Eastern Utah
EMAIL ME AT: mgypsy97 at aol dot com

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Just about ready

I've gotten most of my camping gear together and will be ready to leave early tomorrow morning. I told my son I won't know where I'm going until I pull out of the driveway. I'll take my computer and MiFi just in case I get a connection, but they are usually difficult to find in the mountains and away from cities. I don't know how long I'll be gone - up to a week, maybe?

It's driving me crazy not having Lady to talk to. I always made sure I had her food and treats ready by the door so she would know she would be involved in the trip too. I don't think she ever had any separation anxiety, but I always made sure I told her where I was going if she didn't accompany me, and that I would be back. She never seemed to worry as long as I told her something. Of course I am sure she understood every word!

Ara is in Italy now, visiting my brother and s-i-l who bought a villa in Tuscany. Their home base is Florida and they know when to get out of Dodge - all summer. I wouldn't mind spending the summer in the hills of Tuscany either. I think she is still planning to travel in Spain and the Netherlands.

I just looked more closely at the Forest Service site for the campground I have in mind and under the alerts is one for mountain lion sightings nearby. I'm not afraid of black bears, and I think all grizzlies are gone from CA, but mountain lions could cause me some concern. I won't be hiking at dawn or dusk, or with small children, riding a bike alone, and all the other no-no's, so I guess I'm relatively safe. I can't say how much I'm looking forward to this trip, especially after my last one was cut short.

Lastly, I want to say that I don't understand how a formerly well organized person could become so disorganized and sluggish. I didn't even bother with much of a list this time, and the abbreviated one I made has been misplaced so I'm just forgetting about it. Is there anything I would be unable to do without? I have my coffee making stuff together - I might be bothered if I forgot that.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Walking again

I'm trying to get some regular walking exercise, so have been doing the big loop around the mobile home park. I walked two mornings and then took yesterday off, and resumed again this morning when I got lost toward the end of my walk. One end of the park is easy with streets in a grid (although the grid is more of an elongated "X" shape rather than squared. The south end is curvy and that is usually where I have to think. It really doesn't make much difference because all roads eventually lead to home, but I'm trying to keep it to about a mile or so for a while, and I was well over a mile when I figured out where I was.

I'm reading a book on the "Best in Tent Camping in N. CA", but the title is a bit misleading. I want a tent-only campground and those are few and far between. It doesn't make sense for me to be in a wonderful campground but have a big RV's on either side of me. I'd feel like a squashed bug! This time I'm looking a bit southeast of Sacramento but still considered in the Tahoe area.

I hope nobody takes this as an affront to RVers, since I was one myself for a few years. But in a tent, everything is smaller, lower to the ground, and way more minimal.

My internal clock must have been in perfect sync with Lady's; in the morning I feel like I have to walk, and when it starts getting close to 4:00 pm I wonder if I have time for a nap before taking her for a walk. She had me trained pretty well. I never got to sleep late in the morning so that is why I decided to just do my own walk.

It's 91F at 2:30 and heading for 98 today. I am damn sick and tired of hot weather, so I'm looking at a campground at 7300 feet. In July 1995 a whole lot of snow was dumped in this area and I wouldn't mind if it happened again. Just think - snowbound in July! Lady would love it!

I had such a good supper tonight I think I could die and go to heaven! Baked filet of wild-caught Pacific hake, and a sautee of mushrooms, onions, chard, and spinach. The ice cream is waiting in the freezer.

I'm in a half-packed state right now but will probably leave either tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday morning. I want to beat the weekend crowds and would leave tomorrow morning except for the darn garbage pickup. Still debating where I will go, but the Sierras in Calaveras County looks good, and I won't have to get on an interstate to drive there.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Today I found a distraction from my recent sadness, and that is TV. The NatGeo channel, which is mysteriously available to me lately although I'm not paying for it, has been running programs on UFO's and highlighting the Roswell incident. I have always kept an open mind about this subject, but it's always been obvious to me that the US Govt has contributed to the disbelief of the American public that they have satisfactorily explained what happened in Roswell, NM decades ago.

It is also obvious to me that for some reason, there are a lot of programs lately that try to debunk the idea of a UFO crash, or even the existence of UFO's. In listening to the various skeptics trying to be convincing, the whole thing becomes funny, and it's hard to believe intelligent people would even think they can get by with such stupid explanations. I think the debunkers are about to make a believer out of me! What I'm really curious about is why all of the sudden is this becoming such an issue again.

I remember the Gary Powers U-2 incident - he was flying a high altitude surveillance plane over Russia when he was shot down - I think it was in the late 50's/early 60's, and it's taken how many years for the Govt to say, among other things, that they were testing the U-2 plane in the Area 51 area.

Airline pilots see UFO's all the time and supposedly the FFA has instructed them to not report any incidents, even life threatening ones. There is no US Govt entity that will take a report on any kind of sighting. Further, the pilots are told to keep quiet about sightings.

So I suggest keeping your eyes on the skies, especially you RVers who are fortunate enough to be away from city lights and can actually see the night skies. You may actually see a UFO, and the police may believe you but the US Govt will tell you that you're delusionary.

As you can tell, my thoughts have been diverted from the past few days' happenings, for which I'm grateful.

(By the way, I can't say I've ever wanted to see a UFO, although I would love to get a glimpse of Sasquatch! I prefer earth-bound puzzles.)

Saturday, July 28, 2012


My life is changing, that is for sure, with Lady's passing. I have had a dog in the house for so many years that I got comfortable with the sense of security it gave me. For one thing, I have always been unconcerned about locking the doors to my house and to my car. Living in Swannanoa NC, a little town east of Asheville, there really was no need to lock up tighter than a drum. No burglar would walk up the hill to my house for one thing, and the bears hadn't figured out how to open the doors.

But I had a dog! One who would bark if the bears came too close during the night, or the raccoons or whatever. The dog has also protected my space in Sacramento, at the apartment I lived in for a year as well as the house I'm in now. Sometimes I lock up but often I don't. That goes for my car as well. I know that is careless of me, but with my faithful companion here to take care of me, I just didn't worry about it.

Lady was a dog who rarely barked. When I left her at home I sometimes told her on my way out, "Now guard the house". Surprisingly, a neighbor would mention to me every time I had said it, that they would hear her bark while I was gone. I think she took the charge very seriously, so I only said it if I was going to be gone for a while.

Last night I was awakened in the middle of the night by noises outside my bedroom window. I leave the windows open 24/7 during the hot weather, and I'm used to ignoring strange sounds figuring it might be the dog moving around, or at least if it was anything I should be worrying about she would alert me. I got up a couple of times and turned on the outdoor light on the driveway side of the house, but didn't leave it on because everything on that side looked intact. Since Lady is gone I've taken to sleeping with my car keys right next to the bed so that in an emergency I can hopefully find the panic button.

I miss that dog like crazy, and miss the companionship, comfort and security she gave me. One of the commenters asked if I had considered getting another dog, and surprisingly I have already had fleeting thoughts about it. But I don't want to outlive another dog, and I certainly don't want a dog that would outlive me. For now I think I will just have to accept that I need to change my ways, although I don't want to become fearful and distrusting when I've never been that way. I don't have a thing in the house worth stealing, so if someone thinks I do, I just hope they try to find it while I'm gone.

I again want to thank everyone who has commented or written to me expressing their condolences. Sometimes I think I'm over the weeping, but I have cried with every single comment or email I've gotten since Lady is gone. I hope I don't go on like this much longer because I'm tired of my eyes and head hurting from all the sobbing!

By the way, yesterday I took my car to have the interior detailed, and they did an excellent job getting rid of the dog hair and cleaning the upholstery and carpets. While I hadn't paid for an exterior wash, the guy in charge of cleaning the interior came over to ask me if he could take the car through the wash since I had mud in the wheel wells. They did a beautiful job both outside and inside, and it looks like new again. It's just waiting for another camping trip!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Guilt feelings

Now is the worst part, and that is the guilt I feel over whether or not I did the right thing. In my heart I know I did, and I saw the sad, pleading look in Lady's eyes, when she would even look at me. She spent most of the last two days trying to get behind the furniture into a corner and face the wall. Not behavior of an animal who wants to go on with life that is either painful or in too much of a fog of drugs to be pleasant.

The vet obviously didn't want to euthanize Lady - she as much as told me that the first day I took Lady in to see her. That is how I got talked into trying the two medications - anything to get my dog back to a somewhat normal life with less pain. The Meloxicam that I got from the vet in Montana worked wonders, allowing her to live a normal life and be active again. But then the side effects put an end to that, and we ended up with an even stronger drug (Tramadol) that completely made her crazy. I had asked the vet if I could start her on a lower dose, and then increase it if she took it well. The vet's idea was to start her on the "normal" dose and then cut back if necessary. The normal dose had her panting, pacing from one room to another, made difficult by the fact that she couldn't stand up or walk straight. At one point she was lying down and fell over sideways, hitting her head on the floor and couldn't get back up.

The vet gave me a printed report of Lady's condition, and I must say it was whitewashed to the point that I didn't recognize my own dog. To her everything was normal, behavior alert, etc. It isn't normal for a dog to withdraw from everything and everyone like she did. I made up my mind yesterday afternoon to do the right thing by my dog.

The vet couldn't even get the last few minutes right, first trying the vein in the back leg, then the front, and then the back again. Thankfully Lady was sedated pretty much and I hope she didn't feel the pain of being poked and prodded.

I'm relieved it's over and know she is in a better place, but I feel so damn guilty about it. I can only reason that if I'm in terrible illness and pain at the end of my life, I don't want anyone to try to keep me alive with drugs and medications. I can only hope that a dog has the same inclinations.

Why am I going into all this? I'm not sure, except I hope that anyone reading this will remember it when their pet is ready to cross that bridge. If you instinctively know it is time, then don't let a vet talk you into trying procedures and medicines that pad their pockets and don't really add anything to your pet's quality of life. A dog is a dog and is not a human being, and they can't make those kinds of decisions so they rely on us to do the best for them. The best isn't always to keep them alive at all costs, even though many humans feel that way about their own lives, but that's their choice. I just don't believe a dog would want to stay alive at all costs, and hope I made the right choice for Lady.

Taken in better days:

I thank each and everyone of you who has offered me your sympathy. I can't put into words how much it means to me the depth of caring in the RV/Blogger community, and it will help me to get through the next few painful days and weeks.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rest in Peace

Lady - Born about 2002 in Eastern Tennessee
Died July 26, 2012 in Rancho Cordova, California

I will miss her dearly.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Back home

I had planned to stay out at least 2 nights, but at 10:30 this morning there were already 4 RVs in an arc around my campsite. The guy across from me was friendly as well as considerate, and maybe the others would have been as well, except one a couple of sites over ran the generator for quite a while. Like voices, most sounds carry further in a campground setting. I couldn't see paying another $30 when it wasn't what I wanted or where I wanted to be.

When I brought everything into the house Lady began acting strangely - couldn't move her legs well and couldn't walk or stand up straight. She kept pacing and panting, down the hallway and into the back bedroom, then back to the living room to start all over again. I took her for a walk and noticed she had blood in her stool, which I realized I've seen before but refused to believe that's what it is. Something was definitely different with her, and I left with her to go to a local vet thinking this would be it. When the realization hit me I really wasn't prepared for it at all, although I don't think Lady would have cared one way or another.

The vet seemed thorough in her exam of Lady and the questions she asked me, and I decided to try a moderate dose of narcotic for the pain, plus a med that is for intestinal problems. I think that is the stuff she had to take in 2009 when we were at Lassen. At least this gives me time to prepare for the end, and when the time comes I can deal with it. I truly believe Lady is trying to let me know it's ok, but I just don't want to give up on her, realizing we are no doubt two of a kind, two old ladies with infirmities, one definitely less prone to grumbling about them.

If you can, picture me trying to get 1-1/2 pills of one kind, and one of the other, into an uncooperative dog. I'm out of turkey lunch meat and the vet said I should administer it in a dose of peanut butter. Maybe some dogs like peanut butter, but this one turns her head away and absolutely refuses it. When I ended up doing was to smear pb on a piece of freeze dried beef treat, stick the pills onto it, and cover it with more pb. She still turns away from it, but eventually she can't resist the beef treat and has taken both pills that way for this evening. I'll run out and buy her more turkey meat since that's a sure thing, except for when she swallows the meat and spits out the pill! How in the world does that dog do it, and in her decrepit years at that. I bet nursing home attendants go through similar situations.

Enough about our troubles. Now I want to get things cleaned up and packed away for our next trip which I hope will be soon. I should give Eldorado NF another shot or two, but will go further afield if need be. I think after Labor Day will be much better from my point of view.

I have a very strange acting dog right now, and think I made a mistake bringing her home. I don't want to go through all the weeping again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How did I end up here?

Before I tell you that, I have to give an account of what went before, starting with leaving home at 10 am, and completely missing the road to Ice House Reservoir off US 50. When I got to Kyburz I realized I was closer to S. Lake Tahoe than I was to home, and way past my original destination. I turned around and drove back the very winding mountainous road, sometimes 2 lane and sometimes 4 lane with 1 lane in each direction under road construction. When I got to Ice House I wondered how I missed it.

First I stopped at the Visitors Center and talked a bit with the person in charge, who told me about how to find disbursed camping - very easy actually, to find it. But what I found were sites out in the full sun with no trees at all nearby. That wouldn't do, so I kept searching.

Lady started acting weird, standing up and panting, and while I was looking for a place to pull over she pooped all over her bed on the back seat, and naturally she has diahrrea so it has seeped down onto part of the upholstery. The smell nearly drove me out of the car, but I did find a place to pull over and let her out. I took the cover off the bed, leaving the egg crate foam layers, and threw the cover away, plus the nice fleece throw I used on the seat to catch some of the dog hair and make it more comfy for her.

I debated going straight back home at this point and getting the interior of my car detailed and sanitized, but here I've spent hours driving around roads in Eldorado Forest, plus driving through upteen campgrounds. I looked at a couple more places but my heart was no longer in it, so I headed back US 50. I came to the turn off to Sly Park and took it. So here I am, at Sly Park which I vowed never to camp at for a long time. I'm set up in a familiar campsite, with about 3 tents of noisy guys a few sites away (probably will get noisier after dark) and a big motor home across the way.

This has been a day of learning for me. #1 thing is don't go anywhere with an old dog who has one thing after another go wrong with her. #2 is the old maxim, "Wherever you go, there you are". I have often complained that a solo RVer is saddled with ALL the jobs, or as they are often referred to, the pink jobs and the blue jobs. Well, solo tenters are also saddled with ALL the pink and blue jobs, i.e., set up the tent, blow up the air mattress (not a thing I've ever been good at); transfer all the equipment from the car to the picnic table or tent, or to the shade in the case of the coolers. Just about everything else associated with camping has to be done by the solo tenter.

But for now I'm ok - tent is up, mattress looks & feels good, all the gear is where it should be, I've had a cold beer and think I will have another one. I couldn't use my cell phone here at the site but I get 3G service and the internet, and if it holds up I will post this tonight, although I won't add the photos until another time. I have the option of staying another night which will probably look good to me since everything is already set up and I'm not ready to take it all down again. The cost is terrible - 2 nights here will cost me more than a week at Lassen!

Comparing Lassen National Forest (not the Park, but the Forest) with Eldorado National Forest: Eldorado is much closer and an exponentially easier drive for me than Lassen. Lassen is more scenic and away from the crowds. There is scenery at Eldorado and sometimes crowds at Lassen, but there is a huge difference I haven't been able to identify yet. So next camping trip I'll bite the bullet and head back up I-5 (almost as bad, but not really, as driving around Chicago). I will either try the Lassen Forest for camping, or maybe go to Shasta-Trinity NF. August is a heavy month for any kind of travel and recreation in CA, so I might wait and go after Labor Day, or just try it mid-week in August.

In all the back roads I drove looking for camp sites, the one that sent me out of the park was when I came to an open gate with two signs on either side of the road, both full of bullet holes. No thanks. They weren't put there by marijuana growers either.

I'm going to post while I still can hold onto the connection, so I'll be back tomorrow or the next day. I am not finished with looking for a non-CG camping site, preferably in a national forest, in fact, I'm more determined than ever to try it. But it will have to feel right with me, and nothing I saw today felt right. At least I get to sleep outdoors tonight and will be able to see enough of the night sky through the top of the tent to make me starry eyed!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Camping preparations

I woke up throughout the night to the sound of thunder, the flash of lightning, and heavy rain that didn't ever last for long. Just a few more degrees to go today for the high of 93.

While it was relatively cool this morning I took my car for service and asked them to check the air filter since I had been driving through all the dust at Lassen. When I paid the bill I was told that since I have "the big one" coming up at 90k, they can let the air filter go now and replace it at the next service. It sounds like they might be replacing a lot of things at the next service - I should take a look at the owner's manual to see what the 90k service will consist of so I won't be surprised.

I ran through the car wash on the way back home, opting for the lowest price ($6) version. I don't see any different between this and a higher priced version - they both leave blobs of dried dust on the rear window and hatch door. There is also dust embedded in the rubber strips around the windows where it meets the glass, but I'm not picky enough to worry about it. Since I will be again driving on National Forest roads tomorrow it will probably get dirty and dusty in no time.

I think I have most everything ready to spend a day to three days in the forest, at least I have enough food and beverages for that length of time. I can try getting by with my propane stove, but I think I'll end up going over this evening to borrow Donald's. Mine took so long to boil water for coffee so there is probably a bad connection. I looked at Coleman stoves yesterday at Walmart and was surprised they wanted in the area of $35 for a one-burner stove. I will wait for a good sale at Campmor, REI or one of those places. Whereas meals used to be an integral part of my camping experience it no longer holds its importance to me. I just want to make excellent coffee to start the day, adding 1/2 and 1/2 of course, and then eating whatever is quickest and easiest to prepare and clean up after for the rest of the day.

I've spent a lot of time lately looking for tent-only campgrounds, but they are few and far between. Mostly everything is combination RV/tent camping, which is a shame because I think most RVers would prefer to camp among RV's, and most tent campers object to the noise from generators as well as the visual space taken up by the RVs. Having been on both sides of the fence I can certainly understand both viewpoints. It's almost impossible to find a tent-only campground, although when you find a tent loop at a campground the sites are usually squeezed in like sardines. For this reason I hope I enjoy the disbursed camping in the National Forest, although there is nothing to prevent other campers from pulling up close. I'm speaking pretty much in generalities here, and I don't want anyone getting upset, but this is pretty much how I see it. There are exceptions, always.

I'm not sure what to expect from this trip except to look and see what is available at a higher elevation within 75-100 miles. At least tomorrow's end point will be off US Freeway 50 which is about a mile from my house so it is much easier to get on the road than having to get over to I-80 or I-5. And of course I hope to escape the intense heat in the Central Valley of CA.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Another hot one

At 8:30 pm it is still 95F in Sacramento, which is really unusual as it normally cools down when daylight is on the wane. I got some items together today that I can use for camping, and will probably leave on Tuesday morning. I need to get my car serviced tomorrow morning as the "Check Engine" light is on. I hope the mechanic can bypass that for next time. I as just about at the recommended odometer reading and have been watching it, and don't need an orange light to tell me I need an oil change.

I was impressed at how Jeannie & Donald were so organized with all they brought to Lassen, packing like items in large plastic totes. That made it so much easier to unload and unload the car as well as the bear box. So today I bought a box for food items rather than carry it in grocery bags. The tote is large enough to hold what I need for a few days, but small enough that I should easily be able to lift and move it.

Jeanne invited me over early in the afternoon as she planned to Skype Ara in Germany. The video never worked properly and caused problems with the audio, so we just ended up going with the audio. This morning Ara took a train to Essen where she was met by a genealogist relative on my husband's side of the family. I've never met him but hope to do so one day. She was ecstatic about her visit, and how easy they were to talk with. Of course they were impressed with her flawless German! She noticed right away the similarities between Bernd and her "Papa", (Bill, my ex). I'm so glad she was able to meet them, and hope she will be able to travel to the south of Germany to meet the relatives on my Dad's side of the family. It kind of makes me want to go back to Germany some day, although I'm running out of years to do it (plus the fact that I'd have to go through the airport scene).

As hot as it has been there is a very large window on one side of the living room that had the screen removed. I think I took it down in anticipation of painting this last segment of the house, but found so much water damage to the paneling I realized I need to get the roof fixed and then replace the paneling before painting. I never re-hung the screen, telling myself I couldn't handle it because of the size.

It got hot enough today and I wanted to be able to open the windows, so in desperation I went out and got the screen, and managed to get it inside the house. Grabbed a small step stool and a variety of screws and screwdrivers (no telling what I did with the original screws I removed when taking the screen down.) I started at the top middle of the screen, then added screws along the top, along the bottom, and down the sides. I also had to remove the window cranks and re-attach them through the screen. I couldn't tell you where the energy came to do all this, but I did it and I did a damn good job! I've been underestimating myself the past few years, or maybe it's just that desperation took hold of me.

It isn't much better with the window open as the fans I've set up strategically around the room just pull the hot air into the house and swirl it around. But I think it's marginally better, so I can say "Good job, Marty!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sunday, Jul. 15

Jeannie & family got a fairly early start back to Sacramento. Donald announced he would like to take the long drive through the Park, which is estimated to add about an hour onto the trip. I settled back into my blue lounger, having sent the anti-gravity thing with them, and figured I would have a quiet day to reflect on my trip. It's Sunday, the campground is emptying out, and it should be quiet as a tomb - right?

A family drove in around Noon and began examining sites all around me. There was a Casita in the site next to me, but they were parked far enough away and I never heard a peep out of them the entire time they were there. The Mom of the new family had a very loud and projecting voice, and was extremely picky about whatever it was they were looking for. I later found out they were meeting another family or two, all having driven a good distance, and they wanted something that would accommodate them. Unfortunately they found it in the campsites behind me. Oh, that voice!

The other family or families arrived and tents were set up. The men must have been sitting together while the women and kids set up the tents, and they laughed loudly throughout the rest of the day. A tent was set up for several of the young teen boys which came close to encroaching on my site. The children themselves, a whole bunch of them, had no problem cutting through my site close enough I could feel the swoosh of air as they went by. This continued throughout the evening.

The boys went back and forth to the lake with their fishing gear, each time walking through my site, but I figured their parents were to blame for not teaching them proper manners, so I engaged them in small talk for a few minutes about the fishing prospects. The girls went back and forth to the bathrooms, and some of them tried to avoid walking through my site while others were clueless.

The men got louder and louder and one had a laugh that set your nerves on edge - sort of like when someone scrapes a blackboard with their fingernails. I think most readers will remember blackboards. When the hosts came around in early evening I mentioned I thought it would be a long night. "Nah", he said, "they've come from a long distance away and have been drinking heavily, so they will pass out early and crawl into their tents". He was spot on about that!

Two young women drove up to my site in a National Park truck and introduced themselves as camp hosts at Summit Lake South. They were sent over to meet me and request that I try to stop by the Manzanita Lake entry station in the morning to talk to Sheryl. We chatted for a while and they went on their way. It was so nice to meet them.

Also I noticed a police car driving past the entry station, but it wasn't close enough for me to see it was a CHP car. Later, Andy told me it was the officer who was so nice to come and check on me when I had the problem with the thugs who brought a "church youth group". When the officer, Mike, mentioned me, Andy told him I was camped just a little ways into the CG, but I evidently was not at my site if he drove by. The local county police and highway patrol were a great comfort to me after that fiasco.

I made a nice small campfire and enjoyed the evening. The next morning I woke early as I usually do, and didn't worry about being too quiet so as not to wake the the neighbors. I did that for my kids for an hour or two, but these campers didn't inspire so much care on my part, although I would never intentionally disturb anyone. I took my time, mainly folding my tent and packing all the gear into the car. There is no way to unlock the bear box without making a lot of noise, and of course you have to lock it back up each time because the eagle-eyed chipmunks are waiting hopefully.

I did stop by and spoke with Sheryl for a while, then drove Donald's route through over the park road. These are some pictures I took along the way, mostly views of the Peak. I also used my film cameras but of course I won't have those photos until I finish the film rolls and get them developed.

The first couple of days back in Sacramento were fairly nice ones, not too hot, and breezy. The last two have descended into hell and it looks like that will continue for the next week. I'm going to try to wait until Tuesday and leave in the afternoon after the trash pickup. As hot as it is I don't want the trash can sitting in my driveway percolating. The trucks don't necessarily arrive early (there will be two this Tuesday, one for recycling), so I might leave on Wednesday morning. My hope is to find a place to camp for a night or two.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Saturday, July 14:

(Note that you can click on a picture to enlarge it.)

Everyone (except me) got ready to climb Cinder Cone volcano, and the climb is made more difficult by the fact that it is a volcanic sand you are climbing on - 2 steps forward, 1 step back. I walked over to the trail head with them and by the time we got there Arianna (the youngest) didn't want to go. She gets tired of walking and wants to be carried, so I said she could come back to camp with me. We hadn't walked very many steps back when I heard "Mom!" being shouted, and Autumn running toward me. So I took the two girls back and we had a nice couple of hours. I was glad Jeannie & Donald could get away on their own, and that Jeannie could go at her own pace, which is fast!

I've dragged out some photos from when I worked at Lassen and my family came to visit for a few days. Jeanne, Donald, and son Steve climbed Cinder Cone, while Steve's wife Meg and I stayed with the kids. Arianna was just about 9 wks old and Jeannie was carrying the weight from two pregnancies plus some extra pounds she picked up along the way. She actually climbed the mountain and had Donald & Steve huffing and puffing to keep up with her. She agreed to let me post the pictures.

Look who's resting:

Jeanne with the caldera behind her:

A view of the trail up Cinder Cone:

Jeanne & Steve:

Just one more from the old days - I had the best job of all! Look where her hand is - even sleeping she needs to stay close to her food supply, although she sure didn't know this grocery was long ago sold out!:

That was in 2009 - now she has lost 88 pounds and looks and feels terrific!

I asked her how she did it and she said it was exercise combined with eating less, and counting calories. Being insulin-dependent diabetic, she is very disciplined when it comes to counting carbs and wearing the insulin pump, but it must have been difficult. She says she fills up on things such as green vegetables that don't have the calories, plus small portions of everything else. You can see that she eats such things as S'Mores, and adjusts her insulin for it, but she still counts her total calories every single day. And wow, does she ever exercise! I might also add that she avoids processed and packaged foods, as well as meats from animals that have been given growth hormones and antibiotics. Those growth hormones don't just fall off and disappear when the animal is slaughtered.

Having reached the top and heading down into the caldera:

The Big D with Lassen Peak in the background:

Later in the afternoon we all headed off to see Crater Lake - the one in Lassen National Forest. I knew there was a campground there which is totally free, and I hoped the lake was large enough for Lady to be able to take a swim, which it wasn't! There were a lot of people around the lake and swimming in it, and I didn't see one dog in the entire area. When I worked at Lassen in 2009 I met many fishermen who drove over to Crater Lake to fish.

From the lake we drove back to Old Station to visit Subway Cave, which is a tunnel formed by lava flow many years ago. It is about 1/3 mile and is totally dark, which made the kids cry and not want to be there even though everyone had a flashlight. As for Lady and me, she refused to even descend the steps to the tunnel entrance, so I took her back to the parking area and sat on a bench while we waited. It wasn't long before they returned and said the lava floor was so bumpy that Lady probably would have had a difficult time walking it.

Back in camp with Grandma:

I really enjoyed the day and was glad to get back and relax, eat dinner, and light the campfire for the S'Mores. They knew I don't like the marshmallows and graham crackers so they brought me some special European chocolate which was delicious. I could get addicted to that stuff!

A note from Thurs., Jul 19:
I bought a Tracfone prepaid for $10 and today I cancelled my Verizon cell phone service. I had intended to port my old number over but didn't do it right so I will just have to learn a new number, plus call the doctors and others who have my old number on file. I have 250 prepaid minutes to use within 90 days, so if I don't like the Tracfone I can always get something else or go back to Verizon.

I'm debating when to take off for a day or two in the El Dorado Forest, hopefully finding a site off the grid and back in the woods. I've always been a bit nervous about doing that, especially in a tent, but the time has come for me to declare that I fear nothing and will be stopped by nothing! Hope the bears don't come too close. The weather right now is getting worse every day, but I really need to wait until garbage pickup on Tuesday so I can pull the cans back into the driveway. When I was at Lassen someone pushed the can off the street and up over the curb, but that was all. If I didn't really like my house I wouldn't tolerate living in a park with such folks who are here. Many of them are nice enough to wave, but many would just as soon stare you down and walk on. But back to camping in El Dorado, I need to wait until at least Sunday to allow the weekend crowds to leave.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Friday, Jul. 13

A few current words before I backtrack to last Friday. I mentioned I looked chubby in recent pictures. Maybe chubby isn't the word I should have used, but I'm afraid it might be "matronly". Oh lord, my mother was matronly and I've become my mother!

I mentioned that the first day at the campground I met FL and LA. When FL walked by on his way to the lake we exchanged greetings and he said "I guess they call you Gypsy, don't they". Now how in the world would he have known that and I guess I was taken off guard and didn't ask him. Ok FL/Mike or Michael, if you read my blog please leave me a comment! I really wish you guys had stayed around another day or two.

Friday, July 13:
We all got up fairly early although I was by far the earliest (and I retire the earliest as well). Jeannie & Donald wanted to take the girls on the hike to Bathtub Lake, and they actually hiked all around the lake which gets a little strenuous for two little girls.

Follow the leader:

Someone's getting tired:

Jeannie and I were sitting in chairs on one side of the picnic table and couldn't see what was going on on the other side. She stood up to get something off the table and said, "You don't want to see this." I agreed I didn't want to see whatever it was, but she took pictures to document it. There is black volcanic dirt mixed with those pine needles! She has way more patience with her kids than I ever had when mine were that age. It actually makes life a lot easier.

There is no such thing (to some folks) as a camping trip without S'Mores.

It turned out to be a great day - the family did what they wanted to do and Lady and I just vegetated. Perfect!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Thursday, July 12

Thursday, Jul. 12:
I left the CG and decided to drive over one of the Forest Service roads as a little shortcut. The distance is about the same, and the FS road is actually easier to drive on in most parts. I ran across a downed tree in the road – it was one of those pines that drop their limbs leaving little spiky prongs on the trunk. Imagine driving over that! I got out and found that fortunately it had broken in the middle so that I didn’t have to move a big trunk, but just two parts of it, and continued on my way. It almost looked like it was put there deliberately.

My second trip to Manzanita Lake proved to be about as fruitless as the first. Sheryl was in Mineral at the Park HQ attending a meeting. Is there anything in the world quite as useless and time wasting as a meeting? It’s the same no matter whether it’s big business, government at any level, or other. The only thing that can come out of a govt. meeting lately is another round of cuts.

It is really sad to see the cuts to the Park Service, and when I left Manzanita intending to stop at the Forest Service office I found that they are closed as well. It is a beautiful little wooden chalet type building, deck and railing all around, in a gorgeous setting of trees, walkways, interpretive signs, etc. How sad.

I realize the cuts across all governmental service levels are going to be hard to deal with. But the Park Service and Wildlife Refuges, and many others, feed our souls. A little “down time” can do wonders, and it’s best found out in the wilds and away from the cities. That’s my opinion anyway.

On my travels I stopped at the vista point where I had gotten cell phone reception previously and turned on the MiFi and computer. I got the signal and message “3G Ready”. I tried to load up the blog so I could transfer the updates I’ve written, but then lost the service. So I won’t waste the batteries any more and will just send in the updates when I get back home next week.

I DETEST this MiFi. The old one that I lost was about as perfect as I could ask for, so what do they do? Make it 4G, and then, how about adding a screen. Yes, everyone loves screens; then add a message feature. (My message icon shows that I have 2 messages. I read my messages in email! Not in Facebook and not on my MiFi screen, but in plain old, tried and true email! Then there are a number of other features identified by icons that look like Egyptian hieroglyphs, plus an option to press for “More” features. I’m sorry but I don’t want all that in my internet connection. I never did receive the replacement for the piece of junk I bought and I’m supposing it will be sitting in my mailbox in 110 degree weather. I’m taking it to Verizon and THEY can set it up for me. I’m not buying “It’s real easy, you just . . .”

(Note for Tue. July 17: I did battle with the Verizon store this morning and will write a special blog entry for it. I intend to see that it gets to the Verizon corporate offices, that is, if they dare to even publish their address.)

I don’t know where this diatribe came from as I am about as relaxed and mellow as I can get. The CG is relatively quiet (just waiting for the weekend), and the sound of the wind is incredible! Soft and caressing one minute, and like a rushing locomotive the next. The only problem is that during the daytime I have to chase the shade around, dragging my chair and the two coolers to find shade, and in the early morning and late afternoon/evening I’m dragging my chair around to find a little bit of warming sunlight. Lady is on a long enough tether she just moves herself around at will.

It's hard to believe how little I want to walk any more, after having been an active walking person most of my life. I've probably put on several miles in the past few days walking up the hill to the rest room and back, but I guess that doesn't count for much as far as walking goes.

These boots are made for walking:

I found out today that the ranger station has NO electric. Everything they have runs on propane. I guess I could deal with that very easily since I really can get along without TV and/or computer. Ann told me that she and Andy read a lot in their off time, when they aren't out hiking and visiting local sites. I’m really waffling about whether I want to do this type of volunteer work again, and I probably shouldn’t.

You probably notice from the picture of my tent that I didn't put on the rain fly. It isn't the rainy season here for one thing, and for another I want to see the night sky through the mesh roof. I wake up about 1:00 am and the sky is full of stars visible through my "port hole through the treetops". I got all exciting one night thinking I saw the constellation Aries. It sure looked like the outline of a ram's head complete with horns. When I got home and googled "Aries" however, it wasn't the same configuration of stars I saw, and in fact, I would never take any part of it for a ram.

The downside to being able to see the night sky is that the morning sky comes very early - the sky is lightening around 5 am. It's so cold though, and my sleeping bag is so warm & comfy, that I can usually go back to sleep.

My daughter and her family are supposed to arrive this evening, but it will probably be after dark. I've tried to clear the pine cones and sticks from a couple of fairly level spots, and they will just have to set up their tent in the dark. I've enjoyed the peace and quiet, but am now ready for a little action - probably there will be a bit more than I bargained for - but I will enjoy it.

Note from July 18: I just wanted to add that today is Donald's birthday, and we went to lunch at Benihana's (Japanese food). I really enjoyed it and brought enough home for my supper. Here is a picture of Jeannie, Donald & the girls, and that is Don's brother Michael next to him:

This is Donald's mom and me. She and I weigh exactly the same, around 116-118#, but I look chubby in most of my recent pictures. Don't know why, and I can't blame it on the camera.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wed., July 11, Continued

I took a ride over a couple of nat’l forest roads this morning, hoping to find Duck Lake and maybe let Lady take a swim. Dogs aren’t permitted in Butte Lake although some people let their pets go in the water. I don’t want to violate rules I’ve been expected to enforce and maybe will be required in the future. I took a couple of morning shots of Butte Lake, and then took the road less traveled.

The road less traveled:

We couldn’t find Duck Lake, or maybe we didn’t go far enough. The road went through some beautiful areas though, and the road itself was so much better than the main gravel road to Butte Lake. I then drove over to Butte Creek, where there is a NFS Campground. It is free but the only amenity is a pit toilet. The campground is absolutely stunning – well spaced and shaded sites, and you can hear the sound of the creek from everywhere. I will try to load some of the pictures. Lady drank from the creek but the water is going too fast and the creek too shallow for her to go into it much less than to swim. Here are the NFS free camping (approx. 10 sites), and the site I liked best which is alongside a creek.

Lady seems to be enjoying just lazing outdoors all day long, as I am. She isn’t eating though, and the wildlife keeps coming around for her food dish. Wildlife here consists of “a chip, chip here and a chip chip there, and a here chip there chip, everywhere chipmunk”. I remembered though that the chipmunks greatly resemble the golden striped ground squirrel (or some such name), and the way you can tell is by whether the stripe goes all the way up the back and between their eyes. Most of these are probably ground squirrels. The picture isn't all that great but you might see the squirrel/chipmunk in the center, and that's guard dog "Killer" in back, ever alert.

Speaking of wildlife, there is a big bear that has been spotted getting closer and closer every night. I believe he even rattled a bear box, and someone supposedly got his picture. I’m keeping everything in the bear box at night, except I’m sure I have cosmetics in my tent. I’m not afraid of black bears but definitely would be scared if one came into my tent.

This is what I consider a portal to other worlds. I lie back in this awful anti-gravity chair, look through the circle of the treetops and into the universe.

The anti gravity chair has no lumbar support at all. It is difficult to lock and unlock the position, and more often than not I find myself lying back in the dental-chair-position and not being able to unlock the damn thing so I can get out of the chair.

In my driving around yesterday I found a vista lookout where I was able to get cell phone reception, so I will try to turn on my MiFi tomorrow and see if I can transmit this blog entry. (Got the signal for a few minutes but then it crapped out!)

Lassen camping trip: Mon-Wed, Jul. 9-11

Monday, July 9:
I left home at 7:30 am and ran into heavy traffic, but once I cleared the downtown area the traffic was ok. I stopped at a rest area next to an olive grove, and each tree I saw had thousands of small green olives, but I’m not sure when they harvest them.

The road back into the campground is in as bad a condition as it ever was. I met two gentlemen who are traveling separately but who keep meeting up with each other in national parks, since they originally met in the canyons of Utah. One is Mike and the other is Michael, one is from Florida and the other is from Louisiana. I can’t remember which is which so I will refer to them as FL and LA. I really enjoyed talking with them, and wish they had stayed at Butte Lake a bit longer. LA had an accent that was pure liquid silk, and he showed me how he had converted a Toyota 4WD vehicle – it looked like a Jeep but I didn’t get the model name – into a camper to live in. As he says, when he’s camping he is outside except to sleep, and that is the way I go tent camping.

He looked at my Highlander and made some suggestions as to how I could convert it in a similar manner. That would really be great for me, because it would allow me to camp outside regular campgrounds, in the National Forests or on BLM land, or even in the state and city parks I hear people talking about. I could also stay overnight while traveling at a Flying J or Cracker Barrel, and not advertise the fact that I am a woman traveling alone. I will have to think about this and look into the possibilities, as well as to find some one or company to do the major work.

Tuesday, Jul. 10
I drove to Manzanita Lake this morning, and found Mike at the entry station. He is the employee who comes out to the boonies to pick up the “Iron rangers”, the metal boxes that folks are supposed to put their fees into. He will be out to Butte Lake on Sunday, and promised to tell Sheryl and the others “hello” for me. I’d like to talk to Sheryl in particular about a possible future camp host position here. I’m not saying I’d want it, but since they house the hosts in the ranger station it would solve the problem of my lack of RV. The only way I would do it would be to get completely away from here, ALL DAY LONG, on my 2 days off. I might still make a round of the CG in the early morning and in the evening, just to keep the paperwork straight.

I met the Butte Lake hosts this morning as they were making their rounds before taking their 2nd day off this week. They are Andy and Ann, and we have had some great conversations in the meantime about volunteering. Last year they worked at Theodore Roosevelt NP in North Dakota and said they would never go back there again. It is surrounded by oil fields and tankers can be heard driving by 24 hrs a day. Then, many workers do 2 wks on and 2 wks off, and want to stay in the CG on their off weeks, but have no idea about camping rules, etiquette, etc. They pay double the going rental rates for their work lodging and are displacing locals who can’t afford those rates.

Wed., Jul. 11:
I spoke to Andy this morning as he brought me a load of firewood he had chopped. He told me he and Ann might not return to Butte Lake next year and the job would be open. The downside is that I couldn’t keep a dog in the housing. I’m anxious to talk to Sheryl about a lot of things that have changed. Staff and services have been dramatically reduced because of budget cuts, and I doubt if I could get a ranger out here to save my life.

These are a few photos of my tent setup:
Lady's side:

My side:

Full view:

I took four cameras with me, so you will undoubtedly see many more pictures once I sort it all out. I wrote some notes for the blog in Word while at camp, but they need a lot of work. So watch for the next installment.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The heat goes on!

It gets worse by the day. I'm going to try to leave REALLY early in the morning so I can fool around and do some visiting before I go pick out a campsite. The sooner I get away from Sacramento the better I will like it. I think I need to figure out a different place to be next summer, like maybe camped at 7500' in elevation!

I stopped by Jeannie's today and got to get in on a Skype call to Ara. She sounds happy and busy, with a social life I can barely remember the likes of when I was her age. Those were the days, my friend!

I shopped for last minute items and topped off the fuel tank. I wasn't gone more than a couple of hours, but came back to a big accident on the living room floor. The poor dog - don't know if it's the heat or what. I'm not feeding her all that much during this heatwave, and I am making lots of water available. At least she didn't go on one of the throw rugs, which I would have expected her to do - anything to make more work for me. As it was I cleaned it up fairly quickly although I held my breath longer than an Olympic swimmer!

Jeannie was cleaning out their garage this morning and found my blue chaise lounge. I will retrieve it when I get back from Lassen, but I think I will still keep my anti-gravity chair.

This will be my last post for a week or so. I haven't decided whether or not to take my computer with me, as to get an internet connection is bound to be a hassle. I might do it so I can keep a journal in Word of events, if any are noteworthy.

Have a good week.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Looking back at old blog posts

Last night I read my old posts from the several months in 2009 when I worked as a camp host at Lassen NP. I really love that park and that campground, but I mostly worked 7 days a week because there was no one to cover for me if I left. In reading the entries I can see my mood and outlook going down over the time I was there, and partly that was because I didn't take my 2 days a week and go exploring. Even when I drove the 100 mile round trip to Susanville or Burney for supplies, I sandwiched the trips into my work day.

I met some very wonderful people, both co-workers and campers. I met some really crappy campers, and it is amazing when you think of how you act, speak, and treat others can have such an influence on how they feel. I always tried to be friendly and cheerful, and I think I did well at that, but those few cheating, lying, and thieving campers and their delinquent kids really had a negative effect on me.

It will be interesting to go back there now as a regular camper, and I hope I meet some of the really friendly and nice folks that I know will be there.

My son Steve came over today to fix a minor plumbing problem with the drain pipe, and then packed the camping gear in the back of my Highlander. Later I looked over my list and started crossing out the items that were already in the car and realized I had no idea where my Coleman stove or lantern were. I found the lantern in the house, and after about 5 searches in the shed I finally found the stove. There are still some things I need to pack, as well as last minute items to buy tomorrow.

I had planned to pack clothing for both warm and cool weather but a check of the temps at Butte Lake show that it is about the same as here in Sac - 90's during the day and 50's overnight. It's hard to believe that 6000 ft elevation wouldn't make more of a difference. I won't feel the need to be driving around all the time and doing things, and look forward to relaxing and trying to stay cool. I know Lady will be happier.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Car Wash; Food for Camping

I don't know what a lot of processed food will do to me because I certainly bought a lot of food that I haven't eaten in years, if ever. But for a week I think I can live on packaged and canned foods. They are things I can cook up in one pot, and hopefully I won't have to deal with leftovers. Remember the Underwood Deviled Ham in the little tin? Well I did look at the label and nearly choked on the percentage of fat, but I did buy the deviled chicken spread to go on Wheat Thins. For breakfast I will have Raisin Bran, and I nearly got to the checkout without passing the Pop Tarts!

On the way home I stopped at the Shell car wash. I had used some Bounce dryer sheets yesterday to attack some of the bugs that were getting a free ride, and got most of them off. The car was actually so dirty I could barely tell what was still there. I don't normally like automatic car washes. Back in New York, the Hess station where I usually bought gas had a car wash, and you could just have it added to your card when purchasing gas. The receipt came out with a code that you punched in at the wash station, and you got a fairly decent car wash.

This thing was different - you pay at the wash with a card or cash. There were 3 options, the most costly and the most stuff done to your car cost $9.99, so I put in a $10 bill. It kept telling me to push the selection key, but I couldn't get it to "select". I alternated between pushing the key and also the "push button for assistance" option, with no results. I then tried selecting the $7.99 deluxe wash and it worked, plus it sounded like I hit 3 cherries on a slot machine when the quarters in change came tumbling down.

I have to say that it isn't really a very good wash and I'm glad I didn't spend $9.99 for it, but it got rid of a lot of the road dust from Montana, Idaho & Oregon road construction. Now I need to vacuum and empty everything out so I can begin to pack for camping. A last minute run to the store on Sunday for milk, 1/2 & 1/2, ice and beer will complete the preparations, and all I have to do is leave on Monday and enjoy. You might hear me singing along with Willie - "On the Road Again".

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gotta quit spending money!

I have been looking for some type of anti-gravity chair, or even a plain old webbed lounge chair. This morning's trip was to Target, and they had nothing. I think all the stores get stock in the early season and when it's gone, it's gone. My last resort was to Costco, and I found the last anti-gravity chair.

Not content with just getting what I went in there for, I walked past the cameras and bought a new digital for a really low price. I think this model must be phasing out because they are priced low at online stores as well, but I don't mind getting other than the latest and greatest product as the newer & later it is the harder it is to figure out.

I got my Nikon Coolpix around 2007 or 2008, and have noticed that it is sluggish lately. I wanted a digital with a viewfinder, and found the Canon Powershot A1200. After great difficulty getting it out of the packaging, and anyone who shops at Costco will know what I mean, I opened the instruction book and proceeded with the first steps to getting it ready for picture-taking. I'd complain about the instruction book, but then I notice I complain about ALL instruction books so it is possible that it is me! I still wish they would skip some of the ridiculous icons, but this camera seems to have a mix of easy & almost impossible to figure out symbols. The viewfinder window is smaller than the windows on both my film cameras, but I guess I can get used to it though I would prefer it to be just a bit larger.

Here is my first attempt to take pictures with the camera. As anyone familiar with my blog knows, I love maps! I have always wanted some wall maps that I can look at and dream of near and far away places. I recently found a two-pack of laminated wall maps - one of the United States and the other of the World. They are hanging on the wall in my spare room.

At this time of day it is nearly impossible to get a good photo in that room because of the light coming in the window, and the fact that the maps are laminated makes them almost too shiny to photograph well. But hey, it's my first effort with a new and complicated piece of equipment. I haven't been able to figure out how to get the wrist strap attaches to the camera, and the pictures + words of instruction leave me totally in the dark! I've never had a problem attaching a wrist strap to all the cameras I've owned in my life, so why do they make this one so difficult?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

New blog

No, not mine, but "Little Gypsy's On the Road Again". I wish my granddaughter well in keeping a record of her journeys, and I know she will soon surpass me.

My sister Amy held a pool party & cook-out at her house today. I didn't go in the pool, and neither did Lady although I wondered if she would try.

My digital camera was giving me trouble so I took most of the pictures with a film camera. I'll post them when I finish the roll and get the photos developed.

I'm cutting this post short because I'm tired and my house was still pretty hot when I got home. Later -