Posts Tagged ‘cold’


13th May 2011 by Helen

We had a hailstorm here in Mexico City tonight, accompanied by thunder and lightning.  Must be the largest hailstones I’ve ever seen!!  Paul was out with Jaime at the time, and the thermometer in the car was at 24 degrees Centigrade!

typical of the hailstones that fell on Mexico City this evening Friday 13th May

typical of the hailstones that fell on Mexico City this evening Friday 13th May

The Wonder of All Things Great and Small

25th April 2011 by Paul

2011 01 29 (10) - Canyonlands - views from Island in the SkyLockheart Basin Trail, Canyonlands, Utah

This morning, as the blackness of sleep lifted from my mind and the feint awareness of day began to wash over me, I became aware that I should make a decision.

The teeth in my upper jaw ached.

All of them.

The frigid cold bit deep into my jawbone, making the nerves scream.   The exposed flesh above my cheekbones stung horribly, and each breath burned the inside of my nostrils.   The discomfort of waking had already visited me three or four times during the night, but now I could sense the early morning glimmer that heralded sunsrise.   But there was an hour yet before I needed wake Helen and begin the ritual of camp life in the cold.   So the decision had to be made.

Should I keep my upper face exposed and endure the discomfort, or bury my face inside the sleeping bag, where my breath would condense in the down fill, and freeze there, lowering the insulation?

Neither held much of a motivation for me, and in the end, I chose a halfway solution which, I suppose, was no decision at all.   Bury my face until my face warmed and the aching stopped, and then expose my flesh again until I could bear it no longer, then, repeat.

In the dark warmth of the bag, hood pulled tight around my face, I drifted into that place of creative half-sleep where great ideas seem to form.   I vascilated between the pragmatic and the idealogical – how to best design storage solutions on overlanding vehicles, and the kind of leadership the world would need to right some of its chronic social problems.

Later, as the sun warmed the tent, small droplets of melting ice water plopped intrusively onto my closed eyelids, waking me from my half sleep.

2011 01 30 (58) - Grand View Point, Island in the Sky, CanyonlandsI rose first, allowing Helen her customary ten minutes of ‘extra time’, and slipped on the chilled day clothes I had lain out carefully the night before to keep the draughts in the tent to a minimum.   I suppose it was the slight smell of woodsmoke from my clothes that awoke my sense of smell, and as I pulled on my trousers, I noticed a faint whiff of two-day-crotch, and resolved to change my underwear before I smelled any more like a feret hutch.

Swinging down from the tent, I unlocked all the doors, took the shovel and headed uphill towards a bluff, where the sand banked deeper, and I knew I’d stand a chance of digging a decent latrine.   A few minutes later, appropriately relieved, I took a few photos of camp as the rising sun began to cast its fiery glow on the mountains across from the canyonlands.

I wandered further afield, exploring the place we had camped in failing light the evening before.   The air was cold, but there was not a breath of wind nor a sound beyond the slight crunch of my own footseps

2011 02 04 (5) - morning views of campsite on Lockhart Basin RoadClambering over broken layers of Moenkopi rock formations, I ventured deeper into the canyon.   As I walked carefully between the rocks, my feet sank into the fine soft red sand eroded from the surrounding sedimentary rock layers, and over 15 million year old.   In places, the ground crunched underfoot, marking my sudden violation of a paper thin cryptobiotic crust that had taken a hundred years or more of microbiotic activity to form.

I became aware that I was in a sacred place.   A place so huge, and ancient, and remote from human life as to almost defy comprehension.   And yet a place so fragile, so untouched, so delicate in its ecology, that the evidence of my presence here would take two lifetimes to erase.

As the sky brightened and turned blue with the rising sun, I took two more photos in memory of my visit, and retraced my steps back towards camp feeling a little ashamed that I had stumbled so thoughtlessly through nature’s display of wonderous patience, perfect design, and harmony.

Turning to look out once more into the harsh, yet beautiful vastness of the desert, dancing red and orange in the early morning sun, with my mind half distracted by the thought of clean underpants, my soul danced and was uplifted by the wonder of all things.

A storm in the desert

12th April 2011 by Helen

After staying with Paul & Jean in Tucson, we are heading east again towards our border crossing in Mexico.

The news for the last couple of days has amazed us.  It was reported that due to the government not being able to agree aspects of the budget the government would ‘shut down’ from midnight on Friday (9th April).  This means that all Interstate Rest Areas, State Park campsites (both of which affect us), and all other deemed non-essential government provisions will close until agreement has been reached.  This includes scientific research as well as certain public amenities (Rest Areas) will cease or close at least temporarily.  As far as I could gather, some services such as refuse collection would continue.  It also means that the workers in the affected services, including the military, will have their pay delayed.  The politicians of course will still get their pay on time.  As usual it seems that the poorer members of society are the ones most likely to suffer!!  Businesses will not be directly affected initially, although if such a situation goes on for too long then the whole country will be affected in various ways.  The whole thing is largely beyond our comprehension.  At least in the illogicality of it.  I suppose delaying paying the poorer members of the community means the money stays in the bank and earns a bit more interest for longer, while those who have to borrow to pay the rent etc will in effect be subsidising the country.  As usual it’s political football.  With an election round the corner and only a narrow majority at present, any gains are to be fought for hard.

Anyway, our plans to move on to a State campsite on Friday was put in doubt by the threat of a shutdown and so we opted for the safe alternative of an RV park.  It turned out that the shutdown was averted at the last minute, but in theory we could have been turfed off our campsite at midnight when the shutdown took effect!  And we didn’t fancy that!!

We have used a few of the KOA’s since we have been in the US (should have bought a membership card, it would have been cheaper).  Each one has been very different.  The first, in Flagstaff, was small, friendly, well maintained, with all the facilities we needed.  The culture was one of enjoying outdoor pursuits (near to Moab, Sedona, etc, that’s hardly surprising).  In Needles, we found a poker and bingo culture (in gambling Nevada, also not particularly surprising).  Sadly Petaluma, while having beautifully kept grounds, was not overly friendly and the amenities were all locked up by tea time.  I wonder has the local San Francicoans would like to be compared to that – pretty on the outside with little substance.  I’m not qualified to comment, so won’t.  Costanoa was opulent, like its central/southern Californian surroundings.  As if to prove a growing theory, we reached Lordsburg, set in the middle of what appeared to be a very run down area, with boarded up buildings and rough ground.  The KOA itself appeared to be a large car park with little going for it in the way of attractive appearance, rather like it’s surroundings.  We decided we didn’t want to even stop to see if the amenities were any good, and drove on. 

We found a little supermarket in the small town of Lordsburg and were amazed at how much cheaper the total bill was compared to what we expected.

We ended up at Silver Springs.  It’s very pretty here, but at over 6,300 feet has been much colder than we had begun to relish in the Arizona desert.  Sleeping bags have come back out again, along with the winter pyjamas.  A storm blew threw on Saturday afternoon and, with gusting around 30 mph, we decided to take the lower room tent down, which reduced the buffeting a bit.  Fortunately the worst of the storm blew past where we are staying and we were able to put the lower room back on and sleep in the roof tent as usual.  Over the next couple of days the sun has come out again in full force and we have been enjoying the warmth again.

We were delighted to be able to watch a tiny humming bird feeding just outside the office window, and next to our tent is an amazing cactus covered in seed pods from the last flowering.  Very pretty.