Sunday, September 27, 2009

For Tom W

My good internet friend Tom has been working on his vintage motorcycle and thinks there is a song somewhere involved in his project. Well Tom, here it is:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Enchanted in the Land of Enchantment Part 3

"That state is nothing but rock and rock." Is what a guy told me at Lowes. "Why the hell would you want to go to New Mexico for a vacation?" You should have seen the look on his face when I told him we were looking into buying some acreage. Some people are not enchanted by the place and that is fine. Some of us are and that is fine too.

He is right though, it is rock and more rock, but with great beauty mixed in. This photo was my eureka moment when I realized how intensely beautiful the place is. How even the most raped and tortured landscape in New Mexico still is able to provide the eye with a visual treat. Maybe it is the fact that nature is the driving force and man is along for the ride.

We did see a few signs like this. People also used the phase "... to show our respect to Mother Earth" or "... in honor of Mother Earth," a great deal. People tend to live with the natural cycles in New Mexico unlike in Maryland where it is a constant struggle to combat the natural cycles. If someone put up a sign like this in Maryland every car passing it would think "FREAK", but this celebration was at the State School for the Deaf. I guess it is all in the perspective. OKAY, OKAY, ENOUGH PHILOSOPHIZING, back to the vacation.

It was our last night in New Mexico and we wanted a special dinner. Beth and I have become very fond of Maria's New Mexican Kitchen in Santa Fe. I am not sure if it is the three page margarita list, the hundreds of tequilas offered or the delicious food, but we go to Maria's when ever we can. Everything is made from scratch fresh everyday. A little old lady makes the tortilla and sopapia fresh while you watch. Beth had pozoli and I had steak with chili rellano. The dinner was spectacular to say the least. Watch out for the red chili sauce, it has serious teeth. The good kind of teeth though. The margaritas were a very nice addition too.

For desert Beth got herself a sampler of tequila. She really enjoyed all three she tried. Too bad I had to drive, I would have enjoyed a sampler too. After dinner we headed back down the Turquoise Trail to Tim's house. Now let me tell you, when the sun goes down, it gets seriously dark in New Mexico. The half hour seemed like I was driving in a tunnel only with the occasional jack rabbit or coyote crossing the road in front of me. Tim was happy to see us return to his house on the messa.

(Sorry this picture is blurry. I wanted to show you Tim's beautiful house)
Tim was so kind to put us up again before we flew out the next day. He makes his house ours and treats us like family. He is such a great guy to know, rich beyond belief in history and life experience. Once again, please check out Tim's website, Tuffnut Traders. Maybe go down to Madrid and pay him a visit. I look forward to my next visit that is for sure. Unfortunately the next morning we had to leave. Before we left the State there was one more small side trip needed.

The New Mexico Pinion Pine Coffee Co. was a must see for us. We love their coffee and drink it daily. I have a mug of it next to me as I write this to you. For a few years now we bought their coffee at Trader Joe's. Most often a trip to Trader Joe's revolves around the low supply of coffee. We needed to go to the source so Beth made arraignments to make that happen. Now unfortunately my camera does not like to focus well in florescent light. The production facility was lighted with florescent so very few of the photos came out well. This is a shame for the operation was very interesting to us and everyone we met was honored that people from Baltimore not only like what they produce, but took time out of their vacation to come see them.

Everything is done by hand. The coffee is roasted slowly in small batches and ground then put into cans.

We use to be able to buy whole bean, but the grinders at the store were having nut remnants left in them and someone with a nut allergy got sick and now Trader Joe's can only sell ground coffee in a can. We boarded the plane with me carrying 20 pounds of whole bean coffee.

Even the lids to the cans gets put on by hand. All the employees take great pride in their product. It shows in how good the stuff tastes. I highly recommend you try their coffee. For those of you the enjoy Charbucks, their Colorado and Texas Coffee line has that same burnt up taste you like.

My next post will show you the finished deck and some of what I have been doing to Anna. Thanks for reading. And as the guy from the Taos Pueblo told me, "make sure you let both your Mothers know how much you love them"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Enchanted in the Land of Enchantment Part 2

I love to see my wife as relaxed as she gets in New Mexico. I guess it is something about the state being so "enchanted". Beth has a very serious job that adds a great deal of stress to her life. I am sure I contribute too. Here it all seems to go away.

After finding the turquoise at Tim's and visiting with him we headed North toward Taos. Going to Taos was actually the real reason for going out to New Mexico. The drive up there was spectacular. Like I said in my last post, every square inch is a photo opportunity.

We were heading to Taos to be a part of Jen and Dan's wedding. Dan use to work for Beth at Under Armour as a customer service representative. He worked his way up the ladder to sales and is now the Southwestern sales rep for the company. Jen is originally from Questa New Mexico and they have always had the plan to move back to the Southwest. They have been together for many years now and make a very stable couple that seem to always be on the same page. We are very happy for both of them.

The service was wonderful and combined Christian service, Buddhist, and Lakota Sioux. The mountains made an incredible backdrop for the ceremony.

Lucky for us, we have good friends in Taos that let us use their guest house. Leslie and Jonathan have a great house and their kids Shasha and Perry are a lot of fun. We have abused their hospitality a few times now and for some reason we keep getting invites to return.

The next morning we headed West. I drove this road for an hour and only passed one car. This gravel road is the short cut to our next destination on our trip. Beth and Leslie drove together so they could have "girl talk". I drove solo and tested the properties of the rented Avenger.

Every time we go to new Mexico we go to Ojo Caliente. This place is unbelievable. Nothing I will say can actually let you know what the experience is like. If you are writing a bucket list or working through it prematurely like I am, well, put Ojo high up on that list. You will thank me for it. I can guarantee it.

The spa has been here for a long time. It was used by the Native People long before the brown man and then the white man showed up. In resent times the spa has been worked on and the grounds are totally re done. Ojo offers every spa service you might want short of "a happy ending".

There are five different "waters" at Ojo. I always begin my visit to this spring in the middle of the compound. It is the Lithium Spring. Lithium is what all the spastic kids took when I was a kid. The water does not taste too good, but it really gets you in the mood to relax. I generally visit this spring a half dozen times during my visit.

The Main pool is 88 degrees. That may seem warm, but after soaking in the others, it is rather refreshing. I took this photo while soaking in the Arsenic Spring. Yes, arsenic. Apparently it is in fairly high concentrations. The water was only 106 on this day. Last time we were there it was 109. This is my favorite pool for it treats the painful joints and muscles that affect me after so many years of hard labor.

The grounds are absolutely beautiful. Tranquility is abundant here.

The ladies like to sit out around the main pool and take in serious amounts of vitamin D. The sun is very abundant in New Mexico.

The hammocks are a new addition to the spa. I tried to get one, but they were always taken. There is also the Iron Spring that is always a consistent 103 degrees. Next to it is the Soda Spring that is usually 101. Each Spring has a different property and aids in treating various ailments. All of the Springs come out of the ground naturally and is not changed in any way.

There is also the Mud Spring. The mud is rich in various minerals. You slather it all over you and bake it in the sun. I know all you macho readers are thinking "What the hell Frank? You lose your mind?" But folks, this is an excellent experience.
Leslie and Beth really got into this Spring.

As you see, as it dries it shrinks and pulls all the bad stuff out of your skin. I have to say I never felt so youthful in my life. Okay, just bull shitting, it sounded good. It was a great experience and I recommend it to anyone, even my macho readers.

In a couple of days I will post part 3. After that I post about the work I have been doing on Anna. Stay posted folks.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Enchanted in the Land of Enchantment Part 1

For many years now Beth and I have been going to New Mexico. I was once again blessed to get to spend a four day weekend there. They call it the Land of enchantment and there is reason for the name. On this visit I realized why they call it this. Every where, and I mean every where you look there is an intimate setting that is a prime photograph. Every square inch of the state is a perfect photo opportunity.

We flew into Albuquerque in the late afternoon on Friday. Our first stop was to visit our good friend Tim O' Neil in Madrid. That is Mad rid not Ma drid. Madrid is located on highway 14 also know as the Turquoise Trail. There are numerous turquoise mines along this stretch of highway but you have to know where to look.

We arrived at Tim's House on Waldo Mesa just above Madrid in time to watch the sunset reflected back out onto the desert and mountains to the East.

Fortunately for me, Tim has a turquoise claim in Cerrillios. Cerrillios turquoise is very highly prized by Native Americans. Durning the conquest of Mexico, the Aztec Emperor, Moctezuma greeted Cortez wearing a breast plate made of Cerrillios turquoise. (Yes, it is Moctezuma not Montazuma as most Gringos think) The Spanish not only hungered for gold and silver, they also wanted the beautiful blue green gem they saw in Moctezuma's breast plate.

Now if any of you want to have the same adventure as me, I can put you in touch with Tim. For a very reasonable fee he can take you out to his claim and you can mine some for yourself. You would never find the mine without him taking you there. It is very far into BLM land and requires four wheel drive and keys to numerous gates with in the BLM land.

There are many crossing over washes. These washes cross the road numerous times and if it rains these dry washes can become raging rivers in seconds.

The Cerrillios Mining District has been worked hard in modern times. There are old works all over the area. Very few mines are active today. Only small scale mines like Tim's are worked today. The native people have also worked mines here long before the white man arrived. Remember, Moctezuma's turquoise came from right here. This tailings pile was the main gold mine in the ghost town of Cash Entry.

At one time three thousand people lived in Cash Entry. They worked the gold mines or in the stamp mill that got the gold out of the ore. Today only a few buildings and foundations remain.

Getting out here is not easy. The road is very rough and without knowing where you going, you would think that there is nothing to find out here.

We parked the truck and got ready to hike into the claim. As soon as my boots hit the ground there was a nice piece right there next to the truck. It does not look like much now, but just you wait and see what happen to this fine little nugget.

There are a few ways to mine turquoise on Tim's claim. Tim will not allow you to mine in the main shaft, it is just too dangerous. The vein can be seen running vertical on the far side of the shaft. This shaft was dug by the Indians and then filled back in. Tim has been slowly digging it back out.

The way to find large nuggets of turquoise is to sift the tailings used to fill three other pre historic shafts still waiting to be dug back out. Large chunks were discarded in search of huge pieces. All these pieces are just waiting to be found again.

Laying right on the surface are small chips. I found these in about two minutes time.

Here are just a few of my finds. In the rear you see some specimen pieces. Nice paper weights. In the foreground you see some nice chunks found in the sifter. I forgot to mention Cerrillios turquoise comes in colors besides blue. There is dark green, light green, white, dark blue, and sky blue.

As I said earlier, there are many old works around. This very deep shaft is also on Tim's claim. It is over 180 feet deep. This is an abandoned gold mine. The vein of ore can be seen on the far side of the hole. It is slightly darker than the rest of the rock.

Here is some of the ore. The dark stuff is the ore. If you were to crush 100 tons of that you would extract an ounce of gold. If gold prices keeping going the way they are, Tim might have to get a stamp mill.

Now here are some of my finds. Tim ran these over his wet stones to expose the surface.

Remember the nugget I found when I got out of the truck? Now how does that look? Tim will be turning this into a peice of jewlery for me. I find it amazing that I found this in the ground and it is going to be turned into something of value.

Tim turns the rocks he digs into beautiful works of art. Here is a bag of concho belts he made.

He also makes necklaces, rings, and bracelets. He works in the Southwestern style but has a style all his own.

This is a brooch he is working on, which is the Mayan symbol for the year 2012. 2012 is the end of the Mayan calendar. Tim can make just about anything you might want.

If you would like to, please check out Tim's website. If you would like to go out with him and dig some treasures of your own, drop me a line and I will put you in touch with him.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

And now for another time drain

People have been emailing me or calling to ask what is going on. They have been asking why no blog posts, no trailer work. As I told them, I am busy. I am working hard. Unfortunately, the work I have been doing is keeping me from my Aistream life.
We (me alone with no support except Beth saying "When will this be done or that") put an addition on our house two summers ago. It was a major undertaking for me working all alone. The project of course evolved into the other major project. The first was residing our house. A house built in the 1870's did not use insulation or sheathing. That coupled with termites and carpenter ants made the project into a summers worth of evenings and weekends. The addition left our patio and out door entertaining area torn up and non existent. A large deck with a roof over part of it was always part of the plan.
So a couple of weeks ago I began using my evenings and weekends to build a deck. My neighbor came over while I was laminating the curved outside beam. He was scratching his head and asking me "why can't you do things like normal people? Decks are square not curved".

Well, he is right. I just cannot seem to do things like normal people do. I wanted a deck that is unusual. I have worked with wood for many years and curving a 36 foot long beam is child's play. Why not make it something fun?
So the idea of a curved deck has been in my head for two years and I made it a reality. Looking at this photo, I cannot help but notice that the shape is half of the interior profile of an Airstream.
I have all the decking down and trimmed off to the curve it should be. I am now working on the joists for my roof area. The roofing material will be galvanized metal like all the porch roofs in Texas. I look forward to sipping my cocktail and listening to the rain fall on the metal roof. Hopefully this project will be done soon and I can go back to working on aluminum.

Friday, September 11, 2009

posting for post's sake

I heard a song on the radio today. It brought back many memories of a former life. When I drove trucks over the road this was my theme song. I lived it to a large extent, did it all but "smuggle some folks from Mexico". This song always puts a smile on my face. Hope it puts one on yours too.

or a more contemporary version...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A beach? In Upstate New York?

I know, I know... it has been a long time since I posted....

After sitting for a few weeks it sure was nice to pull Anna from the storage yard and put her back to the road. She loves being towed, even with out her weight distribution system which was locked inside her. I managed to lose her one and only set. I made my way in and now we have four sets of keys to all the locks except the reefer hatch. I looked at those keys countless times and thought, 'I really need to make another set.' Anyway, key debacle out of the way, we headed to Southwick Beach State Park near Watertown New York for what we thought was a rally. It turned out to be a family gathering of friends of Sig Van Damne and not so much a rally per say. Hey SOB owners and tent campers need fellowship too.
Sig and his wife, Dawn were kind enough to invite all the WDCU to come and I am glad they did. We had a great time and saw a part of the country we might not have. We enjoyed it so much, we are talking about another trip to the region so we can see more of the Thousand Island area. It is very beautiful there.
The first night we arrived right at sun set. Lake Ontario makes a great backdrop for a sun set. We were so wrapped up in the sun set, that we forgot to park Anna and had to do it in the dark. No big deal, Deborah Bede guided me right in with expert flashlight directions.
We had a real nice campsite right across the road from the beach. There is my 36" griddle I bought for the Baker's Acres Gathering. Yes, I cooked breakfast for all those that wanted to come. All most all the Airstreamers in the group came. I wish Sig's friends had taken me up on the breakfast offer too. They all DID get the email of me stating I was cooking breakfast for all.
Right next to us were Ria and Paul with their 1966 Frolic. They also own an Airstream, but were mixing it up a bit. Very nice little trailer owned by super nice people. We enjoyed getting to know Ria and Paul and hope we get to camp with them again.
Jill and Nick came up with their Argosy. Nick stripped the paint and has begun polishing. I like the direction he is going with his rig.
There was Deborah and her super sexy Bubble, Ruby. Sorry folks, but that is one hot trailer. Deborah has been working hard on her and she is really starting to shimmer like diamond. This diamond is far from being in the rough. Deborah, I sure hope you are proud of your self, because you should be.
Melissa and Tom came with their Caravel. Tom has also been putting some time into making her shine.
I love stumbling onto situations like this. Seeing my wife laughing and having some beers with close friends. Her job is very serious and it is important for her to unwind from time to time.
The girls enjoyed a nice swim. Good thing the Lake has had all Summer to warm up. It was actually the perfect temperature for swimming. I am amazed at how clean the water is. The clarity is astounding. Living on the Chesapeake, I just assume all water was sandy colored and that the bottom was just down there somewhere.
Not, sure what we were talking about, but it sure looks serious. That's what you do at the beach, talk and soak in the rays...
It was yet another beautiful sun set that night. Anna made for a wonderful canvas to view it on.
The next day we ventured out. In this case we went to see the Saint Lawrence Seaway. I am amazed to see these huge ocean bound ships this far inland. Hard to fathom that a ship can go from Singapore all the way through the great lakes to Duluth, Thunder bay, or further.
We bought tickets on a ferry over to Hart Island so we could see the Boldt Castle.
On the way over we went past this cottage. Yes that is on it's own little island. Now that is a cool house. Bet that lots of people snap photos of it. I found it astounding to see that little house on that little island.
This is the island we were heading for. The castle was built for Boldt's wife. The construction of this place required three hundred worker and took many years. Just as the castle was reaching completion the wife died and all work was stopped. The owner never returned and the house was abandoned from 1904 until 1977.
It is a very grand house, but not so much a castle in the sense of European castles.
During the time it was abandoned, many visitors came and left their mark on the wall. The graffiti was all over the walls in the area where no restoration work has been done. I enjoyed seeing this part of the castle too.
But the detail of the building it self is amazing. Many highly skilled workers labored to make this building so grand.
The heart and bucks were a reoccurring theme through out the house.
This is what some of the untouched house looks like. I think the plan is to restore it totally.
This is the play house. Yes, a kids play house. I am sure glad we made the trip out to Hart Island and saw the castle. Ava was talking about it just last night. Glad to see something stuck with her.
On Saturday night, Sig hosted a pot luck supper for all his friends. The food was excellent and the conversations were outstanding. Most of the non Airstreamers were not known to us until this evening. A happy hour the first night might have gotten us all mixing better.
But the variety of food did the trick just fine. The kids sure enjoyed themselves. Considering there was about 25 desserts, the kids were very happy.
As the sun was setting over Lake Ontario, we were thinking about the next day. Our plan was to go to Catawissa PA and use our last day of the Holiday weekend at Knoeble's Amusement Park. For those that have been, no explanation is needed. For those that have not, lets just say, this is one of those old time parks that has something for the entire family.
The Whip, a crowd pleaser from way back.
That is the look of terror, joy, and embarrassment. Nothing like Dad taking pictures of you while on a roller coaster.

The blur of this photo sums up the state Halle was in by the time we left the park. Too much fun can take it out of a kid for sure. Of course she wanted more even as the rides were closing down for the night.

In my next post I will show you all what has been keeping me from posting more frequently.