Tag Archives: snow

Car Wash

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Our property is reached by traveling on two dirt roads. The main road is maintained by the county on some schedule I can’t figure out. The heavy equipment comes when it comes. The secondary dirt road is maintained by no one but us, and we have no equipment for maintenance. When we first arrived, we rented a skid steer (aka a Bobcat), and The Man improved the secondary road so we could get our trailer to our land. The improvement didn’t last very long.

The weather forecast for the second week of May called for about five days of precipitation. On at least one of those days, there was a chance that the precipitation would be snow.

Snow? I asked incredulously. Temperatures weren’t supposed to dip below freezing at night, much less during the day. I didn’t think it would possibly be cold enough for snow. I should have remembered what I told visitors during my time as a camp host in California: It’s the mountains. Anything can happen.

We woke up around six in the morning, as we usually did. Before we got out of bed, The Man asked, What’s that sound?

I told him it was probably the rain that had been in the forecast.

Snow covers sage and rocks
The mountains are hidden and snow covers the ground.

He said it didn’t sound like rain to him, but I said it sounded like rain to me. He got out of bed, walking into the living room, and looked out of the big window facing east. He reported the presence of snow.

No way! I answered. This was not the first time in our lives together that The Man reported snow and I’ve doubted him. Sometimes jokesters are not to be believed, but sometimes they tell truths that seem impossible.

On this occasion there certainly was snow, five or six inches on the ground and covering all the sage. The mountains were shrouded in clouds or mist or fog, some weather phenomenon I’m not sure how to name. Our mountains were entirely hidden from view. The sky was gray all around, and fat, wet snowflakes continued to fall.

Snow and rain fell most of the morning and into the afternoon, turning our cleared land into a mud bowl.

The Man had done a soil analysis soon after we moved the trailer onto the land. He took a sample of our dirt and put it in a jar of water. The way the soil separated was supposed to tell us about the makeup of our dirt. He got practically no separation; all but the tiniest amount of soil settled to the bottom of the jar. He told me that meant our soil was mostly pure clay.

Once the clay surrounding our trailer got good and wet, it turned into a sticky mess. When we walked out into the mud, it sucked and pulled at our shoes. The mud clung to our shoes in clumps that were difficult to knock off before we went into the trailer. We stayed inside as much as possible, but Jerico the dog had to go outside several times that day. When we let him back in mud and pebbles stuck between his toes, and we had to wipe his feet before he jumped onto the couch or bed.

By late afternoon, there was a break in the precipitation, and we had to hurry to town to get water (we were practically out) and pick up some food staples we were low on.  We wondered if we’d be able to navigate the muddy road.

The Man drove. He has more years of driving under his seatbelt and more experience driving on ice, to which he compared driving through the sticky mud. He barely got the truck moving through the mud in order to shift into four wheel drive, but he managed to do it. The truck left huge ruts in its wake.

Large ruts in muddy road surrounded by sage brush.
The road in front of our property became a rutted mess after the neighbors drove on it. We did our share to add to the mess.

The road in front of our property was a giant, muddy slip-n-slide. Even under The Man’s experienced steering, the truck slid all over the road.  At times we moved down the road at an angle instead of straight ahead. Mud flew through the air and splattered the windshield and sides of the truck.

The farther we got from our property, the better the road was, but by “better,” I really mean “less terrible.” The road was bad. Amy city person would have told you so.

Tire and fender covered in mud. Large rut filled with water in the background.
Out lovely, muddy truck parked on our lovely, muddy land.

We made it off the dirt road (more aptly described as a mud road at that time) and into town. When we stopped at the gas station, I was astonished to see the truck was covered in mud. The tires, the windshield, the sides, the undercarriage, the windows were all thickly splashed with already drying, cracking clay. It looked like we’d been out muddin‘.

We cleaned the windshield as best as we could, but agreed there was no sense going to the car wash, as we’d only go back through mud on the way home. The truck was sure to get covered with mud again as soon as we left the pavement.

After a few days the sky ceased dumping rain and snow on us, and the mud dried into hard, cracked clay. We decided we’d wash the truck first thing when we went to town.

Our first stop was a self-service car wash, the kind where you wash your car with water that shoots out of a long wand. We took our water jugs out of the truck’s bed, and The Man fed three dollar bills into the machine. The water shot out of the wand and knocked off the large chunks of dried mud but left a red dirt film on the surface of the truck. The Man thought we’d already spent enough money at that place and decided we needed to go elsewhere to use an automatic car wash.

We found one across town, and using it was a fiasco from the beginning. We weren’t sure how to make the card reader at the entrance work. I put my debit card in the reader, and some words appeared on the machine’s screen, but I was never given an access code. I walked over the adjacent gas station/convenience store, and after standing in line, told the worker what had happened. She assured me that if the machine hadn’t given me an access code, no money had been taken from my account. She then told me I could pay for a wash right there at her register. She rattled off four car wash choices priced at $6, $8, $10, and $12.

I can’t say I have much car wash experience. In the almost five years I had my van, I washed it exactly once, at one of those self-serve places after my boss gave me a $10 token to use there. I remember going through automatic car washes a time or two years ago, but I’d never paid for one before. I didn’t know what to pick, but since I’m cheap and $6 seemed like an extravagance for some soap and water, I went with the basic wash.

When I returned to the car wash, the doors were already open. I punched in the code I’d just bought, and The Man drove the truck in while I stayed with the water jugs. The wash didn’t last very long. When I walked over to where he’d parked, I found The Man fuming. The red dirt film still clung to the exterior of the truck, and clumps of mud still stuck to the undercarriage.

That didn’t do anything! The Man sputtered. I’m getting our money back!

He drove the truck over to the gas station/convenience store and parked in front. I followed him into the store. When it was his turn at the counter, The Man expressed his dissatisfaction to the clerk. She called the manager from the back room.

What both women told us boiled down to this: The $6 wash was only a basic wash and didn’t do much to remove dirt. Everyone in town already knew this.  If we wanted the truck to come clean, we were going to have to spend more money.

Both ladies were very polite and friendly. The manager said if we weren’t satisfied, she would gladly refund our money, which she did. However, she made it clear we couldn’t expect much from the $6 option.

We gave up on washing the truck that day. A couple days later we were back in town, and we went to a different  automatic car wash.

Don’t get the cheapest one, The Man warned me before I want inside to pay. I bought the $10 wash this time.

Floral print books in mud below bright orange skirt.
My boots in the mud as it was beginning to dry.

Again, I waited outside while The Man drove the truck into the washing area. It was in there a lot longer this time, and it looked a lot better when it came out. There was still a slight film of red clay clinging to the sides. We used toilet paper and rags to wipe off the film. I suppose that clay isn’t coming off without a little elbow grease. 

I took the photos in this post.

A Guide to Winter Camping : Stay Warm, Have Fun (Guest Post)

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A travel trailer sits in the snow near a leafless tree. A lake is in the background. The sky is blue with grey clouds up high and puffy white clouds down low.

It’s February–the height (or some would say the low) of winter in the northern hemisphere. If you’re longing to camp, but you’re worried you’ll be miserable out in the cold and the snow, read this guide!. You don’t have to wait until the warmth of spring melts the snow to stay overnight in the great outdoors. Just use some of the following tips from Danny Smith, CEO and Founder of Xtend Outdoors, to stay warm and have fun while winter camping.

You might wonder why anyone would want to camp in the winter. Some folks like winter camping because camping areas are too crowded in the summer. Some campers want to feel the serenity of a perfect winter wonderland. The season of ice and snow is certainly visually amazing with stunning landscapes, such as ice-covered rivers and lakes. Some people really do love winter camping.

If you love to chill in the hills, be it cold weather hiking, playing in snow, or admiring the beauty of the snowflakes, camping in winter is worth a try.

Cold weather camping is an adrenaline-charged experience if you enjoy the thrill of extreme cold and lots of snow. However, if you are not prepared, winter camping can be end up being less than fun. Cold weather camping is challenging. To set yourself up for a successful winter campout, you’ll have to have knowledge of seasonal changes. You’ll also have to get some winter equipment to survive in cold temperatures. If you’re a beginner winter camper, then choose a location that’s easy to get to and plan a trip of only a few days.

Follow these winter camping tips and tricks to make your winter camping adventure a success whether this is your first cold weather trip or your fiftieth!

Essential winter camping equipment

How do you avoid being cold? You’ll need to do some preparation before you go camping in the winter. Having the perfect winter camping clothes and equipment can reduce the hassle that cold temperatures bring. The level of planning will be one of the critical factors in the success of your adventure.

You have to think sensibly about the weather condition you will be in. Buy the camping gear that suits you properly.   Read up on selecting the right gear for you.  Don’t rush in and buy something without knowledge, or you may end up with equipment that won’t suit you and your camping style. 

I suggest you have the following equipment before you go off on your winter camping adventure.

1) Bivy Sack or Tent  Having a waterproof bivy sack can guarantee you a warm, good night’s sleep. If you’re hiking to your camping spot, it’s much more comfortable and lighter to carry compared to cold weather tents. But if you’re a bit claustrophobic, then a winter tent is probably more suitable. You can also bring a tarp for additional shelter or cover.

2) Boots  A sturdy pair of boots will work as a shield in freezing weather condition. Moreover, it will protect your feet from the serious threat of frostbite. Protecthing your toes should be a high priority while camping in winter.

3)  Communication Device  When you are in hills, your cell phone network may be limited or possibly nonexistent. One of the best ways to communicate with others in your group is by using a two-way radio. Using  a satellite phone with GPS features would also be quite helpful if you already have this device or can afford to buy one.

4)  Navigation System and Paper Maps How will find your route when your batteries run out? It will be best to have a compass and a paper map in your hand to help you navigate in the wilderness.

5) Sleeping Bags Having a good and reliable sleeping bag will keep you warm and protected while you sleep. Choose a sleeping bag that is water-resistant and offers exceptional insulation.

In addition to equipment you would take on any camping trip (sanitation supplies, food and cooking supplies), other pieces of critical cold weather camping gear you need are  wool pants, fire starters, ski mask, insulated water bottles, warm jacket or coat, and socks made for winter wear.

Winters Camping Hacks

Make a Hot Water Bottle. Sleeping when you’re cold is not easy. Before getting into your cozy sleeping bag, warm it with a hot water bottle. Heat snow to the boiling point. Fill your bottle with the boiling snow water. Wrap the bottle in wool clothes, then zip it into your sleeping bag for fifteen minutes. The hot bottle will warm up your sleeping bag and ensure you don’t start the night shivering.

Fire is your friend. Fire is going to be your best friend. After spending the whole day playing in snow, make sure to bring enough of wood, paper, matches, and fire starter to get a good fire going so you can warm yourself.  It is better if you bring wood unless you’re sure you can find some near your camping spot. You don’t want to get out to the wilderness and find you can’t get a fire going.

Use Portable Power Packs.All electronic products drain the battery at a faster pace in the cold, so be prepared. Have a power bank or use lithium batteries. They perform effectively and will last three times as long as your regular ones.

Plan your Meals. Cooking at camp is simple and delicious. New campers sometimes fail to think about meal planning. Be a smart camper, plan your meals.To survive and to maintain the energy level of your body, you need to eat the right amount of calories, proteins, and carbs. Avoid buying munchies. Two days before departure, buy food from the grocery store so it will be fresh when you get to your destination.

Essential Extras

Candles As long as you put it in a safe place, a single candle will warm your tent and cut back on condensation.

Vaseline & creamRubbing it all over the body will help you avoid frostbite and windburn.

  
Wherever you’re going this winter, make sure to leave directions with a friend so that other people know exactly where to find you if you don’t get home when expected. Winter camp activities come with particular challenges, but if you’re well prepared it is no more dangerous, and certainly no less fun, than sleeping under the stars in the summer.

About Author:           

Danny Smith is CEO and Founder of Xtend Outdoors Australia which manufactures and sells caravan annexes, awnings and accessories. He just loves caravan holidays and frequently blogs about caravanning trips, parks and tips.

Please remember that neither Danny Smith nor Blaize Sun is responsible for your health or safety if you go winter camping. Only you are responsible for your health and safety. Please educate yourself about the danger and challenges of winter camping before you go. Use this article as a starting point for your research.

Photo provided by the author.

Welcome Back! (An Update on My Current Situation)

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I hadn’t beein in the forest three minutes, and already a tourist was asking me a question.

The Man and I had been boondocking on public land just outside a mountain town, waiting around until we were

This was the view the last time I dealt with snow in May.

closer to the day we had to report for training for our summer jobs. We could make the trip from where we were to where we needed to be in two days. We were more than a week away from when we planned to leave when I checked the weather forecast and saw we were facing a cold snap. The report said the high on Wednesday was predicted to be 44 degrees with a 70% chance or rain or snow. Snow! In May? Snow in May is not unheard of in the higher elevations.

I could wait out a day of cold at the library or a coffee shop, and The Man and the dog and I could cuddle down for a night in the mid 20s, but I was concerned about what rain and snow would do to the road that brought us into and out of our camping spot. It was a red dirt road, already rutted and rocky. I was afraid a day of rain or a melted blanket of snow would turn it into a mudyy, mushy, soupy mess. I didn’t want to get stuck in the mud, and I didn’t want to get stuck on our campsite because I was avoiding the road. The Man and I decided we’d leave on Tuesday, before the weather turned bad.

We were up Tuesday morning early. We cooked and ate breakfast, packed up our kitchen and the last few items we had lying around. Our last two errands in town were to dump our trash and hit up the food bank. We were on the road by 9:30.

We drove through rain, but made it to our stopping point just fine. We hadn’t been there long when my phone rang with a number I didn’t recognize. When I answered, I found The Big Boss Man on the other end of the line.

He had a favor to ask, he said. Maybe we could help him. The crew was coming to the main campground on our side of the mountain in the next few days to put up the yurts. Once the yurts were up, he’d need someone to babysit them, especially at night. Did we think we could get up the mountain before the training?

That might work, I said and told him we were already more than halfway there. We could be there in the next couple of days, I let him know.

I asked him if he actually had work for us so we could start earning money and he said we could rake and paint and clean firepits, and do whatever needed to be done to get the campgrounds ready to open. He could certainly keep us busy and pay us for our work.

When I got off the phone, I talked to The Man about the situation. We agreed we were ready to get up the mountain and get to work so we could start making money.

We drove the next day and made it up the mountain. Before we’d left cell phone service behind, I’d called The Big Boss Man and left a message letting him know we were on our way. I knew once we got on the mountain, we’d have no cell service and wouldn’t be able to call anyone.

I decided to go to the main campground first to see if the boss was there supervising yurt construction. I found myself driving behind a medium-sized rented motorhome. It passed the trail’s parking lot and pulled into the lower part of the long, wide driveway of the campground next door. I pulled my van into the campground’s driveway too, and The Man followed me with his van. The gate was closed and appeared locked. I jumped out of my van to determine if the padlock was actually locked or only dummy locked. It was actually locked; no one was working in that campground.

I walked over to The Man’s minivan to let him know the gate was locked. We decided to go to the campground where we would be living for the summer and wait for the Big Boss Man to come to us. The Man zipped around the motorhome and was out of there fast. I was climbing back into my van when I saw a woman emerge from the passenger side of the motorhome. She walked over to my van, a yellow sheet of paper in her hand. Oh no! Here we go! I thought as she approached me. Then I realized if I let myself be annoyed in my first three minutes back, it was going to be a long season.

I opened my door (because my window doesn’t roll down) and said, Yes?

She pointed to the map on her yellow sheet of paper. We are here? Her accent was definitely not American. She was looking for the trail.

I pointed back the way we’d come. The parking lot for the trail is about 200 yards that way.

The tourist season had officially begun for me.

I took the photo in this post.

Snow in the Night

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I’d spent the afternoon in the small town library, while The Man sat in the van carving. The sky had been overcast when we’d left our friend’s land in Northern New Mexico, and both the weather forecast and word on the street called for snow in the mountains and rain everywhere else in the area.

I did see rain through the big north-facing windows opposite the table where I sat with my laptop. It came down in sheets. It was blown diagonally by the wind. The first time it came down that afternoon, it chased black cows and their adorably tiny black calves out of my view. I hoped the bovines had a dry barn to go home to.

Fifteen minutes before closing time, as I was checking out some videos and paying for a printout, The Man opened the library’s door and looked at me with wild-eyed concern. We need to go! he said.

Sleet was falling, and he must have thought it was going to last, not understanding the quick variability of Northern New Mexico weather.

(People in nearly every place I’ve ever visited like to joke about their town: Don’t like the weather? Wait fifteen minutes! However, Northern New Mexico is the only place I’ve been where the weather can change drastically–sun to clouds to wind to lightning to rain to hail to rainbow–in literally fifteen minutes.)

I told The Man I’d meet him as soon as I collected my things, and sure enough, by the time I got outside, sleet was no longer falling. Slush covered the door and window on the west side of the van, and the ground was wet, but there was no accumulation. The sleet hadn’t caused any big problems.

There was a bit of drizzle and brief periods of heavier rain on the way back to our friend’s place, but when we turned west, we saw the mountain in front of us bathed in beautiful late afternoon sunlight. The sky above the mountain was filled with puffy, white curlicue clouds. I half expected to see the hand of God reach from the heavens and touch the earth.

We thought maybe the storm had passed over the valley where we were staying, although The Man and I were hit with small ice pellets (snow? hail?) while we cooked dinner outside. The surrounding mountains were hidden by low-lying clouds at eight o’clock when The Man and I headed to the van after an hour of television with our friend. All was quiet when we crawled under the covers and went to sleep.

The Man woke at first light and looked out one of the van’s windows. It’s a winter wonderland out there! he exclaimed.

There was about an inch of snow on the ground, and a dusting on all the things scattered about on our friend’s property. I went out in pants over my Cuddl Duds and a sweatshirt over a t-shirt and was plenty warm. I walked around and took photos of the snow before the sunshine melted it all away.

I took all of the photos in this post.

 

 

 

Snow Angels

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My siblings and I grew up in the Deep South. We didn’t see much snow.

I’ve seen photos of myself when I was about two years old, wearing a little plaid coat with the hood up, standing in the snow. I don’t remember the snow, but I do remember the photos, which is sort of like remembering the snow.

christmas, cold, friendsWhen I was 18, it snowed again. I had tonsillitis and was too sick to go out and play, but my sibling made a (small) snowman. It was no more than two feet tall, and it stayed in the family’s chest freezer until our mom got frustrated with shifting it around every time she wanted to extract a package of ground beef.

In any case, snow? Not so much.

However, one of the favorite games of the kids in my family was snow. We would scoop up handfuls of pretend snow and pack pretend snowballs. We’d throw those pretend snowballs at each other. This game took place exclusively indoors, in the family home, a circa 1974 mobile home.

After we grew tired of tossing imaginary snowballs at each other, we’d lie down on the golden-brown shag carpet in the living room and make snow angels. I don’t remember how we even knew about snow angels. One of us must have read about them, or maybe we saw them on TV. (Is there a snow angel scene in the Charlie Brown Christmas special?) We’d lie on our backs and rub our little arms and legs back and forth through the shag carpeting. (It’s a wonder we never got rug burns.) When we stood up and looked back, we could almost see the outlines of angels in the carpet.

After we were both grown-up, my sibling (of tiny snow person fame) moved to the Midwest. The first time I visited her, I got lucky and the town got snow. After some snowball throwing, we got down to business and lay on our backs on the ground to make snow angels.

It was one of my few adult experiences actually as fun as I imagined it would be when I was a kid. But I did learn that shag carpeting is a lot warmer and drier than snow.

Apparently my siblings and I were not the only people who had the idea of making snow angels in shag carpet. In a book called Schooled by Anisha Lakhani, a couple of young women do the same thing.

Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/christmas-cold-friends-frosty-269370/.