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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Desert View - Day 36 - A day in my life

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7:19 am - Saturday - December 16th - Grand Canyon - 30º F, 10% humidity, wind 3 mph out of the southwest.....cloudy today with a forecast high of 50º F.

Friday was idyllic.......mid 50's with no wind, not even a breeze.  I had the 'open' shift, which, frankly I prefer.  The way our schedule goes now I have three 'open' shifts each week, and TLE 2......we both agree we like it the way it is now.....she likes to sleep in, so the 'close' shift suits her fine....except for the getting up while it is still pitch dark part, I like the 'open' shift as I am home between 12:30 and 1 pm on those days and still have a lot of daylight left to burn.  Speaking of daylight, it is getting in short supply as we lurch towards the winter solstice on December 21st, which will present us with the shortest duration of daylight of the year.  Right now the sun rises after 7:30 am, and sets just before 5:15 pm.....not even 10 hours of daylight.

Now that the inventory is finally complete we have begun to restock our shelves.....they were getting a little bare while we awaited the recount.  As it turns out our store had the best results as far as accuracy, so I guess it was worth the wait.  Counting things is one of my least favorite things, so I am very happy that is now officially done.

I spent most of my morning restocking first the jewelry spinner, and was able to completely fill it while emptying the box from our storeroom.  Then it was on to restock some electronics (phone chargers, USB cables, ear buds, etc.), then t-shirts.....many of our popular t-shirts were missing popular sizes, so my job was to go through them and then let my assistant manager know how many of each size we needed to pull out of our storeroom to provide at least 3 of each size (small, medium, large, X-large, and XX-large).  

Late in the morning our assistant manager, Wayne, walked up to me with a silver ring in his hand asking if it might belong to TLE.....I remembered a ring of hers had disappeared from her finger on one of the first days we worked in the store back in November.  She had looked all over the store, but the ring was found out on the loading dock where it had been for over 5 weeks.  I called her at home and gave her the news.....she was so excited she arrived at work 30 minutes early, having lost track of the time in her excitement at recovering her ring.

Sales wise it was a slow day....my cash deposit for the morning was under $70......TLE reported in excess of $300 for her afternoon shift......but doing the restocking helped the time pass quickly for me.  Soon I was on my way home thinking about couple of projects I wanted to complete before sundown.  

Recently the ceiling vent fan in the shower had developed a loud vibration sound when running.  The last time I had this issue was quite a long time ago.....back in January of 2013 while we were in Cedar Key, FL for 5 weeks.  It had run great the last 4+ years.  I usually turn the fan on just before I'm finished showering to vent all the moisture out the shower through the roof vent, so when I pull back the curtains all the mirrors don't get steamed.......I am pretty much the only one who uses the fan as TLE doesn't seem to mind if the mirrors in the bathroom become all steamed.  At any rate, I like things to work so I was determined to remove the fan vent cover to see if anything obvious was wrong.  My initial inspection did not show anything obvious, so I next removed the fan blade assembly to take a closer look at the motor.  It appeared that the fan blade assembly was quite dirty, and that may have caused some imbalance, which may have contributed to the vibration, however, I also noticed a build up of dirt, and grime around the motor shaft where it enters the motor.  I took the fan blade assembly out to the trailer to clean the grime off using WD-40 (a great solvent!), and then took an aerosol spray can of some electronics cleaner back into the shower area, turned on the now bladeless motor and sprayed the cleaner on to the shaft where it enters the motor as it spun.....the vibration sound immediately abated and the motor returned to its formerly quiet status.  I reinstalled the fan blade assembly on the motor shaft, and then turned on the fan and let it run for about 15 minutes to allow the cleaning fluid to work its way up the shaft, and into the motor.  Success!  And it didn't take 4 times longer than it should!

I had a couple of other things I wanted to work on, but I decided I would help TLE out by doing a little vacuuming, and then got out the Windex to clean all our mirrors (we have many mirrors.....10 in all I believe), and the front of the Dometic refrigerator.  Once I was done with that pulled up my Amazon.com app on my phone to do a little Christmas shopping.  Each year our family draws names for a gift exchange......this year I drew Kate's husband, Nick, and Kate had given me a few ideas on a gift, and even a link on Amazon for that item.  I ordered it, paid to have Amazon gift wrap it, enclose a card, and am having it shipped directly to Nick at their home where it will go under their Christmas tree.

By that time it was after 3:30 pm, and I hadn't done my daily workout so I changed clothes and got on my stationary bike.....by 4:15 I was done, and ready for a shower.....it was so nice to turn on the fan at the end of my shower and not hear that nasty vibration anymore.

TLE arrived home from her 'close' shift about 5:35 pm, and after changing made us Taco Salad for dinner....one of my favorites!  What a woman!

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Desert View - Day 35 - Walkabout

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5:56 am - Friday - December 15th - Grand Canyon - 25º F, 26% humidity, wind - CALM.....forecast for today is sunny skies with a high of 52º F.

It was nice to sleep in Thursday and have no where to be.....it was nice to wake up to sunlight in our bedroom.....it was nice to just wake up together.  We had already decided that Thursday would be a 'hangout' day......TLE would run a few loads of wash whilst reading, and I would spend time out in the trailer making a few minor repairs, 'washing' the VW (using my waterless ' system), and tuning a bicycle up for a friend.  It was just as well, because it was windy.....not terribly windy, just irritatingly windy.....maybe 10-15 mph for most of the day out of the northwest.

I also got out our small Christmas tree for TLE to setup and trim.......


.....there is something about a lit Christmas tree and Christmas music playing over XM Radio channel 70 (Holly) that makes me smile, and smile is what I did all day long.

By 2 pm I was done with my chores, and TLE had processed at least 2 loads of wash with one more to follow.  Around 3 pm we decided to take a walk around the Desert View Watchtower area......


......we haven't been up in the tower since we first visited it a few years ago, so we made the climb all the way to the 4th floor........



 

.....where we got this great panoramic view of the Desert View complex.....the red arrows mark the three other features besides the tower itself.....the General Store, Trading Post, and public restrooms.....the large parking lot is just beyond the public restrooms.  The interior of the Watchtower is full of southwestern and native American themes.....



 We call this the 'Hobbit' door

.......on our way home we took a tour of the closed 50 site campground and were quite surprised at how nice it was......I didn't take any pictures, but it has a nicely paved interior road, and all the sites, most of which are back in type sites, are also paved.  There are no hookups, but each site has a nice fire ring and picnic table, and there are nice restrooms......all sites are first come, first served, and are a mere $12/night.

By the time we returned home it was 4:30 pm, and getting cold quickly.  I lit the Sea-B-Que to grill another filet for TLE while she prepared a coupe of side dishes.......by 5:15 we were eating, and I was glad to in out of the cold!  As we ate I took this video of our trimmed Christmas tree, and fireplace........


........Christmas is only 10 days away now......hard to believe.....Merry Christmas to all of you and thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Desert View - Day 34 - The South Kaibab

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7:35 am - Thursday - December 14th - Grand Canyon - 32º F, 31% humidity, wind 9 mph out of the east.....sunny, windy with a forecast high to day of 51º F.

When we met up with Art Young at the Delaware North Christmas party the other night we made plans to meet at the Yaki Point parking lot at 10 am on Wednesday to hike a portion of the South Kaibab Trail whose trailhead is near Yaki Point.  Ever since we first glimpsed the upper section of this trail a couple of weeks ago when we were walking the Rim Trail I have wanted to return and hike 3 miles down to Skeleton Point (6 miles round trip).  I thought hiking the upper portion of this trail might help TLE regain her confidence, and at some future point join me in hiking all the way down to the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch.

We arrived at the parking lot just off SR-64 about 9:50 am, and Art was just a few minutes behind arriving at 5 til 10.  We were on our way walking within minutes the 1/2 mile to the trailhead talking about this and that.  Soon we were at the trailhead where we took an 'usie' to memorialize the beginning of our adventure......

 Just entering the South Kaibab trail


......just .9 miles down the trail you come to 'Ooh Aah' Point aptly named for obvious reasons....even TLE could not resist one 'ooh aah'....


.....I continue to marvel at the labor intensive trail construction that must have been accomplished with only hand tools many, many years prior......


......this trail is so much easier to hike than the Grandview Trail I wrote about a few weeks ago.....on a scale of 1-10, 10 being most difficult, the Grandview trail would be a 10+.....the South Kaibab would be around a 4.....seriously!


At the 1.5 mile mark we came to Cedar Ridge deriving its name from the cedar trees scattered about the area.....Cedar Ridge also has pit toilets......quite nice pit toilets if I may say so myself.....


.....we took a short break and were on our way to our goal for the day....Skeleton Point.....so, I wondered, how did this vista point derive its name?  I Googled is and found this explanation....."Skeleton Point - When you visit the Phantom Ranch cantina, look for the mule trip map on the wall. The wranglers have a tradition of landmarks and place-names uniquely associated with their perspective and profession. The story of Skeleton Point is that freight mules are all tied together nose-to-tail on the trail and that one of these mules took the whole string over the cliff here. The pile of bones that resulted gave this place-name, and the bones are gone but the name sticks.Okay, that is a little disconcerting.....anybody for a mule ride down the South Kaibab Trail now?

One of the things I love about this trail is that you can see where you will be in 30 minutes.....in this picture you can see the trail snaking its way ever downward......


.......we left the Yaki Point parking lot around 10 am, and reached Skeleton Point two hours later at almost exactly 12 pm......it did not seem like we had hiked 3.5 miles (1/2 mile to the trailhead, plus 3 miles to Skeleton Point).  We took our Camelback hydration packs off, found a place to sit and ate a snack while talking about the view, and how easy the trail had been to this point.  From Skeleton Point to Phanton Ranch is another 4 miles.  I could easily see myself hiking the entire 7.5 miles in 5 hours, or so.  The wonderful news is that so can TLE!

  She's still smiling!


.....while ate my Power Bar snack I noticed a little bird right next to me left foot.....I think he/she was hoping for a few crumbs......


....we began our return trek back to the rim of the Grand Canyon about 12:20 pm.....I took a short video of what it looks like to walk along the South Kaibab trail.....


.....I did my best to capture the essence of the views along the South Kaibab, but my pictures just do not do what we saw justice.......nevertheless, I think you get the idea of how beautiful the views are.....we stopped often to just take it all in......


.....there was a layer of smoke visible to the north from fires burning in that area.....




.....the advice given on the information sign about the South Kaibab trail is that one should anticipate it taking twice as long to hike up the trail as down.  Since we left at 12:20 we were expecting it to take 3-4 hours for the return hike to the trailhead, but we actually made it back to the top in 2 hours arriving at the trailhead at 2 pm.....another 15 minutes to the parking lot and our total return time was just under 2.5 hours....


.......by 1:40 pm we found ourselves at the base of the upper switchbacks knowing it would only be another 20 minutes until we hit the rim once again.....


.....by the time we reached the top we were a little giddy about how easy the entire round trip hike had been.....so much different than my experience on the Grandview Trail.  We were back at the cars by 2:20, or so, and within minutes driving into the South Rim Village Marketplace to have a late lunch at the Yavapai Tavern, where we had eaten just two weeks weeks prior.  Art, TLE and I quickly ordered three Piehole Porters to go along with our sandwiches (the GCT BLT for moi), and then spent the next two hours talking about our day, and what a wonderful day it was.  We began making plans for an overnight hike which will take us all the way down the South Kaibab to Phanton Ranch where we will overnight in a campground, then hike out the next day on the Bright Angel Trail.

By 5 pm we were bidding our adieus and on our way to our respective domiciles.  We arrived back home around 5:40, where TLE and I continued to talk about our future overnight hike.  So here are the Strava results from our South Kaibab adventure.....


.....total elevation gain 2,072' over 3 miles......compare that to the almost 3,000' elevation gain on the Grandview Trail.  We averaged 27 minutes per mile for the entire hike....just over 2 mph an hour......our total moving time was 3 hours, 19 minutes, and total caloric units vaporized 1,322!  Total distance covered.....7.3 miles.....once again it did not feel like we hike over 7 miles.




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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Desert View - Day 33 - That's a lot of bull!

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7:40 am - Wednesday - December 13th - Grand Canyon - 31º F, 27% humidity, wind 2 mph out of the south.....forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 56º F.....time to go hike the South Kaibab Trail!

Day 33 here at the Desert View Watchtower was like so many before it......clear blue skies, no wind, with a high temperature of 56º F, and it was also our 'Friday'.....TLE had the 'open' shift and I got to sleep in until 7......I always try to be up before TLE heads to work.

I hadn't talked with my mother in a while so I called her about 9:15 and talked with her until almost 10 am.  It was probably the best conversation we have had in years, and I am glad I took the time to call and check in on her up in Spokane, WA.  From there I transitioned to the trailer and did a quick 30 minute spin on my stationary bike, then back inside for a shower, and a quick bite to eat before it was time for me to trundle off to my 'close' shift.

In spite of it 'feeling' quite slow all afternoon I managed to generate over $200 in cash sales.....TLE says she did slightly more on her 'open' shift.  Near the end of my shift one of our Deli employees came in the front door to tell us there was a large bull elk foraging just outside the store, so I went out to snap a few pictures, and a short video of the occasion.....




.......he hung out around the store for about an hour before drifting off into the juniper forest and down the hill towards Cameron.  At one point I saw a few tourists standing within 5 feet of this 700 pound wild animal taking pictures as if this were a petting zoo.  In fact, one of them asked me if the elk was a pet!  I reminded everyone present that this was a WILD, unpredictable animal and that if it felt cornered, or threatened it might attack.......everyone who was in close proximity immediately moved back about 30'.

I was on my way home by 5:30 looking forward to being off work for a couple of days, and being able to do some more hiking and exploring with TLE.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Desert View - Day 32 - The Big 'E'.....

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7:19 am - Tuesday - December 12th - Grand Canyon - 35º F, 15% humidity, wind 3 mph out of the southeast....sunny today with a forecast high of 59º F......WOW.....it's a heatwave!

Every time I think winter is going to finally tighten her grip on the weather here at Desert View we seem to get another reprieve, and a few days in the high 50's, low 60's, and that is where we found ourselves Monday once again.....the forecast high was for 51, but it got to 56º F, and we'll get a few days into the 60's, so it appears that mother winter will be held at bay for another 7-10 days......YAY for our team!

I had the 'open' shift Monday, but overslept as you may have gathered from my abbreviated early post.  I didn't wake up, or should I say TLE woke me up at 6 am, which only gave me about 30 minutes to compose my blog, and I need about 45 on most typical days, so instead of rushing to get something out, I put it off until the afternoon after my shift.  I had, as you know, a few videos to upload to YouTube and the broadband was a little sluggish so it was taking too long to get them uploaded and edited.

I was out the door and on my walk to work by my usual 7:15 am, and on premises by 7:25 am, as usual.   We had the good folks from RGIS at our store again to redo their audit of our inventory that was botched a month ago.  I haven't talked a lot about the recount as neither TLE, nor my self had more than a tangential role this time around.  Our main responsibility is being cashiers, and taking care of customers.  The inventory mess was not just our store, but all the stores here at the Grand Canyon.  At any rate, by the time I arrived RGIS (pronounced 'regis') had been doing their count for almost 2 hours, and were finished with our store by 8:30......glad that is done!

Unlike most mornings recently we had customers as soon as we opened the doors for business at 8 am, and the morning stayed relatively busy until the end of my shift.....that was a nice change, and helped the time to pass quickly.  I was on my way home a little after 12:30.....this is when I noticed it was much warmer than forecast.  

Monday was also the day of the annual Delaware North Christmas party which was being held on the west end of the park at a steakhouse in Tysayan (pronounced too-sī-on) called Big E Steakhouse at 6:30 pm.  TLE was home from work just after 5:30 pm, and we were on our way driving the 30 miles to Tusayan by 5:45.....we arrived just at 6:30 and quickly found an empty table.  Soon we were joined by our friend Art Young who I have written about a few times in the past.  He works at the Marketplace store at Grand Canyon Village where we have done some shopping, and also eaten a couple of meals in their Deli.  As always it was great to be able to sit with Art and talk.  We ended up planning to meet this Wednesday at the Yaki Point parking lot to hike a portion of the South Kaibab trail.....looking forward to that a lot.

The meal was buffet style, and we had options of bacon wrapped chicken, salmon, or pork......I had the salmon, and was so glad I chose it......flavorful, moist, well seasoned!  The party was still going on at 8:30, so we decided it was time to make the return drive to Desert View so TLE could get to bed for her 'open' shift on Tuesday.  We were in the car by 8:45, and home just before 9:30.  The drive home through the pitch black, moonless night was interesting, but we had no wildlife sightings......nothing like an uneventful drive home!  There is always the risk of encountering a random elk, or mule deer on the highway.

In closing I received a Facebook message from a college friend who remains, to this day, one of my best friends.  He asked where were were, and said he and his wife missed us.  We haven't been able to see them for a few years now....the last time we were in their area two years ago they were on the east coast so we weren't able to hook up.  They have a large piece of property on Whidbey Island in Washington State and have a permanent 30 amp hookup for us when we are there.  At any rate I hadn't talked with him in a few months, and had been thinking about him for a few days so I called.  We talked for nearly an hour, and ended our conversation as we most often do laughing til we almost cried.  I'm so glad I called.....if someone is on your mind, don't ignore it.....give them a call!

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Desert View - Day 31 - The triple 'Con'

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6:16 am - Monday - December 11th - Grand Canyon - 33º F, humidity 14%, wind 5 mph out of the east by southeast......forecast high today is 51º F once again with partly cloudy skies.

Just like Saturday, Sunday was also quite slow, but I managed to stay 'busy' for most of my shift.  TLE arrived just before 12 pm as is her custom, and we overlapped about 30 minute before I pulled my cash drawer to count it down, and head for home.  That is the long and short of my 'open' shift.....nothing significant to share.

I was home by 1:15, changed my clothes and spent a couple of hours puttering around in the trailer, putting things away, and getting rid of a few things I know I will never, ever use.  Around 3:30 pm I changed into my riding clothes and did 40 minutes on the bike trainer, then retired inside for a short nap.  The temperature dips quickly after 3 pm, and before you know it you have slid from a high of 51º F, back into the low 40's, or high 30's.  It was time for a fire.

As I was sitting by the fire enjoying a cigar and a shot of Tillamore Dew Irish Whiskey I noticed that there were three simultaneous 'contrails' streaking across the sky, and that two them appeared on a collision course.....of course they were not, but their trails did cross and form a large 'X' in the sky.....I've never seen this happen before......


.....then, within minutes of the two crossing contrails there was another contrail developing at a much lower altitude going from west to east.....





.......by the time the last contrail passed out of site among the trees to the east of our site I realized the outdoor lights would be coming on soon.....I have them a timer to come on around 5:15 pm (sundown is slightly earlier now)......


.....with a few minutes of the lights coming on TLE arrived home in the VW from work, and joined me by the fire until after 6 pm......what a nice, no breeze evening!  I love sitting by the fire talking with Elaine......there is something about a fire that gets us talking about everything under the sun.....so glad we have been able to sit out by the fire here at Desert View.....it was almost always too windy in Gardiner, MT for a fire, so we never had one the entire 4 months+ we were there.  We retired back inside before 6:30.....TLE had prepared Noodles Alfredo with some bacon bits for dinner......yum!  Am I ever a lucky guy!

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Desert View - sleeping in

6:45 am - Monday - December 11th - Grand Canyon - I overslept about 30 minutes, and will not have time to finish my daily blog entry about Sunday, so I will have to finish when I return from work after 1 pm.....thank you for your patience!