WELCOME TO SPOTTED DOG RANCH, WHERE ROLLING STONES KEEP ROLLING. THANKS FOR VISITING!

With the smoke and the fire and the stars at night

Up again in the morning bright

With nothing but road and sky in sight

And nothing to do but go...

—old hobo poem

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I think I need a therapist...or a big Class A motorhome

Well, I sold my Chalet trailer. I posted it, then took down the post after a couple of days, having changed my mind, but a nice couple saw it while it was up and came out and spent the night in it and really wanted it, so I sold it. I had camped in it for about a month and really enjoyed it.

Blaze Foley wrote a song called "Clay Pigeons," which has a line that goes: "I'm tired of running around looking for answers to questions that I already know." I like this, as it kind of describes my life with trailers. (I like the following rendition of Blaze's song.)


I think the main problem I have here is simply that I may need a therapist. When I don't have a trailer, I want one, but when I have one, I don't want it anymore. There's probably a name for this condition, and it may not be curable. Actually, what I want is a Sportsmobile or Tiger, but I can't afford one.


In the meantime, I'm trying out a new hobby: buying leather recliners for my new base camp. I'm still in Colorado, and I've found two very nice ones so far, both for around $100 each and in perfect condition. One's a Lane and the other's a Barcalounger. This means I may need a bigger tent if the house sells and I have to move.


Colorado's Roaring Fork Valley is a great place to find nice furniture, as the kind people in Aspen upgrade often and donate their used stuff to Habitat for Humanity. Economists call this the "trickle down effect."


I've also found some nice used Persian-style rugs for $10 each. It's really not like me to want to buy stuff, so I'm thinking the economy's ready to crash or something and I'm sensing a need to get stuff while I can, kind of like some animals can sense earthquakes before they happen.

In the meantime, my cousin in Phoenix called and is moving back to Alaska and wants me to travel up there with him in a month or so. He already has a condo there, so I would have a place to stay for awhile if I go.

So far, I've had the base camp in Green River rented for almost a month and have spent three nights there. I'm kind of hoping at this point that it will sell, as then I wouldn't have to move the new recliners, and I could just resell them and buy another trailer. Or maybe I need a big Class A motorhome that would hold a couple of nice recliners. We'll see how things turn out...

Spanky having an adventurous swim in the Uncompahgre River near Ouray.

Friday, May 6, 2016

I said I would never buy another trailer, and now I have two...


Living in the middle of nowhere is great until you need supplies, then you either do without or trek to the nearest bigger town. For me, that would be Moab (see previous post for reasons not to go there) or Price, which is nice but means risking one's life on a stretch of Highway 191 that's considered the most dangerous in the state.

Since I'm still in Colorado (due to free pizza and a lack of momentum that's probably caused by the free pizza), I occasionally check the internet for local goings-on, and I happened to come across this little fiberglass cargo trailer for sale up the road in Carbondale. 


It weighs all of 250 pounds, will hold 700 pounds, and is easy to push around. Perfect for stocking up on supplies for those who live in the boonies, which means fewer trips to town! And it has good clearance, so one can take it on backroads.


I'd seen these little Aero trailers before, and they're pricey—this model starts at $3,000. They're made here in Colorado, but it's very rare to see a used one for sale (I've only seen one other).

So I of course had to get it. For $600 (that's less than a dollar a pound of cargo space), I felt it was a good deal. I mean, one can spend that much on lattes in a few months if they're not careful, right?

I'm amazed at how easy it is to hook up and also by how much junk it will hold. A run to Target and I'm all set for paper supplies for the next year, and the little trailer still has tons of room! So, it was then on to the Habitat Restore where I bought some rugs and various household items. Before I realized what I was doing, I'd spent more than the trailer cost, and it still wasn't full! 

I suddenly had this strange compulsion to fill it. I wandered around WalMart for awhile (a store I rarely frequent) and didn't find much I wanted, so it was then on to a couple of thrift shops and even a J.C. Penny's, which I hadn't been in for several decades. 

I finally got a grip on myself, but only after beginning to understand that strange rush of adrenaline that shoppers get when "scoring a deal." Anthropologists say it comes from our old hunter-gatherer heritage when we had to go shopping in the flora and fauna mall for our dinner.



Even though it's still not quite full, I can always cut some nose-holes in the side and adopt some more dogs—or maybe cats, as I could fit even more cats than dogs in it.

I'm looking forward to a nice trip somewhere soon so I can cram all my camping gear and water in there and have the entire back of the car for a nice memory-foam mattress. And I might just sell the other bigger trailer, now that I have this simpler and easier-to-manage little Aero. (I know there are bets out on this.)

It's funny how little things can change big things, like how you see the world.


Moonrise over the La Sals

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Moab Meltdown

My new home, one of the area's original farm houses. It has a really peaceful feel and plenty of room.

I've been visiting various old haunts around Moab, almost as if I'm leaving and won't be back. In a way, I guess I'm saying goodbye, even though I know I'll return, but the area has been overrun with machines and is becoming less and less of the kind of place where I want to be. 

I don't mind sharing, but the constant noise of the ATV crowd has finally driven me (and a number of others) away. What used to be a paradise for those who enjoy solitude is now ruined. It's been going on for years but has now reached critical mass (I call it the Moab meltdown). A number of friends I ran into are also getting ready to leave, and some have been there forever. The town has been heavily impacted and one can see signs all over that say, "Throttle down while in town."

A friend who works at the Sand Flats Recreation Area told me that the Jeep/ATV trail, Fins 'N Things, no longer has any dirt on it as it's been worn down to bedrock. A newer event called Rally on the Rocks is expected to bring over 2,000 UTVs in early May. I'm seeing the damage everywhere I go, and the BLM is understaffed to patrol and control this kind of activity. 

This same friend actually sold his house in town and moved out in the valley to get away from the ATV noise. New construction is also changing the character of the town, homogenizing it and making it look like other resort towns instead of the funky Moab so many of us loved. And housing is expensive and hard to find, whether renting or buying.

According to the Moab Travel Council, the area has seen an increase in tourism of 18% over the past year. The town is having a meltdown and nobody knows what to do about it, so they just keep advertising it, but now they're trying to inform people of places nearby to visit and thereby lower the impact around the actual town, though it's too late. 

The ATV/UTV way has always seemed like a rather selfish way to do things since you have such an impact on others and the land. It seems as if the ATV crowd is more about thrills and challenges than actually getting to know the country and its inhabitants, flora and fauna. 


My back yard - almost two acres of privacy, surrounded by fields. Taken at sunrise, so is a little dark.


And so, I'm getting off the road for awhile and will retreat to a place where there's still solitude to be found, though for how long I don't know, as the Moab overflow is also now affecting Green River. The RV and state parks are full every night, and I'm seeing more and more traffic in this little town with no stop lights.

I'm currently in Colorado, where I'm getting ready to move the little bit of stuff I have, as well as my cats, who will love the new place, even though they won't be allowed outside, except on the screened-in porch, as they're serial killers. The many squirrels there will keep them entertained, as well as the buzzards who are roosting in the big elm trees on their spring migration.

We'll see how it goes. I won't have the internet, which is good, as I'll be finishing up a couple of books I've been working on. I also plan to explore a lot of the country there that I haven't seen, even though I've spent a lot of time in that area.

And if that doesn't work out, I may just head north, as the Yukon is calling me and it's too far away to ever see the kind of tourism Utah's now getting—hopefully, though I read that Whitehorse is becoming the new in place. 

In any case, here's to peace and quiet.

Sunrise over the La Sals

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Heading Out

Looking through my photos, I can tell things have been slow lately—there's nothing much but pictures of snow. It's been a long hard winter, and I'm finally ready to head out. 


Canaigre, also called wild rhubarb
It's still cold here in Western Colorado and was snowing just a few days ago, but then, it's just barely April. I can see a hint of green in some of the early-blooming trees, like the globe willows, and it makes me want to hit the road, as it reminds me that it will soon be wildflower season in the desert.


Spanky and Cassie. Spanky was born in the desert and will be going along with us for lots of fun.

The dogs are anxious, too—there's only so much adventure to be had in chasing squirrels in the back yard or barking at the raccoons in the night. It's time to hit the desert and burn off some pent-up energy. Revvie is especially anxious, as he's heard lots of stories about raven chasing (link goes to a video) from Cassie and Weezee and wants to see if it really is all it's cracked up to be.


Desert sweetpea

The trailer is all spiffed up with new curtains and a new paint job on the hitch, plus two new memory foam mattresses for me and the dogs, as well as lots of good books about dinosaurs and geology on my Kindle—and I didn't forget the good coffee and yummy dog biscuits.



We'll head west towards Green River and Price country, then take it from there. The base camp rental isn't available until May, so we'll camp until then, maybe even longer. Alaska and Canada are calling our names again, but who knows if we'll make it this year or not.

And even though we're all anxious to head out, there's always a poignancy that goes with it, a sense that another season in our lives is over. And who knows how many springs we have left—we have no choice but to go, to see new things—the big comfy recliner will always be here (unless we decide to take it to the new base camp in Green River, then it will be there). 

So, maybe we'll see you way out there howling with the coyotes in the Back of Beyond—or if not, maybe at the Quesadilla Wagon in Moab.

Friday, April 1, 2016

A New Base Camp

Here's a fuzzy photo of my new base camp in a little desert town in Utah, which I'll be renting for a few months starting in May when I'm not out camping. 

If anyone's interested, it's on the market for $189,000 and has 1.5 acres, but be aware there are no nearby amenities to speak of, just a gazillion square miles of wilderness.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Doing What I Swore I Would Never Do Again...

When I sold my most recent trailer, I swore I would never buy another one. I even made a list of the reasons I would never have another trailer, which mostly included hitching and not being able to go everywhere I wanted. When hitch-itch would raise its ugly head, I would read the list and renew my vows.

But my last bout of car camping didn't go so well—I was stiff and sore and found trying to crawl in and out of the back along with trying to stay warm with no heater was just too hard...apparently harder than pulling a trailer, because I now have a new rig:


It's a 2010 Chalet with the Trail Boss package, which means a lifted axle. It's very cozy inside with lots of room and big windows. I've been working on getting Reflectix cut for the windows, new curtains, repainting the hitch, and a few other projects, and will soon be back on the road, I hope. The beauty of these hardside popups is that they're easy to pull, lightweight (1500#), and don't affect your gas mileage more than a couple of miles per gallon. And miracles of miracles—I can actually back this one up!


I'll keep saving for a pickup with a camper, my ultimate rig, but in the meantime, no more car camping. Nobody's actually told me this, but I suspect that my friends have a wager as to how long I keep this one...

The road to Sunlight Peak above Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Friday, March 11, 2016

Hanging out at Swasey's Rapid Waiting for Spring

Capitol Peak as seen over the flanks of Mt. Sopris, taken from my window near Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Cabin fever hits hard as the snows start to melt in the high country. I've decided this past winter was too much and will be my last in Colorado, even though El Nino made it worse than usual. We got 7 feet of snow in town and 4 is the norm.

This little guy spends his nights on the old dog bed on the back porch, gnawing on dog biscuits.

So, I load up the dog pack and head west to Green River country—land of melons, dino bone, endless hiking, and big horizons.

The town's watermelon float.
This statue of John Wesley Powell reminds us of what a person can do even with a major handicap. Powell had only one arm and yet climbed canyon walls and ran the rivers and had numerous adventures all while doing scientific research and giving everything artistic names like Flaming Gorge.

Dino bone country—Brushy Basin member of the Morrison Formation.

I end up in one of my favorite places, Buckmaster Draw off the Hanksville Exit. Nary a soul anywhere, except the antelope and ravens.

Revvie and Weezee hanging out.

An ATV goes by—I wave and they wave back. Later, over dinner at Ray's, I find out it was the waitress.

Revvie (Raven) is well named, as he revs around, though not while tied. He's a very good boy and loves to tease Cassie and Weezee. He's added a new interesting element to their sometimes boring lives. I think he's an Australian Kelpie from the way he looks, plus from his behavior (sitting on tables and biting the other dogs on the rear). Kelpies will actually walk across the backs of herds of sheep to get to the other side (there has to be a joke there somewhere).


Cliffs near Swasey's Rapid


 My brother joins me. I had originally intended to go to Death Valley to see the superbloom, but I got caught in the Green River Vortex. We head down the Green River to Swasey's Rapid. There's nobody there, but that will change as soon as the river rats start running.


The big old cottonwoods still think it's winter and haven't budded out yet.


A fuzzy late evening photo of everyone enjoying the sunset. You can see my sleeping bag on my chair beyond him. Even though we each had a Little Buddy, we still had to wrap up to stay warm in order to sit out under the stars.
 After one night, we decide it's too cold. Even though my brother has his pickup camper, the heater's not working, and my car seems overly crowded as Revvie tries to sleep under or on top of me, even though he has his own bag.

We bail and get rooms in Motel 6. Cheap, but quiet, as the tourists are smarter than us and know it's too cold to be out touristing. That will all change in a week or so.

After a few days of wandering around the backcountry, my brother heads home and I go down to Moab to get my mail and see a friend. I'm soon back in Colorado, but with plans to head back to the desert, maybe semi-permanantly.


An antelope checks us out. She hung around for an hour or more and got very close. The dogs know to not chase, but they sure can watch.
Sunset over the Reef


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A New Ranch Hand

Quest with his buddies at the Wanatchee Valley Humane Society
Spotted Dog Ranch has just added a new ranch hand, a little Heeler mix from Utah via Washington and now back to Colorado. 

Friends who live not far from the Humane Society out in Wanatchee told us about this little dog who'd been found somewhere on the blue highway between Salt Lake and St. George. He was picked up by a kind woman and taken to the shelter near her home in Wanatchee, where he was treated for an infection and given lots of TLC. The white stripe around his muzzle is scar hair from being bound by something. He also has a couple of scars on his arm and side.

At this point, the little bad doggie had been in the shelter for several months and had few adoption prospects because he was a lunatic, bouncing off the walls and barking at everyone who walked in to see the dogs. He was also tagged as being bad with cats.

Bad with cats? Rowdy the ranch cat said, "Send 'em out, we'll teach 'em bad."

Before long, the dog the shelter called "Quest" and who we now call "the Dog Formerly Known as Quest" and who the cats call "Pest" was on a transport for Colorado. He arrived late in the evening and immediately signed himself up for the impossible job of herding cats, riding point, no less.

We haven't yet come up with a suitable name, but we're sure we'll find something that will stick before long. Until then, he has his work cut out for him, especially since the cats are on to him. He may look intense, but he's a big softie and is fitting in quite well with the rest of the lunatics.

The Wanatchee Valley Humane Society is one of the best, and if you want to donate to a good cause, they're definitely one.

And a special thanks to my friends in Washington.

Update: Quest is now Raven.
Rowdy fills the new hand in with how things will be done from now on, as the Dog Formerly Known as Quest listens carefully...



Sunday, January 17, 2016

Life in the Stopped Lane

Seems like the third or fourth big snow so far this year...

Sometimes, if you can't head south, it's better to just make a big pot of hot chili and stay indoors. This is for all you in the warmlands so you know what you're missing...

If I still skied, I'd call this a powder day and be happy. Instead, I'll shovel snow—or maybe I'll just eat chili and wait for it to melt. Glenwood Springs, Colorado, courtesy of El Nino.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Moki

Well, Blogger decided it was hungry and ate my post about my dog, Moki.

Where from here? I dunno, maybe Wordpress...

You can read more about Moki here

She seemed to not be feeling well and was on and off her food, so I took her to the vet, but they found nothing wrong. They put her on a mild painkiller and she seemed better. After a short camping trip, where she seemed fine, she passed away during the night. A good friend who's a retired vet tech thinks she may have had a very fast-moving stomach cancer.

She was a good dog and passed on October 16th. We miss her very much.