leader, Jim "Bigfoot" Norton, knows the desert like the back of his hand. Just to be extra safe, he makes frequent stops to tie red ribbons on the brush so we can find our way back.

The brush is harsh, scratching the sides of our vehicles. We take it all in stride, and proudly display our "desert pinstripes". We are among the lucky, we have a son-in-law who does auto body work and can buff out the scratches when we get back home to Washington next spring.

We turn onto McGuffie Mine Road. The wash is rough, with loose sand and rock "falls" at each turn. Soon Otter Dawg gets carsick and barfs all over the center console. Out come the paper towels and water jug again. By now I'm thankful neither dog ate before we left, so it's not terribly bad cleaning it up.

As we near our destination, we come upon a sight we hadn't seen in our previous trips. Someone didn't quite make it!

We round the corner, nearing our destination, to be greeted by worse conditions than we've ever seen here before, the results of heavy rains having washed out the already treacherous stretch of wash and making it nearly impassable. We are bringing up the rear of the caravan, and Bigfoot calls us on the CB radio to tell us we might not want to go any farther, as the four vehicles in front of us had got beaten up pretty badly going down over the rocks. Mr. H gets out to took a look.

Believe me, it is worse than it looks in the photos. We decide to save the Ranger from unnecessary damage, and walk the rest of the way to our destination, about a quarter mile down the wash.

Finally, we reach our destination, McGuffie cabin.

And Little Box meets a barrel cactus.

"Ouch!", says Little Box. ""What am I sitting on?"

Venice McGuffie was born August 26, 1890. She came to the cabin, which is situated on McGuffie Mine Road in Mohave County, as the young bride of a miner.

The road south towards Alamo Lake was maintained much better than it is now and that is the way she would travel in an old truck. The last part of the road down into the house at one time had been surfaced. We could see some of the concrete that remains over that last rough spot. Rain has eroded most of what had been.

The man built a dam up from the house, then backfilled it with rock which served as a filter. Apparently there was a pipe a person could open years later & the water came out clear & cool. The man was smart to have designed such a system.

The house is wired for electricity so they would have used generators.
Venice may have been into ceramics ... there are some tiles on the fireplace hearth & in back of the house where she had made a shower. The shower bottom is leaned up against the house, tiles are embedded in the concrete. A kiln has never been found.

Mike Riddle, who has worked for BLM as a volunteer for many years, said her name was Vernice McGuffie. However, on a faintly painted sign on the house it looked more like Venice. (I later found the Social Security record of her birth and death, which verifies the name Venice.)

Mike would go out to check on her about once a month, but a BLM Ranger from Kingman would make weekly trips in there to check on her. Mike told a story about the BLM Ranger coming to check on Venice. One time when he rounded the corner, she was working on the roof with no clothes on. He said it wasn't a pretty sight. From that time on he would honk when he started down toward the house.

My friend, Esther Tucker, inquired of Mike about the "sheep tank" that sits below the bluff. He wasn't sure who had put the tank in there whether it was Arizona Wildlife or someone else. She told him the tanks we have been to have a metal collecting surface that channels water into a tank which then is dispersed to a smaller area on demand. He said this tank collected water as it came across that rocky bluff. It made perfect sense when we watched one of the men that came with us climb up out of that wash by hanging onto a pipe. With all of us watching him ascend, none of us took a picture, but we could see that the pipe went into the natural basin which is now filled with little rocks & sand.

After Venice moved out of the cabin, a motorcycle gang took over the house until the Kingman 4-wheeler group ran them out. Mike said that BLM has talked of razing the place before it becomes a hazard but he said they (volunteers) have ignored that. A group of bikers tore down the old outhouse, with intentions of building a new one. They never did, so we lost a valuable asset to the site.

Venice died in October of 1983 in Wickenburg, Arizona.

We have contacted a local minister who knew the family and had often visited Venice, to possibly get a bit more history of the cabin and of the family who lived there. I am still awaiting his return call, so I may have an informative postscript to this fascinating piece of Arizona history.

Following are pictures of the interior of the cabin as it appears today. Note the interior walls are constructed of the "skeletons" of saguaro cacti. These were sometimes used as a base for coats of plaster. It is doubtful the TV set is original, although I suppose it may have been possible to receive a signal out of Phoenix.

We spent some time eating our sack lunches, then some sat and enjoyed the quiet while others walked a ways down the wash toward the lake. Soon it was time to head back. Mr. H and I hitched a ride up the hill with Jim "Bigfoot". The first rock fall we had to ascend was pretty rough, it took some of the vehicles several tries before they made it. I'll let you judge the second one for yourselves....this is the one Mr. H opted not to navigate. At least the men got wise and tossed some large rock into the deepest holes, so the ascent wasn't as bad as the trip down.

As it was nearing dusk, we again crossed the river.

We did find a rest area on the trip back.

The 97 mile trip took six hours of driving and two hours of picnicking/sightseeing. We were dirty, dusty, sweaty and tired, but happy that we are still able to undertake such a crazy adventure at our ages. My daughter says we are too old to be doing it, but I say it keeps us young. I'm gonna keep right on doing it!